How I Rescued My Failing Coaching Business and Profited 6-Figures and Beyond By Nicole Matthews
I’m not a startup founder.
Or, a venture capitalist. I don’t know how to growth hack your first users. But, I am a business owner.
I’ve worked with the dopest corporate brands. And, I developed an online cult following FAST. I know what success is like.
I own a marketing agency called The Marketing Chicks. For years, I helped aspiring entrepreneurs build businesses from scratch and changed the way online brands connected to consumers.
If you had an Instagram boutique or beauty brand, I was your marketing chick.
Hell, I once gave a stripper who wanted to open an online lingerie store a pretty dope marketing campaign.
My strategy was to do everything for anybody. And it worked. FAST.
Well, until it stopped working and I was losing my damn mind.
My Impending Doom was Near
On the surface, I looked successful. I had people continually DMing me to work with me. Even after my account of over 40k+ Instagram, followers got hacked.
People I didn’t know would promote me because they saw how much their friends admired me. But, even with all this attention, my business was crumbling behind the scenes.
Although it was making six figures, I didn’t have enough for myself. Yep, after I subtracted my expenses from my revenue, I only had a few hundred to myself a month.
Worse, I was losing money. My expenses were too high, and my energy was dangerously low.
I spread myself so thin that I became exhausted. I even had to separate myself from work for a few months.
As I saw my agency drown, I knew I had to save it. If I was going to transform my business, I had to transform myself.
A Comeback Worth A Million Dollars
Earlier this year, I made my first million in profit. The Marketing Chicks is no longer a 6 figure business but a 7-figure marketing agency and growing!
My secret? It’s not a formula that my online counterparts try to sell you.
It’s a process. A process consisting of behaviors and habits that force you to change your mindset and rethink how you deal with money.
Today, I’m going to share with you the mistakes I made that cost me greatly and the steps I took to reverse them.
Whether you’re a startup founder, freelancer, or marketer, you can significantly benefit from the information that I’m sharing with you.
Listen, my babies, I suffered so you don’t have to.
Here are the five ways I fucked up and recovered the Marketing Chicks
1. I Became Laser-Focused on My Target Client
I love marketing. It’s my favorite thing to do. But when I first started the Marketing Chicks, I felt like it wasn’t enough.
I needed to attract more clients. So, I became the one-stop-shop for anything business-related.
If you needed a logo or a business strategy, you could consult with me or my partners. That’s why I created Chicks, Inc.
The Burning Failure of Chicks Inc.
Chicks Inc. is a company made up of branches that specialize in a specific skill. For example, you needed branding? Hire the Branding Chicks.
Wanted to be in the local press? The PR Chicks would help you.
I promoted these new offers on my Instagram page, hoping that more people would work with me. Many of them did. However, a lot of them were of low-quality.
Too many of my clients had no fucking clue how to run a business. They knew that they needed me, but didn’t know why.
I spent so much time educating and preparing them for my services. Time and energy that was better invested elsewhere.
I operated Chicks Inc. for over a year until it almost killed me. I was burnt out after doing so many things for so many different people.
It broke my heart knowing that a project I invested my blood, sweat, and tears on had failed.
This lesson taught me that trying to help everyone is a waste of time and resources. It’s why being committed to your niche is so important.
It protects your mental health.
Being Picky Attracts Higher-Paying Clients
After Chicks Inc, I returned to my roots. Those roots were promoting growing businesses in Houston, Texas.
In the early days of the Marketing Chicks, I helped brands generate buzz for their products. I put them in the hands of influencers and built promotional events that made sales.
Those days were so fucking fun for me. I did what I was good at, guerrilla marketing and brand activation. I knew I had to go back to that.
So, I re-imagined my target client. I vowed to no longer work with people just because they could pay me.
I developed standards and referred non-ideal clients to other experts. I only work with non-Texas brands via virtual classes.
Now, I work with businesses which satisfy the following:
- Operates in or near Houston, Texas
- In need of brand activation or marketing
- Has a budget starting at $3,500 for startups, $5,000 for local small businesses, and $10,000 for corporate clients
- Has a product or service that I believe in
These new criteria got my business back on track. After I promoted myself to these groups, I become an authority figure in my area.
I leveraged my experience and past client work to convince local brands to work with me.
As I worked with more businesses, the Marketing Chicks started to gain traction. I was getting more referrals than ever before. This helped me raise my prices and attract higher-paying clients.
2. I Stopped Paying for Shit I Didn’t Need
When you’re starting, you’re going to be pressured to buy stuff and services you don’t need.
Stuff with a hefty price tag. And guess what? Those prices add up. What was super cool in January, becomes a big regret in December.
This doesn’t mean pricey things aren’t valuable. I sell expensive services. I buy high-end products.
The problem is buying stuff that doesn’t benefit you or can be substituted by a more affordable and less complex option.
Goodbye Luxury Office, Hello Starbucks
One of the first financial changes I made when rebuilding my business was no longer paying for office space.
I rented a $2,000/month office to appear more professional to potential clients. However, I noticed that neither my employees or I spent a lot of time in there.
We did most of our work on our computers and phones. Or, we were on the road meeting clients and contractors at their workplace.
When my lease was up, I said adios to my posh office and started holding meetings at my local coffee shop.
Think about it. Starbucks has coffee and free WiFi. I’d be stupid to not take advantage of that.
There, I met with clients and paid for their lunch. This new setting not only saved me money, but it allowed me to get more personal with prospects.
We didn’t talk like two business associates. We spoke like acquaintances getting to know each other. This easy-going and fun environment is an atmosphere I thrive in.
I Ended My Business Partnerships and Hired Freelancers
When I had Chicks Inc., I paid other consultants to provide services for my clients. The problem with this is that many were more focused on growing their business, instead of serving my agency.
It was as if I was the last person on their to-do list. I kept thinking to myself, “What’s the point of me giving you work if you’re not going to do it? The HELL?”
It got to the point that they failed to deliver work on time. Some even started to compete with me by offering marketing services.
These toxic relationships were hurting me financially and emotionally. So, I ended these partnerships, then outsourced my work to freelancers.
I like freelancers because their primary duty is to complete projects and keep me satisfied. Their expectations are clear, and there’s less drama.
I hire many people from Upwork and Fiverr. I also employ interns to benefit from their unique perspectives. Young people have amazing ideas.
However, I rely on more experienced people in my network for complex or higher-labor projects.
This new hiring strategy saved me a lot of time and resources. Even hiring more experienced and expensive contractors saved me a lot of money long-term wise.
3. I Became a Networking and Referral Superstar
Growing a business is hard. But, growing a business when you don’t have enough clients or customers is got damn stressful.
When I shifted my target client, I had to admit that I didn’t have enough people to work with. So, I had to find them.
Hang Out Where Your Target Market is At
Knowing who I wanted to work with made networking much easier. I researched online and offline places that they were the most active in.
Locally, I attended events, conferences, and meetups that targeted explicitly to them. I learned more about them by visiting small or women business centers.
Virtually, I was active in groups and forums about marketing and business development. I engaged with other users by offering them value.
When they had a question, I answered. When they were unsure about an idea, I listened to their worries. I also built relationships with people who worked with them.
For example, if someone provided design services to startups, I gave them enough value that he or she would start referring me to their clients or network.
This strategy of going where my audience was at and developing relationships within their network helped me get my first handful of new clients.
Tell People What You Do and Who You Do It For
The key to networking and getting referrals is to become clear about what you do and who you do it for.
Everyone who befriends me knows that I do marketing and brand activation for businesses. When an acquaintance thinks of event marketing, they immediately think of me.
This is because I continuously re-affirm who I am and what I do. This brought me clients, when the timing was right.
For example, I’m super close to the lady who does my lashes. During a session, she told me how she developed a good friendship with the business owner next door to her.
He owned a popular burger franchise and needed marketing services. So, she told him about me. Soon, the owner and I talked. He later booked my services!
Situations like this show how important it is to be vocal about your duties to get opportunities in the future.
4. I Made Learning a Routine
The crazy thing about marketing is that it’s constantly changing. New platforms are popping up, and consumers are shifting their attention.
If you’re not on top of the latest trends, you’ll be left behind. No one is going to feel bad for you.
To deliver the best client and customer experiences, I had to study my industry inside and out.
I did this by creating a budget and schedule for continuous learning.
Put Money and Time Aside for Learning
For a few years, I’ve been dedicating an annual $10,000 budget strictly for learning.
If I wanted to upgrade my agency, I had to improve my mind and skills.
I’ve spent money on marketing training courses. I now have Hubspot and Google Analytics certifications.
I also bought books. I check out Entrepreneur Magazine, Amazon and Barnes & Nobles often.
I try scheduling time for consuming this content as much as I can. Every morning, I spend an hour before work reading books or listening to a podcast. I use the app, Instaread, to digest books faster.
Here are my top book picks for anyone wanting to grow their business:
- Selling the Invisible — The guide to selling your services better
- Our Iceberg is Melting — An entertaining read about how penguins and we can adapt to changing situations
- Built to Last — Secrets revealed about creating great, long-lasting companies
All of these resources have helped me generate revenue by delivering better results for my clients.
Talk to People Who Achieved Your Goals Already
As you develop your business, there’s going to be moments when you have no idea what to do next.
You should reach out to people who have dealt with what you’re suffering from, and have conquered it. Like I said before, they made mistakes, so you don’t have to.
For me, I contacted the people I admired to pick their brains — people I wanted to be like. I paid a consulting fee for some of them. But most had no problem chatting for 30 minutes.
Talking to them made me look at myself and my business differently. I had to reflect on how my behavior was aligning with my goals.
These experiences showed me how valuable it is to NOT be the smartest person in the room. Hanging out with people who are more experienced, wealthier, and skilled than you pushes you to become a better person.
5. I Productized My Services
Although I’m vocal about my frustrations when dealing with past clients. I will forever be grateful for the women of color who followed, promoted, and bought from me.
Without them, I would not be where I am today. It was through them that I could sell digital products, business planners, consultation calls, and online courses.
Their support was the reason why I wasn’t flat-out broke when I was re-inventing the Marketing Chicks.
What I Sold to My Audience
What’s excellent about passive income is that you can generate sales at a low cost every month.
Before I got hacked, I used my IG page to sell $10 marketing and branding ebooks. These books were easy to understand and helpful.
I also had semi-passive income deals. For a low cost, people can sign up for a group call where I taught the ins-and-outs of starting an online business.
Recently, I’ve been selling a business planner that’s been sold out many times. They sell online and in local bookstores.
Turning my experience and knowledge saved my ass. I was able to use the information I wrote years ago to develop products that continue to make money.
How I Marketed My Products
I know what you’re thinking, “How did you sell your stuff so fast?” I had a community of aspiring female entrepreneurs supporting me. I built this audience with social media marketing.
On Instagram, I informed them about my latest offers. I used Facebook to share behind-the-scenes photos of me developing or using the products.
I even created a Facebook group to engage with the audience who repeatedly bought from me.
But I’ll be real with you. I didn’t grow this following overnight. I spent years developing content that they loved and engaged with them so they could trust me.
If you want to do great on social media, you have to make it a habit. Deliver value that your audience likes and be engaging by asking questions and addressing their concerns.
To gain their trust (and money), you must put in the effort.
There I did it. I just spilled my guts. I shared my mistakes, insecurities, and secrets. I also shared my journey to triumph.
I told you the five behaviors I adopted to save the Marketing Chicks and hit my first million in revenue.
In summary, don’t try to do business with everybody. Find your ideal clients or customers and commit to them.
Don’t spend money on shit you don’t need. If you are going to rent an office, you better have a good reason for it. There are so many places and tools that make meeting people less expensive, take advantage of them.
If you need things done fast, consider hiring a freelancer.
When you know who your target market or clients are, find out where they hang out on and offline. Then, engage with them there.
Always tell people what you do and who you do it for. This will keep you in their minds when an opportunity comes up.
Never stop learning. Sharpen your skills and knowledge with books, online courses, podcasts, etc.
If you want to grow faster, reach out to a person who succeeded and ask to chat. Pay their fee if you have to.
Need extra cash? Turn your services or expertise into products, then market them to your followers.
About Nicole Matthews
Nicole Matthews is a #1 Marketing Consultant, Specializing in advertising, digital marketing, and social media marketing.