Sarah Stockdale, Founder of Growclass, shares 3 copywriting exercises to write copy that sells.
When people think about “sales,” they think about the sleazy car salesman trying to sell you something you don’t want.
Sarah Stockdale, Founder of Growclass, sees it another way:
When I think about sales, it's really just doing your job so that you are connecting folks to a solution that's going to solve a problem that they have. Sales is about being great at empathizing with those customers and articulating that problem so they can see themselves in the solution.
That's how you write copy that sells. You have to connect people who have problem to a great solution.
Today, she’ll be sharing 3 copywriting exercises to help you write copy that sells.
In this Marketing Powerups episode, you’ll learn:
- Three exercises to improve your website copy.
- An example of a company with great copy.
- The power of storytelling.
- Why building a personal audience is a must for marketers.
When you're in scale-up mode, and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups.
And it's a lot to handle: demand gen, email sequences, revenue ops, and more! That’s where 42/Agency, founded by my friend Kamil Rextin, can help you.
They’re a strategic partner that’s helped B2B SaaS companies like ProfitWell, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine.
If you’re looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house, look no further.
Go to https://www.42agency.com/ to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high-efficiency revenue engine now.
⭐️ Sarah Stockdale's 3 copywriting exercises
Copy is fundamental to your growth—but so often overlooked. Your copy is the conversation you have with customers when they land on your website. It’s how you resolve their objections to joining your program, booking you as their consultant, or buying your product.
Copywriting expert and Growclass Founder, Sarah Stockdale shares three simple copywriting exercises you can use to make your copy more relatable and persuasive:
1. The "We" Exercise 🤝
"When someone is arriving at your homepage or when someone is reading your sales email, they are having a one-to-one experience. You are talking to one person. They are sitting alone at their laptop or they're sitting on the subway looking at their phone. They're not in a collective and they expect to be spoken to, not spoken about."
That's where the "We" exercise can help you talk to one person rather than a collective. Focusing on "you" makes the copy feel like it's speaking directly to the reader. They'll feel seen and understood.
Here are the steps of this exercise:
- Step 1: Copy and paste your website or ad copy into a document
- Step 2: Use "find" to highlight every instance of "we," "us," or "our."
- Step 3: Rewrite these sentences to use "you" instead.
For example: "We provide the best software to grow your business" becomes "Our software will help you grow your business."
A great example of a landing page with "You" statements instead of "We" is Basecamp. In its subheading, they mention "you" six times!
2. Customer Storytelling Exercise 🦄
What this exercise that forces you to do is this build extreme empathy with your customer. It's understanding your customers beyond why they use your product, but also what might they be doing before, during and after using the product.
Answer the following questions. If you have a team, ask them to respond to it seperately and compare notes. To take it to the next level, find direct quotes from prospects and customers from live calls or recordings.
- What wakes your customers up at 3 a.m.?
- What is your customer struggling with at work (or whatever context they would use your product or service)?
- What do your customers do now that could be improved by buying your product or service?
Use these responses to fill in Sarah's landing page ad lib below:
It's [time/date] and you're doing [x]. You are feeling [adjective] and you wish [activity] was [faster/easier/better]. You need to [do or feel] x but [x] is making it harder. But not anymore. Now you can feel/do [value proposition] with [product/offer]. You'll see [benefit] and be feeling [x].
3. Customer Dragon Exercise 🐲
When I say dragon, I'm talking about the pain and obections your customers might have. You have to find that tension that you can dig in so you can tell a story to that person that's going to resonate where they're at and teach them about what that transformation could look like for them.
Here are the steps for Sarah's "customer dragon" exercise:
- Step 1: Make a list of common objections like "too expensive" or "too complicated."
- Step 2: Brainstorm specific reasons for each objection.
- Step 3: Craft copy that handles these concerns and provides counterpoints.
When you validate objections and provide solutions, customers feel heard and understood. This builds trust and credibility.
For example, Growclass knows that a common objection people might have about signing up for their certication courses is that it's too expensive. To address this, they shared the average salary increase for their grads ($27,600). This makes it easier for you to calculate the ROI on their program's $1,999 tuition fee.
Free powerups cheatsheet
🎉 About Sarah Stockdale
Sarah Stockdale is the founder of Growclass, an online growth training program and community for marketers.
Sarah has spent her career growing early-stage technology companies — focused on digital marketing, scrappy growth strategies, data, and retention. Sarah was one of the early hires at the Canadian Fintech giant, Wave, which H&R Block acquired in one of the largest Canadian exits of all time. She then led growth teams at Tilt, growing the Canadian business from scratch, launching in 8 countries, and building what is still the largest-ever international college ambassador program. Tilt was acquired by Airbnb in 2017.
🕰️ Timestamps and transcript
- [00:00:00] Improving Sales by Connecting Customers to Solutions
- [00:00:54] Understanding the True Nature of Selling
- [00:03:33] Using the 'We' Exercise for Better Marketing Copy
- [00:09:06] Understanding Audience and Tapping into Emotions: A Discussion with Sarah Stockdale
- [00:16:10] Transformative Marketing: Putting the Customer in the Protagonist's Role
- [00:18:10] 42 Agency - My Number One Recommended Growth Agency
- [00:18:56] Ahrefs Free Webmaster Tools
- [00:19:10] Effective Copywriting: The Power of Authenticity and Values Alignment in Marketing
- [00:26:55] Powering up your career with meaningful relationships: Sarah Stockdale's journey in Marketing and Tech
- [00:31:32] The Superpowers of Being a Marketer with Sarah Stockdale
- [00:37:17] Building an audience as a parachute in the economy: A discussion with Sarah Stockdale
- [00:39:44] Ramli John invites listeners to subscribe to the Marketing Powerups newsletter, podcast and YouTube channel
[00:00:00] Ramli John: When people think about sales, they think about that sleazy car salesperson trying to sell you something you don't want. Now, Sarah Stockdale, CEO of Growclass, disagrees with this. [00:00:09] Sarah Stockdale: When we talk about growth, people are talking about hacks or they're talking about, you know, how to dupe someone or persuade someone into doing something. And when I think about sales, it's really just doing your job so that you are connecting folks to a solution that's going to solve a problem that they have and being really great at empathizing with those customers and articulating that problem so they can see themselves in the solution. [00:00:32] Ramli John: In this Marketing Pops episode, you learn first, two exercises to help you improve your website copy. Second, an example of a company that has done such a great job with the website copy. Third, the power of storytelling and creating an enemy and building that up against your customer and helping them win that. And number four, why building a personal audience is a must for marketers.
[00:00:54] Understanding the True Nature of Selling
[00:00:54] Ramli John: Now, before we get started, I've created a free Power Up cheat sheet that you can download and apply. Sarah's three tips to write copy that sells. You can find that marketing powerups.com or in the show notes and description below. Are you ready? Let's go. Marketing powerups ready. Go. Here's your host, Ramli John. We're going to be talking about writing copy. That sales that really sells. You'll have this definition of sales that I really love. You had this presentation that I'll link in the description in show Notes. When people think about sales, they typically think of sleazy salespeople, but that is a misconception according to you. I'm curious, what is selling to you? [00:01:42] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, I think so. A lot of the time when we talk about growth, people are talking about hacks or they're talking about how to dupe someone or persuade someone into doing something. And when I think about sales, it's really just doing your job so that you are connecting folks to a solution that's going to solve a problem that they have and being really great at empathizing with those customers and articulating that problem so they can see themselves in the solution. So really when you're selling, you're just connecting those two things together. You're connecting the people who need help with the help that they need. [00:02:19] Ramli John: And that's such a good definition where sales is about helping, like you're helping them solve a problem essentially is what you're talking about. [00:02:28] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, I think people think about sales as extractive, right? I'm taking money from someone, I'm taking something away from them and I like to think of it as additive. I'm providing a service, I'm providing value, I'm doing something in service of this person. And if you're selling something terrible, then yeah, it's going to feel sketchy. But I don't want to work for companies, I don't want to mentor and train marketers that are going to go and sell things that aren't adding real value to their customers. [00:02:59] Ramli John: That's such a great frame shift where it's more of an additive experience and really trying to understand the person's problems and how your product can help solve that specific problem is what you're really getting at. And that's where the copy that you talked about that self really comes in. It's really about understanding what the problem is. I'm not going to what is that? Really share it too much. I'll let you share it on its own.
[00:03:33] Using the 'We' Exercise for Better Marketing Copy
[00:03:33] Ramli John: But the first one is really about making people feel seen. And you have this really great exercise. I love it so much. I don't want to spoil it. It's called the we exercise. What is this we exercise that you mentioned in this presentation? [00:03:47] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah. So it's a super simple two minute thing that any marketer or brand can do to just gut check whether or not your marketing is in communication, is in conversation with your customer. So what I want you to do is open up a Google Doc, blank Google Doc copy and paste all of the copy from your homepage, from your recent sales email, from your ad campaign, whatever it is that you're working on. Paste that into the Google Doc, then control find for the words we, us or our. And highlight every time you talk about yourself or you're talking in the third person. Because when someone is arriving at your homepage or when someone is reading your sales email, they are having a one to one experience. You are talking to one person. They are sitting alone at their laptop or they're sitting on the subway looking at their phone. They're not in a collective and they expect to be spoken to, not spoken about. And so what you're going to do with all of these sentences where you've got we us an hour is you're just going to highlight those and you're going to change that to second person narration. You're going to change that to you copy. So you are speaking directly to your customer. This is your pain, this is what you are going through. This is what you are experiencing. And once you make that very honestly, easy, simple, quick shift, folks are going to start feeling like you are speaking directly to them. You're speaking about their problems. And your copy is going to resonate so much more with folks. It's going to feel less like a company talking about me and more like a person talking to me. [00:05:32] Ramli John: And it's really like driving home that point that when you use the you second person version of that, it makes people feel you're talking about it. It makes people feel seen. It makes people feel like that company that brand gets me, gets my power bomb. Exactly what you're saying here. [00:05:53] Sarah Stockdale: And I think there's hesitation sometimes around speaking directly to one person because brands are like, well, we have these three user demographics that we're going after. And so we're kind of trying to speak to all of them. We're speaking in third person narration about ourselves and our features because we don't want to alienate anyone by speaking directly about a specific problem set. And if you're speaking to three people, you end up speaking to no one. So you really have to choose. And I'm saying that to myself. It's really, really hard when you are trying to sell something to choose a person and write just to that person. But I have a couple of folks from the grow class community that like, maya, hey, Maya, if you're watching this, I write to you all the time because that's the core person that we want to be solving problems for. [00:06:47] Ramli John: And what you just said there is interesting because I'm guessing Maya is a real person, right. And you're imagining yourself talking to a real person versus this made up persona or this thing that you have created of your ideal buyer versus if you can hear them talk and actually see them, maybe you've already chatted with them in the past. That makes it more real rather than this made up thing, is what I just got from what you said there. [00:07:20] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah. User personas are only useful if they are tied to reality. Like, if they are tied to a real human experience of an actual customer who you intend to target into the future and who has had a delightful experience with your product. Like, this is a person you have solved a problem for and you know there's more of them out there. You know that there is enough of a market of people resembling the real person that you've had real conversations with and that you actually understand. Sure. You can absolutely build a buying persona around that. The buying personas that fail are the ones that are just like mark is between the ages of 22 and 35. He works in finance downtown and takes the subway to work. Mark has 1.2 children. Mark doesn't exist. Mark's not real. Mark doesn't give a shit. So we need real humans to have real conversations with. [00:08:20] Ramli John: That's so good. And it really drives home the point that it's important for us marketers to sometimes there's this wall between marketers and then the customers. And then having that maybe a few conversations make it more real because there's that human connection. Like you've seen, you chatted with Maya, you've chatted with that buyer, and it makes it more real. Rather than mark with 1.2. How do you even get the .2 kids there? [00:08:52] Sarah Stockdale: I worked with the bank when I was consulting that one of their personas had 2.5 children. [00:08:58] Ramli John: 2.5.5. [00:09:01] Sarah Stockdale: Couldn't just choose. Couldn't just choose. We took the average. [00:09:05] Ramli John: So good.
[00:09:06] Understanding Audience and Tapping into Emotions: A Discussion with Sarah Stockdale
[00:09:06] Ramli John: This whole discussion about having that you statement, I feel like that drives the second tip that you provided around really tapping into people's emotion. You're so good at exercises because this is the one that you have around customer storytelling exercise what is that and how does that tie back to tapping into the people's emotions? [00:09:30] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, I would say some marketers find these exercises really challenging. When you say, I want you to shift into second person narration and speak directly to the pain and the story of a specific customer, it's hard to conjure that image in their head if they haven't done this kind of work. So what I always ask people to answer is, like, if your customer, if the person that you're trying to talk to in your marketing woke up at 03:00 A.m. Thinking about something to do with the pain that you're trying to solve, what is that anxiety, what is that voice in their head telling them? And so what that forces you to do is this kind of extreme empathy with your customer. So not only why do they use my product, what might they be doing when they use my product, but what is the moment of fear or pain or anxiety that they are having in their most vulnerable moment that you are set up to help solve for them? And then what is the context that they're in when they're seeking for this, seeking the solution? What emotions are they feeling? What are they hoping their life looks like after a lot of the time, we are talking about features and demonstrating the capabilities of a product, when really all that person wants to know is, is my life going to be a little bit better after this? Is this annoying thing going to go away? Are you going to help me pull this sliver out of my toe? And so you really need to know what that sliver is and what it feels like to have it so that you can articulate what that solution is going to be like for that person. [00:11:15] Ramli John: It ties back to a LinkedIn post you wrote around knowing that Customer's Dragon. It is so good because it brings up ideas of King Arthur and Shrek and the dragon. Shrek, I love, like, really knowing your customer's dragon. And this storytelling exercise you're talking about is like, what is, I guess, the biggest dragon that they have at this moment that keeps them up at night is really what you're talking about there? [00:11:45] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah. And to be honest, that conflict doesn't have to be. When I say dragon, I think people think, like, it has to be this big, ridiculous pain. And then someone's like, I'm selling hair extensions. Like, what pain? What pain are you talking about? So what you have to do is get into the moment of tension where that person is looking for a solution to a problem. And maybe that problem is just like, my ponytail looks thin and I want it to look great. And that's going to enable this confidence for me to go to this wedding next weekend that my ex boyfriend's going to be at and I'm going to feel great. And so that's enough tension that you can dig in and find a story and tell a story to that person that's going to resonate with their current where they're at and teach them about what that transformation could look like for them. [00:12:34] Ramli John: What you just said there, about the hair extension feeling that confidence and making me look I'm not sure that confidence builder is so important. I think people, especially in B two B, there's often this hesitation to my buyer is logical. They go through this. [00:12:56] Sarah Stockdale: Buyer is logical. Everyone is emotional. No buyer is logical, I promise you. I know people want to seem emotional. They can think of themselves as emotional, and that's something that you should know as a marketer. But no one is buying from a place of logic. Everyone is buying from a place of feeling and emotion. [00:13:14] Ramli John: That's so true. I was going to ask you a follow up to that. What would you say to somebody who says that my bias logical? You're saying that people also have the emotion. People in B two B, when they buy together as a group with stakeholders, there's also that emotional part of like, I don't want to look like a fool, my boss. [00:13:36] Sarah Stockdale: Yes. The fear of looking silly or the fear of being perceived as less intelligent or less successful than someone is a real thing that we have to think about. Especially in b two B. SaaS the other thing is too people aren't like when you are working at a company in a B two B scenario where you might be buying software. Maybe you are thinking big picture. Maybe you are thinking about the impact of this software on every single team member and how it's going to integrate into your work. Sure, maybe you're thinking about those things. You're probably thinking about your bonus. You're probably thinking about your promotion. You're probably thinking about what are the three things that my boss told me I have to do so that I can get into the next salary band? So B two B marketers need to understand what those motivations are. They need to understand the person who is pulling out the credit card and making this purchase. What are they being measured on? How are you going to help them look good? How are you going to stroke their ego? How are you going to make them appear smarter or more successful to their boss? Because that is human motivation. We want to look good. We want to do well. We want to be perceived as intelligent and successful. And you should be enabling that at every level of your marketing for your customer. [00:14:55] Ramli John: That's so good. I think people don't realize I guess it goes back to the beginning where you talking to real buyers, make you realize they want to get promoted, maybe even this time they want to keep their job. What's happening with the tech world? We're like, yeah, I want to make sure I make the right choice here, or else I might be part of the next round of layoffs. So that's really important. In terms of a company that's doing this well. Do you have an example of a home page that is really focused on making their audience feel seen and tapping into that emotional as well as that social factor that we've been talking about? [00:15:38] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, absolutely. So this is going back a little bit. I don't know if this is still their current homepage. And to be honest, there's been some political stuff with this company. So I'm not endorsing this product at all. But Basecamp, at some point, hired a really great copywriter. And this person understands not only you copy, they speak in second person narration really well. They speak directly to their core user, but they use a really great copywriting trick called the before and after trick.
[00:16:10] Transformative Marketing: Putting the Customer in the Protagonist's Role
[00:16:10] Sarah Stockdale: So in grow class, we talk a lot about how you are as the marketer, as the company. You are not Luke. You don't get to be Dorothy in the story of wizard of Oz. You don't get to be the protagonist of the copy that you're writing. That's not your role in the story. No one wants to read a story about a B, two B, SaaS software as the protagonist. Your customer is the protagonist of this story. What you get to be as the company, which is, I think, a very fun role, is you get to be Glinda, the good witch. You get to be Yoda. You are the person in this story that is enabling the success and the development of the protagonist. You are removing obstacles for them. You are waving a magic wand and making things better for them. You are helping them pave a path. And so when I think about before and after copy, like what Base camp did, what they are showing is here is the conflict or the tension or the problem that you're currently experiencing. Let me wave my magic wand and show you what it could look like if you had access to this software or access to this product. So what they do really well is instead of saying, we're productivity software for your teams and we have these features, they say right now you feel really disorganized. You feel like your work is all over the place. You don't know where to find things. It feels like chaos. And you create that tension and that conflict, and you put your customer back into the moment when they feel that most acutely. And then you give them the option of transformation. You say, here's what this could look like instead. And then you lay out a different version of how their life could look after. And that's the galinda, the good witch. I've waved my magic wand. Something has changed for you. And now this is what we're enabling in terms of transformation for this customer.
[00:18:10] Ramli John's talk on Marketing Company, 42 Agency
[00:18:10] Ramli John: Before I continue, I want to thank the sponsor for this episode, 42 Agency. Now, when you're in scale up growth mode and you have to hit your KPIs, the pressure is on to deliver demos and sign ups. And it's a lot to handle. There's demand, gen, email sequences, rev ops and more. And that's where 42 Agency, founded by my good friend Camille Rexton, can help you. They're a strategic partner that's helped b two B SaaS companies like Profit, AWOL, Teamwork, Sprout, Social and Hubdoc to build a predictable revenue engine. If you're looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing growth problems today and help you build the foundations for the future, look no further. Visit 42 Agency.com to talk to a strategist right now to learn how you can build a high efficiency revenue engine.
[00:18:56] Effective Copywriting: The Power of Authenticity and Values Alignment in Marketing
[00:18:56] Ramli John: Thank you also to the sponsor for this episode. Hrs Free Webmaster Jewels if you want to rank your website higher in search engines, you have to make sure that your website doesn't have any technical SEO issues, because if you do, that's like trying to run a race with your shoes tied together. That's how you lose, and we don't want that. Luckily, HR's Free Webmaster Tools can crawl up to 5000 pages to find 140 common technical SEO issues that could be holding your site back from generating valuable traffic. It can also help you find your strongest backlinks, as well as analyze keywords you're ranking for and see keyword search volume and ranking difficulty. For each of those keywords, you can sign up for Free@htrafts.com webmastertools or find the link in the description and show notes. Well, let's get back to the episode. That's so good. I love that example. I'm shouting out grow classes here as well. I'm on the homepage right now. And you apply the same approach where halfway down the page it says you're feeling unsupported at work. There's this quote from Jess Piccoloto from Bolt. It says, I feel like I've found my people. And you're really talking about that before and after here. I guess it's very deliberate, this approach to the homepage that you have on growclass homepage. [00:20:18] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, it's very much the story of a lot of our customers, which is, I'm a solo marketer at work, or I'm part of this team, but I don't really feel like I'm being invested in in terms of my education. A lot of the time I feel out of my depth. My boss will ask me to do something or I'll be given a project at work. At startups, you know, this nobody really tells you how to do things or trains you or helps you in any way. So you're like, I kind of feel like I'm out of my own here. I know I'm smart, I know I'm good at this. I literally just need a support network and some hard skills training, and that's what grow class is. So again, taking a very common customer story that we have, writing that narrative, putting them back in that moment of tension and then saying like, hey, we can actually resolve that tension for you. And going back to coming to this from a place of authenticity and values alignment. We have the receipts. We know we can actually do that for people. So I wouldn't be writing that story if it was an aspirational story. I know we can do that for people. We have the receipts, we have the testimonials, we have the data to support it. So that's, again, like, you can do a lot of black magic with good copy. And I really want people to use these tools for good. [00:21:40] Ramli John: When you're talking about a receipt, like two thirds on the page here, like, average salary increase for pro class grads 27,006. That's such a powerful, I guess, social proof or proof on its own showing that value. That receipt you're talking about that you're backing up what you're saying with these words where I also want to call it one thing that I really love that is on this page, it says you deserve to make more money and feel good about your career. I feel like that goes back to Yoda. You're talking about know, we're on your side. Yoda is on like, we're we want you to win and we're on your side. Exactly. That copy is saying that right there. [00:22:31] Sarah Stockdale: My entire job, my entire team's job is to make that real for as many people as we possibly can. And that means finding the right people that are going to be successful inside of grow class. That means supporting the hell out of the people who join us and giving them access to as many tools and resources and network as we possibly can. There's a lot of online courses, so that's also, like objection statement busting because a lot of people have had bad experiences with online courses. Fair, that's not our fault, but it is our problem. We have to differentiate and provide the proof and the receipts and the results and then again, provide people a way out. So another thing that I recommend a lot of the time for copywriting is if you are in an industry like we're in online course sales, you know how many bad marketing courses exist on the Internet? So do I. It's a mess out there. So we have a 14 day money back guarantee. We've never had anyone ask for it, but we would willingly give it to anyone if they asked for their money back because we know you need to feel safe when you're making a big purchase, especially if you've been burned before. And that's our responsibility to make sure that you feel safe. [00:23:47] Ramli John: You mentioned something there that we didn't touch upon about how everything, some of the stuff you talked so far is about handling that objection without mentioning the objection itself. You're talking about we have the receipts to back it up. Speaks to objection that you just said you've been burned by a bunch of people have been burned by bad marketing courses in the past, and you're directly handling objections there. [00:24:13] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, that's another thing that I would say to write really great copy that's going to convert and sell your customers, you have to not only be aware of their problems, their pain, the context that they're in, how they're feeling when they're experiencing the problems that you're solving. You also have to be aware of all of the reasons they'd say no, all of the very legitimate reasons that they wouldn't buy from you. And if you don't have an answer for each of those things, then your job is to go out and find that answer or create that answer so that you can have a really authentic way of speaking to those potential objections and handling them in a way that is values aligned and true. So if someone asks for their money back, we'll give it to them. It's true and understanding not only someone saying, oh, your software is too expensive, because that's what people say all the time. What's behind that? What is driving the feeling of scarcity that they have? Is it the marketing budget got cut? Is it that their team is being laid off? Is it that you are only providing yearly versus monthly payment options? What does too expensive mean to that person? And then how can you pick that apart and build a different story for them? [00:25:44] Ramli John: And part of that objection around expensive often is like, I don't feel like I'm going to get the value in return out of this payment what I'm paying. Right. That's why the receipt part is so good because it's right below it. We're like, sure it costs you this much, but your return on average that we found of our students is 27,600. And then my brain is like, okay, if I put in this much, I get ten times that's. No brainer. That's a no brainer decision. Exactly what you did there, your team did with that cop. That's what you're saying. [00:26:24] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah, exactly what you said. When the objection is that something is too expensive, it doesn't always mean that your pricing is wrong. Sometimes it means that your positioning is wrong in the market or you haven't justified the expense to that customer. You haven't given them enough value in exchange because again, it's not extractive, it's added in. You should be giving back ten X of what you are taking. [00:26:49] Ramli John: It's going back full circle to the very beginning. Well, thank you for sharing.
[00:26:55] Powering up your career with meaningful relationships: Sarah Stockdale's journey in Marketing and Tech
[00:26:55] Ramli John: I want to shift gears and talk about career power ups. Those are things that have accelerate your career. You've been in marketing now for mentioned over 13 years. You've had stints at Ted Talks as director of Sponsorship Tilt.com, as head of Growth before they got acquired by Airbnb. And now you're CEO and founder of Grow class. What's a power up that's helped accelerate your career? That's helped you level up in terms of your career so far, I would. [00:27:23] Sarah Stockdale: Say the thing that has helped me the very most has been relationships. And a lot of people say my network. I don't really think of it that way because, again, going back to what we were chatting about earlier, network feels the word feels a little bit more transactional than the way I like to think about it. I like to think about how do I build intentional relationships where we can add value to each other through our careers and we can just jam and have fun and help each other and just make friends. So, to be honest, when I was really, really early in my career, I would go to all of these networking events in Tech where I was one of the only women in these rooms because this was a very long time ago, but I was there because I was trying to learn how to do my job. I wasn't there because I was trying to build a network or make friends, but it was like a byproduct of just being in those rooms all the time. I just made all these friends with these really smart, incredible, lovely humans who I'm still in touch with now. And the world in marketing, in Tech is a very small town. It feels very big when you first enter it. It's a very, very small town and I grew up in a very small town, so I know what those dynamics are like. So treating your career like a small town and treating all of the people that you interact with as more than a network, as potential friends and investing in those relationships that is going to show up for you in so many incredible ways that you are not going to expect. So yeah, go out and make a whole bunch of friends is the best thing that I did for my career that I'm grateful to my past self for. [00:29:13] Ramli John: When you think about you said the word network sounds so weird. Like when you think about network, you think about pewters and there is almost like that lack of humanness right. [00:29:30] Sarah Stockdale: The term like networking makes me think of business school when everyone was trying to how many business cards can I hand out? And now we live in a world where business cards don't make sense. But no one in business school tells you to go make a bunch of friends, right? [00:29:48] Ramli John: It might be a weird question in terms of like how do you make friends? I know it myself. But for people who might be early in their career, who is tuning in? Is it about finding connections like hobbies outside of work or anything else? Your advice on how people can find make that real connection instead of the business card transaction that we might have learned in school? [00:30:17] Sarah Stockdale: I think you're like the most perfect example of this. Just be insatiably curious about other. People. I think when you're out, whether or not it's at a tech event or just having coffee with someone, a lot of people think that their job is to come off as impressive, which means that they talk a lot and that's okay. But the way to develop a relationship is to deeply care about the experiences of the other person and get really curious about who that person is and what motivates them and what they care about and what that's going to give you is the ability to help them because you're going to know what they need. So that is what creates that authentic relationship, that authentic curiosity about the people that you interact with in your career, and then the work that it takes to maintain those relationships and check in on those people and see how you can be of value to them past that one interaction. [00:31:16] Ramli John: That's so good. I feel like that applies to what we just talked about before, where you caring about buyers and being curious about it. It's almost like you're building that relationship even with that buyer so that you can speak deeper on a deeper level with there.
[00:31:32] The Superpowers of Being a Marketer with Sarah Stockdale
[00:31:32] Ramli John: That's such a good tip there in terms of one final question. If you can give yourself your younger self a piece of advice, it could be one advice or two piece of advice, or however many you would want. What would be something that you would share, travel back in time and then give a younger version of Sarah as an advice? It could be about career, it could be around marketing, it could be about life. Buddy would be that advice you'd give if you're a younger you? [00:32:02] Sarah Stockdale: Yeah. I think for a long time growing up in organizations that were engineering focused, I felt like when we were talking about before, like, you have to appeal to the logic. I really felt that the superpowers that I felt like I had as a young marketer in empathy and customer development and writing, I guess I didn't value those things about my skill set. And I thought that in order to be successful in these organizations that I had to be the hardcore growth hacker, that I had to get really wonky about data. And I did, and I learned SQL, and I did all those things, but the superpowers that kept coming up and kept giving me opportunities were the things that I was naturally good at writing, taking care of people, empathizing with people, building community, and I didn't value those skills. And I spent a lot of time trying to be a different kind of marketer. And I just hope that folks just take advantage of the things that come naturally to you and don't feel like because you're not a wonky experimental growth hacker in a blue patagonia vest learning out over pivot tables in SQL that you are any less valuable, your skill set, the things that come naturally will help. And then I think the only other thing is just like, yeah, make friends, be kind to people, be good to people. Don't be afraid to be cringey because you have to fail in public. You have to build your career in public. And if you're so scared to be cringey, you're never going to connect with anyone or build an audience or do anything interesting. [00:33:59] Ramli John: I feel like there's a story there with being cringey. Do you have a story of being cringey that helped you build that relationship or that next level? [00:34:10] Sarah Stockdale: Well, I write a personal newsletter called we need to Talk About this. And I also build grow class. Oh, no, all good. I also build grow class. And I think a lot of just putting yourself out there, putting your ideas out there, trying new platforms, trying different things. Sometimes you're going to post on LinkedIn to Absolute Crickets, or you're going to start building a newsletter and it doesn't work the first time. And I think there was a long time early in my career that I was really hard. I was really scared to be seen trying, and failing that was scary, to be seen trying something that maybe wouldn't work. And that's the only way that you do anything true. I think it's really cool to be seen trying. I want to see more people actively trying to build audiences or actively trying to improve their writing or to make connections. It's cool to try that's not cringy. And I want to see everyone's unfinished, unpolished effort online. [00:35:18] Ramli John: That's so good. How do you get over sometimes when I post on LinkedIn still, I have this, I guess, hesitation, like, oh, man, what will people think about me? And it seems like, is it doing it more often helps you get over that fear? Or what kind of advice would you have for people who are like, I don't want to get over that cringiness, so to speak? [00:35:44] Sarah Stockdale: I think, honestly, the best thing that I've learned about building audience online is if it doesn't work, no one saw it. So it doesn't matter. It didn't work because no one saw it. You're like, oh, I'm so scared everyone's going to see me fail. No one saw it. The algorithm didn't show it to anyone because it wasn't good or it was the wrong time on Wednesday. It doesn't matter why, but if it didn't work, then no one saw it, and there's freedom in that. And then at the same time, anyone who would watch you try and fail in public and cringe at that is not a person who's ever going to support you in the first place. And I wouldn't want anyone to hold back their gifts and the things that they might be able to offer a potential audience or a young marketer who needs to hear the pep talk or the tool that they really could use that would really help them in their career. I don't want you to hold back what you can offer because some girl from high school might make a face when she reads it, because who cares? That person was never going to be in support of you to begin with. So, yeah, get caught trying. [00:37:01] Ramli John: Get caught trying. I love that. And I love that advice. Like, if it doesn't work. [00:37:06] Sarah Stockdale: Nobody really saw it anyway. That's the nature of algorithms, right? Like, if it's crickets, then the crickets mean no one saw it, so that's fine.
[00:37:17] Building an audience as a parachute in the economy: A discussion with Sarah Stockdale
[00:37:17] Ramli John: I keep saying this is the last one, but you've mentored a lot of marketers through grow class and throughout your career. Is that an advice you would give them to build an audience earlier than later? Or what's your thoughts? [00:37:32] Sarah Stockdale: Yes. So especially in the economy that we have right now, you were mentioning, like, a lot of people are fearing that they might be laid off. It's a fair fear. There are a couple of things that you can be doing consistently that are always going to serve as like a bit of a parachute for you, regardless of what happens if you're working full time, if you're freelancing, and those things are your relationships, your audience is a form of power. So if you have people who are engaging consistently with your content, who you are adding value to consistently, that's a form of parachute. So if something were to happen at your full time job, you have attention of other people who could potentially help you find your next thing or sell a book or do whatever you want to do. So that audience is cushion and it's power, and especially for women and marginalized folks. I never want people to be stuck in spaces where they don't feel safe or valued. And so what you need to be consistently doing in your career is building these different forms of parachute so you never feel like you are stuck in those spaces. So I want you to have a big audience, I want you to have a big newsletter, I want you to have a big, powerful network because those things are going to pad some of the harder bumps that you're going to have along the road. [00:38:58] Ramli John: That's so good. It's really about giving you more options there. And like, you talked about the parachute and I love that you don't want them to get stuck in giving them, I guess, an out if they're in. [00:39:11] Sarah Stockdale: A place that is not yeah, yeah. It's just another form of power that you can start to build for yourself. But I want people to have more. [00:39:20] Ramli John: Of such a fun chat with Sarah to learn more about her work. You can go to growclass co. They have a cohort coming up. You can also subscribe to their newsletter, Grow Notes, right on that site. She also has a personal newsletter called We Need to Talk About this. You can find that at wntta co. Follow her on LinkedIn, on Twitter, all those links are in the show. Notes and Description thank you to Sarah for being on the show.
[00:39:44] Ramli John invites listeners to subscribe to the Marketing Powerups newsletter, podcast and YouTube channel
[00:39:44] Ramli John: If you enjoyed this episode, you'd love the Marketing Powerups newsletter. Share the actionable takeaways and break down the frameworks of world class marketers. You can go to Marketingpowerups.com subscribe and you'll instantly unlock the three best frameworks that top marketers use, hit their KPIs consistently and wow their colleagues. I want to say thank you to you for listening and please like and follow Marketing Powerups on YouTube, Apple, podcasts and Spotify. If you feel extra generous, leave a review on Apple podcasts and Spotify and leave a comment on YouTube. Goes a long way in others finding out about Marketing Powerups. Thanks to Mary Sullivan for creating the artwork and design. And thank you to Faisal Tygo for editing the intro, a video, and of course, thank you for listening. That's all for now. Have a powered update. Marketing Power ups until the next episode.
✨ Useful links
- 👨🏽💻 Growclass website
- 🎓 Growth marketing full certification
- 🐦 Sarah Stockdale on Twitter
- 🔗 Sarah Stockdale on LinkedIn