- From rock and roll deejay broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day via XM Satellite Radio to marketing guru for Wal-Mart
- Self awareness, planning, and spreadsheets — the good, the bad, and the launchpad to Lately
- Knowing women don’t get startup funding and getting $3 million anyway
- Managing a team and expectations
- Ups-and-downs of talking about your product
- How artificial intelligence can make your business a social media champ
This week we meet Kate Bradley Chernis, Co-Founder and CEO of Lately, artificially intelligent-powered marketing software that automatically turns blogs, videos, and podcasts into dozens of amazing social posts. This former DJ, talks about the music industry, raising $3 million, and marketing best practices.
Lately is artificially intelligent-powered marketing software that automatically turns blogs, videos, and podcasts into dozens of amazing social posts. It then amplifies those social posts across unlimited employee, stakeholder or franchisee location accounts, so that companies can syndicate coordinated messaging at scale. Use cases include brand marketing, employee advocacy, social selling, executive thought leadership management, and personal social media communications.
Kate Bradley Chernis: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katebradley/
Transcript: Music, Marketing & Startups with Lately Co-Founder Kate Bradley Chernis
[music] My name is Jen McFarland. I help business owners like you lead, plan and execute their projects for maximum impact. Women-led businesses receive less funding yet our businesses are more successful. As consumers, we hold the pursestrings. It’s time for us to take on the business world. Welcome to Women Conquer Business. [music]
Have you ever met somebody online and thought, “They’d be really cool. I should really talk to them at some point?” And then you just keep watching and you interact maybe a little but not much and you just become more and more impressed with someone and everything that they have to offer. Maybe you learn a few things along the way. That’s been my experience with Kate Bradley Churnis. I watch her, I listen to what she has to say on LinkedIn. She’s taught me a lot about writing copy just as somebody watching from the outside. And then I finally decided, “You know what? I’m going to ask her to be on the show,” even though I’m a little introverted and shy. Because I just really wanted to talk to her. And she was amazing and you’re going to hear how amazing she is. But she was amazing at the invitation. It was an immediate, “Yes,” and it felt so good. And it’s really important to ask people that you admire and that you watch, if you’re really interested in meeting them reach out because you never know what’s going to happen. Kate Bradley Churnis is the founder and CEO of Lately. Lately is artificially-intelligent powered marketing software that automatically turns blogs, videos, and podcasts into dozens of amazing social posts. It then amplifies those social posts across unlimited employee-, stakeholder-, or franchisee-location accounts so that companies can syndicate coordinated messaging at scale. Use cases include brand marketing, employee advocacy, social selling, executive thought leadership, management, and personal social media communications. Please welcome Kate Bradley Churnis to the show [laughter]. So Kate welcome to Women Conquer Business.
Thank you. Thank you so much [laughter]. I love it here. This is awesome.
We’re having a great time so I guess we should let everyone else in on the party. So why don’t you tell us how you got started and what made you into the awesome woman entrepreneur you are today?
Ah, thank you and I think, “Back at you, there.” So, yeah, I’m Kate Bradley Churnis. Lately is my company and what first started– it’s a bit of a long story. But hey, we got some time so I’ll tell you. So I’ve got to backtrack a little bit. So in another life, I was actually a rock and roll deejay broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day via XM Satellite Radio. And, yeah, that was pretty fun. I had other radio jobs before that but XM was where I landed in the end and it was great. There was a lot of fun things but it was also kind of crappy. My body was really starting to tell me that something was up. I got all these ailments happening and I worked for a short, Italian man who had [laughter] some hangups that seemed to be genetic, I’m not sure. But anyway, he just was threatened by me basically I guess you might say and so I was constantly squashed. My ideas were squashed and I was kicking butt for our channel but I wasn’t getting the credit for it. And that was actually happening throughout the company. It was pretty intense and there weren’t a lot of women, obviously. And so, there was tons of sexual harassment. But that actually didn’t bother me because that was kind of always the deal in radio, was total boys’ club. But what did bother me was being treated differently as a woman and not getting credit for my stuff. And just kind of feeling like someone was shoving me to the side. And so, my body was really reacting to it. And it got so bad that I had to kind of think of a career move. And so, I did. I sort of moved laterally to a company called Pump Audio, which was the largest distributor of independent music licensing. And it was cool working there. But I noticed the same thing. There was some boys’ club stuff happening. And at the time, too, I was a terrible person to be around. I was really unhappy because I didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t vocalize it and so, I was complaining. I was toxic and I wouldn’t have hired me also. I wouldn’t have wanted to work with me. I was just really– I complained a lot and I was not owning, also, my own shizzle. Right? And finally, my dad, actually, shook me by the shoulders and said, “There’s no shame”– wait what’d he say? He said, “You can’t work for other people and there’s no shame in that. That was what he said. And I had an epiphany because I did feel like I was going to school and I was not getting an A and I didn’t know why. Right? And I felt like I was disappointing my male bosses. Which is exactly how I felt and I had some therapeutic issues around that clearly. And so, my husband, who is so kind, gave me “The Secret”. Remember that book?
Which is a terrible book. I mean, it’s a good book but it is really a poorly written book and is kind of cheesy and corny. So, I read this book begrudgingly. Every page I was like, “Really?” But what the book reminded me was that when I was feeling good, when I was playing softball and I hit a line drive, I wasn’t thinking, “I suck.” I was thinking, “I rule.” And all that was coming out of my mouth in the past few years was, “I suck. I hate my job. I hate myself. I’m not good enough.” That was just constant. And so, it’s perpetuating this thing. So, I decided not to do that anymore. And it was hard at first because a lot of my friends, we would just get together and bitch about work. Even my husband and I, we had to stop it. We were totally toxic [talk?] to each other. So, anyways, long story. Sorry. DJ–
No, I love it.
–can’t stop talking. Cool. Thanks, you’re kind.
Well, it sounds really familiar to me. This is very similar to my experience and journey. So, when I say, “I love it.” It’s that I know that you’re on the other side of a lot of this now. And so, I think a lot of people kind of go through the same feelings. Especially in male-dominated areas. So, please continue.
Well, thanks. Yeah, it’s hard because of course, the first thing you do is you look inwards and you think, “What’s wrong with me?” Right? Or hopefully, you do. I mean, hopefully, you have some self-awareness, which is what I totally do. “What am I doing wrong?” And I went through that whole cycle. And there was definitely a lot of stuff. But then, there was this other thing. And so, that’s what was pissing me off because I was just like, “Lord.” And my husband gave me another book because he’s the best and it was Guy Kawasaki’s “Art of the Start”. Right? And somewhere in page 9 or 10, it says, “Don’t make a plan. Just get started.” And so, I stopped reading the book because I was like, “Well, what’s the point of reading this book?” [laughter] and the next day, two Angel investors, which I didn’t know that’s what they were, they came to my job to deliver me some content for work. Which, normally people would put in the mail. And they live nearby and they figured, “Let’s go have lunch with her.” For whatever reason. And we were having lunch and they were asking me. We’re just talking, and I was complaining about the music industry. Not the male part but just at large. And I had a lot of opinions. I’m fairly opinionated. And they loved it. And they were like, “We really like you. We would really like to start a company with you, and let’s start with 50,000 bucks.” And I was like, “What?” [crosstalk]. We didn’t even know what we were going to do at all. They just were excited about me. They believed in me. And that felt really super good. And I didn’t even– at the time, I didn’t even understand the value of that. Now, of course, I do much better, and I love those two guys. They’ve become great friends. But so here I had $50,000, and we started a music taste mixing company online. It was kind of driven out of my radio ideas and whatever. And it did fine. I wasn’t trying to monetize it. We just had really good listenership. And as I was marketing that, basically, somebody else came to me and said, “Hey, you’re really good at marketing. We’d like to hire you as a consultant and pay you a lot more money. And you don’t have to listen to bad new music anymore.” And I was like, “Yes. That sounds great.” I’m over this music industry thing. I’m done with it. And they put me on the Walmart account. So that was pretty lucky. So here I am at meetings with Walmart. And because I am opinioned and don’t have a lot of filter and because I didn’t grow up in corporate life, I don’t know how to “behave”. And so I just share my thoughts. And so I came home one day, and I said to people I was working with. I was like, “This project is a disaster, and I made us a system to organize it– a spreadsheet. So here.” And they were like, “What?” And they were like, “Actually, this is awesome. So show it to the group.” And so I did. And so the group– this is where it gets interesting hopefully. It’s a marketing [inaudible]. But the group was Walmart corporate, Walmart Foundation. They have a whole nonprofit arm. The national disability institute. United Way Worldwide. Right? Everybody knows them. Plus they had Bank of America as a sponsor. AT&T. So there was nonprofit and for-profit which is very unusual. The IRS was involved. The government also. And then 10s of 1,000s of small and medium businesses and other local government related folks who were all participating together to market this piece of software. And the software was called My Free Taxes. It was designed to help lift the American poor out of poverty through tax credits and financial education which is a lot to say, but that’s what it was. So here my job is to make taxes and disability sexy. Hard.
And to organize it. And so I had this monster spreadsheet. And we ended up getting 130% ROI year over year for 3 years, so.
Wow. Because you were able to [herd cats?].
That was cool. Yeah. Exactly. That was it. And it really was. I mean, basically, it was– now, this is 10 years ago, so stuff has changed a little bit, but the way it was working was we do it one year and we look at the results. And then we figure out how to improve and it do the next year. And so we were like, “Hey, the world has changed. We can do this now in real-time, right?” But that’s even hard for– for giant companies to react in real-time is still really hard. And then it was unheard of but we did it. So basically, the spreadsheet system that I built, I started using it for all my clients because I was like, “Hey, this works here. Let’s work–” And the clients were all different sizes, and they had the same problems. And so that [inaudible] for us up to today. So today, lately, uses artificial intelligence to automatically turn blogs, newsletters, online articles, white papers, videos, podcasts into dozens of amazing social posts, and then we syndicate those social posts out to unlimited stakeholder accounts, right? So if you are a national bank and you have 1,400 locations you can auto-generate content from your blogs, and then publish that content out to all of the locations. You can then localize it, for example. Or you can do that with employees. So employee advocacy, that kind of thing. And the idea, really, was how can I take what I did for Walmart, me, one person, doing all this work manually, and give one other person the ability to do it, basically instantly for almost no money?
That’s so amazing. And for all of us who are listening, it’s what we’re always looking for, right? It’s one way to kind of multiply ourselves if we don’t have a big team Or if we have a small team where we’re trying to get all of this content out into the world and not have it be the same because it’s not allowed to be the same. Right? On Twitter, especially, you can’t cross-post, and it doesn’t like that.
Yeah. Exactly. So the idea, right, with the social posts is to actually use 20 or 30 different posts to drive traffic back to the same piece of content, and do it over time so it feels natural and non-spammy. But also to give your customer, your would-be customer, multiple different access points so that they can find that connection with you, right, on their terms? So again, it’s very much like radio, right? So in radio they used to play the same song 300 times a week, right? How annoying. But that’s why your favorite song becomes your favorite song. And, in fact, it’s because you hear it multiple times, right? So it’s similar with messaging. Marketing works on the same thing. It used to be 7 times you had to see a TV ad before it sunk in, right? Now it’s 12 times of some kind of touchpoint, whether it’s an advertisement or social media messaging or whatever. And so what Lately does is it gives you dozens of fresh ways to do that so that your customer, again, doesn’t feel spammed. It feels more natural. And what we found is that it also gives people more comfort in re-sharing that content at the same time, right? So you can use Lately to tag people each time, but if I had 20 messages and I published them all in two days and tagged you every time you would be, “This is annoying to me.” But if I tag you and I publish that message once every two weeks. Guess what? You re-share it.
Right? So. Yeah.
So that sounds pretty complicated. I, of course, being the nerd, I want to ask all these artificial intelligence questions, but maybe we’ll get to some of that. But this sounds complicated, so what are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve overcome at Lately?
Yeah. So exactly that. So we are still really bad at telling people what we do which is ironic because isn’t that what I’m supposed to be good at? Right? And it’s very frustrating for me. As you might imagine. Shoemaker has no shoes. But we’re definitely getting better at it, and part of the problem is because the way start-ups work is, in venture-land, is you’re not pitching to the customer for a long time. You’re pitching to investors. So you talk a little bit different to them than you do customers, and so that’s weird. There’s always jargon, your own jargon, that you trip over that you have to– I mean I just threw a bunch at you there, right? What we really do is automatic organization. That’s really what is the heart by what we do. But it is totally unsexy, and so we had to learn how to not sell that anymore. And so we had to learn what were the customers really excited about? And it turns out that the AI was the thing they were the most excited about. So how can we put that upfront, and then link the pieces? So what Lately does is it generates this content for you, but in the background it’s also doing a whole bunch of stuff to make it easier for you to use it, so I’m going to just get boring on you, but every single piece of content you ever publish, we automatically index into a fully searchable library by a million different ways, and searchable by campaign, so that for me is really handy because we use stuff again and again. We’re always looking for, “Where was that social post? I forgot. Where did I publish it? What day was that on?” And so it’s really easy to find it, reuse it, all that stuff. There’s a lot of stuff like that happening in the background. And the other trauma too, Jen, was that my customers at the agency were [inaudible]. They just were. I mean, forever. And investors don’t want to hear that. They don’t want to hear that’s all of your customers. Everybody. That’s crazy. You’re crazy, right? And, well, I’m crazy, because guess what, it is everybody. I mean, we took the time to take an enterprise style product and simplify it enough so that individuals like you can use it, and because we were then, guess what, able to sell land and expand to enterprises, because in an enterprise, the people who work there are the same as the people who work in the mom-and-pop down the street. I’m not kidding. They’re not some super special marketers that have this genius knowledge that was plucked from the gods. They’re just regular people who want to be treated like regular people. So if you make a product for regular, they tell their bosses, “Buy this,” right? So that’s been kind of an interesting adventure for us, because they call it SMB, right? Small medium business. The smaller customers. It’s the third realm. Everybody doesn’t want to even hear that you’re bothering with them. They want you to only sell to enterprise, because one sale for a million dollars versus a million sales for a dollar, right?
So if you can do both, winning.
Exactly. Well, and serving the smaller businesses, because women in business tend to be smaller, so if you want to serve women in business, we do tend to be in that third realm, mostly because we don’t get as much VC funding in general. In some ways–
Yeah, there’s that.
There’s that. And so in a lot of ways, you’ve overcome a lot of obstacles just by getting funding. By having this great idea and going through the whole process.
Thanks. Yeah, so it’s 2%, right? Women entrepreneurs get to see less than 2% of the venture funding out there, and we’ve raised almost $3 million to date. It’s amazing that I forget this all the time, and my team, who’s also my cofounders, especially have to remind me because I consistently, daily, feel like a failure. I am a failure today. I can’t tell you how many asses are on fire. I don’t know how I’m going to ever put them out. I’m tired. I’m in a lot of physical pain, actually. I need a vacation. I mean, there’s other things going on, right? I’m constantly like, “F, F, F.”
And then I have investors and customers and my team, myself, my family all, in my mind at least, all on my shoulders, right? And I’m just constantly not totally sure how I’m going to get us where we need to go, because it’s an experiment. Of course I don’t know. I haven’t done this before. But it is important to remember that other companies in my shoes that have gone through what we’ve gone through would’ve been dead a long time ago, right? And we’re in year– I think it’s year five or four. I can’t remember. And we make– I don’t want to say the actual numbers because it’s sort of private information, but we make money. We don’t make more than we spend because we’re a startup and so we’re not there yet, but it is amazing to me that we make money at all. Do we have customers? Are you sure they’re real? I definitely have my team check on that sometimes. I’m like, “Go [inaudible],” which is like you can go look on software and see people. I’m like, “Just make sure they’re using it. Are they really using it? I don’t think they are. Oh, they are? Okay.” It’s surprising to me. And even still, today, any customer who– we have a lot of amazing customers who share us on social and talk about us, and I’m always to a tear genuinely surprised and grateful, because all the failures are so overwhelming, so these little teeny successes really are a big deal.
Yeah, no, they totally are, and that’s why when I’m working with people, I always ask if they’ve incorporated gratitude into their daily practice, because even on your worst day, you’ve probably got something to be grateful for, and it seems like that little light sometimes is enough to keep it going.
Yeah. And it can seem really, to me– it can seem super fluffy sometimes, or a little woo-woo. Whatever you want to say. But I was just talking about this yesterday, actually. So everyone’s been telling me to meditate forever. I’m like, “Really?” A, I don’t have time for that. B, really? But, I mean, I do understand the value of my body and I do acupuncture. I mean, I do a lot of stuff around that so that I’m not totally out of it. But someone turned me on Sam Harris, Waking Up With Sam Harris, that app, and the only thing I wish is that he was a woman. I hate to say that, but I do. But I really like it because, first of all, the first five days are free, so I can try it out, and I also don’t have to do it every day. So it was 100 bucks to buy the app and I figured, okay, 100 bucks is a lot, but this will make me actually do this. So I don’t get to do it every day, but it’s 10 minutes. That’s all it is. And he’s really insistent about carrying this practice, even for literally 10 seconds, out into your life some other part during the day, and I’ve already put this to use. My husband and I were driving and he was yelling at me about something. We were in a rainstorm. and I was really fuming over there, and actually, I wasn’t. Normally I would have been like, “Argh.” Gripping the steering wheel, whatever. And I could feel my face not tense. And even he was kind of saying, “Breathe, breathe.” And I’m like, “Actually, don’t talk to me. I don’t need to breathe. I’m cool. I’m breathing all the way over here.” So that’s been great. But yeah, it is really hard to save yourself when you’re so busy saving everybody else, which is very much a woman, I believe, a woman-oriented kind of calling you might say. Right?
I don’t even have kids and I see that, right?
I don’t have kids either, and I feel the same way. And so with that in mind, what advice do you have for other women in business who are probably saving everybody else?
Yeah. It does feel that big or that important, I guess. So that, to me, that’s the way it feels so heavy like that. My advice is– [inaudible] here’s what I do. I do work out every day because my trainer is hilarious, and I laugh for half an hour. It’s actually amazing to me because I usually go– I go around 4:30 so I can come back and do clean up jobs for a couple of hours at work. And I’ll get there and realize I haven’t smiled all day, sometimes. Right? And I’m like, “Wow.” So that’s really super good. My team is pretty wonderful. We are dispersed, so we do a lot of Zoom meetings like you and I are doing right now so we can look each other in the eyeballs and be, “Hello human.” And that’s super important. I’m definitely the kind of person that likes to get to business, and I don’t want to know– I mean I love people and I love people and I like my team but– just like I do I, we want to talk about our weekends, “How’s your day,” and I’m pretty bad, I’m kind of like cut to the chase, and I’ve had to learn to be like, “How was your day?” “How was your vacation?” “What did you do?” And not only let them talk about it because they want to, but also I want them to. It pulls me out and reminds me that there’s a human over there and there’s a human here. I’m human too. And it has allowed me to communicate to them in very trusting way, “Some details I’m trusting,” [inaudible] never do. Something bad happened in my family recently and I was really upset about it. And I didn’t want to talk to them about it, but I wanted to let them know that there’s this other stress going on for me and it’s really very upsetting to me today, in particular, and I don’t know how to handle it. So I wanted to tell you guys that, “I’m sorry, I might not come up with the best idea for this solution right now, but my brain is just ultra, and.” So communicating, trading a relationship of trust with your team, I think is super important and not being– I don’t even know what it means to be a CEO who– I was watching the Elizabeth Holmes documentary or whatever on HBO. The chick from Theranos, right?
She’s the fraud. And I’m watching her and thinking– what was curious to me is she’s doing a lot exactly the way that the investment world wants you to do it. She’s acting like the man, right? She’s beautiful. Her whole stand, her whole, everything and you could hear the people. In the beginning, they were like, “She’s amazing.” And I was thinking– my first thought was, “Way to go. Good for you to turn it around on those guys.” And to take their own medicine and use it on them because this is what– I think I’m [inaudible] a little bit, and I thought about the way she seemed so calm, right? And we joke– hear in the office we talked about being the duck so you’re calm up top and then you’re paddling underneath, you know?. But what she wasn’t able to do, I mean among all of her other craziness, was she wasn’t able to be herself around her team. At all. Right? And that doesn’t help anybody. You just got to do it. I mean I used to– I swear like a sailor in real life, I’m disgusting, I really am. I’m foul and I’m awful. Whatever. It’s who I am. And when new people came to our team who I didn’t know very well I tried not to do that. And I felt them being uncomfortable and I was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t get a lot out of them and so I if you don’t want to work on this team, that’s cool, but–
This is how it is.
It is. And I found that kind of thing, in my experience, it leaves the playing field. First of all, it takes the– what’s the word? The chains off. So it gives them the permission to be themself with you, and then it goes both ways. So, yeah. And I think my other piece of advice is when you go on vacation, put your phone– turn it off and put it in the safe. That’s what I do. I put it in the safe at the hotel, and I never see it again until we’re done.
Oh, that really hurts. Yeah, that’s a really good piece of advice, and–
It’s hard. It’s hard. You’ve got to do it.
I’m still fascinated that you went from the music industry to tech and the VC world. You’re just imbedded in these male-dominated places. So when I was leaving tech to start my own thing, the last job I had, I actually ironically worked with IRS on a large project, and I also had to answer my phone all the time, so it kind if embedded all these bad habits that now when I’m out, as an entrepreneur, I’m like, “Well, I was already–” And I have to kind of stop myself to, yeah, have some separation from the phone and the work-life balance thing. But yeah, I agree. Make time for vacation.
Have a real vacation.
Yeah. I actually turn my phone off every single night and put it in a drawer downstairs in the kitchen. It doesn’t come up to the bed. We don’t have any machines in the bedroom. So that’s another good thing is just really separate– and I try not to do everything on my phone. I need to have a timer for exercises. I could use my phone, but why? There’s a perfectly good analog timer without a screen on it. I don’t have any– here’s the secret. Nobody knows this. I don’t have any music on my phone.
Oh, wow. Cool.
I don’t even have iTunes. I deleted the fucking– I deleted the app, sorry.
We swear on here, but whatever. It’s up to you [laughter].
Yeah. I just don’t because I don’t want to be on that thing anymore. And I have an unusual relationship with music because I had headphones in my ears for a dozen years and I don’t need anymore headphones in my ears.
Yeah. Totally. So it’s interesting, you’re saying that you put your phone in the drawer, but you do publish A Day in the Life of a Startup Entrepreneur on Facebook every day. So how does that benefit you as a CEO?
Yeah, so my friend Brian Kramer, who you might know, he’s one of the top 10 digital marketers in the world, he was our advisor and acting CMO for a year, and everyone of course is always trying to get you to do video, right? And especially at a startup, the CEO is really the product, and they’re hard to– ooh, there’s thunder happening here. They’re hard to separate, right? Of course. And so we were trying to figure out– and at first I was going about it in my mind, and then actually doing it like a commercial, and wanting everything written out because of course I’ve made a million commercials, and so I was very stiff about it, and I kept thinking, “Well, I need to–” Like a radio show has to have a beginning and opening and ending, and thinking about it like that, and then I was like– it was so prohibiting and I kept not doing it and not doing it, so one day I just whipped it out, and I said [inaudible], “How’s this?” And he was like, “That is awesome.” And I was like, “Okay. Warts and all, that’s what we’re doing. That’s fine. I can totally do this because I don’t have to think about it.” And it’s rare. I think two or three times have I ever actually been like, “Oh, this is terrible. I’ve got to recut it.” But the point of that is to– so here’s what we know about content. Content is everywhere. Everybody has a podcast. There’s videos, there’s blogs and it’s really hard to stand out. And I know that the cool thing these days isn’t content. It’s access. That’s what I believe. So what’s the behind the scenes. Take me to the green room. Who are the people behind there? What’s it really like, right? I remember being a kid, and my mom was in charge of the field trips. And I was first grade or something. And she had us go to McDonald’s. And it was awesome. We got to see how they made french fries. That was so cool. She took us to the Bagelry, so we could see how they made bagels. All that kind of stuff. So it’s funny. When it’s your life, it’s boring to you, but when it’s not your life, it’s interesting. So the whole goal of those videos was to give people it’s life of like, “What’s it like to be an entrepreneur, a female entrepreneur? And to be not polished and to be not perfect?” Which probably turns people off, but oh, well. Then you’re not my people.
Great. I think it turns off some people, but it doesn’t turn off your people.
Yeah. So your point is so awesome. Listen, I got to meet with Gary [inaudible] last week actually which was pretty cool.
And he’s very kind, generous, and astute individual. And I was really impressed with the time he took with each person in the room genuinely and focusing on them 100% and not talking which was hard to do for me obviously when you’re an alpha personality. It’s hard to listen. And I asked him about those videos, and I was like, “Hey–” because we were talking about LinkedIn and how LinkedIn has been blowing up. And even us, we’re getting crazy and [inaudible] LinkedIn and doing so well for sales, etc. And I was like, “Should I put this thing on LinkedIn?” He’s like, “Why aren’t you?” And I was like, “Well, I mean, I’m in my workout tank top. And my hair isn’t done and I’m talking about my life. And investors won’t like this.” And he’s like, “Well, then you don’t want those investors.” And I was like, “That’s true. I don’t.” We just started it Monday. We just started putting it on LinkedIn to see how it’s going. And nobody seems offended yet. We’ll find out.
Right. I think it’s great. I didn’t even know you’re doing that. Now, I’ve got to stock you on Facebook. I’ve been stocking you on LinkedIn for a year. So now [laughter] [inaudible] platform.
Well, thanks. We did it on Facebook because video was so hot on Facebook, but we did the unusual tactic that Bryan actually– his advice was to do it on our Facebook profile page which is not where you usually see the [inaudible]. You see them on people’s company pages. And the engagement was so super high because of me. Yay. I don’t know why. I mean, I just– I got something.
[inaudible] you’re pretty funny.
Most of it is.
I’ve never had a B roll before, but I’m like, “Hmm. Maybe this is a B roll. I don’t know.” [inaudible] you’re a DJ. You know what that means. I always talk to people before the interview, and somebody’s like, “Is this a B roll?” And I’m like– I was like, “What’s a B roll?” I’m like, “No.” Because I was like– I’m like, “I don’t even know what that is, so obviously, not [inaudible] [laughter].”
Right. I mean– yeah. It’s important. I mean, that catches on why I go to the gym. Right? The laughter piece because sometimes something is justs so– even the bad things, it’s so absurd that you have to [inaudible] it. One of my cofounders, Steve, is especially good at that. Really absurd or bad things will be happening and are happening. And when we got the phone, we’re literally just laughing. We’re like, “Are you kidding me?” Oh my job. My byline is constantly like, “This is going to be a chapter in the book,” because then it’ll be really funny. But, I mean, if you can’t laugh at this stuff then–
Yeah. What’s the point?
We live in a charmed life, here, Jen. I mean, come on. Who are my high-class problems, right? I’m on a podcast and I own a startup and I’ve raised millions of dollars. What am I complaining about, right? Honestly.
I mean, when you put it that way.
It could be worse.
It could be worse.
It could be way worse, yeah. For sure.
So what are the next few chapters? What does the future hold for Lately?
Yeah. So we’re really excited about the artificial intelligence component, specifically. I mean, what we’ve learned, what I’ve learned in the last couple, 15 years or so, is that marketers hate writing. Marketers. People that are supposed to be good at writing, hate writing. And they’re really bad at it. So, amazing. And it doesn’t matter if they work at a small company or a very large famous company. Believe me, it’s the same deal. So how can we use artificial intelligence to help them? But at the same time, we all know – hopefully, we know this – marketing is an emotion-based sport. It runs on emotion. You give me money because you like me, right? That has to be in there. Or you like the product or some emotional connection to it. And if you take the emotion out of it, if you take the human out of it, it doesn’t work. So the robots and the humans have to play together, right? And so that is exciting to us. So how can we expand upon exactly this? So right now, Lately extrapolates content for the use of social media, but can we do that in other aspects? can we do that for chat? Can we do it for text messaging? Can we do it for email? That kind of thing. The answer is, “Yes, we can,” right? We just have to put our sights down there, down that road.
Wow. I have to think about that. I love creating content. So maybe I’m not a marketer. Maybe I just am a content creator.
You’re special. You’re very special. I do too. I mean, I’d rather be doing that any day. But unfortunately, I have to do things like sell and manage and–
But sometimes you are very good at– and this is why I continue to follow you on LinkedIn because you really crack me up where you kind of give a little tidbit like, “Can we not use ‘Check out my blog post,'”, things like that. You give these little tidbits about content that I think are just so valuable. So–
You’re so sweet. Thanks. Yeah, “Check out” is one that really bothers me because just think about it. How often have we all said it, “Check out my blog. Check out–“? I just heard some radio ads, it seems like such a radio thing, because radio is behind in times, these days, come on, right? “Check us out online at da da da da da.” And I’m like, “No one is ever checking you out online. What does it mean?” So this is my fiction writing major background, my professor on my shoulder saying, “Look at those verbs. Verbs are your friends. Choose one that actually applies to the thing.” And just makes it more interesting and also more compelling. And it’s a vapid call to action, “Check out”, and it doesn’t do anything for you, right? No one is ever clicking that link, they just are not. In fact, Jen, we have this thing behind the scenes called, “Kately’s writing rules”. My team calls me, “Kately. Kately from Lately”. And that was one of the first ones, but there were some other rules just for the company for everybody to apply, just so I wouldn’t lose my mind about formatting and things like that. And it grows and so every time I have a rule, I add to it. And so we’ve actually started teaching a writing class around it, and it’s really designed to be efficient in your writing but thinking about the way– one of them is you read with your eyes the same way you eat with your eyes, right? So, thinking about that. You have this marvelous tool here called the keyboard to help you with spacing, bold, italics, all capital letters. Woah, did you hear that?
Yes. What was that? Was that thunder?
Yeah, that was a big old thunder and I’m house-sitting a dog and she’s freaking out– or I’m babysitting a dog. Hi, Scarlett. She’s hiding in my closet over there. But yeah, then thinking about how can you make what you’re writing more digestible so you’re not shoving it all down somebody’s throat in one big paragraph, for example. Right? To that end, silence is very powerful, right? And so, I learned this in radio. My mentor had taught me to actually purposely leave silence because that’s when people turn it up. Which I also do in my pitches. You can pull this trick in a sales meeting, on a podcast, obviously, we just did that. But then also, in writing. How can you visually create space to create silence, so that the call to action you want people to click or do, they actually do? So, yeah. There’s a lot of little tricks. And in fact, can I give myself [up one?]?
So, this became such a thing about noticing how bad the writing was and how much people– and I’m not some genius. These are just the things that have worked for me or whatever. But well, I mean, see. Now I’m being very womanly again.
I mean, you are a genius. So, there’s that.
But it’s such a woman thing is to do that. Is to be like, “I am a genius. Thank you. I’m a genius. I’m a marketing genius.” My investor, Joanne Wilson says, “You are a marketing savant. Say it out loud.” I’m like, “Okay. I’m a marketing savant.” Okay. Anyways, so I was noticing that our customers were taking auto-generated content and then letting it rip. So, they weren’t even putting their eyeballs on it or hands or anything. And I’m like, “Guys, it’s still a robot.” Or girls. Ladies. “You’ve got to check it out a little bit and do a little bit of manipulation there.” And so, we have these weekly things that we do, called office hours. It’s 2:00 PM eastern every Tuesday. And Lauren, customer success lady, extraodinare will go through a feature and people ask marketing questions. It’s really fun. But once a month, I join in and I auto-generate content and then I rewrite it. So, we do a live writing class–
–and it’s been. Yeah. It’s been great. Because it’s just about taking the same tricks I used from Walmart and showing people what that looks like. How can you optimize this one single sentence? Are you burying the lead? Are the first five words you used even necessary? Because turns out the call to action is in the last three words. Can you shuffle that around so it’s more effective? So, yeah.
That’s amazing. I didn’t even know you were doing that. Yeah, I think I got to hop on that.
We’d love to have you for sure. I’ll–
To that end, I mean, how can people learn about the Lately platform? How can we find you?
–thanks Jen. You’re asking all these [thoughtfuls?]. What do you know? It’s www.trylately, so trylately.com. Everywhere, we’re trylately. On Linkedin, Insta, Facebook, Twitter, trylately. And then I’m Kate Lee on Kate@trylately. You can find me there. But yeah, we love to hear folks who’ve been listening and if you tell me you’re listening, I will give you a special treat of sorts, that I’ll figure out when I talk to you. How about that? I promise it’ll be cool.
Well, and do you still have that link that still– do you still have that link up there on trylately where you can actually test out a blog post and see what it does?
Yeah. If you just click “auto generator” it’ll show you that. Sorry, it’s raining like I’ve never seen before here and I’m a little freaked out. And I’m hoping that the umbrella is up [sugar?]. Or no. Anways, but yeah. You can test how the auto generator works. You can get a demo. We’ll show you for free. My team is really super friendly. So, you don’t have to be shy. And there’s no commitment. Just email us. Kate@trylately.com. I’ll show you what it looks like. And I promise to blow your minds because I must say, it’s pretty cool.
That’s awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Thanks, Jen, for being cool.
Cheers. Hey guys, it’s Jen. As a heart-centered entrepreneur, I not only believe in holistic leadership, but also in connecting with my health holistically. For me, that means yoga, movement, massage, and more. When I’m curious about things, like it what it means to be an M-path, I listen to the Holistic Healing Connection podcast with my friend and colleague, Amber Cook. Amber provides business support and networking for the unique needs of holistic healing professionals through her organization Healing Waze. To learn more about Amber, the Holistic Healing Connection podcast, and Healing Waze, go to www.healingwaze.com. That’s ways spelled W-A-Z-E.
Hey ladies. I know you’re working so hard to grow your business. A business that aligns with your vision and your values. A business that supports your lifestyle. And I know it’s been a bumpy ride sometimes. I see it all the time. Women overspending on shiny objects and magic pills because they’re tired of not seeing results. Business decisions based on short-term gains, without a critical eye toward the future. Most heartbreaking of all, women who walk away because it’s just too damn hard. The good news is you’re not alone. You have support all around you. If you’re ready to take joyful action on your biggest business goals. If you need strategy, accountability, and a path to get you exactly where you want to go, let me know. Because I’m here to support you as a consultant and strategist. You can fill out a quick application to work together at jenmcfarland.com/ready. I’ve opened up just a few spots over the next couple of months for clients who are ready to make a move. It just takes a few minutes at jenmcfarland.com/ready
Hi! I’m Jen! I have over 25 years of training, teaching, and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. Today, I am the founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community build sustainable businesses. I’m a frequent guest speaker and trainer. Get access to my free business growth accelerator and hang out with me on my weekly women in business podcast, Women Conquer Business.