The Summary

The Queen of SEO and Copywriting Kate Toon( and well all things digital )  joins Lynsey in the third instalment of our special series the Next Chapter. In this episode Lynsey and Kate discuss the changes to consumer habits and how marketers need to adjust the strategies to bring more authenticity to their message, as well as some great advice for marketers and business owners struggling with their direction.

The Guest

Kate Toon SEO expert

Kate Toon is a writing entrepreneur, as well as a popular coach, speaker, author and podcaster. She’s also a mad good hula hooper.

Her digital education businesses The Recipe for SEO Success and The Clever Copywriting School have helped more than 8000 small business owners grapple the Google beast and write better content.

Kate runs Australia’s only dedicated annual copywriting conference COPYCON.
She presents at events around the world and runs several hugely successful Facebook groups.

Author of the popular business self-help book Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur: How to succeed in business despite yourself, Kate lives on the Central Coast of Sydney, where she loves wandering on the beach with her son and her CFO (Chief Furry Office-dog) Pomplemousse.

The Episode

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The Transcript

Welcome back to the gospel of social media and in part three of our very special 10 part series, which we called the next chapter. So how do we tackle marketing in a world that is a little bit different coming out of this kind of post COVID-19 craziness and what do we actually need to do now? And I’m kind of fan girling a little bit here. I’m super excited to have join me. I’ve got the, I’m just going to say the queen of SEI and copywriting, ms. Kate Toon, joining us on the podcast today. And I’m going to like Kate kind of properly introduce how Epic she is, because I don’t think I can adequately describe how awesome this chick is and how much he knows about stuff. So I’m going to pass it to you. Kate, let you just kinda just, just tell everyone to just your, your, your legend.

Kate (01:51):

Oh God, you built me up there, but whatever I say, I’m going to sound like a complete fool, but, um, thank you. That’s very nice. Uh, I think that the title of queen of SCO is one that I gave myself because, Hey, why not? We can call ourselves whatever we like. Uh, so yeah, I’ve got a couple of different businesses now started off as a, as a copywriter. These days, I’ve got two core businesses. One is the recipe of SCSS, uh, where I teach people how to graph well, Google and I’ve got courses and resources and a podcast, uh, that, and then I have become a copywriting school, which is a membership for coverages, teach you even how to have successful, profitable, enjoyable businesses. And their membership courses is a conference annual conference for that podcast. And then more recently the Kate to brand, I guess, under that, I’ve got my mentoring group. They’re the digital master chefs. So I teach people how to use digital to boost that business, basically. So a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, three podcasts, two memberships, lots of Facebook groups, a book, a dog, and one very tired human.

Lynsey (02:56):

You say, this is why I don’t think I could have done that adequately. Cause just you, you must be very busy. So thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk to us today. So I’m just going to kind of throw your straight in and under the bus. And it’s the big question. I think a lot of marketers are asking them, I’m this right? Where to next? Like, what is this world we’re now in?

Kate (03:19):

I don’t think it’s dramatically different. I know that we’ll hope that we’ve all become better people through this period of kind of disruption and horror. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people will become better people. I think within a couple of weeks, we’ll be back to our old habits. But I think hopefully, uh, there is some degree of people stinking harder about the purchase decisions they make, you know, because you know, America is in recession. Other countries, you know, budgets are tight. And so I don’t think people are not willing to spend money, but they’re being more judicious about it. They really want to see the value. They want to feel that they trust you. They’re less likely to be frivolous and, you know, buy a course or book an agency to do a particular job or buy a particular product unless they’ve done their due diligence. They’ve read some testimonials and they feel that they’re going to get value from it. Because so many times, as we know in this online world, you buy the thing that promises

Lynsey (04:13):

all of the things and then it doesn’t change

Kate (04:17):

the world or you buy the course or the book or whatever. And then he never gets time to read it. And I think even in this busy period, people still didn’t get time to read certain things and do certain things because they got, they dug into the book and were like, this is actually nonsense or this cause is actually not that helpful. So I think we just need to work harder at showing value before we can persuade people to make a purchase choice,

Lynsey (04:41):

love that. And I think that’s what a lot of people there was just kind of like a wave and a high of, Oh, we just pump out a course and we put it out there and put the course out there, you know, give it a clever part and then come and it’ll happen. And I definitely think consumers are getting a lot more savvy and a lot more cautious with what they’re doing at the moment, because of all of these things where resources are tight, you do have to be a lot more selective. So I think that’s absolutely awesome. Can you give us like, if a market is kind of looking at their marketing plan and they’re looking at what they had before, all of this happened, and they’re now sort of looking at the sort of recovery stage and where they’re taking business to now, what are sort of three pieces of advice you could possibly give somebody about is that marketing plan, the same thing to roll out and they just keep going with what they did before, or are there things that you think they should change?

Kate (05:29):

Interesting because during the COVID crisis, I literally could not to a degree change my plans, you know, I had launches, planned emails were going out and to unravel that would have been a nightmare. So to a degree, I just didn’t have the mental capacity to just not let it all flow out. So I didn’t change my plans dramatically. But one thing I have really noticed and appreciated in the last couple of months and we’ll keep noticing forward is how important is to love your existing customers. And I know that we talked about this a lot. We all know that it’s harder to get a new customer than retain an existing one, but I don’t think people really live that. I don’t think people really think about what can I give back to the people who’ve already given me money, who in my community is, is, is advocating for me and talking about me.

Kate (06:17):

How can I give something back to them? How can I heroes are grants? How can I make you talk a little bit about that? And there’s a bit less about me and what I’m doing and a little bit more about them and, you know, use case studies, success stories, testimonials, but also just playing promotions of the people who you work with to boost them up. So that’d be number one, giving some customer love. Number two, I think would be to look at your funnel and make sure that it really serves the audience. I think we can see funnels. Now I can tell what I’m mean.

Lynsey (06:49):

So I guess tell as a marketer, don’t you, you’re like, Oh, here we go. Where’s my upsell. Where’s my cross.

Kate (06:58):

I think, but I think the normal consumer can start to see it too. You know, if I get one more long play in texting,

Lynsey (07:07):

it’s talking about, I was wondering

Kate (07:08):

living in a bin and then this happened, the now my life has changed,

Lynsey (07:12):

but I’m not actually going to mention what the hell I sell at any point throughout this conversation. I’m just going to allude to the fact my life is now fricking amazing. Yeah, exactly. I’m going to run a webinar

Kate (07:22):

about myself for 15 minutes. I think all those kinds of cheesy tactics that I don’t think ever really worked or really not going to work now. So look at your funnel and see if it’s a bit too slick a bit too, maybe, you know, a salesy and try and actually make a genuinely helpful, like think about customer pain points. And are you actually helping me people with a problem or are you just kind of trying to foster them up before you flog them something? Cause we all still all flogging stuff and that’s perfectly fine.

Lynsey (07:50):

Well, that’s, that’s the whole thing of marketing is like he did at the end of the day, I’m going to try and sell you something, but hopefully it’s going to be a value. And not just because I’ve managed to write, you know, some long format coffee.

Kate (08:02):

Yeah. That’s the thing about that is I think it’s, we try sometimes to sell by slight of hands, like, Oh, they won’t notice that I’ve just slipped in the sales thing. No, no, no, no. I think be totally honest about it. So I did an email to my, to my base going, you know what? I could have written a really long email, but I really can’t be bothered because I like you. I don’t have any time. So look, you’ve had loads of health and support from me, but here I am selling something, this is what I’m selling and this is how much it costs. And this is how long itself on sale Salesforce, if you want it great. If you don’t, I won’t send you another email, just be honest, just to be transparent. You’re allowed to make money. You’re allowed to sell stuff. I just think people would appreciate that if just honestly, in transparency rather than trying to be like, here’s another free thing. That’s not really a free thing. Cause I’m going to make you upgrade to the premium version halfway through.

Lynsey (08:49):

This is basically you bought a book which is 15 minutes about me and not actually what you thought you were buying.

Kate (08:55):

Yeah, exactly, exactly. And you know, the, the, the course that promises to deliver at some still costs you money, but really by the end of it, all you’re capable of doing is doing the next course. I just think all of that stuff is a bit always was, but even more so now. Yeah, absolutely.

Lynsey (09:14):

Oh, let me look. I would, I would say like I have this massive thing against, I can’t stand the wonky. I call it the wine key sales page. And like, you can just say the people who’ve just,

Kate (09:23):

well, let’s say my key,

Lynsey (09:25):

listen to this podcast. As soon as it came out has always had like a parental advisory sticker on it. You can just go to town. We’ve always, I love it. The whole principle behind the book costs, we call it the gospel of social media because we want to sell people the truth. Like I’m so fucking sick of like the gurus I’m awake and the bullshit. And it’s like write this long sales page and this coffee and you’re going to, I was like, you know, what, what happened to making just a really fucking good product and telling people about it and you have this whole, we build the best expression of what she said. He can’t Polish a chart, but you can roll it in glitter, move away from the glitter people. Okay. It’s still a tool.

Kate (10:03):

Yeah, the, I think that’s it. And I think the people who feel that they have to bolster the campaigns with all this fluff and kazoo full of wine curries, he said that those deep down, they know that the product isn’t really good enough and that if they, if they just kind of wave their arms around enough important escalator on it, people will be convinced, but people aren’t stupid and they come away from that with a bad taste in their mouth. And the main thing, the biggest thing in my business has always been advocacy. So I don’t have any affiliates for anything I do. I don’t even do any paid advertising for anything. Never have, um,

Lynsey (10:38):

that made my Facebook feelings hurt just a little bit there, but

Kate (10:44):

try it. I can experiment it. But the thing this is with me at the moment thing is I’m at capacity with what I have. So why would I do ads? And the content marketing sells enough without it, but to get that, I have to have a huge brand advocacy. Everyone has to leave feeling good about the product. And that’s so much so important to me because I don’t want to do a, I don’t want a one night stand. You know, I mean, I love,

Lynsey (11:09):

there’s no judgment here. There’s no judgment, no judgment,

Kate (11:12):

a longterm relationship. Do you know what I want to, at least I want to be a serial monogamist, what will stay with me for a couple of years? And then you move on for whatever reason, but you know, the one night stands, Oh great. I sold someone a $27 scene. Well, that’s not the thing you wanted to sell, you know, the lifetime value of that customer and not just in terms of money, but in terms of what they give and what they’re talking about, your brand and selling for you, that’s worth so much more. And I think people are a bit shortsighted and they just want the fast buck

Lynsey (11:42):

love that love that cat, you can stay on the podcast forever and ever, and ever, um, have there been any big things that everything that’s sort of come out, we know that consumers are spending a lot more time. We know usage on social media platforms has gone up and we know research behavior before purchase has gone off with the COVID-19. People are stuck at home. They’re bored shitless. They’re there. If it’s not Netflix, it’s literally sitting online. So we know that consumer behavior has changed. How has any of that impacted sort of the worlds that you really sort of specialize in, in terms of copywriting, in terms of SEO, have there been any significant changes to those sort of principles of those platforms because of all the consumer change we’ve seen?

Kate (12:22):

I think there’s some great studies out about how COVID is as influenced by such trends and ranking trends and as anything, you know, when the Bush fires will happen again. So great sweeps towards certain products in a certain, I have a lot of people in my mentoring group who are e-commerce, uh, sellers, you know, and they’ve just seen huge uplift in the amount of sales that they can seeing. And, um, and you know, I have noticed that all my courses that suddenly people are much more engaged. They’re actually doing the work. It’s a lot more work for me. Um, yeah, I think, I think it’s, some people have found time to, you know, take a bit, take a step back and get a good perspective on what they do. Others like me have gone into panic mode, you know, everything’s just gone off and, and I’m still recovering. Like I need a recovery period after. Um, but in the worlds of copywriting, I think again, it’s that genuine stuff. I think it’s that talking to your customers like humans, which we talk about a lot. Um,

Lynsey (13:26):

and this is a big piece that, you know, Ellie touched on last week, as well as like paper people stop looking at them as numbers.

Kate (13:33):

This is it, you know, beyond the honest about the highs and lows you’re going to need. So many people say that they’re transparent online, but it’s kind of a beautiful version of it. So it’s, it’s got a nice, you know, getting an Instagram filter over it and take rid of that. You know, the real grounds and this brand, I love called digital picnic. And they’ve been doing quite a good job of just doing this is absolutely awful. Please. Up to five people were miserable. We’re not sure if it’s going to go on and then you know how to try it and then a failure. And, and I’ve tried to do that too. And other people have to, and it’s like, people want to hear that. I don’t want to see you being all raw blowing, confetti laughing at a salad on Instagram.

Lynsey (14:12):

It’s a pineapple, all the influences. What pineapples recently, have you noticed that good?

Kate (14:19):

Is it, you know, there’s another point of blessing. You know, it comes from in the 17th century, pineapples were seen as a real symbol of affluence. So if you look at all like George and manners, whereby they all want a pineapple on their, on their mantle piece and they used to get them covered in gold as well to show you real well. And then they became that, that thing, that cultural reference became something you could buy in Kmart for like $25.

Lynsey (14:41):

I love it. Very good. I’ve learned so much now, but yeah, that’s my, that’s one of my pet peeves that my pet hates as well as the, here’s my perfectly polished, you know, Instagram with me, with my, you know, my MacBook and my pineapple or drinking my coffee. And nobody’s actually just talking about what’s going on. And that was some of the biggest advice we gave to our clients. And we had a lot of clients in the fitness industry had stuff shut down. I was like, guys, just be transparent with people. This sucks, your business just shut overnight. And you’re just fighting at the moment to do what you can and to retain what you can. And there’s more honesty and people respect and relate to that more than you going out there being like,

Speaker 3 (15:15):

yeah, this is, yeah, we’re all in this together.

Kate (15:18):

Yeah. It’s a funny thing. Isn’t it? Because to a degree, we, we admire people who are successful. If you’re British, there’s very much this tall poppy syndrome don’t get too successful because then we won’t, but we all will loves an underdog. Actually. We love the story of somebody who’s struggling and overcomes adversity. So, you know, a couple of restaurants near me, you know, they had to shut down and then they came back and they tried to do kind of home delivery. And then they had that, that didn’t work. And so they started doing a different thing and I was, I have, so in that story, I have followed everything in the data. They just opened up. I mean, I was there, I was on their door. I was buying this stuff because I, I felt like I felt so much closer to them. And when I went in to actually buy my stuff, I,

Speaker 3 (16:00):

I felt like I knew them and they probably think I’m a creep. And I shared that,

Kate (16:09):

cause I was like, come on, we’re in this together. We can do this. And I think that is one lovely thing. That’s come out of this situation. You really have seen, you know, who the good people are. You’ve really seen some camaraderie. I haven’t seen that much nastiness or negative behavior at all, to be honest, I’ve actually just seen the best in people. And so that’s been rather nicely on a bit of a big, old, big, old cynic.

Lynsey (16:35):

So I’m just going on from that. I mean, I definitely think there have been positives from this, like getting like from simple things from getting to know my neighbors. Cause I went around and I delivered everybody toilet rolls because I managed to find some and I was like, what does one person actually eat with like a 12 faculty toilet rolls seriously? And it was just lit just, that was just little things that I thought it took away from this whole situation. What do you think are some positives though for sort of businesses from the stuff like, cause it has been negative. We have had a huge hit for the economy. There has been, it’s a really tragic situation, but what are some of the positives you think businesses are actually going to gain from this period?

Kate (17:12):

I think most of us have had a period of self reflection. I think you really have to be a bit of a potato to have not sat back and gone. You know, what does this mean to me when you take away everything that makes my life interesting and diverse and varied. And I’m left just with me in a room who am I? I remember I had this flatmate non-sequitur I had this flatmate who was an actor. She has to rehearse this line. And again, and again, it was who am I when I’m alone in my bath? I don’t know why.

Lynsey (17:45):

Yeah. In

Kate (17:45):

an Irish accent, she was like, who are they want to go though to my bath anyway. But it’s a question that popped into my head because it’s like we spend so much time trying to distract ourselves in our life with Netflix, with constant podcasts in our ear, you know, with buying a new flashing, beeping piece of technology that we just don’t want to sit with ourselves and really take a look at ourselves or our business and go, you know, or I actually don’t like my business. I don’t like what I’m doing. I don’t want to do this anymore. And I’ve had a few people friend of mine who runs a company called B bangles, just go, this has been the moment where she goes, I don’t want to do this anymore. You know? Or why am I doing this? You know, like, yeah, I’m babbling like a moon.

Lynsey (18:27):

No, not at all. I, I, I think a lot of people would like to that. Yeah.

Kate (18:30):

Yeah. I’ve taken a big look at my business and go, you know, I’m big into business diversity and it’s served me really well in this last couple of months. Cause I have multiple income sources, but also I just have so many plates him. It’s ridiculous. I’m trying to be all things to all people like you all singing all dancing to. And it’s like, why am I turning up for Barbara in a Facebook group to answer her question about this? When I’m saying to my son, can you hang on a minute? I’ve got to speak to Barbara. And my son wants to show me his Vegas Fortnite game thing that he’s got, you know, what am I doing? And that’s been a big thing for me to step back and go, I need to turn up a lot less because I’m given way too much of myself and exhausted,

Lynsey (19:17):

I think a lot. And I really appreciate you saying that because I think a lot of people will actually go, Oh my God is I feel the same. And I’ve, I’ve made huge changes to our business and our setup. And like I killed the Facebook group the other day. Like completely just killed it. And people are like, I didn’t know. You could do that. I’m like, of course you can. It’s your business. Yeah,

Kate (19:36):

the same. I had like these products and again, I always base things on three things. If people want it, will it make me money? Will I enjoy it? Yeah. And a lot of the things I’m doing, they still made me money and people want them, but I don’t enjoy them anymore. And it’s like, this is my business. I get to choose. So I killed off about 10 products that people were still actively buying and now come back and go, Oh, is that not for sale? And I’m like, no, it’s not for sale because I don’t want to maintain it. I don’t want to keep up to date. And I don’t want to deal with the customer service around it. I want to focus on this. Sorry. You should have bought it when you had the chance. You know, and people are unhappy about that, but you know, what’s important.

Lynsey (20:14):

I’m happy. Yeah. Yeah. I think, and I think just people realizing they actually do have permission to take are like you, this is your business. You’re allowed

Kate (20:27):

because I think often our business becomes a beast that we feed and we, you know, and, and I think COVID has helped us really take a step back and go, I don’t want to feed the beast anymore. Yeah.

Lynsey (20:38):

Yeah. I made that decision years ago about having an agency. I was like, I don’t have an agency. I just don’t. I have a couple of select clients. I would never call it agency. I’ve never advertised the agency. I quite often, and I don’t mean to offend anybody, but I turn people away because I’m like, you know what, no, I just, it’s just not going to it. Doesn’t it doesn’t float my boat. This is not what I’m best at. So let’s, let’s not do that. All of those. I mean, so many nuggets there, I think so much. And I think that’s such an important point to go. What, you know, what, focus on, you know, those three points I think are just awesome. Do people want it, does it make me money? And do I love it? Have you got any other, just like one sort of piece of business advice that you love that you could give everyone?

Kate (21:19):

Oh, Lordy

Lynsey (21:20):

know, I was just like one, pick one.

Kate (21:25):

It’s the cheesiest one. Um, but I’ll say it anyway. And that is to really genuinely work out who you are. Good and bad work. I go brand values, the good ones and the hideous ones and just be them and embody them wherever you are. So, you know, I’ve got some really good qualities. I think I’m quite generous and quite honest, I’m quite creative, but I’m also quite erratic. And um, you know, I’m quite emotional in my business and I can’t hide that. Like over time that’s going to come out. So instead of I’ve embraced it and it’s enabled me to be whoever I am, wherever I am on social media. So every post that I write to not need it doesn’t need to be proofread and checked by my proofreader bill. It can just go straight out because I’m all out, I’m all in it with me. And either likely, or you don’t and if you don’t, well, that’s fine juggle. There’s going to be someone else that you like, and that’s good for you and good for me. So that would be my photo tip.

Lynsey (22:20):

Love it. Absolutely love it. Kate, thank you so much for taking the time out of your a million things that you’re probably dipping today on this can get. How do people reach out? How do they work with you? Obviously, we’re going to put these details on the website when you get this, but give us a kind of a brief of terms of how can people work with you reach out or learn more about you

Kate (22:40):

if you Google katetoon TW and there’s a, there’s not many other cartoons. Thanks. So, uh, so you’ll find my core website. I don’t sell all my other websites and bits and bobs, so Kate’s, or just had to keep

Lynsey (22:52):

Okay. Awesome. As I say, guys, you’ll see all of that information on the website and on the show notes. So you can obviously reach out and get in touch with Kate. Kate, thank you so much for taking the time with us today. That is one. That’s just going to be an absolute legend of a show. I’m loving this. It’s quite nice as well. Not to be in the podcast. You do it on my own for a change. Just talking to myself. I feel like I’ve got friends. Awesome. Thanks a lot.

Kate (23:15):


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