Real Success Comes From REAL Avatar: Marketing Expert Meghann Conter Makes The Hero’s Journey, Intentional Female Entrepreneur Style.
I think we all experience this from time to time – it comes with the territory of highly specialized knowledge – something that is incredibly, ludicrously obvious to us is not to someone else who hasn’t been steeped in that experience. And vice versa, of course.
Here at Supertight Brand, that concept is avatar.
Avatar. Avatar. Avatar.
That’s our thing, our hyperfocus, our starting point, our alpha and omega. Not the James Cameron giant blue kind, but the brand/marketing business kind. Avatar is the person who sits right smack dab in the middle of your target audience. Your target audience are the specific kind of people who are willing and able to act on your business offer and are very motivated (by their existing situation) to do so, so long as you make the unique benefits of your offer clear to them.
We spend a lot of time at Supertight Brand working on creating our avatar – this “character” is different for each and every one of our clients – sometimes this person is quite easy to identify, sometimes extremely tricky to get right. But we spend as much time and energy as we need, because choosing your business’s special person is a make or break step that affects almost every other step, first in the creation of your brand concept, then in your marketing strategy and tactics.
But there is a problem.
This is the stage of our Supertight Brand concept process where we tend to get the most resistance from our clients. It reminds me of my mental health expert colleagues who tell horror stories of what happens when they advise patients that giving up caffeine is the number one simplest way to lower anxiety disorders. Asking clients that they choose first, a target audience, and then, an avatar within that audience is tantamount to asking overachievers to give up their daily fix.
Intentional entrepreneurs with new offers can get very, very touchy about what they sometimes perceive as an attempt to cut them off from a potential revenue source, or to limit their ability to serve.
So I’m going to try something different. I’m going to share an interview with an entrepreneur that has executed on this vital piece with such precision that she has rocketed past most of her class – that is, the people who starting businesses about the time she started. We brand and business and marketing experts can say blah blah blah target market blah blah blah avatar all we want, but nothing lands quite as loud as real-life success.
Meghann Conter: I graduated double major in French and Marketing just after September 11 in 2001 – not a great year for new business grads. I spent 6 years in corporate America, but two things really bothered me from the start. First, although I wouldn’t have known how to express this at 22, the lack of alignment. Most of what we were doing was so soulless, I just couldn’t connect. I remember thinking, “I don’t know if I can make it through my life if this is all there is to my career.”
Supertight Brand: And the second thing?
Meghann Conter: No one seemed to care about what I’d been taught were the most important things about marketing; no one was truly focused on ideal/target client or marketing strategy. It was more like, “Well, these things we’ve been doing are kinda working, so let’s just keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll see what happens.” I believe that change in business is paramount and evolution leads to growth and longevity.
In 2009 I was laid off from the architecture firm I was working for, which was actually the Universe throwing me a huge bone,but of course I didn’t understand that at the time. I was out there looking for jobs with this feeling like, “I just can’t go back to this bullsh*t,” but where else do I go but into another job that doesn’t fit me?. In the midst of all this, entrepreneurs kept showing up to ask for help with their businesses. So I started asking the key questions: who is this offer for, and why is it special?
Supertight Brand: How did these people know to show up?
Meghann Conter: A new friend who believed in me set me up with a new computer and business cards. I joined his leads group, and we were off. We wound up joining forces and worked as partners for years.
Supertigtht Brand: I hear that. I started with no phone, no business cards, $2.19 in change in a plastic cup, and one really loyal loud mouthed friend who bragged about how I changed her business to everyone in our spiritual marketing group.
Meghann Conter: Right? It’s really a land of the brave. The way these entrepreneurs were approaching marketing was a pretty big culture shock – at my last corporate gig, we had an annual marketing budget of $10K. Now I was with people who had no concept of “marketing budget.” I was trying to help business owners market for pennies. I spent the first six to twelve months learning all I could about how to the help these people stretch every dollar for maximum impact.
I call those years between 2008 and 2011 “The Ramen Years.”
My partner and I started a social media management company and we were decently successful – at one point our team was 3 employees and 7 interns. But it still didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I left that partnership in 2012 and had to start all over AGAIN from scratch.
Supertight Brand: Do you now know why it wasn’t a fit?
Meghann Conter: I realized that I’m not meant to be deep in the weeds, in the super small details. I knew my talent was for the big picture: I needed to be in more of an advising strategy role so I’m not doing all the work. I decided, “I’m not going to do it for them; I’m going to build the strategy and then train their employees to do the work” I chose to focus on professional service companies – lawyers, realtors, mortgage brokers, accountants, etc. I had experience with working with all these industries, so I knew how to talk to their pain points and the solutions they desired.
So I keep getting closer, but still, it’s not quite a fit. I wasn’t using enough of my talents, and I felt stuck in the rut of social media. But everything changed once I worked with a brilliant coach who helped me identify the kind of person that lights me up, the avatar that gives me juice. She helped me to mesh personal alignment with conscious service to identify this connection, to this avatar – the person I had been, in a certain sense, born and raised to serve.
Supertight Brand: Aha! Do tell about this avatar of which you speak.
Meghann Conter: It had to be a woman, first of all. My mother is a strong, passionate, powerful feminist (in the most positive sense of the word,) who had raised me to regard women as equal to men in every capacity, and it never occurred to me to think otherwise. So wow, was I shocked when the research showed me how different the world was for female professionals in terms of economic opportunities – this really bothered me and I had to do something about it.
The ideal for success in choosing a target market is that you’ve got three things lined up: your passion, your expertise, and your economic engine – that all 3 of these aspects are reflected in the audience of people you serve. So finally, I had the first two parts working together, but the engine still needed some work. At first, because of where I was spending my time, I was attracting women with 5 figure income and I was starting to move past social media into the bigger picture of marketing strategy. Through the course of working with yet another brilliant female business coach,, I finally realized I was looking for the wrong fish in the wrong pond.
Supertight Brand: A lot of entrepreneurs earning 5 figures who couldn’t get to 6? How could these people afford you?
Meghann Conter: Exactly. This is the harsh cold reality we have to face as conscious entrepreneurs. My passion, my WHY was still the most important factor in the equation, which is to create connection and catapult impact-driven businesses, but I also know what it takes to do marketing strategy properly, and I had to reverse engineer my target market to account for the numbers. We may not like it, but the numbers don’t like. Guess what percentage of women-owned businesses in the U.S. ever hit a million dollars in yearly revenue?
Supertight Brand: I’m scared to find out.
Meghann Conter: Only 3% of female -owned companies ever reach $1 million in annual revenue. And that needle has barely moved upward in the 2nd millennium! In fact, a vast majority of female-led businesses (greater than 70%) don’t make it past $50,000 in annual revenue.
Supertight Brand: Holy Sh*t. Seems like we ought to be able to do better than that.
Meghann Conter: Exactly. So now, I knew my avatar was a woman, a transformational leader changing the ways that business worked in her industry. She’s already doing it; she’s successful but not as reliably successful she could be with a focused, measurable, dynamic marketing strategy.
Supertight Brand: Show me the math that helped you create your current avatar: that female change-maker earning 6 figures and trying to break into 7.
Meghann Conter: My marketing program started at $9K, so my avatar would need to be able to pay for me, and then approximately another $6K for whatever she needs to spend on software, upkeep, advertising budget. At the very minimum, a company should be budgeting 5% of top line revenue for their marketing, but that’s just maintenance, not growth. This is how I figured out that my avatar had to be making $250k to $2 million in revenue, with the sweet spot being the business owner earning about $750K who’s been having trouble breaking past that next comma.
Supertight Brand: I’m seriously getting specialization goosebumps. What else did you learn about your avatar?
Meghann Conter: She’s in one of two camps: either she has wasted a lot of time and money on various marketing tactics, but can’t track the ROI on her investment, or somehow her business has gotten by in the realm of referral and word of mouth marketing, but nothing that is measurable.
Supertight Brand: So, her pain is that most of her marketing is happening by chance, and therefore is subject to a more bumpy roller coaster ride. Or at least, she has no way of knowing how her results are being produced, or to what else is possible.
Meghann Conter: She either wants revenue growth, and/or to decrease her outreach expenses – in other words, clarity and an actual plan for her and her team. Plus a way to measure EVERYTHING. My avatar is a transformational leader with an epic mission, but she’s been doing a lot of running without the kind of real return that she was looking for when starting a business. Like it or not, your profit has a great deal to do with how much impact you can really have on the lives you want to reach.
When I started seeing the statistics on women’s business, I thought, “This has got to f**ing change!” Honestly, it just burned my heart. There’s no way I could have felt any differently, as my mother’s daughter.
Supertight Brand: Now comes my very favorite part. Tell us how you found these high 6-figure women. Because I already know that many of our readers are saying, “Well, that’s all great for you, Meghann, but I don’t know how many of those sort of people are in my social circle!”
Meghann Conter: I had been hosting networking events through my local community for years, so I knew my target audience was not easily reached in the spaces that already existed. I knew a service of this quality and with this price tag was never going to be sold through a blog post or a Facebook ad without a significant ad budget attached (which I did not have at the time.) I had to connect to my avatar and my target audience in a much more personal, in-depth way. I knew that I needed to be in FRONT of these women, and yet, they won’t be at most women’s networking events.
Supertight Brand: I’m guessing women at this level don’t really tend to mix with women who are just getting started – any more than guys do. There’s no advantage to them to swim in sea of brand new entrepreneurs who may have just opened their first Juice Plus or Arbonne business, or who just became a coach after getting certified last Tuesday.
Meghann Conter: No offense to those worthy efforts, as we all have to begin somewhere, but their needs just aren’t the same. The desire to connect with like-minded women remains as we elevate our stage of business (and it definitely feels lonely at the top.) I realized that in order to access these women, I had to create a group for them, specific to their needs and desires. And a Facebook/LinkedIn group was not going to cut it. It had to be a place for them to come together, to come out from behind their laptops, phones, and boardrooms. It had to be an experience where they could get a real benefit, such as learning from and conversing with women who had made that statistically rare jump from the 6-figure mark to the elusive 7-figure realm.
Supertight Brand: And so the Denver Dames were born – both for their benefit and for yours. Which is pretty gorgeous thinking and creating.
Supertight Brand: And now, as we sit here with our mouths fallen open in awe, we’re wondering, “but how did you find these kinds of women to get this thing started?”
Meghann Conter: I had been building my existing network for years, helping and serving them along the way, and I used this network, to reach these women. They may not have represented the norm for the people in my network, but they did know the people in my network, or rather, my people knew them. Since there was nothing else out there for them in Colorado, once I put the word out, and demonstrated that I could host an exciting event just for their needs, they weren’t too hard to find. These women, as you say, like the men, are so happy not to have to sift through brand new business people where everyone wants something from them.
Supertight Brand: In other words, you created a very special world for them, a valuable ECOLOGY (as my old business teacher would call it) in which they could transact. And you gave the 6-figure women access to women who had made the jump into the 7-figure realm, by asking the 7-figure women the chance to tell their stories. Which must have made everybody pretty happy.
Meghann Conter: When women can’t see someone real who did and hear how she did it, we have a tendency to have the mindset that “there’s no way that could ever happen for me.”
Supertight Brand: Which is why your story is so important, and I feel so privileged that we get to be one of the first to share it. I’m sure that you’ll be sharing with Forbes and Fast Company in the very near future, but we are incredibly grateful you granted this interview to Supertight Brand. As soon as we knew we wanted to tell a story that illustrates the vital importance of avatar you were the first person that came to my mind. As you have said before, getting your passion lined up with your purpose was the hugest part for your heart, but the accurate thinking you demonstrated in choosing your avatar is something that seems even harder to unpack for so many entrepreneurs. So now I’ve got to ask the real 7-figure question. . .
Meghann Conter: Why don’t most entrepreneurs do this?
Supertight Brand: From what you’ve seen working with hundreds of high powered women, why don’t they choose a great avatar (or 2-3 great avatars) to begin with? WHY ARE THEY SO RESISTANT?
Meghann Conter: I see 3 major reasons.
The first is that most of the women I work with are either technicians or business owners, that is, they are either first and foremost an expert in some type of service or product, but they don’t have that base business knowledge going in to their first company. Or, they are business owners who fundamentally know how to make business work and can do so with a variety of offers (and, in many cases, companies.) The technicians just don’t know what it looks like to have a target market, much less an avatar, or why to have one, or how to choose one. It’s counterintuitive that Less is More, but yet it is. It is SO much easier to market to a specific type of person, and that’s how you get real momentum going.
The second big problem is with mindset: a scarcity mindset – “What if I miss out on someone? I need every client or customer I can get!” There’s another scarcity mindset that comes from their devotion to service – “I am here to heal everyone!” Sometimes the problem comes from the past; they’ve struggled with this before and “it didn’t work,” usually because they didn’t market to the right person or market with enough longevity and consistency.
Lastly, it’s a question of support. If I didn’t have the support of the community I had already grown, if I hadn’t had the people to ask, “hey, do you know any great 6-7-figure business women that you would trust with me?” I wouldn’t have made it this far this fast. So I would say, get in some networks and get known – if your avatars are there, great, but even if you haven’t figured all that out yet, you still need places where good people come to know you and your work, and that doesn’t happen until you show up with some reliability.
Supertight Brand: And there you have it, mission-minded folks. I know some of you reading this may not be ready to take in all this gold right away, which is understandable, because what Meghann has shared is so jam-packed full of brilliant sh*t it’s going to take me a while to process, and I do specialization for a living. But I encourage you to come back to this interview for another reading – this a big bag of badass that we can each unpack at our own pace. Meghann, thank you for sharing to this extent – as my favorite proverb says, “the world of the generous grows larger and larger,” and this level of giving is bound to keep expanding your realm – and even more importantly, the realm of the 7-figure woman.
End of Interview. Final Words.
You know what? Meghann is absolutely right. That only 3% of women’s businesses get to the million-dollar mark is just ridiculous. Of course, the money isn’t the only marker of success, but money does often determine the extent of our reach, our capacity to impact the people who need us most. History tells us that time and time again, at least in this country, real social change has begun or gained momentum in the realm of upper-middle-class women: Abolition, reproductive rights, mental health solutions, voting privileges, just to name a few. So we’re with Meghann – it’s high f*cking time for this to change.
You can catch Meghann in action this upcoming Tuesday May 15, at the RISE together Women’s Conference. Just a few tickets left for this almost sold-out event!
To get your OWN avatar, come check out our next free Ten Minutes to Tight online workshop.