EP44 Making Your Business Personal With The Founder of Mint Brand MarketingCheckable Health
Running a business is no small feat, especially when you’re doing it all alone. Once employees are brought in, the hard work doesn’t end, and there are inevitably new challenges to face and overcome if you want to scale your business.
Speaking with Patty Post of Checkable Health on this episode of The Persevere Podcast is Amanda Shilling, the founder of Mint Brand Marketing. Amanda ran her business alone for years before investing in her small team, allowing the business to reach new markets and expand its services.
Amanda shares how she achieved this growth by hiring the right people and finding the right partners, just a couple of the decisions she made by trusting her gut — or, as she says, “women’s intuition.” Today, she also shares her thoughts on brand storytelling, the rise of AI in marketing, and the most underrated social platform.
Mint Brand Marketing has thrived on a foundation of core values, and it shows in its workplace culture and ability to succeed in multiple industries. Tune in to learn how Amanda was able to bring her personal authenticity into her business!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Growing Mint Brand Marketing
- What clients Mint Brand Marketing works with
- The importance of storytelling and authenticity
- Brand management and Google reviews
- Staying authentic on LinkedIn
- How she’s persevered in motherhood and career
Connect with Amanda Shilling and Mint Brand Marketing:
Connect with Persevere Podcast:
Find Patty Post:
This episode was produced by Podcast Boutique http://podcastboutique.com
0:00:02.5 S1: Welcome to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical and hosted by Patty Post, a female founder, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three, doing all of the things. The strength to persevere in business is powered by passion, grit and hard work. The Persevere Podcast is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to innovate and change the world with their ideas, whether it's fundraising your startup, product development, marketing, branding, or scaling your existing business, this podcast is for you. We'll discuss everything it takes to persevere and build the business you've always dreamed of. Let's make it happen. Welcome to The Persevere Podcast. Hello, I'm Patty Post, founder and CEO of Checkable Health. And I started this podcast because I was experiencing loneliness and solitude as a solo founder, and I literally had no one to turn to, and I also couldn't find relevant content that founders of high-tech startups really needed, so like the true entrepreneur that I am, I decided to do it myself. And thus was born the Persevere Podcast. So if you're new to this podcast, I love to interview entrepreneurs and hear about their stories of how they built their business.
0:01:28.3 S2: Today, I have on the Persevere Podcast, Amanda McKinnon-Shilling, and Amanda is founder of MINT Brand Marketing based out of Fargo, North Dakota. Amanda, thank you so much for joining me. Absolutely, thank you for having me. A lot of your friends call you Mandy and I call you Amanda, so what do you have your clients call you?
0:01:49.7 S1: Well, most start as Amanda, but some do shift to Mandy. Like we talked about a little bit before, once those relationships start establishing and that trust is built. And so, yeah, even my team, we had a retreat last month and we went out to my cabin, and after that, they were like, Well, I feel like we should probably call her Mandy now.
0:02:18.0 S2: I love it. How many are on your team?
0:02:20.1 S1: So myself and then three additional.
0:02:22.9 S2: Well, that's a nice sized team. Yeah.
0:02:25.1 S1: You know, I rolled solo for eight and a half years, and during that 8 and a half, I had a child, and so decided I was not going to be able to do it alone, like I thought I was. And I had my first hire, it will actually be two years ago in February, and she’s still with me, and then hired a couple since then.
0:02:46.4 S2: Oh, that's so cool. Don't you love that? That she's still with you. I have some of those too, and it really means a lot to you as a founder when those people stay with you.
0:02:58.1 S1: Yes, and yeah, we've been a lot in those two years to really just from a business building and growth and adding people and what that looks like to build a culture that's not just you solo.
0:03:10.1 S2: Yeah, have you seen the business scale since you've added people? When you extend bandwidth, has your business grown?
0:03:16.3 S1: Yes, definitely. So I think we've always had, I would say, a solid number of clients, and when I was doing it alone, I was doing it all, and so that would mean a lot more hours on my behalf, and so that's one of the things that I looked at too, when I started my own business, one of the key factors of that was flexibility. I love to travel, and then obviously with having a child now, flexibility with them being sick or if I get sick with her and all of that, and so having that team to support the vision and the goals, and really to just hiring people that are smarter than me in all those areas, I think is one of the best decisions that we can make. And so I think one of the things we've been able to take on more for existing clients, but then also bringing on clients that need more... So previous to bringing on the team, we didn't do websites, now we do. And they're knocking it out of the park. Every time we launch one, it's just that excitement that continues to build. One of our core values is to be learners, and so doing whatever we can to make sure that we're all learning really, in a way that aligns mostly with our passion. And it’s that 80/20 rule, it's like, No, we're not gonna be having fun every single day or love every single moment of every single project, but if we are 80% of the time, then I would say we're being successful.
0:04:50.9 S2: Absolutely. What types of clients do you work with?
0:04:54.4 S1: So really a wide variety. Because of my career path, private medical practices has been a natural one for me. I worked in ad agencies for four years and had healthcare clients there, then went out on... Excuse me, then went to a private medical practice, was at Stanford for a while too, and so that's just been a natural, you know, niche, I guess they would say, But I mean finance, heavy construction, restaurants, you name it, we're pretty much working in it. And we do have that list of dream clients or dream industries that we would like to work in from a team perspective, I have a big foodie, one of the gals here loves loves fashion, and so really looking at how we can get it in that way too, and be players in those kind of markets for branding.
0:05:44.5 S2: Oh, I love that. Tell me about this list. Yeah.
0:05:48.6 S1: It's a big one.
0:05:49.5 S2: Yeah, I mean, that's cool. How did you do that? You just, These are the types of clients that we want in the type of work we wanna do? Yeah.
0:05:56.6 S1: You know when we looked at adding team members, obviously, that it changes the dynamic, and everybody does have different passions too, outside of work, and so I just said, We wanna do work outside of this area too, the Fargo-Moorhead market, and so I said, We have to think bigger in order to do that too, and so legitimately just... I have this running list in our project management system, and putting it kind of out into the universe, I guess, if you will. And then even the one gal here, Christa, when we have kind of like downtime or she needs a little bit of a... Just creative kind of jolt and fueling that passion, she creates brands essentially, that don't exist. So she's done a jewelry store or a lip gloss, things like that, and so putting that out onto our social channels too. So it's just an opportunity for her to create freely, from the ground up with no parameters, which I think, again, kind of just livens things up, light that fire again.
0:07:03.7 S2: Sounds like being in a creative painting class or art class where you can just have your blank canvas and do what you want to do. Yes, absolutely. I like that. So anyone that's listening, and are nervous about adding people to your team, you are proof that actually adding bandwidth and making the investment, 'cause it's really scary once you start providing for people, but you are proof that it actually helps. Do you consider yourself an agency?
0:07:33.2 S1: No, we do not. And internally and even in conversations, we've considered ourselves the un-agency agency, if you will. Myself having agency experience, there were things that I learned and takeaways of what I did and didn't want to be. So we don't function in certain ways like an agency does, and then also, one of the things when you look at expanding your team and guiding them and coaching them, and leading them, is also that level of knowledge that I think has to be there. So when I think of videographers and photographers and what those projects look like, even equipment that's so expensive, those types of things, when you look at scaling, I think you need to make those smart decisions too. And there's so much talent out there that they live at those specific kinds of wheelhouses and those lanes, why not partner with them? That's really our philosophy, and I know there's even some agencies out there that are white labeling those people that we partner with transparently. So if I'm pulling in a video company for a client, they know that that's not MINT, they know that it's that company, that company is billing them directly, we’re just really clear about that.
0:08:58.9 S2: That's so nice. I think of that from Checkable, is you operate it as an extension of the team then, like your extra bandwidth, and that's more of a partnership, and then that also helps if you don't like one partner that you use or it wasn't as successful, Hey, let's try someone else. We went out and we did the legwork to find X, Y, Z company.
0:09:20.7 S1: Exactly, and there's so many... Budget's always a variable, but I'm a big vibe person, and when it comes to creativity and dealing with story-boarding and photographers, and especially in an interview-style situation, if the person behind the camera is not vibing with the subject, it's not gonna work, and so even my clients having that opportunity to choose in that way, I think is a beautiful thing.
0:09:53.2 S2: Oh yeah, it can fall flat really fast.
0:09:57.0 S1: And it's a huge investment. So we have to do our due diligence to make sure that we're doing it right.
0:10:03.5 S2: Yeah, and time, when I look back on things that if it didn't vibe or if we've rushed into something and we didn't prepare, and then I think of, Oh my goodness, the amount of resources that we spun up to make this happen, only for it not to perform as well as we wanted to or not to have outcome that I was expecting is... Unfortunately, I can distinctly remember last year we did a photo shoot at my house and it was really gray that day and snowing, and just the lighting was off in the house, and we couldn't reschedule because the gentleman was from out of town, and I just look back, I totally wasted so much. I just wasted so much. Right. But you learn from those mistakes too, right? Yes.
0:10:51.5 S1: 100%. Oh yeah, yes, I would say this year has been a lot of learning just from team and clients and all of that, and one of the things that I continue to even talk to the team about, I lead them in a vulnerable state, yet definitely have my standards, my non-negotiables and all of that too, so it all plays a role, but just really looking at who we wanna align ourselves with. And that includes clients’ team and whatnot, and going with my gut, that's the biggest thing. And talk about women's intuition, that's no joke. I don’t think it needs to be just in a significant-other type of relationship, it's with your children, it's with your business, it's in all areas of life, and so that's one thing I keep challenging myself to do is if I feel it, there's a reason, and so I need to figure out what that reason is.
0:11:48.9 S2: Yeah, and not quiet it down, I just had it recently and I quieted that down because I just... I didn't wanna hear it, but then the inevitable happened, and you’re like, dang it. Guess that was right again.
0:12:00.9 S1: Exactly, yes.
0:12:03.9 S2: So something that I wanted to chat about that we have a lot of listeners, and the listeners range from, Hey, I just started my business or I'm ideating on a business, I'm midway through my business, or some people are in a, let's call it a legacy business, and I think something that can bring all business and entrepreneurs together is storytelling and the art of storytelling. And I loved what we were talking about in this pre-show and what your philosophy is on storytelling with your clients. And personally we from the Checkable side, we do storytelling around our products and around the pain that you feel when you have strep throat and what your child goes through and what you go through as a parent, something that personally with storytelling is really hard because how do you tell a story, let's call it personal branding, or personal branding or... Or a company branding, how do you start out with storytelling? What is that process? And why is it so important?
0:13:11.9 S1: Well, I think really, when you tell a story well, it engages people, and even if they're not your specific audience, conversations happen around that too, and then someone might know somebody. And one of the things that we talked about, and like I said, I know this word is thrown around a lot, but authenticity. We talked about do people call you Amanda or Mandy? Legitimately, when I was creating my resume for the big-girl world as I saw it, I originally had Mandy McKinnon on my resume, and then I said, Ooh, Mandy seems like a kid's name, and I didn't want to be viewed as a kid, and so I switched it to Amanda. So Amanda became my professional name, I guess, if you will, but as I learned and grew in my career, as we talked about, now I have clients that call me Mandy, even just business connections, and they kinda start eventually, and now even my team recently is too. And so I think that we talk about personal branding and business branding, and regardless, there's a person I could talk about that started it all, and there's people that are helping build it, and so what we need to connect to is the people. Getting the humanity back in everything.
0:14:34.4 S1: That's what we're all about. I talked a lot about all the AI stuff that we're seeing now. Automation, automation, sit back, relax. Let it happen. And I still think that organic wins everyday in how we speak freely, writing in a conversational style, like we're talking to our friend across the table versus the Wikipedia, Encyclopedia even. One of the things for myself is I try to never talk above a client's head and truly meeting them where they're at and say, if you're not understanding what I'm saying, please let me know. And it's not about dumbing it down, ever. It is about, like I said, meeting people where they're at. We are all experts or have experience in different things, and that's why we're all working together, so we need to trust that and have those conversations, whether it's in person, via email, social media, whatever that looks like. And so that authenticity and also that vulnerability piece, I think is super important on both sides. When you think of even Google reviews, when companies do speak up, honestly, and quickly and even on social media, it's like, man, it could be a really gross place, and it can also be really awesome, but those brands that are truly speaking to the humans that they're interacting with are just doing it well.
0:16:07.2 S2: Yes. Oh, I love that. If you get a bad... I've been looking at Airbnbs and hotels, and for my 20th anniversary with Andy, and I've been looking at these reviews and I am so in awe of... They got a bad review, one person was specifically talking about one employee and they didn't name the employee out, but it was a bad experience. They loved everything about the seven days that they stayed there other than this one person and the one experience. And the person, the management went right in, I'm very sorry for that, we remember you, what can we do to help you? And I just, I ended up staying there because they did that... With the positive ones too, like, Thank you so much and we hope you have a great time back in North Dakota and very thoughtful. Yes.
0:17:02.3 S1: Yeah, and when we talked about industries that we work in, like I said, me being a foodie, restaurants is one that I love. It's also very hard from a Google reviews standpoint, and so that's one of my roles with some of my clients is responding to those Google reviews for them or kind of tag-teaming from that perspective, like, Hey, this is what I'm thinking, are you good with it? And we had one for a client and they had three positive things and then one negative thing, but left a two-star review. My reply was, Well, it looks like we nailed it in three areas, so a three-star review would have been awesome, but... And it's like, I liken it to a GPA, it's like, Oh, you're a 4.0, all of a sudden you have a super-bad semester, it takes you a lot of semesters to get back up to that. Same thing with one bad one can shoot it way down, and then it takes 10 more to get it back up where it needs to be.
0:18:05.0 S2: And that's what we live on right now too, with everything like an Amazon review. It’s so annoying when people just give one star, it's like, Why didn't you... You just bought it two weeks ago, why are you giving it one star, you haven't even tried it, and tell us why it's one star. And there’s no context behind it.
0:18:23.7 S2: Yeah, that's interesting that you're doing that for clients, what else are you... In terms of brand management, that's... Brand management right there, right? Yes.
0:18:32.7 S1: Absolutely. Yeah, from a PR perspective too, there's just different, whether it's a business buying another business, those kind of all look a little bit different and the needs are a little bit different from that perspective, but I would say when you look at brand management and the world of Google reviews and Yelp and all of that, that's one area that we're really trying to hone in on and help. Even from a medical standpoint, and the role that HIPAA plays, responding is a little bit trickier, because you have to not let the world know that that person was seen by you and yet, they're putting a review out there, so it's a fine balance. So a lot of that then becomes that personal reach out versus the long response on the Google review, Hey, we got your message, we're gonna give you a call and be in touch that way. So those types of things are just so the person knows that they're being heard, whether it's a positive or negative or neutral, honestly, review.
0:19:38.6 S2: Are you seeing on... Where are people doing the most storytelling? On their websites or on social? How are you getting your clients to use storytelling? Yeah.
0:19:49.1 S1: I would say definitely social media is where most of the storytelling is happening on some of my clients still do blogs, and obviously from the SEO, search engine optimization, all of that, that's always an ever-moving beast too, so there are some that kind of play in both of those spaces, but social media definitely, and even when I think of LinkedIn, that's a very, very untapped platform from a business perspective, depending on what your target audience or audiences is but again, I see people saying all the time like, Oh, LinkedIn is becoming Facebook, and I think there's some of that that you see out there and some weirdness in that fashion, but I think the reality is people don't have to feel as poised or put together, maybe and that the conversations are happening now versus, I'm gonna give you these pros, I'm gonna give you these cons to do whatever that looks like, in that almost robotic way I think that LinkedIn did have originally, is going away because people are actually trying to connect with the people on the platforms.
0:21:04.2 S2: Yes, and then I wanna do business with people that I know. So I find it annoying when anyone says that, this is not for LinkedIn, I'm like, who are you, the LinkedIn police? Like that’s what I always write back because, even if it's not my post, but someone else's post, who are you to say that they don't wanna share something cool that's happened in their life that's not just about their business or product. I think I'd rather have... There's a guy that does it really well out of Newport Beach, and he's a financial planner, and his name is Chad Wilkerson, and he puts everything about his wife and his kids, and his employees, he celebrates his employees like big milestones in their lives, and I literally feel like I know everyone in the company, so then when I get their newsletters once a month I’m like, Oh, what is this? They probably know what they're talking about financially because, I don't know, I think they're smart. 'cause of what they're doing on LinkedIn. I personally even felt hesitation of putting some things on there, 'cause I'm like, Oh, I don't want people to judge me that I'm not like this in the box, CEO of a healthcare company, but do you think a lot of that what’s holding us back is the rhetoric that's in our own heads?
0:22:26.4 S2: What do you think?
0:22:27.2 S1: 100%, yes. I think it's what we think people want to hear and see versus what is happening at the core of us, and that's when I say organic, it's just free-flowing. And one of the things that I've tried to really be a lot more diligent on is really being unfiltered and not in a disrespectful way, but the pains of running a business and also, like you said, those major celebrations, the learns, even motherhood, that changed my business a lot and I had her 4 days shy of my 39th birthday. So an older mother, and looking at... I waited so long for her, that even that decision, do I just stop working, and then took the step back, nope, you've built this for seven years, you love it, it was your baby before you had her essentially too... And so then it was just dialing back, having those conversations with clients, Hey, I'm gonna spend time with her. I don't even know what that looks like right now. So if you're willing to go on this ride with me, awesome, if not, then it's not our time. So just again, those open conversations, I think is what needs to be happening across the board, whatever platform you're on.
0:23:55.0 S2: I love that you stayed and now you are a better founder and a better CEO of your business because you are a mother. I think it's tragic how women are falling out of the workforce because they don't think they can be good mothers and run a business and be devoted to their career too. It's certainly, I bet you agree with me, it's a struggle and it feels exhausting at times.
0:24:18.5 S1: Yes, yeah. You know, like talk about when they're in school or daycare, it's the sickness and even, you know, what that looks like too, working from home, you're not... I mean, especially with a toddler. When she was a baby I could strap her on and on kind of get to it, hook her up on the thing and now no, I mean, I'm lucky if I'm getting two solid hours at any given time if she naps, and what that looks like. And I think even... Our team is all women, and just looking at what that looks like for our future too, being understanding, my kid is sick, yeah, I get it. And also, if you put in that you worked eight hours today, that's probably not true because I’ve been there. So let's have that in this conversation too. Again, that open openness in all areas, I think is one of the biggest keys to success in whatever that looks like for whomever is decided.
0:25:27.3 S2: You sound like such a nice partner to work with. So the podcast is named the Persevere Podcast, I would love to hear something that you have gone through and persevered with and share it as a story with the audience and give some advice within that. Yeah.
0:25:46.1 S1: One of the things, obviously with bringing on employees and things like that, and not everyone that I have hired is still here, and just what that looks like, especially in a smaller community, that's tough, because there are a lot of well-known people, whether it's clients, team members and things like that. And really just knowing that I'm doing it for me, for you, for us, is one of the things that I talk to my mentor about a lot. And she continues to reiterate decisions that I'm making do have to be for me first, as the business owner, but with the team and everybody that we're taking care of in mind. And so that and knowing that not everybody is gonna like me, it's been one thing I talk to a number of friends and entrepreneurs, what that looks like too. It's hard again, in a smaller community, but just stepping into my truth and owning it and living it and being okay with whatever that looks like outside of what I can control has been one of my biggest learns, and I would say too then, obviously as a mother, I had Evvie come a month early, so threw off my plans that way too.
0:27:05.4 S1: And then I suffered with postpartum preeclampsia, so I had a ton of issues from that perspective, and then a year after I had her, I had a hysterectomy, and so it just kind of kept compounding on itself. But I just was that, you know, pushing through it, and one of the things too that I think as business owners, we really need to take that time to rest and listen to our bodies, because when those things were happening, I didn't. And then I put myself backwards. Actually trying to be a powerhouse, trying to be a superwoman, whatever that looks like, versus again, that woman's intuition or listening to your body. That's a natural thing for us and I think we need to continue to light that fire versus putting it back down and like you said, turning off those voices or whatever that looks like.
0:27:54.8 S2: Yes. Oh, that is such sound advice. All of that wrapped into one is very comforting 'cause sometimes I even get anxiety about things and Oh my gosh, what are people gonna think that that person no longer here or I can't be here, 'cause it's something that's happening with the business still goes on, the show still goes on. It's really important to stay healthy and you can still be ambitious and work hard, but take that time, very important. Absolutely. Well, what's the best way for us to keep up with Mint Brand and Marketing? Yeah.
0:28:33.6 S1: So we definitely are active on social media, so whether it's Facebook or Instagram, we do have a TikTok as well, and so really trying to weave in education to connect to a learner core value, but one of our other core values is to be fun-havers so you will see a lot of that too, and some shenanigans and things like that, but that's really where we're most active. We do have a website, mintbrandmarketing.com, but yeah, social media for sure is where you're gonna see our personalities as individuals and then also as a business and brand that way.
0:29:12.2 S2: Yeah, you have some funny TikToks too, I like them. They’re educational, but they're funny, you get the personalities of our gals that work for you. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for being a guest today. It was an awesome conversation, and selfishly, I'm so glad to have taken the time to get to know you more too. And thank you for being here, but everyone that's listening, we are moving into 2023, so we're gonna have some fun podcasts on Amanda talked a lot about this, about core values, about setting your mission, vision and your purpose. So I'm gonna share some of the things that I've done internally as a founder, and so go over to our LinkedIn group, it's the Persevere Podcast group, and then follow Checkable on your social channels as well, at Checkable health and I'm Patty Post Wishing everyone a happy New Year and hope that 2023, you are crushing it, if that's when you're listening to this, and keep on persevering in business.
0:30:23.4 S1: Thank you for listening to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical. Head over to perseverepodcast.com for notes, links and additional resources from today's show. To continue hearing insights and gaining knowledge from those persevering, succeeding and making their dream or reality, be sure to subscribe through your favorite podcast app. Now go and make it happen.
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