Ivana Taylor

About Ivana Taylor: From every work she is involved with, it is evident that Ivana Taylor is a knowledgeable marketing expert. As the publisher of DIYMarketers, an online marketing publication website, she offers step-by-step marketing strategies and advice to all business owners looking to simplify their marketing. With her help, small entrepreneurs catch the attention of profitable customers.

Along with this, she is the host of Bizapalooza Chat on Twitter, where she talks about topics and advice that can elevate businesses. She is also the book editor for Small Business Trends, where she leads the site’s book review program and the group of professional book reviewers. With CEO Bill Jelen, she co-authored Excel for Marketing Managers, which helps marketing managers solve their most common marketing circumstances and challenges through Excel Software. 

Finally, Ivana is the president of Third Force Inc., a marketing firm in Cleveland that specializes in aiding companies to find their best customers and be the obvious choice for their ideal customers. The firm also offers clients virtual marketing executive services, marketing management, customer research, delivering development, and basic marketing communication strategy implementation. 

  • It’s 2015 and you have the superpower to predict what’s going to happen in 2022. What would you do differently and what advice or recommendations would you share with others?

    As executives, we are always predicting.  The real question is what mindset are we predicting FROM? If you’re predicting from a short-term, product-focused point of view, you’ll never get it right. If you’re predicting from a focus on your customer and what matters to them – you’ll be far more successful.

    Dan Kennedy, the guru of direct marketing used to say “Some people sell things so they can have customers, we have customers so we can sell them things.”

    If you keep your focus on the intersection of your organization’s VISION (or your WHY) with what matters to your customers, prediction will be natural, organic and effortless

  • How has your relationship with customers and employees changed in 2020 in comparison to past years?

    I run a virtual team, so I’ve not really experienced much change during this pandemic disruption.  I have noticed that many of the brands I work with (with larger, in-person teams) really struggled with the transition. Some struggled with managing technology and relationships virtually.

  • What is the first thing you do before you start your workday routine?

    As a content marketer, routine is really important to me. I’m almost like Pavlov’s Dog – I start my day with a routine; I start the coffee, empty the dishwasher and clean out my email and prioritize my activities for the day.  This gives me open space to think about things, write and explore new ideas.

  • What do you like and dislike about working remotely or from home?

    I’ve been working from home for more than 20 years and I’ve always loved it. I find the most productive way to engage with people regarding work is online. Although, I also feel that in-person meetings are extremely important – especially for connecting on a more personal level.

  • What is your learning style and how does that impact your decision making?

    I like to say that I’m an interactive learner.  I learn by engaging with other people, talking things through with experts, and letting those experts share their point-of-view with me.  I suppose I learn by focus group.

  • What was the most formative (life-changing) experience of your career?
    • When I learned that there was more to segmentation than simple demographics.
    • The epiphany that competition or setting benchmarks based on your competitors is stupid.
    • The day I realized that you couldn’t pay me enough money to tolerate corporate stress and was basically unemployable.
  • What hobbies and interests outside of work have indirectly benefited your career?

    I’d like to know what this is too.

  • What is your definition of success?

    Waking up in the morning, taking a breath, walking, showering, and getting on with the day.  Asking myself what I’m worried about – and when my worries are “self-actualizing” worries, I think – you are successful.

    Success is a story.  Somewhere along the way many of us decided that success was money or stuff. I’ve gotten away from that. When I realized that you couldn’t pay me enough money to deal with certain people—I realized that my success went way beyond money.

  • Has there been a time where you trusted your instinct over data to make an important decision? If yes, why? If no, why not?

    Remember playing “eenie-meenie-miney-mo”? And when you landed on an outcome you didn’t like, you’d keep going… “My mother said to pick the best one and you are the one to be it…” or something like that.

    That’s my test.  If the data says one thing and I keep looking for more, that tells me that my instinct (which I like to call turbo-logic) sees something unconsciously that I haven’t thought about.  So I take the time to explore what’s going on there. Usually, I’ll explore what’s underneath, like what is it about these results that I don’t like or don’t agree with or why.

  • We all fail sometimes. How do you approach failure on the job?

    Failure isn’t a thing – it’s a judgement or a story we tell ourselves.  Failure isn’t real.  It’s a word we assign to NOT achieving a pre-determined outcome.

    Failure isn’t personal – it’s just data.  You can’t make appropriate changes unless you have a baseline.

    That’s not to say that I don’t feel “bad” when I don’t achieve a goal I set for myself, It’s to say that as soon as I feel bad, I remind myself that I have data and a direction.

  • What kind of people are in your inner circle that propels you to succeed? What characteristics do they hold?

    I’m always looking to surround myself with people who are infinitely smarter than I am.  I believe that you become who you surround yourself with.  So I’m always looking for people who think differently from me, who have vastly different talents from me and who I admire for overcoming obstacles.

    To be clear, that doesn’t mean that my circle is homogenous – there are entrepreneurs, corporate executives, tradespeople, children, retirees, you name it.

  • Q: What books would you recommend that shaped your outlook in your career and/or in your life in general?
  • How did you get started in the industry?

    I had your typical start as most marketers – I started selling long distance when the AT&T and the “Baby Bells” broke up in the late 80’s.  This was the best, worst job I ever had.  If you’ve ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross – this was my life. 100 cold calls a day, 3 appointments per week, 5 B2B sales every month. Miss your quota 3 times and you’re fired.

    This is how I realized the true power of listening to customers.  It’s where I learned about segmentation, benefit segments, application segments – so much.

    As for the online publishing, I simply started writing, other web sites picked it up and off I went.  Honestly, I think my winning formula has a lot to do with the name; DIYMarketers is wonderfully descriptive and that helps.

  • What is the biggest misconception about your industry?

    I’m going to state my industry as the “small business advice” industry.  This would include the articles you read on Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other sites.

    The biggest misconception about this industry is that what you read actually counts as expert advice – instead, it’s expert experience shared with the audience. This content is just something to think about. The experts assume that the audience has a level of expertise that I honestly think they don’t.

    Our audience is sadly missing the fundamentals and the Google results you get when you search on something is woefully inadequate for several reasons;

    • It jumps into “doing” tasks instead of thinking strategically and making choices.
    • The content short cuts to promoting products instead of strategic thinking and focus on customers and what matters to them
  • Where do you see the industry in 10 years from now?

    If we’re talking about the industry of executive management, I see a real opening for what I’m going to call “servant leadership”.  In the same way that marketers need to focus on their customers first and products second, executives and managers need to ask themselves who do they serve.  I posit that executives serve their teams.  In 2021, Gallup’s employee engagement score is at 36% — that’s an improvement.  Those organizations with higher employee engagement scores are more profitable.

  • How do you stay on top of the latest industry trends? What kind of media do you consume? Are there any media you try and avoid?

    I’m constantly reading and cruising EVERYTHING – from Facebook feeds, ads, etc. to headlines and content. But more importantly, I like to see what’s UNDERNEATH the headlines and the content.  What’s the intention behind the content, what does this expert see that I’m missing?

  • If you owned a house that needed a lot of updates, would you rather tear it down and build a brand-new house from scratch or remodel the existing house preserving some of its original charm?

    I actually own a website that I literally rebuilt from the ground up this past year.  So, I suppose that I tore it down and started all over.  WHY? Well, the infrastructure was bad – it had what I call “digital dust bunnies” and if it’s bad to the core – you gotta rebuild.

    But here’s the deal – even this NEW “home” for my business isn’t quite right.  Like when you buy a new house and it’s not quite right. I’m updating and optimizing.

  • If you could step into my shoes, what would you have asked yourself that I didn’t?

Even with all of the work she has published, Ivana Taylor has a lot more wisdom to give for small business marketing. This interview shows that experience and the willingness to learn are influential tools that can play a big part in your business.

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