August 17, 2022
Marketing is a pretty big word. Most people get the general concept — you have to promote and market your services or products to drive more revenue, right? But there are a lot of moving pieces involved in “marketing” a business, including design. Marketing is also an extension of your brand, which means that there are a few things to take into account beyond “what’s trending” or what a coach says to do.
We’re digging into how marketing influences design and how design influences marketing as part of our Intersection of Design series. In this series, we’ve been chatting with business experts about how branding affects different parts of your business, why the best ideas come from collaboration, and how teams can work together to elevate ideas.
Today, we’re sharing a chat we had with Amber Housley, a marketing and retreat planning expert, to get all the juicy deets about why your marketing strategy is so crucial to your brand.
Amber Housley is a marketing strategist and business coach for women — she’s been doing this for nearly 20 years and has brought in over $1.5 million in sales revenue, created thousands of marketing plans for small businesses, and has hosted a membership with over 13,000 members!
Today, she leads and consults for top creatives and influencers, producing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue with her sales and marketing strategies.
Amber loves sharing her smart strategies with other women business owners through live events like Inspired Retreat — an annual, nationally recognized business gathering for women entrepreneurs. She’s also created Invite & Delight — a program for everything you need to create, plan, and sell a retreat experience!
We’ve worked with Amber for over 6 years now, helping her create a cohesive brand for all her projects and content. This made her the perfect person to interview for our next “episode” of The Intersection of Design series.
Follow along as Amber and Nicole talk about marketing, building a team, and how designers can support initiatives. Watch the video OR you can read a summary of our Q&A below!
When asked what she does, Amber replied: “I provide smart marketing strategies alongside a lot of encouragement and cheerleading! I help women-owned businesses implement marketing strategies that grow their business or even create their business when needed.
And then I also support them on the side by showing them how their business doesn’t have to be all-consuming. So, I like to create that joy-filled lifestyle alongside this growing business. That’s kind of my sweet spot.
One of the big things about my brand is focusing on creating your own success story, and it came out of years of coaching clients, of hundreds of women — many of whom were chasing success stories of influencers, or other people in the online business space and, you know, that left them feeling empty.
When we talk about creating your own success story, really that’s about going internal and realizing what motivates and inspires you. Or what you want to deliver in this world. It’s about learning to stand in your own identity rather than everybody else’s.”
“I think that the people I work with tend to lean towards the visual side [of what branding means]. And that’s great and all, but to me, it’s so much more than that. It’s more like a lifestyle. It’s messaging, it’s words — it’s so many different things other than just the visuals.
I think back to when we wrote a manifesto that became our ‘North Star’ as I narrowed down my offers or created more of them. I’d always go back to the manifesto and be like, ‘Okay, does this feel aligned with the brand?’
Because if it doesn’t, then we’ve got to consider some other options. And so I think sometimes it even could be like words that you’ve written out in your mission statement or a manifesto or any of those things, too.
I don’t expect my business to stay the same as it was a couple of years ago when I wrote the manifesto. But making edits to your brand doesn’t have to be drastic like I need to strip it all down and go back to the bones. You can just adjust a little bit.”
“I do feel like I’m starting to shift a little bit in my messaging and how I want to serve people. And that’s normal and natural. We’re human beings that are constantly evolving and changing. But when I talk to my team about new projects, sometimes we think it has to be some big, drastic change. It doesn’t feel like the new ideas fit the old manifesto.
[The day before this interview], I was literally having a conversation with another team member about [a project], and she even said, ‘Maybe this is a time for a rebrand.’ But I went to bed. I woke up and I realized this project wasn’t actually that different. It actually still fits and has the same mission of thriving businesses and joy-filled lives. We can actually just adjust a little bit.’
Since the business is based on a lifestyle, there’s so much flexibility and we’ve got this giant range, but it still very much looks and sounds and feels like ‘Amber Housley.’ But sometimes it’s a little brighter, sometimes it’s a little springy, sometimes it’s based on seasons, and sometimes it’s based on something else. But it all kind of falls into this brand environment that looks and feels the same.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to be on lots of different teams when I was working in other creative businesses, whether I was an employee or a consultant, and then as I moved into my own teams. So I feel like I’ve seen the whole run of the show.
I find that most of the clients I work with need project management. [Then,] I think of a content manager/copywriter, someone who’s helping with messaging and writing, and then I am thinking of a brand designer.”
“I mean, of course. I think that’s like the biggest thing I’ve always had to tell people is that contractors can’t read your mind. You have to get it all out there. And I think I’m a person that again, I go through seasons, but on the one when I’m in a good, healthy state, I would say I’m an over communicator.
I’d rather just give people the whole playbook so they already have a context of what’s happening. I think that goes a long way. I’d rather over-communicate than under-communicate any day.
I’ve always been this way, but I can see when I’m not doing it in the middle of a not-so-healthy season. My brain needs rest and I need space to dream of new opportunities. And so I will silo myself and kind of go quiet for a while. I need this space to think of what’s involved in the six or 12-month picture — like a good old-fashioned marketing plan.
Then I think that the team’s wondering if everything is okay, but it’s just me not explaining where I’m headed or what I’m thinking. That’s always a good invitation for me to make sure I’m still communicating.“
“A lot of times I get everything kind of mapped out at a very high level, even though it doesn’t always happen as mapped out in that first draft.
I find value still at the high level of bringing the team in to get input. But then also I have to remind myself that I am the CEO of the business. I am the visionary and the face of my brand, so, I have a certain responsibility for what my vision is. I can kind of go back and forth on how much input I want at certain times.
And before I kind of lean on my own genius or lean on what I know is best, I’ll get everybody else’s input, and then I’ll be the deciding factor of what happens and when it’s going to happen.”
“I think I’ve created a culture where I do ask for input, so it’s not an issue [if someone gives it unprompted]. I’m always asking. Hearing what my team has to say solidifies how I feel about a certain project.
I think it’s a kind of personal growth for a business owner, to think about how you get feedback. You don’t have to implement it but it’s nice to be heard, ya know? It can only make it more strong of an opinion for you, whatever direction you want to go. Or maybe someone will bring up something you’ve never thought about. It can be very eye-opening.
[When people don’t want to give feedback, it just means they] want to do the work. And I respect that because I know that that’s how we’re all running businesses. There are times when we have the energy to devote to a client and there are other times we won’t have that extra energy.
But I think that’s like part of the communication process and having that relationship where you can hop on Voxer or have some kind of one-on-one communication to ask if everything’s going okay.
I think it always goes back to if the contractor has a bigger picture understanding of what the business is doing and what the goals are. It just helps them feel a sense of job security. You can also do quarterly or monthly check-ins to find their level of happiness or what can be improved.”
“I would tell designers and brand designers that I wish more of them understood the scope of what happens in marketing. It’s not just having to design these pieces for print, web, or wherever it needs to go, but understanding where it fits in the whole picture because that’s going to affect all kinds of things.
If you understand how a sales marketing funnel works, or how a launch works for a program or whatever it may be, you’re just going to bring so much more to the table rather than just designing hands-off.”
When asked if she’s ever had to request design edits, Amber replied: “You know, it doesn’t usually happen, it’s usually just something along the lines of ‘Oh that’s not really what I had in mind.’ And it’s usually because I didn’t communicate enough. I think that it’s on me, not the designer.
But I try to overinform. I’ve learned over the years how specific we should be because no one can read minds. And marketing strategy, of course, influences design and all of the messaging. There’s just so much that goes into it.
Or it comes down to changing the way we use design in terms of repurposed content. We bring really good designs back and reuse them. Finding ways to work smarter, not harder. And I think that’s worked out well for us. We have a huge library now.”
“I think that the more that we can get curious about the other person’s responsibilities, the better that we both can be. I can get more curious about the design process and designs can take the initiative to find out what the bigger picture is…so we can all stop trying to read minds!”
This was an amazing discussion with Amber! If you want more about the intersection of design and other elements inside your business, stay tuned. We’ll be bringing you more interviews, including one with Kate Hutcheson, an operations specialist. You can also check out our conversation with Latasha Doyle about content, copy, and brand voice here!
If you want to find more about Amber visit amberhousley.com or follow her on Instagram @amberhousley.