Our guest today is Morgan Sutton. Morgan is the Chief Executive Officer of Sue B. Zimmerman Enterprises LLC. When she was younger, she was always the “mature kid” in the group. She was the one who takes charge. This sense of responsibility and organization become embedded in her. That’s why it’s not surprising to know that at the age of 29 she is already the CEO of a million-dollar company.
Join us as we learn more about systems and marketing strategies in this episode of Rocky Mountain Marketing.
Morgan’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theinstagramexpert/
SBZ Team Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbzteam/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today, my guest is Morgan Sutton. Morgan is the CEO of Susan B. Zimmerman Enterprise LLC, a brand that has trained and empowered 1000s of small business owners to be the go to expert in their industry using Instagram to establish and grow an engaged following Morgan’s business systems and online marketing expertise have been featured on stage at Creative Live entre Palooza and several popular business and marketing podcasts. Morgana, welcome to the show today.
Morgan Sutton 0:54
Hi, thanks so much for having me. I have been looking forward to this episode because I’ve gotten to see some of the back and some of the behind the scenes of Susan B enterprise LLC, and just the the machine that you have created over there. So I’m really excited to talk with you and, and learn a little bit about systems and processes. But before we get into that, let’s start back at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what life was like growing up? what life was like growing up? Wow. Okay, so I actually find this question very complicated, which is so funny. I wonder if anyone listening can relate. So I spent ages I was born in Massachusetts and lived there until 10 years old. And when my parents divorced, we moved to South Florida. And so I spent ages 11 to 18 in South Florida. So whenever anyone asked me where I’m from, I don’t know how to answer isn’t that kind of funny. But what it led me to was having really, really strong relationships with both of my parents and figuring out kind of how to be friends with an adult, which kind of led me to my partnership with Sue. I grew up with in Sue’s house, my business partner. And because she lived in Massachusetts, and was the parent of one of my camp friends. And so when I would go spend time with my dad, I would go see my camp friends. And I would end up at Sue’s kitchen table. And it I think all made me to be the mature kid be the one that was in charge of the group or leading the group, which is funny to be 29 now and in charge of a business and have a team, right. So that maturity showed up early. And I was gonna say to you know, when you said I don’t really know where to say where I’m from my husband, he still says that he’s from San Diego, and he moved to Colorado when he was 11 as well. So I’m like, wow, Colorado longer than you lived in California. I think it’s about time to say that you’re from Colorado, but yeah, no, I totally get where.
Katie Brinkley 3:05
So you know, you were saying that you kind of had to you’re 29, which is crazy. And you’re the CEO of a million dollar business. And let’s just talk a little bit about your career journey, where you start and some of the different professional stops that you took along the way.
Morgan Sutton 3:21
Sure. So I went to college in DC, I went to George Washington University, and I enrolled in the engineering program. I was always like, good by other people’s terms at math and science. But I as the kind of high achiever kid was a little bit unsure about going after that. Luckily, when I went to GW, they had just had a huge endowment in the engineering program and had wonderful communities involved in it. So I joined the engineering sorority there and that is 100% What helped me graduate, still in engineering school, and I’m still so grateful for that and for being able to have a community to help you accomplish something which is probably why I love our group programs so much because our our programs are like little a little sorority in itself of female small business owners. So when I was in school, I worked on campus and just had silly jobs and spent the summers interning at an investment firm I worked in the compliance department and kind of organized contracts and filing things like that I was always very organized right my nickname I’m sure will come up later in the show because of that and but the truth was, I was pretty bored. So I did three summers at an investment firm and every day at 447 was like packing up my bag and getting ready to leave that cubicle. So one summer my I told a friend about how I was bored and this internship
And it was Sue’s daughter. And his daughter said, you know, you’re really not supposed to be bored at work, like you’re supposed to enjoy what you do and be passionate about what you do. And I said, That’s not true. Like work is supposed to be hard, and I will work hard, I will be compensated, well, I’ll create a good life make a career. And she was like, No, that’s not required. So I told her, please do not tell your mom that Morgan hates her job, because she’s gonna offer me one.
And Amanda didn’t listen to me and told Sue that Morgan was bored at work. And so that’s what brought me to our past business with espeasy, which was a seasonal boutique on Cape Cod. So we I helped Sue manage the store that she had had for a handful of years already. And because she was doing well with marketing, the store online, and this is like 10 years ago. So social medias, like just still figuring itself out. We decided to run workshops out of the vacation home, that Sue’s house on the nights or weekends that the store wasn’t open, and basically just show other business owners what was working well for the store. And that’s what got me started in marketing education. I guess. So that’s almost that’s nine years ago? Well, in Morgan, you know, you said to that you were doing internships, and like mill, this is boring. And I think that that is it’s the true sign of an entrepreneur right there. Because if you’re bored at work, and you haven’t even really, really started yet, you have that itch of creating something that you can be passionate about, and that you can go all in on and create the hours and the lifestyle that that you want to have. So I think it was a good thing that Amanda told I know, I can’t believe it, honestly. Because my I actually come from a line of entrepreneurs, my grandfather owned and sold a business, my uncle runs a business, my mom even took a stab at it. So now when we talk about it as like being this entrepreneurial family, I hadn’t even connected to that because I was so in line with like, this is what you should do, what you should do is try and get a corporate job, what you should do is go to school for engineering, what you should do his excetera, etc.
Katie Brinkley 7:26
Exactly. And I’m the same way, Morgan, looking back at where I came from, and my parents and my upbringing, I’m like, Well, of course, I ended up starting my own business. But I think that that is one of the problems. I think that very often, we think we have to go to school, we have to get this degree. And then we have to get a job sitting in a cube that we doing stuff that we really don’t care about. And I love the fact that entrepreneurship and remote working and all of that is really becoming more widely accepted and more embraced for kids and in for teenagers and college kids, because you don’t need to fit into that norm of going, getting a four year degree or getting that because you can build the lifestyle that you want to have, if you’re passionate about what it is that you do so,
Morgan Sutton 8:14
And I kind of did both like so I had a safety net of we started that we established the business November 2012. I was 21. We I ran it from school. So my junior year and senior year of college. So we’ve always been a fully remote team even eight or nine years ago. And even when I graduated college, it was always my plan to go and get a masters. And so luckily, I my only alternative was to go work at the Career Center and have that pay part of my tuition because that was my like on campus job all four years. And Sue offered to figure out a way to have the business match what tuition help I was going to get. And that honestly was a big crossroads, too. It was a big risk for us to say like no, in order to keep this thing going. We need the both of us we need this partnership. And this is what it requires. So I ended up getting going immediately from college to graduate school and still running the business during the day and going to school at night, basically for our first three or four years in business.
Katie Brinkley 9:18
So yeah, well, and I didn’t know that you had an engineering background. And now knowing that everything that you do makes make sense, right? Perfect sense. But I want to talk a little bit about growing this business because you as you said you started with running a physical store, and then you started transferring it over to online. Then you started this online and everything’s kind of evolved into what, what you have today. Yeah. Talk to us a little bit about that business growth, like some of the steps that had to happen in order for your business to be where it is now. Sure. So I mean, I think the first thing is like being committed
Morgan Sutton 10:00
Doing the time and having things evolved organically based on consistency based on showing up, right? Because we while we had wins every year, which made you want to go into the next year of business, every single year in business has been different. And there are just new problems at different scales, it doesn’t one day become easy to run this thing. And so I think that a lot of people look for the moment where it’s like we’ve made it or the moment where things change. But as ambitious as you are sitting there, right now, you’ll feel that same way two years later, when you hit that milestone. So sitting with the business, being consistent with it, knowing that it takes time to build a following to flush out who you actually want to be working with and how you want to do what you do is really, really important. With that being said, Morgan, is there anything that you would have done differently along your journey that anything that you would change going forward? It’s funny, I have a long list of things to change. Because Hindsight is 2020. Right? I have so much more clarity now on how the information product space works, and what sells. And I found this with clients now too. And so I try and have like the real kick in the butt conversation that we all think that like there’s some other way to make this marketing thing happen. There’s some other way to make the sales thing happened. And the truth is, is that the Mad Men like advertising thoughts, like is still basically what’s going on. Like, we’re, I know what’s happening online. And I know we’re all doing it from remote work. But the concepts in marketing and in sales are pretty consistent. And all has to do with the client and their psychology and isolating pain points and objections and showing off the benefit and having an identity shift. Like all of these buzzwords have existed for my entire 10 years. And for the 100 years before that when people were, you know, selling. So I think many entrepreneurs think that they can like beat the system or because they learn from marketers that might make them feel a little salesy or slimy, they then don’t want to use the tactics that those marketers teach, which actually do work. And so I would say one of my bigger, bigger regrets is being so strong in my own integrity, that I wouldn’t try things versus taking a tactic and saying, How can I make this work within my integrity? I don’t know if that’s a little complicated. But like evergreen selling evergreen webinars have been around for a long time, right? It took me probably two years to be convinced that it was okay to do for someone that had been teaching live for so long. It felt slimy and disingenuous than to put a recording in front of someone. And so I waited years, but implementing that evergreen webinar funnel, no one else waited two years. So people that we came up with, were already scaling to seven figures and beyond. And we were still sitting there scratching our heads wondering, why aren’t I able to go from six to seven figures and being self righteous in while it’s I don’t want to do recorded versus saying what can I do with this evergreen webinar process to make me feel in integrity. And there were there are a handful of things that you can do to correct that, that year, I tripled the size of the business that like, that’s awesome. And I think that sometimes, you know, we are our own biggest hurdles that we have totally to get past and whether it’s mindset or excepting, for you doing the recorded evergreen content. I mean, like there’s everyone has their thing. And I think that sometimes we just got to get out of our own way to really grow our business. Now. It is more than just a two person show. It is more though yes, you and, and Subi, you have scaled and you have I believe about 20 people on your team now. So that and that’s something that every entrepreneur as they get started, and they realize that this is a real business that kind of validates what it is that you’re doing. Talk to us a little bit about growing your business from just that, that two person show. It’s been quite the journey, I would say. I mean, there’s so much to say I at some point, you’ll hit a threshold where it’s there’s no possible way for you to do all the things that you want to do and it’s actually impeding you from growing or impeding you from offering the client experience that you want to offer if you don’t start figuring out how to outsource or hire. So what we’ve done is
is trying to be really incremental about what we’re hiring for when or what we’re outsourcing for, and have a good balance between contractors being involved versus full fledged team members. As you say, know, your entire team is remote. I mean, you guys on the West Coast su lives on the East Coast, and you have people everywhere in between. And I think that a lot of people don’t realize that you can have those specific contractors that do just what they do, whether it’s social media marketing, or if it’s er, writing or doing Facebook ads, you can have those people living anywhere, they don’t need to be in house. Talk to us a little bit about tips for growing this remote team. Sure. So the first thing that you have to be paying attention to is is there a task, or a process that you repeat on a daily or weekly basis, where in which you do the same steps over and over? Right? Because once that has been made clear, in your business, every business is a system, right? So my backgrounds in systems engineering, and engineering management, every business is a system and built up a series of systems and processes. And once you you define this special way that you do the thing that you do, and then there are a couple of processes that are kind of clear across the board. But even so to me, they all have your own spin messaging angle, right? Like the customer service process. For example, if you find that you spend an hour a week answering customer service emails, well, if you actually sit down and look at it, there’s probably like five frequently asked questions that you receive all the time. Most likely, if you’ve had your eye on this, you probably even have five templated emails about where you start that response. Right. And the good thing about questions is, it shows you things that you could potentially correct or make more efficient. But there are some things that there’s just nothing that you can do to correct like human error, right? Like, there’s always going to be a person that emails you that is having issue downloading your lead magnet. And so the templated email that says in your own messaging, in your own branding, in your own language, and also the information delivering that lead magnet, thank you so much for reaching out, we want to make sure that you get to use your free resource here it is for your convenience, hugs and hashtags, as busy team is now something that someone else could send for you. Right. And so I think what you have to do, if you’re starting to feel consistently overwhelmed, there are not enough hours in the day in order to do what you’re doing. I mean, there are a bunch of other tactics we can talk about. But one is to pay attention to what processes you were doing on repeat, are they something that you can document clearly, and then that’s something that you can outsource first, because it doesn’t necessarily require your touch. And there’s probably more things than you think that actually don’t require you at all. And that’s a big again, coming back to you saying how it’s your own enemy, like that mindset hurdle of this doesn’t have to be me, it’s certainly something you have to come back. But start with kind of documenting what you’re doing on a repeated basis that could be outsourced? Absolutely. And I know that as an entrepreneur solopreneur. That was one of the biggest hurdles that I had was, well, I can do this, it takes me like 15 minutes, or I can do that. And when we first started our business, we do have to do all the thing totally as we’re we’re just getting started. But when you are ready to scale and grow, doing that delegation and contracting out that work, or finding people that can help implement those those systems and processes just expedites the entire business process. Well, I want to talk a little bit more about the processes. And we talked, you mentioned that a little bit about just the delegation of like this email that’s going out or anything like that, how do you if someone’s listening right now they say, Okay, I’m ready to scale. What is my next step? How can I find a process that will work for me? How do I even start to figure out what my process is, so that I can take my business to that next step? Well, it’s interesting, I’m gonna answer the question, not answer the question. Basically, most often, what I find, especially with entrepreneurs, is, I’m sure you do want to scale and I believe you, but you’re probably already way too over committed to even have these processes be put in place. So my first kind of ask would be, can we take a clear audit of everything that you’re committed to? And are all of those things serving that goal 99% of the time they’re not. So for example, sorting through
I mean everything like listing out your clients and what they pay you ha Katie, I think this is where we started talking, like when you came into Pro was like, and you had it all documented. And we were like we list all your clients and and what they pay you listing all the projects that you have up and coming speaking engagements, you know, for our business model listing all the updates, the promotions, the commitments that you’ve already made, and then sorting through and saying, Well, is this all like my future business model? Or is this all my past business model? Right? So or are these all actually my ideal client that fit into this vision of this mold? Or are they not right? Like, asshole clients are a thing, right? Like, is there someone that you have to fire? Because they’re sucking the most energy out of you? Are there places that you need to increase that you haven’t done in a long time? Are there some speaking engagements that you have to say no to because they actually didn’t offer a compensate. And it’s just not part of your vision to be doing free speaking engagements. So to me, if you want to start down this systems process documentation route, because you’re looking to grow? First, you have to assess what it is that’s already in front of you that you’ve previously committed to. And I do this every time I have a big project coming up to like, before I set a deadline for a launch or for a new program that I want to create. I basically go through the calendar for the next 60 days and say, Is there any of this that I could say, actually, no thank you to without being outside of my own integrity, or hurting the reputation of the brand? can I connect to that person with someone else that can do the job instead? What’s the right thing for this vision? Yeah, and I think that, like you said that that’s where sitting down and looking at who your current clients are, if you are a service based decider, yeah, so a service based provider. So that really makes a difference. And I know it’s scary. It’s so sad, you put it firing clients, but sometimes that is the biggest opportunity maker out there. Because when you let go of those clients that aren’t serving you the way that you deserve to be served, everything for your business can change, it opens up more time at length with clients that appreciate you. And as an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, someone that’s just getting started saying no to money is scary. And wait a second, why would I turn money away, you know, I’ll just wait till I get another client, then maybe I’ll, I’ll try, I’ll fire them, I’ll just work till the end of the contract. And that absolutely is just a toxic way of trying to run your business. It delays your goals, it just does it because I’d say if going back to our big shift between half a million dollars and an a million and a half dollars, one of the big things was assessing how to do less things better. And then one of the big things was, as we already talked about getting out of your own way, with tactics that you know, can work and not standing in that way. So you need the time, it takes time to implement systems, it takes time to document processes, it takes time to hire, it takes time to train. And so you have if you want to kind of take a step back and operationally be able to do that you have to first understand if you even have the space to do that. And most likely it takes saying no to some things are simplifying your calendar in order to do that. Well, and there there is no, I’d like to say overnight success when it comes to growing a business. I mean, there’s always growing, there’s always learning curves, there’s always hurdles, there’s always things that you need to change. There’s no overnight success when it comes to growing a successful business. 100% Sue used to say all the time in our first couple years, like this is the thing, this is the thing. And at some point, like your three years or so I had to say like nothing is the thing. Like literally nothing is the thing, there is no big break, even getting the exposure of gear, someone with a list of 5000 and we’re getting the exposure to 50,000 or 250,000. Still not the big thing, right? So many other things have to come into line. Now, all of the decisions that we made in the first five years of business certainly did compile on top of each other and get us to a situation where we had the audience and the recognition, the reputation to be able to grow where we wanted to but we had and was so we had to do all those little things, but there was no big break. It’s not really how it works. I think people think that and they’re gonna wake up one day and be like, so this was the business that I wanted. You know, it’s just not how it works, not how it happens. It’s just not how it works.
Katie Brinkley 24:57
Now, I want to ask one, just a couple more questions. here. So what does your model look like these days for finding and engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers? What type of marketing? Have you found? That works best for your business?
Morgan Sutton 25:13
I would say webinars is like our number one vehicle for sales and for marketing. So I mean, we sell information products and coaching programs, right. So content marketing is really important to us. So we teach Instagram. So obviously, Instagram is a great vehicle for that in terms of social, but I say our number one tool in order to sell would be webinars, well, in just if you’re not in the just the online space, like if you’re a real estate agent, or if you are an auto mechanic, you could still host a webinar on, hopefully, on any of these topics that you feel comfortable with, and grow your online presence, but also grow your business and your customer base. So I think that webinars have a lot of opportunity for people that are not just in the online realm. If you’re looking for ways to connect with your audience even more and get them into your circle, webinars are a fantastic tool to utilize. Definitely, I mean, every product and service solves a problem or fulfills a desire. That’s the first major hurdle that I think business owners have to understand is that again, it’s about dismissing tactics that work because you don’t think it works for you. Maybe you need to hire consultants, so they help you understand what it how it works for you. But when we’re teaching on our webinars and talking about Instagram, I’ll have comments coming in that saying, but I sell skincare, but I sell a scarf, but I am a hairdresser, right? And so products and services, it’s the hairdresser, it’s pretty clear. But when the person says but I just sell a scarf, I don’t resolve a problem. Well, first of all, you could is the scarf something that someone wears when they’re cold, then the problem is that the person is underdressed, and there’s weather and you have to position your product in that way. Or maybe you’re fulfilling a desire, maybe it’s an identity shift or a status symbol that your design piece fulfills for the person right? So I think people first have to understand that and then move that understanding into what content marketing what either whether or not it’s a PDF resource, or webinar call can do, right? Because like you were saying an auto mechanic, right could do a video training about a webinar about like a detail the detailing process or right, yeah, and have it end with here’s all the information about the detailing process and what it means for you and what it does to your car and how it extends the life and the maintenance and the whatever the car, and then here’s how to have me do it instead. Right? Like, exactly, no, there’s exactly it. Yeah. And I think that no matter, really, no matter what you’re in business for, you’re solving a problem. And you need to figure out how that problem can be portrayed to your ideal client and customer. So in regardless of the industry, that you’re in, you’re always solving someone’s problem, right? Totally. Well, before we finish up, is there anything that I didn’t ask about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share was I think it’s really important to acknowledge that marketing is a test that you are in constant conversation with your audience about what they need, and how they need it, and why they need it. And if you’re not staying aware of that, and not open to the fact that you’re social media strategy may change your list building strategy, your email list strategy may change, your webinar may change because the audience shifts or their need shift, then it’s hard to grow. Like you have to be open to the fact that when you’re showing up and building some kind of marketing strategy, or implementing content or social that things will evolve, and that it’s all a test, and some things will do well, and some things won’t instead of putting all of your chips in that basket and being devastated when it doesn’t work. Like I’m happy when we run, launch, and I have numbers for the first time so that I can tweak it for the next time not throwing something out. I think that that was another really important thing that we did in the year that we tripled the business was with simplifying with doing less, doing the same thing over and over again and looking to optimize that piece. So
People are so emotionally invested with how their business performs. And that’s nothing that we can really change in my opinion. I mean, not these businesses are our babies and our lifeblood, then 100%. But you have to figure out how to be more open to testing an optimization versus letting it take over your mindset and stopping your momentum. I love that. Morgan, thank you so much for coming on the show today, this has been such a great conversation, where can we find out more about you and your business online? So you can find us at the Instagram expert on Instagram and at espeasy team, which is our like Team account and kind of the behind the scenes of the business? And yeah, no connect with us there. There are great free resources on how to use Instagram and online marketing to grow your business, including a webinar, if you want to check it out. We have a YouTube channel, just search to be Zimmerman, in YouTube, Zi M M, er, ma n. And that mean, there are hundreds of videos there about how to use Instagram and online marketing to grow your business. And in connection with those there are great free resources downloads that you can use as well to learn all about it. Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you, again, so much for coming on the show today. Thank you. I think a lot of the times that we feel that we need to go down a certain path, a certain Road, whether it’s college or doing a job that, you know, we think we should be doing. But it just doesn’t bring us that passion. And it’s leaves us all to wanting to start our own businesses. I think that that’s why you’re listening to this podcast, right? About being an entrepreneur. And I love how Morgan she’s 29. And she has a degree in engineering and masters, I mean, and it all comes back to her following her passion. And she’s still utilizing what she went to college for. She’s developing systems and processes for a million dollar business at the Instagram expert and to be enterprises. But I think that this is one of the things she She followed her dream, she followed her passions. And she knew that sitting in a cube every day, not was not necessarily the the job that was meant for her. And whether you’re sitting in your car right now, or you’re sitting at your desk, and you’re thinking man, I want to have that flexibility and freedom, but I just don’t know where to start. I think that’s our biggest hurdle is getting out of our own way and following your passions, following your dreams, going after what really lights that fire under your belt. And I know it can be scary. But when you trust your instincts, and you’re doing something that brings you passion every single day, your job is never going to feel like a job is never going to feel like you’re going to work, you’re going to show up and you’re going to enjoy every single moment because you’re doing something that lights you up, you’re doing something that you’re passionate about and you’re making a difference for people. And there’s different systems and processes that can help you elevate your business to that next step is just sitting down and figuring out the processes that are going to help get you there and following your passions behind that opportunity.
Katie Brinkley 33:25
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.