Marketing Re-Imagined: Jo Harris Of honeyDIGITAL Agency On How We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction

An Interview With Drew Gerber

Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine

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Tell the full story. Don’t mislead people with your campaigns. Be direct about what your offer includes so that a customer knows what to expect.

From an objective standpoint, we are living in an unprecedented era of abundance. Yet so many of us are feeling unsatisfied. Why are we seemingly so insatiable? Do you feel that marketing has led to people feeling unsatisfied and not having enough in life? If so, what actions can marketers take to create a world where people feel that they have enough, and they are enough? Can we re-imagine what marketing looks like and how it makes people feel?

In this interview series, we are talking to experts in marketing and branding to discuss how we might re-imagine marketing to make it more authentic, sustainable, and promote more satisfaction. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jo Harris, co-founder of honeyDIGITAL agency.

Jo is a conversion copywriter & co-founder of the agency, honeyDIGITAL. She writes research driven sales copy for 6 & 7-figure businesses that want to increase conversion rates. In her self-paced course, Copyland, she also teaches business owners her exact process for writing copy so they can replicate it for clients or their own businesses.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

Absolutely! I started working in marketing over a decade ago. Before starting college, I was already running my own blog and had other students writing for me. I was traveling from North Carolina to New York City to cover events, and ended up transferring schools so that I could move to New York. Eventually, I transitioned into PR and social media marketing. I picked up some high-level clients, but after a while I started to feel that social media wasn’t a good fit for me. After getting married and having kids, I started pursuing my writing career more seriously, and that’s when I nestled into copywriting.

It was everything I loved to do, which was writing and marketing. I really enjoyed advertising and all the strategy behind it, so I picked up on it quickly. Several months into it, I got a dream offer from a company interested in hiring me. It was a well established company in the eLearning industry. I was already familiar with the company, so I got to write copy for a brand that I believed in.

During my time there, I played a significant role in not only their sales copy, but their email marketing as well. I had the privilege of writing emails to tens of thousands of people every week. Before I left that company, I saw their email metrics skyrocket, and got phenomenal feedback from their audience about what we were sending. That’s when I realized the power of putting the customer first in your messaging.

After leaving, my husband and I founded our own agency, honeyDIGITAL, and I took everything I learned there to start serving clients on a one-on-one capacity.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

There are so many lessons I’ve learned about business, but one of the lessons I wish I had learned sooner was how to position myself in the market successfully. What I find is that many businesses have amazing products or services to offer, but they don’t know how to communicate the value of what they do. Because of that, there is a disconnect between them and their potential customers. That can really hurt your profits as a business owner.

Positioning offers through messaging is one of the things we do for our clients, but it took me years to learn. Now that I know the “secret,” I try to help others avoid the mistakes I made so they can make progress more quickly. I love being able to offer this as a service. It’s very satisfying to see the transforming impact it has on our clients and their profitability.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful for that support to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for him or her?

One person that comes to mind immediately is my first client. She’s actually a good friend now, but when I started working with her she quickly took on the role of a mentor. I met her through a cold pitch I sent, and ever since our first conversation we stayed connected. She was one of the first people to push me forward before I created my online course. I was sitting on the idea for a while, and I remember after hanging up the phone with her I had a fire lit under me. I think that same weekend I sent out my first sales email and beta launched the course.

It’s always great to have at least one or two people in your corner that believe in what you do and support you no matter what. She has definitely been one of those people for me.

What day-to-day structures do you have in place for you to experience a fulfilled life?
I set boundaries with my time so that I can serve my clients and be there for my family without compromising on either end. I often hear people say that work-life balance is a myth, but I completely disagree with that. I believe it depends on the kind of work you do and the structures you have in place.

It’s important for me to have white space, so on the weekends I typically do something fun with my family. I like to watch documentaries, go to museums, or take walks in the park. I also like to start my day by reading the Bible. Starting my day with the Bible prepares me for the day more than anything else.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

The world of copywriting is always exciting in my opinion. Aside from my client projects, I’m working on an online course to help other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to follow the path that I took. After my copywriting took off, I had not only businesses coming to me but other aspiring copywriters. They wanted to know how I got to where I am, and how they can see similar success. I put out a number of resources to help people getting started, but it wasn’t really sufficient — people needed something more comprehensive. That’s when I created my course, Copyland, and laid out my copywriting process step by step.

It goes back to the whole “helping others avoid my mistakes.” Whether it’s with my copywriting students or my copywriting clients, I find myself frequently drawing from my experiences to help them make progress faster than I did. In a way, I guess you could say that those struggles I had worked out for my good in the end. Now I can help a lot more people because of what I learned in the process.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Now let’s discuss marketing. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority on marketing?

As I shared earlier in my story, I started in the marketing field over a decade ago. I’ve had a variety of roles in social media marketing, journalism, and copywriting. I have a really good overall understanding of how marketing works and the customer journey. In my opinion, copywriters are some of the best marketers you’ll ever work with because of the depth of knowledge we acquire about customesr through our research.

Throughout history, marketing has driven trade for humans. What role do you see that marketing played to get human societies where we are today?

Marketing is absolutely an essential element that helps our society function. It’s what helps drive our economy.

If we don’t have successful businesses running, how will people get the products and services they need for their everyday life? How will people even earn a living if there are no businesses to hire people? How will our economy thrive that way? None of those things can happen if businesses can’t sustain themselves.

So, how do you maintain a successful business? The first step is people need to find out about the business, and that’s where marketing comes in. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is if you don’t have customers to serve. You need people to know about your business to remain profitable and stay in business.

I work in marketing so I’m very cognizant of this question. What role does marketing play in creating the human experience of “I don’t have enough” even when basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are met?

Personally, I don’t think it’s “marketing” that causes people to feel they don’t have enough. Here’s what I mean by that…

If I see a commercial for Mercedes-Benz, but I already have a Toyota that works perfectly fine, I’m not going to start feeling bad about my car based on a commercial. The commercial brought their product to my awareness, but it doesn’t in itself cause me to feel dissatisfied with what I already have.

What I have seen cause dissatisfaction more than anything, is when people start comparing themselves to their peers. For example, scrolling through social media. I truly believe that the influence of people and the trap of comparison is what contributes to people feeling like they don’t have enough. I don’t believe marketing is the culprit.

What responsibility do marketers have when it comes to people feeling that they aren’t enough?

My perspective is a little different perhaps, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s a marketers job to do that. Our job as marketers is to sell a product and help a business be successful. I absolutely believe that we should practice integrity while doing that, and I think that’s where the important distinction comes into play.

Marketing will always be marketing. To suggest that we should try to make people feel like they don’t need our product or service is pretty self-defeating, however, I think we can definitely show integrity in our policies and the way that we interact with customers.

Many 21st-century marketing professionals in a capitalistic society will discuss solving human “pain points” as a way to sell products, services, and other wares successfully. In your opinion or experience, has aggravating pain points led to more pain?

Not in my experience, but I think it could be different for those working in particular industries. I think this goes back to using integrity in your marketing, and making sure that even in discussing pain points, you’re not inspiring any harm to the way someone views themselves. When I’m writing copy, I do think about the person who is reading it and there have been times that I intentionally avoided saying certain things because I wanted to keep integrity in the copy.

Different cultures view trade/marketing differently. While some may focus on “pain-points” others may focus on “purpose-points”. How do other cultures differ in how they approach marketing? Please give examples or studies you may know about.

I’m not too familiar with specific examples or case studies of that,, but in the copywriting world we do use both of these approaches. Through research, we determine whether the desire or the pain point resonates the strongest, and that’s usually how we decide which approach to lead with. But again, if you do focus on solving pain points in your marketing, I think it’s always important to keep integrity.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: It seems as if we have never stopped to question marketing. In your opinion, how can marketing professionals be more responsible for how their advertising shapes our human experience of feeling safe, secure, and knowing that we matter? Based on your experience or research can you please share “Five Ways We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction”?

As I mentioned before, I believe that marketing will always be marketing, but I do think there is a way to be authentic and keep integrity. That should go without saying, but unfortunately that’s not the case. For example, avoiding inflated promises and exaggerated remarks–that’s something I really try to avoid. And some things are just obvious, like not exploiting people.

Also, as marketers we can be selective about the products or services that we choose to work with. It’s unfortunate that companies aren’t always using good ethics with their campaigns, but there will always be good and bad in any industry. The best we can do is lead by example and speak out against those issues.

If I was to suggest five ways to reimagine marketing, it would start with accountability. First and foremost, marketers should ensure that they’re intentional about researching the product or service they’re selling, and that they don’t willingly support a business that is causing people harm.

Second, avoiding exaggerated remarks or promises which really don’t have any tangible backing. Make sure that your campaign is accurately reflecting the results people can expect with their purchase.

Third, don’t exploit people’s actual pain. Even though we use the term “pain points,” it’s mainly for the purpose of helping them understand how a product or service can solve their problem. It’s not to exploit their pain for personal benefit. That’s a really important distinction to make.

Fourth, tell the full story. Don’t mislead people with your campaigns. Be direct about what your offer includes so that a customer knows what to expect.

Fifth, have a good system in place to support your customers. The worst thing I’ve seen is when a company has terrific marketing and terrible service. You want to deliver the results you promise. Otherwise, people will stop believing in you.

For you personally, if you have all your basic needs met, do you feel you have enough in life?

Yes, I do. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever want anything again, but I don’t personally feel like I need material things to be fulfilled. I know that fulfillment doesn’t come from having things.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

Yes! The number one book that inspires my life daily, is the Bible. That’s where I find strength, peace, and joy.

As far as podcasts, one of my favorites is called SeedTime Money. I’ve been so inspired in my family life, business, and finances through the episodes. I highly recommend it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could influence people to do one thing, it would be to implement the Bible into their everyday lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for that.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

You can go to my agency website, honeyDIGITAL.co and I’m also active on LinkedIn and Instagram.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world.

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Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine

For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world