Marketing Re-Imagined: Sarah Gemmell of SarahJean On How We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction
An Interview With Drew Gerber
Always keep people above profit. Part of keeping people safe through your marketing efforts is not selling someone something that they may not need or may not be a good fit for just to make a sale. Keeping people aboveprofit means focusing on helping people and giving them something that will help them, not just help your profit margin.
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 andnot 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 Sarah Gemmell.
After graduating college with a degree in Psychology and working as a substance abuse
Counselor, Sarah became an entrepreneur working in the fitness space. Networking quickly became her number one lead generator that ultimately led to 5-figure months and running a global fitness company during the pandemic, When it was time for a shift of focus, it was very natural for Sarah to start hosting networking events and consulting with sales teams and business owners on howto make networking a more profitable experience through authentic connections and always keeping people above profit.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to knowhowyou got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
Out of college, I was an addictions counselor and I loved it! I am very good and building rapport and connecting withpeople. My extremely empathic nature makes me a natural for counseling, but after my divorce I struggled to copewith the red tape of social services and the emotional struggle of a divorce, so I quit my job and started personal training. Personal training led me into entrepreneurship, where I used my ability to build rapport and to connect withother people to network and build my business. I successfully hit 5-figure months and was running a virtual fitnessprogram with clients all over the world in the pandemic, but something in my soul changed and fitness was no longer in alignment with me anymore. Networking was such a big part of my business that it was such an easy transitiontothen focus in hosting virtual and in person events, but then it grew even bigger into consulting and hosting workshopswith sales teams and business owners because networking to build a business is a skill that requires training andpractice, yet no one is really talking about it, so I am!!
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
I would hands down teach the younger me about self awareness and personal development before all else. My life- and subsequently, my business — changed dramatically when I started learning the deep inner workings of myself. I started the journey of learning my trauma responses, my anxieties, my limiting beliefs, which showed me the opportunities for growth. By learning who I truly am, how I think and how I behave, I started to show up authenticallyand unapologetically in who I am .
This has allowed me to be even more authentic in my marketing, my networking, and how I make connections withother people in my business.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whomyouare 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?
I have been blessed with a lot of support. I am not self made, I am support-made. My parents and my siblings havebeen a major key in that support. I have also worked very hard to put the right friends in my life, especially entrepreneur friends. We show up mutually for each other in different ways, but their support has been so special tome.
What day-to-day structures do you have in place for you to experience a fulfilled life?
I make sure to schedule free and fun time!! I am very type A and neurotic so I love my schedule, but I also had tocome to the realization that I am allowed to go out and have fun and enjoy my life even tough there is work to be done. What good is entrepreneurship if you can’t go out and enjoy yourself when you want?!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
I am currently working on building my virtual and in person networking events. I am extremely good at hosting networking events that are fun and non-traditional, but still focus on structure and actual business growth, so I amgoing with my strong suits!! I am also booking a lot of awesome speaking engagments for other people’s events, which I love!!
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Now let’s discuss marketing. To begin, can you share with our readersabit about why you are an authority on marketing?
Networking is a piece of marketing, so I am transparent about not being an expert in general marketing, but I will knock your socks off when we get into the nuances of how to make networking a star in your overall marketing strategy. My own experiences are one thing. Sure, I saw major success in my own business, but what really makesme an expert is the ability to shape what I have learned to fit what you need in your business! You are not me andyour business is your own, so I need to be able to make what I know work for you (and I do).
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 has majorly driven the advancements of today’s society. The technology, the access, the ease of communication has all grown through marketing because marketing is what allows people to see it is available andwhen done correctly, marketing gets the public to buy into an idea, a product, or a service and to believe in it. If Alexander Bell wasn’t able to market his idea of the telephone, who knows how much longer we would have gone without phones!
What responsibility do marketers have when it comes to people feeling that they aren’t enough?
Marketers heavily influence the way people feel about themselves and about the world around them. A perfect example is women’s body image over history. We are heavily influenced by fashion, celebrities, and marketing for beauty products. Ethically and morally, I think that marketers have a huge responsibility in how they market their products. Sure, you can sell like crazy by making someone feel like they aren’t enough without your product or service, but is that ethically and morally sound? No. A marketer who is truly an expert at their craft can and should find waysto market through empowerment instead of through fear mongering or making their audience feel less than.
Many 21st-century marketing professionals in a capitalistic society will discuss solving human “pain points” as away to sell products, services, and other wares successfully. In your opinion or experience, has aggravating painpoints led to more pain?
In my experience this can go either way. When you aggravate pain points, you have to be ready to come full circle andoffer a sound solution and to end on a high note. You cannot go around aggravating pain points and open real wounds for your audience and then leave them hanging. I have seen this time and time again in how people market and or sell and it honestly is just adding to the small T traumas of the people they are talking to. Keep in mind, too: pain points being aggravated exists on a scale. How serious is the pain point? How much are you aggravating it? Example: if you are saying “hey, I know you are self concious when your eyebrows are messy, come get themwaxedwith me” that is MUCH different than “hey, I know you are super insecure about your weight and you have been struggling for years and it makes you feel unloved and unworthy, here is a supplement that may or may not work” (this second one I have seen over and over, sadly, and to me is a prime example of causing more pain)
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 studiesyou may know about.
To be transparent, I am not an expert on this subject matter, so I don’t want to speak out of turn :) I knowit is important for you to have true experts weigh in here.
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 shapesour 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”?
1. Always keep people above profit. Part of keeping people safe through your marketing efforts is not selling someone something that they may not need or may not be a good fit for just to make a sale. Keeping people aboveprofit means focusing on helping people and giving them something that will help them, not just help your profit margin.
2. Stay true to who you are and be authentically and unapologetically yourself. When you show up this way it givesother people in your audience permission to do the same. The world of marketing has given off such a false senseof “perfection” in the past and consumers are tired of it. We are moving into a world where authenticity is more appreciated than ever. Pretending to be something you’re not sets a rocky foundation, but it is also not sustainable- at all. It is exhausting to upkeep a facade.
3. Prioritize networking meetings and events so you can build authentic relationships with other business ownerswho align with you. Part of being authentic in business is doing business with others who have similar views, corevalues, and missions as yourself. By prioritizing networking events and meetings you can curate who is in your circleand you can spend energy and time nurturing the most sustainable relationships.
4. Collaborate with businesses and people who align with your vision, your mission, and your core values. Buildingareferral network and high quality collaborations is an extremely sustainable aspect to your overall marketing plan. Remember: the key is to network with those who align with you. You will burn yourself out very quickly by spendingtime and energy with people who don’t align with you.
5. Nurture the relationships you already have. It is easy to get caught up in new connections and always movingonto the next thing, but what about the relationships you already have? If you want to build sustainability, you must spend time nurturing the people already in your circle by checking in with them and most importantly supportingthem. Engage on their social media, share their content, make an introduction, leave a testimonial. There are so many waysto show support to your people. When you do so genuinely and authentically and when you are dealing with peopleyou align well with, these relationships will reward you over and over again.
For you personally, if you have all your basic needs met, do you feel you have enough in life?
Full transparency, not all the time. I have had to do a lot of work to get to the point where I may not always feel likeI have enough in the present, but I can rest assuranced that what I need (and even what I want) is on it’s way to me. I used to think that was so “woo-woo” but it has been true for me up to this point and it also plays a big role in my overall feelings of fulfillment.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (book), My Morning Devotional by Alison Elizabeth (podcast), surrounding myself with women in business who are interested in personal growth through addressing trauma and limiting beliefs andwho are interested in becoming a higher version of themselves, it is contagious! I also highly value in person businessconferences and events for women in business.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good tothemost amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I have a very deep rooted belief that humans needs to give other humans more understanding and grace. Havingmore understanding of other people’s histories, their traumas, their insecurities, their feelings would solve most of theworld’s conflict. Along with understanding comes grace, giving other people more grace to be imperfect would quiteliterally change the world.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
Head over to sarahjeanco.com to find all of my social media links and other contact info!!
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.