By Joy Bing Fleming, MBA

On Tues, Jan 31, 2012, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview Laura Roeder. Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to create their own fame and claim their brand online.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background and how you got started with social media.

Laura’s Response: When I first started my business, I was doing web design (making websites for small businesses where I lived in Chicago). When I would make the websites, I would always advice people about how they could use social media and online marketing to drive people to their site. I didn’t want to just make a website that no one would visit. I wanted to make a website that would help them grow their business. So, I was interested in online marketing and social media marketing and then around 2008, when social media started to become a really popular thing that businesses were really getting interested in, I decided to switch my model over to social media consulting (I stopped doing web design entirely). That evolved into the social media training programs that I have today.

2. What’s the benefit of social media?

Laura’s Response: Driving traffic to your site, getting in front of new prospects, converting prospects into sales, building relationships with existing customers & new customers

3. If someone said they didn’t have enough time for social media, how would you respond to them?

Laura’s Response: That’s a common complaint with social media. Any marketing that you choose to do takes time. I think a lot of people spend time on social media for fun, and they’re not really marketing their business. So, it becomes this thought where social media takes forever, but actually doing marketing is not that time consuming.

If you’re sitting there reading Facebook or just reading tweets, clicking on links, you’re not marketing your business – you’re just consuming the content. That’s how people waste a lot of time.

In general, I don’t think it’s really a valid complaint because whenever you’re doing something for your business, you’re going to need to invest some time and there’s usually a trade-off because social media is free. That’s a really common trade-off in business. You’re going to have to invest some time if you don’t want to invest the money. You could just pay for leads for your business and then maybe you can get them faster. Although of course, there’s going to be a big time investment in doing any marketing channel.

4. What types of programs and consulting do you offer?

Laura’s Response: You can look on my website, We have programs about lots of different social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, making your own website, and I also offer a program called Creating Fame that’s all about how to use social media and online marketing to become that go to person in your field.

5. What are your top must read books of all time?

Laura’s Response: 1 of my favorite business books is called Double Double by Cameron Herold. If you search my blog, you’ll find a really amazing interview that I did with Cameron about that book. It’s really a how to guide to doubling your business.

For people getting started, I really like Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. I think it’s a great actionable guide to how to get leads into your business especially when you’re getting started and you need those first few clients – that’s a book written by service professionals.

I love the book Switch by The Heath Brothers – about influencing behavior because that’s what we’re all doing.

I love the book Positioning by Ries and Trout. It is a must read marketing book.

1 of my other all time favorites is Tribes by Seth Godin.

6. Is there a particular book that you’re reading right now?

Laura’s Response: The only business book I’m reading right now is a book called Cash Copy which is about improving your copywriting skills. It’s by Jeffrey Lant.

7. What are your personal keys to success?

Laura’s Response: Making a Plan – So many business owners I see don’t have a clear plan for what they’re doing with the year and how they’re spending their time. They make goals and they put them aside in a notebook and they don’t translate those goals to how they’re spending the day to day, week to week, month to month in their business. So, just taking some time and plotting out what you’re going to do ahead of time is incredibly important.

Every business needs to make marketing an absolute obsession. So many businesses say they can’t get leads, they can’t get started, they can’t get any business drummed up, but they’re not really doing any marketing and they haven’t really studied marketing. They’re sort of doing some scatter shot tactics hoping that people will appear. When you start a business, you really need to put some time and energy to learning how to get people to your business with books like Book Yourself Solid which are really excellent at teaching or my programs for learning how to get leads from social media.

8. Who are your hero’s?

Laura’s Response: My parents are my hero’s. I just went to a conference called Summit Series which is a really amazing collection of thought leaders and entrepreneurs from all different industries and the people that I surround myself with really inspire me.

9. Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

Laura’s Response: Yes, I think so. I was lucky that I grew up in a family that was supported by a small business. My father’s an architect, so I think that makes it a little easier to have that dream for yourself when you see that’s how your family is making money.

10. What are some tips for creating balance in your life – time management tips?

Laura’s Response: You get to choose how much you want to work. That’s the beauty of owning your own business. You have to be realistic about what you’ve chosen for your life. If you have 5 children, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time parenting them so you may not have as much time as somebody in a different situation. I see that a lot where people compare themselves to other business owners. A lot of people will ask me how I get so much done. Well, it’s not just me. I have a team of 6 people. So, of course, we can get more done than somebody who’s just on their own. So, when managing your time, I think it’s really important not to compare yourself to others, to take a look at what you’ve chosen in your life and then get serious about how much time you’re really spending working.

11. Do you have any motivational quotes that you particularly really like or hang on your wall?

Laura’s Response: I’m not a big quote person, but I do have something that I got from – there’s 2 women that run a course called Mondo Beyondo and they did a presentation at a conference called World Domination Summit in 2011 and they put little fortunes under each person’s chair that was at the conference that they hand wrote, and we got to find them during their presentation. It was really beautiful, and it was really fun. Mine says – “You are meant to be a change maker – Embrace your future.” So, I have that hanging up.

12. What habits have you developed over the years that have helped you to become a better version of yourself?

Laura’s Response: Getting real about how I spend my time is I think incredibly important. Again, with the internet, a lot of people think they work 10 hours a day, & are really just sort of reading articles, “researching, reading emails.” I think a lot of people are spending way too much time in other people’s businesses. I always say – keep your eyes on your own paper meaning – do not worry about what other people are doing. I really try not to be influenced by what other people are doing because I want my business to be original, and I think that’s important to be successful. So, I don’t research my competitor’s. I’m not on people’s email lists. I think it’s important to do your own thing. You have to learn the skills that you need for your business, but you don’t want to just copy-cat what other people are doing.

13. Do you have any movies that inspire you?

Laura’s Response: You know it’s always interesting watching movies of people who are very successful, movies about their lives like Walk the Line is a movie that I really like. I wouldn’t really call it inspirational though, it’s sort of sad. It doesn’t really have a happy ending, but it’s always very interesting for entrepreneurs to kind of peak behind the curtain of other people who have success.

14. What do you like most about your business?

Laura’s Response: That I get to set it up to be exactly as I want it. I love every person that I work with. I love the work we create. I get to do what I enjoy doing, so I feel very very lucky – it’s amazing, and I get to work from anywhere I want.

15. Are there certain parts of your business that you enjoy more than others?

Laura’s Response: I love planning. I love big vision stuff. I love marketing, so those are the things that I spend my time on.

16. Do you have any colleagues or friends that inspire you or challenge you to be a better person?

Laura’s Response: Absolutely, I just got back from Summit Series, so I’m thinking of a lot of friends I have there that are very successful and have really inspired me – Steve Jang, Lane Becker – I’m very lucky to know a lot of successful entrepreneurs.

17. Did you have a mentor to guide you when you were starting your business?

Laura’s Response: I’ve had a lot of people that have helped me along the way. When I first started, I hired Marie Forleo to be my coach. She really taught me a lot and helped me build my business.

18. What is your ultimate goal for your life – your life outcome?

Laura’s Response: I want to live a life that I enjoy and that serves others. I think that sums it up at the end of the day. I think those 2 things go together.

19. When you were younger, did you have a role model?

Laura’s Response: I think definitely, my parents. They ran a business, and they had a great balance of their business and their life.

20. What do you feel are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Laura’s Response: My greatest strengths are – I’m very organized, very good at translating ideas into action. I’m good at managing a team – I love to inspire people.

My weaknesses are moving too quickly. I don’t like to do a ton of writing. I’m okay doing marketing writing, but writing an article (or something like that) is a little bit painful, and I’m not good at customer service.

21. What will it take to surpass 6 figures in today’s market using social media?

Laura’s Response: I think it’s kind of the wrong question because making 6 figures is not a social media question. Social media is 1 way to market your business. But, how much money you’re making depends on what you’re selling, if you have good offerings, if you have offerings matching to what people want, if you provide great service, if you make it easy to buy from you, so I think it’s sort of the wrong mindset to say how can I use social media to make 6 figures? You can say – how can I use social media to bring in leads for my business, but how that translates into money does not have to do with social media – it has to do with how your business is structured.

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