Jeanna Barrett is the Founder and Chief Remote Officer of First Page Strategy, an award-winning remote growth marketing agency. She has 18 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies, and Fortune 500 companies, with a focus on small businesses and technology. Jeanna has been named among the ‘Top 40 Under 40’ of brand marketers and ‘Best in the West’ for financial technology marketing. In 2016, she left the US to lay roots and build her business in Belize, Latin America, growing her business remotely for five years before moving to Roatan, Honduras in 2021.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Jeanna Barrett, the Founder and Chief Remote Officer of First Page Strategy, about best practices for inbound marketing and building a company in a new country. Jeanna also shares tips for maintaining work-life harmony, building a remote team, and nourishing company culture.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- How Jeanna Barrett changed careers and moved to Belize
- The strategies Jeanna used to get her first big clients and build her company
- How to nourish company culture for a growing business
- Tips for maintaining work-life harmony, screening clients to work with, and building a diverse workforce
- Has Jeanna ever fired a client?
- How Jeanna’s life and business were impacted by the pandemic
- Tips for getting started with inbound marketing
- How to cultivate work-life harmony for employees
- The people Jeanna acknowledges for their support
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
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Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.
John Corcoran 0:40
All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here and I am recording this episode for two different podcasts. This is for the Smart Business Revolution Podcast and also the Smart Agency Masterclass Podcast. And today, we’ve got a great interview for you. And if you’ve never heard one of my podcast interviews before, go check out the archives, you can search for our name. And you can see we’ve got great interviews with agency owners and smart CEOs and founders and entrepreneurs. I’ve done Netflix and Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, and many more. And I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And our guest today is Jeanna, she Jeanna Barrett is her name. She has 17 years of inbound marketing experience of venture-backed startups, digital agencies, and fortune 500 companies with expertise focused on small businesses and technology. And she’s been named ‘Top 40 Under 40’ of brand marketers and ‘Best in the West’ for financial technology marketing. Now, what I think is going to be really interesting about this interview is that about six years ago now, in 2016, she left the US to lay roots and build her business in Belize and Latin America. And she built a freelancing business into a full inbound remote marketing agency with 40-plus experts across the globe. And so we’re going to talk a lot about building the culture of a team away from quote-unquote, hustle culture, teams that are really focused on building a life for themselves. And so we’re gonna get into that.
And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And you can learn about us at rise25.com. All right, Jeanna, great having you here. Let’s see you. Yeah, let’s dive straight into 2016. You actually were living in my area of San Francisco Bay Area, during the tech scene. And just got deeply burned out from this culture of nonstop working and always having to be at work. There’s a pool table, there’s a foosball table, there’s free lunch, there’s laundry, there’s dry cleaning, there’s lunch, you know, there’s dinner, and eventually, you realize, oh, my gosh, the reason why they’re paying for all this stuff is so that I can work 80 hours in a week, and you got burned out. Then you got burned out by your like, forget it and tell me like you were you like this, it I’m, I’m going on this tropical place.
Jeanna Barrett 3:07
Yeah, I mean, I like truly reached a point where I decided to leave my career. Like, I was like, I don’t want to be a market anymore. I was like a leader. And I done pretty well for myself. And I was just like, I don’t want any part of it. I want. I wrote this article at the time that said, like, I just want to go sell ice cream on a beach. And that was my way of saying like, I wanted a really simplified life where I could just wake up and not be stressed out and not be working all the time and focus on the things that made me happy. And what ended up happening universe is that I found a way to build a business like that. And I it’s not what I intended from the get go, but it kind of fell in my lap. But so yeah, so since then, I’ve been building a business where I can still kind of, you know, sell ice cream on a beach, but do my career and make good money and be happy and satisfied and all that.
John Corcoran 4:01
Yeah. And so you, you you come down to Belize. And you know, I imagine you still had relationships from your previous career, but it was it hard getting it started in the beginning or how did how did you get those first few clients in the early days?
Jeanna Barrett 4:20
I mean, no, not really. It’s like, if you’re at any level, you’ve played your cards right? You’ve Yeah, you’ve built a network and I had lots of people you know, that I had worked for or with at other brands, you know, because I had been 15 plus years of working before I decided to do that. So um, it was getting my first big client was like a lesson in content marketing, which I can go into how I got that but the rest was the first kind of freelancing stuff that I was looking to do and consulting was just word of mouth of getting you know, I like networking with people I hadn’t worked with in a while and saying here, here’s what I’m doing, would you be interested? And then it evolved into an agency because of how I kind of started writing about what I was doing. And probably somebody that needed you’re practicing what
John Corcoran 5:15
you’re preaching, you’re practicing what you’re preaching, because you because you are a specialist in inbound marketing. So it sounds like you’re practicing what you’re preaching.
Jeanna Barrett 5:24
John Corcoran 5:26
So how did you get that started? So you mentioned you got a first big client, let’s, let’s walk through that. That is kind of a case study. How did that come about?
Jeanna Barrett 5:38
Yeah, so I went and this is exactly I love this, because it works so well with you know, inbound marketing and how it is how effective it is. But, um, I had written an article for Fast Company about how I had left my career and you know, moved to the Caribbean, and these are the steps you need to take to do it yourself. They wanted me to kind of give other people advice. Because, you know, probably starting around that time, people were like, looking to work remote and kind of leave the country, it was just a little tiny inkling of people doing that before COVID. But, um, so I wrote that article. And then within that article, I kind of said, here’s the company that I used, I built, you know, I formed my business, and I used XYZ to to form my business so that I could be like a LLC, and a consultant, and Pastor taxes and all that and that company was, had just fired their SEO company and they read my article saw the backlink in their SEO tool and reached out to me and said, Hey, would you want to pitch this business? And at that time, I was not an agency, I was just me and I kind of like, totally fake it till you make it kind of a thing. I was like, how do we even pick, you know, Googling, how to pitch business as an agency, and I pulled in someone else to work with me on the project, and it’s just grown from there. Now. We still work with them, like six years later, 40 people on their account? Huh?
John Corcoran 6:59
Wow, amazing. Yeah, so was that a pretty quick result? Because, you know, when when people think of inbound, and they think of like content creation, and you know, writing blog posts and things like that one of the biggest objections, I’m sure you hear it all the time is, oh, man, it takes a while, it takes a lot of energy to create this kind of content.
Jeanna Barrett 7:21
Yeah, yeah, I mean, we just tell our clients that you’re gonna see like, six to nine months is the best window, but three to six months at minimum to kind of start to see some return. Nowadays, you should be doing stuff that should be able to show like low we call it low hanging fruit, or some pretty quick return. And then it is a more long term strategy while you’re using like PPC or paid ads to kind of pull in people, right, but so this particular case, what happened to me was totally like, you know, maybe 50%, inbound marketing 50% kismet, because that’s not gonna happen. Everybody that you happen to link to a company that’s looking for your services, or whatever, but but it was still a cool way to be discovered.
John Corcoran 8:05
Yeah. And do you find? Or when that happened, when you got that business? Did you have to suddenly scale up and hire a bunch of people? What did you have to do?
Jeanna Barrett 8:15
Yeah, I did have to Well, we started out small, it was like an entry contract entry level contract with like two consultants kind of working on SEO and content. And then from there, we’ve had to scale every single year just based on the services and the needs. And we’ve hired a lot of people, right. So year two, it was like, adding three people to the contract. Year three was adding another five people to contract. So we were at 10 people. So we’ve just, you know, we started out with simple kind of inbound SEO and content, strategy, services. And then we layered on email marketing, social media, lead generation, paid marketing for growth, kind of a thing. So we just built onto what we’ve been doing for them and added people year after year after year. So we’re at that point now,
John Corcoran 9:03
as you grow on the team, and you, you wanted to keep this culture, this very deliberate culture to kind of avoid the hustle culture, and encourage people to work the way that they want to work. How have you ensured that as you’ve added team members that you’ve retained that culture that you want to build?
Jeanna Barrett 9:24
Yeah, so I built first page, so I could work in the way that I wanted to work, right. Like I’ve always kind of thought about what the boundaries are that I would want to start working again, instead of just living on the beach in Belize and selling ice cream. And it was not like what I was doing in San Francisco. And so as I started to build those boundaries, and then hire other people, the culture part is was still much very today the most important piece of what I focus on and try to maintain because it’s very easy to start working in like The ways that we’ve worked all our life or that people we’ve been taught is the normal way to work in America. It’s very different in some other cultures. And so I Yeah, so I just focus very closely on like what our culture is, and how we avoid working in a ways that burn people out where they leave, they quit their jobs, they’re tired, stressed out, have health problems, medical problems, miss their family and friends aren’t doing things to make them happy. Like, nobody is happy like that. But it’s incredible how many companies still operate with people needing to work like that. And I feel like if they focused on building more kind of plays, that we’re trying to be focused on, people stick around longer. And it’s less money to retain people and people are happier, they’re better workers. Right? So yeah, so I feel like we’re kind of tapping into something here that more companies should be tapping into. Yeah.
John Corcoran 10:54