Carla Williams Johnson started Carli Communications to help out business owners that need assistance in getting their enterprises out into the real world, attracting more clients and customers. Her decades of experience in the field includes devising strategies and launching products for big global brands like Coca Cola, Unilever, and Nestle. To help brands find success, Carla focuses on coming up with methods to identify the right clients for the brand; boosting visibility online and offline; and creating marketing campaigns that should drive up revenue.
As a Media Marketing Specialist, Carla Williams Johnson considers herself an advocate for small business owners and entrepreneurs. In the past, she had seen several businessmen and businesswomen get cheated out of their money by unscrupulous “marketing gurus.” These gurus would give entrepreneurs tips that did not work in exchange for hefty coaching fees. Entrepreneurs without much marketing knowledge and experience were easy prey for the scammers.
Tired of the tricks, Carla Williams Johnson decided to start Carli Communications to give new entrepreneurs methods that actually worked. She feels strongly that business people should put themselves out there in front of the right people. With her help, you would save yourself a ton of grief and money, as opposed to going with a marketing coach that’s just eager to squeeze dollars out of you.
Aside from running Carli Communications, Carla Williams Johnson has also given back to her community in Trinidad & Tobago. She shared her knowledge with the Malabar Secondary School to help prepare the students as they entered the working world. She also became a Personal Mentor in the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, where she supported and celebrated young people across the Commonwealth.
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Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Carla Williams Johnson: A colleague said to me: “I see everyone selling different things but I always consider you to be a true marketer because you’re the one who puts it all together.” That pretty much sums it all up honestly.
I see people selling all different aspects of marketing, whether it be Instagram tips, LinkedIn selling, copywriting, branding whatever……and all these things are great but what is the benefit to the recipient if they have no idea how to use it effectively or do not need it right now in their business. I like to look at marketing as a whole puzzle and advise persons what are the specific pieces they need to build their brand right now based on what they’d like to accomplish and what’s happening in the market right now…..and if that looks like me recommending them to someone else who can help them achieve those goals then so be it.
There are too many people out here looking to see how fast they can make a sale; driven by money instead of the desire of helping others. What sets me and my company apart is that I am the exact opposite. I believe the sale will come if my focus is giving value and helping others succeed.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Carla Williams Johnson: Schedule self-care like your life depended on it because it does. There are times I get so focused and engrossed in what I’m doing that I forget to eat. It’s crazy! I had to learn the hard way that being unkind to my body and not giving my brain time to recharge can have terrible consequences. Being a marketer means you have to always think of the best ways to connect with your customers and you cannot think creatively or strategically if you’re tired all the time, so do yourself and your business a favor and take a break every once in a while.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Carla Williams Johnson: There are so many people who have helped me in so many ways, but I would have to say my best friend who has been cheering me on from day one! Odessa Laulys has been by my side and is literally my rock and really, she’s more than a friend, she’s my big sister. She’s been there for everything in business and in life and I have no idea what I would do without her.
Another person I must shout out is my good friend Marlena Cole. She’s a Relationship Coach and she actually reached out to me because she knew I could help her build her business. Little did we know at the time that such a close friendship would emerge. She saw in me what I was so afraid to see in myself and truly gave me the confidence to step out and do what I’m good at.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Carla Williams Johnson: For me I think a good company is one that reaches the goals that are set, makes money and serves their customers efficiently but what makes a GREAT company is going above and beyond that. It’s reaching out and helping their customers even if it means partnering with another company to give them what they need; it’s giving back to the community and helping them thrive. A great company understands that it’s not just about business but it’s about life.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Carla Williams Johnson: Things change over time…….the way people think, their preferences, etc.
Just look at Covid-19: People are definitely thinking differently, acting differently and are abiding my new and unfamiliar protocols and this has affected the way people buy and even how they consume information.
As we market our business we need to understand these changes can help us create campaigns that will resonate more effectively.
I would highly recommend market research because having that data can help us understand when and how to launch, what would be the best products to promote and how best to communicate with our people.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Carla Williams Johnson: Right now businesses need to be even more strategic with limited funds and what I found is that during this time is that we may not be in control of a lot of things but we are in control of our brand’s visibility to ensure that our customers see, hear and remember us.
Publicity is the one simple tool that has increased both online engagement and offline sales for myself and for my clients as well. I always say the media helps you stay in front of your customers and ahead of your competition.
Since we’ve pivoted to use more of the media in our strategies we’ve found that it’s a great way to stand out from the noise and clutter online and has truly helped us build credibility allowing our customers to trust us more and ultimately invest their time and money in our brand.
Getting featured in traditional media has helped many of my clients increase their online engagement by as much as 80% when the links are shared on their social media pages, while others have experienced an increase in opt-ins and have even gotten requests to be paid to share their knowledge. Many have noted that the day they’re featured they experience a marginal increase in sales of their programs, packages and masterminds.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Carla Williams Johnson: No one said it was going to be easy but no one said it would be THIS HARD!! I mean I love the challenge; the roller coaster ride of being in business is enough to get the blood pumping but someone could have warned me!
I was ready for the exhaustion but not so much the loneliness; I was ready to lose some friends but not some of my closest confidants; I was ready to give up some things and juggle a few others but I was not ready for the emotion and guilt that would follow from my actions.
It’s a lot and sometimes the people closest to you won’t get you but that’s all part of it.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Carla Williams Johnson: I think making your customers feel like they’re opting in to be part of a bigger community or movement is a great way to really wow your customers. So making them feel great before, during and even after the buying process and not just abandoning them after the purchase. How can you make them feel like part of something bigger….like part of your family even after the purchase has been made? What’s your fulfillment sequence/process?
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Carla Williams Johnson: It’s very true that social media can shine an unwelcome spotlight on a crisis if not managed effectively and while I don’t see social media as a ‘necessary evil’ I do understand the connection between the company’s image and reputation. As a marketing expert I’ve found that too many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t really understand that it’s a tool to help them connect with their people and reach their goals.
Social media, by itself cannot demonstrate what the business stands for and, therefore using other forms of marketing can help in this area. Social media is just one part (and in some businesses a very small part) of an overall strategy designed to help position a brand in the minds and hearts of their target audience.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Carla Williams Johnson: What I’ve noticed is that many people think that when they’re the CEO, they’re ‘the boss’ which entitles them to:
- work when they feel like it;
- hire persons to do things that they don’t ‘feel like’ doing;
- order people about because they need to ‘do whatever the boss says’;
Being a CEO and building business requires a lot of work and sacrifice.
Late nights and early mornings, planning, strategizing and a lot of other things. To actually build a profitable, sustainable brand takes guts, a strong will and an understanding that it’s not all about you but the people you serve. Some people need to check that attitude at the door; there’s no place for ego in business!
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. 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. 🙂
Carla Williams Johnson: I honestly feel that men are ‘groomed’ (for lack of a better word) a particular way and therefore they are ‘expected’ to act and react in situations that can be really unhealthy for them and the people around them. Society still expects them to be a certain way which is counterproductive to how the world is progressing. If I could I would create a movement to address this because while women are becoming empowered, men are still being held to the same outdated stereotypes with their worth measured by an old-fashioned value system. I think helping these men unlearn some of the traits they were exposed to can truly help the world become a better, less violent place.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Carla Williams Johnson: Find me on my website at www.carlimedia.com
I’m also on social media:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!