HAVE A CLEAR MESSAGE: Have a clear message that speaks directly to your ideal client’s pain points. For example, I see this happening often where companies focus on selling their product’s features, functions, and benefits. A more effective approach is the SOLUTION SELLING approach where you address your audience’s pain point(s) by telling them (and showing them) how your products or services are the solutions to their problems.
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women Leaders in Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy Viteri.
Sandy Viteri is a marketing strategist who’s passionate about helping coaches, digital course creators and entrepreneurs grow a meaningful and profitable online audience by leveraging the power of video podcasting.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After far too many splinters from climbing the corporate ladder in the tech sector for 20 years, I decided to start a company I was passionate about. If I was putting blood, sweat and tears into projects, I wanted them to be my own. I wanted to dive into entrepreneurship because I was passionate about creating real impact in this world, so I began a video podcast to interview other entrepreneurs and gather their tips on how to succeed in the “be your own boss” world. Long story short, my video podcast Entrepreneurial Vibe-brations actually sparked my passion for being behind a camera and sharing my message, so I started teaching others how to do the same. Now I am the founder and CEO of Video Podcast Academy, where coaches, digital course creators and entrepreneurs learn how to harness the power of video podcasting to share their message and grow their audiences.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me has been finding my WHY. I started my company after being in the corporate world for over 20+ years. I was the Vice President of Marketing for a large global digital measurement company and I got laid off. At that very moment, I made the decision to take the years of experience I had acquired to go help other entrepreneurs like me with their marketing needs. Little did I know that going down the entrepreneurial path, I was embarking on a journey towards personal growth and development. Getting to know me and what my WHY (or purpose) is.
After ups and downs I learned that my mission is to help like-minded, impact-driven female entrepreneurs whose definition of success is a byproduct of giving to others, so that, as a collective, we can work on the betterment of our planet for the greater good of all. And video podcasting just happens to be the vehicle I use to help them help others!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh, there are plenty — believe me! Entrepreneurship is a school full of learnings and you just have to be open to 1) taking risks, 2) making mistakes and 3) learning from them so you can move on as quickly as possible towards the right direction.
If I had to pick one I would pick focusing on what I call “THE GLOSSY” things first. Even though I had over 20 years of marketing experience — I don’t think I was fully aware of what it was going to take to become an entrepreneur. So at first I focused on having the pretty website, the brand, and an aesthetic social media profile. But in retrospect, I should have focused on making sure I knew my audience, what their needs were and how I could help them. If I had to do it all over again that is where I would start. Now, do I call it a mistake? No, I call it a lesson learned that I can now share with others so they don’t make the mistakes I made.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
No MBA will caution you to not start a business in the middle of a pandemic. It is truly so unforeseen and there are millions of other variables that are more likely to hinder your business success. However, I had worked for almost two years on the launch of Video Podcast Academy, and I had to make a fight or flight decision to launch or hit the panic button. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider giving up, but after much introspection, I had the epiphany that it was actually the perfect timing to launch my Video Podcast Academy. For one, people were quarantined and stuck at home — some with the itch to learn and feel productive. Also, on the listeners’ and viewers’ side, they were anxious to find human connection, motivation, and a silver lining to so much grief and anguish. So I dug deep and put my “why” over every doubt, and in hindsight, I’m so happy and proud that I did.
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 about that?
That’s certainly true, and of course, I have to give credit where credit is due. I’m extremely grateful for my business coach, James Wedmore, who helped me crush all my limiting beliefs about business and success, and really empowered me to think big and take action at every step of the way.
At the beginning of my journey as a video podcast coach, I struggled with the concept of it gaining momentum, which was truly discouraging and frustrating. But I could always turn to James for some words of wisdom, and he often reminded me that pioneering was for the brave and it took some major guts. So I dug deep and found the strength to keep going.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Life lesson quotes are nuggets of motivation for me, and I have many close to my heart, but I’d say “Don’t negotiate with your dreams.” When our rational mind talks to our emotional mind, we start belittling our capabilities and talking ourselves out of what we’re able to accomplish.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
Podcasting (and video podcasting) have taken some quantum leaps in the past few years, and now tech giants like Spotify, Amazon, and Apple are betting on even more success to come for the industry. The issue is that most creators, entrepreneurs, coaches, etc. don’t feel like they have the right tools, knowledge, or even mindset to venture into launching their own podcast or video podcast. That’s the problem Video Podcast Academy solves. We take our students on an 8-week journey where we give them the step-by-step framework they need to launch their own video podcasts, as well as a jam-packed toolkit full of resources, cheat-sheets, and practical tips.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
First off, I relentlessly preach about the power of video and how important it is to include it in the “podcast” equation. So the concept of video podcasting has really helped me stand out and differentiate myself from companies that just focus on the audio portion of podcasting. When I was looking into launching my own podcast, all the courses, seminars, coaches, etc. taught just the audio portion, but I was bothered by the fact that I was putting so much time and energy into recording audio and not getting the full breadth of “juice” from my episodes, because, without the video portion, I couldn’t upload my episodes to YouTube and I couldn’t post snippets of them on social media. So I decided to go against everyone who advised me to not add video to my podcast, and it’s all history from there.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m actually working on the third season of my video podcast, the Entrepreneurial Vibe-brations Show. My show inspires entrepreneurs to unleash THEIR vision, amplify their message and pursue their purpose to create positive global change. I’m excited to dive into more success stories, more “what I would’ve done in hindsight” stories,
Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in Tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
In short — no. I believe that women should be far more represented in tech and, in the words of RBG, every single place where decisions are made. However, I think we should also take it upon ourselves to shatter all the limiting beliefs we have and strive for greatness despite all the circumstances.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
The glass ceiling has been and continues to be the biggest challenge. More women should have a place in the boardrooms not only as CEOs but also as Board Members.
However, in the past few years, we have seen growing momentum in support of this issue, even receiving support from business leaders and lawmakers around greater gender equality.
Nasdaq also recently announced a perfect example of this.
“This month, Nasdaq proposed a similar diversity mandate saying that, if approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it will require listed companies to have, or explain why they don’t have, at least two diverse board members, including one person who self-identifies as female and one person who self-identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+.”
Having said that, these changes are not reflecting yet a more equally balanced gender representation at the top. Even without governing bodies putting checks and balances on corporations to make sure women and minorities are represented, tech companies (and all companies for that matter) should self-monitor their practices to make sure they’re being part of the solution — and not the issue.
What would you advise to another tech 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 or sales and “restart their engines”?
There could be multiple reasons that would lead a tech company to reach stagnation. So the first thing I would do is to analyze past performance (looking for internal factors; such as product issues, lack of R&D, lack of customer service or support. Then I would look at the external factors such as the economy — what is happening in the world, within the industry that may be affecting growth. Then I would look at the competition — are they growing?
If growth has reached a standstill you first need to understand what caused the change so you know where to spend the company’s time, effort, and resources to reactivate the revenue engine. Without knowing you are shooting darts in the dark.
Do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?
Setting business goals as a team has been truly important in my own journey. However, the ground zero you have to set down before setting those goals is making sure that everyone on the team is a true, firm believer in the vision of the company, in the way you’re making a positive impact in the world, and in the importance of the work they do day in and day out.
In your specific industry, what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?
In my experience, I have found that there are few key elements you must have in place in order to be able to find, attract and grow an audience.
You need to have:
- A clear understanding of your ideal avatar’s needs and wants
- A consistent and cohesive message that speaks directly to your ideal avatar’s pain points
- A strategic and multi-touch content and marketing plan
Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?
- Quality before quantity. Our business model favors having fewer clients to whom we can give specific attention, advice, and direction to — versus more clients that wouldn’t get that same quality of experience or customer service.
- Follow ups. And I don’t mean simple, automatic email template follow ups. I mean human, “have you been seeing results? How can we help you? Follow ups.
- User feedback. Encouraging clients and users to give you honest feedback may sting for a minute, but it’ll be way worth it in the long run. Of course, implementing solutions to the issues presented in the user feedback is the second half of that battle.
As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?
Many academies, course creators, and coaches focus on selling. I’ve chosen to focus on impacting. The people that are attracted to me and to my programs are people who want to make a difference in this world. So I focus on what they need, on delivering value, and on helping them find their voice so they can share their conscious message with the world.
When you make sure to truly make a difference in somebody’s life, they will likely keep coming back, buy more of your programs, spread word of mouth promotion, and overall, increase their customer lifetime value. At the Video Podcast Academy, we have solutions and programs that offer our clients a way to continue working with us after they’ve gone through the main 8-week course. We call it the Video Podcast Accelerators — that way we can ensure our students have the continued support they need after they graduate from the academy.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.
- SOLVE A PROBLEM: You need to ensure the company’s services or products are designed to meet an UNSOLVED NEED. If there is no need in the market no matter how you offer it or how you try to sell it, people are not going to buy it.
- KNOW YOUR IDEAL AUDIENCE: Have a clear understanding of your IDEAL CLIENT. By defining your ideal client, I am not saying that we should only know their demographic and psychographic traits. Within the Video Podcast Academy, I teach my students to go a few levels deeper. We go through an exercise where I ask them to create a real “Client Avatar.” To give him or her a name, to find out where they hang out within the social media world, to go even deeper into what their challenges really are, and to interview a few of their ideal client avatars. You can’t create effective content that speaks AND CONNECTS with your clients if you don’t know 1) Who they are and 2) what they need.
- HAVE A CLEAR MISSION/VISION: Having a mission and vision statement isn’t something that only large organizations should have. Regardless of the size of your business, or if you are an entrepreneur or a solopreneur, having a clear mission and vision helps you stay focused on your WHY. It allows you to clearly verbalize and communicate what your company stands for and enables you to bring others on board who share similar values (including employees, partners, prospects, and clients).
- HAVE A CLEAR MESSAGE: Have a clear message that speaks directly to your ideal client’s pain points. For example, I see this happening often where companies focus on selling their product’s features, functions, and benefits. A more effective approach is the SOLUTION SELLING approach where you address your audience’s pain point(s) by telling them (and showing them) how your products or services are the solutions to their problems.
- USE CLIENT AND PROSPECT FEEDBACK AS A SOURCE OF INNOVATION: Creating a process to ask for prospect and client feedback, in my opinion, is critical for the growth of any company. Without it, it’s like flying blindfolded. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. Client satisfaction surveys are a great way to gather feedback. Also, a win-loss analysis helps you understand what needs to change or improve in order to win more market share.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
This is probably the best question I’ve ever been asked. The movement I would inspire would probably look something like a “share your message movement.” Too many of us fight our battles in silence and also celebrate our wins in silence. I believe that if people leverage technology to start video podcasts, YouTube channels, Facebook groups, etc. we can create some very meaningful and impactful conversations, we can further human connection, and we can collectively work for a better, more human tomorrow.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
In light of our current climate, I’d say Kamala Harris. She’s a true inspiration for shattering such an important political glass ceiling. She empowers women and girls to keep going no matter the circumstances, and as she likes to say, “eat “no’s” for breakfast.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!