An entrepreneur for more than 20 years, Sue Painter provides strategic planning and marketing to small business owners. She is an expert in social media marketing and in conscious leadership and has been featured on CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS and ABC. Sue’s second business, Travel Changes Life, offers retreat planning and travel advice to groups, families, and culture seekers anywhere in the world. Sue has traveled to all 7 continents and to over 50 countries. You can find more about Sue on either of her websites, confidentmarketer.com and travelchangeslife.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, to name a few.
With your background in business, at what point was your aha moment when you realized that you were in fact an influencer?
That’s an interesting story really. I really never thought that what I did in my work influenced other people until I started getting stories back from them and I would get emails saying, you taught me this in a class five years ago, or you did a webinar three years ago and since that time I’ve changed this, this, this, and I’ve been really successful in my business and it was all because of that one thing you said. And I started thinking, wow, we have this power within us to influence others and we really never even recognize it until it comes full circle and comes back around to us.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Confident Marketer and the consultation services that you offer?
I’ve had the Confident Marketer for 18 years now, so I’m one of the early adapters in the digital space. I work with clients, primarily people who want to have more of a lifestyle based business, they’re not looking for running a corporation with multiple employees and $2 million in income, instead they want anywhere between 50 to 400,000 a year.
They really want to work from home or a small nearby office, they don’t want a lot of staff. What they really need to do is focus in on exactly who their customer is. And often when I work with them, I find that they have not niched narrowly enough, so their marketing is hit or miss. They have kind of a buckshot approach. They try to be too many things to too many customers, and by doing that, they really water down their marketing.
So, we look at brand clarity, we look at really refining who their best customer is, really working on that avatar. And then we look at what are the simple systems that they can put in place, so marketing that’s not got them doing 50 different things, but instead, really owning two different things. So, I try to really simplify it and make it clear for them. And then they’re energized because they’re not lost in too many systems and trying to beat marketing across every single social media platform.
I talk to a lot of travel influencers and the thing I love about travel influencers and their blogs is that each has their own specific take on travel, or their niche. And so, I want to ask you about Travel Changes Life and your approach to travel blogging.
I love teaching people that it’s the destination, not the way that you get there so much, and that really in travel, it’s kind of one of the few places that you get what you pay for. So, if you really want to have the experience of a culture, you need to pay for being able to immerse yourself in that culture, not just kind of hit it lightly and go on a bus tour around the town and then you never really get to go to the city. So, I take my travel blogging, I really go deep. Bill and I have traveled around the world, not once, but twice. We’ve been to all seven continents, including Antarctica. And we know what it is. We always say that the mark of a good trip is that you get really good and lost at least once, and then you really start seeing the culture and the people around you, which for us is what travel is about.
Can you think of a couple of brand collaborations to date that have been the most memorable to you?
In the travel world, we really are bugs about luggage and traveling lightly, so I’ve done some collaborations with testing out different backpacks and different sets of rolling luggage, and that was fun and memorable to me. And I felt like it was also really helpful to the people who read the blog because it’s hard sometimes to know from such a wide variety of product, what will really work for you and what won’t.
Fancy expensive luggage typically doesn’t work if you’re a real explorer. So, you have to know what to think about and how you’re going to use your product when you’re off on the other side of the world somewhere.
What’s your favorite social platform to post on? Do you like more long form content or visual based or video?
Right now? I really am enjoying YouTube and Instagram. So, I guess you would say I must be visual, I’ve kind of moved to that. I think over the years, when I first started at 18 years ago, there wasn’t that many choices in social media, and I’ve watched it as it’s become so much that it’s easy to get lost. So, I do like the visual and the reason for that is, I think that when people both hear and see something, it sticks with them longer.
So, I like doing videos and showing people things, showing this is what a destination looks like, or this is what a marketing funnel looks like. It’s simple but effective. And I just think that as somebody who knows instructional design, I know that some people read, some people listen, some people watch, so the more of that you can hit, the more the people you’re trying to serve will benefit. I played with Clubhouse a little bit, I can’t say that it’s my most favorite thing, but I might get used to it. It’s kind of like radio to me. It’s kind of like going back to the old radio, it’s kind of interesting.
What are some of your goals as it pertains to your branding, as it pertains to your consulting, as it pertains to influencer marketing over the next year or two?
I see so much the changes in the online world, I’ve been in it long enough to see the arc of what has been popular, what’s popular now, and probably a little bit where it’s going. My deal is, I want to always be of real service to the people I work with, whether it’s a Confident Marketer client or a Travel Changes Life client. Just yesterday I was able to talk to a travel supplier directly because I know them and I work with them closely, and I was able to bring someone’s trip down by $3,220 by getting a price reduction for them. So, I always want to be of service, but I always want to do it in a way that keeps me happy and joyful about the work I do. I have always said, when the day comes that it becomes a slog, I need to either change what I’m doing or I need to quit.
And I don’t know, I think I’ll work forever because it is a joy for me to work, honestly. I really love to encourage people like, yeah, you can do this business, you’re making it too hard, let’s make it easy. Or, yeah, you’ve never been to the other side of the world, or maybe even out of the country, but you can do this, and here’s a good first trip for you. I wouldn’t put somebody who’s never been out of the US in Antarctica first trip, I would never do that. So, I kind of like… I think the joy to me is really looking at what will serve this person right now. And a year from now, they’re going to need something different, so I like to grow. I like to help clients grow, and I like to grow along with them. And I think I’ll be doing that, honestly, for the duration. I want to keep it to where my life is simple and I have the free time I want to travel, but I also really want to be of service to those I work with.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.