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For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed a very special guest, Samantha McDaniel, Owner at Allura Media. As a passionate and forward-thinking social media consultant, Samantha’s cutting-edge approach has been a game-changer for countless small business owners seeking to amplify their online presence.
So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and immerse yourself in an illuminating conversation that promises to elevate your understanding of online success!
To become an entrepreneur, you must be creative, and the sky should be the limit.
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of E Coffee with Experts. I am your host, Matt Fraser, and on today’s show, I have a very special guest with me, Samantha McDaniel. Now, Samantha is a dynamic and driven social media consultant who specializes in helping small business owners maximize their online presence. With a deep understanding of the ever-evolving digital landscape, she uses her expertise to craft effective social media campaigns that drive results. In her free time, she is an avid traveler and loves nothing more than exploring new places. Whether it’s soaking up the sun in Jamaica or experiencing the magic of Disney World, she is always on the lookout for her next adventure. She also values spending quality time with her friends and family, often escaping to their condo getaway for some much-needed relaxation. In addition, Samantha has a passion for fitness, which also plays a big role in her life as she is a certified fitness instructor and teaches a popular class called Body Pump, which is a low-weight, high-rev body workout that is perfect for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness level. With her positive attitude and infectious energy, she encourages her students to push themselves to reach their full potential. Overall, Samantha is a well-rounded individual who is dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of those around her, both professionally and personally. Samantha, thank you so much. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. I love to be here.
Yeah, it’s absolute pleasure. So, Samantha, how would your college professors or university professors describe you as a student?
I was a typical student. I sat in my seat. I did what I was told. I was a good student.
Oh, that’s awesome. What did you study at university?
I actually got my degree in elementary education, and I also got certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade. Usually, it’s just K-6, but I got certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade English and then K through 6 reading and then K through 6 everything.
Oh, wow. And did you actually end up going into teaching?
I did. I actually taught school for seven years.
Seven years. Wow. That is so amazing.
And within those seven years, I got Teacher of the Year twice.
Oh, so you were the perfect student and a great teacher as well. Was that from the students or was that from your peers?
It was. Well, they send in names and then the principals choose the teacher.
Okay, and they probably take into consideration the opinions of the students and how well they’re doing and so on.
So how did you first become interested in entrepreneurship?
It’s just something that I’ve always been interested in and you know, I always thought when I was younger that teaching was my passion. That was what I was meant to do in life. My mother taught for 30 years. It’s like this is what I’m supposed to do and I got into it. For the teaching part, I really enjoyed the creative aspect of it. Yeah, but the more I got into it, the less creativity we were allowed to have. We got to the point where it was the teacher who would say, the students will do it and it was very strict and I felt confined and I feel like as far as entrepreneurship, you have the ability to be creative, and really the sky’s the limit.
Oh, you took the words out of my mouth. It’s wide open for you. If you can provide value to the market, that’s what it’s all about. Providing value and solving a problem, then the sky’s the limit. So, that’s pretty amazing. Can you share your experience of starting Allura Media and any challenges you faced along the way?
Absolutely. So ironically, we launched Allura Media right in the middle of the pandemic.
Yeah. So, I got to the point in teaching where I was like, I can’t do this. I have to find something else to be a better outlet where I can have more growth financially for my family, financial freedom, time freedom and so I came up with the idea of the company, and I already had the LLC and everything taken care of in December, and I had finished my year of teaching. On my last day of school, I resigned, told my principal I was leaving and I launched my company that day, in which we have to make money. They had stopped letting the kids go to school in March.
So for a while. From March, April, and May, you were not even teaching.
I was teaching on Zoom in the process of getting my company ready to launch. We knew the time was rough. But I thought to myself, it’s now or never, and I just had to go for it. If what I’m doing is online and that’s where everybody was then it had to do well.
Absolutely. That’s amazing, because, I remember in December 2020, I was at a business meeting and people were kind of joking about COVID, thinking that it wasn’t going to reach us in one or whatever, and in the next meeting, people are freaking out and then next thing you know, they’re shutting the meetings down and they’re totally online. Now they have a hybrid approach. But anyway, a lot of people would not do what you did, which was quit their jobs and start a business at the beginning of a global pandemic. That takes a lot of courage. Obviously, you thought about starting your business even before the pandemic started, right?
Yes, it was. It was before I really came around.
So then you were like, just screw it. I’m just going to do it. Here’s an interesting thing. I don’t know if you agree with this and if this is a political question or whatever controversial, you can just plead the Fifth. They say that the pandemic had a 20-year impact on people, on students for reading, writing, and learning. Whether that’s true or not, I have no idea. But that’s the impact it’s going to have. It also impacted the Internet for e-commerce sales. It accelerated it by at least two years. So all of a sudden, everybody’s looking for someone who can help them online. All these small business owners. I know it because I know what was happening and even in marketing agencies, some marketing agencies were flourishing and some were faltering, depending on where you were positioned out in the marketplace. So, how did you go about getting new clients then? How did you do that?
Well, you know, that’s why I thought I was crazy because when I resigned from teaching, I just jumped in feet first and I just kind of jumped in without a clue of what I was doing. I just started, announced my new business venture to friends and family, created all my social media pages, and put myself out there. I started with one client and I worked with them for a while then I found a business networking group because as a teacher, every day I would go in and I was in those four walls. All I knew was my students and the same people I worked with every day. So, I did not really know people in the community and so I joined this networking group, and that really exploded my business, especially kind of starting out, not really having a name for myself at all. That helped a lot because those people go out and share your business as well. So, that’s how I really initially got started.
Through relationships, that’s pretty cool. So, as a result of switching from a teacher to a social media marketing consultant, did you ever experience the imposter syndrome?
Oh, yes, definitely. Especially with just starting out. If you’re unsure, as I was unsure. I was just starting out and I would look at all of these other social media managers, and social media marketers, and I would think about what they were doing. My way of starting was, well, I’m just going to copy what they’re doing because I didn’t know what I was doing. So, in the beginning, yes, I felt it because I felt like, Oh, I’m just going to get some ideas. But sometimes it got very like, I’m just going to do what they’re doing. So, it took me some time to really navigate and find my way. But once I had done a lot of research and taken social media courses and so I got certifications in certain things. Once I felt confident with the knowledge that I had and then who I was as a person, as a business owner, and as a new business, then I was able to step away from it and I don’t really feel that anymore.
Well, that’s awesome. Was there a specific industry or niche that you found it was easier to target when it came to getting clients?
Not necessarily. I started locally in my community and so locally I have different clients in different niches it is difficult because I do have to do a lot of research for each industry to be able to do well for those clients and then I also once I started my Instagram and my Facebook, then I was able to really branch out nationally. So, to me, if I have a local client, I try not to duplicate as far as social media management, if it’s something else, SEO or websites, I can keep the same type of client, the same type of industry, but not locally if it’s management but I can do that nationally. I have a few restaurant clients and I really enjoy working for restaurants.
So, you’re talking to a guy who worked in the restaurant industry for 14 years in 17 different restaurants from casual fast food to fine dining, so I totally understand restaurants. And if there’s anybody that can be good or who should leverage social media, it’s restaurants. I could talk to you about restaurant marketing for an hour. I think maybe IRA sales. Go ahead. Yeah. It’s not through school, though.
That’s how I helped myself through college. By working at restaurants.
I should’ve done that, too. 14 years is a long time. I could have got a dance doctorate, but it’s just so hard. It’s so hard to get out of it once you’re in something.
And to me, it was fun. The cash in your wallet at the end of the day, you know. But anyway.
So, I don’t want to go back.
Oh, no, I would never know. My wife and I were at a restaurant the other day. I said, my gosh, I don’t miss this at all. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The restaurants are incredible. I love eating. I love cooking, as I told you and restaurant marketing for social media is best. Taking all the pictures of the food, the drinks, there are so many things you could do. It’s amazing. So, as someone who’s gained some success, do you have any advice for other young women looking to start their own businesses?
Yes. Do it.
Just do it. You know, for the longest time, I always worried about what people think of me. For whatever business it is, it doesn’t matter. Do what’s best for you. If you want to be an entrepreneur and figure out what works, you might fail at five things, but you might find the sixth thing at 40 and maybe be the best thing you ever did. So, do it. Don’t quit. Don’t stop. I mean, it’s worth it.
Absolutely. I would say the exact same thing. Just do it and don’t quit. Does it help to have obviously your spouse be able to support you? Did you make sure you had like I mean, some people start a business with 30 bucks in their pocket and they just go for it? And other people are scared of not having the resources as a safety net. I talked to one guy, he’s a machinist and he came to Canada and he was like, screw it, I’m going to start a business, and if I go bankrupt. I go bankrupt. He didn’t care. He did not go bankrupt and he became very wealthy. Another guy started a powder coating business. Powder coating pipe for the oilfield. And you reach a seven-figure success level doing that. But, you know, sometimes they just start with nothing. So, what about that? Do you think people should just do it, no matter the circumstances? You were obviously unhappy being a teacher. You’ve reached a point of frustration, I would say, based on what you’ve said. Some professional people say, start a business, coach, whatever. You should have six months’ worth of income in the bank. I mean now. Well or go get a job and work on your business as a side hustle.
In my particular situation, the way that teaching works, where I’m at, you know, I resigned in May, but the salary, my checks came all the way through the summer. So, I knew that I got paid in May when I resigned, I knew I was going to get paid in June and I knew I was going to get paid in July, so that was my cushion. And so I was like, Well, you have at least two months to find a job, you know like anywhere can happen. Thinking in my head if something doesn’t happen at that point, then I can find a side hustle that could support me. But it just worked out that I got my first client that summer, and I just moved from there. It is scary, though.
Are there any resources or organizations you would recommend for female entrepreneurs specifically, or maybe even entrepreneurs in general? I know you mentioned a networking group. Do you recommend people join a networking group?
Oh, yes, absolutely. My business would not be where it is today without BNI, it’s the networking group I’m in.
Yeah. So, BNI is a Business Networking International. They have chapters all over the place, so anybody can join and you can look it up and there’s a chapter in your area. And the way it helped me was I was introduced to like-minded business owners in my community, which expanded my circle, and I was introduced to people that I would have never been put in front of if I would not have been in that group. So, even if I wasn’t getting all of the people in the group as my business, if they were not becoming a client, they were introducing me to people that I would have never got to meet.
Yeah, that’s amazing.
There are other networking groups, but the only experience I have is BNI.
Oh, that’s cool. Hey, just to shift gears here a minute. How do you envision, everybody, talking about Chat GPT and Open AI as it’s gotten the attention of Google? I think it took Facebook two years to reach 1 million users and it took Chat GPT five days to reach 1 million users. I was one of those 1 million users on the fifth day because that’s when I joined. What are your thoughts on that and how do you envision the future of AI in regard to social media marketing and its impact on the industry?
I think it’s something that’s going to be very beneficial for social media marketers. I know there’s all this talk about is it going to replace me as a copywriter? Is it going to replace my job? I don’t think it is going to replace it for one, because AI does not have emotions.
And it can’t think on its own.
Right, It can’t think of it on its own. So, it’s not going to replace copywriters because copywriters are based on their creativity and their thoughtfulness.
But however I have used it, I do use it. I think that it will only make copywriters better, and make social media marketers better. It’s definitely opening up a new world, for sure.
Yeah, and there’s this thing for CRMs called garbage in, garbage out, or maybe for anything. But if you put garbage into that input box, you’re going to get garbage out. You know, what I mean. I’ve seen that with Jasper, and I’ve seen it with ChatGPT. The human being still has to input those things. I know there’s a guy making $1,000,000 a month writing sales copy for businesses, leveraging AI. And you have to be able to identify what a good copy is. For instance, I don’t use it for code, although I have a punched code in there and said, hey, you do fix this code or whatever. I can’t remember what it did, but it actually told me there was something wrong with the code and it was code that was written by somebody else for a WordPress plugin. Well, I won’t say who that person was. Anyway, the code isn’t very good and it needs to be updated. It was abandoned. But the point I’m trying to make is I don’t know how to code, so I don’t know what to tell it to do to code, but I know what to tell it to do to get a copy, that’s for sure and to get other things. Even in images, with the image creation, it’s like you said, I think it’s going to accelerate and enhance those of us who are creatives not replace.
And doing things like this is not going to replace me like. You and I are having this conversation, but it’s going to enhance what we do.
Yes, absolutely. So, I definitely see it as an effective tool that can be used to enhance it.
Do you see it as an opportunity rather than a threat?
I totally agree with you.
Especially because I do social media management and write all of the copy. Even for websites.
That’s one of the most important things.
Yes and a lot of times, I don’t want to say I get burnt out, but sometimes my brain cells are fried and I might need a little bit of something different said in a different way and put in some main keywords and kind of let it be like, okay, I got my groove back.
Yeah. How do you think it will impact the way businesses approach social media marketing in the future?
Well, it depends on if that business is doing it for itself. I think I feel like social media marketers are safe in their jobs if they’re the ones using it. I personally don’t think that business owners would even tap into it. I’m not even sure I agree with anything that they will worry about.
Yeah. The thing is, it’s very interesting that you say that, Samantha, because here’s the thing. What I found was a lot of those people were good at what they did. But they weren’t good at telling the world about what they did or how they did it, or what made them unique about doing it. A great plumber or maybe even an average plumber, but they weren’t very good at communicating to the world what their unique position was in the market. I just said it’s the inputs that you put in and they don’t even know how to formulate the idea of the sentence to type in the input to get anything out.
And I’m not trying to be a jerk here. It’s just, I’m a terrible architect and I don’t have a mechanical inclination. I’ll be on camera and say this, my wife is the one who puts together the IKEA furniture. I have absolutely no mechanical inclination whatsoever. But I can build you a very intricate marketing funnel with marketing automation and tag structure and link attribution in all of those things. But don’t ask me to build an IKEA bed or fix a car or even change a tire. So, they’re good at being a plumber, but they need someone like us to help them to communicate that.
That’s right. That’s 100% true for a lot of people and that’s what they’re looking for. A lot of my clients do their job and they do it well, but they don’t know how to express to the world how well they do their job. I had a few clients that will tell me what they do. They give me a few key things and they literally hand it over and they say here. So, it’s they’re I don’t even think they’re interested in it because that’s not what they’re good at. People stay with what they’re good at. If they’re not even interested in putting out that type of information and figuring out how to do it, then they’re not even going to worry about it.
Yeah, absolutely. In your opinion, what ethical considerations should businesses keep in mind when utilizing AI for their social media marketing efforts, businesses or individuals such as ourselves? What I mean by that is ethical considerations, some people think that maybe using AI and in claiming authorship of it. I don’t think we should, I use AI, generate this on every post or whatever. Or maybe there are some unethical things. I don’t really know what unethical things people could do on that but again, if you’d rather not comment, you can plead the Fifth. I give you permission to do that.
That’s a very interesting question. And to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it. But like we said earlier, you know, AI cannot project emotions or creativity. It is something that is synthesizing information and it’s generating it for you. You’re putting in inputs and it’s synthesizing this information. So, I don’t think it would, in my personal opinion. I don’t think it crosses any ethical boundaries or something where you would have to say, I used AI to create this marketing funnel.
But yeah, honestly, I haven’t really thought in depth about that, but it’s a good question.
Yeah, it’s great. I was just googling something about it right now and trying to see if somebody else out there that have some opinions on it as well.
Oh, I’m sure they do.
Yeah. Well, there’s a guy who says I wouldn’t have a Central AI group that has a division that does cars. I would have the car people have a division of people who are really good AI. So, that’s a very interesting statement by Jason Furman. He’s a professor of the practice of economic policy at the Kennedy School and a former advisor to President Barack Obama. Anyway, that being said, what’s one big takeaway you want our listeners to get from this episode?
I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the past couple of years and a lot of research on how to grow as a human being and how to expand my thinking and try to not keep myself or others in a box. And I’ve also done a lot of personal development because I feel like who you are as a person is going to be who you are in business; it bleeds over and you can’t stop it. So, one thing that I would say to whoever is listening, personal development is something that should be constantly worked on. You can always get better at something all the time, whether it be small changes, always striving for growth, always striving for growth in one area, and see what that opens for you. It opens so many different avenues and worlds for you and opens you to ideas and new things. I think it’s a beautiful thing when you can mesh your personal growth into your business growth.
Yeah. Hey, that’s awesome. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here on the show today. How can our listeners connect with you and learn more about Allure Media?
Oh, yeah. So, Instagram is my favorite place and you can check out that.
Okay, so you are there on your personal handle and professional handle? Like your personal name and company name.
It is under my company name at allura_media on Instagram. My personal one is on there. I got hacked last year.
Sorry to hear that.
So, somebody else actually has control of my own personal account.
You can’t get back in?
I can’t get it back. Anyway, I’m also on Facebook as Allure media. I dabble in Tik Tok. I’m putting myself out there, so just hold on.
Okay, that’s interesting. Are you engaged on Twitter or anything?
I was before but I decided it was better for me to focus on a couple of platforms.
I had in the past and then also my website, alluremedia.com
Okay. Fantastic. We will make sure to put those in the show notes, so people can find that information. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you.
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me and I really enjoyed it.
Hey. Right on.
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