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Mastery Unleashed with Christie Ruffino

Mastery Unleashed (formerly Overcoming Mediocrity) is a podcast for success-driven women who want to empower their thoughts, design their dream businesses, and build beautiful lives that are aligned with their destinies—hosted by Bestselling Author and Business Strategist Christie Ruffino.

Each episode features today’s top influencers and entrepreneurs on the rise as they share empowering stories and ninja tips meant to become the FUEL that will ignite a positive change in YOUR life and the lives of others.

Dec 18, 2020

With a core personal value of lifelong-learning, Lori Highby has shared creative and strategic digital marketing, personal branding, and entrepreneurship lessons with people and organizations from all over. Her 20 years experience, education, and involvement range from currently owning a digital marketing agency, Keystone Click, being the 2013 recipient of the “Bravo! Entrepreneur Award” from BizTimes Media, teaching undergraduate students as an adjunct professor at UW-Milwaukee, and serving on numerous boards including the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. Lori earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Marketing from Marian University and her MBA from Cardinal Stritch University.


What I want to talk about is your story and how you got to the place you are now. Let our audience know how you've got to be the expert you are.

I was going to school to school for commercial art and graphic design. And I found I was working full time at a web development company while I was going to school and found that those were the marketing guys out doing all the fun things, they're going to golf outings, taking clients to lunch where the designers were just sitting at their desk, day in and day out. I'm like, I don't want to be doing that. At the same time, I was also taking a sociology course. I was really fascinated by how messages and visuals can really impact a decision that someone makes and that really comes down to marketing. So I shifted my educational direction to be in marketing, while also working full time.

I was at this agency for about five years. I was doing SEO and PPC and email marketing before those were common acronyms in the space. And then actually went to a traditional marketing firm, where I was doing outdoor radio print for quite some time. They brought me on because they wanted to start tapping into the digital space a little bit. They weren't as eager as they had initially sold it. So while I learned a ton about traditional marketing and advertising, I found that my true passion is really in the digital space, because so many cool things can be done, and it's constantly evolving. In 2008, I decided to start my own shop.

When I did start, I was just going to do websites, because that was something that I knew a lot about. I found that over time someone would ask me after we built the site, now how do we get found on Google? And I would just tell them what to do, because I knew how to do it. And or they'd say Facebook's coming up, and they're like, should my business be on Facebook? And I'd say, yeah, this is how you do it. So eventually, my clients were coming back and saying, Well, can you do this for me? Because they don't want to be doing it.

So eventually we've evolved to become more of a strategic digital marketing agency. It was never a smooth path. I know this podcast is very much about overcoming the challenges that we faced. And I went in and started a business because I love marketing, and I'm passionate about it.

Understanding the financials is something that I'd say, is probably one of my weakest areas. And I'm heading to a two-day workshop to better myself in this. I think that's one of the things that as a professional, and a leader is we continually need to be educating ourselves, while also aligning ourselves with those that have the strengths that are our weaknesses. It's still good to consistently be adding knowledge to our buckets. In the space that we're in digital marketing, there's new things happening all the time. We are constantly educating ourselves.


What was it like when you hired your first team member?

I had no idea what I was doing. That's definitely another area where I invested some time to be properly trained. To be properly trained first on the interviewing process, I had someone coached me on how to conduct behavioral interviewing, and that significantly changed how I do interviewing. And now our interviewing process is no different than, like the sales pipeline process. It's a funnel. You have this big bucket of candidates and you have different levels of activities that you're engaging with them on to see who's going to move on to that next level.

Please share the interview process you use.

We will post a job that's available out on a number of channels that align with our industry. And we use a platform called It acts like a sales funnel, but you set the stages for the different candidates that you have. Then we do a phone interview where we ask them the same 10 questions. It's a quick 10-minute call. But the process for them scheduling the interview is one of the tests. You qualified yourself right away. The next phase, based on how that phone interview went, is what we typically like to do an in person, but now it's via zoom. It's more of a deeper conversation with some additional team members. I'm not in it at that point. It's more making sure that the team is comfortable with the personality of that individual. It's extremely important that we maintain a positive culture and workplace. And then I conduct the behavioral interview if they pass that stage, and then we also will do a skills assessment. Pending on what their role is, we want to make sure that they can actually do what it is that they say they can do.

You gave me a little sneak preview on how we can be very focused in our messaging. We want to help the person that we can really give the best results. But we have to have our messaging on target. So then that way, they know we can provide the solution for them.

Tip #1 - Conduct research in order to build a solid marketing plan together. And obviously, in today's day, and age content is the fuel around that. First and foremost you need to know what it is that you're trying to achieve. So earlier today, I had a phone call with a prospective client of ours, and she wants us to run some Facebook ads with her. So what is the goal? What do you what do you want to happen? She wasn't able to give me a clear answer. How do you define success if you don't even know what it is that you're trying to achieve?

You need to know where you're trying to go. What is the goal that you're trying to achieve? Before you can build your plan anywhere. I always like to relate to it like a GPS. We have our end destination, we plug it into the phone, and you get a couple route options. And you may end up getting a detour, which I'd say 2020 is a great detour for all of us. If at the very least, and this is why I really emphasize having that plan, you've got part of the way to your goal and objective. So it's easier to follow that detour to help you achieve that goal that you have at the end of the day. Or maybe you just tweak the goal slightly, but you really need to know where you are today and where you want to be.

When I say where are you today, some of the things that you really should be looking at are your website analytics. How much traffic is coming to your site? How are people finding you? I look at the forms on your website and see how many conversions you have. As far as social media followers, what type of engagement you have. The size of your email list is going to be extremely important to take a look at as well as the open rates. If you have videos, a good metric to look at is the time watched on your videos. Then just high level looking at your content. Where are you distributing your content? What is the message that's being conveyed? And then you're just looking at those end results. You want to know where you are today. Where is it that you want to get to, and then that's when you build your roadmap on how it is you're going to achieve that.

Tip #2 - Take a look at your competition. I don't want you to put too much thought into this, that you're constantly looking at them. But when you're looking at that that destination that you're trying to reach, it's really good to see what competition you have out there and take a look at what they're doing.

We typically recommend looking at about three to five competitors. You want to look at where are they showing up online? What channels on social media? Are they sending out newsletters? Are they blogging? And what is it that they're saying? Is there a consistent message that's being conveyed? Or are they just kind of all over the place? What type of content are they publishing that people are engaging with? You also want to take a look at how they are showing up in the search engines. When you are Googling for your offering, and your competitor shows up, but you don't, that may give you some insight into what they're doing on their website and the type of content that they're creating. You can also take a look at what kind of ads they're buying. On LinkedIn, and Facebook, you can type in any company's name, their page on those channels, and see what ads that they've been doing.

Tip #3 - Really understand your customer. And there's an exercise that we like to do with our clients, which is to identify who your favorite customer is to work with. Try to get inside their head and you want to understand what is their biggest pain? What are their values? What's important to them? Who is it that they're trying to impress? And why is this important? Understanding the ins and outs of that ideal customer is going to be extremely important. But at the end of the day, you really want to know what is it exactly that they want from you. You can conduct this research on your own or you can find a third party. I find when we do this, we get a lot more information, if we're speaking to our clients customer, as opposed to them getting it direct.

You want to understand when the third party is involved, they can ask additional questions like how they found you. Why do they keep buying from you? Do they refer you business? Why or why not? You also want to ask some non-business questions like what social media channels are you on? Do you listen to any podcasters? Do you subscribe to any newsletters and just better understand what your ideal customer is doing as an individual and a human being. The better that you can understand that customer, where they're hanging out online, what pains they have, you can ultimately craft content and position it in the right spot to attract that ideal customer to you.

I want you to go back to the ideal client, because I know we kind of breezed by that and you are on point with we've got to get inside their head, but why is it important?

If you're trying to help the world and help everyone, you're helping no one unfortunately. I can build a website for anybody. But we very clearly state that we pursue and target the B2B industrial manufacturer. We've done websites for all walks of life. But when you're trying to attract a certain type of person, you need to be very clear and concise in that messaging. What you want is someone to land on your site or see a post and go, this is exactly what I'm looking for. And if you're not clearly conveying that you're confusing them. You can have multiple segments that you pursue, but you just have to make sure that you're clearly communicating that you work with a, b, and c type companies. You don't work with everybody.

Lori’s Free Gift:

My team and I have put together this Guide to Profits. It's fantastic. It's got 42 ways to help build brand awareness generate leads and nurture those opportunities online. As a printed very nicely bound booklet, or as a PDF.

Free Gift Link:

“You want to have clarity in your message, and you want to make it easy for the right client to find you.” – Lori Highby