VISIONARY+SPEAKER+COMMUNICATOR. Brenda Rivas is a marketing leader bringing together business owners and strategy in order to enable them to launch their dreams and passions. Once she pinpoints their goals as well as their hurdles, these plans map out their true destiny to greatness and can be applied at work and at home. Meet Brenda..
So let’s get started. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Absolutely! My official title is Marketing and Operations Strategist and what I do is help companies create their online presence from website designing, website refreshing – that’s the way I like to refer to it – all the way down to launches, launch campaigns, launching new services and that kind of thing.
Basically, I am an online marketing strategist and we help companies design marketing campaigns. But what really makes us different is that we help companies actually create the operations of their marketing. The analogy that I like to use is that it’s hard to launch something, whether it’s a product or service, without really having the infrastructure behind the marketing campaign. So not only are we masterful at being innovative in designing the marketing campaigns but we also create all the infrastructure that is needed in order to support the success of the campaign and infrastructure basically means all of the technology and all the systems necessary in order to make your campaign a success.
And your business name is Avante correct?
Yes, it’s Avante Strategy!
How did you know that this was the field for you? What are some of the basic actions you took to get your company started?
Truth be told, it was trial and error. I think I stayed away from my true calling by thinking and doing what other people felt that I should be doing. In college, I majored in marketing and kind of got away from it. I just listening to what other people thought was going to be best for me. I then came back to it because for a long time, I was involved in commercial real estate here in Miami and I was always sought out as a go-to person in the company that I worked for to get marketing ideas for promoting new properties and that kind of thing.
So people would say to me, “Gosh, you’re so good at that. You should be doing that,” but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like that is what I should have been doing. So what happened after I decided I was done with my corporate career was I started to look at the Internet to see how I could do my own thing, make great money, help a lot of people and tap back into my innate skills. That’s how I kind of came back to it. That’s how I started learning about online business and what that really meant.
I studied more about e-commerce, etc. and I found out that all those skills that had been with me forever started to flourish. I found myself making my way back to marketing but this time around it was online marketing and that’s when I figured out that it’s my passion, it’s my purpose, it’s what I’m good at and it merges two things that are really important to me, which is marketing because that’s where my gifts are and the other thing is lifestyle and not just lifestyle for myself but lifestyle for the clients that I am meant to serve. So that means combining marketing with the online world. So what I’m doing is helping all of my clients leverage their time in so that they get to live more fulfilled lives because they’re leveraging the power of online marketing.
Who would be your ideal client? What phase should a small business owner or an entrepreneur come to you for your services?
That’s such a great question and I have an answer for it. I have two great clients that I work with.
So the first ideal client is the small business owner with anywhere from 25 employees on down. They’ve created a significant level of success and now they’re really looking to leverage their efforts so maybe there’s a lot of work that’s coming in, they’re pretty busy and they’re just trying to figure out how they can create bigger results without it really taking more time. So with that kind of client, I go in and I establish systems and structures that’s really going to help them leverage their efforts and then we go into full-fledge online marketing and leverage what they already do but now using the power of the Internet. What ends up happening is that they end up working less but now the company is actually making more money and it’s because we’re leveraging the Internet with really great system structure and brilliant online marketing plans. So that’s my first idea client.
My second idea client is really the microbusiness owner, the solopreneur. I was once that person so I really relate to people that are in that current phase of their business. I absolutely have a passion for working with microbusiness owners because again, based on my own experience, I can guide them through the different phases so they can move on and perhaps create a bigger business with bigger results. With my microbusiness owners, it’s really the same type of work I do with my bigger clients I serve except that we’re really starting to create systems and structures that they probably have never had in their business. The other piece to working with the microbusiness owner that I’m excited about is the freedom of being able to allow yourself to go into certain places that you’ve never been before.
So basically, I have two target markets. The small business owners that are doing really well and just want to take things to the next level and the microbusiness owner who really has a big vision and they’re looking for the direction and how to scale their business so that they too can serve more people and create the lifestyle and the money to match.
A small business owner comes to you. They’re tired and frustrated. How would you assess their situation to implement a plan? How do you get them to trust you with their “baby” and make them feel safe with leaving their project in your hands?
I start working with all of my clients in the exact same way, regardless of business size, or income, we have clients that are making $25 million a year and then we have clients that are just breaking the six-figure mark at the. Regardless of what phase the client is in, we start off all our clients through a process that I have coined as Core 7. What that is, to me, is digging into all the core aspects of someone’s business and asking grade-smart, positioning, revealing questions that help me to paint the picture of not only of where they are currently but of where they also want to be.
Based on the Core 7 process, I am able to formulate a plan of action that’s going to take the client exactly where they want to be with their business. So, to answer your question, it’s through the Core 7 process that we create the master marketing plan along with the execution plan.
So it sounds like that a client working with you is able to fall back in love with their business and, like you said, get that time back. When you’re first starting out, you kind of lose that zeal, especially when you’re coming up against issue after issue after issue. However, once they have the structures put in place and implement the great marketing plan for them, they regain their focus and get back on track with their purpose, their vision and mission for their business.
You know, that is very nicely put. That is exactly what ends up happening, from the Core 7 Process. It’s a plan, it’s a strategy and it’s a tactical plan how to get things done and move into the next phase of your business. But what really ends up happening is exactly what you said. The process helps the business owner get a clear picture of where they are, so what that means is that they have an opportunity to see everything that they’ve accomplished. And a lot of times, truth be told, we’re really hard on ourselves as business owners because we think, “Oh, I’m not far ahead enough,” “Look at what my competitors are doing;” “I should have been this by now;” I’m not a great business owner,” and this process really helps the business owner to realize everything they have accomplished. It also brings a tremendous sense of clarity, i.e., “OK, so here’s what I’ve done,” “Let me celebrate what I’ve done so far,” ‘Now I have the clarity to know exactly where I want to go.”
The process of falling in love with what they have already created is definitely something that happens. Again, the business owner cannot clearly see their accomplishments at first and the other piece of that is when we can break a big goal down into manageable pieces, I call that “crumbling the mountain.” , this really big mountain that we call our destination into manageable pieces, what happens is that we start to feel better about our ability to make it happen and that allows us to be in a place of comfort, joy and excitement around our businesses versus thinking, “Oh, my god, this is too much; I can’t do this!”
It takes many components to make a business fail or succeed. Do you attribute the failure of most small businesses to not having great marketing plans, strategies and systems? And then on the flip side, would you attribute the success of small businesses because they have those things as their foundation?
Yes! Great point! That’s one of the differentiating factors in my company that we do with helping with the systems and the structures. The core difference in our business is that we focus on the same activities that are going to bring the business the highest ROI. So yes, there are so many different strategies out there, hundreds and strategies out there that business owners can apply to their business but we take a look at the goals that the business owner has created as well as their personal preferences.
I’m not going to suggest a marketing channel that the business owner is probably not comfortable with because if I do that then I’m setting the business owner up for failure because it’s not one of their personal preferences.
So part of it is sticking to a few core strategies that we can create and implement and then we can repeat them but again it’s just focusing on certain things and not trying to focus on everything. What I know to be true is when we try to focus on too many things is that we might create some results but we’re not going to create some really great, big alternate results. So my job, again, is to help the owner establish some personal preferences in terms of marketing channels and from there we create a plan customizable to them and to their goals. That’s what really works.
You told me who your ideal client is but is there a typical group of people that you serve the most; i.e. minorities, women, different cultures, or a certain group of people that are not really implementing the systems that are available to them and you have to help them more so than their counterparts?
When I started my business, I really marketed just to women and I think part of it at that time was that I wasn’t believing that I could work with men but that has changed probably in the last two years. I find that I enjoy working with men and women equally and I believe that I can serve both groups equally as well.
Now what’s come forth with the type of clients that we work with is that with us having an extremely diversified business, which is exactly what I wanted when I created it, what has happened organically that I am very happy with is that all our clients have one thing in common: they all are influential brands. What I mean by that is that their work really stands for something big, their work is a vehicle to help people transform. I can give you a couple of examples.
We’ve got a couple of environmental firms that we’re currently working with. Each of these companies brings something very significant to the table in terms of green, how we deal with our planet and that kind of thing. We also have clients that have very influential messages in terms of how someone can live their idea lifestyle. Again, what our clients all have in common is that they are leaders of influential brands, they’re leaders of messages to transform and leave a legacy around certain topics and that’s very exciting.
So, you develop organizational structures and strategy characteristics in your business that someone can also use to organize their personal life?
Yes, I believe there is a true correlation between both aspects. I usually like to call it “flying by the seat of our pants.” That is a strategy that many businesses currently employ. They know that it’s not something good happening in their business but they also know that they really don’t know how to make that change.
One of the things that we instill in all of our clients is having a plan but also being course-correcting the plan and I think that serves us in our personal lives as well. We do want to plan, right? We do want to plan vacations and we do want to plan fun time and we do want to plan time for personal development and other things. I also believe that in business and in life that we ought to be open to how things are showing up and being very resilient to any changes and any change of plans that may come our way. So it’s the whole idea of let’s plan but let’s not be so tight around our planning and expecting for things to show up exactly the way we planned.
I come from the philosophy of “I’d like this or better!” When we plan from that perspective, we are open to really amazing things showing up for ourselves versus saying, “OK, this is how it HAS to be this year.” I really think that philosophy works well for business and for life – it’s the whole factor of being OK with cores correcting and being OK with changes on how circumstances are shaping up.
It seems like that you, as a person, are very well-planned and organized. Are you able, at times, to be free and just “let your hair down,” or do you have to plan things out so meticulously that you can leave “work at work” and “home at home” or something different or pretty much the same?
Now, that’s a great point! I am a huge planner, obviously, that’s easy to spot and I am very detailed with planning but while I am detailed with planning, I plan a lot of free time for myself and that’s a lifestyle pace. I don’t have any problems at all having any periods of high work.
For example, this particular month has been a really busy month for me with travel and conferences and onboarding new clients. It’s been a very, very busy month; however, next week, I have absolutely nothing on my calendar and I’m not going to go on a trip because I have three trips this month but I will definitely be visiting my favorite spa and I will be having lunches with myself and taking time to restore and replenish.
So to answer your question, I do plan everything but I also plan free time, I plan personal time, I plan family time. For me, personally, that is what works. What I have found is that when I don’t plan things, I do nothing with my time and although nothing is good, I like to have direction around what I am going to be doing. I am a huge proponent of free time, of nothing time, of time to just replenish and restore myself.
Do you have any aspirations outside of your business that you have done or that you would like to do?
Yes! One of the things that I’m planning to do that I have not done yet is that I would like to do, what I am working towards, is that I see myself going away for the summer. I still see myself working but not at the capacity that I’m working at right now but I would love to take every single summer and just go to a different country or state and stay and experience different cultures.
For example, I live in Miami, which is a pretty big urban city. My children don’t know what country is so I really envision myself renting a country home for a summer and allowing for the kids and myself to experience other cultures whether it’s here domestically or traveling internationally, so I’m striving to create that type of lifestyle for myself so I can work hard, be successful and have plenty of downtime so that I can do some exploration and traveling around the world.
So you said before you started your business you didn’t really value your calling because you did what everyone else wanted you to do. How were you able to find that strength and finally say, “I’m going to do what I want to do?” Did you have the support you needed when you began to make that transition or did you have to transition solely on your faith and belief and pursue your purpose? Once you made your transition, did those in your circle begin to support you once they started seeing what you were doing?
That’s such an incredible question and the answer to that is that I had no support. I had to rely on my faith and just trust that what I believed what was best for me WAS what was best for me. So that meant that I had to close my ears at a lot of the feedback that was given to me by colleagues and family members.
For a period there, the people in my circle were looking at me like, “What has she done; has she lost her mind?” It really seemed to them like I was making some bad choices when I was being true to myself and being who I wanted to be which was just not well-received. I found the strength to do that because up until that period, I had sought out answers outside of myself; i.e. “What do my parents think?”, “What do my friends think?” “What do my family members think?” “What do my friends think?” “What does my husband think I need to do?” and living my life like that led me to living a life that wasn’t mine; it didn’t lead me to a life that was horrible, but it just was not me.
So I had to make an internal and powerful decision while respecting the opinions of those around me, “This is my choice, my decision and I need to be true to myself,” and being true to myself means that I am going to rely on myself and my Higher Power for the answers. Though I respect the opinions of others, their opinion is not going to be the determining factor on what I do next. That was a long road and quite frankly, that was the hardest part of my journey. It’s one thing to say it and think it and it’s another thing to do it. So the “doing” part was very difficult and I found myself sometimes thinking about going back into the corporate world because that’s what everyone else was telling me that I needed to do. Somehow I found the strength and the trust to really honor what I wanted to do and I stayed on that path. It is one of the most significant things that I have done.
So would you say, your own recipe for success was that in spite of it all, even though you didn’t have the support that you still went for it?
Yes, that’s been the one thing for me that until this day that is the one thing that I still come back to because I’m now in a completely different place. I have new people in my life but regardless of who is in my life or not, I’m still coming back to what I feel is best for me.
When I have big business decisions, I used to go to a group of people, a group of friends or family members and ask them, “What do you think I should do about this?” and it’s not that I don’t ask those questions because I still do but I am asking those questions from a base of perspective. I am interested in perspective but I’m not asking the question as a real viable solution for my problem.
I am going to solve the problem and make the decision based on what I am feeling internally and not on what other people suggest that I do.
Is there any business or organization, large or small, that you would like to work with to help them organize their infrastructure?
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a specific company but I can share some qualities.
Again, it’s the companies that are taking a stand for a transformational way of doing or living or being. It’s companies that have transformational products and services and are legacies that help us live our best lives. It’s the company that has that kind of vision and has that message to share but they haven’t quite haven’t figured out how to make that happen on a big scale. So that’s really my idea client. Again, they know what they want to do; they’re just trying to figure out the best “how” for them and that’s where they’re getting stuck.
The biggest sticking point for me is that it’s a company whose mission is to be influential and has used that influence with a transformational service or product; it’s not the company that’s on a money mission. What I have found is that the money is going to accompany anyway so if we’re implementing great marketing structures, it’s going to happen anyway with sales, right? That’s part of the plan. I shy away from companies whose mission is just based on money.
A company that has purpose to bring about purpose to others.
What are your upcoming and future plans for your business?
What’s happening here in this moment is that we are gaining more momentum than ever and my vision is manifesting even better than what I had desired. The reason for that is that now we’re on the radar of companies that stand for exactly the mission that we’re on as well.
So I am finding myself with really big opportunities to present in front of these type of business owners who are not on a money mission who yes, money is important because the more money you have the more people you can help but it’s more of the transformation is what they’re after. Right now we’re being positioned to speak to those kind of entities more than ever and what’s happening is the message that I’m sharing is really resonating with a lot of these companies. We’re finding ourselves in front of some really great opportunities to grow and that’s going to allow me to bring on more people into the company. So my big vision is a certain number of “me’s;” a certain number of people that will continue this work so I can start to leverage my efforts and position my company as a go-to resource for people.
So when people say your business name, Avante Strategy and they think of you, what words do you hope will immediately pop into their minds regarding your brand, who you are and the message you’re trying to convey and get across to them?
This is the company that can help me market my influence.
How can our readers stay in contact with you?
Of course! They can visit www.avantestrategy.com and they’re certainly welcomed to request a complimentary consultation. That’s our big mission, to talk to as many people as possible, regardless if they come on or not.
My mission is to leave people in a better place and if that means in a complimentary 30-minute conversation I can help someone gain clarity around what to do next in their marketing efforts, then I’m totally open to that and that’s the mission.
What words, advice, tips, etc. would you like to share and leave with our readers?
Just as I said earlier, just come back to yourself and ask yourself what is really the next best move for you. It is important to hear what other people have to say but ultimately you really have to make decisions based on what you’re thinking you need to do yourself.
The other piece of advice is that any influential message can be marketed. There’s always a way to find the right words and the right things to do in order to market your message. It’s a matter of believing in what you’re doing and the “how” we’re going to do it. The “how” always reveals itself.
Interview Facilitated by Sharisa Robertson. For more information visit www.sharisarobertson.com
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