Allie Hembree Martin, Fame and Fortune
Do you strive for fame and fortune? Or do you just want to get your name out there? Allie Hembree Martin can help. Allie is the founder of Fame and Fortune, a social media and public relations agency increasing the online visibility of female CEOs. She works to amplify her clients’ voices using creative and forward-thinking social media strategy and PR. In this episode, Allie will share lessons learned and her predictions for how social media will change over the next few years.
Episode 15 – Allie Hembree Martin, Fame and Fortune
[00:00:00] Sanjay Parekh: Welcome to the Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast, powered by Hiscox. I’m your host, Sanjay Parekh. Throughout my career I’ve had side hustles, some of which turned into real businesses, but first and foremost: I’m a serial technology entrepreneur.
In the creator space, we hear plenty of advice on how to hustle harder and why you can “sleep when you’re dead.” On this show, we ask new questions in hopes of getting new answers.
Questions like: How can small businesses work smarter? How do you achieve balance between work and family? How can we redefine success in our businesses so that we don’t burn out after year three?
Every week, I sit down with business founders at various stages of their side hustle to small business journey. These entrepreneurs are pushing the envelope while keeping their values. Keep listening for conversation, context, and camaraderie.
Allie, welcome to the show.
[00:01:25] Allie Hembree Martin: Thanks so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
[00:01:30] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, and I'm super pumped to have you here and learn about how all the different ways I'm messing up on social media and maybe how I can do better. But before we get into that and how I'm messing up, tell us a little bit about you.
[00:01:43] Allie Hembree Martin: So, I am based in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I am a lifelong Kentuckian and I have worked in public relations and social media my entire career and most notably was working in PR with Amazon for their Southeast region of the United States. And that really prepared me to open Fame and Fortune to allow me to help small business owners with their social media and public relations based off of the skills and the strategies that I learned working for Amazon.
[00:02:23] Sanjay Parekh: So, what was it that made you make that jump then? From working at a corporate job and then saying like, ‘You know what, I just, I want to go do this on my own.’
[00:02:33] Allie Hembree Martin: So, it was a little bit of a forced nature because we experienced layoffs across the board and I was forced to start my own company. My husband owns his own business and I swore up and down that I wasn't also going to be an entrepreneur.
We had enough in the family. We didn't need one more. But everybody encouraged me to really give it a second look and I took on a couple of projects here and there and finally found myself thinking, ‘Oh, I can actually do this and this isn't really as bad or as hard as I thought it was going to be.’
And so, I always say I would have never made the jump on my own, but God had other plans, so that's how I am here today.
[00:03:24] Sanjay Parekh: So, so good forcing function. Layoffs were good for you. So, you and your husband are both entrepreneurs. Is there other entrepreneurship in the family?
[00:03:35] Allie Hembree Martin: Yes. Both of our parents are entrepreneurs. So I really should have seen it coming. I really should've seen the trajectory of where my life was headed. But I think I just wanted to rebel against what nature had planned.
[00:03:53] Sanjay Parekh: So, it's kind of like the opposite, right? Like a lot of entrepreneurs are rebelling against what their family does and they're like the sole entrepreneur. You did the other way – rebellion of, I'm going to go corporate.
[00:04:05] Allie Hembree Martin: I saw the struggles that they endured. I saw that you don't get to turn off. You don't get to clock out at five o'clock and go home and enjoy family time. You know, it's always on, you're always working, and I didn't want to have to deal with those types of hurdles that you have to work through when you own your own business. But if anything, that just helped prepare me to be able to do it on my own.
[00:04:34] Sanjay Parekh: How do you deal with that now? Both you and your husband are entrepreneurs. So, 24/7, always on kind of thing. How do you balance work and life? Is the dinner table just constant talking about business or do you ban business talk at dinner? Like how do you deal with all of that?
[00:04:52] Allie Hembree Martin: You know, it's funny. We were laughing that our Friday night, just this past week was spent going back and forth talking about our biggest headaches at the moment. Yeah we don't ban the conversation because really, quite frankly, that's what most of our conversations do surround.
And now we've gotten to this point where we both enjoy podcasts about our specific industries. And then we trade podcast interviews with each other because we'll say, ‘Ooh, I listened to this. I think this will really help you with what you're dealing with.’ So if anything you know, he's even more of a best friend to me now, because we can really relate on that level.
But yeah, I think it's just going to be inevitable for the rest of our lives. So, I'm just accepting it. But I think as far as dealing with it, I have always loved the analogy of a bicycle rather than kind of seesaw effect of you give attention to one thing and so that side of the seesaw goes down and the other side goes up.
I really like to think about it like a bicycle with the idea that you have to continue peddling in order to move forward. And you shift weight from one side to the other and that is what propels you to go forward. So, this idea that, okay, I've been putting a little bit more weight on the left side of the bike, but I know that as soon as that pedal goes down, I'm going to have the pedal on the right side up and I'm going to put weight and attention on that side.
And you know, if you don't do that, you fall off. So, I really try to keep that imagery in my head. Okay, yes, maybe I'm spending a little bit more time in my business right now than I'd like. But I'm going to make up for it on the flip side and give a little bit more time to my family and kind of thinking through those seasons of this, isn't going to last forever and really trying to honor that shift back and forth.
[00:06:48] Sanjay Parekh: So, I'm interested to find out – your husband's business. Is it in PR and marketing? Or is it totally different?
[00:06:55] Allie Hembree Martin: It’s heating and air conditioning, actually. So, when I say on-call all the time, he really is on call all the time. Whereas PR and marketing aren't so much an emergency situation most of the time. So yeah, we definitely have those different industries to keep things interesting.
[00:07:12] Sanjay Parekh: So how much of that actually, is there interesting kind of, you know, kind of cross pollination that you're seeing? Like there's things that he's probably doing in his business that you've never thought about in yours and vice versa. How does that help each one of you in terms of your businesses and in making them better?
[00:07:30] Allie Hembree Martin: Honestly, so much of what I pride myself in is customer service and he truly is so skilled at relating to customers and doing the same thing and providing that exceptional customer service. So, we really relate on that level of dealing with customers, providing them what's promised if not above and beyond that, and really meeting expectations, making sure there's a very clear outline of what's going to be delivered.
I like to tell the ladies that help me in my business, “No surprises. I don't want any surprises for our clients. I don't want any surprises on our end.” Kind of that mentality of just always being honest and open with everyone involved allows for there to be no surprises. And, you know he has found that's really a good skill to employ in his business too.
[00:08:28] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, that's awesome. And so, so I'm assuming you guys talk about like the different things that you're doing. Like, are there little tricks? Like how do you think about customers? Like is there something special that he's done or that you've done that you're like, ‘Oh that's really kind of special and I've never heard of anybody else doing that.’
[00:08:46] Allie Hembree Martin: So, actually, something he shared with me recently that it was on a podcast interview that I found was really important. It was this idea of as a heating and air conditioning owner, you're going to someone's house and you diagnose the problem. You identify what needs to be fixed. And it's then having that conversation with the customer to say, these are all the things that I have found. A, B, and C are what I need to fix in order for your system to be working again. But D, E, and F could cause problems down the road, but aren't going to cause a problem today. And it's having that open dialogue with them.
Because it was talking about how the idea of if you can fix all of those problems for them. And that is something that they want to take care of, you are preventing a headache for them down the road. You're preventing a return call to their house by taking care of everything. Now if they don't have that in their budget to be able to take care of everything at once, they at least know that you've diagnosed that.
And if they have to call you back six months from now, they know it's on them because they chose not to go through with the process of getting everything taken care of. And I really liked that mentality when it comes to marketing and PR, because I'm really focused on, here's your social media strategy, here's your PR strategy. But being that I'm in this industry, I can also look at your website.
I can also look at your email funnels and I can say, ‘Ooh, here's some things you could fix as well.’ So, it's really about providing that customer with everything that you could possibly help with because you're only helping them be a better business owner, rather than thinking like, ‘Oh, well, this is all they called me out to do. I'm just going to fix these one, two, or three things and then I'll leave the other things to them because they're the owner. I don't want to overstep my welcome,’ kind of thing. And so, I really did like that mentality, and I thought that was a good lesson to take on for us solo entrepreneurs.
[00:10:44] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, that's great. I love that. Okay, so let's talk about when you did kind of start up Fame and Fortune. How did you get your first client? And how did you convince them to work with you?
[00:10:55] Allie Hembree Martin: It was my dad, actually, being that he is a business owner.
[00:11:00] Sanjay Parekh: So, you were just like, ‘I'm your daughter, come on!’
[00:11:02] Allie Hembree Martin: I knew that he hired somebody else to take on his social media. And as this idea really started to swirl in my head – as I mentioned, I did actually have a few projects. I've ghost authored a book. I helped somebody launch a course. Like just little projects here and there. But I obviously was focused on reoccurring retainer fees that would allow me to really scale the business.
And I knew that he had hired someone to do that. When looking at what they were doing, I knew I could do it better. So, I really put a proposal together for him, showed him what I could do for him. And he said, ‘Alright, I don't like to switch boats, I don't like to do this to people, but I'm going to give you a shot.’ And he is still a customer today.
I don't know if that is due to me being his daughter or he's happy with the services or both, but we'll just go with the latter.
[00:11:58] Sanjay Parekh: I like that. I was going to ask if he was still a customer at this point. So, okay. What's interesting is in my intro of you we talked about how you're focused on female CEOs.
But your very first customer was your dad, who's, I'm assuming, not a female CEO. So, it's not just you've got a focus on female CEOs and business owners, but it's not exclusive. Is that right?
[00:12:22] Allie Hembree Martin: Yeah. You know, whenever I particularly with PR, whenever I work with women. A lot of them are very hesitant to tell their story. A, they're either nervous about it, they've never done it before. Or B, they feel like they're bragging and that doesn't feel natural or authentic to them. So, I have found that I really gravitate towards working with those female CEOs, because I'm able to really empower them to tell that story and be able to deliver that message so that it can help others.
And so, I've just found that is a niche that really allows me to do the best that I can do, and really allow them to see a transformation. But yes, we certainly work with everybody and I work with some really big brands along with those small business owners. But you know that definitely is just tugged at my heartstrings a little bit.
[00:13:16] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. That makes sense. I love that. Okay. So let's dig into a little bit about how you do the operations for your clients as well as for yourself. Are there tools that have really helped you scale the business? Because you started out, it sounds like you started out with just yourself. Now you've got people that work with you. I don't know if they're contractors or employees. Which one are they?
[00:13:36] Allie Hembree Martin: I have five contractors.
[00:13:38] Sanjay Parekh: Okay, so sizable team. What have you done to help you scale the business and kind of manage everything that you're doing?
[00:13:47] Allie Hembree Martin: Yeah, the project management tool ClickUp has been invaluable to our business because that really allows me to – I'm such a big planner and I really thrive whenever I can say, ‘Okay, here's the due date, here's the 10 things that need to happen before that due date comes,’ and really mapping it out backwards and then assigning the team members to tackle each of those tasks. And, visually, that helps me see we're going to hit everything.
I have no worries, no concerns, and it really, actually, takes a step away from me having to follow up with the team, having to touch base with them. It really kind of gives me the opportunity to lay out all the details, assign those tasks, and then turn them loose to do what they do best. So, ClickUp is a really powerful tool for us. And then we do utilize FaceTime to touch base with each other quickly. Slack for internal communication and touching base with each other.
[00:14:46] Sanjay Parekh: Is your team all right there in Kentucky? Or are they spread out?
[00:14:50] Allie Hembree Martin: So, it's interesting. I have one in Europe and then the others are around the Kentucky area. So they're not all in Kentucky, but we have one in Indiana, and then the others are very close by. So, we don't have the opportunity to get together in person, but you know, virtually we do have a team call on Monday mornings so that we can all check in with each other, see how our weekends were and then talk through projects and tasks for the week.
[00:15:20] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, that's great. So Slack is, I can tell then, I absolutely useful for y'all given the spread of the folks.
So, in thinking about this everybody that's listening to, this is likely either somebody that's got a side hustle or a small business or is hoping to have a small business or side hustle. What are some essential tools that they should use to manage kind of their marketing and PR before they're ready to graduate to somebody like Fame and Fortune?
[00:15:45] Allie Hembree Martin: Yeah, for sure. I definitely like using the social media planning tool Planoly, and it really allows you to visualize what your Instagram feed will look like once all of the posts have been made, you can connect it to your Canva account and create those graphics and schedule it automatically. And I really preach the importance of being strategic with your social media.
So, actually laying out a full month's calendar, turning them all on, scheduling them, and then forgetting it for the month. So you're not having to be in those apps every day, wasting time doing the scroll before you actually post. And with PR, it truly comes down to contacting journalists and really being able to tell that story effectively.
So, I like to tell people if you're not quite ready to work with a publicist just yet, start to build those connections in your industry. So if you know of an industry publication or have a podcast that they are doing a great job and you would love to be on that podcast or in that outlet one day, start to connect with those journalists via Instagram, via Twitter, and build relationships up so that when you do have a story to tell and you send that pitch, and they see your name pop up in their email inbox, they will open it because they know who you are.
[00:17:10] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, that that's great advice. And I think that's true in so many different places, right? Like build those relationships before you actually need those relationships. That's great.
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[00:17:43] Sanjay Parekh: So, thinking back now it's been a few years that you've been doing this. How many years are you in now at this point?
[00:17:50] Allie Hembree Martin: Next month will be three years.
[00:17:51] Sanjay Parekh: Three years. Right? So that's probably long enough now where you can go back and look and see like, oh man that was a risky thing. And either it paid off or didn't pay off. What was the biggest risk looking back at the last three years that you think you took? How did that pan out for you?
[00:18:09] Allie Hembree Martin: I will preface this by saying if I can't guarantee almost with a hundred percent certainty that I will get a payoff or a reward, I don't take the risk.
I am a very calculated business owner and really don't like to put that risk on anyone. But I will say working with a business coach has paid for itself, plus some in more ways than one. Not only am I developing skills that allow me to be a better business owner, but it has gotten me clients and it has gotten me connected to individuals that then became clients later on that I'd never would be able to be connected with.
So while working with a business coach was something that I really considered for a long time before I ever even pulled the trigger once I finally did I was so glad that I did, and I really don't know that I will ever not work with one because I do think there's always things we can be improving on and learning the business.
[00:19:11] Sanjay Parekh: Well, so what put that thought in your mind that you needed to go get a business coach? I think that's fascinating and interesting that you've done that.
[00:19:18] Allie Hembree Martin: It really comes down to that mentality of you don't know what you don't know. I kind of found like you know, when I very, very first starting people talking about email funnels.
And I would say, ‘What are email funnels? I don't, do I need an email funnel?’ And then, you know, you'd go down this YouTube rabbit hole or you would just Google everything and you would kind of learn about it and then you go, Okay, and you would start to watch other people and start to understand what that was really all about.
And so, I found that I was just finding these different strategies, these different tools that people were using and saying, ‘Okay, I could YouTube that and teach myself what that is again, or I could go to an expert and allow them to educate me.’ And then you kind of are met with, ‘Okay, I have these 20 strategies, which one's the best for me?’
And really having that opportunity to bounce those ideas off of somebody else. You know, it can be very lonely as a business owner and I am lucky that I can talk these things through with my husband, but, you know, there's definitely marketing things that he doesn't know in the HVAC business, because that's just not something that's done in that industry.
So, whenever I was able to find a coach that worked with agency owners like myself, I knew that was really going to be a good game changer and a good investment in my business.
[00:20:45] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, that's great. That's great. So,thinking back then, over these last three years. Other than maybe getting the business coach earlier, what would you have done differently?
[00:20:55] Allie Hembree Martin: I definitely would've focused on my marketing, and I think a lot of business owners fall into this boat as well. We are so wrapped up in getting customers and doing things that will keep our customers and then figuring out things that – I mean, I'm one of those, I'll say yes to anything you want to throw at me and then I'll go figure it out.
So I definitely had some of those projects where they'll say, ‘Can you build me a website?’ Well, yeah, I've built five websites before, so yeah, sure, I'll figure it out, let's do it. So, you know, I spent a lot of time early on doing things like that. And then I was able to really hone in on look, I'm good at social media, I'm good at public relations.
Let me focus on those two things, forget about the rest, and telling that story that I'm good at social media and public relations through my own social media and public relations. That would be something that I would have done earlier. And I think a lot of business owners are in the same boat.
[00:21:56] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. That's interesting because probably right at the outset you're worrying about how do I pay the bills, right? Like, so that becomes your main focus and investing in yourself like you've done with other things with the business coach and everything pays off dividends in the long run. Which is exactly the thing that you're telling your clients.
And it's I think this is a problem with founders a lot of times that we do as I say, not as I do type of thing. Right? And we're not following our own advice. So that is great. So where do you see social media evolving in the next two to three years? And how do you think businesses and entrepreneurs should stay kind of ahead of all of those changes that are coming?
[00:22:39] Allie Hembree Martin: If you aren’t on TikTok yet, you need to. I think I've heard this even just like a week ago, I heard the same sentiment that my customers aren't on social, are not on TikTok. They are on TikTok. And the algorithm on TikTok really prioritizes everyone's content, not just who you follow. So when you think about Facebook, when you think about Instagram, Twitter, they all prioritize people that you follow.
So you actually have the act of having to go follow that account, and then you see more of that. Whereas TikTok is truly anybody and everybody can go viral because it doesn't matter if you have 10 followers or 10,000 followers. If you put out good content, it will get it in front of the right people.
And that's how intelligent this algorithm is on TikTok. So, you may think your customers are not on TikTok because every time you get on TikTok you see cute babies and funny dog videos. But what you don't know is that there are business owners out there that are looking to learn more about X, Y, and Z and if you can get in front of their content by creating the right things, then you will find your customers on TikTok.
So, that is really what I would encourage anybody to think about. Because I do continue to hear that statement and I think it's false. And I think with the emergence of TikTok, video is just going to continue to be prioritized on social media.
So no longer will it be sufficient to just put out static images on Instagram and Facebook and check that box and say, yes, I did my social media for the month. It will be showing your personality, showing the personality behind the brand, and really being able to tell that story in video and really allowing that to showcase who you are.
[00:24:33] Sanjay Parekh: So that's fascinating. I have never joined TikTok. I don't have an account or anything. But your explanation of it makes a lot of sense. So, for anybody that's like me, that's thinking like, okay, maybe I should join. Are there is the best way to do it using the TikTok app? Or are there other tools that we should be considering and using those to make sure that we have at least reasonable looking videos that aren't garbage and at least have a chance of being viewed by people?
[00:25:02] Allie Hembree Martin: So really the TikTok app is very, very high resolution and high quality. So using the TikTok app to record and edit is actually just fine. I will say if you are planning to use TikTok as a business, you might want to consider having two different accounts.
Having a personal account where you can actually like those cute baby and funny dog videos, because then you will see more cute baby and funny dog videos and then using your business account to put out that content that is focused on a specific industry using those hashtags. Because then whatever activity you do with the videos that you're presented with, it will start to learn who you are more and more.
So if you are kind of confusing the system by really liking all this other content over here, but then putting out different contents it can sometimes really struggle to understand who you are and who your ideal customers are. So that would be my only advice. If you are looking for this for business ventures is to keep those separate.
[00:26:08] Sanjay Parekh: That's good advice. So if you've got a split personality between your business and you, create different accounts.
[00:26:15] Allie Hembree Martin: And no shame. Trust me, a lot of times, people like to go to TikTok to escape their business world. So, no shame there whatsoever.
[00:26:24] Sanjay Parekh: And is that a tip on how to balance you know, the stress of business and life, is that maybe you can escape every now and again and go into TikTok and watch cat videos?
[00:26:35] Allie Hembree Martin: Yeah, I would say the last hour of my day is spent doing that exactly. So yeah, that's definitely a strategy anybody can pull in and I will say that it always delivers. It never fails.
[00:26:50] Sanjay Parekh: Good algorithms. Good computers out there. Okay. So, I think my last question for you is you know, for our listeners that might be teetering on the edge of starting their own business or side hustle. But they're not quite sure if they want to do it or if they should do it, or if they're going to be successful in doing it or even where to start. What would your advice be for somebody like that?
[00:27:10] Allie Hembree Martin: If you have something on your heart right now, you need to see it through. It will never go away. I can speak from experience that a desire or a passion that's on your heart is there for a reason. And you are doing yourself a disservice by not listening to that intuition.
So, it is not so much about you know, making a smart business decision or not. It really comes down to being true to yourself and honoring that intuition that you have there and just going for it.
[00:27:40] Sanjay Parekh: That's awesome. Okay. So, one last thing I want to shout out to our listeners and viewers. For those of you that are watching the live stream you might notice that there is a display above Allie's head. There's a certificate on the wall. So, Allie is a Kentucky Colonel and the reason why I know this is because I'm also a Kentucky Colonel. Because I'm a proud Kentuckian as well. So, you know, shout out, Colonel Martin. I love it. I love, I think you are the very first Colonel that I've had on the show.
There's not a lot of us, but there's a good contingent and I think there's a lot of Colonels that are not actually Kentuckians and so you were actually one of the ones that a Kentuckian, as am I, originally, even though I don't live in Kentucky anymore. But it's great to have you on the show, Colonel Martin.
I appreciate it. Thanks so much. And hopefully our listeners have gained so much knowledge. I know that they have, I know that I have, I'm going to have to look into making a TikTok account for myself now.
[00:28:40] Allie Hembree Martin: I hope you do. Thank you so much for having me.