1661 – Looking Under The Soil with The Business Growers’ Laura Johns

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Founder & CEO  of The Business Growers, Laura Johns.

Laura Johns is the driving force behind The Business Growers, a company that serves as a fractional CMO and implementation team for founder-led companies with 50 or fewer employees. The Business Growers is a godsend for companies that may not need or can't afford an entire marketing team. They provide both implementation and high-level strategy services, filling the gap in the market for affordable yet practical marketing solutions.

Laura shared that companies often hire individuals with high expectations, expecting them to handle all aspects of marketing. This can be challenging and often leads to less-than-optimal results. The Business Growers works well with companies that have an in-house marketing person who serves as a liaison and project manager but lacks the skill set to execute marketing strategies fully. If this sounds like your company, then you might be ready for The Business Growers' services.

Laura emphasized the importance of consistent branding and messaging. She suggests checking if all marketing materials, websites, business cards, and email signatures are consistent. This consistency is vital to creating a strong brand identity that resonates with your target audience.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • The Business Growers is a fractional CMO and implementation team for founder-led companies
  • Discussion on when a company might be ready to hire The Business Growers' services
  • Branding, messaging, and social media strategies for increasing visibility and attracting leads
  • Insights on thought leadership and authenticity on social media
  • Origin of the name “The Business Growers” and the size of Laura's team
  • The Business Growers works well with companies that have an in-house marketing person but lack the skill set to fully execute marketing strategies
  • Importance of consistent branding and messaging across marketing materials
  • Laura's journey from accidental entrepreneur to starting The Business Growers

About Laura Johns:

Laura Johns is the accomplished founder and CEO of The Business Growers, a prominent marketing firm specializing in serving B2B telecom, SaaS, IT, and cloud-services industries. With an impressive career spanning 18 years, Laura's expertise has been honed through managing marketing efforts for a diverse range of companies, from tech startups to global conglomerates, with nearly half of her career spent as a corporate marketing executive in the telecommunications sector.

Her primary focus centres on developing highly effective marketing strategies tailored to technology companies, leading to tangible and significant successes. Today, The Business Growers boasts an extensive clientele of over 50 companies across 15 states.

Laura's contributions to her home state of Mississippi have not gone unnoticed, as she has received accolades such as “Top 50 under 40” and “Top 50 Leading Women in Business.” She is a distinguished member of the Leadership Mississippi program, an honour conferred by the Mississippi Economic Council.

Laura's educational background is equally impressive, graduating cum laude from Mississippi College and earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of Alabama. She is also recognized as the co-founder and host of two notable podcasts: “The Home and The Hustle,” catering to working moms and “The Know, Grow and Scale” videocast and podcast tailored for entrepreneurs. Laura Johns is undoubtedly a prominent figure in the marketing and business world.

About The Business Growers:

The Business Growers is a solution-oriented marketing firm that specializes in aiding tech companies facing marketing challenges, particularly those without a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Recognizing that numerous tech companies encounter difficulties in achieving effective marketing results due to the absence of an in-house CMO, The Business Growers fills this gap.

This innovative company offers comprehensive services, including high-level marketing strategy development and implementation support. By doing so, they empower tech businesses to boost their revenue and expand their market presence without hiring a full-time marketing team.

The Business Growers' expertise lies in tailoring marketing solutions to the unique needs of tech companies, enabling them to navigate the competitive landscape and achieve their growth objectives more efficiently and cost-effectively. With a focus on delivering tangible results, The Business Growers is a valuable partner for tech companies seeking to thrive in today's dynamic business environment.

Tweetable Moments:

08:24 – “I think one of the things that we're seeing really good success with is people just being authentic and showing up on social media both as a brand and as an organizational leader.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out The Business Growers website at

Check out The Business Growers on LinkedIn at

Check out The Business Growers on Instagram at

Check out The Business Growers on Facebook at

Check out The Business Growers on Twitter at

Check out Laura Johns on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Laura Johns. Laura, you are the founder and CEO of the business Growers you found on the Web at the business Laura, thank you so much for joining us.

Laura (00:01:10) - Thank you, Josh, for having me. I'm so excited. Love your energy.

Josh (00:01:14) - Well, thank you so much.

Josh (00:01:14) - Right up and around the bend around the Gulf of Mexico. And you are based in Jackson, Mississippi, is that right?

Laura (00:01:20) - Jackson, Mississippi, serving tech companies, which is a little confusing to a lot of people. So I'm excited to tell my story.

Josh (00:01:26) - Yeah, well, please share what you do with the business growers and how you serve your clients.

Laura (00:01:31) - Yeah, so we are a fractional CMO and implementation team component for founder led companies, typically 50 or less employees that, you know, they really get to the point where a lot of times the founder themselves is running sales and marketing and they realize that they are really going to have to stick to what they're good at. So maybe they can't afford a full marketing team or they don't really need a full marketing team. It's not until you get way big that you need an in-house, you know, web and SEO person or that type of thing. So we really feel that function both from the implementation side and then also from that high level strategy.

Laura (00:02:05) - They need somebody usually to sit on a board call or an investor call and, and tell everyone the lay of the land and what's happening and how that growth is, you know, how, how they're making money off their marketing dollars, that type of thing. So we serve in both those areas. So a little non-traditional type of agency. But but a marketing agency on the left.

Josh (00:02:22) - Yeah. And how might someone know that they are ready for you versus. Well, I'm just going to try to staff up my own marketing talent internally. Yeah. Help me or help someone understand, you know, maybe what paths are available to them and kind of what the pros and cons are.

Laura (00:02:41) - Great. That's a great question. I'm glad you asked that because, you know, I think that a lot of times we could hire, you know, as fast growing companies will hire someone and have really high expectations of someone maybe 3 to 5 years out of college. So maybe somebody got an integrated marketing degree or PR degree or a business degree.

Laura (00:03:00) - And then we bring them in at a at a, you know, at a in a marketing position and really have expectations of them to be able to do it all Well, it's really hard to be a social media manager or graphic designer or a web developer and specialist and a digital ad expert. So the the reality is that we actually work really well with clients who have an in-house marketing person, but that person kind of serves as the, you know, hearing I'm the boots on the ground, I'm hearing the conversations our CEO is having. I know kind of what we're looking to accomplish, but they necessarily can't fully execute because they don't have the skill set to do that. So different paths might look like you have an in-house person that's serving as your in-house liaison and project manager, and that person is working with us day to day to get things done. But the CEO's not really having to be super heavily involved in the day to day. So that's an ideal scenario. We work with a lot of CEOs who, you know, we get on calls every week, every other week, and they're telling us what their vision is and we're saying, okay, well, here are the options to execute that.

Laura (00:04:00) - That's one option, too. And we kind of offer which this is actually built because I've always been in startup startups and I've always been the, you know, the sole marketer typically in a startup. So I've had to work with agencies and vendors. So I see. And I created a path no matter where that that company is. So if you're coming in and you need your like, straight up startup, you don't have a logo, you don't have a business card, we have a path for that. If you're a little bit more advanced and you've got all the foundation right, you just need to tweak your messaging and make sure you're speaking right. We have we have a path for that. And then if you're like if you need a full in-house team, you don't have anybody helping you and you need all of it. We have a path for that. So so it's kind of it kind of really just depends on where you are. But knowing you're ready is when the CEO realizes that they are spending time in marketing functions and that's not really their skill set.

Laura (00:04:51) - That's when you need somebody, whether it's in-house or outsourced.

Josh (00:04:54) - Yeah. Laura, what would happen, like, how would you imagine the conversation would go if someone said, Well, I mean, we have branding, we feel like it's good. We don't know for sure. Like how might you discover to see if they're on track versus maybe there's some opportunities.

Laura (00:05:12) - Yes. So typically people would say branding and then also throw in messaging. That's part of the reason why I've named the business to business growers, because how important the foundation is, I'm not really great with plants. Just, you know, for my mom is really great with plants and she comes to my house every time and she says, you know, Laura, the plant, this plant's not growing because it's root bound. And it's like all this stuff going on under the soil that we don't really like to look at. So I always tell CEOs, you got to really look at what's under the soil. So one good test to do that is to one check and look at your marketing materials, look at your website, look at your business card, look at your collateral piece that the sales team is spending, you know, is using.

Laura (00:05:53) - Look at your email signatures. Are all those consistent? They look. And feel the same. You know, there's a reason that my two year old knows that we're at Target when we pull up at Target because they have done such a good job with brand consistency. So from a branding standpoint, seeing if everything looks and feels the same, because when you when you walk in somewhere, that's part of the experience. When you walk in the door to someone's house, everything how it looks and feels, consistency is important. And then also from a messaging standpoint, ask, you know, five people in your business to tell you in one sentence what you do. And if it's if it's drastically different, then we need some work. So those are two from a branding side and both from a messaging side both to two quick exercises you can do to know if you need some help.

Josh (00:06:35) - Yeah. What if someone says, you know, I think we got things locked down pretty well. What we need now is just way more visibility.

Josh (00:06:43) - Yeah. What do you see working well for that very top of the funnel awareness lead gen kind of attracting folks. And I would say what, what are your greatest hits? Yeah.

Laura (00:06:55) - Yeah. Well I will say thought leadership especially for these founder led, you know, organizations, you know, we typically work specifically in B2B tech. So, you know, our area of expertise is continually having that conversation that hits a pain point. And so, you know, a lot of the I think that one thing that we do a lot of businesses actually do really wrong as social media. So if you're having a conversation with someone and they're, you know, let's just say you've got a buddy that every time you meet with him, he wants to you go to have a drink and he wants to talk. He wants to sell you insurance, for example. If he does that every time you go, then you're not going to want to go. Meet with him again or have him drink beer with him again because he just wants to sell you something.

Laura (00:07:39) - So the same thing goes for our the way that we communicate as businesses. So if we're always trying to sell something on LinkedIn, then I'm going to disengage. So one of the things that I love to tell people to do is show up authentically on social media. Be a thought leader and do it, you know, from your heart. And that's really what gives the very best post that I've ever posted on social media. Me personally is me sitting in a hair salon chair with my laptop out and just saying that sometimes work looks like the CEO of a company and getting her hair highlighted it with her laptop out and people loved it, you know. So I think, you know, one of those best things. It doesn't have to be complicated. I think one of the things that we're seeing really good success with is people just being authentic and showing up on social media, both as a brand and as a as an organizational leader.

Josh (00:08:24) - Yeah, well, someone Laura might say and this is interesting might say, well, that's unprofessional.

Laura (00:08:30) - And yeah, yeah. I would ask the thousands of people who have who have responded and said, Thank you for saying that. And, you know, I think I think that the you know, you kind of got to go back to the basics. Maybe it is unprofessional, but social media is a social platform because people care. Mean, I live in Mississippi. Everybody wants to get in your business. That's just part of the way that we work. So being able to see something that's not poised and not perfect and looks like it's a little bit personal, maybe I'm not supposed to be here. Maybe I'm not supposed to see this. That's what people love and think that that's really one of the most underrated uses of social media is really just showing up and being yourself. And I think that if people like it and they'll they'll really respond to to what you have to say in your business.

Josh (00:09:13) - Mm hmm. Where did the where did the business growers come from? And like the name because I know you have a pretty decent sized team at this.

Laura (00:09:20) - Yeah, Yeah. So the name itself, or just like, where did how did we get here.

Josh (00:09:24) - And the entity.

Laura (00:09:25) - So so actually I call myself an accidental entrepreneur. I think a lot of us can speak to the same. So when I had been a CMO at a tech company and started a family, my husband took a job a couple of hours away from where we were based, and it was before Covid. So it was back when people really expected you to show up in the office to do your job. And so I was at a business that needed to be there every day. And so I had to go part time because my husband took a job elsewhere and I needed to be, you know, in a two hours away. And so I was driving a good bit. Anyway, long story short, I started doing some consulting on the side. I realized I really loved it. And then fast forward post Covid decided, I really want to do this. I've I've, you know, had my children I'm ready to to to dig into entrepreneurship and true business ownership rather than just a side gig.

Laura (00:10:16) - And so actually the company that I was working for full time, the CEO, also great visionary, great entrepreneur, I told him that it was really time for me to step out. And he said, How can I support you? And he became my first client, which was amazing. So that was really a stepping stone to get me to give me the confidence to do it. And here we are a little over two years and 15. Amazing, very just just wonderful women working for our team. So it's been it's been a great a great couple of years.

Josh (00:10:49) - Yeah. What does the discovery process typically look like? Like what? Like, let's say that there's someone listening to us right now and they're like, okay, I really love what Lauren's dog. I love her energy. Yeah. I'm curious what working together might look like. Like, how do you kind of navigate that, figure that out? Yeah, I.

Laura (00:11:08) - Just start with the discovery call because like I said, we have different path based on where you are in your business.

Laura (00:11:13) - Not everybody's in the same place. Some people don't really know what they need. A lot of people don't really know what they need, which is which is fine. And so a lot of times it just starts with a quick discovery call. I like to know what you've done in your business, what's worked, what hasn't. Have you really done anything in terms of have you you know, have you made an investment in any sort of marketing that that has given you a return on investment? I'd do an audit. Typically, if we want to do the full blown audit, that that comes with a fee just because it takes my team a lot of time. If you want to do a quick audit on a call, we can do that as well. And then from there actually tell you where I feel like you fit best, which path you fit best in and can give you recommendations that way. Now that doesn't mean you have to choose that, but I can certainly tell you, here's where I think you are.

Laura (00:11:55) - I call it no growth scale. So you're going to fit in either the no package, the growth package or the scale package, and then we can kind of move up from there. So so basically, I would give you my recommendation on where we need to start, and that might mean a whole website build from the ground up. That might mean just tweaking the messaging on it. It really just depends on where you are and what you've done to this point.

Josh (00:12:13) - Yeah, your website is, Oh, Laura, gosh, I had it pulled up here. Just a second.

Laura (00:12:19) - That's okay. That's all right.

Josh (00:12:21) - This is the business. Gross I've got too many screens going on, though. That's okay. Yes.

Laura (00:12:26) -

Josh (00:12:28) - Yep. Yeah. When somebody goes there, what would you recommend they do? Because I know you've got some resources here as well.

Laura (00:12:33) - Yeah, there's a get started button you can contact. To me if you're interested. We also have a good bit about our team and really the clients that we serve best.

Laura (00:12:41) - I've always been personally and this is not really a fancy strategic decision, but I've always worked in technology marketing and I feel like that's really my strong suit, taking really complex technology solutions and making them make sense to the buyer. So we are focused on tech. There's a get started button that you can schedule a quick call with me. That's the best way to move forward and have a conversation.

Josh (00:13:02) - Now you have an assessment here also on on. I'm curious about that as well.

Laura (00:13:08) - We do, yeah. It's not popping up for me the first time, but we actually like to. That is a good way for me to tell. You know, honestly, if you fill out the assessment where you are. So it's a great way for me to do a little pre-assessment before we have a conversation, but it's just answering a couple of quick questions about your business, what you have, what you may not have, what's worked well, and that that again is a really good qualifier for me. Pre call, but it's not necessary to get started.

Josh (00:13:32) - Yeah, it's just out of curiosity. So I know that you're in over 50. You have clients in over 50% of the states. Yeah. And but you're based in Jackson, Mississippi, Little.

Laura (00:13:44) - Jackson, Mississippi. Yeah. So it's not like you're the only tech focused marketing agency in the state of Mississippi. So that's, that's exciting.

Josh (00:13:53) - And I was going to ask what advantages there might be to being in. You know, it's like you're not in Silicon Valley or Austin or one of those major, major tech hubs. But you know, again, in the world we live in today, yeah, I would imagine you've seen some pretty good advantages maybe in hiring, recruiting, cost of living.

Laura (00:14:15) - Cost of living is, you know, and honestly, Mississippi, you know, we're known as the hospitality state. So one of the great things is that we have a bunch of phenomenal really, you know, great personalities in the state of Mississippi, which makes for a really great relationship managers and client relationships.

Laura (00:14:31) - So we have really connected well, Our clients we work with. We are pretty hot touch. We're not just a, you know, made very sure that we're not going to be the agency that hands you a website and we're off. We have the packages that we offer are all in partnership. So you don't just, you know, get away with a couple of months with us and you're done. That's not the way I work. So we are very high on on relationships and making sure that our relationships are great, which obviously having women from Mississippi manage those relationships. We think we hit home runs every day for that reason. So another thing I think is really great about Mississippi is because we're the hospitality state. We have a lot of people that are eager to to make connections to help you network. And I've really found that that we've been able to, you know, kind of be a little Mississippi sweetheart in terms of in terms of technology, marketing agencies and that type of thing. People have been so open to making connections for us.

Laura (00:15:20) - And and our reach in the state of Mississippi goes far beyond just our the walls of our state. Of course, we've got just a lot of connections and found that that once you make connections, people refer business. And that's how we've been able to grow in just a short period of time and into 23 states in the US.

Josh (00:15:35) - So Laura Johns, founder and CEO of the Business Growers, you found on the web at the business Laura, thank you so much for joining us.

Laura (00:15:45) - Thank you Josh.

Josh (00:15:52) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you.

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