Carla Williams Johnson is the CEO and founder of Carli Communications. She was named one of the 99Limit Breaking Female Founders by Huffington post and Thrive Global.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
I am Carla Williams Johnson, CEO and founder of Carli Communications and I love that I can truly support people with promoting themselves in the right way to the right people and to make their lives better. I am a mother of two; one 20year old and one 2 year old (don't ask) and I am based in Trinidad & Tobago, the southernmost country in the Caribbean.
Most recently, I’ve had the privilege of being named one of the 99Limit Breaking Female Founders as compiled by Huffington post and Thrive Global and have had the honor of being mentioned on numerous other publications and podcasts such as Buzzfeed, Forbes and Home Business Magazine. I have also been just named of the Marketers to follow for 2020 as well as recently won Best Promotions Company - West Indies at the 2020 Media Innovator awards as compiled by Corporate Vision Magazine.
I just always knew that I wanted to get into the field. I think I was the only person in the world who would get excited when commercials would come on during a program or rush to get the latest magazine to see all the creative ways print ads were displayed. Even at a young age I was always in awe of creative executions and how absolutely brilliant one must be to convince someone to purchase from just a few words and an image.
As time went on, my passion grew and it landed me to work with some of the most prestigious advertising companies with global brands. It was there I learned that there was so much that went into the final product and I was finally part of the strategic process.
I realized that there was so much brainstorming and creativity that went into a single campaign and, working in media, I had the single most important job of getting that creativity out to the right people. Plus I noticed that the more innovative the approach, the more of an impact the campaign made, which resulted in increased sales.
Fast forward, now I have my own company where I help entrepreneurs and business owners increase their visibility through the creative and strategic uses of media.
With what’s happening globally, I am really focusing on helping others be a bit more strategic with their marketing plans.
Building brand awareness and standing out is the name of the game right now because it’s the businesses who are seen and heard that’ll be the ones that will undoubtedly be remembered. My goal is to show how to use the online space more effectively as well as encourage business owners to include publicity into their marketing mix to give their brand that extra edge. With everyone moving to the digital arena, getting featured will definitely add credibility to their brand and put them in front of their customers and ahead of the competition.
My vision is to help as many business owners as possible promote themselves in the right way to the right people and to make their lives better.
Q: What motivated you to get started with Carli Communications?
Honestly, I was tired of seeing business men and women being ill advised by greedy coaches and consultants looking to make a quick buck. These ‘so called gurus’ would use the client’s lack of knowledge against them to sell them a product or service that made no sense and gave absolutely no returns on investment. That’s when my business was born.
I feel like a superhero sometimes, to be honest. Like I’m saving the day (and the dollar) of people who are in danger of wasting their money. On the surface, I help clients with promoting their business but what I really do is assist my people with finding the best and quickest ways to truly connect with their ideal clients so that they can serve them and, of course, make some money in the process.
Q: How have you attracted customers and grown Carli Communications?
Definitely using the media has really put me in a different light. The use of publicity has worked tremendously well, as many people hopping onto the digital space has made it quite cluttered, not to mention all the fake news, covid updates, protests, politics and so many other things. Publicity helped me gain credibility and authority during this time and helped my target audience stand up and take notice.
Getting featured and interviewed really helped my business stand out while social media became more of a supportive medium where I would drive my newfound audience to find out more about me and what I do.
This strategy has worked tremendously well, as I have actually seen an increase in sales.
Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
I operate strictly B2B where I help other entrepreneurs and business owners get clear on what they need to do to market and promote their brand. Due to the fact that many of them are at differing stages in business, many of what I offer can either fall into
Do It Yourself: I give them the tools necessary to put the systems, people and processes in place to market their brand effectively
Done with you: I walk them through the process step by step, giving the necessary guidance along the way
Done for you: I do it all, they reap the rewards
Many of my clients either fall into the second or third tier mainly because marketing can be so complex as times they prefer to have me close by just in case.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Well, I plan on taking the world by storm!!
Seriously, with the current pandemic and literally everything else going on in the world, I am really focusing on helping others be a bit more strategic with their marketing plans.
Building brand awareness and standing out is the name of the game right now because it’s the businesses who are seen and heard that’ll be the ones that will undoubtedly be remembered. My goal is to show persons how to use the online space more effectively as well as encourage business owners to include publicity into their marketing mix to give their brand that extra edge. With everyone moving to the digital arena, getting featured will definitely add credibility to their brand and put them in front of their customers and ahead of the competition.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
Honestly it is amazing the things that I’ve been through to be here today:
I’ve had to use my own courage and resourcefulness to navigate this entrepreneurial journey;
I’ve had to make my mark in an industry that tends to favor the opinions of my male counterparts;
I’ve had to break through barriers of being labeled ‘a little island girl’ from a country that I felt only few know about;
I’ve had to shine through as being honest, reliable and real where there seem to be so many fraudsters whose main goal is to deceive in the name of making a quick buck.
These are the reasons why I created my business and how I continue to thrive.
I take all that I’ve been through and use it to propel me forward.
My biggest reward is honestly my clients and the reactions they have when they’ve achieved something they didn’t think was possible for them.
Sometimes it’s the look of clarity in their face and that ‘Ahh hah’ moment when they understand what they need to do for their business.
It really makes me feel good that I can help others build the profitable brand they’ve always envisioned because I know the people that I work with have the knowledge, expertise, passion, and desire in what they do and would like to share it with the world, but, they just need a little nudge on HOW to get it out there the right way to touch the lives of others……. that’s where I come in.
My people truly motivate me to keep going and to keep doing what I do.
Q: Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I am an advocate of a mix of both online and offline so I’ve employed a wide range of tactics including social media, publicity, direct marketing and more. While each tactic has worked well for me I would say collaboration with other entrepreneurs and business owners always gave the best results. My mentor once said ‘Collaboration is the Currency of Entrepreneurship’ and no truer words have ever been spoken. I’ve sponsored events, mentored youths, spoken and guest blogged on forums and not only have I been able to leverage their audience to grow my community. It has really worked wonders for my business.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
The two main pieces of advice I would give is to
1. Trust your gut. …. I cannot tell you how many times I went against my own intuition and got myself in hot water. Listen to your instincts and allow that to lead you. Having the confidence and the desire to follow through will be much easier once you feel aligned and at peace with the decision you’ve made.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself, we all make mistakes from time to time. We’re only human. We may get caught up with someone who wronged us or a business opportunity that just didn’t work in our favor. Sometimes life gets in the way, and your business suffers because of it.
I can tell you, I too have been caught playing ‘catch up’ a time or two, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it all in stride and understand that life happens, and it’s how you handle it that makes the difference.
· Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.
· Allow yourself time to recuperate from a stressful situation
· Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel when you need to feel it
Then jump right back in and keep moving forward.
You’re not alone, and we are all dealing with our own slices of life, so lean on someone who can help pick you up and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan, remember you are right where you need to be.