In this Coaching Call style 10 Minute Marketing episode, I had the privilege of interviewing Dekiyyah (Kia) Edwards, the founder of Champion Instructors Education & Training Consulting. Kia’s journey is an entrepreneurial fairy tale of identifying a gap in the pandemic marketplace and transitioning from a simple LinkedIn profile into a flourishing business venture.
A striking aspect of Kia’s journey is her unwavering focus on the ‘why’ behind her business. She believes that having a compelling reason for the existence of a business is not merely a strategy, but an emotional driver that can resonate with potential clients and collaborators.
Later in the episode, we get more transparent as Kia shares some of the challenges that Champion Instructors faces today with enhancing its presence on networks like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. We begin to discuss a blueprint for how she can take the next 6-12 months to gain more from LinkedIn and revitalize her company’s presence on YouTube and Instagram.
As Kia continues to grow Champion Instructors, her journey offers insights for other entrepreneurs navigating their own business paths in a post-pandemic culture. You can also harness power of identifying a need, taking action, and harnessing the power of digital platforms to create a thriving business. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, Kia’s story offers valuable lessons and inspiration.
About Kia Edwards & Champion Instructors Education and Consulting
Kia Edwards is an HR + education practitioner (early learners through adult learning) who founded Champion Instructors – Education & Training Consulting.
Kia loves taking training from information to retained knowledge which improves workplace productivity, lessens workplace accidents, improves succession, and limits staff turnover. Taking her professional passions mixed with the year 2020’s high demand for businesses to provide remote training during a global pandemic – her virtual instructional design business was born. Champion Instructors Education and Training is a consulting LLC that solves diverse educational and training needs virtually or in person. With a recent national demand for remote learning (socially distanced), her staff of experienced online learning educators and seasoned human resources professionals are most valued for offering condensed yet effective training services that fit a range of learning needs and styles offered on diverse devices.
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Read The Full Transcript From This Episode (click to expand and read the full interview)
- Sonja: 0:07
So, Kia, this today is going to be a little bit of a different approach, as we talk about kind of this is our coaching series of 10 Minute Marketing, and I want to talk today specifically a little bit about the background of Champion Instructors, because we’ve been gosh, we’ve done some work together since the beginning, here and there and getting you started and a lot of things that you’ve been able to do through a lot of different people helping you on your journey with growing and online presence. So first, before we dig into that, I just want you to share a little bit more background about what champion instructors is and how you got started.
So in essence it’s an instructional design business and it was birthed from the pandemic. I basically was a staff development professional for the government and my son was in TK and he also was in occupational therapy. And those three sectors me being a professional HR staff trainer and him being a student and also being a patient that receives therapy I noticed during the pandemic all three sectors came to a complete halt because there was not virtual education platforms ready to continue education. Again, I mentioned that occupational therapy piece because we would physically go to the hospital for clinic appointments for him to receive different therapy and then we had homework and we weren’t able to go to those appointments. So then I became his therapist, virtually, but there were different engaging homework kind of assignments and check-ins that the therapist did not have the experience or the platforms to use to actually collaborate with me as a caregiver, as a mother, to give that education to my son. And so I saw a need where in the workforce there weren’t automating tools like Adobe Captivate or Articulate or different e-learning platforms that were available to convert in person, on the job training into virtual packages. Champion is it derives from my son’s name, which is a seam, and so, going back to his story of being sent home and not having any of his education continue for like a month and a half because they didn’t have virtual learning available for his teachers. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to try to use something that I do well, something that I’m passionate about and could possibly create generational wealth by starting an LLC, and that’s the story behind Champion Instructors Education and Training.
Yeah, so this is like the textbook fairy tale story you hear about how and why people start businesses, because it’s something that you were familiar with, there’s some passion behind it, because it is close to home. And then it truly came from a need that you saw in the marketplace, and this was around 2020, right, so it’s now been roughly three years, but a true need in the marketplace during COVID, where you were able to birth this new business based on really firsthand experiencing there’s a gap in the market for this kind of service. Okay, so it’s been three years. You’ve been in business and I know, like as a startup and this is kind of an episode also where I want those of you that are listening that are in that space where you’re within the first five years of your business and you’re trying to figure out how do these pieces fit together? How do I make this work? What would you say, kia, in your case? What were a few of the first things when you thought about okay, I’ve got to begin to get Champion Instructors known. What were some of your go-to either marketing channels or platforms that you felt like this is where I, this is the space that I can enter where it makes sense.
What made most sense is LinkedIn. I would say that from you know, when I consider like the small skills trade organizations or companies like, let’s say, like the electrician schools, they probably did not have an e-learning platform and they probably have to stop training in person because they didn’t have like virtual software to continue to train some of the students that they have. When I think about some of the smaller community colleges, those stakeholders are likely on LinkedIn and maybe not Instagram and Facebook as much. So I would say that LinkedIn was like my first platform that I needed to figure out how to master from a business a business page, versus just like a personal professional page where people would just come and see, like my resume experience. I spent a good amount of time making sure I changed the profile of Kia Edwards on LinkedIn so that when you first log in you saw the banner behind. You know that real estate behind your profile picture. I made sure I made as much use of that as possible. I made sure I updated my tagline to use buzzwords that represent what champion instructors stood for. So I kind of transitioned my LinkedIn account to be more customer facing for champion instructors.
You mentioned magazines, places where you’ve been, so a little bit of media exposure. How have you gone about getting that exposure?
I think it’s been twofold. On one end it’s been referral based, so individuals have heard about me, They’ve heard about my story and I really think my story behind champion instructors have pulled at the heartstrings of podcast owners and they have wanted to kind of hear more. Of course they want to hear about Champion Instructors, but my why behind Champion Instructors, I think tells a story that makes me stand out against some of my competitors who may also do out of the box not out of the box but kind of pre recorded e-learnings where you just, oh, I’m going to go to this organization and I’ll just pick from their library of e-learnings and I’ll just choose this one versus I am more custom made, boutique made, where I create the e-learnings and the training specific to your organization. But you know from my story listening to that podcast, that there’s heart behind why I’m an educator, how I create my work, which is inclusive of different representation. I make sure it’s accessible across different platforms. So equity is important to me. And then again, just going back to that story of why I even launched Champion Instructors, I think is why other podcasts or magazine owners have wanted to hear my story.
Okay, you bring up a great point in the why, because I think that for any business, particularly when we are small business owners and entrepreneurs, the why matters so much that I’m glad you brought that up, though, because that’s a good bridge into kind of shifting into kind of the nitty gritty details of, okay, I have this business and it’s been working, and you and you found a place linked in being one of those initial places, and I know from past conversations that you and I have had one of those other places that I’m just going to kind of throw out there. I know is that and you mentioned referrals has been the power of you being able to build some relationships locally in your community and possibly even beyond that. As a way, that also kind of help you get your foot in the door with establishing some clients throughout your business. I think that’s huge, I think, for any business owner I always like to say for me by trade, I’m a digital marketer, I help people with the online space, but nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces what you’re able to do when you meet people into in face to face environments and then, after you meet them in those environments, you can bridge into nurturing and and doing other things to foster the community online. So I always think it’s a good combination of both that needs to happen In your business. So LinkedIn’s kind of been a place, but what are some of the when it comes to online? And? And the universe when it comes to positioning your brand online is vast, because you have LinkedIn, you have Instagram, you’ve got email marketing, you’ve got text messages. There’s so many places where you can begin to position yourself of let’s let’s kind of break this down little by little, of the places that where your brand is currently positioned. Where is one channel where you feel like this is where I’m having a challenge. I know my audience is in this space and I want to do. I want to do more in this space, but I haven’t cracked the code yet. I haven’t figured out what we need to do differently or better, or you know what does that look like for you?
Well, I think that I haven’t cracked the code and Instagram and I’m completely out of the loop for tick tock. I would even say I am trying to crack the code of YouTube because I have the animated explainer videos. I am able to pull some of them. And so, with LinkedIn, I think that, while majority of my content is probably viewed via LinkedIn, I do think that when stakeholders are off of work and they’re just kind of just scrolling at night and they just want some downtime, they are on Instagram. They’re probably not on Lincoln, you know, on the weekends, and at night they’re probably just hanging out and scrolling through through Instagram. So I think it still makes sense for me to be visible on Instagram. I haven’t gotten a clear rhythm of when to do the posting. I haven’t gotten clarity on how to sustain relationships where individuals are going to follow me back and they’re like kind of responding to those call and response polls where I’m asking the question. So, so, yeah, I would say that I would say that YouTube linked it. I’m sorry. Youtube, instagram and then TikTok is just like so foreign to me. Those are the areas where I’m just like I know I need to probably be on TikTok, especially some of my humorous educator side. I just don’t even know where to start there. But I’ve done a lot of work on Instagram and I think I have some good content, but the engagement is just low.
Okay, okay, let’s. I want to talk about YouTube and then I want to kind of dig into Instagram. So YouTube, I think definitely to your point, makes sense because you are a company producing video content for your audience and so kind of the natural thought is I have video, youtube is video there should be kind of a marriage between the two. I think there is probably a good opportunity for you on YouTube and I want to give you kind of some thoughts on how to think about, maybe, how you all begin to approach YouTube, even if you’re already on there. How do we think about it differently? The one thing I’ll hear from a lot of business owners One is if they are using YouTube today, it’s kind of this repository, it’s like this video repository, right, it’s like a storage unit for videos. This is, you know, yeah, we have our company story on there and we’re showing some of our work on there and that’s good. Those are good places to start with, how you begin to even build up that presence. But a few things or questions you’ll have to answer for yourself in terms of how you approach YouTube, one being how frequently do we intend to post on YouTube? So there’s two things I always say that get forgotten about YouTube sometimes, especially with startups and small businesses. One is YouTube is the number two search engine in the world, and so we, to some degree, can gain more value from YouTube when we treat it like the search engine that it is, and that is that’s going to require if you’re familiar a little bit with search engine optimization, which is, you know, people wanting to rank high on Google. Okay, we can do that with YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t happen overnight. But with YouTube, when we think about it like a search engine, it’s not just the videos that we put on YouTube, it’s the text that we put that goes with the videos, it’s the descriptions, it’s the titles, and kind of like how you said with LinkedIn, you’re putting buzzwords into your profile, and that was part of your setup. That’s got to be part of how we approach YouTube as well, when we want to get discovered, when we want to get found through people casually searching, or. The other advantage is two places to get found on YouTube, or your, let’s just say, for your videos to get discovered. One is within the YouTube network itself. Two is within Google search results, and so the way that we make that happen is how we begin to present the content that exists there. And I’m just going to, because I have my computer up, I am going to just casually. I’m going to pull up your YouTube page just to get an idea of what you have in front of you and where you all are. Yup, so you’ve got some videos on there, okay. The other second thing that we also got to remember about YouTube is that it’s a social network, and we kind of forget that too, that this is a network where we have the ability to comment and participate in a community, and people have the ability to do that with us as well. So when we’re thinking about YouTube so right now you’ve got your videos on there, showcases your work, and so part of what we might think about doing is number one. The question you’ve got to answer for your business, when you’re thinking about how do I rewire our YouTube visibility is what’s the frequency of how often I’m going to publish content on this particular channel and you so you kind of take from what you’re already doing on Instagram, because I know you have a strong presence there and you have a presence on LinkedIn. How do we take that now and expand that strategy and fold it into more YouTube visibility? How much would you say at this moment in time when it comes to just producing any kind of video content? How much do you produce video content for other networks, not YouTube?
So my 2D animated explainer videos, the content that I have out there is supposed to be serving as like buzz, like demos, so it can take I don’t know like 72 hours to kind of get a three minute video that’s super animated, has text and logos and graphics and different characters going, and so what I could do is, instead of posting the whole video, I can post like seconds of the video and that way, over time I can spread out the six sample ones that I’ve created.
So, like if I were giving you a blueprint, that’s going to be one of your top priorities. It’s just the production of content, how long that content is and the frequency of how often you’re going to publish that content. The second part of that blueprint is okay. Now, when I upload content, or if you were to even rewire the videos that exist today, it’s going to be to go in and look at how you need to adjust your titles. Now, there are some good things about how your titles look today, because when you went in and you uploaded those titles, you put your company name on there. You also use that buzzword 2D animated explainer video. However, that might be your buzzword more than it is your audience’s buzzword.
Yeah, so it might be kind of trying to think about how do people in the education industry or you mentioned like when you were working prior to starting this business, you were in the healthcare industry. How do people in the healthcare industry refer to these videos? Do they just call it virtual training? Someone to do virtual training videos for me, or create virtual training. What do they call it?
Yeah, so I think so, my library that’s. There is a couple of folks. These videos could be promotional videos, but they also can be customer training videos. So like, for example, I’ve seen one how to clean your CPAP. It’s a straightforward training the patient on how to clean their CPAP machine and it’s under three minutes. Or it could be the CPAP distributor. These are CPAP machines, they’re new, they have this new feature. Or, like you mentioned, that therapy company this is her private practice. Get to know a little bit more about her private practice and she can use that video when she’s asked to speak as her opening bio. So I am trying to promote the diversity of the videos, but I think you’re right. Someone in the hospital would probably call it micro education. For caregivers they might call it something completely different. 2d animated explainer videos might not even be as their vocabulary.
Yes, so do a brainstorming list of what you think those words are. And then here’s how you test it: on on YouTube and go on Google and type in those words that you came up with that you’re brainstorming to figure out what pops up and if that aligns with what you’re trying to put in front of, like, what does what pop up? Does it match what your audience would be looking for? You know what I mean. And then that’s gonna help you fine tune what words to put in those videos. And now you kind of swap your current titles, update, make sure you fill in the YouTube description section.
A lot of businesses skip that.
That is like a goldmine, because you could write several paragraphs. You get up to 5, what is it? 5,000 characters you can put in that description. That’s like a three to 500 word article. So you have a lot of words, you know. But again, it’s meant to be a description, so it should be written paragraph style and you could use that to help you get more buzzwords into your description, which is going to help with the searchability of your videos.
I think I can take that same approach with Google, my Business, same thing with the naming, retitling some of those buzzwords and posting less over time. I could take a three minute and, like I said, do it in 15 seconds. I could have like a full month, you know, once a month posting of that one video, but in increments. So, yeah, that’s a good idea.
Yeah, so I think that’s a good starting point for your framework. Okay, so we update your title, your description, and then there’s a tag section. When you’re in YouTube, that’s the final thing, and you write tags out the way you think people would search for things so long long, what we call long tail keywords. Not one word, not not explainer video, but it might. It might be 2D explainer video or promotional video for healthcare practice or something that’s more of a phrase than it is just a one or two word combo. Okay, and then the final thing, final thing on YouTube that I’m going to say that would be really awesome for you is going to be to organize your channel. So, on your home channel, and this is something I’ll just I’m going to send you a screenshot later Once you start getting these videos. Let’s just say you’re about 15 videos in in a few months that you’ve got published. After you’re like, hey, I’m going to publish one a week or every one every other week, cause it’s still got to be manageable for you, okay, but once you get to a place where, let’s say, you got like 10 to 15 videos on the channel, now you got to actually organize the channel when people land there, and I’ll send you a screenshot of a couple of other channels. But there’s a way that you can organize your channel by playlist, and just think of playlist as categories. You could have all of your 2D explainer videos in one category. You can have hey, these are a promotional video examples in another category and they’ll display on your page in that way. So you’re more in control of how the uploads you put into the channel get presented on the homepage of your channel. And then Instagram, okay, so Instagram, a lot of different things with Instagram. Now I know you do some videos where you’re in the video right On Instagram and I could be getting that mixed up with your personal channel. So, on the champion channel, what kind of content goes up? And, of course, Instagram is not just video but for video content what? Or just, let’s say, overall content? What kind of content do you typically publish?
Here lately I am like leaning towards, like solving the problem of evaluating what your learner knew. So right now I’m doing a lot of advice, a lot of like plugging in learning and development theories to help individuals who oversee training or oversee employees, so that they can hopefully see I’m a subject matter expert of HR staff training and giving them little tips and nuggets and hope that they reach out for more.
Okay. So I think at a glance you know on your channel I mean definitely the videos where you’re in the video front and center giving that advice, establishing yourself as that expert it looks like, at least from a video standpoint that definitely gets the most views of the kind of videos that you’ve posted so far. I would even take that a step further and say what you’re doing there and you might already be doing it on LinkedIn. I would definitely take some of what you’re doing, if you’re not already, with Instagram as a subject matter expert and sprinkle that into the LinkedIn environment as well. You will probably get even more mileage there with those videos in LinkedIn, just as long as you have a very strong caption that draws people in, and if you’re not subtitling those videos or using a software that will generate subtitles for you, making sure you do that. I think when you do LinkedIn, though, it’ll also give you the LinkedIn version of subtitles as you’re uploading the content. It’s probably not something a ton of people are doing for who you’re targeting and in your industry, so that alone is probably going to help you start to stand out. As long as you’re still also connecting with people on LinkedIn proactively that are in the industry. It’s going to keep you top of mind in front of those people. And then with Instagram, okay, so you’ve got that kind of content. And then you’ve got the regular post you’re doing, which is kind of a I see kind of a mix of some fun stuff, kind of the mix of the media presence that you’ve been able to build up for yourself, which is awesome quotes. I could see that, yeah. So I mean there is, there is a message that’s here. I think that’s really strong in your highlights section also kind of gives some indicators into what you do. So I want to go back to what you were saying about kind of that sustainability with follower growth and like how do I get in front of the right people, get them as followers, keep them as followers and keep them engaged? What’s your approach right now for how you go out and get new followers?
It’s been a while. Okay, I think I’ve been trying to confirm what we offer.
Over a longer period of time, because I was not sure if people understood. You know, there’s the 2D animated explainer videos, which could be one minute to three minutes, and so that could be confusing. If it’s too much of that, I’m like okay, what does she mean? She can create e-learnings. How can you onboard someone with three minutes? So, not trying to saturate my feed with I do all the things, but like, let me make sure I’m pulling you in with those that I have currently. I think the part of the issue is that those individuals who are following back or who I am engaging with, that are possibly my audience. They are their social media. The person behind their pages are their social media folks. They aren’t the decision makers to purchase my services, and so I think that’s mostly the problem. Okay, and so that’s why I think I really need to spend more time on LinkedIn, because the stakeholders and decision makers are on LinkedIn.
And they’re identifiable by name, whereas it sounds like on Instagram, you’re identifying them by company, which has a gatekeeper, which is the social media person.
They don’t. They’re not there to really follow me back. They’re not there to really engage with me. So what I am going to do with LinkedIn, Instagram, is that I’m going to leverage some of my community. I know we talked about that and you mentioned that a little bit earlier. So I’m going to start blogging for a black magazine and I’m going to write in her business and leadership space and then hopefully I can be the writer for her and it’s in this volunteer, but she’s going to allow me to tag champion instructors In terms of, like, other media presence. That’s not necessarily on champion instructors. I am reaching out to change. You know, chambers that are here, local chambers, and seeing if I could raffle some of my services, like the 2D, and made an explainer video at their annual Christmas business gala and then maybe they can and asking them, could they post my business on their Instagram? Because a chamber has entrepreneurs and businesses following them. So I am like looking to use other people’s platforms.
Yeah, other people’s platforms yeah. So if, if you were saying, hey, I do want to still put some energy behind Instagram, the few areas where I would say you could think about, okay, one would be to maybe make the consideration of just focusing on one thing on Instagram and thinking about what that is. So, is it 2D explainer videos? Is that is Instagram and audience, where that makes more sense, the people you’re connecting with or is it the fully customizable e learning? And and then again, does establishing yourself as a subject matter expert in an Instagram environment? Does that make sense? Or should that again shift completely into a LinkedIn environment? But whatever that is and of course, that’s not something you need to answer at this moment but think about what if Instagram was just focused on one thing that my organization does really well and there are people on Instagram who want and need that service, yeah, and then number one. And then number two would be if you are looking to connect, yeah, I would skip connecting with companies because they yeah, they’re not going to follow back and, to your point, you’re going to have the gatekeeper if you DM them. That’s always going to be in play and sometimes those gatekeepers can be very helpful I’ve been one of the gatekeepers and and they will pass the message. But sometimes it’s useless and so it’s two fold either a you’re going directly after and you mentioned you’re targeting small and medium sized businesses. What small businesses? You can usually find who the founder is with a lot of small businesses, but it also might depend on what industry and it might be a cross reference of you being able to utilize, finding some of those people on LinkedIn and then seeing if you can find them on Instagram and reaching out there. Probably second, again second to LinkedIn, but as a another place where you can begin to forge a connection. And then I what I love that you said is again kind of going back to the idea of the offline and traditional marketing. So as you begin to work through those chambers, let’s just say, for example, you decide I’m going to focus on 2D only for Instagram, 2d explainer videos In the environment of going out and, let’s just say, you raffle off this holiday season some 2D explainer videos. Get the success stories behind that, find out how they’re using it, ask them if they’re willing to share a headshot, ask them if you could share that story in an future article for the publication you mentioned. You’re writing in in a non right death and I say that you might combine that with your expertise and maybe highlight their company, not in a self-promotional way. Definitely be careful not to cross that boundary. But you could take Something like that and find multiple ways to leverage it, but the best place to leverage it would be on your own website and on your own social media. Um, and taking that success story. And now Instagram becomes a mix of this one product, the success stories behind the product and how you help people Use that product or you know, and what you can do for them. And then you and then you kind of continue on with finding the right people and maybe, as you find them and connect with them, dming them. And maybe now you’ve got this youtube channel that’s got a little bit more on it and you send them to the playlist or the category on your channel that’s just 2d videos and say, hey, I’d love to connect with you and here’s more of my demos. Or maybe you don’t do that at all. Maybe you just ask them some questions about what their needs are before, to confirm if this is the right kind of service for them or if they needed it all and, if so, in that dm conversation you got, you have these other places where you can guide them, where you can show yeah, this is what we do. We’ve done a ton of it and we can do it for you.
Yeah, I love that.
It’s a list of stuff to think about and everything I told you realistically could take 6 to 12 months to implement. Okay, so we take baby steps and we prioritize and you take kind of. So we’ve talked about, linked in a little bit, Instagram and Youtube and even tick tock to me. Again, tick tock is not in your 12 month plan. If I were kind of helping you map out what the future looks like unless tick tock does something dramatic and drop, something dramatic that says I need to get there right away. Maybe it’s just hey Again. You might put some videos on there, but it’s not a focal point for you.
Yeah, because it already feels like I’m. I’m yes, yes, yes, yes. And that’s why I am looking into Um, the automated scheduling content software to kind of lessen me, like triple the work posting on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin and changing how it looks in the layout, like how can I use one program that tackles three of my mediums? And Seeing how that works out.
Yeah, and you mentioned that. What platforms are you using when you are pre scheduling that content, so you don’t have to be in front of it all day?
Yeah, I used Sendible in the past. Um, I had a social media coordinator who was um using it for us and I feel like the frame was not coming through Appropriately. So I need to go back and see who out of like hoop, sweet Sendible. Later, there’s another one. Yeah, which one? First priority services, Linkedin. Yeah, which one is also going to frame the Graphics or the picture? Um, to look how it needs to look on Linkedin and Instagram, because one thing I can’t stand is for Instagram to look all crazy.
So what’s next for Champion Instructors? Now you’ve been in business three years. What’s kind of what do you see on the horizon as you all continue to grow?
I am recently certified in several of those local like small business, black- owned business, woman- owned business categories for government, for the state. That’s. My next priority is to do these government bids, city bids and just learning how to um apply and sending everything in on time. I’m also planning to do like outreach. They do contracts sometimes for like one-off trainings and things like that. So building those relationships and those that present with government, county and school districts is next on my agenda.
Very cool. Well, congratulations on your growing business, Kia. Thank you so much for letting us peek behind the curtain of your business and really sharing some of the things that you know. You all are getting stronger. For everyone else. Thanks so much again for listening. Stay tuned for our upcoming episodes, both interviews with entrepreneurs and where they’re winning with online marketing, and digital marketing and social media, as well as more coaching episodes to come in the future. Bye everyone, thanks for listening. Bye, thank you.
- Sonja: 0:07