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Inspiring Conversations with Cynthia Johnson of Bell + Ivy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Johnson.

Hi Cynthia, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My career started working on the platform side of social media. I worked for a live streaming social media website based in downtown LA. Through that experience, I learned marketing from the unique perspective of a content creator and a company driven primarily by user-generated content. It opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available online. Sadly, that company closed, and I went on to take a role at an SEO agency in Santa Monica. This experience is where I connected the dots between what I knew about content and social media with SEO to drive traffic and revenue for a business. After that company was acquired, I worked at a healthcare organization in a brand development position. It was like one exciting opportunity to the next that somehow all connected. During my time at this healthcare organization, I saw what I believed and still believe is the future of content, marketing, and branding, real people. So, my co-founder and I decided that the change we wished to see in marketing, we couldn’t influence from the inside, so we left and founded Bell + Ivy to do just that, employee and personal branding campaigns.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When we first started Bell + Ivy, we were told that no one would allow their employees to carry the brand message. I even had one investor tell me to “quit now” because it would never work. We took on many clients that ended up not being the right fit for us, and we made mistakes along the way. It was 2019 after I published my book, Platform: The Art and Science of Personal Branding with Penguin Random House, that everything took a turn. Walmart, the largest employer in the United States of America, called and said, “We get what you are doing, and we want it.” Well, it wasn’t so simple, but long story short, we went from people telling us that no company would ever adopt this system to running a campaign with Walmart. Our greatest challenge was waiting for the world to catch up. There were, of course, many other challenges along the way, but looking back on it, no, they all were trivial compared to the early days when most people didn’t fully grasp the potential of what we were proposing.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Bell + Ivy?
Bell + Ivy is a personal and employee branding agency. We work with companies, executives, and thought-leaders to define their message and amplify their impact by leveraging their greatest assets, themselves or their people. We have two main types of campaigns, employee brand marketing and personal branding. Our employee branding campaigns create content at scale utilizing real people from your organization as the vehicle for distribution. We use social media, PR, and content creation for these campaigns. We know that content shared by or about an employee sees much greater engagement than traditional brand content and we leverage that to create meaningful brand campaigns.

Our personal branding services are broken into two types, elite management and brand development. Our elite management services are best for executives, founders, clinicians, or any person looking to expand their business through thought-leadership opportunities. Our brand development services are just that, we have packages for brand audits, social media strategy development, personal brand website creation, and starter PR press packages. These are best for people who are in career transition, launching a new service or product, or who need a rebrand.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Understand where you are lacking or falling behind, create a persona for the person who thrives in the thing you are not great at. Next, use that persona to find someone intentionally. Then when you see the list of potential options, look for the person who has the most time. Maybe they are retired, teach in their spare time, or are very active in a group. These are the people who will give you the time needed to have a successful mentor/mentee relationship.

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Image Credits:

Shane O’Neal Studios

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