Erica McMillan is a ten-time founder and CEO, online visibility strategist, public relations, SEO, and branding expert with over 20 years of expertise. She is also a writer for both Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as a Forbes Business Council Member and Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor. Her strengths don’t only pertain to business, she is also a sought-after contemporary artist with a celebrity clientele, exclusive artist for the NewsWorthy Homes Network, and owner of CJV Fine Art Gallery.
First things first, tell us about your professional background.
Erica McMillan: I started my career in May of 2000 right out of college with McCann Erickson, now McCann, of Interpublic Group. I fell in love with all things marketing, advertising, marketing research, and especially branding. In 2005, I co-founded a full service marketing research firm where I specialized primarily in qualitative research, focus groups, IDI’s, etc. I further fell in love with really understanding a brand’s audience; their needs, their wants, their desires and how a cohesive branding and marketing campaign could effectively reach the brand’s target audience in an impactful way to create loyalty. From there I started creating my own brands and businesses as I dove deeper into the world of SEO and digital marketing. Through my experience with creating my own portfolio as a serial entrepreneur, I started to create and invent new methodologies to fast-track results to reach higher ROI numbers. I studied what was working with SEO, Facebook Ads, PPC, print ads, digital marketing, etc. and what wasn’t. It was very clear the game had changed and in order to stand out in a sea of brands and businesses that offer similar products and services, a new technique for reaching the right target, and actually making an impact powerful enough to convert from prospect to customer needed to be implemented. Over the years, I started the blueprint to create a software based on my strategy of what this new technique would be to differentiate my offerings from the competition. I invented it, I tested it on my own brands and businesses, and it worked – faster and more effectively than any other method I had used. In 2018, McMillan Method was born and let me tell you, it’s on fire. We take our clients to the top, and we take them there fast! Most recently, Done for You PR and my Publicity On Demand program was added to the McMillan Method platform. Together they are an exclusive, invitation-only triple threat digital marketing solution, calculated branding positioning online visibility strategy, and pay-per-publicity pricing model offering an all-in-one, unmatched SEO, bullseye-branding, PR, and marketing program where one chosen elite business per-niche-per-market will receive massive online exposure, celebrity-status publicity, and be recognized as the expert in their industry. With our 7-step proprietary method and unrivaled strategy, our clients quickly become the authority of their niche as we execute our well-crafted plan to differentiate them from their competition, disrupt their market, and dominate their industry. I love what I do and am so excited to have worked with hundreds of industry leaders who utilize the innovative techniques I have created in partnership with McMillan Method to experience explosive growth through online platforms while establishing themselves as authorities in their fields.
What do you do to stay relevant in the market and serve your clients?
Erica McMillan: Staying relevant requires a 360-degree approach. To establish brand stickiness, brands must be seen frequently and in multiple locations. We ensure that our clients can be found everywhere by employing a strong online presence. We also work with key influencers to support their brand and assist in telling their brand’s narrative. The idea is to identify opportunities and use our media connections coupled with our proprietary SEO strategy to leverage them in the best possible manner.
Do you have any words of wisdom for entrepreneurs trying to connect with their audiences more effectively?
Erica McMillan: Expand your skill set and pay attention to what your target audience has to say. The status quo is shifting. People are curious about the people behind the brand. They look for genuineness and openness from businesses, so tell them the values your brand represents. Personal branding, in other words, being the face of your business is the most promising way to catapult your success. Consumers want to trust, there is a gravitation towards boutique versus big-box because of the trust and connection that comes along with it. Boutique doesn’t need to mean small, but it does mean personalized. With personalized service, it is important for the brand’s leader to be the face of the business.
What is the best course of action for companies to utilize social media?
Erica McMillan: In my opinion, any business should embrace and make full use of its social media platforms for direct customer communication, where they can both have fun and maintain a consistent brand voice. Put your brand’s values and goals out there in the open. Most importantly, use social media to promote your publicity mentions and features, and then repost about it again, and again, and again. One feature in Forbes can last a lifetime of influence with regards to instant credibility and perception that you are the authority of your niche.
Tell me about the impact top-tier press has had on your client’s success.
Erica McMillan: The use of powerful press is now an integral component to any marketing and SEO campaign we do. We partner with influential media outlets to tell stories, create brand awareness plays, create collaborative projects, and form brand relationships. It’s a fantastic chance for businesses to connect with their target audience on a deeper, more personal level while receiving credibility from the outlet where they are published. The trust factor transfers from media outlet to brand or business once featured.
To what kinds of things should companies be allocating their money right now?
Erica McMillan: Many people wonder if it is better to invest in PR or advertising and I love answering this question as I often answer it with quotes from well-known successful people like Bill Gates who said ‘if I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR.’ Or Richard Branson who said ‘publicity is absolutely critical, a good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.’ Or Jean-Louis Gassee who said ‘advertising is saying you’re good, PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.’ Need I say more?
When should brands hire a publicist?
Erica McMillan: Meeting with a publicist is something that should be done as early as possible. In my opinion, every company or entrepreneur should reach out to a PR agent to start a dialogue and sow the seeds of potential business. The resources we require to be well-positioned might be time-consuming to develop. So, it is good to start early because it will take some time to get everything in order.
What are some of the prerequisites to hiring a publicist, if any?
Erica McMillan: I believe understanding your brand and knowing what you want to achieve are the only prerequisites to hiring a publicist. You should be able to sum up what your business and brand stand for. The bios we receive are usually very weak, so we normally recreate them from scratch.
What else do startup founders need to know about staying relevant and collaborating with a public relations firm?
Erica McMillan: Every entrepreneur or C-level executive wonders about how to stay relevant in today’s market at some point in their career. My ultimate piece of advice for them is to entrust difficult tasks to those who have demonstrated expertise in the field. Your public relations team can assist you in determining what information is most important to include in your messaging and your story. All you have to do is maintain open communication and sincerity inside that collaboration. That is the key to our mutual success!
Connect with Erica on LinkedIn.