Where You Are Is Where You’ll Always Be With Courtney Rice Of Cleo



[00:00:00] Jessy: Hi everyone, and welcome to the WIIM podcast. Women in influencer marketing is a first of its kind exclusive networking group made up of inspirational women. This podcast is where we explore influencer marketing and get real about women in business. Find us wherever you download podcasts and of course you can always find us at iamwiim.com. That’s iamwiim.com.

Guys welcome back to the women in influencer marketing podcast. For those of you who are new, my name is Jessy Grossman, and I’m here to take you on a journey today. We’re gonna be talking with our guest Courtney Rice, of Cleo. She is a member favorite. In fact, when I was talking about who our next guest is gonna be, we had so many of our members chime in on our slack board and was like, I love Courtney. Courtney’s the best. She helps me with this. She was there for me for that. So she’s been such a great addition to the community. And I was so intrigued by like her story and also Cleo, which is a FinTech company. And it’s all about supporting and helping people. Not just women, but people, improve their like finances and their financial situations, um, by education.

So we talked all about how female dominated industries, such as influencer marketing, how that sort of indicates and impacts her influencer partnerships at Cleo. We talked about like her upbringing and we talked about, you know, how she even got into influencer marketing in the first place, and we also spoke about just the fact that it’s like a female dominated industry, a lot about female empowerment and like, what does actually mean anymore.

I’m sort of tired of like throwing around these phrases that have become so cliche. Cuz we just hear about them all the time. They’re like these buzz words, but it’s like, okay, female empowerment, female empowerment. Like what actually empowers you? I’ll tell you what empowers me. What empowers me is like. Really feeling like I’m moving the needle, like I’m making progress.

One of the worst things that I experience is feeling stagnant, feeling still, feeling like I’m stuck. So if I’m feeling empowered, I’m feeling like creative juices are flowing and I feel collaborative, I feel creative and I just feel like I’m making forward progress. So I asked Courtney that question, and I’m gonna ask you guys that question as we sort of transition into this, uh, interview. What actually empowers you?

So I’m gonna leave that as a question in this week’s episode, you can actually answer the question if you’re listening on Spotify. I don’t know if a lot of you know that you could do that, but I’m really into making this podcast a lot more collaborative these days. So, for example, you’ll hear in this episode, we have our members actually tune in live to the recordings and I like hearing from them in real time.

And then for those of you who couldn’t make it, or just not members of WIIM, I’m gonna be adding questions into our Spotify feed. So check that out. The question is, what actually empowers you? And so go ahead and answer that question now, or at the end of the episode, when whenever’s convenient for you, cuz I do definitely wanna hear from you.

Also, unfortunately my camera like took a nose dive in this interview so you can sit back and enjoy the audio, although we, you know, normally do have video, but Courtney’s video looks fricking fantastic. So you can also watch just to be able to like enjoy Courtney, but the unfortunate thing about producing your own show, for the most part, is that sometimes the tech goes awry. So Courtney’s fantastic. I know you’re gonna enjoy listening to her. So without further ado, enjoy this week’s episode guys.

So Courtney Rice, I’m super stoked to have you on today. We’re gonna chat about all sorts of things today, cuz you have a really interesting like career path. Cleo is super interesting. There’s quite a little to dig into, but first and foremost, thank you for coming on today. And how’s your week going?

[00:04:54] Courtney: Thank you so much for having me so far. It’s been a really good week. How’s your week going?

[00:05:00] Jessy: It’s good. It’s good. It should be a good week for you because like a little birdie told me that your birthday is this coming up weekend, right?

[00:05:09] Courtney: Yes, it is. I’m so blessed as is your daughter to have a birthday that always falls around labor day weekend. So it’s always a celebration always a day off.

[00:05:19] Jessy: Yeah. Is it like as a kid? Was it a good thing to have your birthday on a holiday weekend or not? Cause we’re experiencing this as well. Cuz Zoe’s birthday is technically Monday. We’re having a party on Sunday. It’s always labor day weekend. So do you find that people love an excuse to go to your birthday party because it’s a holiday weekend and they can make it happen, or do you find that it’s difficult, cuz you’re competing with vacations?

[00:05:50] Courtney: You know what? I have never thought found it difficult. Maybe that’s like self of resort, but um, no it’s always been great because it’s like people have off, so they have the time to come to my birthday versus I have a friend whose birthday’s July 4th. So that’s for like Christmas birthdays are difficult, but how does your daughter find it?

[00:06:09] Jessy: I mean this year is an interesting year because school hasn’t started yet, and keep in mind too, like the majority of her time, prime birthday party years, it’s like pandemic time. So this is like the first like official party that we’re throwing and school hasn’t started yet. So we’re sort of like inviting people virtually that she hasn’t been able to like invite or see in person for a few months. So anyways, we’re excited that we have a magician coming. It’s a pool party. I think the weather’s gonna hold out and be like warm. What are you doing for your birthday?

[00:06:46] Courtney: That sounds so fun by the way. Um, I am going to Santina’s, although I wish I had a magician coming to my birthday, um, Santina is like wine country in Santa Barbara. So we’re going to go wine tasting for the day and maybe make some stops in Santa Barbara. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m really excited.

[00:07:04] Jessy: That’s so nice. I gotta learn all about different parts of California and like wine country and, I don’t know, I was telling you earlier. I was like every single time I go to LA, no matter how many times I go, I’m such a tourist. Do you ever get out to New York? Like, do you feel like you know your way around here?

[00:07:22] Courtney: I absolutely not. I’ve been to New York twice. And I like to visit. It’s super overwhelming. And like, every time I go, I feel like the city just rapidly changes like faster than LA. Like every time you go, there’s new restaurants, there’s new things to do that. I’m hoping to go to New York next spring for a wedding.

[00:07:41] Jessy: Aww, definitely come the spring is the nicest time don’t come in the winter, spare yourself. Oh my gosh, spring time is gonna be beautiful. Well, I will help you when you come to New York, I would love for your like recommendations, when I go to LA we’re, you know, we gotta help each other out, right? So before we like get into more about Cleo, which I’m like fascinated by, you all have a great website, by the way, I was checking it out earlier.

So cool. If anyone hasn’t visited the website, the mouse like changes, it’s hard to explain. It’s a really, really cool website. I’ve never quite seen a website like that before, so shout out to your web designer, but, before we get into, you know, stuff about Cleo and just like influencer marketing broadly, I kinda wanna hear more about you.

I think it’s so important to hear more about the past, not the present and sort of like get a sense of what influenced you into a career in influencer marketing. So could you tell us a little bit about that, your upbringing?

[00:08:48] Courtney: Definitely, I’ve always loved working with talent and influencers are talent, their creators, their talent, and it goes back to college before social media was truly a thing.

When I went to college, it was a lot. The top websites, I think initially were my space. So I’m aging myself, but MySpace, Facebook, and then gradually I think like in my senior year of college, that’s when Instagram started to come into the picture. Like if you scroll back on my Instagram feed, it’s like the awful grainy photos that original Instagram was.

But in college I worked an internship at Sony music so I loved being around talent. And then when I graduated, that kind of shifted into me working as a personal assistant for an NBA player, Baron Davis. And again, like I just loved being in the proximity of talent and working in that world and then also working with an NBA player, of course, this is when an Instagram marketing really started or influencer marketing really started to take off, where he was being sent packages to promote, and it’s just kind of how I stumbled into this world of influencer marketing. And then, you know, from there, I worked at a PR firm called Harmonica, which I met Molly Myerson, who was one of the WIIM memberships.

And then I worked at a law firm, so I really started to understand legal and business, then transitioned into a startup where I did everything, really, like I did influencer marketing. I did social media marketing, product marketing. So all the pieces just kind of fit together, and I started to realize that out of all aspects of marketing, that influencer was my favorite because I found it the most relatable in terms of marketing. Because for instance, finance, Cleo, that’s where I am now.

Like I felt it was so powerful to see someone who looked like you, a woman, a person of color talking about something ’cause it’s so much more powerful than seeing an ad that where maybe a model is selling something to you who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t come from your background. So, yeah.

[00:10:57] Jessy: Do you find that it was always relatable though? And like, do you want it to still be more relatable? Has it gotten better worse over time? Like, I appreciate the relatability factor, but you know, let’s be real, like how has that sort of been over time for you since it’s something that’s important to you and what attracted, you know, you to it in the first place?

[00:11:20] Courtney: Definitely, I do agree with you that it hasn’t always been relatable. I think, I’m a huge proponent for TikTok. I love TikTok. And I think with this sort of the pandemic and like the evolution of TikTok coming into the picture, it kind of got rid of the whole like glossy, Instagram image before.

Like before TikTok, I don’t know if I would’ve gone into influencer marketing because everything was so perfected on Instagram. Even now people are using filters. You don’t know if somebody really looks like that. Whereas I think being authentic is more encouraged on TikTok and I think Instagram and other platforms have kind of taken notice. I also think it’s like Gen Z as well. It’s a whole new generation where maybe millennials, which I am a millennial. We love like the curated, perfect look that maybe wasn’t so attainable, but gen Z is here for like dropping all pretense.

[00:12:16] Jessy: Yeah, no, I, I appreciate that a lot. How do you feel about, you know, Tik Tok’s like huge impact and influence on our space? Like if you could make any predictions in terms of where TikTok might be going or where relatability in terms of influencer marketing is going, whether things are gonna be more relatable, more aspirational air towards continuing what TikTok has created this buzz around. What would you predict?

[00:12:50] Courtney: Oh, this is a hard one. There’s good things about TikTok and there’s bad things about TikTok. The good is that it encourages this sort of transparency, the bad is that because, anyone can go viral at any second, truly, your following doesn’t really matter in regards to how the algorithm works. So I think this is one of the things that is in the space that we’re really gonna want to watch out for is building like an authentic base of followers, like having, instead of it just being a vanity metric, how does this matter?

Whereas on Instagram, it’s much harder to build a following and like the algorithm makes no sense anymore. It’s hard to keep up with the changes that we see daily. So I think that is like one thing is the transparency we’d like to see. And then the second is kind of like the cautionary thing is like building a following that’s authentic, and that makes sense for marketers to want to work with influencers.

[00:13:46] Jessy: Totally. I would hear more about Cleo because I’m fascinated by what you are doing and what you’re working on and like what Cleo’s all about. I don’t even wanna get much into it. I wanna hear in your words, like tell us more about Cleo and how you guys work with influencers.

[00:14:02] Courtney: Of course. So I’ll just give you a brief intro for those who don’t know Cleo, we are a money app and we believe in speaking to people very direct. Um, one of our selling features is this roast feature and it’s playful. Like you log in, you connect your bank account and Cleo, our chat bot will just kind of like playfully roast you.

It’ll tell you why have you gone to Amazon so much quit giving Jeff Bezos your money. So that’s like the one selling point is that we want finance to be relatable. We want you to speak about finance. There’s so much shame and speaking about money and we don’t want that. So that’s why, you know, we say like big CIS energy.

We wanna make it playful. We want you to laugh that, yeah, maybe you should have stayed out of target. Um, learn from your mistakes and keep it moving. So I was super excited to join Cleo and build out their influencer team. So when we work with influencers, we’re constantly working with like a wide range of influencers.

We want our influencers to be diverse. We want them to be relatable. And we also work with influencers who maybe aren’t so relatable because we want the whole, I don’t know what the word I’m looking for is, but we want everybody represented. So we want you to look at an influencer who maybe has income that we don’t see, who are making more money than us and be like they spent what that year, or also look at the college student who just moved into her dorm and, is upset that she, you know, spent too much getting dorm supplies at Target. So, you know, that’s one of the things that we really focus on and we work with them in a variety of ways, mainly just promoting the product. But we have people talk about different features, like roast our roast mode, which I just told you about.

How Cleo can help you budget, help you save. We also work with them to talk about our hype feature, which is I told you about roast, but we also have the hype feature for when you just need encouragement. Cleo will be there, like rooting you on. So yeah.

[00:16:02] Jessy: I love it. It’s like, Cleo’s like your aunt or your best friend, or, you know, I don’t know, like someone who’s gonna encourage you, but also be like real, you know, um, So cool. I love that your company has such a clearly defined tone and it makes it really approachable and fun. And you know, that hopefully, and I assume would break down the intimidation walls a little bit about talking about money and finances and things, which I think is so interesting. So like, who’s your ideal influencer? If you have one or do you guys really work with, you know, you capture lots of different demographics.

[00:16:42] Courtney: We capture lots of different demographics. So I don’t know if there’s like an ideal influencer, but I would say there’s like a type of influencer that we love. Like we love big personalities. Cleo is a big personality. We realize that not all of our users have big personalities though. I’m not a big personality. So it really is like trying to work with lots of different people. One of our favorite influencers that we’ve worked with. I feel like I’m going to mess up her last name, but I actually found her through WIIM is, um, Kennedy Yurich.

She’s great. We love her. She has a big personality. Her audience relates to her so much. And her transparency to talk about her finances and her background of like how she hasn’t always been an influencer. You know, she was serving ice cream in the middle of nowhere, Midwest like myself.

I grew up working at an ice cream shop. So I think that is key when we work with influencers. Is that like, maybe you’re at a position in your life that many can’t relate to you right now, but can you draw upon your past experiences where people can relate. And I think that’s what makes the best influencers for us.

[00:17:49] Jessy: I mean, I think so interesting because your company does such a great job in establishing your tone and your personality.

And so it’s like, I don’t know, it’s to find the ideal influencer that could do very similar, very good storyteller and, you know, good at capturing attention and things like that. I mean, you guys are able to do it so well, so it makes sense that that’s who you guys would be attracted to. I mean, you spoke briefly about like finding an influencer through whim, which is fantastic. I’m so glad that we are able to do that for you. What are other ways in which you find search and discover great influencers to work with?

[00:18:28] Courtney: Definitely, so I know a lot of people love to use tools. It’s been like such a pain point for us all year. And I love that whim constantly. Like that’s a constant thread going on in WIIM and there’s also demos for us to watch, but personally, the best way I’ve found the influencers outside of WIIM, which has been such a great resource, has just been to search organically.

I feel like when you start using tools to search. It complicates things, not all of the influencers are there and we’ve used some of the best tools. I’m not slamming on tools, but I genuinely think that the best way to find influencers is to maybe spend an hour a day, you know, searching. We’d love to search hashtags, like big CIS energy who is using big CIS energy, who is doing roast of their own, that are playful comedy.

I search through hashtags. I love to try to find influencers as organically as possible, because that is how our users are using TikTok. They’re using it organically and sometimes platforms don’t pick up people who we would want to work with.

[00:19:31] Jessy: A hundred percent. And like, I find that most people’s answer to that question, if they’ve been doing it long enough, is like they’re using multiple different tools or tactics and strategies and stuff. And everyone’s ideal influencer is different. Some are easier to find on the platforms and some of them are not at all. Like perfect example, I had someone who was looking recently for LinkedIn influencers, and I assumed that the platforms, the well known ones could handle that.

And you could search for LinkedIn influencers, you know, they’re looking for people in business who have a lot of credibility and influence and LinkedIn seemed perfect. And I don’t know of any of them that have the ability to search for LinkedIn content creators. So that was interesting. And, you know, I don’t know, there’s been a lot of conversations lately also about, you know, you wanna reward great behavior. Meaning if you work with an influencer once and they’re professional and they create great content and they like are a dream to work with, you wanna reward that by hiring them again, which it’s like hard stop. I agree with that.

But you also wanna give new people a chance and you wanna explore and see if the new crop of influencers are propping up all the time and, you know, you wanna see what they can do and what they’re all about. So I think that, I mean, not that you need my approval, but it seems as if you’re spot on with what you’re doing in terms of like how you’re finding influencers, and those are really great places to look, so I can appreciate that. I have a question. So like we work in such a female dominated industry. I mean, you know, whim. Empowering women. And beyond that, even like on the influencer side, you know, there are a lot more female influencers than male influencers and it has been like that over time. How think that impacts your influencer partnerships at Cleo?

[00:21:36] Courtney: It definitely impacts our influencer partnerships and to be completely transparent, I’d probably say 75% of them are female, but it’s something we’re completely aware of and constantly trying to change because it’s not only women who need help with finances, it’s meant too at all stages of their lives. That’s one of the things that I love about Cleo is that we always say that like Cleo meets you where you are in your life. So, honestly, like at the moment it is majority female but we are constantly trying to make sure that we have a very diverse roster of influencers, and also it just gets hard sometimes to find the perfect male influencer to partner with but we are working on that.

[00:22:18] Jessy: Interesting. How are you guys working on that? Like what, is there anything specific that you’re doing to like, cause like it could be men, it could be, you know, God we’re like really trying to find people. I don’t know who are parents or whatever category it is, but you’re really struggling to find the key people. I’m sure a lot of people listening and watching can relate to that. They’re like, dang, like I know this person has to be out there, but like I’m really struggling. What do you do when you’re really struggling with something like that, to be able to like work through it and find who you’re looking for?

[00:22:51] Courtney: Definitely, so I think one of the, the easiest ways is probably putting and casting out through WIIM to say, like, we are specifically looking for male heavy or like male influencers. And also at this point of being at Cleo, I’ve built a lot of relationships with agents through a variety of ways, some who I’ve met through WIIM and asking when they send over their roster.

Because a lot of the times when you ask for roster, like you get their whole roster, but we’ll ask, like, let us know if there’s any standout people and the standout, you might get 20 names and two are men. So I think it’s going back to the agents and also saying like, Hey, like we’re really looking for Mo more male partnerships.

Are there any male talent on your team who you can flag? Which I’ve done quite a few times. And when I do this, I then get names back from the agents over male, who they think would be a good fit for Cleo.

[00:23:43] Jessy: Yeah, definitely. So like befriending talent managers, it’s definitely like a tactic, you know, they’re gonna also provide you with like really vetted talent as well, which is great. And friending talent managers listening, you know, definitely befriend Courtney, cuz she really respects that relationship. But also what I’m hearing you say is like, Men are difficult to find, or like, you know, different categories that are a little bit more of a challenge. So if you have those people or you don’t have those people, you should go after those people.

Because like, since they’re a little bit more of a challenge to find, I’m sure if you found them, you’d be like, oh, sold. It’s not even like that much of a rigmarole. I’m not even gonna find maybe like couple backups, like this person’s difficult to find so like, I’m just gonna lock it in. So that’s awesome to know, you know, we’re talking a little bit about, we’re talking a little bit about like female empowerment.

We’re talking about like that we’re a pretty female dominated industry and of course it’s, you know, WIIM is women in influencer marketing and like part of our mission is always like, empowering women lifting them up. I mean, that’s so much of why I’m like really, really fascinated by what Cleo does, because my goal for like all of our members is to just feel more financially literate, to feel more financially empowered.

And of course it’s related to our members. You could argue like, well, it’s influencer marketing. What does it have to do with finances? This is our career and like, we should be making good money for it. And, and maybe we have side hustles and whatever it is, it’s all related to finances because in my opinion, like just having more money and more abundance financially just opens up options in your life and you can, you know, use all that to buy a mansion or you could donate it all. It’s totally up to you. But having that financial literacy to be able to like build generational wealth, to be able to feel more comfortable with money, like that’s empowering. So, you know, we’re talking about female empowerment. I’m curious, like what empowers you really, truly?

[00:25:45] Courtney: That is such a good question. Um, I think what empowers me, I know this is gonna sound so hippy dippy, but is really like empowering other people. Like I love to learn something and then teach someone else that empowers me so much. Like for instance, we’re talking about financial literacy. I honestly, within the past two years just started to grasp the importance of being financially literate. Why money is so important. And now what empowers me is to be able to tell other people, I was just having a conversation with a women member and we were discussing job roles and what she should be asking for and I was like, no, absolutely not. You’re not asking for that salary. You could get this. And that is empowering for me to then see somebody else have that like revelation.

[00:26:32] Jessy: A hundred percent. I’m like, it doesn’t do that for everybody. I can totally relate to you. And like, I love that you have that. So like, okay, so you empower someone else and that makes you feel empowered. So like, what do you then do with that? Like what areas of your life do you wanna sort of like really focus on uplifting and improving yourself on?

[00:26:55] Courtney: Definitely. I think one of the big thing is just paying it forward is like, as I just said, like that empowers me, but then. One of the big areas of my life that like I want to focus on is just like empowering other women.

Because I know for instance, like in my job search, initially, making this transition full time into influencer marketing was so difficult ’cause I just didn’t know how to talk about myself, how to how myself up maybe like men do. So now that I understand that aspect of interviewing, I want to help other women, like it makes me feel good and fulfilled to do that for other women.

[00:27:33] Jessy: I would love to dig into that a little bit. So you went on this journey, you know, transitioning full time, working influencer marketing and struggling, maybe a little bit with like the interview process, like, which is a whole separate thing. Like you could be the most qualified candidate. You can be brilliant, you can be so spot on for the role, but like maybe you get nervous in an interview or maybe you just don’t know how to sell yourself like you need to, or should to impress the person that you need to impress in the interview process. It’s like taking the SATs, man.

I don’t know about you, but like I took the SATs three times. I think I took the A C T a bunch of times. This was back in the day. We’re both millennials. So probably around the same age.

[00:28:18] Courtney: Yeah.

[00:28:18] Jessy: Where, like, it was on a 1600 scale. And like, I think my highest SAT was probably like 11, something like I never did well, and I took classes the whole nine. The point being is that like, you work really hard at something and, and sometimes it’s just not your thing. So you go into, but it’s a necessary evil to get into college, an interview is a necessary evil to get a job. So tell us like what that journey was sort of like for you, because you ended up landing this great role, but what were the areas that you struggled with a bit and like, how did you overcome them?

[00:28:55] Courtney: Definitely. So first I just wanna say you gave me PTSD with all the, A C T and SAT. I’m like shaking. But anyways, one of my struggle points was really just talking about my experience in a way that recruiters understood. Because oftentimes, maybe not often, but I’d say 50 50, sometimes recruiters are just reading off a list.

They’re not influencer marketers. So like you can be telling them these things that actually, if you were speaking to someone who wasn’t influencer marketer, they might be able to connect the dots. But when you’re speaking to a recruiter. They’ve spoken to someone who said, okay, I need somebody with this experience.

I need somebody who’s worked with an influencer marketing software. I need someone who’s done this many campaign management. I need someone who has worked with a budget of this a month. So they’re just kind of like going through the checklist. So I think it’s really like the biggest thing is getting past this initial screening and learning how you can talk about your experience in a way that’s relevant.

That makes it make sense for the recruiters. And I think I really struggled with that. Cause I had all this great experience working for an NBA player. I had worked at Sony music in college, in the PR department. You know, I had run social media accounts. I had run influencer marketing campaigns, but it was just so all over the place that I had trouble really like narrowing it down and making it make sense for recruiters.

[00:30:21] Jessy: That’s really good advice. I really hope that people listening, who might be looking for a role are listening to that. That’s really, really great advice. I’m curious. So then you make the transition successfully into influencer marketing, full time. You’re looking for this awesome company Cleo, but I personally think that like influencer marketing isn’t necessarily right for every company and for every brand, it could be a really powerful thing when it is though. So I’m curious, like how would you say that influencer marketing, or why would you say influencer marketing is more powerful than other like advertising and marketing strategies? And who would you say that it’s proper for?

[00:31:07] Courtney: Definitely. I mean, I think it can be utilized in so many different ways, but I think influencer marketing is so much more powerful than other forms of marketing because when someone who looks like you, maybe talks like you, has the same background as you, is now telling you about a product, and they’re a good fit for the brand, not just anybody, you want to go get this product now. And at Cleo, you know, we look at our marketing as all like a part of, you know, one big funnel, whereas maybe somebody clicked on a Facebook ad. They didn’t download the app, but then they saw the influencer and all of a sudden it’s like, all of it comes together.

So I think influencer marketing is really important piece of a marketing funnel because it gives this sort of authenticity to your brand. And then, I mean, I think sometimes it depends. I’ve like spoken so many times with people over, like when influencer marketing isn’t right. I think it might be product-based, honestly. I can’t think of a product off the top of my head that might not be a good fit for influencer marketing, but yeah, I think that’s the best, but like, for instance, I just saw like notion has influencer marketing I’m so like amazed when I see certain companies like Asana, Dropbox, these companies who have influencer marketing departments, because I’m like, oh, how are you using influencer marketing? But I then, you know, that’s the power of influencer marketing that it can be used so many different ways.

[00:32:33] Jessy: Totally. You know, that sort of goes back a little bit to what we were talking about before. I don’t know. Is there like a LinkedIn influencer that’s great for that, or TikTok is freaking phenomenal for so many different reasons because there’s such a misnomer still to some people that like TikTok is all like dance videos for like Gen X and that could not be further from the truth, as you know, you’re on TikTok a lot.

So like, when I think of a company, you know, like a notion or like a, like a more business platform, like Dropbox, let’s say, oh my God, you could find any type of influencer, that would be awesome on TikTok and people are just so creative on there too. So, yeah. It’s so cool to see. Do you ever boost the content as well? Like, or do you just do things organically with influencers?

[00:33:23] Courtney: We do things organically with influencers and that’s worked really well for us.

[00:33:28] Jessy: Interesting. So is that something that’s like on the roadmap or it’s sort of been like a strategic choice to not put any like paid social behind the content that you’ve created?

[00:33:38] Courtney: Actually that’s on the roadmap. So I’ve been at Cleo since January and really it was diving in and creating, like building out this whole department, building out an influencer department from nothing. Um, because previously they had partnered with agencies. So as we’re like getting into the end of the year, that is something we’re going to explore, and also like having our paid department, which is a different department using like assets from influencers to then like run paid ads, but then also like boosting and whitelisting as well for us.

[00:34:11] Jessy: So interesting. I’d be curious to see how that goes for you. So we’ll probably have to have like a, a part two. To hear how that’s going when you guys do it, how do you guys decide, like, what is on your roadmap when you are, you know, creating and building a department from scratch?

[00:34:30] Courtney: Definitely. I mean, I think at first with any startup or building out anything, it’s a little hectic because you’re doing the most basic stuff that just isn’t there. For instance, like a contract template, building out your brief template, you know, keeping track of all of the partnerships. So that is like first priority, but then once you get down, you know, the basics that can help you running smoothly month to month it’s then really just sitting down like every term and talking about like goals, looking at what’s happening in the space and determining what we’d like to do next.

So like something I’m really excited about, like, which is a strategic thing, is like we’re sending out PR mailers and you know, that’s not common for a finance company. So we’re really excited to do that, but that comes into like one of our big pillars of like relationship building. We want this to be beneficial to the influencer and ourselves, and, you know, sending out PR mailers to influencers who we’ve continuously worked with, or just really enjoyed the experience to build this relationship and keep partnering with each other for the future.

Also looking at different platforms. Like we we’ve been very TikTok heavy, but notice like sat back and noticed that YouTube is also a platform that does very well for us. But, you know, we have been so head to stand on work that it took us some time to realize. So I think it’s good to have these sort of like breaks every so often to look and see what has been working and what you’d like to work on in the upcoming term or quarter, depending on your business.

[00:36:04] Jessy: Oh, that’s so interesting. Not people talk about YouTube much anymore, which I think is crazy because it’s such a powerful search engine, it’s literally owned by Google and it’s such a great opportunity to have evergreen content that really like lives on and has legs far beyond what like a TikTok video would have.

It’s like kind of the opposite of TikTok and they’re getting so much more into podcasts now, I don’t know if you’ve heard that in the past, like week or so. They’re getting into podcasts. They’re like, they’ve been into podcasts, but they’re sort of like formalizing it now, you know, YouTube shorts is something that they’re really focused heavily on. So I’d love to hear your experience a little bit more about YouTube. Like when it has worked for you guys, like how has it been successful?

[00:36:53] Courtney: Definitely. I think it took us some time to realize that it was successful because we were so doubled down on short form content that we had to take a step back and, you know, one of our like company brand pillars is like iterate with data. So we’re constantly like our influencer team is constantly looking at spreadsheets charts. And I think it was just overlooked that we had been doing a few YouTube partnerships a month, but then we took a step back and. We were amazed that these partnerships that we were doing had such impact.

And like you said, it’s evergreen. So when we look, take a look back at the year, we can look at a chart and see like, oh, wow, okay, there was some, there was some traction in January and then there’s more in February and then there’s more in March. So you really see like the impact that YouTube has.

[00:37:44] Jessy: I definitely have, um, I’ve seen really, really cool partnerships on there. You know, it’s interesting. All I’m gonna ask you the question, everyone consumes content differently, and everybody sort of has like a platform of choice. And I think that it’s determined in a number of different ways, but like mostly it’s just your roots and like what you enjoyed as a kid, you know? So like for me, like I watch YouTube like I would watch TV. It’s sort of like a only in the past like few years that I’ve been doing that, but I pay for YouTube, I don’t have ads, like I really watch it and have people that I follow and watch very consistently. I watch podcasts on there. All sorts of stuff. I love TikTok because it’s just such like immediate gratification.

The algorithm is like so strong that it really serves me people that I love. And then like, I don’t know, man, Instagram, like I wonder if I wasn’t in the industry that I was in, if I would be on Instagram, as much as I am. I’m on it a lot but I find that I love video content so much more, and of course there’s like Instagram reels, but I don’t know. I think the video content on them, some of the platforms is just better for some reason, or the algorithm is just more in favor of what I like. I’m curious for you, like, what are some of your go to favorite channels? Just personally, like work aside?

[00:39:15] Courtney: This is so funny. Cause I feel like I’m on all of them. For instance, YouTube, if I want to learn something like I remember this is kind of silly, but not, I remember opening up a Roth IRA and it was so confusing. Like I would see all these things on Instagram, like, oh, put this money and you’re gonna have a million dollars in 30 years. Yeah. But there’s more to it than that.

There’s more steps than that. So like, when I really want to learn something, I’ll go to YouTube. So if it’s like setting up a retirement account, YouTube is great for things like that or when I go on trips, I just went to Canada earlier this year, I would watch me and my boyfriend would sit down at dinner and we’d watch like 20 minute videos on the location we’re going to. I love to consume content like that on YouTube. Like how to, or like visiting places. But then I also love Pinterest. I love to like, look for itineraries and things like that on Pinterest. But one thing that’s funny is the short from content on TikTok is starting to replace how I use Pinterest.

So now, if I don’t wanna read through a blog, I’ll go, I’ll search the same thing on TikTok, which is interesting because I’ve seen several articles saying that. Gen Z is now using TikTok, how millennials and older generations would use Google, which is so interesting because it is a great TikTok is a great platform for, you know, searching things.

So now if I’m like going on vacation, I’ll search the location and it’s great where I can like go watch, find a video and get like five recommendations and then at the end of the video, I can screenshot, all of the recommendations. I also really like Instagram. Like, I love it all. I would probably say Instagram is the platform that I’m on the most.

I love like keeping up with friends that way, but also I really like reels and I love like finance. Like of course I work in finance, but I love finance influencers. And I find that I like the content they put out a lot more on Instagram reels.

[00:41:15] Jessy: Interesting. What do you think it is about Instagram reels and finance influencers? Like what have you seen? Are they just more creative? Is it like, why is it so good?

[00:41:24] Courtney: You know, I’m not sure, but because I’ve had to interact with finance influencers, working in finance, a lot of them say that, like, they find that just like they can’t build an audience on TikTok that people on TikTok don’t want to consume finance like they do on Instagram, so there are popular TikTokers who do finance, but I guess when it comes to like building a community and like getting people on their newsletter, mailing list, things like that, I think that they just do better on Instagram. So I think sometimes they just put more content on Instagram because that’s where they feel that they’re growing.

[00:42:01] Jessy: Yeah. And they’re like getting the most traction. It totally makes sense. That’s so interesting. I’m so fascinated by that. Like, so if for anyone who’s listened to this show before this podcast, like I’ve been so transparent that like one of my weakest areas is finances. I just like, I’m a theater major.

I never really took classes that helped me in finance and business, and it’s like a very newly found, I wouldn’t say passion, but interest, is just like being more financially literate. So I’m obsessed with Cleo and the work that you’re doing. I think it’s so cool that you guys are focused and have a whole, you know, department working with influencers because there’s such a huge opportunity there because it’s so female dominated because, you know, we can put out content that educates in like a creative interesting, cool way. I think it’s so good, what you guys are doing.

So my last question for you for today, I’m so curious. If you could tell your younger self something that would, you know, really help you learn something that you learned later on, but help your younger self, what piece of advice would you give?

[00:43:25] Courtney: I think I would give the advice that you’re capable of doing whatever you want. Like don’t feel boxed in. I think throughout my entire career of working, I felt a little boxed in, and I think recently I have learned to like draw upon experiences, better, be able to like articulate my background better to be able to shift if I want to, for instance, like right out of college, I started nannying and there’s a point now looking back, it’s like funny, cuz I was so young, but like I think I nannied for like four or five years after college, but there was a point where I was like, I’m always going to be a nanny. I messed up. Like I should have been doing something else where it’s like, no, you were a nanny for this amount of time and you loved it. And you loved working with children and you have transferable skills which led into being a personal assistant, which led into be an executive assistant, which led into operations and marketing. So I think that is like the advice I’d give myself that like where you are, isn’t where you’ll always be. And that if you’d like to make a change, you can.

[00:44:24] Jessy: I love that so much. And you know, you can always go back to other things. That’s such an empowering message. So I really appreciate that. I hope that everyone listening here’s that. And takes it to heart. We are going to link in our show notes, the ways, the best ways to get in touch with you, because I have a feeling a lot of our members would like to, but you’re also part of WIIM. So like please feel free to get in touch with Courtney through WIIM. It’s been such a pleasure having you on today, so appreciate you taking me up on my invitation to come on.

And is there anything that you wanna leave our audience with before we head out?

[00:45:02] Courtney: Just thank you for listening and feel free to reach out. Like, I feel so passionate about helping women get jobs that they want. So if you are having trouble interviewing, or if you think your resume might need to be looked over, please reach out. I’m so happy to do it.

[00:45:17] Jessy: That’s so generous so take her up on that offer. Courtney, you’re awesome. Thank you so much for coming on today and everyone’s tuning in. We will see you next week. Bye guys.


Influencer Lead, CLEO

Courtney Rice has worked with talent and influencers for the past 10 years. She is currently the Influencer Lead at Cleo, a fintech company that makes finance accessible, and has helped build out their influencer program.

Courtney lives in Los Angeles. When Courtney isn’t working hard at Cleo, you’ll find her enjoying hiking, peloton, guitar, and drive-in movies.

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