Allow us to bridge the gap to Annie.
Annie is a marketing consultant and brand consultant that comes from a long line of trail blazers.
In 2017, she started her marketing consulting business The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy .
She is a proud daughter to the motivational speaking legend Kathleen Passanisi, a father who is a retired business strategist, a loving granddaughter to her grandparents who was a writer and legendary used car salesman Fred “Berfle” Keller.
“So doing the work seems kind of obvious”, Annie explained to Culture Fuzz.
“But it took a lot of wandering to get here. I was a musical theatre major who stumbled from a reception desk into a marketing career with a 5 year detour into software.”
Annie lives in Chicago with her husband Ryan, who she claims is basically a hobbit, her dog Ziggy Starpug and cats Warby and Tifa.
“I have a deep love for Angela Lansbury and Cheez-Its, and collect weird musical instruments.”, Annie writes.
What is a Marketing Consultant and Brand Consultant?
A marketing consultant’s scope of work, in general, is to assess current marketing trends while making suggestions for improvements, implement marketing campaigns, and propose new content methods or workflows to broaden a companies’ reach.
“I had been doing marketing consulting and branding consulting for a long, long time under the business name/title The Idea Doula, which I really loved… until I just didn’t anymore,” Annie explains.
“I realized that if self-employed folks didn’t learn to love selling, all the other work they do would basically be pointless.”
Why is Hiring a Marketing Consultant Important?
“The flash of the 80’s and 90s corner office started to fade when Google and their scooters came onto the scene, but the internet also made new forms of independence possible” – Annie
“So, books like The Art of Non-Conformity, The Desire Map and The 4 Hour Work Week paved the way as everyone decided to jump the ship of their jobs and go out on their own,” describes Annie.
As a result of the exploding coaching industry, massive amounts of marketing consultants and brand consultants came along with it.
As a marketing consultant, Annie has watched person after person agonize over their small business for years, only to ultimately pack up the dream and return to the workforce.
“I couldn’t understand why all their hard work just hadn’t paid off as they had deserved and expected.” Annie pondered.
Then, as someone who understands the marketing consulting industry, Annie P. Ruggles discovered a trend.
“Know, Like Trust” is hugely marketed to coaches, healers, helpers and other relationship-based providers, but it’s largely misunderstood as “make the client like you and BAM they’ll pay you.” exclaimed Annie.
As an empathetic marketing consultant, Annie P. Ruggles understood this mix of ingredients was missing a final step.
Asking for the sale!
The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy
“The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy exists to embolden do-gooders like these to sell in a way that feels aligned with their values and personality,” Annie pitched.
As a smaller marketing consultant and brand consultant, Annie wants her clients to be able to compete in their markets without compromising their integrity or introversion.
As a kid, Annie would cry when she’d see “going out of business” signs in windows and it didn’t matter if she’s ever been to them or not.
“It didn’t matter,” she told Culture Fuzz.
“To my mind, that was a dream dying. I carry that feeling with me now and I’m determined to help as many small businesses survive as humanly possible.
I felt that way before COVID-19 and now, it’s a full-on quest.” Annie noted.
Annie’s approach towards teaching empaths how to sell is a breath of fresh air amidst the wild-wild-west-like approach of other selling coaches.
How To Succeed at Being a Marketing Consultant
The online coaching community has grown and it has grown fast, making the industry extremely competitive and oversaturated.
So, how do you know which marketing consultant will be tailored enough for your brand and message, especially when a lot of time went into carving that message out?
It takes empathy to understand not only yourself but other people which the marketing consulting industry, as a whole, appears to lack in a big way.
If you’re anything like the team here at Culture Fuzz then you know the “aggressive salesman” approach is not our favorite method when it comes to networking and selling online.
Coming across The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy confirmed that we are definitely not alone and it’s 100% possible to make genuine connections with people without making them feel like you’re only in it for the profit.
The idea of selling doesn’t have to require channeling in the spirits of Wolf of Wall Street, nor carry a tone reminiscent of Jerry McGuire’s “show me the money”.
The almost fairy tale idea of being a ‘genuine empathetic salesman’ is finally made real with Annie’s amazing online course.
Here’s a link to some introductory videos about the course presented by the brilliant empathetic saleswoman herself.
Annie’s approach towards being a marketing and branding consultant for your growing business is to eliminate the unnecessary pressures and expectations of selling while allowing your true and authentic self to take the driver seat.
The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy proves it.
Heck, it’s right in the name!
Culture Fuzz Remaining Interview Questions
CF: What finally made you start your company? Describe that ‘epiphany’ moment when you decided to just go for it.
Annie: I was laid off (while vacationing in Texas and massively hungover) on New Year’s Day 2017. I had been running my own stuff on the side for years but would never fully commit. I’m grateful for my time in software and all it taught me, but it always felt like a detour. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with another five years here or there as I continued to grow, so I dove in head-first instead.
CF: Who or what in your life inspires you the most? What’s one thing you learned from that person or situation that you still use to this day?
Annie: I draw constant inspiration from the success of my parents and ancestors, I marvel at my husband as he shoots skyward on the corporate ladder. If I had to pick just one lesson, it would be “better to be an asshole than a chickenshit”, spoken by my mentor, Sheldon Patinkin.
Sheldon was a giant of the Chicago theatre community and comedy scene. Also, just the coolest, most genuine person. I have to summon up a lot of gumption to do the work I do. I get anxious about it all the damn time.
But Sheldon’s words emboldened me and thickened my skin. I think of him/them often when I push the send button on huge email announcements and when I sit down to record my courses.
CF: Culture Fuzz has interviewed a lot of people finding one major thing in common. Overcoming obstacles. What type of obstacles have you faced? What steps did you take to overcome them? What advice would you give to those who become stuck?
Annie: Entrepreneurship is freaking hard. I am a privileged, middle class, cisgender, married white woman in a major metropolitan area in the US and it’s still nauseating and brutal and joy-killing and overwhelming at times.
The necessary level of self awareness, self-reliance and fortitude doesn’t come easily. But what I’d say to others who get stuck with their businesses is that it’s not you – it’s the landscape and the nature of self-employment. It’s a rollercoaster and the highs are totally worth it, but the lows will come and will require the very best of you.
Be kind to yourself. Celebrate each and every win as it comes.
CF: Why is your company important to you? What is your WHY? What is the burning motivation that inspires you to work endlessly on your company?
Annie: I am the only person I know who can teach what I teach and reach who I reach like I can. If not me, who?
CF: How is your company adding value to people? What do you want customers to take away from your company? What do you want them to experience?
Annie: I want them to experience success and fulfillment by making sales and creating a reliable, legitimate income. I want their dreams to come true in the form of clients and testimonials and referrals and opportunities lined up around the block.
I want them to sleep peacefully at night knowing they made a difference for someone that day (and got paid for it.)
CF: What do we have to look forward to from you and The Sleazy Sales Academy? Is there a five year plan? What’s next?
Annie: 2021 is going to be nuts for me, in beautiful ways. I’m launching my podcast, Too Legitimate to Quit: Instantly Actionable Small Business Tips Through Pop Culture Lens and finishing up my first full-length, single-author book, You Are Not a Non-Profit.
CF: How are you bridging the gap with what you’re doing? What does Culture Fuzz mean to you?
Annie: I believe that connections and opportunities are the most sacred currencies for small businesses. For me, bridging the gap means sharing what comes my way with others and teaching them how to create even more for themselves and those that follow in their footsteps.
CF: What are three things you discovered about yourself while building your platform? Which one of those things surprised you the most and why?
Annie: I love spreadsheets now. I have no idea how that happened or when but it baffles me. I am a packrat who has to write everything on paper, so the fact that I’ve fallen for tiny boxes with math in them is just wild.
Unsubscribes and rejections don’t hurt as much anymore. I’m more resilient than I thought.
I do not need to take every opportunity or dollar that comes my way. I do not need to work for people who disrespect me or my time. I do not need to partner with people that treat their clients or employees poorly. I do not need to work for free or exhaust myself in order to provide value.
CF: If money and time were not an obstacle, what are two things you have always wanted to do and why?
Annie: My background in Musical Theatre, and I’m still dreaming of the kind of life that involves lots of sitting on pianos in sequins and singing Gershwin and Cole Porter and Rogers & Hart.
I’m also dedicated to providing entrepreneurial education and opportunities to people who are incarcerated and/or returning citizens. If money and time were not an obstacle, I would devote a lot more money and time to both (through Defy Ventures).
CF: Is there anything else we should know about you or your company?
Annie: Before I went fully into marketing and then onto sales, I was a positive psychology coach. My manifesto, “Happiness Advocacy”, or “How Positive Psychology Will Save Us from Zombies” was downloaded over 200,000 times.
Bridging the Gap
Culture Fuzz would like to thank Annie for bridging the gap to her non-sleazy story.
It’s stories like Annie’s that keep the team here at Culture Fuzz motivated to keep bridging the gap.
If you would like to follow Annie or inquire about her empath driven sales techniques check out her classes!
WEBSITE: The Non-Sleazy Sales Academy
EMAIL: [email protected]
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