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If You Want to Make Millions, Ditch Your Polished Pitch and 'Own Your Crazy' Says This Legendary Branding Guru Phyllis Williams-Strawder, the self-anointed "Ghetto Country Brandmother," shares her unfiltered thoughts on achieving big success by using your authentic voice.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • As a former restaurant owner and current consultant, Phyllis Williams-Strawder has an intimate understanding of the gap that occurs in restaurant branding. The Brandmother is on a mission to correct that by helping her “Brandbabies” become Brand Leaders.
  • Phyllis Williams-Strawder places priority on branding and storytelling over pitching products. Being able to have a conversation about your brand is more important than a polished pitch.
  • Being authentic is essential to branding. Phyllis Williams-Strawder encourages those she coaches to “own their crazy”, which means to display extreme authenticity at all times.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Welcome to Brandma's House, the consulting company where personal brands learn how to "grow the f*** up."

Those are the wise words of Phyllis Williams-Strawder, affectionately known as the "Ghetto Country Brandmother. She is a visionary branding consultant with a mission to transform business branding practices for her "brandbabies" everywhere and shared her incredible story and outlook with Restaurant Influencer host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media.

On this episode, the psychology marketing specialist and "HBIC'' shared her uncommon — and caring — approach to brand building via books, social media, and the Brandma's House Show. "The Ghetto Country Brandmother is a part of me, not all of me," Williams-Strawder wrote on her website. "She's bold in her approach to show self-aware solopreneurs how to build a scalable brand without code-switching. GCB is persistent where Phyllis says f*** it. She's caring where Phyllis says f*** it. But what we share is our ability to be empathic and vulnerable."

Related: This Chef Fled a War-Torn Country as a Child. Now She's Helping Other Refugees Rebuild Their Lives.

Williams-Strawder devoted herself to helping others become brand leaders after a decade spent running the popular Bigmista's Barbecue restaurant with her husband Neil Strawder, the charismatic "Bigmista" behind the BBQ pit.

But after years, she began "drowning in my husband's dreams." She knew she had a bigger role to play in life than being Mrs. Mista and selling barbecue.

"I felt like I had gotten lost. Being Mrs. Mista gave me an identity crisis," Williams-Strawder remembers about deciding to leave the role of restaurant owner behind in 2018. "I was like, 'You know what? This isn't me.'"

With a wealth of experience as a former restaurant owner, she is particularly attuned to helping people realize how much bigger their business could be with better branding.

"Yes, we were a multi-million dollar business. But now I look back and I see how many millions we left on the table. And it's a hard lesson," Williams-Strawder said.

Related: 'Emails Work!' This Entrepreneur Says Email Marketing Is Still the Best Way to Connect and Sell. Here Are His Top Tips.

"I see people still doing some of the same things. And while they may be making money, they may be generating revenue… sweetie… trust and believe you're leaving millions on the table because you are not using your branding and marketing."

Williams-Strawder understands the critical role good branding plays in creating lasting connections with customers and fostering loyalty.

She believes that effective brand building goes beyond showcasing tasty food and appealing visuals.

"People don't want your recipes. They want something built on goodwill and longevity," she explained on the show. "That's what people usually buy. And it's actually the biggest asset that you have."

Related: 'Don't Be Afraid to Do Something That Nobody Understands': How This Entrepreneur Re-Invented His Career and Found Happiness

According to Williams-Strawder, brand loyalty is created by rejecting traditional sales tactics and elevator pitches. Instead, she advocates for genuine conversations and authentic engagement with potential customers to build deep connections.

"It does not have to be you constantly selling or having a pitch in your back pocket," she said. "I don't believe in pitching anymore. I believe in having a conversation."

In her role as a certified brand strategist and life/business coach, Williams-Strawder urges individuals to "own their crazy" as a nod to transparency and authenticity. By owning their unique identity and broadcasting it to the world, business owners can continue to build trust with their audience and create a working balance between personal and business branding.

"Owning your crazy is saying that, 'You know what? There's some character flaws here,'" explains Williams-Strawder. "That's what you bring to the personal brand."

About Restaurant Influencers

Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point-of-sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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