In this episode Josh talks with Mitch Meador from BrandNerd. They discuss what old-school businesses can do to harness the power of the internet.
Mitch is the Owner & Founder of BrandNerd, a marketing agency helping companies grow their business with digital marketing.
As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, he’s mastered a proven messaging framework and has seen his clients earn millions of dollars in new revenue.
In todays episode you will learn about:
- The most dangerous words in business: “We’ve always done it this way.”
- Marketing touches everything in business.
- Marketing vs. Branding – Which is more important?
Narrator: Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. And you are in for a treat today. Today, we have Mitch Meador from the Brand Nerd I’d. Mitch, I met because a client of mine found him when we’re trying to do a StoryBrand site for me. I really liked the stuff that Mitch did. I looked at it. I talked to Mitch. I’ve been working with Mitchell a little bit with this client. And I thought he was a type of guy you needed to hear from. He is full, full, full of tons of great information. In our 22 or 23 minutes we’re going to spend together, we are not going to even touch the surface.
So, I’m going to bring Mitch on right now and we’re going to start with, he has a great question, marketing versus branding. And we’re going to do this answer to this in the realm of a blue‑collar business. So, let’s bring Mitch on.
Hey, Mitch. How are you today?
Mitch: Hey, Josh. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I’m excited to talk about marketing and whatever else we can get into.
Josh: Well, I’m sure we could get into tons, but we only have 23 minutes so that’s about all we can do. So, let’s start off with the question you put there, marketing versus branding, which is more important?
Mitch: Well, it’s a great topic, because I am the brand nerd, so I have an affinity for branding, obviously. But, at the same time, I really truly believe that the two are inseparable. I mean, I think what it really boils down to it, you know, we should define a little bit about what marketing is versus what branding is. And, really, at the end of the day, marketing touches so much of what you do in business. I mean, you’ve had that discussion before. Even in the way that you position your products is the obvious one. But then there’s also how do we talk about our products and services?
And then branding is really more– it’s about how do you feel about a company. You know, when you say something like Coca‑Cola, you know, they’ve created a brand that they immediately know how you feel. Or Coca Cola versus Pepsi, you know, the classic versus the cheeky upstart. You know, they’ve created a brand.
So, when it comes to a business, you know, you might think because I’m the brand nerd, I’m going to go, “Well, it’s all about brand.” You know, you’ve got to build a brand. The reality is, for most businesses, marketing should be your priority. Marketing is the act of putting your products out there. Brands should be a part of that. You should spend time thinking about what your brand is. But marketing, the act of selling your products – putting them out there, advertising, promoting. That is the thing that actually is the engine of your business.
So, what’s more important? I would say marketing. And then, once you get to a certain echelon, that’s when brand really starts to come in. You know, if you’re Coke, you can do a whole commercial about polar bears because everybody already knows what the brown sugar water is that you sell. But, if you’re in an industry where people aren’t as familiar with what you do, you need to spend more time talking about what you do which is marketing.
Josh: It seems to me that branding is a subset of marketing, actually.
Josh: You know, my definition of marketing is marketing creates awareness. And branding is part of creating awareness. So, for me, if you’re marketing and you’re doing a good job of that, you’re also creating a brand at the same time because you’re building avatars and you’re talking to your tribe. And your tribe actually helps you create what your brand looks like, I think.
Mitch: Certainly. That makes sense to me.
Certainly, I think, when you talk about a brand being the way it makes you feel, the way you market, you can create a brand. So, if you’re a business coach, you can create a lot of different brands. You can be the blue‑collar business coach. You can be the high‑end business coach. You know, you can have different types of brands within there. But at the end of the day, you are a business coach and you need to get your message out there.
And I also know that you’re a story brand consultant. You’re a certified story brand consultant, actually. Can you take just a second and, in like maybe 60 seconds, tell us what story brand is, because I think it’s such an important tie‑in between the two?
Mitch: Yeah. StoryBrand is a messaging framework that actually takes the elements of story and uses it for marketing. So, messaging, you know, that you can’t get around the fact that people don’t buy products until they hear words that convince them to do so. So, it would behoove you to spend time thinking about the words you’re using and that’s your messaging.
So, StoryBrand is actually taking elements of story. We love stories. We love going to the movies. And, you know, we can sit through a two‑hour movie and it feels like no time passed at all. Today, you know, especially in the COVID era, you could spend eight hours on the couch watching Netflix and feel like no time passed at all. Story is something that we’re very compelled by. So, if you use the basics of story, the formula of story, in your marketing, it’s that much more compelling.
Josh: That makes sense to me.
And here’s the other thing around story which I think is really important. I have this stupid habit or, actually it’s kind of a noxious habit, where when I connect with somebody on LinkedIn, I ask them to send me their website. And then, I go check it out.
Josh: And about 95% of the time, the messaging and the website is terrible. And the reason it’s terrible is the company is making themselves into the hero. It’s all about me, me, me, me and nothing about you, you, you who’s the customer.
And the reason I really like StoryBrand framework, first, I love frameworks because it makes it easy to write. That’s one thing I had been– you know, I tell people, “I can write 1500 words in half an hour” and they say, “How do you do that?” And I say, “I have a framework.”
Mitch: There you go.
Josh: And if you have a framework, writing fast is easy as long as you can type fast–
Josh: –or just dictate–
Josh: –if you can’t type fast.
But the truth is– and what Donald Miller, who’s the originator of StoryBrand had done brilliantly, I think, is probably the concept of the hero and the guide. And we want to be a guide, especially in the blue‑collar world. In the blue‑collar world, people do not want you to be the hero. They want you to have a solution to their problem. They want you to guide them through that solution, but they’re the hero of their story. Does that make sense?
Mitch: It makes sense, yep. You hit it. That last sentence is exactly right. Everybody wants to be the hero in their own story. So, when a person is looking at your marketing message, they’re not looking at it through the lens of “I need a hero to come save me.” No, they’re going, “I am the hero. I need somebody to help me accomplish the mission” you know.
So, I love Star Wars. You know, I’m the brand nerd. And the nerd part of it means I have to love Star Wars or else my nerd card gets revoked. So, you know, the great parallel with marketing and Star Wars is people don’t want you to be Luke Skywalker.
They want you to be Obi‑Wan Kenobi. They want you to be the wise old man who’s been there before. He knows what to do. He’s going to give you a plan. He’s going to tell you about the force. You know, he’s got a framework – the force or whatever you– you know. He’s going to tell you how you can go and blow up your death star. So, yeah, don’t make yourself Luke Skywalker. People aren’t looking for that. They’re looking for old Ben Kenobi.
Josh: Yeah, so that’s– I mean, that really is good. I mean, if I’m– you know, let’s say I’m an electrical contractor. And the problem that I’m going to solve is, I am going to wire your house in a safe manner so it’s not going to burn down. So, I don’t need to be talking about all the stuff I use to do that. I just need to help you realize you have a problem which you may not even recognize you have as a problem, but my job is to help you understand you have a problem or even better yet an opportunity that you’re not taking advantage of. And I have been there. I’ve done it. I can guide you through the process, where you’re the hero.
You know, one of the things I had to learn, when I was first getting into the business of advice, is that I could not be the hero in the conversation I was having with the client. I didn’t realize that. But what I did realize was I would feed ideas. Business owners often– because business owners are really type A people and they don’t like to have anybody come up with an idea except them and tell me them it’s dumbest idea they’ve ever heard. A month later, they come back and say, “I just had this great idea.” It was exactly what I told him a month ago. And I had to learn to say, “Well, that’s part of the deal.”
Josh: So now, when I work with somebody, I feed them an idea, expecting them to shoot it down, knowing that they’re going to come back, sometime in the future – it might be a week, it might be a month, it might be a year, but to say, “I’ve got this great idea.” And then, it’s my job, at that point, to say, “I love your idea. Let’s work on a strategy to implement it.”
Mitch: Yeah, it’s a great point.
Josh: And when you do that, you’re being a guide. And when we’re marketing, especially in the blue‑collar world, because blue collar people just don’t do this, we need to be talking to people about the success path that they’re going to go on.
Josh: That’s something a guy named Stu McLaren came up and he uses it for membership sites, membership organizations. And the truth is, with a membership, you have a success path. But anything that you do with a customer, there’s a success path. In the sales world, it’s called pipeline.
Mitch: Right. Exactly.
Josh: If I do this, I do this, I do this, and I do this, I’m going to get a customer at the end of the pipeline. But first, we’ve got to go through the process. All businesses, basically, it comes down to what is your path that you’re taking your customers on?
Mitch: That’s exactly right. If you don’t hand people a plan, they have a hard time knowing where they’re going to go. You know, you’re the expert, you know exactly what they need to do. And you might come up with a brilliant idea that they shoot down, the first time they hear it. You know what they need to do. But, when you are not the expert, it’s sometimes hard to envision what success looks like and envision the step‑by‑step plan.
So, it’s really our job, as marketers, and I believe that everyone who is involved in businesses is a marketer at some level. It’s our job as marketers to hand them a plan, to show them kind of the baby steps that you’re here and we’re going there. And, you know, “there” is success and here’s how we’re going to do it. And make that really digestible. Make it really clear and easy to understand. Don’t overwhelm them with your brilliant technologies and things that they don’t understand. You know, give them plain language that helps them see what those baby steps are to success.
Josh: Yeah, one of my favorite things to say is, you know, what we’re going to do is simple, it’s just not easy.
Mitch: There you go. Yep, that’s exactly right.
Josh: And if something’s simple, you’re going to understand it. You may say, “This is a lot of work and I’m not sure how I’m going to get there.” “Well, that’s what I’m for. I’m here to guide you through the step and walk by you step by step as you make the transition from where you are to where you want to go.”
And one of the things that’s really useful, I have a friend named Susan Bradley, who has developed a program called Sudden Money. In there, she has these four stages of transition. And, frankly, when you’re asking somebody to make a change, which is what you’re doing when you’re marketing, is you’re taking them through those four stages of transition which is anticipation. I’m going to anticipate I’ve got a change coming down the road. The ending, we actually are now at the end of where we were, moving to where we’re going to go. Passage which is really uncomfortable, and ugly, and confusing which is where we are really useful. And then, we have a new normal, which is what you get after passage as you move into a new thing.
You know, one of my favorite ways to use an example for this is learning how to delegate because nobody knows how to delegate out of the box. I have never– and, I mean, I’ve been doing this for 40 years now. So, I’ve never met somebody who was a good delegator when they started. It’s a learned skill. And it’s a hard skill to learn. It’s simple but it’s not easy.
I mean, to be a good delegator is a very simple process. I set an expectation. I inspect to make sure it happens. And then, I accept it. But I can tell you there’s like nine zillion things that go wrong while you’re trying to learn how to do that.
And as a business owner of five years, I can tell you, I relate to that all too well. You tend to want to hold on to control but, at the end of the day, it’s the delegation that actually leads to scalability. And so, yeah, I’m going through the uncomfortable part of that right now with my business and it’s really exciting, because I can see the other side of it, and it’s a really exciting spot. But yeah, I can relate to that 100%.
Josh: Well, the key here is the concept of mistakes. And that actually brings us back to marketing because it’s true of marketing also. Is that, if you do small experiments along the way, which I call fail fast, fail cheap, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to get success at the end of the road. The success you get may be completely different than what you thought it was going to be when you started because fail fast, fail cheap means I’m going to experiment, keep what works, and let go of what doesn’t work.
And the same thing with marketing. With marketing, if you’re not doing small experiments along the way – I mean, it’s called A‑B testing in marketing world, where I test one thing against another thing, you might be spending a lot of time and effort going down the absolute incorrect road.
Mitch: For sure.
Josh: So, how do you help manage that with your customers, Mitch?
Mitch: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, when it comes to testing, we believe that, wholeheartedly, if you’re, you know, one of the more advanced marketing strategies that we have today is digital advertising. And so, there’s a lot that goes into that. And people tend to go, “Okay. Well, I’m going to come up with a digital ad. And I’m going to run a digital ad with a message that leads to a product.” People will actually– even myself, as an expert, I can’t pick the one ad that’s going to resonate with an audience. I’m not Nostradamus. You know, I can’t do that. But what I can do is I can come up with five to 10 that are all in the ballpark of what we think is going to really hit it. And then, when you run five to 10 ads at smaller levels, then you can find the ads that are performing the best and you can bump up the volume on those. And that’s how you actually can test a message in an advertising sense to see results.
Josh: So, I have a question for you, because this has been something that’s been more than a minor annoyance with me, it’s cost me a lot of money over the last five years, which is, how do you know if the marketing person you’re talking to is any good? Because I’ve dealt with a lot of marketing people. And I will tell you that it is a really small percentage who are any good at all at what they do?
So, you’re in that world, what kind of advice would you give somebody who’s looking for a marketing consultant, marketing firm, somebody to help them with building an awareness of who they are?
Mitch: Well, that’s a very common problem. And I want to empathize with fellow marketers out there that a lot of marketers are creative people. So, they’re very right brain. The rare exception is the right brain‑left brain marketer, somebody who can see both sides. And I fancy myself as one of those people that actually kind of has both the creative juices but also the business mind. But my business mind has to keep my creative mind in check. And so, a lot of times what happens with marketing is we want to go creative, creative, creative, creative, creative and we tend to forget about the real world results.
Creating a brand is great only if it leads to sales, right? We’re not creating a brand for no reason. And, in the same way, your marketing has to leave results. That’s why I’m a big believer in frameworks. I love things like the StoryBrand framework that actually gives you a prescription for what you’re going to do.
So, you can take a really creative person and put them in this framework and let them work through it. And we have our own, in addition to the story brand framework, which is the powerful tool that we use at BrandNerd for messaging. We have our own marketing fundamentals that we prescribe to our customers and say, “Here’s how you can actually use marketing that works.” And there’sthe fundamentals. And then, there’s the more advanced side of it, too.
So that’s what I would say. I would say, pick their brain. See if they have that business side of things under control. See if they have any frameworks. What is your prescription? And then, the last thing I would say is talk to their customers.
I’ve, on more than one occasion, handed somebody my portfolio and say, “Call any of them.” You know, I don’t care.”
Mitch: I’m confident in the answers they’re going to give you. And it’s not to say that everything we’ve ever done has been perfect. And everything we’ve ever done has worked with 100% efficacy, but I’m very confident that we have the frameworks and the tools to help people. And we’re not alone. There’s a lot of really great marketers out there. And, you know, StoryBrand guides are a good place to start, too.
Josh: Cool. So, I have one more question. We have time for one more question. And my question is, in the blue‑collar business world, how important are testimonials? And, if they are important, why are they important?
Mitch: Testimonials are the online version of word‑of‑mouth advertising, in many ways. Back in the day, and still today. It’s not just back in the day. But word‑of‑mouth advertising. You know, if somebody makes a recommendation to you, that’s extremely powerful. So that’s part of it.
The other thing that’s powerful is, earlier, we talked about how, as experts, we tend to have this curse of knowledge. It’s hard for us to dumb down our expertise to a level that somebody can understand. The great thing about a customer testimonial is they’re using their own words. And, most likely, they’re speaking to another customer who has a similar expertise level to them. And so, the words they’re using add up.
And I think the best testimonials, if you allow me to vamp a little further on that, is the best testimonial is actually a small story in itself. A customer overcomes a problem within the testimonial. I was struggling with choosing an electrical contractor, because I wanted my home to be safe on day one and, you know, 10 years from now, and I was afraid of hidden mistakes. I worked with company XYZ. And not only did they wire my home and every light works just the way I wanted it to, but they actually upgraded yada, yada, yada to this technology. So, now, I never have to worry about electrical again.
You know, so, there’s actually a story there where they started with a problem. They talked about how it made them feel. And they overcame that in the end with the help of the company, of the electrical contractor. So, that makes a great testimonial.
Hey, Mitch. Unfortunately, we are out of time. And it goes by fast.
Mitch: It’s all good.
Josh: Yeah, yeah.
So, I’m going to bet there’s going to be some people listening or watching that would like to find you. The people watching can find you easily because your URL is right on the screen. But, for those folks listening to this podcast, where can they find you?
Mitch: Thebrandnerd.com. If you search brand nerd, I’ll pop right up.
Josh: Cool. That’s great.
I have two things I’d like you to do. One is really, really, really, really, really, really, really important which is, wherever you’re listening to this podcast, please go and give us an honest and, I mean, honest rating review. If you love the show, say you love it. If you hate it, okay, say you hate it, but just give us a review.
And the second thing is I developed this thing which I started off as like kind of a joke. One day, a friend of mine did this periodic table of estate planning elements. And I said, “that’s kind of cool. That’s a nice take off from the periodic table that we learned about chemistry in high school.” And I said, “Well, there’s an awful lot of strategies are out there for business owners, privately‑held business owners.” So, I put together this thing I called the periodic table of business elements. And you can get it free. It’s easy to get. You just go to www.stage2planning.com/periodic. That’s www.stage2planning.com/periodic. And you’ll get the periodic table sent right to you.
So, this is Josh Patrick. We’re with Mitch Meador. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?”
If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.