Hey everyone, it’s Mike Sullivan. Thanks for joining me. With me today is Jonathan Kay, a returning expert from Grasshopper. Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan: Hey guys, what’s up? Happy to be back as always. So, per usual, I wanted to talk a little bit about this gorilla marketing, and why brand perception is so important. I’m going to try and take a different spin on it in hopes that it’s helpful to you guys, as always. And so I’m going to recommend three basic things to you. The first thing that I want to talk about is, I think it’s really important to do things that your audience can relate to.
So what I’m going to say is that’s not newsletters. Don’t write newsletters, right? Newsletters are essentially you saying, here’s the information that we want to communicate to you, and here, just take it. It’s kind of like forcing information down people’s throats, instead of talking about something with them that they think is interesting, right? So newsletters are spam. You’re spamming your paying users. So I hate newsletters.
But Jonathan, what does that have to do with doing something that relates to your audience, right? So I’ll give you an example. So at Grasshopper, we stopped doing newsletters. Instead, we put our money and our time into videos like “Entrepreneurs Can Change The World.” Which I know a lot of you have seen. And the one we did that was a spoof of Jay Z and Alicia Keys. The entrepreneur state of mind, right? We started the first all-Twitter petition to the President to get a national entrepreneurs day. Because that was important to us, and we knew that was important to our audiences as well, right?
So you know what, we didn’t send them all of our events and our most recent blog posts in a newsletter, but we did something on a mutual turf and on social media that we knew we were interested in, something that we were interested in and something that we knew you were interested in, right? And that’s real.
I think another great example, hate the president, or love the president, it’s irrelevant, but every year, President Obama fills out a March Madness, right? A national men and women’s bracket, right, and he does that because he knows, right? He’s smart. He knows that in the United States, so many people fill it out, so many people fill out this bracket, that it legitimately decreases work productivity. It is a fact. It is actually a fact because you can stream the tournament and it happens at work. Everyone does pools for $5, everyone does their picks, it’s so big that it decreases work productivity. And so he gets involved in it, he puts it on ESPN, because he knows that his audience, like you guys, you can relate to them. And that’s really powerful. So try and find a way to incorporate that into your business.
The second thing is, you want to be in the same place that your audience is, right? And it’s kind of just taking the whole idea of putting a face behind your brand, really stupidly literally, right? You want people to associate a real human and real human things with your brand. So for us, we founded the BarCamp Tour. It’s an opportunity for us to travel around to ten different cities in the United States and meet entrepreneurs and buy beers with them. And just talk to them, and hang out with them, right?
That’s unbelievable, because now if they see one of our ads or they see one of our more stale, staunch marketing methods, their brain will immediately associate that with, “Oh, I saw Stephanie Bullis or I saw Jonathan Kay in Portland at this BarCamp and it was awesome.” So really find a way to do that, you know what I’m saying? One tool that I would recommend is startupdigest.com. They’re in a lot of the major cities, and it’s one of the few people I actually allow to spam me, because every Monday morning they send me a list of all the events in my area that are going on. And they weed out the bad ones, and put in the good ones, and it’s an unbelievable resource to just find places to meet your audience, especially if that audience is in the startup community.
So I know someone’s out there, thinking, the last thing that I want to do is get out there and talk to my audience, right? I’m a developer, I’m a designer, I’m a hacker. Talking to people and meeting new people and talking on a video like this is not what I like doing, and that’s fair. And I respect that. So what I would challenge you, is I would say, find another way to put a face behind a brand, right? People that you would normally want to meet, why don’t you send them a hand-written note? Or why don’t you just pick up the phone on Friday afternoon and call someone and just say hi? And just see what comes from that phone call? Do something a little bit out of your comfort zone and something that’s really personal, and help create that memorable relationship, right? If you don’t do something a little weird, something a little different, and something memorable, it’s going to be hard, right? You might not ever put the face behind the brand.
So the third thing, and this is something I preach all the time, but it’s find a way to add value completely outside of your products. And I’m comfortable talking about this twice because I think it’s that important. Because again, successful businesses are the ones that sell experiences, not features, right? It’s like when you think of Zappos, do they have better shoes than like the Bob’s or the TJ Maxx in your town? Not at all. But you associate Zappos with being this fantastic, magical creature that just, like storks drops off shoes at your doorstep, right? And that’s because they sell experiences.
If you take Mike here from MO.com as an example, on one of these interviews a couple weeks back, I mentioned that my favorite candy was Sour Patch Kids, right? And who knows, a week later I get a package on my desk, literally full of Sour Patch Kids. Which was unbelievable, right? If you think about MO as a site, as a product, their value add to me as an expert, is to provide a platform to evangelize my content, and to help my brand and to raise some awareness, and they do that. They are not supposed to send me candy. They’re not supposed to help feed all the people in my office, and they did, right? And that’s the reason every time Mike emails me, I drop what I’m doing, right? So, just start to associate those examples and see what you guys can do about your own brand.
Mike: You talk about relating to your audience and a face behind the brand, and in an example close to home for you, talk about where Grasshopper came up with the concept of, “We need a non-traditional role. An ambassador of buzz. Let’s get someone in here to really talk about our product or get people talking about our product.”
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s actually a fantastic question. So what happened was about three or so years ago, Grasshopper realized that getting people to talk about your brand is really important. From a sales perspective, from a branding perspective, it’s necessary to succeed. And so they had tried PR firms, right? They had tried in-house PR people. The PR firms didn’t understand our culture, and the PR people were so driven by numbers that they didn’t build valuable relationships. And then we brought in a biz-dev person and a sales person. And again, they were so driven by numbers that they weren’t building relationships.
We had marketing folks, but not people that could get out there and talk. Finally one of our founders, David Hauser, he just realized, you know what? The real problem is that we’re asking someone to focus exclusively on one of these areas. Let’s instead bring in someone who can touch on all of them, right? And maybe they don’t spend all their time on PR, but we realize that when you get out there and you build good relationships, good things come from that. Right?
Good things that might be press, that might be called marketing, that might be someone tweeting about your brand. But the point is, the world we live in now all of those things serve the function as PR. If you think about why PR was so big, is because that’s how everyone got their information. And that’s not the case anymore. So PR doesn’t have to traditionally just be media outlets. It’s things like this. It’s us talking. It’s people talking about you, right?
Now people have this microphone to talk about you, it’s kind of like, everyone’s the press, right? And that’s something else I like to say, because, Joe Smith who has a blog that 200 people follow, at some level, that’s kind of working with the media. Even thought you might just be having a conversation and helping an entrepreneur. So essentially they just realized, they wanted a mash up of all these things, and they just found some crazy, energetic, insane person to do it. And that’s pretty much it, man.
All I would say is, make your brand about an experience, not a feature, not a price point. The people who undercut $0.50 and add one feature, those aren’t the people that win. In my experience it’s the people that build a story and an experience around their brand. Just get out there and find a way to do that. At the very least it’s more fun.
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