*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.
Arek Dvornechuck: Hey, what's up branding experts? Arek here at Ebaqdesign and welcome to On Branding Podcast. And today my guest is Scott Jeffrey Miller and Scott has over 25 years of experience working as a chief marketing officer and executive vice president of business development. So Scott currently serves as FranklinCovey’s Senior Advisor on ThoughtLeadership. And he also hosts On Leadership, which is the world's largest and fastest growing leadership podcast. And Scott also founded the Ignite Your Geniuscareer coaching series. And healso also wrote quite a few books on marketingand leadership. And this is his recent book-“Marketing Mess to Brand Success”. And this is the book we’re going to talk abouttoday. Hello Scott—thank you for joining us today!
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Arek. Great to be here. Thanks to the platform.
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you. So basically in your book, you present us with 30 challenges that you encountered in your marketing career, and you describe how you dealt with these challenges and, uh, what you've learned from them. So as we all know is best to learn from the actual experience by following some of your tips, we can prepare for what's coming and don't have to make the same mistakes, right. Can be more efficient. So obviously it's only 30 minutes and, uh, 30 challenges. So maybe we won't be able to talk about all of them, but at least I would like to discuss the most important ones. Right. So maybe I can start off with some of my notes and then maybe you can add some of yours that are your favorite. So first of all, actually it's the first, uh, it is the first challenge that you describe in your book. It's about the customer stupid, right? As marketers, we need to get close as possible to our customers and be curious and listen to them, right? So can you talk to us bit it about the importance of being customer focused? And maybe I can give us some examples.
1. It’s about the customer
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Sure Arek, so the first challenge is called it's the customer stupid, but I'm not calling my reader or your listener stupid. It's actually a turn of phrase on a famous us political campaign back in 1992, when governor bill Clinton ran against president Bush the first time, and he had a sign on his political operations desk that said, it's the economy stupid because that's how they were gonna beat the president was based on the economy. So this really is about recognizing that most organizations give lip service to putting the customer first, but very few actually have their systems, their structures, their training, their processes, their mission, their compensation aligned to put the customer first, because it's an easy temptation. Eric to gravitationally pull towards your own company, needs your mission, your profit, your vision, as opposed to that, of your customers. So the questions that I would be asking most marketers is how often are you speaking about your customers needs in your meetings? Like literally, what is the percentage of time does every meeting, you have involve a focus on understanding the circumstance that your client is in, not the circumstance your company is in, but the circumstance your client is in, what are the words that they're using? What are the problems that they're trying to solve? I once heard someone say the best salespeople are aren't those that know their second quarter goal. It's the salesperson that knows their clients. Second quarter revenue, a goal, and their focus and fixated on that. So it's tempting to put your customer second, but through your language, your behaviors, your strategies, make sure every day you're kind of coming back towards your customer.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right? Right. So there's a lot to talk about, you know, being customer focused. But most of us don't really understand what that means. So as you said, you know, going to those meetings and you give us specific like examples and specific tests to follow, like some tips, like, for example, if you go to a, as you said, if you go to a meeting, how many times you actually mentioned your customer, how focused are you actually on your customers and their needs and think about them rather than about your objectives and your business goals and stuff like that. Right.
Scott Jeffrey Miller: And I think take it a step further is to make sure that you are using the words your customers are using, right? You might call it leadership, but they call it engagement or you call it productivity, but they call it something else. And you wanna make sure that you understand, how does your client talk about the problem? And then that's how you should be talking about it in your messaging and market as well.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right? And this is actually the fourth challenge to speak their language, right? So you can avoid making this mess. As you describe in your book, it's all about avoiding marketing mass, by being more mindful and using the language that they actually use, as you just mentioned, right? They may use a different words or phrases to describe things. And these are not necessarily, you know, same words that we use as, um, marketers, right? So we use some jargon, some shortcuts, acronyms and so on, and it might not necessarily be the same, you know, that your customer understand the world using these term. So actually I have it in my notes. So maybe you can actually judge as a good way of going from this first challenge to this one, how to be more effective in our communication in general, how to speak their language.
2. Speak their language
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Well, first get out of your office, get out of your home and go out and listen and meet with your customers. I mean, this seems simple, but after 30 years in marketing, you'd be surprised how many people do this? They, the higher up they are in the organization, the more they are scants and the CEOs office, right? or in their suites. So you should be out with your customers asking great questions of them. What are their problems? What are they trying to solve? How do they describe their circumstance? Do you understand intimately? What is the job that they're trying to accomplish? What is the job they're potentially hiring you to solve for them? And the more you understand how they call it, what words they use, then you can actually, like I said before, build your messaging around that. You know, the famous marketing expert, Donald Miller based out of Nashville, Tennessee wrote a series of things, famous books, including building a story brand. He's one of the top marketing, you know, I think consultants in the world and he says, most people's marketing messaging is like a cat chasing a rat and a wind chime factory. There's so much noise and confusion going on. And you wanna make sure that you're using this simplest possible words to describe what it is. You do, the problems you solve, but absolutely do it in a way that your clients can relate to it. And the way to do that is to be out, listening with them, understanding how do they see the problem? How do they see your solution and is everything you're doing in terms of how you train your staff, how you with your sales team, your website, your email, your social media, whatever your marketing mix is, all of that should be speaking in the same language that your customers are thinking. And speaking in, not the language that you use in your company and your acronyms and your shortcuts, but the way the client talks about it.
Arek Dvornechuck: Mm-hmm, that's a great explanation. And I like the fact that you refer to said, Godin, Donald Miller, right? Your book is basically like a summary of all these...
Scott Jeffrey Miller: It is, its a collection of a lot of genius from a lot of other people, but I give them credit.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right you do. And you actually recommend, you know, if you wanna dive deeper to check out these books, right. Donald Miller's books or brand, or this is marketing by God, you actually talk about it in your book, you know? Yeah. It is like a collections. Okay. So my key takeaways from this challenge, you know, speak their language. So you need to ensure that you are calling it. It is also what they're calling it. So, you know, because if you're using some jargon and some nomen, some shortcuts acronyms, they may not actually understand. Right. So you were talking about, actually, you need to go out there, get out of your office and go to talk to your, your potential customers. Right? You give us, specific tips in how to do this. And you even give us in this book, like specific scripts, you know, like if you want to go on LinkedIn and find your potential customers and ask them for 15 minute of their time, you actually give us specific scripts that we can use in our reach out, you know, how to approach them so that we can actually figure out their language and figure out, you know, how they describe the things. So we can be more effective in our communication. Right? Some other challenges that I found really interesting is about, for example, finding your competition, which is another great team, right? Which is challenge number 15. So here you explain why it's, it's not about exploiting our pets and trash talking them and seeing, you know, them as, as an enemy and talking bad about them. Now it's more about, you know, because we have this transparency and we have access to everything to the internet, you cannot really hide much. So now it's more about connecting with them and it's about building those mutual, beneficial relationships, right? So can you talk to a us a bit about that, about making friends with other competitors?
3. Friend your competition
Scott Jeffrey Miller: All right. I'm delighted. You picked this challenge. Number 15, friend your competition. It requires a different mindset, a different belief system where no longer do you view your competition as your enemy competition is good. Cuz they're helping to build the market place. They're helping to communicate to your clients that there are solutions out there. And it also gives you something to sell against. But the days of trash talking, your competition are over. You have to be able to speak to how your product, your solution, your service stands on its own without respect to the competition. But you can learn so much from your competition because they aren't exactly your competitor for every product. If they are, that's a miracle, right? They're they have a certain expertise. You have a certain expertise, but the world's getting smaller between acquisitions and mergers and alliances and partnerships. The likelihood that you're gonna come across, some kind of association with your competition is highly likely. It's nothing less with potentially working together with a client or perhaps them buying you or you buying them. So it's important to have good relationships with your competition, but it's also important to friend them because you never know when you might go to work for them or you might hire someone away from them or your client asks you or already working with this company. We're thinking of adding you into the mix. How do you compliment them? Well, how do you actually integrate well with this other competition? Also, there's so much to be learned from them. I think you can go to lunch or breakfast with your competition, the other salesperson, the other owner, their founder, and share, ask, what are they struggling with? What are you struggling with? What is their sweet spot? How do they see their expertise without sharing your secrets? I don't mean to be Pollyanna or naive, right? There's obviously things you would never share. But I think there's only upside to understanding what it is they're doing well, not in a way that's manipulative or surreptitious, but to really understand where you can and cannot compete with them. You might learn a lot around what are their weaknesses and where can you double down to build your brand or your expertise? I just think generally speaking, the days of clients wanting you to position your product against someone else, those days are over, right. People are strong enough to realize everyone's got something to add, some value to add. I just don't want to be seen as selling my product based on the weaknesses of someone else's that left that pasted a decade ago. Stop doing that if you're still doing that.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right. So that's great. So we've covered that another think. And maybe you can also talk about your favorite challenges that you wanted to discuss. But my last one on my list here is to talk about developing storytelling craft, right? So, so first you identify your audience and what you want to tell them. What's the moral of your story, because if there is no more of the story, maybe you shouldn't tell that story. Right? So storytelling is important. A lot of people talk about storytelling, but what drives the story is, is actually a good question or a problem that we start with, right? And we answer it at the end. So, and here we talk about Nancy's DIR test, uh, Ted talk to learn more about storytelling. You know, here we can also mention, you know, do not Miller and stuff like the, so what's your take on that? Why storytelling is so important when comes to marketing?
4. Develop your storytelling craft
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Well, the best communicators are the best storytellers. Whether you are developing a postcard or a website or a trade show booth, whether you're writing an email or a social media post or giving a speech at a conference or a trade show, you're telling a story. It might, you might be telling a story in three sentences or in a picture you need to understand what story are you telling? Are you telling your story or are you telling the client's story? If you're telling your story, then the client needs to be able to see themselves in your story. If you're telling their story, they automatically can see themselves and their story. I think too many marketers and entrepreneurs tell the story of their journey, how you got started, why you were passionate, why you built the business. I don't really care. I don't really care about your story. I care about my story and how you're gonna help me solve my problem. So my story becomes better. So never forget that you are in this story, tell business, even if it's three lines and look at your website, are you telling your story or are you describing a story that your potential client, your prospect can find and identify themselves in? It really requires you to completely change your mindset. I mean, maybe nobody, maybe you care about your grandfather's, you know, Polish recipe full or some kind of dish, but does your client care about that? Maybe your client cares about what their grandfather did you get? The point is when you're telling stories, there has to be a moral, there has to be a resolution, probably some kind of conflict, but you wanna make sure you do it in a way that your client cares, not just you care.
Arek Dvornechuck: Mm-hmm and this is really gonna be eye-opening for some of us. Right. So it was definitely for me when I first, you know, that like Donald Miller's book, uh, for example, so yeah, it's definitely about, you know, our clients, our customers, even if we talk about ourselves a little bit, they need to see, you know, how they fit into that story. You know, we need to make them hero. They are the hero, not. So our brand is not the hero. Our brand brand is, you know, someone who helps the hero to overcome some obstacles of some problems, depending on of course what we do, what kind of service of problem is this, but yeah. All it's about them, as you said, otherwise they won't care. Right. So, yeah. So this, these are some of the ones that I was particularly interested in, but how about you, you know, what do you think, like what feedback are you getting? Do you wanna talk about any specific challenge out of those 30 in your book? Sure.
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Thanks for asking Eric, uh, challenge is 22. I call it build lists that matter, you know, there used to be conventional wisdom and marketing was that your strategies were sort of one third combined focused on your creative. One third around your offer. And one third around the list, kind of a third, a third and a third, right? How good was your database? How good was your marketing messaging and how attractive was the offer? Buy one, get one free kind of thing. And I think it's changed a lot. I think I'd say if I wanted to modify that mixture, I'd probably say it's like two thirds, your list. And one third, a combination collectively of your creative and your offer, because you can have the best possible website and the best direct mail piece and the best commercial with the most compelling offer, 80% off or whatever it is. But if you're not messaging it to the right people, you're just like sort of spitting in a hurricane. And so this is something important for marketers to remember because most of us has marketing. We're usually creative types. We're right. Brains, right? We have, we love the creative aspect of marketing and we spend so much time there when building your list, building your target market is the least rewarding aspect, right? It's the most tedious part. And so I would argue to all marketers, be very deliberate and thoughtful around how much of your time been doing what you enjoy doing, what you want to do versus what needs to be done. I don't know if you're in the restaurant business or the flower business, or you sell dentures or hearing aids, or you're a realtor. You need to make sure you're building accurate lists, target markets, because most lists atrophy about one third every year. So at the end of three years, your list is obsolete. And now post pandemic, very few people are working at the mailing address or even the email address. They might have been a year and a half ago. So be very thoughtful around how much time you're spending curating accurate databases to make sure all that marketing effort hits the right person at the right time.
Arek Dvornechuck: Mm-hmm so it needs to be very targeted. So I just wanted to show you guys what to expect from the book. This is how you structure the book. So basically we have these challenges and then we have a few pages is, you know, where, where you dive deep into those challenge. And for you guys, we wanna check off, obviously I'm gonna include the link in the description box, but you know, uh, if you are a, if you're a busy entrepreneur or marketer, this box is great because you can take it as a challenge basically, and read like one challenge every day, right? It's gonna take you a few minutes. So, you know, we could in a month, so you can just consume it like that. Right. You can jump from one challenge to another, whatever finds you. Interesting. So that's what I really like about this book that you structured that in this way, obviously there is a flow and all those things are connected, but you can also take it, you know, one challenge at a time. Right? All right. Thank
Scott Jeffrey Miller: You. The, the first book in the series was actually management mess to leadership success and then marketing mess to brand success. And I have more coming out in the future job mess to career success. Okay. Communication mess to influence success. So I basically have taken my entire career and I've talked openly about the major mistakes that I made or saw others make, and then have written these stories and insights to help the reader avoid making the same mistake that everybody's made. And that will, that will launch you into a better marketing career.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right. That's great. That's great approach. And so yeah, new books are coming. This is the most recent one. So I'm gonna include the link in the description for you guys who wanna check it out. We've talked a little bit about some these challenges and you know, if you wanna dive deep, then I recommend to check out the book. So as we are approaching the end of our interview, do you have, you know, how we can get in contact with you for people who wanna learn more from you or work with you? Perhaps a website, social media.
Scott Jeffrey Miller: Thanks a, you can find me on every social media platform, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. You can follow me, um, at my website and visit that Scott Jeffrey Miller dot com. Um, all of my podcast episodes, my ink magazine columns there, all the books, everything is email@example.com. And you can buy all the books that I've authored on every major website, book retailer, Amazon, you name it. Yeah.
Arek Dvornechuck: That's awesome. And you also host of on leadership podcast, which is the name is, you know, my name is on branding. Your name is on leadership. it's a great name. Thank you, sir. So yeah. Thank you very much. I'm going to include those links in the description to your website, to your books and to your social media. So thanks for joining us today. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate that.
Scott Jeffrey Miller: All right. Thank you. Thank you for the spotlight
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you.
Arek Dvornechuck is a strategist and designer who helps brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch
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