TSP083 | Robert Friedman – Transcription

TSP084 | Jon Levy – Transcription
TSP082 | Charlie O'Donnell – Transcription

John Livesay:

Today’s guest on The Successful Pitch is Robert Friedman who is the creator of Fearless Branding. He said a lot of people are afraid to be fearless and when you are fearless you stand out, you are more precise, you have more differentiation, and he’s all about helping people define and limit your brand. He said when you close many doors you can keep the right doors open. He has five questions that you need to be able to really focus on your branding with. It starts off with who are you, what do you do, what do you do for other people and what do they need. And the fifth question, I’m going to let you listen to the episode to find out what that is because it is the most important one ever. He said he’s got great books to recommend like Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play. You’re going to get so much information out of Robert and how to be fearless in your branding to attract the right investors.

The interview begins in 45 seconds right after this information on how you can get funded fast.

Are you a founder struggling with your investor pitch? Do you need warm introductions to the right investors to get your startup funded? Do you need a funding road map to get you there fast? All of this and more can be found in Crack the Funding Code. Join host, John Livesay, and Judy Robinett, bestselling author of How to Be a Power Connector and board member of Illuminate Ventures, on their free Crack the Funding Code webinar. Simply go to judyrobinett.com – that’s J-U-D-Y-R-O-B-I-N-E-T-T dot com – and click on the webinar tab to see how to tap into their network of investors from around the world. There’s a link in the show notes as well. You’re only one click away from getting funded fast.
John: Hello and welcome to the successful pitch, I’m thrilled to have today’s guest Robert Friedman who has a background as a brand manager of big names like Kraft and Nestle and worked at big New York agencies before starting Fearless Branding Manifesto almost 15 years ago. Robert welcome to the show!

Robert:

Thank you John! How are you?

John:

I’m great, I’m really excited to have you here because one of the things that’s so important for the listeners to understand is whether you’re pitching yourself to get funded, pitching to get customers, or pitching people to others to join your team. Branding is everything. You must have a brand that creates a culture that attracts the right investors and attracts the right people on your team, so you are the ideal guest to have on today. Let’s dive into how did you come up with the name Fearless Branding? I love that!

Robert:

Thanks! Well as you mentioned, for the early part of my career I was a brand manager for some big food companies. In my last assignment, I was working at Nestle, I was working on Coffeemate. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and one Saturday afternoon I was taking a hike and looking at the Pacific Ocean and saying just “I don’t want to do this anymore because Coffeemate is just artificial powder and that is not a good use of my life, it’s not a good of my talent so what am I going to do?” When I thought about it carefully I was thinking, do I need to become a therapist or a history teacher or something that had more meaning. Do I need to get out of marketing? I started looking around at other businesses and I thought you know, I may be working on Coffeemate but somebody else is working at Apple. The guy down the hall may be working on Carnation Instant Breakfast, but somebody else is working at Nike and there’s other ways to do marketing. It sparked an idea that was based on this insight that consumers love brands that fearlessly express their unique essence. That they are not just there to sell stuff, that they’re there to sell really great stuff and deliver a meaningful experience. I found that their not — But one of the key elements of this insight was that these great brands, what I ultimately started calling fearless brands weren’t trying to be all things to all people so if you were not in that segment of the audience that appreciated that meaning that’s okay, but if you are then you’re going to have deep resonance. So to answer your question after I did some deep thinking about what I really believed worked in the world of marketing and in the world of brands, I wrote that sentence. I had a naming session with a bunch of friends and colleagues. One of the guys said “What was that sentence,” I said “Consumer love brands that fearlessly express their unique essence. He said, “That’s it, Fearless Branding.” Everybody said yes, that’s right and I walked out the door and it was done!

John:

Nice.

Robert:

At first, it was just a name and over the past 15 years it’s become something that I’ve grown into and everything that I do in my work is built on that fundamental idea about what does it really mean to be fearless when you are building and developing a brand. What it really means is more precise, more differentiated, narrower, rather than broader. So Linda Galindo who was my client and was on your show a little while ago said “You know, the things that you taught me to do are define and limit.” Whether you’re an entrepreneur or whether you’re trying to build and establish business, one of the things that is most challenging for leaders to do is to limit. In other words, to close doors. Usually when you’re running a business, you want more sales so you’re saying all of those people out there, they can be my customers, they can be my investors. In fact, what I find when you do that, is that you become more generic, you become less relevant to anyone, but when you’re willing to close many doors so that the exact right doors remain open and you know, like that’s my door, that’s my path, that’s my strategy, when you’re willing to do that and it takes courage to close all those doors, all those opportunities — you say that’s not what I’m going to pursue, but when you focus on that right one, then that’s when you can create the greatest success. But —

John:

I love that, it’s so helpful.

Robert:

It takes fearlessness.

John:

Fearlessness, yes! Because when you said, “Close many doors so you can keep right doors open,” we’re going to tweet that out, that’s great. That really is a visual, you’re painting a picture for people that who you say no to is just as important as who you say yes to.

Robert:

Yes, that’s exactly right. You know what’s interesting though, you know a lot of times clients say — they ask me that question. Do I have to say no? Right. If somebody comes along and they’re not exactly in my ideal target market or the work is not precisely what I’ll say is my absolute best work, do I have to say no? The answer to that question is actually no you don’t have to say no. You can make a tactical decision based on that particular situation, but what’s most important is when you are projecting your message out to the world, to the audience, that’s when you say no and you are really clear. Whenever I’m telling you, here’s who my ideal client is, here’s what I do, I’m very precise. If somebody else says wow that sounds great but I’m not exactly like that, could you possibly help me? Then you can make a decision, it’s up to you to say yes or no at that moment. I find actually that the clearer you are the more people resonate, but I think, certainly for me, my kind of client, they’re going to resonate with wow you have the courage to put your stake in the ground and tell me who you are.

John:

Well let’s give listeners an example of that because I couldn’t agree with you more, Robert. For me, I really focus on — I help tech CEO’s craft a compelling pitch to make them irresistible to investors. Now if someone comes to me and says “I’m not a tech CEO but I really need help with my pitch and I want to get my start-up funded, can you help me?” I will make a decision about whether I think that person is coachable and fundable and if the business is scalable and I can say yes or no, but my real focus is tech CEO’s. Then other people sometimes will be attracted to that and commit, right. Is that what you’re talking about?

Robert:

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Then, each one of us has to make the decision on where we draw the line. For me, the heart of my business is working with service firms so those are high level firms that need to go out and get clients that they’re providing some intellectually based service and what I do is I help them really define what that service is, where the value is, and who it’s for.

In my case, that definition of target market works. I decided not to focus only on lawyers or only on management consultants. It really is — branding is — there is something else you can tweet out. Branding is a tool that supports your business objectives. There’s many different ways to slice it, it can be based on geography, it can be based on psychographics or what that person believes and their world view, it can be based on vertical type. There’s all sorts of different way you can slice your market so that you’re talking to an audience that is big enough to support your business objectives whatever they may be and yet narrow enough that when you’re speaking to them they really resonate. If you have a national brand, you’re going to need a much wider slice of an audience than if your consultant like your name.

John:

Well for the start-ups the more specific they are of who they’re helping and what problem they’re solving and the type of investor they want to join their team, then the investor feels like oh you don’t just want anybody’s money, you want my money because i’m the perfect fit for your company and that makes all the difference.

Robert:

That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You just articulated two very important strategic decisions and it’s easy to say it but it’s hard to make those decisions like who is my market, who am I really serving, how do I define that? That’s an important decision. What kind of investor? That’s an important decision. That’s why on the manifesto that I showed to you, that’s why I call it making the tough decisions.

John:

The other thing you have in your manifesto which we’re certainly going to provide a link in the show notes is this moment of truth. Now the moment of truth applies to the start-ups in who do I hire, which investor do I decide to work with, so expand on us how you help people prepare to triumph in that moment of truth and how they have to position themselves.

Robert:

Right. Right. Well, I think you — you were really nailing it earlier. The moment of truth is that moment when you’re sitting down and you’re pitching a client or you’re pitching an investor and we have to figure out: are we a fit or are we just gonna kind of part as friends and go our own ways?

The way that I do that is through a brand strategy process that focuses on five key questions. Those questions are: Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? What do they need? Then, what do they get? The first two questions are about you, who are you, and what do you do, your brand your business. The second two questions are about your audience. Who are they and what do they need. Then, the last one what do they get is where the connection gets made and that’s basically your benefit.

What I have found over many years of doing this is that most businesses, as simple as those questions are, most businesses answer those questions too generically. You have to put up a filter around what category are you playing in, and then who else can answer those questions in the same way or who else is answering those questions in the same way.

One of the exercises that I do when I’m teaching a branding class is I’ll put up an ad, often I use the brand Tiffany, and I’ll put my hand over the logo and say “Can anybody — You have no idea what’s under my hand. You don’t know the name of this business, can you figure it out?” When you use a brand like Tiffany everybody can figure it out.

John:

That blue, right?

Robert:

Exactly. Well, it’s that blue but it’s also they’re very specific with their imagery. So that’s one aspect of branding which is aesthetic differentiation but there’s other aspects of branding which are functional differentiation. So you actually have to do something different or make something different that is recognizable. Then, the last aspect of differentiation is emotional differentiation or meaning – based differentiation. All three of those things need to play together.

To get back to that story I was telling you, if you were working with a client and they’re a tech start-up and you say “What we need to do is just take the name of your business out of this. Now we’re going to look at your nearest competitors and we’re going to substitute their name in that same pitch and we’re going to mock trial it to that investor. Make it work. Would that investor say ‘No, no, no that’s totally wrong. That doesn’t make sense.” It’s only you that can say that or they are just going to nod their heads when you stick your competitor’s name into your pitch?” A lot of times, what I find is that pitches, whether you are trying sell a service or pitch to an investor, they all sound the same. It’s the same buzz words they use. It’s the same phrases. There’s so much generic stuff. It’s challenging to, as we said before, to narrow, define, limit, so that you really become the only one who’s telling that story to your specific target market.

John:

I know exactly what you’re talking about, Robert, because when I worked at Conde Nast, Conde Nast has multiple fashion magazines. It was so important that people would understand the difference between let’s say Vogue and W. Then, you couldn’t just substitute the images, or you couldn’t just substitute the pitch of “we both cover fashion.” You need to be so specific that only W would cover fashion from an artistic, edgy kind of point of view and Vogue would not do that because they have a more broader, mass appeal audience so it was very specific as to — It’s all fashion, but if you’re talking about your nearest competitor, I love that exercise. Let’s go back and talk about the five questions because they’re so valuable for the listeners to really grasp. I think the Tiffany example would be great to do if you don’t mind. So who are you? Well, how would you answer that for Tiffany? I mean I could do it, but I would love to hear you say it.

Robert:

I would answer that by “I am love” or “I am the lover.”

John:

Nice.

Robert:

One of the main concepts that informs my work is the concept of archetype. Archetype is the concept that was developed by Carl Jung, he was one of the foundational psychologists along with Sigmund Freud. He had this idea that there are energies out there that don’t need to be explained to people because we just get them, just because we’re human. The warrior, the scholar, the caregiver – none of those things are confusing, they’re very, very clear, we just have a picture right away when we see a picture or hear those words. When you can be that precise at an emotional level it’s about who you are, it’s not what you do —

John:

Yes, I love that distinction, yeah because you, you did not answer “Yeah okay Tiffany who are you, we make jewelry.” That was not your answer at all which is great, I think it really showed an example of oh this is something unique to tiffany. I am love, right. That’s great.

Robert:

Yes. That’s right.

John:

So then you go into what do you do? Well then you might say we make engagement rings, would that be the appropriate place to answer that way?

Robert:

Yes, absolutely. We make jewelry, in particular engagement rings. Then, so Tiffany’s a great example, engagement rings is a great example because did you know that Tiffany’s invented the concept of a diamond solitaire engagement ring?

John:

Nice. Yeah, yeah I did.

Robert:

Further, they developed this “tiffany setting” that lifts the diamond up instead of putting it deeper into the setting of the ring so that everyone can see the beauty of the diamond and they were the ones that created this. That’s what I mean by functional differentiation, is that you do something that your competitors are not doing.

John:

Nice. Now the third and fourth question you said was all focused on the audience, right? The third question is something along the lines of who do you help? Was that the question?

Robert:

Right, exactly. Who do you do it for? And the who do you help is a totally good substitute. So who do you do it for and what do they need. When you look at that question who do you do it for, there’s two ways to answer that. One is demographically – so those are all of the factors that you can actually see and touch. Somebody who makes a certain amount of money, has a certain level of education, lives in a certain zip code, those are all demographic ways to describe an audience.

Psychographic is somebody’s world view, what do they believe, what do they value? For example, we all know that Tiffany is a brand, it’s very successful brand. They built their business based on the strength and uniqueness of their brand. One of the great things from the brand’s perspective that that enables them to do is to charge a premium, a highly profitable business. One of the key takeaways is that when you have a brand that’s meaningful, that has both functional and emotional advantages, your ideal customer will pay more for that, right. So you’re getting that premium price and that translates into profitability.

If you look at the Tiffany customer, their customer — So you know, it’s a mass affluent brand. They’re not sheiks and princesses of the world but it’s lawyers and doctors, you know Top 5% people in the united States so that’s demographically who their audience is likely to be, but more important than that — When I teach a class and I use Tiffany as an example, and we say “How did you know it’s Tiffany?” A lot of people say “Oh, it’s that box”. Somebody in the audience will always tell a story “I gave my wife that present and she just went oh!” It takes your breath away because you’re getting that cool present in that blue box.

John:

Right. Even before they open the box they’re happy, right.

Robert:

Exactly, right. Now, think about that, right. That box maybe is worth, you know, whatever, fifty cents or a dollar? So it’s not the box, but they have viewed that box with meaning and so that meaning, as we were talking about, is love. Like this represents the fact that the person who is giving me this gift really loves me, they bought it at Tiffany.

John:

Yup, they went the extra mile. Nothing’s better then nothing’s higher, as far an expression of love so therefore if you spent anything, it doesn’t have to be a diamond ring but anything from tiffany at all, a key chain, whatever, I still feel the love, right. That extends to all price points within a premium price product.

Robert:

That’s exactly right, but if we look at the heart of what they’re doing which as we were talking about is something like an engagement ring and what I mean by segmentation and being willing to limit and define, there are going to be some givers and some receivers who buy into that story. That woman is going to say “Wow, he really loves me, because he gave me that present from Tiffany, that means something.” That giver is going to say I made the right decision even though maybe I spent 25% more or 50% more or whatever the number is, right. There will be other people, whether it be the giver or the receiver who would say “I don’t buy that crap. You know what? They have really good stuff at Costco. We’re going to get something really good. We’re going to be so smart because we’re only going to spend half of what we would spend at Tiffany and we can spend that extra money on a lawn mower or whatever.”

The point is that — To answer those two questions of who are they and what do they need, that Tiffany customer is somebody who really believes that a certain kind of gift can be a symbol of love and what they need or what they really want at a primal level is more love. They want that connection and they want it in that way. If you are not psychologically wired for that, you’re not going to be in their target market, right. I think if they’re smart enough to be able to be fearless to say that’s okay, because we’re not for everyone!

John:

Exactly. Then, it goes to the last question: what’s the big benefit, what do they get from buying the ring at Tiffany is they get validation that the person feels it’s way beyond the value of the ring, you can’t put a price on it, right. When someone feels that you love them that much.

Robert:

That’s right. You’re absolutely right and one simple way to answer that is what do they get? They get love. So it brings it back full circle.

John:

To who you are. Love it. Let’s connect the dots even one step further for the founders out there who are negotiating valuation. I love what you said Robert, about when you connect the functional with the emotional, which is what I’m constantly teaching people the importance of emotional story-telling when you’re pitching, that that commands a premium price like it does for Tiffany’s. When you’re negotiating with your investor on what the valuation of your company should be, when you say hey I need a million dollars for x percent equity, then that translates into well then you’re saying your company is worth more than it looks like on paper. But if you’ve shown to the investor that you have a functional difference from your competitor and an emotional meaning, and sometimes that emotional meaning can just be there’s other investors who are interested in this and willing to pay this so there’s a fear of missing out if you don’t jump in on this, that’s how you increase the valuation of your company from this branding strategy you have for us, right?

Robert:

Yes. I am so glad you brought that up. The best example of this is Apple. If you think about Apple and you think about the fact that it’s not just an apple, it’s an apple with a bite taken out of it, so that is a very specific apple. It’s from the Bible, it’s from the book of Genesis. Genesis is our creation myth. So if Tiffany is love, Apple is creation or creativity. If you think about the story of the Apple brand, they have their own Genesis story. Steve Jobs created it but then he went into exile, just like Moses had to go into the desert, right, they kicked him out. Then they were almost about to go bankrupt and have to shut the whole thing down and they didn’t want to do it but they brought Steve Jobs back because they had to. They had no other choice, they explored every other strategy and that was the only one left. So he comes back and there’s a video of this on youtube that you can see it’s fascinating. The first thing that he does is he focuses on the brand and he hire CHIAT\DAY and they developed a campaign and it’s the “think different” campaign. It’s this campaign that shows Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Maria Khalis, and Einstein, and all of these people are the most creative thinkers of their time and they’re all creating something out of nothing. They’re creating things that have never been seen or heard before so that becomes what the whole brand is about. He leveraged that idea, that emotional connection, to take a company that was basically about to close and being bankrupt, to the company that became the most valuable business from a market cap perspective on the planet. He did it in 25 years.

John:

I love this story so much Robert because when you say it’s not just an apple, it’s an apple with the bite which takes us to the creation myth but also for me part of that whole story of the creation myth was you were kind of breaking the rules in the Garden of Eden when you bite that apple. Not only does it take it into the Apple branding of creativity but also we’re going to break the rules and that’s why that initial Superbowl commercial against IBM and even this campaign line that you mentioned “think different” got a lot of feedback because people said “That’s not even grammatically correct, it should be think differently” and then they were like “We don’t care! We’re breaking the rules again! Think different!” It’s all so full circle that you say when a really good brand is in place, there’s so many layers, right. That’s the big takeaway.

Robert:

As you said, it’s breaking the rules. What is that? It’s differentiation. I mean it’s being willing, so if you think about most people, most people are not fearless, most people do not want to stand out, it makes them profoundly uncomfortable, right. Because when you’re right and you’re already successful then it’s easy but in those initial stages when you have to take that first step and you have to say “Look at all those people!” Whoever they are, whatever your category, so if it’s Steve Jobs, look IBM, look at Dell, look at Microsoft, they’re all wrong, right. You’re talking to Wall Street, the financial community and you’re basically saying all these companies that are so much bigger than you, they’re all wrong, right. We have another way to do it. It takes so much courage in the beginning. Now you look at it like of course, he was right. But then you apply that to a start-up entrepreneur and they need to have the same level of courage and the same level of conviction.

John:

Yes, absolutely, Uber, we can do this. Taxi’s have been run a certain way for years and we got a whole new idea. When people started pitching AirBnb a lot of investors said “You’re crazy, no one’s going to rent out a room in their home or apartment to a stranger.” It’s all so valuable, I love everything you’ve said so much, I could talk about branding all day long and you’re the expert. Is there a book that you want to recommend about branding or being fearless to the listeners?

Robert:

Yes, if you’ll indulge me I’ll recommend two.

John:

Sure!

Robert:

One is called The Hero and the Outlaw. It’s about using archetype to build a strong brand. It’s by Carol Pierson and Margaret Mark. That’s a really good primer for starting to think about it. Another one that I love, I have, whenever I start an engagement there’s two things that I focus on. One is meeting which we’ve talking about and the other is money. It’s all about connecting the two in my opinion. If we have something that’s meaningful but it’s not grounded in your financials then your success is really going to be limited. I always start my engagements by getting my clients – it’s the same thing, it’s define and limit. If you have a particular revenue objective, you need to get really granular and dig into the details and figure out how is that really going to happen, let’s build that, perform a client by client, engagement by engagement and see what it looks like. The other book that I would recommend is a book called Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa. It’s about selling and it’s about really being up front, talking about money, putting your cards on the table. It’s a great book because a lot of people are afraid to do it.

John:

I’ve never heard of that one. That’s a great, great title – Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play. It applies to business. It applies to dating, It applies to lot of things. It’s great.

Robert:

Yeah, that’s right.

John:

Robert, how can people best follow you?

Robert:

If you go to my website which is fearlessbranding.com. A couple of suggestions – you can download the Fearless Branding manifesto, it’s there on the homepage of my website, you can download that and then I will follow up with periodic updates. You can find me at Robert Friedman on Linkedin. There’s one other thing I’d like to tell you about. I’m giving a webinar in about a month. It’s sponsored by a company called Breakaway Funding and the webinar is called How to Build a Fearless Brand. It’s on May 26th at 11am and if you go to breakawayfunding.com/events what I will be doing is making a presentation with some visuals and it will be a deeper dive into many of the ideas that we talked about this afternoon.

John:

Great, How to Build a Fearless Brand is the name of the webinar is that right?

Robert:

That’s right.

John:

If people can’t make that one, will you be doing others in the future?

Robert:

I will.

John:

Cool.

Robert:

Yeah. I can let you know when they’re scheduled.

John:

Perfect. Well, I can’t thank you enough Robert for doing the show and showing us how to be fearless and how to make our brand stand out by defining and limiting who we want to reach because that’s everything to be successful.

Robert:

Thank you, John. it was great to talk to you, I really appreciate it.

John:

My pleasure.

Thanks for listening to The Successful Pitch Podcast. If you liked the show, please go to iTunes and write a review, and encourage your friends to write reviews too. It really helps get the word out.

You know, people say that the longest distance is between someone’s mouth and their wallet. People can tell you they’re going to invest but when it comes time to write the check, they don’t do it. So, how do you get people to say yes and then follow through? Visualize yourself on the left side of a riverbank and you have to cross the river, and on the other side of the river is where the funding happens.

So, first, you make up your idea and then you make it real and then you make it re-occur. Once you start dipping your toe into the water to get the funding, that’s where I can help. I get you across that river faster than you would on your own with a lot less frustration than you will get when you hear a bunch of no’s and you don’t know why. So, if you want some help getting funded faster with less frustration, go to my free funding webinar, sellingsecretsforfunding.com/webinar and sign up and get in depth information on how you can get funded fast. Thanks.

TSP084 | Jon Levy – Transcription
TSP082 | Charlie O'Donnell – Transcription
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