Big decisions are hard to make. The back and forth of wondering, ‘will this be the right move,’ is something everyone has struggled with. Before making a purchase the customer often likes to develop some kind of connection, or bond of trust. Principal and Founder of Stories That Work, Gerry Lantz, speaks towards his professional experiences and how a truly passionate story leads to unlimited business potential.
Highlights Discussed in This Episode:
- 8:39 – The benefits of reading more in depth
- 17:09 – The two important decisions customers make
- 21:11 – The value of learning & education
- 22:23 – The secret of professional & personal development
- 24:56 – How watching others develop brings joy
- 27:00 – The David Ogilvy culture
- 28:11 – Why telling a story is the best way to make a recommendation
- 37:20 – Why good taglines resonate with you
- 47:15 – How authentic success stories outline one’s integrity
Ogilvy On Advertising – David Ogilvy
Scientific Advertising – Claude Hopkins
The Human Brand – Chris Malonehttps://www.amazon.com/Human-Brand-Chris-Malone/dp/1622312961
Full Episode Transcription :
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Gerry, it’s great to have you on the learn to win show. Uh, as always, it’s, it’s fun talking with you. And I’m excited for the listeners too and viewers to hear your story and just your journey. And, you know, one of we were talking about early on is the fact that you had, uh, you’ve had and continue to have an amazing career, uh, in the world of creative branding and, and, uh, I joked when they called you one of the original mad man and you said, no, I’m way too young for that. So, and I, so I give you credit and I said, you missed all the fun, but tell us what about, you know, how you started in the world of creative branding and then I’ll kind of take it down another path from there. But yeah.
Well, thanks for having me. Thanks for the introduction. Um, I was kinda mad men late. Um, we didn’t do three martini lunches. We, uh, I got in time to have two martini lunches and I had a couple of those, um, and was late getting back to work. Um, I was actually a teacher to start. I taught high school in Ohio and then here in Pennsylvania. And then I went, you know, I really want to be a filmmaker and um, media kind of person. I went to temple university right up the road here and got a master’s in film making and um, cinema studies now that in a nickel would have bought me a cup of coffee back then. Um, but I did manage to get up to, uh, New York. And I did not actually started Ogilvy and Mather, which is a major global ad. I’ve worked at three of the five large, largest global addings. He’s started as a trainee. I mean, literally a trainee in Ogilvy and McCann Erickson was there about a year and a half and a head Hunter came along and said, I want to go to Ogilvy and be an account executive. And I desperately wanted to go there because I knew I could get the training that I needed. As I say, I got my MBA of the streets. I already had a master’s in communications and film studies, but as it was a little academic, so, um, I went there and I really, I just kept getting promoted every couple of years, two and a half years. So I stayed and I didn’t have a desire to leave. They did everything. Like I like, um, they put their beliefs and principles up on the wall.
Uh, you quoted David Ogilvy as if you knew him. Everybody called him David. Um, the house that David built, uh, David actually came over from France. He was long out of the company. Um, not at that time. He was kind of semi out of the company. He wasn’t, uh, the chairman or anything anymore, but he downloaded that on everybody he knew when to exit and to leave it to professional managers. And he brought in the right people to do that for whom I worked. Um, he did come to one of our training classes and, and you had classes at Ogilvy. So I went there, I got my MBA at the streets as I said, and um, it was just really, really valuable. Packaged goods, disciplines, research disciplines, um, services, disciplines, the whole spectrum. And I worked on enough accounts in my time there that I went on the client side surprisingly enough and ran, um, the marketing at Ferrero USA. Most people wouldn’t know them from Adam. Uh, but the market Rochet Nutella, Tic Tacs, because people don’t know that Tic Tacs is one of their brands. I helped, I helped introduce Rochet nationally in the mid nineties, and then got Nutella over the last 10 years. Got it kicked off, got it. Into supermarkets. Now everybody here loves Nutella, talks about Nutella. Like the Europeans do love it. Except if you’d told them way, way back when, when we are starting, it’s got hazelnuts in it. They’d go, Oh, we don’t eat hazelnuts here. Let me tell you. They eat it now by the jar. So that was all fun. I mean, how can you not have fun selling candy? And I, you know, my God, I mean, it’s like dying and going to heaven and yeah.
Um, then I realized I really didn’t want to run a candy company. The next step for me was to go to a small country and help run up. But I didn’t really want to do logistics and all that other stuff and finance. I mean, I was, I had bottom line responsibility for quite a few brands, but I, I just went back to advertising where strategic ideas really made the day and creative insight really drove things. Um, and I went to DDB and I was worldwide account director on Hasbro toy and games. And that was huge, about 175 million globally. I lived in planes and then they shut down the division I was in and redistributed the accounts to the competitive agencies and at DDB where I was. But I got to work for my two heroes. One was David Ogilvy at Ogilvy and Mather and the other was Keith Reinhard, you deserve a break today from McDonald’s. Keith came out of a Needham Harper Steers in Chicago and then eventually ran all of DDB Needham and, uh, which became just DDB and what a famous shop, Doyle Dane Bernbach, you know, VW think small. It’s just I’ve been been to the mountaintop and it was, I learned from the best and that allowed me to create the career that I have because all those disciplines apply in the B2B world. I love the B2B world. It’s just rife with opportunity.
Because there’s a lot of things in the B2B world that are done really poorly.
Thank you for saying that I wouldn’t want to insult anybody.
No, it’s, it’s a fact. What I love about this stuff, and I don’t, I don’t know much about your three big companies. I know the most about Ogilvy because I’ve studied quite a bit of this work and I’ve been a big fan. Um, he’s just a brilliant thinker and copy writer. And what I love about brilliant copywriters is it’s not about the newest podcast gear. It’s not about any, you know, modern application of a technology. It’s principles, it’s human principles and it’s story. Right? So you, your background in film. I have a film degree as well. And one of my favorite books that I read that actually got me into film was called the writer’s journey, which is a tease on the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell’s work. So I know you, you focus on brand story, right? So I really want to hear and absorb the wisdom and the knowledge that you’ve acquired over your career about the timeless principles that people should be using more than they probably are today.
Well I think one them is what you just said. Read more, read more in depth. I mean you read a book that got you really into this business. I actually read David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on advertising in the very, very beginning way back when and he, I saw on the famous ads that he did and he talked about a book you mentioned the other day in a meeting we were in together, which is a scientific advertising by Claude Hopkins. And I read John Caples book, all of them, the cause the principles were in there. You know, David was actually a researcher. He wrote brilliant copy, but he came out of Gallup and he did a lot of other things before that when he was in England and in France of all places, he was worked in a kitchen and he sold Agha cookers. I don’t know if you know about them. They were kind of stove in England. So he learned sales from the ground level, but he wrote over and over again and preached at us constantly. We sell or else believed in the principles of direct marketing that are measurable, which predicted everything doing today. Right.
And shockingly, in advertising that often is not the number one focus of the client. Right.
Way back when you don’t think it is now?
Well, I think, I think people want things that are beautiful and funny. Right. And uh, interesting. A lot of times when you’re making a decision, they’re trying to win awards. Yes. But what always stood out to me about Ogilvy’s, um, one of his quotes that I remember, he says, if it’s not, it’s not. If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative. Which would rub a lot of creative people the wrong way.
Well, I think that goes back to why the metrics are so important. Especially now. I mean marketing and over the last 20 years have become a data. It’s a science as much as it is an art. Right?
And David knew that and he believed he had a quote too about using research. Don’t use it as a lamp post to support what you already believe. It’s like a drunk leaning on it. Lamp post. Right? You could discover insights. I’m mangling his quote. He has so many. Such a pithy Brit. He’s actually a Scotsman, you know, he wore red braces. And the fact that I talk about braces makes people wonder where I come from. Vendors. Red is a very big color. Ogilvy by the way, all the carpets are red in any office you want to go into around the world. And when people go there, they feel at home. That’s the power of branding. By the way. All of our notebooks were red. We all copy these things, but yeah, David really, really believed in them. Well, let’s go back to principles. What principle lights you up. I’m going to interview you.
Oh mean you’re asking me outside of the current conversation what principles, so I just was writing about this yesterday is growth and learning. I mean that is why I’m doing this show. That is why we connected and Derek and I connected like that has been consistent. You every single thing I’ve done for my entire life and I occasionally will give veered off in some direction. Sometimes it’s in chasing a new technology or something that’s really dazzling and interesting at the moment. But what I, I am passionate about is pursuing change. Like it’s, it’s growth and to a fault, like we were talking about earlier today in a different interview is just being transparent. One of the things in my career that has gotten me in trouble is I will work on something, work on something work on something and then right towards the end of a project I’ll realize how it can be better. So I want to change everything right then. And you know what? So we don’t finish the thing we started,
David said it’s never too late to make an ad better, which drove people nuts because you know the press has got to roll at some time or right. The ad has to be placed on TV. You bring up a really big important point and David really believed in the power of story, one of his famous ads, which wouldn’t seem so relevant today, but actually it still is because it’s a brilliant device. The man in the Hathaway shirt and it was a guy who on the way to the shoot the print shoot and it was some Lord Mountbatten or some damn Brit guy in the ad and uh, and he’s very tucked in in his shirt and it’s all buttoned down and everything. And David grabbed an eyepatch and put it on the guy at the shoot. Now they don’t say anything about why the eye patches there. It makes the guy distinguish. But he believed it had story appeal. What’s up with this guy? What’s up with this?
People were asking, it stayed in the brain.
It stayed in the brain. It sticks in the mind. Stories do. And then he had the brilliant insight and that didn’t demand long copy or anything. It just, you know, the man in the Hathaway shirt, and by the way, that’s Berkshire Hathaway. Warren buffet is a big early investor in old what we bought in big time and made a ton more than David did. Nobody knows that did. Um, he said if you really identified your target very tightly, you can write super long copy and we know that to this day.
Because they’ll be enthralled by it. Your audience will read it. There’ll be,
They will read it. So he wrote tremendously long copy ads on oysters. He wrote a long ad on oysters, but it was for, I forget Guinness stout or something because Guinness goes with oysters, but it was all the different kinds of oysters with an explanation of each. Because once you have an interest in target, you’ve identified that persona and all that stuff that we do today, those eternal principles there, they’re going to want to read you. And that’s like when you trigger online something that gets their interest, that’s their world. They go, I want to know about that. Yeah. And they dive in and then we can sell them.
Well you hear these days in marketing a lot, nobody reads long copy.
Except that people who are interested in that product.
It’s the same thing. Instagram also, but the long, long captions, it’s the same concept that the followers of these people will read the content of that person because they buy into it and it’s theirs. That’s, but that’s a precondition. They have to be the right prototype, a profile or the right buyer persona or already committed or invested in that brand.
And the writing has to be good because I can write like I am a mediocre copywriter at best. Right. It takes me a long time to get something that’s decent. Right.
But then you are a good copywriter. I’m serious.
Um, the difference between someone who really has a, way with words, I mean, I just admire copywriters so much. I don’t think people give it nearly enough credit these days. Um, and part of that writing is, you know, there’s hooks, right? There’s different appeals and hooks, but it’s story. So, um, I, I see your work, Gerry. Cause we’ve, you know, we’ve done some projects together and I love it and I feel like it’s one of these elements of a brand or, or that needs to be attached to a product that is so critical and it gets pushed aside because it’s, a story like story doesn’t sound like it has financial heft right?
Like what are you waiting to make a story? Yeah, I’d still get boxes out the door. Right?
Yeah. So, so, so tell us a little bit about maybe how you addressed that, um, that false preconceived notion.
This is my whole business. I presented on it this morning, this very morning, that, one blind side, the biggest blind side I see in B2B marketers is they don’t believe in, uh, that emotion really has much to do with the sale. They talked about their features and their benefits. Okay. That’s enough about the customer. We’ve talked about the benefits and they slap a price on it and send out, uh, an invoice and then they go, well, that’s enough. And then they wonder why they’re not selling. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. So I say, dude, there’s two parts to a brand. There’s the functional part and there’s the human part. There’s two stories and it’s deeply rooted in us, um, in, in a book called the human brand by Chris Malone, who lives right up in a town West of year. That said, from the earliest days in caves, uh, human beings came out. And if somebody was approaching, they wanted to know two things. One, is this person a threat or on the opposite of that, and this isn’t the second thing, are they, are they a help to me to survive. So you have to have some level of confidence. That’s our functional story are our benefits story, our features and benefits story. But then the other they wanted to know is, are you the person that I can have around? Are you, are we gonna get along? And that’s, you know, and I know when you walk in to sell something or when you walk in to sell something, they buy you or not buy you almost instantly and then they listen to what you have to say. So they make two purchase decisions that are B2B clients. Their customers make two decisions. They make what I call a purchase decision, which is a rational left side of the brain. Even though that may be artificial based on facts, specs and on and on. Rational stuff. That’s a purchase decision. But then over on the right side of the brain, that emotional accessible values Laden a story-driven side, which is the right side of your brain is the what I call the buying decision made by you. They buy how you work and a brand has to do that. The brands, not just the logo, everybody says they know that, but then they forget about it. When they get down below in everything else, they forget that there has to be the human side of the brand as well as its rational functional side. Let’s take David Ogilvy again and give you a really good example. The clunk headed copywriter would write for rolls Royce the quietest car on the road at any price. That would be a clunky way to do it. You know what David wrote? He wrote at 60 miles an hour. The loudest sound in a rolls Royce is the clock. Story, we can see ourselves in it. It’s got sound sight motion. It was a complete story and I had line. Now I may have mangled that headline, but that’s pretty close to what it was. 60 miles an hour. The loudest sound in a rolls Royce. He gets the brand name in it.
You’re experiencing it.
You’re experiencing it. Thank you. Thank you. And most B2B marketers do not know that they’re selling an experience. They’ll say they do. Oh we’ve got customer service and I go malarkey. Everybody has customer service that doesn’t differentiate. It’s the total experience. I can go on about this stuff forever.
So let’s take it back a second in time and to where you started and you talked about the process of getting to becoming in this world of advertising, working for Ogilvy. But you mentioned the theme a few times around learning, education, the process there. Uh, you had mentioned that you got an MBA in the streets, you took classes at Ogilvy, but even before that you mentioned the fact that you been an educator, you’ve been a teacher. How did that experience influence your, your future self in that world of advertising? How did, how did you move from, you know, how did you become a teacher? Did that me say I want to become a film. And what lessons and things that you experience as a teacher that then followed you throughout your, your own journey as a marketer?
That’s actually a powerful question for me personally. Um, I started teaching English in high school and I needed a job. I was married, there’s the writing, obviously English and writing, English and writing. And I, at first my interest was journalism, but I just chose, you know, literature and that stuck with me. There’s not much you can do with that other than go teach. So I went to teach and I found I was natural at it and I loved it. And in fact, I went back to my own high school and taught an English class and a good old nun that I had had for class, grabbed me by the arm, drug me into the hallway and said, you’re a natural born teacher. This is what you should do. And I ended up teaching there in the very high school I graduated from and I immediately wanted to come to the Northeast. I just loved the energy here. I wanted to go to film school again about story, how to spell, tell stories, what this is what turns me on words and pictures itself. The more I could learn about that, the better. The happier I was. Now I taught here, then I got a graduate assistantship at Temple University and I was happy to have that because I could not only learn but teach. Low and behold, I really wanted Ogilvy from the very beginning because they were famous for their teaching and their classes at all levels.
So you always valued learning. Always valued education.
Always. Yeah, and Ogilvy knew the secret of professional development and personal development. They trained at every level as an AE as a management supervisor. Then as a director, they trained it internationally. They trained, I went.
So the secret as it’s always happening, for every level of every person making it personalized to them.
Absolutely, they were leading the field on that. And here’s the other thing, they, they said, if I train these people and they leave, that’s just the cost of doing business. David said, we’re a teaching hospital for our clients. Uh, we groom our interns who make our clients better and they become even bigger contributors to our clients’ businesses. He was happy to write off that money. We always had an, uh, director of training always. And then they hired me after I left advertising and I wasn’t even working for them by that time. It was a Doyle Dane. Uh, they hired me after I left to come back because I knew the system. I knew how I knew what account people, how they had to write. I knew how to make proposals in even the Ogilvy way. Uh, and that was very important. The culture and the content of that particular industry has to be inculcated, has to be imbibed by the, I know those are big words, but it has to be taken on. How else would you do that unless you train in the Boeing way or the, uh, FedEx way or the whatever corporate way. That’s why GE has a huge training center, right. Been somewhere near White Plains. Yeah.
So the other thing that’s kind of just struck me when you’re just talking is it some of the most successful sales leaders that I’ve met over the years and, and marketing executives started as teachers. Right? Yeah. And I don’t know if that’s, that’s actually an irrelevant statistic or no, you should do that research. But I, I know many very successful sales and marketers that started as their first job as teachers and then ultimately felt that they were, they were called by, um, greater financial incentives, but, but they found was that teachers translate into sales. Why would that be? Because you’re telling a story, you’re finding what resonates and how do you get someone engaged in the, in the process of learning, of the process, of the brand and the process of the company, whatever it is and that you’re ultimately doing that as a teacher on a fundamental level, right?
There’s joy in that. That’s what gets forgotten in corporate America. There’s joy in that. Watching people develop, and I have a little corollary I want to give you about that because I practice it in the agency world and on the client side. Um, get junior people, no matter how high up you are, even if you’re the CEO, get junior people to work with you directly because they grow and develop under your tutelage, under your teaching. And they get to see how things work at the very top or at a higher level than they are. It inspires them. It gives them goals. But I wanted to go back to what you had to say about teachers. The really great thing, and I guess I’m repeating a little bit, is watching people develop kind of under your direction, watching them grow, watching them achieve. Because your reach will never extend beyond your own grasp unless you can get others to do for you. And the way to get others to do for you is to train them, uh, to even exceed you in your accomplishments. David had, David was such a smart businessman, he said, you know, hire giants. Otherwise you have a company of mice, hire people better than you. How many companies have you truly run into? I’m not trying to insult anybody who really have that perspective. And that comes from training and having the big vision to want to train everybody who comes and people who want to come to learn and not just do the routine. Yeah.
It comes with an open mind and open heart. Right. All of it. They loved, like to, to really allow that to sink in.
That’s cool. What are you thinking Todd?
So I’m thinking with, um, with the training, right? Ongoing training, what you said there, the Ogilvy way what was magical about it? Is it just the discipline to have that part of the culture and have it be consistent or is there very specific delivery method or medium like, ah, we need to be exploratory.
It’s like a culture. It’s, it is the culture. Uh, David’s quotes were all over the world and let’s not make this all about David, but when you go to, when you went to the plant in, uh, Alba, Italy, the means Dawn, by the way, it’s such a beautiful name and it’s in a beautiful part of the Piedmont in Italy. But there were pictures on the walls of the early days after world war II, you know, and when they were stumbling back to growth, um, there were also functional pictures on the wall in the factory of what a mangled product looks like. And it shouldn’t ship because they had a certain commitment to quality. And the chairman himself, the owner, and he was called like, we call him David David. This guy was the father Michele Ferrero a hardworking, intelligent, brilliant engineers in the North of Italy. Um, they worked constantly. Uh, they started a little bit late and they took very long lunches cause they have a good quality lifestyle. But then they were there til eight and nine at night. Then they went out and had another dinner.
They know how to live. Good food. Good wine.
Yeah. It was fantastic. But they knew the power of words and picks the best way to make a recommendation and Michele Ferrero was a very smart man, was to tell a story and draw a picture because he saw Ferrero is being crushed by the giants and Hershey and Mars and he wanted to fly in and around them. And so I kind of, we talked about guerrilla strategies to get Rochet in. And even some old friends at Hershey said, when you get Rochet to $100 million, we’re going to come after you. Well, we got 100 million. Um, and you know, of course they come after you. Uh, so he responded to the stories and he called a us American boys when we would get too deep into the numbers and too deep into marketing, blah, blah. He wanted to hear the story.
So got me thinking as you were talking, I mean, you have a tremendous amount of wisdom and, and there’s stories for days. Literally this interview is just capturing the very surface where, where do you see the future of your story and the lessons you’ve learned, how you, how are you continuing to apply this and where do you see it going? As long as you want to continue to contribute in this way.
You are a psychic. I just actually talked about that with this, uh, uh, board, uh, board of advisors. I have, who I presented to you this morning. Um, actually for me personally, I want to, uh, present more. I want to speak, uh, be paid to speak and inspire B2B audiences, particularly in manufacturing, uh, because, uh, they’re going to have a rough patch right here, right now in the next several months, uh, leading to a year. And I want to help them take on the principles. I know that work in marketing and I’ve worked with several manufacturers and added the human element to their functional story and their businesses have responded. So that’s, I want to speak to manufacturing associations. I’m happy to speak to any others. I’ve worked at technology companies, I’ve worked for you name it.
And I’m just going to pause you real quick as one of your headlines or one of your taglines for the bus company. It literally, I’ve seen you do this presentation three or four times a person. Gives me chills just reading the tagline. Will you just tell that just in a very quick story?
There’s a client just up the road, small tech company. They do transportation management software for school districts. Buses, they get routed, very complex routing and um, usually it’s done by hand and they have a software that does it for the school district. It’s simple. It accounts for a snow and ice or a wreck on one road and they have to reroute it, can do it instantly. Um, very, very functionally needed. And I got introduced to them through a design firm. Here’s the name, they didn’t need me for a name and it was brilliantly laid out. It was in orange and black or yellow and black. Buss Boss, I’ll say it again, bus boss, but mashed together as all one word. Good, strong bus boss. And they had a tagline, transportation management software, uh, for school buses. And then down below it said something like transportation management software. They kind of repeated it, uh, for the 21st century. I presented no story, no story, no studies of an object. Yeah, exactly. And then I say to BTB audiences, I say to them, I said, is that a good tagline? A technology for the 21st century? And they go, yeah, it’s really great. I go, no, wait a minute. We’re talking technology. Would we sell old technology? Would we sell out? Would we sell windows 94 to somebody? No. So it better automatically. It’s a given. It’s going to be modern. Right. And I said, look, there’s more involved in that. Now, I have to say I had my own personal experience with taking my oldest daughter when she was a little tiny baby and handing her over to my inlaws and putting her in the back seat of the car and saying, be really careful with her. She’s our precious cargo and I’m doing a scan of all the stories of all the competitors. Lo and behold, nobody used that language. One of the major national players in the game had it on the 17th page of website down in the bottom and tiny, tiny mouse type in body copy, but it came out of the heart and soul. And I’m not saying I own the idea, I’m happy to enable a client’s idea and this is the line that came out of it because your precious cargo comes first and then they added the client added and their name is orbit software, but the name of the brand bus boss, they added a headline to their key visual on their website, safety from the first to the last stop. It’s about the kids in the bus and they dropped their functional lines completely and now you can go there right now, bus boss and it says bus boss because your precious cargo, your precious cargo comes first. And we did that by defining personas. Everybody, the school teachers, the parents, the it manager or the school district administrator, um, the superintendent, everybody was concerned about the kids.
And that’s particularly, I just put my five year old, six year old on the school bus for the first time a couple months ago and I was kind of poking fun of my wife. She was like, Oh, he’s such a wreck. I got up there. It was like, wow, this is terrifying. You’re like, I don’t know, this woman driving the bus, he’s getting on this giant thing and just disappeared. Disappeared, he’s so small. I couldn’t even see him over the window ledge. I’m like, fingers crossed. I mean, you can’t, that’s how it works. You put them on the bus and they go, right?
And technology B2B brand has got a human side. Yeah, you could say it’s unfair because, because they’ve got little kids in there, but we’ve written similar lines for the most down and dirty manufacturing companies that exist in the rust belt. So it is possible and it actually makes me want to buy from you. And actually that’s trainable by the way you can, you don’t have to be creative to come up with this stuff. It’s just a process. It’s a trainable process and the client has to be open minded enough to train and open minded enough to take it on and open minded enough to allow what seems to be soft sell ideas. To let them sell as hard as they can sell. They get hung up on hard sell and soft sell. Trust me, a salesman coming in with a plaid suit and a slide deck is not necessarily selling but align like because your precious cargo comes first, it does.
For the right audience like I want to know what they’re selling. I want, I legitimately want to know what they’re selling just because of that one line. Right. Cause I’ve read. Yes. Yes it does. First of all, check that off the list. I’m first the buyer, the consumer, right? I feel that they understand what’s important to me when I read that and now I want to look at them versus everyone else. The framework you just said they can be taught. Can you give us the cliff notes in a few minutes or is it more detailed than that?
I think, this is going to sound like a pitch, but get an experienced hand, get a guide, get a consultant, gets somebody who knows what they’re doing or hire that head of a marketing that has a track record in moving the needle, not only in terms of top line revenue and bottom line profit, which I was measured on it for Rero. Um, but has heart and soul and an open mind, uh, to what seems to be challenging approaches. I’m meeting a guy tomorrow morning for breakfast who is so excited. He’s jump up and down, wants to pursue the stories behind his sampling business. Now you’re going to say, now what’s the human part of sampling? Well, it happens to be pharma samples. Pharmaceutical samples.
Yes, we’re very familiar. That’s a lot of our customers.
Oh, there you go. Well, what? That’s life and death automatically. So don’t just tell me you, you’re really efficient and do great delivery with zero air errors or whatever, or lower costs. What else? Maybe you’re saving some lives. Isn’t there some potential in that? Helping educate doctors, but what’s the line that captures that? Well this guy’s excited except these under budget pressures. I probably shouldn’t be saying this. I hope he’s not listening.
Yeah, I like the, all the mistakes and the rawness on the interview are the best parts.
Nobody knows who he is.
So I should leave in that part?
Yeah, absolutely. I love these parts of the interviews. That’s really it. This is great.
I’m a sucker for all this story stuff. Do you have, I’ve got a couple, um, like taglines and sayings in my head. Do you have any favorites? Cause these are always good to hear. Ones that resonated with you, that have, you know, held the top rank in your list over the years.
Oh god, I just heard one this morning on the radio.
You, Derek, do you have anyone that’s like a company? I’ll start the tagline. This could be a fun thing to do. So I did this in one of my presentations on conversion and I was comparing an overnight delivery service. I really know what it was, but it was just literally said overnight delivery versus the FedEx line that came out in the absolutely, positively has to be there when it absolutely positive they were established to be there overnight. Yes. Like they’re the same service, right.
What’s the line that you loved?
When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight. Yeah. I love it. Yeah. I love it. The other one was overnight delivery. Yeah. Which is the same, it’s the same thing. They both have the same guarantee, but one understands how important it is to me. Right.
I’ve got to have that package on that guy or gal desk the next morning. Yeah, yeah.
But it’s just a such a good example of how well crafted words have that impact. No more examples?
Oh, sure. Let me think a bit.
I know i’m putting you on the spot.
Uh, no, I’m not on the spot. I, it’ll come to me. Well there’s functional ones, but they, they were tied to a fun context. I mean there’s classics like M and M’s melts in your mouth, not in your hand, you know, perfect. It was just perfect. And it was tied to an animation which would look cranky now and creaky and old. But in being in the candy business, when they introduced the little characters as M and M’s, which they stole the idea from kisses, but went very much further. Uh, I was talking to salesman on the floor of the candy convention. They had religion on those little characters. I mean, you know that each of those colors represent something in the culture. Did you know that one? The green one comes out in kind of kicky boots and a kinky boots. Actually, no. Those are the ones that are sexy.
I never knew there was a sexy M and M color.
Yeah, well they each have a meaning. So in, I remember when they did red his back cause they had to take red out because of the red dye. Yes. And then when it came back, it was just big hullabaloo and you know, people were jumping up and down, or at least they made a time like that. So there’s lots of meaning and they’ve created human characters. Now they did something that we couldn’t do on kisses, which is they get eaten and kisses we never showed. Because we didn’t want to eat these little human characters who seem a little cannibalistic, but they make fun of that. Yeah. So they’re very, um, audacious, but the sales one right down to the sales people, uh, got it. And talked about the characters of the M and. M’s. So it’s a cultural thing where, were we taglines?
And we don’t even need to go deeper in taglines. So Gerry, if people want to dip their toe in the water here and turn their rusty, dusty old brand into something with story, where can they start
I would propose something simple instead of trying to eat the brand whole and try to take down the whole elephant all in one gulp. Uh, just let’s start with this simple morning session and take the corporate values, uh, that companies, uh, particularly B2B company already espouses. And instead of supporting those values with case studies, I would say tell a success story and it might be, uh, something that you had as an idea or a client experience. It was successful, you’re proud of it, and other people thought it was success too. Uh, and as a trigger I’d say, tell me that story. And then, then it gets told as a story. I may have suddenly enough what I don’t like are the success stories that are told like a situation, action resolved or situation, strategy, bullet 0.1, bullet 0.2, bullet 0.3 bullet 0.4 and then finally everyone goes to sleep. And then finally a result, you know, forget that. Um, I mean most of them were written that way. They can be short and tight. That’s great, but let’s try this instead. Let’s steal from the movies. Let’s start in action. The world was ending. They couldn’t get a box out the door and they didn’t know what the problem was. We parachuted in and you know what? We didn’t have the answer at first, but working together, we began to get little hints and clues. Right now I want to know what happened and if I really relate to the problem you’re outlining, I’m intrigued. I’m interested. Suspense is good. The problem with most companies is they want to act like they have the answer right from the get go. They don’t. The truth is you go in and you discover it with them, but nobody wants to admit that. But then you get into, so start in action, throw me into action like a good movie.
Um, you notice how the action starts now, right? With the credits. Let’s do that in these stories. Then be A action. B backstory. You step back. Then you describe the situation. What’s happening, who the main players are, duh, duh, duh, duh, and what customer issue they’re trying to solve. And then finally, let’s make the conflict really clear. No conflict. C for conflict, no story. There’s has to be something at stake. What’s at stake in the story? If they win, they get a million dollar account. If they lose, maybe they’d go out of business. That’s having real stakes in the story. And then finally there’s gotta be some big turning point, another C, a climax. So truly C2 conflict and climax. What’s that final turning point where maybe you or the client or you and the client together find the answer and things start getting better. Now in English class we would’ve called the de denouement, but I just call it destination for business. People can get it. Don’t, I’m not insulting them, but they’re not English majors like I was. So it’s action backstory. You with me, conflict, climax, and then finally destination. Where do I go? And I’m glad that my efforts weren’t wasted. Where does it go from here? What did we learn? What’s that feedback loop? How do we get better? The next time. What’s the new learning that we carry forward in the future? What’s our new strategy based on what came out of this? Now that’s a story I want to read, but there’s variations on that, so we’re, it’s matter and words are at the heart of a great story even without pictures.
I love it. Gerry, this has been great. Visualizing all of this as you say it. Thank you. The framework is great. The ABC CD, um, where can people get a little more info from you and hire you for a half a day or a full day or.
Oh sure, or just a conversation and you talk about where we go from there. Go to www.storiesthatwork, storiesthatwork.com or heck, should I give my phone number? I’m never clear about whether I should give my phone number.
I probably wouldn’t.
Probably not you’re a devastatingly handsome young fellow, so people might be all over you.
On that note, thank you for sharing your story, Gerry.
Thank you for having me here.
Gerry, thanks for coming up.