[Podcast] How to Build Big Brands on Small Budgets with Ian Barnard

[Podcast] How to Build Big Brands on Small Budgets with Ian Barnard

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Join us as we sit down with marketing strategist, Ian Barnard, and delve into the world of brand performance and its distinction from performance marketing, exploring the positioning process (4Cs) and the significance of creating future demand.

Ian shares valuable insights on how small brands can grow when competing against larger market leaders and highlights the most common advertising mistakes made by small brands.

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Tune in to learn how brand marketing can facilitate profitable scaling and discover the 2-4-5 framework for effective full-funnel advertising.

We also discuss digital marketing mistakes that damage brands and uncover strategies for positioning brands to become the top-of-mind choice.

Don’t miss this insightful conversation that will level up your brand & marketing expertise, no matter your level.


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Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding. Today, we have Ian Barnard with us, who is a marketing strategist and the strategy director at Creative Business Company, where he helps develop and execute marketing plans through the power of brand strategy, positioning, planning and analytical skills. Today, we’re going to be discussing how to build big brands on small budgets, something Ian specializes in.

But before we do, a little side story on how I came across Ian. I recently finished a mini MBA in brand management with Mark Ritzen, and inside one of the modules was a reference to a brand report card, which a marketing professor at Harvard put together. So essentially what this report was, it was an extensive, well-researched academic essay on how to measure a brand’s value in the marketplace.

But it wasn’t very practical. It wasn’t very usable. So I didn’t want to leave this where it was.

So I looked for a more usable summary online. I Googled brand report card and I found Ian’s website where he had a little PDF checklist summarizing this report card. It was exactly what I was looking for.

So I connected with Ian after finding that brilliant resource. We got chatting and soon after he sent me a 120-page deck all about growing big brands on small budgets. And here we are today.

So we’re going to discuss that very topic. So welcome to the show, Ian.

Thank you very much. Great to be here.

So can you just share with our audience a little bit more about you, your story, how you got to where you are?

Yeah, sure. So I actually came to marketing pretty late in the game. Well, I didn’t get started until I was 30.

I started off in civil engineering, and long story short, I hated it. I was doing inspections and construction sites and that kind of thing, and I thought it was terrible. So I got out.

I got an internship at an organization and that kind of pick started this new career in marketing. So I’ve been in it now for 10 years. I’ve worked both in-house and client side.

Most of my background was in digital advertising, e-commerce marketing, and I made the switch a couple of years ago to agency side. So now I’m a strategy director at the Creative Business Company. We’re a brand performance agency based in Toronto, Canada, and we specialize in helping challenger brands grow and scale profitably.

Before we get into brand performance, maybe we discuss how you see brand and the lens you see that through. What does it mean to you? Like, how would you define it?

Yeah. So I think because I’m more of a numbers guy, I guess, or maybe I came into it from a different place, but I think of brand from a very business point of view, a very kind of dollars and cents point of view. I think a lot of people, the common perception of brand, I think, is telling wider, broader stories about a company, which is absolutely relevant and true.

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But I tend to look at it from the fact of what brand does for a company’s bottom line. What you’re really doing with brand marketing or successful brand marketing is that you’re building future demand. You’re building a pipeline of future customers for your company so that over the long term, you’re going to have a constant source of new customers coming into the business, who are willing to pay more for the products and services that you’re offering.

I guess that’s why you wrote about the brand report card because it’s all about measurement, right? And if you’re a numbers guy, it’s very valuable to have that methodology on how you can measure brand, which is not very, it’s not discussed much, right? There’s not much resource around how to measure brands.

So maybe we can get into that report card a bit later, but the topic of today was how small brands can compete against larger market leaders. So what’s your take on that?

Yeah, so I think that big brands kind of intuitively know something, but a lot of smaller businesses don’t fully understand. There’s a secret to what they’re doing that doesn’t make sense to a lot of smaller brands, but is really what’s driving this long-term growth that they can achieve. And it comes back to this topic of brand marketing versus performance marketing.

So I’ve done both in my career. Both of these are really valuable for a company. You need both of these things working for you.

But what I’ve found is that a lot of smaller companies tend to over invest in performance marketing and don’t invest enough or at some times at all in brand.

So Ian, could it just interrupt there, just so we have definitions of that for our listeners. What exactly is performance marketing?

That’s a good question. I think performance marketing is it’s usually digital marketing, but any kind of marketing where you are paying for an outcome or a certain target of person. So you’re either paying when someone clicks or views or interacts with an ad somehow, and you have the ability to target them based on their behavior or their profile.

So like lead gen sort of techniques, would you say, Ian? In other words, like so that everything’s being tracked through from almost like from an early stage through, but you’re paying, as you say, in the presence. Hi, it’s Matt, by the way.

I should have probably introduced myself. Hi, everybody. Are we talking about lead generation as a focus when you talk about performance marketing or is that slightly different?

Lead generation, I’d say, is definitely a part of it. So it falls under the umbrella of performance marketing. But I would say that performance marketing can go a little bit beyond that.

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It’s anything where you’re paying for a specific outcome. So that could be generating a lead, someone giving their email address to you, filling out a form, or it could just be someone clicking on an ad, going to your landing page, and hopefully buying something.

So this is more like bottom of the funnel, short term sales. Would you say that?

Exactly, exactly. You’re trying to get someone to take an action that’s closer to the point of purchase.

So let’s contrast that with brand marketing. And then we can talk about brand performance marketing, which is like a mix, I’m assuming.

Yeah, exactly. So brand marketing is like the opposite. So the way that…

Let me just back up a bit. And let’s talk about this idea of current versus future demand, because I think this is a really important concept to grasp here. So about a year ago, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science based in Australia, they put out this really interesting report called the 95-5 Rule.

And what the 95-5 Rule says is that whatever you’re selling, in any category, any market that you’re operating in, 95% of your customers are not shopping for whatever it is that you’re selling. Only 5% of your market is in market at any given time. So if you think about it in a different way, if you take all the people who are going to buy from you in the next 12 months, at any given time, like right now, tomorrow at 5 p.m.

only a tiny fraction of those people are actively shopping for what you’re selling. That sounds kind of basic and you think, well, so what? But there’s a really big implication around that.

Performance marketing is amazing at reaching the 5%. If I’m actively shopping for something, performance marketing is brilliant at sending me targeted ads for exactly what I’m looking for. That’s the whole power behind it.

I don’t have to waste my money as a marketer on people who are not looking for whatever it is that I’m selling. For the 5% is fantastic. I can use performance marketing and I can get those sales.

The problem is that I cannot speak to the vast majority of people who are not shopping, which is 95% of your market at any given time. I can’t reach them because they’re not showing any intent to buy. They’re not looking on Google for products and services.

They’re not showing any intent on Facebook behavior audiences and LinkedIn and so on. They’re just going about their day-to-day life. At some point in the next 12 months, they’re going to go into market and start researching and looking around for what I’m selling.

But they’re not doing it right now. How are we going to reach all these people? That’s where brand marketing comes in, this idea of future demand.

I need to speak to the 5 percent of people who are shopping. Absolutely. I can use performance marketing to do that very efficiently.

But what am I going to say to the 95 percent? The vast majority of people who don’t care about what I’m selling, probably haven’t even heard of my company, I need to somehow get on their radar so that when they do enter the market, maybe next week, maybe six months from now, they’re going to think of my company, my product and my service first. That’s how we define brand marketing.

It’s the long-term play. It’s the demand generation. I love it.



Moving back to the core question here. How can these small brands compete against these larger leaders? We’ve talked about the future demand and 95 to the 5 rule, but how can small brands compete if they’re-

how do they get in the market, I guess?

You have to start creating future demand. You have to start using brand marketing to get on people’s radar before they’re ready to buy something. Because what happens when you don’t do that, if you’re investing all your money into performance marketing, you’re taking on the big guys at the most expensive point of the buying process.

As soon as somebody raises their hand and says, I’m interested in whatever, I’m looking for toothpaste, I’m looking for a new car, I’m looking for insurance. Not only can you see that they’re interested, not only can you bid on those keywords and those audiences, so can everyone else. Guess what?

The market leaders have a lot more money than you do. They can afford to pay a lot more money. As we all know, performance marketing works on an auction-based system.

The more people that are in the auction means you’re going to get inflated ad costs. So somebody with deep pockets, like a market leader, is very easy to outspend the smaller guys. So you need to stop competing at the point of purchase, stop competing for clicks and start competing for attention.

So what I’m hearing is, you know, avoid performance marketing and auction type ads and instead focus on building brand. So how would we actually go about, correct me if I’m wrong, but how would a small business or small brand, you know, focus on the brand marketing side and try to get away from performance marketing?

You shouldn’t ignore performance marketing or not use it. You absolutely need to use performance marketing because that’s where your sales are gonna come from, right? We all have weekly, quarterly targets that we need to hit.

That’s all gonna come from the 5%. So you need, so the trick is not doing one or the other. We’re not saying that brand marketing is better than performance marketing.

These are both tools that you need to use simultaneously. And the trick is getting the right balance between the two. There’s a great piece of research from these two guys called Les Banette and Peter Field in the UK.

Long and short. It’s exactly, it’s 60-40 rule. So as a rule of thumb, when you have your marketing budget and you’re trying to balance between brand and performance, there’s actually a lot of data and science behind this.

And what these two guys found in this report called the long and short of it was the 60-40 rule, where they say that most of the time, most brands should spend around 60% of their budget on brand on reaching future customers and building future demand, and about 40% of their budget on performance, on harvesting the existing demand, and then going after about 5% of people who are in the market. And it’s the balance of these two types of marketing campaigns running simultaneously over a long period of time, that’s going to get you strong, steady, profitable growth.

So it’s interesting, because when we talk about more top of the funnel, if we can call it that, you know, brand marketing, as you’ve mentioned, what kind of activity would you suggest? Because what my kind of inclination and my brand strategist kind of brain is sort of ticking over in relation to how do you get inside somebody’s head, right? And usually it’s because you’re different or better or both ideally.

And so innovation and product innovation has to kind of come to the fore. What are your thoughts on that side of things? Because that usually falls outside of the realm of the marketing team.

And that’s where I think brand gets a bad name because in effect, you’ve got loads of product people throwing stuff over the fence to the marketing. And if it’s not better or good, it’s really tough for the marketing guys to then take that and really push forward in that demand gen space. What are your thoughts on that?

I think that this is where the brand positioning becomes really important, if not crucial. So it goes back to the question of what do you say to somebody who’s not ready to buy? They’re not ready to buy.

They don’t care about your product features. They don’t care about your services. They don’t care.

I’m not looking for a car. Don’t show me the sales sheet of the new Ford Mondeo. It’s not for me.

So what can you say? And this is where having a brand positioning that can speak to not only what you do, but tell a bit of a larger story in an interesting way is crucial, right? If you think back to possibly the golden age of advertising, let’s think of the 80s and the 90s, right?

We had these big TV campaigns that were telling more of a story, in fact, like a lot of these campaigns that you’d see on TV, some of them were talking about product features and the specific value, but a lot of the times they were telling a larger story that connected to the product, but was really more a form of light entertainment. A lot of the best ads that we can remember were funny, maybe they were sad, they were interesting, they’re a bit different. I mean, for me, I remember like the Tango ads in the 90s, where some guys just going around slapping people in the face.

What’s that got to do with a soft drink? I have no idea, but it was crazy, and I remember it 20 years later. So you have to find a positioning for your brand, for your company, that is related somehow to what your product is, but you can kind of blow that out a little bit more and tell a bit more of an expansive story with it.

Does that make sense to you guys? What do you guys think about that?

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, from my perspective, 100%, you’ve got to be noticed, haven’t you?

And to do that, you’ve got to be different and a bit unusual. Like you were saying with the Tango ads, I remember like the Dr. Pepper ads, where the catchphrase was, what’s the worst that can happen? And of course, like these ads took place and so on, picked up a Dr. Pepper can, which was like a soft drink, I don’t know if it’s just in the UK, but it’s like a cherry cola kind of pop can.

And yeah, stuff would happen, stuff would fall down and it would just be great. And it’s like, as you say, what on earth has that got to do with the drink? But the fact of the matter is, as we remember it, it’s unusual, it’s different and it lodges in your brain.

Did it make me buy Dr. Pepper? You know, maybe a little bit, because it was kind of a bit mad and you want to try it at least, and I didn’t actually like the taste, but you know, you’ve got to get that cut through. And so Jacob and I always preach, don’t we, Jacob, about differentiation and trying to find that wider narrative, the story that you’re trying to tell or help your audience tell is absolutely crucial.

What do you think, Jacob?

I agree as well. And I was going to ask Ian about, you know, some examples of it, you know, but you just did around Dr. Pepper and that other ad, but just bringing this back for a small brand, like how would they go about positioning themselves to make them different, right? How, what’s the process that you help your clients go through, for example, Ian?

We do have a firm process that we use at the creative business company. And all right, I’ll break it down. We’ll go by step by step.

Every time we start a new positioning project, I open up a new Google Slides deck and I put four slides in the deck. And it’s the slides say company, customer, contacts, go and dump as much information as I can find on the client into that deck. And by the end of it, I’ll have between 50 and 100 slides, which gives me the four C’s of marketing, right?

I have a pretty good view of like what the company’s about, what are they selling, what makes them different? What are the people in the category doing? And what’s going on in the larger world that connects to these, you know, the services and the brand?

That allows you to build a basic benefit ladder. So benefit, you guys probably have used benefit ladders a lot, but they’re often used in advertising to come up with campaign ideas. We actually use them in a slightly different way for positioning.

So out of this deck, this research deck that we have, we’re going to create a benefit ladder and we start at the bottom with the audience. We’re going to put on who’s the buyer that’s most relevant for this brand. We’ll list them at the bottom.

We’ll add a row on top and we’ll say, what are the problems that each of these buyers are facing? What’s related to what we’re selling? So we did a project recently for a workforce management company.

And they’re obviously using workforce management software to help companies schedule their employees. At the bottom, we had their audience. There was the employees themselves who would use the workforce management platform to schedule their shifts.

There was the managers who would use the platform to schedule shifts, schedule the employees on a weekly basis. And then we had the headquarters. Headquarters were the buyers.

They were the operations people who would kind of, you know, set up the system, then train the managers on it. So those were our three targets in the audience. Above that, we said, what are the problems that each of these audiences is happening?

And then on the, above that, on the third row, we said, how does our software, how does this client, this brand, solve each of these problems with their service? Once you have the bottom, you can start building up on that more kind of less tangible and emotional benefits here, right? So, you know, we have the audience, we’re solving a specific problem for the audience.

How does that make them feel? What difference does that make in their life? Like they get more time back, they have more time to, you know, do more important work.

They’re not so worried about missing shifts or it’s not such a hassle to, you know, schedule every week. And it allows you to kind of build up this larger picture of like, what is the benefit here of this product? So that we don’t have to talk about, you know, specific product features, which can get a bit boring.

And again, not very relevant to people who aren’t ready to buy, but you can get to a place where there’s a larger picture about like, what’s the difference? What’s the value in this? You know, what can we offer to people that’s going to make their lives better, easier, make scheduling faster?

And it serves as like a jumping point for a larger creative idea.


The four Cs, you had one there, I wasn’t that familiar with there, the context one. So what are you putting on your context line?

Context can be anything that’s going on in the world that is related to the service. So a different example, we worked for a healthcare fertility clinic platform. So it was a platform that was offered online services for fertility clinics.

And the context for that was like, what’s going on in healthcare globally, right? We’re looking at like nurses, for example. So the people that work at these clinics, what are some of the pressures that they’re being exposed to?

In their case, it could be like, you know, healthcare cuts we’re seeing in North America and Europe. Nurses have an incredibly difficult job. They’re under a lot of stress.

They’re under actually a lot of abuse. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs, which I was surprised to find out doing the research. Like a lot of nurses quit because of mental health issues, or they just get physical, there’s a lot of violence against healthcare practitioners.

Like crazy stuff. But like all things that you can use to, A, understand your prospects better and where they’re coming from, understand what their needs and their issues are, but B, kind of like use them as hooks to tell them a larger, more interesting story.

The key word there is understand. So you’re looking at all those different areas, your customer, the company, the category and context, and then using that information and those insights as a jumping board to get into the creative process.


Well, thank you for that. Matt, did you have any questions? Otherwise I’ll jump straight back into a few of the other ones.

No, I was just going to say though, that I love the benefits ladders. I think it’s super smart, in terms of a great way of looking at multiple audiences at any one time. And then as you say, looking at the different layers and then trying to find commonality, particularly at the higher end, where you’re going into emotion, the feelings that people are getting, get out of working with the brand.

I think that’s a great technique. I’ve used it a few times and brilliant for briefing creatives. Because if you can find a common thread, like you’re like, hey, this is all about saving time or whatever it might be, which gives people a sense of accomplishment.

So there we are. That’s the core narrative. Let’s never lose sight of that.

So I just love that. So Ian, thanks for walking everybody through that. Fantastic.

So we’ve talked about the 60-40 rule, the 95 to five rule, some of the how to go about positioning. So I guess we can talk about mistakes, right? What mistakes do you see small brands making with advertising?

Well, I guess just to kind of go back to the beginning, I think that they invest too much in performance marketing. I think it’s worthwhile just explaining why, because on the surface, it’s a very irrational decision. So why do brands invest so much in performance marketing in the first place?

Well, because it’s affordable, accountable, and measurable. All things which brand marketing typically hasn’t been in the past. So brand marketing has a pretty bad reputation.

And a lot of that is probably deserved, to be honest. I think the major shift that we’ve seen in the past 15, 20 years is, obviously, the introduction of digital advertising. But this higher level of accountability, that just wasn’t possible before, that performance marketers have really embraced.

So I can see it making total sense to a small business who doesn’t have a million pound or a million dollar budget saying, look, I need to get some results here. I can’t afford to go on TV. I can’t afford to do that kind of thing.

What I can afford to do is go on Facebook. I can advertise on Google. I can advertise on LinkedIn.

Makes total sense. I don’t have to waste my money targeting people who are not my customers, who are not going to buy from me.

As I said, it’s a perfectly rational and sensible thing to do, but I guess what they miss out on is this future demand. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for smaller companies to scale profitably. I think a lot of people tend to hit a growth ceiling, which is typically when you max out the 5%.

If I’m just for running performance marketing for 12 months a year, there’s only 5% of the market that I can realistically hit. I think the issue is once you max out the number of in-market shoppers, you need to switch to brand marketing and building future demand. I think that’s where a lot of smaller companies miss the opportunity a little bit.

I’m trying to make this actionable for some small brands. They’re like, well, if I’m not going to be doing performance marketing, how do I actually go about doing brand marketing? What would be some actionable steps or tips that you would say to do for these small businesses?

The best thing you can do is look up a report called Brand Building on Social Media by an agency called Born Social in the UK. They put this paper out a couple of years ago, and it tells you exactly how to run brand campaigns across social media platforms. Really, the essence of what they’re saying is that you can turn one video into a full funnel marketing campaign.

What they recommend in this report is that instead of trying to hit people with sales messages, click here, buy now, subscribe here, or go in with a bit of a larger story. So take a bit more of a TV approach. Find an opportunity to create a 30 or 60 second video ad.

That’s going to be interesting or funny or different. That somehow relates to your product, but isn’t trying to sell your product today. And then use the digital video to deliver that to the widest possible audience that you can afford with your budget.

So you can run video ads on Facebook. You can run video ads on YouTube. You can even run video ads on LinkedIn.

And what you’re doing here is that you’re not trying to convert people today. You’re not expecting people to watch the video and then rush out to the shops and buy what you’re selling. What you are trying to do is just get stuck in their heads.

Introduce them to who you are, to your brand, to your products and your services. Say something interesting, unique or funny so that they will think of you when they are ready to buy in the future. So essentially, a long story short, you’re running a TV campaign on digital video.

I love it. I think that’s so good. I also think like it’s really interesting because when you deploy this I’m just looking out for my business.

So I’m a solo consultant, right? And I’m fully signed up to everything that you’re talking about here. So I would definitely say I have what I call lurkers who are watching me and they’re not ready to buy, right?

Like my target audience is kind of maverick CEOs who want to make a dent in the universe. And mainly the problem I solve for them is misalignment in their teams, using brand thinking. Now what happens is some CEOs, their teams are all aligned, they’re flying, they’re super happy.

But I want to be in their minds so that when some misalignment or some problem happens, they think, oh, we’ll have that bearded, crazy, energetic UK guy in and he will be able to rally my team and help me get through this. And so to do that, I definitely push stuff out there that hopefully adds value, sometimes makes people smile. But most of the time is just reminding them that I exist because they’ve, you know, they’ve followed me or contacted me and hopefully sharing something of value and of interest so that when they are in the right at the time to buy, it’s not a question of could Matt do this.

It’s a question of can we afford Matt? That’s the ideal. That’s the hope.

And so I definitely see this working on an individual, at least for solo practitioners basis is as well as then from for companies with services and products, it’s the same principle. Don’t, and I agree with you, Ian, don’t always try and sell. You know, people get so bored of being interrupted with stuff that basically they’re trying, you know, click here, as you say, buy now, run campaigns on sales and cut prices and buy, buy, buy.

This is great for, as you say, bottom of the funnel. But if you’re just spray-grinding that all over the place, like with a shotgun, it’s only going to pick up those, that 5% that you talked about. And the rest of the people is probably going to annoy a little bit.

So how can you create stories, create creative that is exciting, almost entertaining, useful in some degree to those people, at the very least brings a smile to their face. And then, so they, when they are in the position to buy, you are, you are, you’re in their heads, you’re in their little box in their heads for that, for that solution to the problem that you’re solving. I think that’s, that’s super smart.

And, and, you know, so I think you’ve articulated that so well. So good, good for you. Jacob, any thoughts on that?

You nailed it, Matt. I was, you have a great approach on your social. I can see how it aligns.

You literally did as you’re doing as Ian outlined, right? The, the long play with occasional short plays, you know, you’ll have a, your mastermind, for example, or you’ll have a, an ebook, for example, or whatever you’re selling is just occasionally, right? So yeah, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant example.

So how about scaling, right? If we want to scale and push past that 5%, I know you have like a framework, the 245 framework, like how do you use that to scale?

What’s the 245 framework? Tell us that, Ian. Tell us all your secrets.

The 245 framework. So again, this comes out of that paper from BornSocial, which you should all check out if you haven’t seen it. But the 245 framework is this way that you can basically make a one ad campaign, right?

So it starts at the top. I’m explaining why it’s called 245. So it starts at the top with what they call a fame builder.

Think of the fame builder as your TV spot. It’s a 30 to 60 second video that’s going to tell a larger story about your brand. You’re not trying to sell specific features or products.

You’re just trying to be entertaining and get stuck in someone’s head when they’re ready to buy. So that’s your fame builder. And they recommend that you have about two of those per year.

So for a 12 month period, you want two fame builders. That’s where the two comes from. Then what they say is that we can push this further.

Let’s make this more efficient and use it to sell a little bit. So you’re going to take your fame builder, your 60 second spot, and you’re going to cut that down into 15 second short clips.

Can I just ask what a fame builder is?

The fame builder is what they call the 30 or 60 second spot. I think they’re calling it fame builder because you’re not going for sales. You’re just trying to get famous.

You’re trying to say something or do something with the video that’s going to make people pay attention to you and remember you down the road. Then they say break the fame builder down into what they call short stories. Short stories are these 15 second videos that use elements of the fame builder, but you can throw in either a call to action or maybe highlight a specific feature.

So the idea is that you’ve got the fame builder, you cut it down into smaller pieces and you need about four of those for a year. And finally, at the bottom, you can take your short stories and cut those down even further into usual like GIFs or single image ads. And that’s where you can start having calls to action saying, go to the website, click here, buy now.

It’s very clever because what they’ve done is shown you how to take one marketing asset, one video and chop that up into a full funnel marketing campaign. At the top, you have the fame builders, which is going after the 95%. People who are not ready to buy, we’re just trying to get famous with our market.

Then as you use the short stories and the gifts, you can kind of retarget those as you go down the funnel. Anybody who watches the fame builder gets retargeted with a short story. Anybody who watches the short story gets retargeted with the call to action.

And it’s all come from one creative. So the key in all this is that you cannot just take a TV ad and turn it into a one ad campaign. You need to design your fame builder so that it works at all these different levels.

That’s the creative challenge. How can I get this 60 second video to work at the top of the funnel, build fame, but also work so I can cut it down to the smaller pieces?

And just to clarify that, are you using paid media and analytics to track at each stage? So you have that video, you’re tracking if they’ve watched it for how long, and then you’re going to serve them another paid ad with those other videos and then continue to track them and then serve them the next ad. Is that correct?

That’s the best way to do it. It depends on the size of your budget. In an ideal world, if you have the budget, just flood the market with everything.

Have all these things running in the market at the same time and just let people interact with what they want to. But if you want a bit more of a limited budget, the smartest thing to do is to try to go very broad, go very wide with your fame builder. Try and reach as many people as possible, 95%, and then set up retargeting campaigns for those who do interact with the fame builder for the short stories and the calls to action.

So just to clarify, this is for when you’re scaling up, right? Not necessarily in the beginning or what’s your point of view on that?

Most of the time, I think all brands want to scale, right? There’s very few companies who are like, no, I don’t want growth. So if you’re looking for growth, I think this is probably the best way to do it on a budget.

Because my other brain is like, well, you have to share content constantly to be seen and remembered, right? So if you’re only sharing, you know, what, 10 pieces of content, like how do they know all the value that you have, the different approaches and different models or work that you’ve done and so forth, if you’re only sharing, you know, 10 pieces of content.

It’s true. So that’s why you need performance marketing running as well, right? So on the one hand, we’re talking about brand for this one ad campaign framework.

That’s doing kind of, that’s like the covering fire, right? Like they’re just out there day in, they’re trying to make it as possible. It’s not really trying to sell too hard.

So that’s why it’s crucial. But at the same time, you also have the performance marketing campaigns running, which are very targeted, very focused on, you know, selling features and benefits of the products and getting those clicks to your websites and landing pages. So again, it’s the balance between the two.

You need both of these running in the market at the same time.

You know, at the start of this, you mentioned you’re a numbers guy when you see brand. I can see that shine through now with the analytics and everything being numbers based for sure. And a lot of this teaching was in Mark Ritzen’s course, the mini MBA in brand management.

So I recognize a lot of what you’re talking about. And there’s two camps, right? There’s like Marty Neumeyer, and then there’s like Mark Ritzen, who comes from like a marketing background.

And it’s been a really fascinating to see his approach and how he uses brand and marketing together, not just either or, like you said here, it’s a mix of both that really excels a brand forward. So I really have enjoyed your insights, especially just because I’ve just learned so much from Mark Ritzen’s course as well. That said, is there anything else you would add on top of what you’ve already said for brands to compete with these big players?

Small brands?

I’d say that for this to really work, you need to be distinct and you need to be different. I know both of you have mentioned this earlier as well, but it is crucial. As a challenger brand or as a small brand, you cannot afford to look, sound, feel or act like the big players.

And that’s really hard to do, right? Because everyone wants to mimic the market leaders, right? If you’re in tech, everyone wants to be Apple.

I don’t know, like strategically, it makes no sense. I don’t know.

It’s like the very, the most, I don’t know, maybe it’s just to be the most obvious thing not to do. Most businesses, I work a lot in B2B and literally it’s like, what do we do? We are the small guys, we’ve got this new product.

We think it’s a little bit better than what’s on the market or whatever. We look around, who are the big boys? Oh, let’s just copy everything that they do and make ourselves look a little bit basically like them.

And let’s try and mimic all of, like, why are we doing that? Like, as you say, like for any marketing to cut through, if you’re breaking in, you have to dislodge what’s already in somebody’s mind. And to dislodge it, you have to kind of shock, surprise, be very unusual, very different, make laugh, almost bring disgust into it, whatever it might be, just so that somebody’s just like, what is that?

And then you can start telling your story. And obviously it has to be relevant and interesting. But yeah, why do they do it, Ian?

Why do we automatically do that as humans, just copy?

Well, I mean, I have some sympathy. So I agree with you that, I mean, you’re 100% right, right? Like, it’s not the right thing to do.

You need to be different. But having, you know, worked client side for many years, it’s scary, man. Like it’s scary when your job is on the line.

It’s kind of like the old saying, nobody got fired for buying IBM, right? There’s safety in, if you’re a marketing director or a CMO or a VP and you do something different that fails, you’re fired, right? If you come out with this crazy brand advertising campaign that looks like nothing else and you’re done, right?

If it doesn’t work. However, if you bring out a campaign that looks like everybody else’s and it doesn’t work, well then no one can really point any fingers at you. So I think it’s a very natural and human and legitimate, I guess, problem or concern that people have, but it’s still not going to help you any.

Yeah, I was just gonna say, I don’t, I don’t, you’re right. We should be empathetic to the marketeers out there that do that. And I get that.

I don’t blame them. What I look at is the leadership teams. And this is where I spend most of my time.

It’s like, if I’m a leader in an organization, right? I don’t care which side of the organization, I may not even be over-marketing, okay? And I’m looking at my organization and then I’m having to have a bit of an understanding of the competitor set that I’m up against.

And we look similar. Like surely a leader on the C-suite would be like, guys, we need to be a little bit different here if we’re going to dislodge the number one in this category. And we need to do that across, in my humble opinion, across all aspects of the business, from the customer experience right through to the product, right through to the way that we position and market ourselves.

But it’s rare that that happens. I think you’re right, Ian. It’s a question of fear and concern.

And often when you try something new, there isn’t data immediately, a track record of data to back up what you’re about to do. And so it can be a bit scary. So I think we need bravery, I guess, is what we’re saying, or at least sensible bravery with checks and balances in there.

So if we’re going to try something new, we are analyzing the data, we’re seeing how the brand is performing, we’re listening to customers, we’re getting qualitative and quantitative inputs into our decision-making process, and we’re committed to making a difference. And I think all of those things combined allow businesses to move forwards in a different direction. But unless you’ve got the leadership team on board, and it’s very tough for marketers further down the chain of command, if you like, to really push that through.

So folks, get your leaders on board, I guess, get them to listen to this podcast, because I think that is where you’re going to get that traction. What do you think, Ian? What do you think about that?

Yeah, no, I totally agree. I think one of the things that we do with clients is that we help them build the business case for brand marketing. So there is a business case for brand marketing.

And I think that some of the responsibility does have to come back on our shoulders as marketers. So, yes, should leadership be more on board with this being different? Absolutely.

However, if they’re not on board, it’s our jobs to get them on board. And we need to present things to them in a way that they’re going to understand and appreciate. What I see a lot from other agencies and from previous experiences is that the agency comes in with a very marketing point of view.

They talk about brand in terms of emotions and making a splash. But the CFO doesn’t care about that. The CEO is just going to shake their head and be like, what are you guys talking about?

Increase brand awareness. What’s that going to get me? I mean, and it’s not to say that these things aren’t valuable, but you have to make more of a numbers-based or a rational argument for why you need brand marketing to succeed and grow as a business, which is why I think these terms like future demand, the 95-5 rule, 60-40 rule are all very, very helpful because it allows you to use the language of the boardroom to make the case for brand marketing.

So I’ve got a follow-up question, Ian, on that, and you’re going to hate this one, but I’m going to throw it at you anyway, and feel free to dodge it if you want. But going back to that point on the CFO, like they’re not going to care, he or she is not going to care. But they will care about ROI, and me and Jacob often talk about this, like the ROI of brand.

I get it with leadership teams, like, well, what’s the ROI if we sit down and do some positioning and strategy workshops? I have to admit, I don’t know what the exact ROI will be, but I’m telling you that all successful brands have done thinking in terms of their positioning and their strategy. And so, yes, some, not all brands will do that.

Most will fail, right? Even if they’ve got that, but the ones that succeed will have done that really, really well and we’ve really considered it. What are your thoughts, Ian?

Like, how do you defend the ROI question on that? And particularly if you’ve got somebody who’s particularly, you know, return on investment focused, how do you help move the dial?

I think I could answer that, Matt, because I’ve seen his pitch deck that I mentioned at the start of this. There’s 120 pages that make the case for it. Yeah, it’s very in-depth.

There’s a lot of graphs and there’s numbers to it, right? It’s not just emotion, there’s numbers. But Ian, I’m sure you can talk about it in much more detail.

No, you’re absolutely right. And you’ve done the course as well. So to answer your question, we basically use custom funnels.

You can use custom funnels to predict the ROI of brand marketing before you even launch the campaigns. And there’s a whole, you have to read the deck or take the mini MBA course to kind of figure out how to do that in depth. But long story short, there is a way that you can show the impact that brand campaigns can have on the bottom line in a way that the CFO will understand, appreciate, and hopefully buy into.

Maybe we can pull out a few things from that deck that you think are the strongest, just so we have some context, because obviously we can’t go to, through every single page and case study, but what are the most powerful stats or graphs or pages that you’d recommend, you know, people use to make the case for brand marketing?

Ooh, that’s a long deck. I’d say, I think the most interesting thing was one of the case studies. So it didn’t feature pretty heavily in the deck, but it’s a good example of how this all worked together.

So we did a brand campaign a couple of years ago for a charity in Canada called Penny Appeal. They’re a Muslim charity that raises money for projects all around the world. And in the charity space, and especially in the Muslim charity, Ramadan is the big month, right?

That’s where Muslims around the world will donate to charity as part of their religion. And Penny Appeal have been running campaigns for a couple of years, digital marketing campaigns around the run of Ramadan to build awareness and get donations for their operations. And we designed a brand campaign that actually helped them, I forget what the numbers were, but it was just like insane levels of growth, 350% increase in revenue from donations, 50% more higher donation value year over year.

But the way we did it was applying these principles that we’ve been talking about in action. So what most companies do is that, like we said earlier, they compete at the point of purchase. So as soon as Ramadan hits, it was the month of May that year that we were running the campaign.

Soon as the month of May hits, everyone fires up all the charities, fire up their performance marketing campaigns, start bidding on all the right keywords. And of course, your cost per click goes through the roof. So it’s a very expensive time to be in market.

So we said, we need to be smarter than that. What we’re gonna do is that we’re gonna, the month before Ramadan in April, we’re gonna create a brand campaign. We’re gonna use the 245 video framework.

We’re gonna make a 60 second fame builder. We’re gonna chop it down to short stories and then more specific calls to action. And we’re gonna target every Muslim in Canada for the month of April.

We’re gonna do this so that A, we can build awareness. We can introduce them to the brand. We can get on their radar.

And they can also build a massive retargeting list that we can use once we get into the donation period. And then of course, once May hits, we turned on a performance campaigns, shifted spend from brand to performance and then kind of really utilize that big retargeting campaign that we use to drive A, a lot more donations and donations at a much lower cost per acquisition than they’ve had before. So it was a huge success.

And if we have a case student on our website, if people wanna read a bit more about that and see the numbers.

That’s a brilliant way to summarize all of this, Ian, just everything we’ve talked about and how you’ve applied it. And there’s a case study as well. So I think that’s definitely recommended to read to see how it all comes together if you’re curious.

Thank you, Ian. I think we can probably wrap up here, unless there’s anything else you’d like to add. The last question would be where people can find you in that case study.

Sure. Check out our website, creativebusinesscompany.com. You can find case studies.

We also have more reports and white papers. We have a white paper called How to Build a Big Brand and a Small Budget. We also have one on positioning called How Challengers Can Position for Growth.

Thank you so much, Ian.

It’s been great having you on, Ian. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and for coming on. We really appreciate it.

No problem. Thank you very much to you both, guys. I appreciate you reaching out and the opportunity to chat.

It was a good time. I had fun. Thank you.

All the best.

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