10 Jun June 10, 2019 – Strike Social Patrick McKenna, Ironclad Brand Lindsay Pedersen and Weekly Wealth Within Update
Patrick McKenna – Founder and CEO of Strike Social
I remember looking in my bank account and at one point I had about $40
in my personal account, and $900 in the business account, and I had a
rent bill due in Los Angeles that was about $4,000.
Patrick McKenna is the Founder and CEO of Strike Social, a global technology-enabled digital advertising company. Mr. McKenna has more than 30 years of experience in business development and technology consulting for major corporations. He co-founded and sold telecommunications company WCI in 1996. He was recruited by Microsoft as part of a 50 person team to develop the internet audio and video industry. By the end of Patrick’s 12 years at Microsoft, the department had developed into the Windows Entertainment Division now employing 40,000 people. Patrick has spent his career mentoring and investing in startup companies and in 2013 founded Strike Social, which was named the No. 17 fastest-growing private company in the U.S. for 2017 by Inc. Magazine. Strike Social develops AI-powered software and services for digital advertisers across industry verticals with over half of the Fortune 500 benefiting from its solutions including brands like Beat, Xbox, Honda, Mattel, Lionsgate, and large financial institutions.
Lindsay Pedersen – Brand Strategist and Author of Forging an Ironclad Brand – Read interview highlights click here
Brand is the thing that you stand for in the mind of your target customer.
It is the space that you occupy in their brains.
Lindsay Pedersen is a brand strategist and leadership coach who views brand as a blend of science, intuition, behavioral economics, and ancient storytelling. She developed the Ironclad Method™ while building brands with companies such as Starbucks, Clorox, Zulily, T-Mobile, IMDb, and burgeoning start-ups. Lindsay lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. Pedersen is a brand strategist and leadership coach who views the brand as a blend of science, intuition, behavioral economics, and ancient storytelling. Good branding is just good business— which helps engage customers and employees, unleash competitive advantage, and fuel enduring growth. And yet, despite this power, branding is grossly underused. When a tool this vital is dismissed, businesses suffer.
Wealth Within Weekly Update with Dale Gillham – Founder and Executive Director of Wealth Within and Author of Accelerate Your Wealth: It’s Your Money, Your Choice
Dale Gillham is one of Australia’s most respected analysts (Wealth Creator magazine). A sought-after keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book How to Beat the Managed Funds by 20%, he has helped thousands of traders and investors around Australia and throughout the world become confident and profitable, not only in the stock market but also in other investment vehicles. This is our newest weekly economic and stock market update!
Highlights from Lindsey’s Interview
You start when there’s an inflection point where you start to have more money to spend, that’s when you start worrying about brand awareness building, and using marketing channels to promote your brand. Brand is actually just defining who you are as a business, and what you want to mean to your target customer. That really happens outside of budget. In fact, since the purpose of brand is to create focus, in some ways, one could argue that the smaller you are, the more resource constrained you are, the more that you benefit from focus, and the more you would benefit from building a brand. It doesn’t have to be a novel of a brand, but to kind of define your direction, and what you stand for. It actually helps you before you get to 2 million in sales.
Brand is the thing that you stand for in the mind of your target customer. It’s the space that you occupy in their brains.
The thing that your business stands for. Why should they care about your company? A definition of that, that’s your brand. Give me an example right there, because I’m thinking, the brands I know, Coca Cola? What is a brand that you like? What’s a business that you like, as a consumer? A business that you spend money on, that you like, that you’re loyal to? Apple. Okay. So above the cost of goods, why do you buy apple?
Apple in your mind means it works, I can depend on it seamlessly integrating, and I’ll even experienced some joy opening the package. That’s what they own. Right? That’s the brand. Right? We haven’t talked about Apple’s logo, yet. We haven’t talked about their color, or their name. But what you just said is what it means to you as a target customer. That’s their brand positioning.
Other companies, at least to you, as a customer, have a weak brand, if you don’t know what to say about them. Because here’s the thing, as a person, as a customer, the less cognitive resources you have to expend in order to understand the business, the more that you will come to understand that business and begin to like that business.
I, too, have a hard time understanding what HP stands for. And therefore, I’m not going to give them a lot of thought. I’m definitely not going to give them a lot of my emotional affinity. That would be a weak brand.
But since we’re talking about a startup, let’s bring it back down, please. A small business, right? The logo, the color, the visual identity, the tagline or the slogan, that’s the outward expression of a brand. And it’s really important, but it’s the last thing that happens. The first thing you have to do is define who your audience is, who you’re going to optimize your product for. And what is it, what’s defining the problem that those people experience, and how you uniquely solve that problem. That’s your brand positioning. And then you can go on, and you can dress it up with color, and with a provocative name with a slogan that’s catchy, that kind of thing. But first, it’s defining what your business is, and why does your business deserve to exist to this target customer? That’s your brand, the rest is a set of expressions of your brand.
The definition of brand is what you stand for. The idea that I pose is that not all brand positioning is created equal. So for your given business and set of strengths as a business, and for your given target audience and their set of unmet needs, there are probably dozens of possible brand positionings that you could choose, and there are some that are more attractive to you than others. The idea of these criteria that I have defined, that get you to an ironclad brand, is that there’s a set of filters that I use to evaluate a brand. And I won’t go through all of them, there are nine of them. But the first two are probably the most stringent of the filters, and the place where I would encourage folks to begin.
The first criterion for an ironclad brand is that it’s a big problem that you’re solving, a big problem, a big customer need, so it’s big enough to matter to your target customer. That’s the first. It’s a $5 billion market. But then you said differently, it’s an important problem to your target customer. So that could only be a million dollar problem. Define the word big again, you and I are gonna have to have a—what is it when they have a whole list of definitions for a conversation? A glossary? There we go, glossary. I couldn’t think of the word as I was trying to define it. So what does the word big mean?
Big is relative, because for my small business, what matters, what qualifies as big, is really different from what McKinsey Consulting qualifies as big. I’m intentionally leaving it to you as a business owner, depending on the goal that you have for your business. But maybe the more important lens here is, it’s a big problem in the mind of your target customer, they actually care about it.
Let’s take an example. I love the brand Volvo in cars, because no matter where I go in the world, when I say Volvo, most people respond with some permutation of the word safety. Hey, I got it. I think I got one point. That’s what they own. Volvo’s brand positioning is safety, so safety is a big need among their target customer. The people who they are seeking to serve really care about safe driving. It’s a big need for them. That’s what I mean by it’s a big problem. You could also model it out. And if you want, you could take Alaska city data and see how many people do this, and how many people take care of it? That would be another way of looking at it. But I’m actually starting with something even more elemental, which is, is this something that matters? Is this a big need? Or is this like with Volvo, another possible brand idea that they were considering was, who has the fattest wheels? Well, is that a big need? If no, then don’t proceed. That’s the point of this. The first filter is only look at brand positioning ideas that are big.
Number two, but the second one, I think that intuitively, most people are probably tracking with me right now, like, “Oh, of course it’s got to be a big problem.” Otherwise, why would we? Why would we even have a business in the first place if we weren’t solving a big problem? So I quickly want to follow up with the second criterion, which is it also needs to be narrow enough that your business can own it. So if everybody, all of your pure competitors, are also solving the same need, that is not a brand position, that is not going to get you to a disproportionate value for your brand big enough to matter. It has to be narrow enough.
Who is the person? Who is this person who you’re asking to be your customer? What is this person like? What do they care about?
Okay for this target customer who buys chicken gizzard by the ton, what are their other concerns? What is their frame of reference? They were not going to purchase yours. What would they purchase instead?
This person’s neck is on the line to buy chicken gizzard, and they’re choosing between your business and Leroy’s. And Leroy doesn’t show up on Wednesday, ’cause he’s hung over. Now, why does this person care that you’re consistent? Do they get in trouble if their factory doesn’t have enough gizzards to put into the gizzard input bucket? Their job security is at stake, so this is a big benefit to this person. They can buy yours, and sleep a little bit better at night. Or they can buy the competitor’s and worry. So you’ve just given me a promise. The chicken gizzard that you can depend on, the chicken gizzard where we will hundred percent back it up. So that you can rest at night, so that you can have peace of mind that your career is in a good place.
It’s not only something that is a strength of yours, it’s also something that your customer cares about. Your customer doesn’t care about all your strengths, but they do care about this one. And so in this case, you’ve kicked up a big idea. It’s a chicken gizzard proposition for this target customer, because they have to have chicken gizzard to sell their supply. That’s big, then you’ve also made it narrow, because you said that the alternatives are not consistent. And we can back up that promise.
I’m going to pick criteria number six. The sixth criterion is functional and emotional, when you’re looking at potential brand territories. In the case of cars, maybe it’s the sexy sports car, the safe car, the low price car, the fuel efficient car, those are some potential territories for brand positioning. You want to pick something that isn’t just fluffy, emotional, but also isn’t just rational and logical. You want to pick something that’s at the juncture of both functionally relevant to the target customer as well as emotionally resonant.
I’ll go back to Volvo. Safety is a very functional benefit. Because at the end, it’s not just a perceptual benefit, it’s also a hard benefit that customers will experience, and you can even back it up with Volvo pioneered the three point seatbelt, Volvo pioneered side airbags, etc. So you can back it up. It’s very functional, it has hard, rational sharpness to it. But at the same time, what safety means to the target customer, what it ladders to in our minds, is my family is safe, I’m psychologically safe, I have peace of mind. I’m a good parent. What makes it so resonant is that it lives, in the case of Volvo, safety lies at this juncture of really rational but also being really emotional.
The reason that I picked this criterion number six is that I see a lot of lopsided brand positions. Either it’s really, really emotional, it’s this big abstract promise. Like, barbecue, get this type of barbecue and your life will be better. Something big and emotive and a little bit hard to believe. So on one hand, I see brands go in a very emotional direction. Then on the other hand, especially with high tech companies or software companies or internet companies, I see brands that are overly functional, that take something that is a product feature that has a lot of rational legs to it, but it doesn’t have any emotional resonance. It doesn’t mean anything emotionally to the target customer. So it’s really about getting to that intersection of both functional and emotional with a brand positioning that you choose.
The book is called Forging an Ironclad Brand, a Leader’s Guide. It’s available on Amazon and places where you buy books. My website if you want to read my blogs or learn a little bit more about the way I approach this is ironcladbrandstrategy.com, and I would love to keep in touch with folks so you can also look me up on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, Lindsey Pederson, and I look forward to continuing that conversation.