What do you want to be known for?
How can you cater your brand story to focus on what’s most important to your audience? This video is a long one but if questions like this are resonating with you and your brand, we thought it was important for you to get every bit of this behind-the-scenes example on how to be relatable and connect to the people interacting with your brand. This is an inside look at what the brand discovery process can look like at Wildstory and you very well may benefit from this raw take, real-world example.
We encourage you to get a pen and paper out to take some notes on what’s helpful to you, but if you feel like you still need some guidance or if you feel like you may have a branding problem, then we have something for you.
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Marc Gutman 0:00
What’s my brand story? That’s probably the question I get asked most often in really, the purpose is to hone your brand story. to cater to the parts that mean the most, to listeners, you need to really think about how to be relatable, and how to connect with your customers and clients that are interacting with our brand. Well, my friend, Michael, he had this question. And we had a conversation all around how to find the best parts of his brand story. This video you’re about to watch. It’s an inside look at what it’s like to walk someone through the brand discovery process we use with our own clients. And I hope that you learn and benefit from this real world example. Let us know what you think. Cool. So yeah, we’re, you know, Michael, you reached out to me, and you said you needed help with your brand story. So let’s get get right into it. You sent me a lot of pre work we can you know, talk about that. Yeah, go ahead. You were just about to launch into, like what a great outcome from a brand story perspective would be for you.
Michael Smart 1:04
Yeah, Marc, my, my challenge is, I see the world from my perspective in my experiences. But I know that that doesn’t help people make decisions about their lives. So I want to rewrite or hone my brand story. So that comes at the listener from their perspective. Instead of highlighting elements of my business growth that I think are cool, I want to identify what would mean the most to somebody else who’s making a buying decision and make sure that I give them the information they need to make that decision. And as far as what’s okay to talk about, I’m a PR guy, right? So I better be trained at only saying stuff in the affirmative, that I want to get out there and not acknowledging things that are proprietary. So that’s on me. Perfect. I love it.
Marc Gutman 1:57
I love it. And so, you know, you have this broad vision of your brand story, like how would that show up for you tactically, or practically? Like, where would you see this work? Yeah, so
Michael Smart 2:09
I, as you know, I have a membership program, and it’s limited enrollment, I only take new members twice a year. So there’s that that’s a time when this would show up, both on a sales page about joining the inner circle, just the name of the program, I do a webinar associated with each enrollment period. And then I have sales emails, right, that build up to both the webinar and the opening. And those would be the primary way places. And then just just opportunities like this, whenever I’m talking with someone, and they asked me what I do, this is the main deliverable for my business. So love to use what we talked about today. And you know, as part of those everyday conversations.
Marc Gutman 2:58
great. Love it. So this idea of brand story is really intriguing to me personally, as you know, my background is all in the story business. And I was like brand story brand story brand story. And there was a lot of like, there was a big time, and I wasn’t sure what that meant, you know, I was like, and that’s why I’m even to this day, I feel like everyone has a little bit of a different interpretation of what that means and you know, really can encompass a, for me what we would go through like a more of a traditional branding process. And we’ll share a little bit of that, with you today, kind of the things that you need to answer in that process, resulting in as we hone down especially for a service provider, your elevator pitch and how you’re trying to bite yourself. And kind of this is one of those disciplines where we take so much, you know, we have this giant collector of information in your experience. And, and we hone it down to something succinct and try to get try to get there in the time we have today.
At the same time, one of the things you mentioned that I and I want to challenge you a little bit about is to me a big part of your brand story is your experience is your story is your experience. And I do think that once people specially as service providers, especially as service providers, we tell people what we do, and we fit into that category, it really becomes how we do it. So kind of your perspective on this and your approach, as well as like, you know, what do you stand for? What are your values and beliefs who are using individual and so I think that your story is super important than obviously, there’s also just proof points and credibility. So people want to know, like, Well, why do I trust Michael from a PR perspective? What the heck is he done?
You know, you you know that and I think you’ve you’ve heard me speak and stuff like that a very small part of my story is I have some some writing experience and I worked in Hollywood well i and i and i get a sense maybe you have a little bit of this I was really resistant to talking about that, because I was like, wow, that’s like a small part of what I do. And, you know, I was there for, you know, six or seven years, but like, I’ve done a lot of other things, and it was quite a while ago. But that’s like what people really still want to hear and care about. And sometimes you have to honor that component of like, Hey, this is what is part of my, my brand and my personal brand. And, and before we get into it, you know, let’s get right into it.
So I’ve also done a lot of work this year on personal branding and thinking about that. And for the longest time, I was so worried and scared about being the front man. And, you know, and being the brand of the business. And what I found is just, personally is that that’s what people connect with, they connect so much more with an individual rather than a company name or something that especially No, you look, I mean, if you’re a big corporate entity, you have this corporate brand. And that’s a whole different topic. But as a service provider, and getting people to understand who we are, it’s like, it’s like leaning into that is, is really important. So as we get going, let me ask you, what do you want to be known for?
Michael Smart 6:12
Helping PR people make more money, be more happy in their jobs. We, the way we sit, the way we write that is protect and grow their earning power. And then and then I have this it’s more of a dream than a than a goal. I want to create a bunch of people who can decide how much they work. They have their financial independence, so they only work if they want to.
And that’s that’s an aspirational goal. But the first half of it of increasing the earning power that’s really like immediate we can we can deliver that within six months. Usually not.
Marc Gutman 7:08
Is there anything that those clients typically feel as an obstacle to doing that?
Michael Smart 7:21
At which stage in their journey like before they work with me or while they’re working with me?
Marc Gutman 7:26
Ah, maybe maybe more like a limiting belief or a perception of like, Hey, I would love to and I took a note and then I’ve put your face back up something like this. I would love to protect and grow my earning power. But yeah, it makes me feel icky or I don’t Yeah, yeah. Right. Or like is there something there that like most people prior to working with you feel that they would like this but but they can’t do it for some reason?
Michael Smart 7:59
A couple different answers Marc. One is that that shakiness but it’s more like maybe I don’t deserve this money. Money is a bad thing. I should be happy I have a job. So many people are struggling, like is that an okay? driver for me to care about my income? Another Another one is? Yeah, that’s great. But my bosses, my organization, this place I work doesn’t value PR so it doesn’t matter how good I am at it. They I’m stuck.
Marc Gutman 8:47
Gonna take some notes you Okay, so So to me, that becomes a little bit of an interesting part component of that brand story and thinking about and we probably can wordsmith this now but to me, like I I would go like a little further. I think this is a bigger than helping PR people make more money and helping people be happy in their jobs. I think this is bigger than protect and grow their earning power me what you’re really talking about is delivering freedom to people. The ability to have choice, the ability to have to be respected for what they do and to create value in their career that impacts their lives, right. So To me, it’s like that, that’s kind of that next level. So thinking about where this where this brand story, and I’m just I’m trying to let me just have a second look at this, but it’s like, we kind of jumped out of order, I just started talking to you kind of like, we’re just kind of working on it, we can go back to the process a little bit. And we can even not just keep Be mindful the time we can even bang out an elevator pitch once we get some more of this down, but
how would you know that you achieved that dream? And that goal? Like, is there a number of people you want to impact? Is there? Like, how would you know?
Michael Smart 10:48
I don’t think I don’t think I’ve taught thought about that in enough detail. You know, I hear I hear these these astral state aspirational statements from people like we want to create a million millionaires or something like that. I know, I know that I’m achieving it already. Because I have plenty of testimonials from people who say I got a 40% raise and and I got a new job. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t have been able to do that without what I learned from Michael’s program. But I think I could do better to, to think more about numbers and the people behind those numbers. So I have, I have let’s see, two guys that I love talking about because they’re there.
They achieved full independence. One of them got on with a startup after he’d been in my program for a year or two. And then they went public, and he cashed out at 35. Now he’s a professor at his alma mater, because he wants to be and then another guy who retired at 47. And now he’s a life coach because he wants to be after a career in PR agencies. So that’s that’s Devin and Ken so I’d love to I’d love to create a roomful of Devin and Ken’s
Marc Gutman 12:10
Who wouldn’t right?
My mind it’s Monday, my mind’s blinking would you say about he had he was just on a path to financial independence as a how you described it.
Michael Smart 12:46
Sorry, sorry, Marc, not not playing now following you.
Marc Gutman 12:50
You just said something about I thought you said something like that he had financial independence or he was independent, financially free or something like that. And that was just talking
Michael Smart 12:58
about two guys. Devin, Devin stock options made him financially independent. And he works at his as a professor at his alma mater because he wants to. And then the second guy was Ken, and he retired at 47. didn’t do anything for three or four months slept until 11. Every day loved it. And then he decided to become a life coach because because he wants to the revenue isn’t is irrelevant to him.
Marc Gutman 13:31
Love it. Cool. Yeah. So I mean, when like when I hear you talk, like I just I just kind of jotted down. And obviously this is this is rough draft and ability to, to wordsmith but I just feel like you’re on this mission to help PR professionals increase the professional value, choose where and how they work, and find a path to financial independence. That last part may or may not be true. I don’t know. I’m also not a big numbers guy, like I’m not on this planet to impact 1000 brands or something like that? Yeah. Now, so I don’t believe that you need to have that. But it could be I mean, if you’re like, like, I want to impact 1 million PR pros or something. That that could be that could be a way to present it. But I also think just having this mission that you can get around that like, Hey, I in these bigger things. So for me, it’s a little bit bigger than Hey, I just want to help people make more money and be happy, like what does that really, you know, results in what I really heard and I feel this a lot and you know that I’ve, you know, I’ve spent time in PR two is, and I’ve heard you talk about a lot of this in that like people that work in the PR profession, especially in house, don’t feel necessarily respected. Don’t feel like that they have a seat at the table.
Don’t feel alone, obviously, you know, you believe and I believe that that to be the wrong way of thinking. And so I think that’s a huge part of what you’re doing and the transformation that you’re helping those people achieve is that hey, like you’re you’re going to be valued for your your PR thinking that you’re going to be valued for your mind. So working that into a bit of a way that you position yourself to be really cool. Yeah. So I don’t know if that resonates for you, by the way, I’ll share I’m just writing this in a keynote Doc, and I’ll share everything that I’m writing and, and things like, Yeah, I don’t know if that
Michael Smart 15:24
does. I mean, the words that you shared Marc are words that I’ve, that I’ve written in other in other formats, particularly the path to financial independence. I, I only roll that out occasionally, because and maybe this is a limiting belief of mine. I feel like that is so pie in the sky to my prospects that it almost is, comes off like a gear like I’m selling a get rich, quick scheme, you know. That’s great, Michael, but I just want to build a keep this job for the next six months or get a better job and get 10% raise or something.
Marc Gutman 16:03
Yeah. And I think like, you know, that’s a good point. It’s like, it’s hard to be all things to all people. But I do think like with a broader statement, like, hey, I want to help you add value, I want you to have choice in your work. And ultimately, if it’s a good fit for you, I want you to have financial independence, even if you’re like, Hey, I’m just trying to hold my job, I think in the back of a prospects mind, they’re like that this could potentially end up there. You know, and I think by seeding that, and one of the things we talked about, and all this brand story stuff is like, you’ve been doing this a long time, you’re obviously very successful. It’s finding a way to simply talk about it, and then just repeating it. ad nauseum. And sometimes it becomes a little boring. Like, my big joke is always like, I wonder what the brand manager at Patagonia, he just must be like, or she must be like, you know, we talk about something other than public lands and recycling. And they’re like, no, yeah, we don’t, we don’t talk about that.
We just we don’t talk about the same things and hit it over and over and over again. But we can move on a little bit. And I can give you a sense of. So when we think when I think of the like if we were going to spend time and really, you know, spend probably days working on this or something like that. I’m just going to find a resource here. And I’ll share my screen as soon as I find it. Right. So I really think of let me go ahead and share a building a brand story that looks something like this.
Trying to help size it since monster monitor sometimes it gets are weird if we don’t do. So it’s really answering these seven or so questions. And then working them into this distinct positioning. But why are we here? You know, what’s your Why? What’s your purpose? You talked us? We just talked about that. We talked in particular that, what do we do? And how do we do it? So a lot of times it can be nuts and bolts. It’s like, Hey, I run a closed private group for PR professionals, and how do I do it? What’s your what’s your method for delivery? So that’s, that’s not so exciting. But a lot of times people care about that they want to know, is this virtual? Is it in person?
What is my time commitment? What makes you different? So, you know, really thinking about what’s your uniqueness? Why should I work with Michael instead of another program? Now? A lot of times with service providers, it’s our it’s our it’s our story, it’s our it’s who we are, it’s it’s our approach, it’s what we bring to it. You might be a little bit different. I don’t know, do you have a lot of competitors. I’m not familiar with a lot of your competitors. There are a lot of people out there competing with, you
Michael Smart 19:24
No, the inner circles, the first largest and best professionals development resource for PR pros who are focused on media relations, or earned media and you know what that means, and basically anybody who doesn’t know what that means wouldn’t be a good candidate, so I don’t need to explain it.
Marc Gutman 19:46
Well, that’s perfect. That’s great positioning right really big at first and biggest and whenever you’re the first and the largest there that is positioning like to be number one in your category. We don’t have that opportunity a whole lot and when we do when you’re a coach When you are, I guess, trying to I was about to say four. But I don’t know if they’re number one, but when you’re right, yeah, when you’re when you’re the you’re the biggest in the bass. And you can say that legitimately. That that’s a good positioning. Please
Michael Smart 20:13
don’t give me too much credit Marc. Right, all I did was Slice the Pie narrower, right? There’s, there’s a bigger groups for all a PR people. But when I just target the earned media specialists, then and I pretty much have that, that space to myself,
Marc Gutman 20:28
well give yourself credit, because doing that and slicing the pie into a niche that is is narrow enough that you can own it, but still maintain a living. That’s, that’s what most people are looking for. So you’ve, you’ve done something, right? Yeah, who are we here for you really, you know, you very clearly have articulated, you know, who you serve, and the type of clients you serve.
Now, it’s those people who are Media Relations professionals, you might even at some point get a little narrower, right? It’s for media relations, professionals that are stuck in a maybe not stuck, but are working in a, an in house, PR, you know, PR position at this level, at this size company. I mean, you could really get narrow there if you wanted, it sounds like right now that you have a pretty good, pretty good focus on who you are for and who you’re not. And you just made that statement prior to getting here. And number three that like, hey, if you don’t know, you know, what Media Relations and, and earned media means you’re probably not my customer. That’s a very powerful thing to say.
Michael Smart 21:39
Yeah, on that on that narrowing Marc, I wasn’t purposeful. But I feel like I’ve arrived at this point. And, and you could be interested in your take, that I’m actually becoming, I’m more of like the low cost solution that appeals to a wider mass of people. I could charge a lot more if I said, I’m here for Media Relations specialists at fortune 500. Companies, like I would have a smaller universe and, and fewer members, but they would pay more. But just by history, accidents of history, and then my personal preference, I like being able to help a wider range of people.
So I do have people at fortune 500 firms, and then I have mission driven cars oriented. I think I like that I just talked to this one member who’s at a 10 person, nonprofit conservation nonprofit in Florida. I like being accessible to people at that level, too.
Marc Gutman 22:38
Yeah. And so you touched on something right there. Like I I don’t totally believe in like accidental paths. I believe that I believe that there might be unconscious, I believe, but we make choices. You know, and you just said something right there that, you know, you prefer to work with some of these more mission driven smaller companies like why like, What do you like about them? Like, what do you see in them that that maybe drives you to do that?
Michael Smart 23:09
When just just to clarify, it’s not that I prefer them. I just want to include them. I want to be accessible by them. Wow, whoa, whoa, why? Because, I mean, when I started out my career, I was one of those people. And I remember walking into a room and then when people hearing I worked at a private religious university, I could just see them dismiss me professionally.
And at the time, I was like, okay, whatever it’s like, it’s like going into a roomful of NBA players and saying that you’re that you’re a high school coach, right? That’s just the reality. But I believed that I had the skills, the same skills and abilities that they did. And I just needed to prove it. And so I like giving an equal playing field for everybody who wants to get better wherever they work.
Marc Gutman 24:00
Okay, like, do you ever share that story?
Michael Smart 24:04
No, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before. So
Marc Gutman 24:08
I’m going to send you this recording. And I want you to rewatch this this that story. That might be the most powerful story that you could share with your community when you’re on the stage when you’re looking to enroll new people. Yeah, like that story super resonates with me. I don’t think there’s a single person that hasn’t felt a little inadequate has felt like, Hey, I have a lot to offer. But I’m being seen, like I’m in the minor leagues. Right. Right. And if that becomes the mission, and what even if you’re in the fortune 500 I think people feel that all the time.
Michael Smart 24:42
Yeah, there’s always somebody bigger, right?
Marc Gutman 24:44
Yeah, that story. Michael just gave me goosebumps. And I think that is really the cornerstone of why you do what you do. I think that’s the cornerstone of why you’ve chosen this platform. I think that’s the underlying Hey, I want to talk about this tonight, it comes out like, hey, this idea of like not feeling respected of not feeling like, Hey, I have value and and i think that that story right there just illustrates for me like if you came out like you’re on stage or on a podcast or whatever, and you were like, look like, I came out and I remember I told everyone I worked at this religious University, and I felt like I had a lot to offer and they were looking at me like I was in the minor leagues. Have you ever felt like that? Like, that’s what the inner circle is here to do is that give you give you to validate who you are to give you value within the the PR profession and raise? Raise your exposure? I don’t know. To me that love it. Yeah,
Michael Smart 25:46
Marc, I think that fits. Right with the the offering that we talked about at the top, it fits right in with that. And, and it it’s that emotional layer that I told you I was looking for on the the prospects part instead of having it all be about me. It’s super relatable for lates to your business. And like I said, like, it just got me like I was like, wow, like I would I believe that about you. And I believe that story. sounds really cool. Okay, I can I confess something to you that the guy that I remember, I remember the the time that I most felt like that. And I still remember the guy’s name who treated me that way. Like, you know, like, you go to a conference and there’s table I think I can’t remember is a lunch or just a break. And we’re at these round tables. And he’s on one side of me. And he asked me that, and I told them and he goes, he’s like, Huh, and then he was like, rude. And he just talked to the other person at the table.
There were three of us. And he just talked to her the whole time. And I still remember his name. And, and yeah, I’m guilty of following his career. And like reveling in the fact that I totally surpassed him in, in status in our in our field. I’ve never, I will never tell anyone that right. But But I’ve kept score, I’m embarrassed to say, right? Not the way you just told that with a little bit of humility, right? Like,
Marc Gutman 27:08
I don’t know, I can’t think of anyone. By the way, anyone that’s going to invest in a professional development program has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, or a big chin. You know, like, we all want to get better. We all want to be the best, there’s no way that I’m going to spend extra time on a private professional development course. If I don’t have I don’t want to be better. And I think you just shared something that just makes you very relatable, very human. I could tell like, like there was vulnerability right there. Because it’s hard to admit, it’s hard to admit that like darts that we’re competitive that we remember, what you know, hey, we should be bigger than that. Right? So we’re not know what it is, you know, like, like, I like I have the same thing. Like I mean, I can remember people that have wronged me, and they probably don’t even remember they probably even like consciously wronged me worse.
Yeah, you know, but like, I it drives me and I think that there’s something great there. And I would lean into that more, I’d lean into that story more the way you tell it with that, hey, like, feel bad. I don’t feel good about this. But this is why I think most people feel that way. And so I think that it’s super relatable, and it will really take you far with how you’re, you know, you said you wanted to connect with with specifically how your your customers are feeling your clients are feeling. They feel Yeah, right. Right. That’s the that’s the bottom line right there. They’re like, they mostly feel disrespected in some way. Might be exactly that might be someone at the conference, turns away from them might be someone within their organization just like, thinks that PR is just a bunch of, you know, mentions and people or something like that. There’s different ways of feeling like you’re not being seen and heard and that you’re not being taken seriously, but that was pretty awesome. So, like, I’ll send you this recording and thank you, I can’t wait for you to like kind of like, sit with that and think about that because i think that’s that’s huge.
Michael Smart 29:06
Marc Gutman 29:08
All right. So, you know, kind of getting to our backstory, we just talked about that. So why are we here, especially for a service provider? Like it’s so important like, like, how did you end up here and you just shared like this, this genesis of like, hey, like whether or not that was really what ultimately drove you I’m not looking to editorialize that or give it a different narrative but there’s something there that like hey, like I so you know, I want to make sure that there’s there’s you can the voices to be heard in the PR space. And then what we do is we typically and by the way, each one of these could be a half day to even almost a day sometimes exercise depending on the the customer for example, like you know, who do we serve, we get like, who we hear for remember like customer profiles we get into we get into customer journeys, we let me let me take a step back, probably on a PR If you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want, you also could just go through and just answer these questions really quickly.
You don’t need to go through all these different exercises. And sometimes I think for people that know their business really well, you know, do some conversation around this stuff, it’s probably probably enough, and then you can document it. What do we value most? So the core beliefs and universal truths. So like, what do you what do you care about? You know, what, what are the things that that really matter to you? What’s your worldview, both personally, and professionally? And so you shared some of that about having accessibility to different to different PR professionals? But, you know, like, what are some what are some of the core beliefs you have about PR?
Michael Smart 30:43
Well, I think what I’m what’s burning in me right now, in the context that you put me in is above, above that accessibility is what motivates me now, is a core belief in individual agency that individual people can’t, can and should decide what’s best for them. And I feel like that, surprisingly, a lack of that afflicts knowledge workers, even well to do knowledge workers, that they’ve sort of handed their lives over to the grind without realizing it. And, and I like I like showing them how working smarter is better than working harder how building a track record of results and expertise in your field, should earn you the ability to work less, if you want, instead of continuing to get more responsibility. And, and, and also people who, for whom their work is more of a passion than then a way to survive and retire, that they, they should act more in accordance with that, that value instead of the way other people think they should. Like, if they if they want to leave at five, they should do it. And instead of worrying about what other people think.
Marc Gutman 32:10
So we kind of really nailed that, like at the beginning, thinking about the right the right voice, and I talked to you like I guess I’m with you too, like I believe. You know, like, that’s, that’s what that’s kind of what I was saying that we have this individual agency, you know, it’s it’s my own personal belief that we don’t, you know, we might go with the flow, we might end up someplace, but we really made that choice. And so I don’t know how much you do it within your program. But it definitely seems like that there’s an opportunity to do some of that goal setting to do some of that the, you know, Arctic mindset and articulating values and beliefs and laying out a plan for them of where do they ultimately want to go, and what kind of PR professional do they want to be because, as you know, it doesn’t happen overnight, as well.
And so what, and so I don’t know if you’re doing any of that, but just incorporating that as part of Graham, I think could be really huge in that. That’s what you believe. And that’s what that’s the value you offer. And that’s also what you said, the transformation you want to provide to those clients. So I you providing any of that kind of mindset, like vision building, as part of the program.
Michael Smart 33:18
So formally, we have a step that invites them to set goals on the level of success and media relations. And what that looks like. I don’t talk about it consistently. But that once you achieve those goals, then how would your life be different? I dabble in that, you know, would you like you, I send out a weekly newsletter and a few times a year I’ll talk about that kind of thing I have.
One thing I’m proud of is the week of July 4, I have I always write one about when is your independence, your independence day, where you break free from working for the man. Whether that’s formally meaning you quit your job and do your own thing like you and I do or whether you just appreciate that you could walk away from the given job you have if you didn’t like it. And I do tell some of those stories like about Devin and can in those that Independence Day newsletter series.
Marc Gutman 34:19
Yeah, awesome. And I’m not here to tell you kind of what to what to do your you know your business best. But it just seems like that might be this interesting way to add to the delivery and experience of your story. If that becomes this added benefit this bigger, you know, because you’ve stated that that’s your goal, to help them do that. So thinking about like, how do you work that into the program? It doesn’t have to be this like, over arching thing it could be like in the beginning every year we kind of think about we take like that, yeah, and how we move forward. And that was awesome. And then lastly in the brand, or in the brand store, it’s just like what’s our personality? Like how do we how do we are we professional?
Are we funny Are we see, you know? Are we accommodating? Are we exclusive? There’s all these, there’s all these sorts of different ways to come up with those attributes. One of the things that I like to do that I think is a really easy exercise is I like to do like, with clients is thinking about what theme? What would, what would a Michael smart, inner circle themed vacation look like? So if you were going to, if you were going to hire out a cruise ship, and take everyone on an inner circle branded cruise? What would that look like?
Michael Smart 35:35
So I’m going to answer that straight up, as opposed to like, what would make that seem appealing to people. But as a as as sort of a metaphor for for my personality, it would be periods of intense focus on honing our craft, like we would get in a room probably without windows. So we could we could focus without distraction, on specific improving specific skills that everybody wanted to get better at. And then there would be, there would be clearly defined limits on that.
And then there would be a lot of free time and then time where we had some structured networking that enabled people to get to know each other and personally and professionally in ways that would improve them. And then there would be a lot of I would, I would want to float around and meet everybody’s families, I for whatever reason, I find that really intriguing families or significant others that they they brought along and kind of get get to know what drives them.
Marc Gutman 36:47
Okay, that’s super cool. And so you can start to think about even going further, like why that’s important. Like, what would that? You know, would I work with clients on this? We’ll spend some time but it’s like, Alright, you said social networking, like describe, like, take me there? Like, what does that look and feel like? What are the tables? Like? What’s happening? What’s the food? Like? What’s the, you know, I’ve had clients that like, Oh, it’s the Four Seasons, and it’s about other clubs, right, a campfire, and we’re eating out of Britain, freeze dried bags, you know, and that really stressed to set the tone of, of what, of what the personality of the businesses. And I love this idea about family.
One thing that you know, and I believe that the brand story is this thing that you can articulate in a grid like this, you can just kind of articulate that’s very important. But then it’s, it’s like, well, how does that how does that show up in your business. And if family is super important to you, one thing that I’ve seen done really cool is like, when someone joins the inner circle, sending something as simple as a handwritten note, and maybe something even more complex is like a little package to the family, and saying, hey, like, thank you for allowing Michael to become a member of the inner circle, we’re going to have intense moments of focus and work. And I know that there’s probably time that he could be devoting to you that he’s going to be devoting to me, so thank you. And just another way, like to express that that family is a core value and something that’s important to you now, you can either take it or just give me an example of a way then that we can take these brand stories, and who we are and extend out into the client experience because that’s, you know, what do they say, you know, my favorite definition of what is a brand and your brand story is by this guy, Marty neumeier is an expert on brand and he says it’s it’s the gut feeling people have about you, or your products or services and how do you how do you deliver that? How do you get there? It’s it’s much like a story.
You can tell it but you you lose a little bit once you put it out there becomes not for you to decide but for the people that you’re delivering it to to decide. Jeff Bezos says it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. I think that’s another great way and so like how do you extend that customer experience through your personality and taking that example even like one step further, like you know, if you were an extended gift, do they open it up? And is it like, explode into something hilarious? Is it a Is it a joke gift? Is it something so again, another way that you could really share things about your brand, and it’s all these like little micro interactions that then people just the way we interact with individuals, that people then decide Oh, like this is this is what the inner circle is. This is the Michael smart brand. This is
Michael Smart 39:40
I throw I’ll throw a suggestion back to you that you can share with others that’s worked well with me as I love your tip on writing to the customers family. My my holiday card every year is it looks like a family holiday card. It’s it’s me and my wife and kids and we have four kids and People who’ve been with me for a while have seen them grow from like, pre puberty to now they’re adults in college and, and a lot of people say they look forward to getting that and keeping up with the smarts so to speak. Yeah, and
Marc Gutman 40:13
I think so. And I think that’s what you know, look as buyers, like when we’re consumers, like, yes, we need to buy things that fit into the category we’re looking for, it needs to solve a problem. But at the end of the day, I want to, I still want to work with people and brands that I that I believe in, that I connect with. And that kind of goes back to my earlier comment, like, it took me a long time to get on my own way. And to say, like, hey, like, people want to connect with me, you know, yeah. And as I was building a lot around my business, I wasn’t really the I was trying, you know, I got some, you know, I don’t call bad advice, but I got some popular advice or counsel that, you know, you should have a company and not like be the product. And I think a lot of times, you know, even I just feel it happening more and more every day that people want to connect more with individuals than they do with, with with a corporation. Now, sometimes, and you see this, you work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies, like we want a corporation, right?
Like we want, we want a corporation to be our insurance provider or to be our automobile provider, or what have you like that, that that viewed in that feels right. And that also helps to be understand keep costs down. But when it comes to working with service providers and professional services, I think that we want to work with individuals.
Michael Smart 41:26
I 100% agree with that. And I’m guessing the challenge that you faced, grows out of the fact that the downside comes with an exit, right? That it you can’t scale yourself. So how do you? How do you build a brand on your personality, or yourself as an individual, and have people feel satisfied when they’re not working with you directly? Either people that your your employees, or if you ever sell the company?
Marc Gutman 41:54
Yeah. And I think that that’s something people really care about is like building this enterprise value in a business. And I had another business as a tech business it sold. It was easy to sell, you know, it had its own challenges. It was funny, you know, I you hear me talk about in other videos and things like about that business. I didn’t like it very much. It was very profitable. It ran like an awesome business. But the work wasn’t that great and didn’t fulfill me. And it had some challenges there. And I think a lot of times there’s this like trade off. But with this business, I’ve just made the I’ve made the decision that that building it for an exit.
So if I were to build an agency for an exit, I’d be doing things a lot differently. I’d be amassing as many customers as possible, I’d be looking to do that. I just think that there’s other ways to build to build wealth as a as a smaller, like service provider. And so if you could have a business that does well, that cash flows, well, you can you can use that to invest in other things that are going to actually make me my money. And that probably trying to build this for an exit isn’t isn’t really what I’m trying to deal with at this point. Because Yeah, I agree. I think it’s really tough. Gotcha, hard. Yeah, I’m
Michael Smart 43:04
following that that same trajectory. So sounds good.
Marc Gutman 43:09
Yep. For me, instead of banking on stock options or future exit. I’m banking on cash flow and investment. Yeah. Yep. So that’s cool. Well, so you know, and that’s the way we would lay out this this brand story for you, I think that you have those components. And a lot of the times it’s now putting that together. And what I want to do is bring up if I can find it. I’m literally working from a deck of like 360 slides that I can pull from at any moment, but then it becomes a little
Michael Smart 43:47
out here. While you’re pulling that up. I once saw Stephen Covey give a speech like that with an old school slide projector. So he would say to his assistant, he would say like slide 197. And she would like find pull the different ring and put it up and then move it and then she’d show that
Marc Gutman 44:04
I love it. So
here’s something that I have. I’ve talked about this before as well. But I call it the Thanksgiving dinner sentence. It’s just a way of putting together a an elevator pitch. The reason I call it this Yeah, the backstory really quick is my mother in law, her name is weezy. And we sat together Thanksgiving one year and we we spent a lot of Thanksgivings together. So we had Thanksgiving together. And next time I saw her and all her friends, they kept asking me how my blogging business was going. And I’m like, I am not a blogger, I I must have done a horrible job of explaining what I was doing. So I started working on coming up with a framework. And so something like this. And here’s an example we can fill this out for you. But you know, one that I wrote at one point was that you know how most brands have trouble differentiating from the competition, or proprietary branding process based on Hollywood Story techniques and or scientific branding frameworks. How Somebody get clear and focus on their marketing efforts and those who buy from us use the brand to give them a competitive advantage and boost their marketing. Maybe I don’t know what that supposed to say. Yeah, I
Michael Smart 45:11
think it is bad. But I like I like the idea of them booing something.
Marc Gutman 45:14
Yeah, I’m boos. They’re in a
Michael Smart 45:17
They boo in confidence.
Marc Gutman 45:18
Yeah. boost their American clothes, more business. So there you go. So, you know, and I think of this is like, hey, when someone you know, very conversational, when someone says, what do you do? I mean, the other thing that, you know, you could look at is something a little bit more like a traditional positioning statement. And this is just an example. But it’s like you’d say, you know, hey, this new company has a super smart meal planning and grocery service. Who’s it for? How do we know and then you have your reasons to believe. And those also become an you know, by doing what by providing a close network of professionals that that, you know, by giving, you know, the industry leading education and information or you know, all the things that you provide, would be another way to do that. So, certainly happy to provide these as frameworks to you, and you can work on them. But also, if you’d like, we’ve got got a little time and we could even try banging one of these out for you right now.
Michael Smart 46:17
I would I would love to work with you on on that. I, I actually, something that’s gnawing at me is my backstory, which doesn’t really fit in here. But it was like element five or six on on August. I kind of defined myself by my backstory, and that’s what I was getting at before that, that I don’t know how what people care about from before. But could I throw some of that at you? And you tell me what do you think sticks? And and what what should I leverage? And what should I leave alone? Totally. And, and and what I’ll say on that, too, is just to give you a little,
Marc Gutman 46:55
little sense, like, backstory is this interesting thing, and I do have a slide somewhere, but we’re short on time, and I don’t want to search for it. But it’s like, some people have a short one some people on one kind of depends where you are. If your heritage brand land like Ross on this huge backstory startup sometimes don’t. So thinking about that. Also, as you think about your backstory, you sent me a lot of information, but to think about it like an episodic storytelling term. So like, what are the kind of the key moments in putting that together. And I think a lot of people feel inauthentic or like that they’re not being honest, if they kind of tighten the timeline, if they editorialize it a little bit, my general belief on this is, is that if you are inherently being authentic and honest, like you can compact it. So you can tell it in a way that is compact, and an easy for others to understand. So that being said, Yeah, let me know what you’re thinking there. And I’d love to help you as we close it out here.
Michael Smart 47:51
So I have the I like when you said that episodes or even transitions, I have these focal points that were big deal to me, and I’ll share them with you briefly and like the way I would if I was taking a stab at using this as a sort of a selling point. And then and you can give me the feedback. So people, I don’t talk about it. Oh, but people ask like, how did you get here? How did you decide to do this? And I always say it was serendipitous, because it was I was a working PR pro and I want wanted to get better. So I went to professional development conferences once a year. And I saw people speaking there. And I thought I want I want to try that.
So I did. I was the top rated speaker at one of those conferences, people came out of the audience and asked me to train their team. I’d never done that before. But I said yes and figure it out as I went and eventually I was training fortune 10 companies while I still had this day job and making more money on the side than I was at my regular job. And so I obviously follow the money and and started do being a professional development provider full time. By that point, I priced out smaller companies, nonprofits, and certainly individuals. So I created a membership program, kind of like a modular piece that fit into a bigger machinery that that was for, for people couldn’t afford the big stuff. And then I realized that I didn’t want to have all my revenue reliant on flying around the country and talking to groups.
So I flipped the the ratio from two thirds live training to 1/3 live training and two thirds, my membership program and that has positioned me well for COVID. So when the live training went away, I doubled down on the inner circle and it’s grown to the point where when COVID ends, I’m not going back to the road. I’m just gonna keep focusing on the inner circle.
Marc Gutman 50:02
Yeah. And so I have some thoughts there. But you said, so what is your challenge with all that? Like, what? Where are you feeling? It
Michael Smart 50:09
seems like it’s too long. And it I know, it’s interesting to me, but I just don’t know, I don’t have a sense what of that is interesting or valuable to a prospect or cause? Yeah,
Marc Gutman 50:18
so absolutely. And so here’s my thought, when I talked about episodic storytelling, literally, what I’ll do is I’ll take a post it note, and I’ll write the story point on the post it note, and I’ll put them on the wall. And I’ll start to like, look at like, is that really like something really happened there? Because what we tend to do is we tend to share a resume. Yeah, not our story, you know, and we tend to share like our lifeline, not not like the reason we’re telling that story.
And so I think a lot about like, there’s always a reason I tell the story about how I worked, can I drop in that I worked for Oliver Stone, clearly a name drop to get credibility and to have people believe what I’m, what I’m saying what I would what I would counsel you on as if you were telling the story professionally, a couple things I would not do, I would not kind of do this, oh, shucks, it just sort of happened. And I found the money. I don’t like when I hear people say that they load the job or the money. It just it may be true. But it just it’s kind of like that. And I actually, I kind of believe that. But I also believe that we are driven especially as entrepreneurs, for other reasons. Now, it’s not Michael smart died at work. Like you need to make a profit. Like, like, that’s what so that’s, that’s intrinsic, we know that. But you could have made a profit doing a lot of things, you could have bought a taco bell, you could have been a real estate agent. I mean, you didn’t have to do this, you know, and you’ve you’ve chosen to do this.
The other thing I would say is like, you have this really great story, and I would work in at some point, I would, I would say, you know, so hey, you were doing i would i would do a little soul searching on why you thought to stand up and put your arm up and speak that’s not something that is that’s obvious. That’s not something that other people want to do that scares the hell out of most people to go and and so why did you think and I think it kind of comes back to this like, hey, like, I’m just as good as, as these other people, I have a lot to offer. And and I think working that into your backstory is good. I also think instead of saying, hey, I want to and I did like it when we talked about other people got priced out. And well, I remember back to this event when I went and I was a small PR pro and or I wasn’t small, I was working, you know, for religious University. And I was like marginalized. And like, I remember how that felt. And I wanted to make you know, I never wanted to leave anyone behind.
So I started the the inner circle. And what I found is that as as my journey went on, and I started to evolve, and my what I was really realized I was here to do, which was and then you talk about that mission we talked about, yeah. Which is like helping people to have more choice. And I realized like, I wasn’t living my own mission. I was flying everywhere. And I was kind of, you know, frazzled. I wasn’t spending as much time with my family or myself, whatever that might be. Right? Yes. Yeah, filling in. And so I started to shift. I started to shift that model. So that like, I was spending more time, you know, living that mission that I’m trying to have for you, your customer. That’s the way I would kind of spend that story.
Michael Smart 53:31
That’s great. It’s 100% true. 200%.
Marc Gutman 53:35
I would just like not be like, I mean, we all have that, like, wow, I don’t know how I end up some things like that tonight. Yeah, I have a good answer. And like, people are always like, like, Why’d you leave the movie business? I was like, well, I just kind of like, wanting to, like, I don’t have this, like, I don’t have this, like totally, like, I was just like, Oh, I kind of see that life. For me. That wasn’t really I was like, that kind of I could see where that logically was going. I didn’t wanna live in LA my whole life. I had some other things I wanted to do. And I did you know, and, but I don’t have a good, you know, and so I’m just being honest, but like, so I don’t talk about it. Like I try to like, I skirt around it. And I drop that because it’s really, as a listener, it’s unfulfilling, everyone’s like, that just doesn’t doesn’t pay off. So yeah, so yeah, that’s why I would kind of string it together for you. And then and I think that’s for me, and episodic storytelling. When I’m honing a story. I put those story points up on the board and I’m I don’t have a good a good reason to tell that story.
I pulled the post it note and I just tighten up the story. And then I also think about and I’m doing this right now, like I’m prepping. You know, we mentioned before, we mentioned before the call started that I’m going next week to do some speaker training. And I’m collecting. I got a diary of that journal, but I’m like, okay, here’s a story. And like, what did I learn or what do I want people to know from that story? Because we have like, a pulse stories. We have a million stories. The real challenge is which one do you tell? And how do you tell it? And when do you tell it? And, and really in, in building our brand, there should be a reason for that story. And so thought about what that is and like, why and why we tell us or otherwise, don’t tell it and tighten it up. And we don’t need to tell everyone our whole life story. They just need a few things, you know? Yeah.
Michael Smart 55:21
Marc Gutman 55:22
Yeah. Like, I love to tell the story about how. And I started a lot of keynotes this way, about how I asked my dad if he liked his job, and he kind of was like, hey, well, you know, it wouldn’t be called work if it was supposed to be fun. And that kind of put me on this path to go to go find work that I loved. And but like, when I originally told that story, that was a 20 minute story. Yeah. Now and I was like, in like, I was painting like the the light in the room and dad was wearing now literally, that’s about the length of the story, and then I move on. And, and it has the same amount of impact. You know, this isn’t like a short novella.
So really thinking about why you want people to know that. And the reason I tell that is it sets up my mission of why, you know, I’m on a mission to help, you know, brands, opera, and other people enjoy that time after the work day. And that’s a really what gets me going. So, but but it’s a very specific reason for telling that story at that specific time.
Michael Smart 56:21
Very good. resonate to me. Okay.
Marc Gutman 56:26
Well, Mike, I hope that was helpful. I mean, we had about an hour we covered a ton, do you feel like like, do you feel like you’ve got what you want? It is? Or for sure, yeah, getting around being like,
Michael Smart 56:37
Yeah, I do Marc, and it’s for your, for your knowledge. Whether I’m right or wrong, I feel like I, I’ve gone through the this grid before or you know, by by another name. But the really fine points that you called out, like, like I told you that I the story, I’ve never told anybody is now going to be a core part of my, my elevator pitch, every time I speak to a new audience about what I do. And then you just, you know, I sort of put you on the spot with a particular need, and you’ve found a way to give me that feedback and tie it back to the the thread that that’s going to guide my, my work going forward. So I expected nothing less.
You know, I’ve been following your calling your career and, and you embody, I mean, I think I think you, you might be selling your your, your very background short, it makes you intriguing, right? It’s like the fact that you had like, a Hollywood career. And then you are you’re a tech entrepreneur, and you’re not doing those two things, even though it doesn’t maybe doesn’t make sense, it makes you intriguing, and certainly gives you credibility that what you’re doing now is fulfilling and that you’re good at it.
Marc Gutman 57:54
Well, and I’d like for me brand strategy really is, you know, business strategy. And so having that background, having that experience that just comes in comes in handy. I just I’ve seen a lot of different things, and I really like it. And I get to I get to do that. And thank you for those kind words. I really appreciate Yeah, I mean, like, I’m just curious by nature, and I always kind of want to check out different different things. And so yeah, thank you know, and
Michael Smart 58:16
especially to me, I’m the opposite. Like it’s taken me 14 years to develop this business to get to this point. So the idea of starting a whole on a whole nother path is terrifying. And I admire I admire people who are doing doing it. I think I’m done with that.
Marc Gutman 58:33
Yeah, this is this is it for a while, but I like it gives me gives me a lot of opportunity. But yeah, if you have any questions, Michael, if there’s anything you want to hone if there’s anything you want to run by me, you know off camera, whatever we can, we can chat about it and happy to talk about but like I’m sincere that story you told was amazing. I think that connects so well to your business and you’d be really well served to share that with the world.
Michael Smart 58:55
I’ll do it and I’ll when I put this into like my sales page and and my webinar scripts, I’ll send you those and get your take
Marc Gutman 59:03
love to see it. Love to help out. Awesome to reconnect and so glad we were able to chat and I just hope it was helpful. That was that was really my goal.
Michael Smart 59:12
It wasn’t thank you so much for the generous invitation that you put out I I don’t know why people aren’t that people should be flocking to take take advantage of it. Well, I
Marc Gutman 59:22
had good response like like I was like, wow, like I was like
Michael Smart 59:25
yeah, okay, good. I
Marc Gutman 59:26
need to put more parameters on yours was yours was Yeah, this was like the perfect. The perfect request. And it’s an it’s in my wheelhouse. Add some, you have some people that would want to do some other things so often.
Michael Smart 59:38
Okay, thanks again, Marc.
Marc Gutman 59:40
Thanks, Michael. Yeah, stay in touch and let me know how it all works out for you. And that was Michael smart. What do you think? Pretty amazing story. Once you agree. Well, if you’re interested in learning more about how to find your brand story more about branding, more about storytelling. Go ahead and Like this video and once you subscribe to our channel. Better yet, leave a comment below of what you liked best about this video and what other topics you’d like to see us cover in the future. All right, see you later. Bye!
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