Effective Brand Building In A Noisy Market

June

16

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How can you effectively build your brand in a noisy market? How should you approach it? What should you avoid? Priscilla McKinney from Little Bird Marketing will help us today with all of this and more as we dig into the topic of brand building.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Priscilla McKinney for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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Effective Brand Building In A Noisy Market

Tim Fitzpatrick
How can you effectively build your brand in a noisy market? How do you approach it? Are there things that you should avoid? We are going to talk about all of this and a lot more with our special guest today as we dig into the topic of brand building. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth, and marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I am really excited to have with me Priscilla McKinney from Little Bird Marketing. Priscilla, welcome and thank you for being here. Before you speak, it looks like you're on mute, so I just want... There we go. Awesome. I love it. Pracilla, how are you?

Priscilla McKinney
I'm great. I just like to keep myself on mute and like to give you the full attention when.

Tim Fitzpatrick
There you go.

Priscilla McKinney
I'm super excited. We have so much in common, and I think just ripping off each other as two professionals who are really at it every day is going to be super fun.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes, I am looking forward to talk about brand building. I told you before we jumped on, I don't talk about brand building all that much. So I am excited to talk about this. Before we do that, I want to ask you some rapid fire questions. Help us get to know you. You ready to jump in here?

Priscilla McKinney
Anything. I got my finger guns, I'm good to go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. So when you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Priscilla McKinney
100 %. I love to be on my boat sailing with my husband. So if other people want to come, fine, I don't care, but that's where I want to be.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. You're in a landlocked state, right?

Priscilla McKinney
Yeah, we have a beautiful lake. We have the Stockton Lake near us. It's a hidden gem here in Missouri. It's actually where America's Cup used to train, so it's not too shabby. I like it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay, very cool. I love it. What's your hidden talent?

Priscilla McKinney
The best one I have is that I can recite the alphabet backwards. And let me tell you, if you're ever trying to chorale a rowdy group of teenagers or young kids, this comes in handy. It's real.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That is a cool hidden talent. I have to think way too hard to do that.

Priscilla McKinney
Okay, I got to do it, though. I got to do it, though. zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihgfedcba. So there you go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh, my God. It would have taken me 10 times that. There must be a certain wire in your brain that allows you to do that.

Priscilla McKinney
Yeah, it's called learning it in a song when you were a kid.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay, there you go.

Priscilla McKinney
It always works.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's the best piece of advice that you've ever been given?

Priscilla McKinney
I think my high school teacher, my senior English teacher said, when you read, write. And I have to say as a content marketing company and being the CEO of it, what is in small and short supply is fantastic writers. She gave me that advice so early on. It has completely affected my writing for the better. It's really about really understanding how to take in many other writers, learn from people. I think you could probably apply that in other ways. But for me, as the CEO of a content marketing company, that was fantastic advice. I took it that day and I still do it. Whenever I'm reading, I'm writing as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's funny. I was a math major and I write so much now. We all do, really. I mean, if you think about it, we write in different ways, but it's an absolutely critical skill that we got to have, right?

Priscilla McKinney
Yeah. Like I said, it's in short supply. So if you're a fantastic writer out there and I don't know you, can you please contact me?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Contact Priscilla. What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, I grew up in a singing traveling family, and I can never confirm or deny how many puppet shows were involved in this. And maybe that surprises people. But after all that and how comfortable I am talking in front of audiences when I'm in my element, one thing that surprises people is that I can't act. I can't go out on a stage and act in a skit. People are like, Oh, you're outgoing and you love to be on stages. You'll be good. And I get out there and I'm like, What are we doing? They're like, Oh, yeah, you'll do this part of the fun skit. I can't. I freeze up. I don't know how to act. I don't know how to be somebody else.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What does success mean to you?

Priscilla McKinney
People have a lot of lofty ideas about this, but I got to tell you, since I have opened my business 12 years ago and had employees, I have met payroll every Friday. That is complete success. These people depend on me, I depend on them, and I have never once shirked my financial responsibility to my employees. And that to me is massive success.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Whenever I've had friends come to me and they're like, yeah, my boss told me that my paycheck is going to be delayed. I was like, You better go start looking for a job ASAP.

Priscilla McKinney
Yeah. That's 101 right there.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. That's not a good sign. Where's your happy place?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, I think it's on the boat for sure. But let's be more specific. It's on a boat with a drink in my hand and a book in the other hand.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Any drink in particular?

Priscilla McKinney
In the summer, on the boat, it's Coke Zero and Malibu rum. I'm just that simple. That's my summer drink and it's easy. It's easy peasy. All day long, you can drink it. No problem. It's really a very strategic part of my happy place.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Coke Zero and Malibu Rum. All right. What qualities do you value in the people you spend time with?

Priscilla McKinney
For sure, I love people who are self reflective. I know that many times when I'm faced with a challenge, I am a part of the problem and I like to reflect on that. And I like to surround myself with other people who are critical thinkers. But it's not just about being critical about everything else around us. It's about being critical of ourselves, too, and be able to understand how we are participating or what we're getting out of challenges and problems that we're facing. I like to surround myself with people who have an instant understanding of how to self reflect because then they can help me self reflect.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. Thank you. So tell us a little bit more about what you're doing with Little Bird Marketing.

Priscilla McKinney
Well, at Little Bird Marketing, we are very focused on the outcomes of marketing, not the doing the thing of the marketing. We win a lot of awards for beautiful things. I have photography and videography and amazing lead magnets or downloadable guides. The graphics team is just always winning awards. And so we have a lot of things that we do in marketing, things that you can checklist. But really for us, we focus on the idea of what is the outcome? Where's the revenue? And people talk a lot about, Oh, let's get fancy and let's talk about KPIs and OKRs and all these acronyms. I usually say, You know what feeling you should have? The feeling that your company is printing money in the back room. And if it's not, or not doing that to the degree that you think it should be, then we probably need to think about the marketing plan that you have and is it effective?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love that. I always talk about all that stuff is great, but is it leading to new customers that are generating revenue? If it's not, then something's out of alignment and we got to go back because... Priscilla, you and I see this all the time. There are plenty of marketers out there that... You can spit out all kinds of metrics that make things look good, but those things don't always translate to leads that are converting to customers. And if it's not, then who cares?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, also people see that. So other owners see that and they'll come to me and say, Oh, such and such company is doing this. Can you do this for us? Well, first of all, I love money. And yes, I can do that for you. But the question is, would I? Because it may not fit your strategy, number one. And then number two, you don't know if that company is losing their shorts doing that. Unless you're privy to their P&L, you don't know how to evaluate the efficacy of their marketing. And so just going to another marketing agency and saying, Hey, I like what I see such and such doing, let's do that. That mimicry is not always the best plan forward. Now, it is important to know what your competitors or other companies are doing. And the degree to which it actually fits into your strategy and can be measured to some degree or in a degree that would be valuable to you, then yeah, let's do it. But just doing it because you see other people doing it is a big mistake I see happening a lot.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, Dan Kennedy talks about, he's like, look, 80 % of people that are marketing aren't getting results. So why would you copy most people?

Priscilla McKinney
That's pretty fair.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. I remember when I read that, I was like, that is really good. It's so right in front of our face. And if you know or follow Dan Kennedy at all, you know he doesn't mince words. So be careful who you copy.

What Brand Lift is and How To Start

Tim Fitzpatrick
So before we jump into brand building, this first thing that we're going to talk about is brand lift. Can you give us an idea just like what brand lift actually means?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, I break the word lift down to thinking about what do we mean by lift? I might think like liftoff or like, maybe the better word would be traction. Because liftoff or lift was like, okay, it's this one movement and it's up. But really what I'm trying to get a little bit more is this traction, which is the slow and steady over time because the rocket ship has to like, has the face, I don't get engines and whatever it is, the rocket ship does. I'm not a rocket scientist, obviously. Otherwise, I would probably see this for a beautiful metaphor. But when it does take off, it's like immediate. And so sometimes I don't like the word brand lift because people get that idea of immediacy. And I like the idea of traction because I think it helps people slow down for a minute and say, what we're looking for when we say brand lift is that we want our lift to come along on the revenue journey with us. We want the brand to be meaningful, not just like, okay, well, someone bought a widget because they needed a widget. No, they bought this because it happened to be a little board marketing widget. And somehow the brand was important. My brand contributed to that revenue journey. And so I think about that lift, I think traction is just a little bit of a better word, but I think what it needs to be is moving. Either way, we agree that it's movement in the right direction. And I will say one other thing about brand lift when I talk about it with people. A lot of times people are getting brand lift, but they're getting it at the wrong time. This is interesting, maybe a little bit more complicated conversation. But I see that people who come to us in general, if I could just overheartedly state, they're stuck, something's not working. They give up and say, Hey, we need you. A lot of times what I find is that they may have been doing some of the right things, but they were doing them at the wrong time. Sometimes they can experience some brand lift, but they lifted the brand before they had any of the other pieces in place, and so it couldn't get traction. And so the brand lifted and then it fell right back down to the landing pad and didn't shoot into space. And we're going to take that metaphor. It's the rocket ship. Brand lift to me is not just as important as brand lift sustainability. And that's where I come with traction. But I think it's a very valid term and I think we need to think about that because a lot of times people at the beginning are thinking, but how do we get going? So that lift is super important. But once you lifted the brand, I just asked, well, what do you want someone to do about that now that we have this exposure and people are looking and we have something meaningful, are you ready for them to take that next action or not?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. You touched on something here that I think is easy for a lot of people to overlook, which is what you do in marketing is just as important as the sequence. Frankly, the sequence, I think, is more important than what you choose to do. If some of those things are out of alignment and you're trying to increase your brand awareness, but you're doing it at the wrong time, it's like a bird that's just trying to learn how to fly and it's flapping its wings but it's not getting anywhere because it doesn't have what it needs to actually get up off the ground.

Priscilla McKinney
100 %. And I think that people, because they are being told or maybe even shamed into looking for certain KPIs, they feel like they're doing their due diligence with their brand if they push on those lift things, or if they push a marketing company to get these certain KPIs going. I'm all for it. Listen, I love KPIs. I have great resources that help people understand them and really carve out a good plan for what KPIs would be meaningful to you. It's not that I don't think they're meaningful. I just think that they need to really understand what is the ultimate goal. And did I create a pathway for the entire journey? Or did I just work on the lift and now we're here. And then all of a sudden we got a lot of people that might be interested and then we're like, oh, my God. What do we do with all these people? We put them in a bus stop, but we didn't schedule a bus to come by. It's like, Okay, well, these people are only going to stay at this bus stop for so long.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So what I'm hearing you say is they started the lift, but then they don't have the rest of the path laid out that they want people to go down.

Priscilla McKinney
Exactly. That happens so often. So often. Or what I hear even more often is that they have hired a certain vendor, like maybe a lead gen specialty vendor is like, Okay, well, give me a lot of leads. We got to solve that problem. We got to solve that problem. Okay, we solved that problem. Okay, well, then the lead generation place delivers a bunch of leads and they're like, Oh, our salespeople don't know how to close them. Okay, get a vendor to come figure out how to close. So they're planning it as they're going along the journey. That is like the stupidest thing to do, which is to build the airplane as you're flying. I know a lot of people feel very proud when they say that statement, Oh, we're just out here. We're building this airplane. Frankly, I don't want to get on a plane that's not already built. Please get me off this thing. And as an owner and an operator, as an entrepreneur myself, I can't think of a worse experience than having to build the freaking plane as it's flying. That's terrifying and I never want to put myself in that situation.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I agree with you on that. With brand lift, the marketing in general is noisy, even individual verticals are incredibly noisy. What does it take to start to get brand lift?

Priscilla McKinney
I would add to what you said, and people's lives are very noisy. These humans that you're trying to contact, they have a lot of other interests. What does it take to get brand lift these days? Honestly, there is no one thing, and that's I think where the conversation needs to start. A lot of people still come in marketing saying, oh, we did X, Y, Z, so you should do that because that worked for us. Well, first of all, what worked for you will most likely not work for another company. And then secondly, I guarantee you that wasn't that one thing that you did that worked. Anymore, marketing is not one thing. It's a million little things. And so when I think even about something as simple as writing a blog, that sounds like, oh, everybody freaks out, like, oh, I don't want to write a blog. I get that. But once they get over that, they think, oh, I'm going to sit down and write the blog. No, no, no, no. It's about 52 items that you need to do. And I'll just throw a few of them out where people go. It's overwhelming. First of all, we've got to know who's my audience. Did I do persona development? And that persona, if I actually speak to them, what are they going through? What is keeping them up at night so that I can actually speak to that audience? When I speak to that audience, where are they in their journey? Are they in just an awareness stage or are they actually considering a solution or are they making a decision? How could I help them? How could I couch this blog? What keywords should I use? Is my title under 60 characters? Does it have keywords to help me be found? When I actually write it, do I have some a helpful guide in order to give a logical next step for somebody embedded in that many sentences in the blog? Do I have other hyperlinks I can do to other things that I've written that would be helpful? When I write the social, do I have the graphics? Do I have inline graphics that make it interesting to read? Do I know what hashtags I should be using for the social? So writing a blog, someone would come to another owner and say, Well, the way we got lift off or the way we got success was we started writing a lot of blogs. That's not one thing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, right. Yeah. There's a lot of moving pieces.

Priscilla McKinney
It is. And it really is a customized caserole that you've got to make for a client. So one thing just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Tim Fitzpatrick
The biggest thing I'm taking away from what you just shared is, one, and I talk about this all the time, there is no one size fits all plan, period. We are all in different places. Even if you and I were working with an account, two different CPA firms, the plan for those CPA firms is not going to be the same. They are starting at different places. They have different goals. They have different resources. They have different budgets. Certain marketing tactics may resonate better with one over another. Like, if I tell one, Dude, you got to start doing video. They're like, Hell no, I'm not doing video. You can't do that. You got to create a plan.

Priscilla McKinney
Some people want to do a lot of... You have to think about even the personalities, what you have to do you have to do to t work with in terms of the human assets that you have at that company. Some people are great going on a podcast. Somebody would completely bomb that. You cannot come up with the same plan. Now, the structure is the same and anybody can crib this from me. Here's my gift. No matter what you're doing, you don't have to work with us, but you do need to get things in order, like I mentioned. We use the acronym SOAR, SOAR. Strategy first, next organization, next accountability, and then repeatability. People come to me and they want to talk KPIs. That's repeatability. We're not even there yet. Let's move back to the S, to the strategy. And that is where you say there's no brown back solution here. We have to assess where are they now and where do they want to go? So for example, even with our two CPAs you mentioned, one of them might be saying, Yeah, and I want this to be a lifetime, a lifestyle business that is just I need to bring it up another level. I need to add an admin and I need to maybe raise my salary by about 40 %. Those are my goals. And my other client comes to me and says, Yeah, we're a million dollar company and we want to be a 12 in five years and we want to sell. Those are totally different goals. I'm going to use SOAR for both of them. But what I actually recommend is going to be widely different.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, the framework. Well, I love Priscilla, how you touched on strategy. As a fractional chief marketing officer, everything I do starts with strategy. You touched on this a little bit earlier. It all starts with your audience. Who's your target market? Who are your ideal clients within that market? What is your message to that market to grab their attention and their interest? I really think of those two things like fuel. Then you can pick any of the various marketing vehicles that are out there. They can all work, but you got to have fuel. If you don't have fuel, it's not going to work. I love how you start with strategy because so many people don't. They get tactical. They want to take action immediately. I've got to have a YouTube channel. I got to have a blog.

Priscilla McKinney
Or they're saddled with legacy tech stack that they're like, Well, we bought into X. So we have to use it. I'm like, Okay, well, unfortunately, there are some realities. I have had to customize some plans around some legacy tech stack that, frankly, they spent too much money on, and so now we've got to make it work. There's a different tech stack that every single company can use. Then also back to the humans, you have some people who are tech averse and Lord knows they're about ready to get their pink slips because if they're not digitally transforming what they're doing, they're not going to exist. But you do have to bring clients through a journey too, about how they actually digitally transform themselves and their company at large, and then how that transcends into their marketing strategy and sales approach. There's just a lot to it. I think this word marketing gets thrown around a lot, and it's just not that simple, and you can't hire your niece to do it.

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Why People Go Alone with Brand Building

Tim Fitzpatrick
That leads into the next thing I want to ask you about. I see a lot of people trying to go it alone, do it by themselves. Why do you think people try to do this?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, the psyche about why people do it is probably very interesting and it's probably buried. First of all, I think there are a lot of people in either marketing or in entrepreneurship who I think probably suffer from imposter syndrome. When you go about it with someone else, you strive together with another person, you have to let go of your ego and you have to show your limitations, what you know and what you don't. First of all, in order to collaborate, you have to really let go of ego. I'm not trying to judge anybody else, but I do think that there's some imposter syndrome that's under that. They'd like to just stay quiet in their own marketing room and be able to report to their boss, Well, I tried it, it didn't work, or whatever. So people go it alone, I think, because maybe they're afraid of revealing that they don't know it all. And as the CEO of this company, I'm like, Yeah, I don't know at all. In fact, yesterday I knew less because, oh, my gosh, the pace at which I'm learning is just, it'll blow you away. And we're very deep in AI and generative AI and where it's going with content. And I can't go 45 minutes without learning something at this company. So I think they go it alone, mainly because it's almost like it would reveal what they don't know. So I think you got to get over that, or you got to get someone in your marketing seat who doesn't have ego, get them out of there. But I think they also go it alone simply because people are not always connected. They don't do a good job of connecting. Marketing people might say, like social selling is for salespeople. Even an HR person, I think should be out there digitally transformed, become an influencer on LinkedIn to know everybody. Guess what? They could probably spend zero money on HR ads if they were just well connected on LinkedIn. So you have to really build a lot of significant communities. So I think people just lack the communities that would help them not go it alone. But the reality is that I guess it's good news and bad news. The good news is you can't go it alone. The bad news is you can't go it alone. Those companies who are still trying to do that, they are going to be out of business. In fact, they're probably out of business. They just probably haven't gotten the memo yet.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's interesting you say that because I think marketing is evolving super fast, like a lot of different industries, and it's just no one... There's no unicorns, you can't know it all. If you're going to be good at marketing, you really need to specialize and figure out what you're good at and what you want to do. And as a business owner, it's impossible to stay on top of that when you're spinning five other plates. I think too what I see is people feel like they're going to save money by doing it by themselves. I did an interview a couple of weeks ago. God, I wish I could remember who said this. And I can't remember exactly how he put it, but it was basically, look, you're going to pay to learn either with your time or with your money. And it really resonated with me because, look, I've done this before where I'm like, oh, I can do this myself. But the reality is it took me way longer than it should have because I didn't want to pay for it. But if you find the right resource and you pay for it, it will help you get to where you want to go much, much faster.

Priscilla McKinney
Well, and there's the old adage of if you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait till you see what it costs you to hire an amateur.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, there you go. Same concept, right?

Priscilla McKinney
Yeah, it's a lot of work.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I think we should be spending our time figuring... And this is not just marketing, right? This is every aspect of our business. Finding those people, whether they're inhouse people that we hire or outsourced resources, finding out where those resources are, and then taking advantage of them because you're going to pay with time or you're going to pay with money.

Priscilla McKinney
Right. And I'm jumping into professionals who don't even know about ChatGPT or about generative AI or don't know about creative AI. And I mean, the list goes on and on. And I mean, guys, that's not the future. That's not today. That's like yesterday's news. You got to get with the program here.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. And that is changing.

Priscilla McKinney
The hourly?

Tim Fitzpatrick
As we are talking, it is changing.

Priscilla McKinney
Yes, it's getting smarter and better every minute that we are on.

Tim Fitzpatrick
This call. Yeah. It is something that we can't ignore. I think we need to figure out how we can take advantage of it and how the tool can help us. But there's people like anything, right? There's people looking going, Oh, my gosh. This can now do my job. And it's not... I don't know.

Priscilla McKinney
It's just the same old. It's always. It's like the telegraph, Oh, my gosh. What are we going to do with these people who ride on horses and deliver the messages? Find a different job. Our jobs change. The telegraph, it's the original social media. Humans are social. Humans are advanced. I did this this very strange lead I behavior around AI just baffles me. It's always the same people crying the same thing. Oh, when I opened my company and I put out there that I would be managing social media for brands. The whole cry in my... I got a lashing in this town, like, Oh, that's ridiculous. Companies will never pay you to actually manage their social. It's free. Okay, well, dollars later. You stay there in the comfort of your opinion. But I went on and created a successful company. So that's interesting.

Is it Possible to Collaborate with Competitors?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, exactly. I want to shift gears a little bit, and I want to talk about collaboration with competitors because I think when we talk about... First, is it possible to collaborate with competitors? Have you seen this work? Because I think there are plenty of people out there that just have a roadblock where it's like, I can't collaborate with the competitor. So can you dig into this a little bit? Share some of your experiences with that.

Priscilla McKinney
First of all, I wrote the book on it, literally. So that went off to the proofreader this week. It's called Collaboration is the New Competition. And it's really about how our current social paradigm really rewards high minded thinking. And it talks about the future of work and how not to get left behind. So do I think that collaboration works? Number one, it works. Number two, if you don't do it, you won't be working. So there's some level of collaboration. Now, collaboration has a large scale to it. There's a spectrum, right? And it is possible to collaborate with competitors. I think that's much harder and you have to be more skilled. But there's a lot of ways to collaborate up the ladder for a lot of great wins to really test your mettle about collaboration. And then, yes, it is possible to collaborate with competitors. I want to be clear, you're not going to share trade secrets. That's not what we're talking about. You see in society at large all kinds of collaborations. Or the kids these days, I think they're calling them mashups or collabs. You could be cool if you call it a collab, whatever it is. But the fact is that brands understand that they can't go it alone, even huge brands. Think way back, this is not anything new. Happy Meal always had some a branded to lay in it. So there was always a collaboration with different companies in order to deliver what the customer wanted. So this is a very customer centric move. And sometimes you need to bring your expertise or your platform or your cloud or whatever it is to something else. But I'll give you an example of a really great competitor, competitor collab. I had a client who does in person field work. And that means when you have a focus group and you want to ask humans what they think about your product, service, whatever it is, you bring them together face to face and you ask them about it, or they play with the technology, or someone tests out the medical device, whatever it is. So obviously during COVID, face to face was plummeting. How are you going to get people together? They don't want to be next to each other. And so as a global industry, this face to face industry was very hurt. I was called in by my main client. Instead of asking them to basically asking us to create a plan to dig them out of what was being thrust upon them by a global pandemic, they brought together many of their competitors and said, Priscilla, what we would like to do is we'd like for you to work for all of us and basically get brand lift on the entire industry. Think like the Dairy Council of America. They all came together. They're not sharing trade secrets, but there were a lot of things we could share. We could share testimonials, we could share highlights, we could share photos of how people were making it work in social distancing, all kinds of things. This was such a cool opportunity and it was something that happened now several years ago. But even through that, they created this hashtag face to face, MRx. Mrx in our industry stands for market research. And that thing has had a life of its own. Three years later, it's been used, I don't know, over 100,000 times. And it's created an industry lift for many brands. And so they came together and pooled their money to say, hey, don't save one of us, save all of us. And it's such a beautiful thing. It's such a really interesting way of approaching it and just giving them a shout out. The company is field work and they're very much at the top of their game. But they have a lot to lose and a lot to gain. And I guess that's the last thing I'd say about collaboration and why it's so important. But people don't like it, or they bristle when I say the word collaboration because they've been put in things that have been called collaboration that were not collaboration. Collaboration means that you come to the table with something to lose and something to gain, and you are willing to check your ego at the door and share your card, put your cards on the table, and that you have a vested interest in it succeeding. Those are my tenets of collaboration. And if there's anything that you've been doing that don't have those tenets, I would not call it collaboration.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, that example, too, Priscilla, they obviously came into that with more of an abundance mindset. There's so much out there. There's plenty of business. You're not stealing from me. I'm not stealing from you. If you go into a collaboration with that mindset, I think there's a much higher likelihood of success. But you and I see this on the marketing side of things all the time, and I'm sure that it translates to other industries where you see two people that you would think like, Gosh, they are direct competitors, and they're both out there promoting each other. I saw this, and I can't remember, I'm part of the duct tape marketing consultant network with John Jantsch and on his last book launch, he was collaborating with two other people that were promoting marketing books, but they promoted it all together to leverage all of their collective audiences. I think they all realized at some point, Hey, some of these people in my audience, they're never going to buy from me, but they might buy from you, or they might buy from you. So let's just pool our resources. I don't have behind the scenes on that, but I'm sure that they all benefited from doing that.

Priscilla McKinney
I would totally agree. And that's the thing that people shy away from all the time. But right now, you and I are collaborating. I'm a fractional CMO, you get paid as a fractional CMO. Guess what? There's plenty of business out there. And it raises your cloud to be talking to me and it raises my cloud to be talking to you. We're both experts and we respect each other's opinion, we're gaining things for our own followers while we're doing this, and we're being exposed to each other's carefully curated audiences. This is a win win. Where I like to go with collaboration is like, Okay, you and I could do this win win. Start with these win wins because this is what you can learn how to do better at it. Hey, Tim wants to be on my podcast. Great. I'll be on your podcast. You'd be on mine. What else can we do? Hey, can I help you push one of these other resources you have? Or can I do... You lead with some giving, right? And you cannot believe how that comes back exponentially. But the great thing is, once you tested that a few times, then you can start going, Well, how can I get a win, win, win? Well, how can I get a win, win, win, win, win? To the case of what I just explained, that was 25 companies that came together and got a 25 times win. You better believe that those people are respected in that industry at a greater level because they weren't selfish and they acted for the good of the industry. So there are a lot of wins. Not every single one of the wins is going to be revenue, but it can be about influence. It can be about clout. It can be about reputation. So you need to really understand what are all the levers that need to be pushed in marketing. It's not just money.

Tim Fitzpatrick
No, it's not. Every time I talk to another marketer, I always learn something. Hopefully, I'm adding some value and they're learning something as well. I think most of the time it's a pretty mutual exchange. We don't have all the answers. You touched on this early on in our conversation, you can't go at this alone. The first business I was involved in that I was a partner in, we collaborated with other wholesale distributors in other parts of the country. They were not direct competitors. We actually ended up partnering together. But damn, every time we got together, it was a mastermind. There was somebody that was a little bit further ahead, some people were further behind. But no matter where we were at, we always learned from each other. It just, rising tide lifts all ships, however you want to put it. We just helped each other rise to the top.

Priscilla McKinney
I think that happens in industries, and that's the more likely place to find it. And where I like to do collabs and really get it is outside of your industry. Who can you collaborate with? It would be unusual, but you would also provide an unusual amount of lift. I think there's a lot of ways of doing it. You got to start small. But once you get that bug, that collaboration bug, you can't see it any other way because you realize, Oh, my gosh, it takes so much like we talked about to get brand lift. It is such a noisy environment. If I go it alone and I just think about me creating my audience over all the years, I think about going back to the beginning of my podcast, my first podcast, we're at 400 episodes. That's blood, sweat and tears, man. Why wouldn't someone want to come to me and say, Hey, Priscilla, it would be worth it for me to be on your podcast. You have 400 episodes of loving and taking care of your audience. They respect you and you're going to have me on. I'm going to get that immediate cloud and that immediate professional legitimacy. What can I do for you then? To understand really what it is. But working outside of your industry, I think is the next step that people can take if they really want to see if they are made of the right stuff in terms of collaboration.

Conclusion: Effective Brand Building In A Noisy Market

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, cool. I love it. Priscilla, any last minute thoughts you want to share with us before we ?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, you touched on one thing that we weren't planning on talking about, but it's about you really can't do what you need to do in marketing anymore if you're not connected. People really do not pay attention to this. Our networks are shrinking on the whole professionally than COVID really shrunk our networks. Also, I think that we're not teaching younger people to come in the industry and network quickly enough. A lot of people say to me about being on LinkedIn, Oh, yeah, I look around. I'm like, You look around? No, you should be every day actively connecting. I teach cohorts of teams how to become social influencers on LinkedIn. It takes a long time. It's a three month course. I love doing that with teams, but the reality is you cannot move your personal career brand forward. You cannot move your company brand forward if you are not connected to people. Isolation is the killer of collaboration. It is the killer of revenue. Honestly, I think it's the killer of why people become unhappy at work. We could go long and hard about this idea of being connected, but it is so important to me. People usually think, Oh, that's for those extroverts. That's for the crazy people. No, it's for everybody. You need to figure out a way as an introvert to Excel. And I've taught many, many introverts how to Excel and be very strong influencers on LinkedIn. But you cannot have the next great idea in marketing, in sales, in HR, whatever your role is, if you are sitting at a desk and you are isolated. So you have got to get out on LinkedIn, build the right networks, which means you have to take care of people. You can't just go out and take. You have to have that abundance mentality and you have to build those networks. I guess that would be a partying shot for me is that networking is so underrated and is 100 % the name of the game in my opinion.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. All it takes is one relationship to completely change the direction of our businesses. Yeah, relationships, super, super important. Where can people learn more about you, Priscilla?

Priscilla McKinney
Well, having just said that about LinkedIn, I am always on LinkedIn. It's very easy to catch me there. Littlebirdmarketing.com/resources. We give away so much free stuff there. You don't have to work with us. We won't tester you. We're not weird sales people. So go download a bunch of resources that would help you or help someone on your team. And also, if you want just a free video about what does social influence look like, I also have under our website, which is littlebirdmarketing.com, there's courses and there's a social influence course. There's an actual free video on there that could help people like, what could I do today to really get started and understand how I could change my thinking about my experience on LinkedIn, my experience online as a professional?

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. Head on over there, littlebirdmarketing.com/resources. We will make sure that that is in the show notes. Priscilla, thank you so much for taking the time. I've enjoyed this conversation. We touched on a lot more than I thought we were initially going to, which is great. There was tons of little nuggets in this episode. So if you missed them, go back, rewatch, relisten to it. Again, Priscilla, thank you. Those of you that are watching, listening, I appreciate you. If you want to connect with us, you can do that over at rialtomarketing.com. As I said, we talked about a lot of things, but Priscilla touched on target market, messaging. We talked about lead gen through building your brand, content. All of those things are within the nine revenue roadblocks that we help clients remove so they can accelerate growth. If you want to find out which of the nine are slowing down your growth, you can do that over at revenueroadblockscorecard.com. Again, thank you for watching and listening. Until next time, take care.


Connect With Priscilla McKinney



About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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