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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

The Value of Brand (Podcast)

I don't go on to very many podcasts, for various reasons.

But when my friend, former Schulich MBA classmate, and financial wizard Jason Pereira asked if I'd be interested in joining him on his hugely popular "The Financial Planning For Canadian Business Owners Podcast" to discuss the importance of building a brand, I leapt at the opportunity. Because Jason is a great guy, and because I'll talk about the importance of brand all day, any day!

If you'd like to have a listen, you can do so here.

Or, if you prefer to read a transcript that was created from our conversation, I've shamelessly stolen it from Jason's blog page, lightly edited it for clarity (read: fixed all the mistakes the robot who transcribed it made and removed many of the "ums" and "likes" that can happen when two otherwise intelligent people are having a casual conversation), and posted it below for your benefit.

Either way, I hope you enjoy it.


Producer: Welcome to the Financial Planning for Canadian Business Owners Podcast. You will hear about industry insights with award-winning financial planner and entrepreneur, Jason Pereira. Through the interviews with different experts, with their stories and advice, you will learn how you can navigate the challenges of being an entrepreneur, plan for success and make the most of your business and life. And now, your host, Jason Pereira.

Jason Pereira: Hello, and welcome. Today in the podcast, I have a more general business topic for everyone who's listening. It is about the benefits of building a brand. And this is not to be confused with marketing. We're going to get into what that means. And I just so happen to have a good friend in this field, David Pullara, a marketing consultant and instructor in marketing, who has worked for various Fortune 500 companies, and specifically, in the area of brand building. And I brought him on the podcast to talk to everyone about the power of brand building and what that means and how to do it. And with that, here's my interview with David. Dave, how are you doing?

David Pullara: I'm doing great, Jason. Thanks for having me on the podcast. I'm really excited.

Jason Pereira: It's one of these things where we've talked about stuff like this in the past, and just like, "I should record this one day because this is useful."

David Pullara: I know we always talk about this stuff via text or going back and forth. And this is a topic that's near and dear to my heart. I love marketing. I've been in marketing for my entire career. And I love strong brands. I love great stories. And really, I've been on a tear lately just promoting the benefits of why small businesses should be thinking about marketing in the right way. So this is a great opportunity to do that and just have some fun.

Jason Pereira: Absolutely. So, let's start off by letting everybody know who you are. So, tell us who you are, what it is you do, and what basically makes you an expert in this field?

David Pullara: Well, I mean, those are your words, not mine! But I've spent 20 years working for various organizations of varying different sizes. I've worked for Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Google. I've also, in the last five years, been consulting with a lot of small and medium-size enterprises, just really helping them define who they are, which is really the first step of marketing. I mean, in order to sell something, you need to figure out what it is you're actually trying to sell. And I think that's a step that a lot of people like to skip. I work with a number of different clients, and the first thing I do is I take them through, "What's your mission? What's your vision? What are your values?" And people who aren't familiar with marketing are like, "Oh my god, why do we have to do all this?"

Jason Pereira: "I just want to sell something." You get into business to do something. And honestly, it's usually driven, I'm not going to say it's ego-driven, but it's driven by your ability to deliver on something. Right? And it's not necessarily just like, "Let me do it here. I'm hanging a shingle." Well, that works in a world where you're the only person offering that service and there's no competition. In the real world, those things matter.

David Pullara: Absolutely. I mean, fundamentally, it's like, "why should I choose you?" If you're the only product or service of your kind available, then why you should choose you becomes more obvious. It's still not a given, but it becomes more obvious. You're in the desert and you need water, and you see a vendor selling water, that's a pretty easy decision to make... but you walk into a grocery store and there are a hundred different waters, what's so special about you? And that's really what marketing and branding does.

Jason Pereira: And that's a perfect example, because you've obviously, I mean, you clearly know about the studies done on the paradox of choice. You increase the number of choices or options for choice, and you still end up having the number one sales be for the thing that people recognize the most. You can have 20 different forms of ketchup on a marketing shelf, but Heinz regular ketchup is going to outsell them by everything else, by orders and magnitude, because you just created cognitive load for people.

David Pullara: You know the Freestyle machines? The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines that you see at movie theatres? Digital touch screen. You can pick like 150 different combinations in flavors...

Jason Pereira: Which I do.

David Pullara: You know the number one beverage out of those machines? Coca-Cola Classic.

Jason Pereira: You got to be kidding.

David Pullara: People choose the brand they know and love.

Jason Pereira: So, what you're saying is in my combination, Coke and root beer with vanilla, cherry and some other flavor is not the default? Okay. Good. So, fair enough. Number one. And I'm guessing it's by orders of magnitude, probably more than 50% of everything coming out of it is probably the default.

David Pullara: It's definitely the majority. So, it's crazy. People default to what they know and love. And that's the power of a brand. Think about the first time, like, the very first time you had to buy laundry detergent on your own. You grew up in your parents' house, and your Mom or your Dad did the laundry for you... and at one point in your life, you had to do it yourself. And at one point in your life, you had to actually go and buy this product that you've never purchased before. What did you pick?

Jason Pereira: Either what your parents used and you saw used, or something you're familiar with because of the commercial.

David Pullara: Right. And laundry detergent for the first time you've ever bought it, you're probably not really familiar with it. So, what you're going to default to is, "Well, what did my Mom use? What did my Dad use?" And so, that's a brand. Fundamentally, and maybe that's a good segue into talking about the difference between marketing and brand.

Jason Pereira: Well, that's the first question for you is, okay, so, explain the difference between marketing and brand? Because this gets confused to no end. I mean, people will stop at brand-building after they come up with a logo and a catchphrase. So, talk to me about the key differences between the two.

David Pullara: So, marketing is everything involved with the promotion, distribution, and sale of your product or service. That's a pretty technical definition. But in your very first marketing class, and you'll know this from your MBA, you'll learn about the four Ps of marketing.

Product, first P. So, that's what you're actually selling, but there's a lot involved in this P... what your product does, what problem it solves, how you're positioning your solution, how the logo looks like, how the packaging looks. But we can spend a full day just talking about this one P, product. It's a really important aspect of marketing. And it always makes me laugh when startups refer to "product marketing fit" like it's a new thing. It's not a new thing. It's an absolutely critical component of marketing. It's like the first step, and it always has been.

Jason Pereira: You just started calling it product-market fit later on. That's all it was. Let me just name something that existed since the beginning of all products.

David Pullara: Sure. You want to know what the huge mistake is? Having a product, building a product... and then trying to find a market for it. Instead, why don't you know your market and understand what problems they have, and then have your product solve for it, right? So, first thing, product, first P.

David Pullara: Second P, price. Price is simply how much you're going to charge for your product or service. It's easy to explain, but it's actually difficult to get right. Do you charge as much as the market will bear right out of the gate? Or do you charge lower amounts to gain customers, and then make up the revenue somewhere else?

David Pullara: Remember, Google started off by giving everything away for free... search, maps, email, storage... pretty much everything. And then when they had enough users, only then did they monetize them through advertising. So, for a good part of their existence, the price for most of their products was "free"... but that seemed to work out quite well for them. So, price is an important component, the second P.

David Pullara: The third is "Place", which is where you sell your products. And the internet has opened up that world dramatically. I mean, a hundred years ago, the place you sold your product was your local store, because your reach, both from a logistics and a communications perspective, was really limited. But today, you can be up and running with a website or a platform like Shopify in a few hours and sell anything you want to anyone, anywhere in the world. So that said, you probably wouldn't sell Tiffany diamond rings in a vending machine. So, it's not only is "make it available everywhere" not realistic but also in many cases, it's not strategic. So, the third P, place, where you're going to sell your product.

David Pullara: And then finally, promotion. Promotion is everything you do to tell people about what you sell. And funny enough, when non-marketers think about marketing, they tend to think about promotion or advertising, which is just a small subset of promotion. They tend to think of that as "marketing" when really they're missing the bigger picture about what's truly necessary to do marketing well.

David Pullara: So, you have the four Ps of marketing, product, price, place, promotion. And as a business, it's tough to be successful if you don't get these four things right. That's it, that's marketing as brief as I can describe it.

Jason Pereira: If you didn't do an MBA or go to business school, it was mentioned in at least one episode of Mad Men, but I digress.

David Pullara: Yeah. So, that's different from brand. Brand is the sum of all things that make you uniquely YOU. Your brand is way more than your logo or your packaging, or your website. It actually encompasses every interaction people have with your product or service, and everything they see, read, or hear about you. And while that's a big idea to grasp, there's a really great definition I heard several years ago that sums it up really well. The definition came from a gentleman named Muhtar Kent, who's the former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. And he said, "A brand is a promise. A good brand is a promise kept."

David Pullara: Think about what that means. You, Jason, are a brand. You put yourself out there, you interact with people on social media. You create these podcasts. You put out all this great content. That is all part of your brand. Every customer you deal with is building your brand because those customers walk away and form an opinion of you. And that opinion gets shared. Good or bad, that opinion gets shared.

David Pullara: Every interaction you have, every touchpoint you have, it makes up part of your brand. So, it's this very big thing, and it's very difficult to get right, but you do it over time and with consistency.

Jason Pereira: Yep. I'd like to say, it's also, it's the personality of your business, right? And the promise kept thing is so true, because I mean, I envision a situation where people listen to every podcast on Financial Planning for Canadian Business Owners, and they come in expecting me to understand how to execute on any number of aspects of their business that I discussed on the podcast with other experts. And I completely fumble through that and have no idea what I'm doing. That is not the promise kept, right? And that makes a lot of sense. And that's going to deteriorate the value of the brand because if I can't deliver, just like if anyone can't deliver on a pricing promotion on gourmet, whatever the heck it is, and it tastes like crap, that's going to destroy that brand. So yeah, totally. If anything, I'd say, and you probably can correct me on this, if it's not quite on, it's the public personality of what it is you do to some degree.

David Pullara: It is to some degree. I think where I would expand upon that idea is it's not just the personality because I feel like when you say personality, that's like a perception. But it goes a little bit deeper than that; it's actually who you are. How people perceive that is something... Let's use a real-world example, right? Walmart... what's Walmart known for? What's their brand known for?

Jason Pereira: Everyday low prices.

David Pullara: Everyday low prices. Right? We know that. How did they get there? Think about how Walmart got there. Well, we might say, well, it's in all their advertising, "Save money, live better", "Great value". Like, all these things. Their private label brand, it's called "Great Value".

Jason Pereira: That is a compulsion internally. Those people, they won't let you give them a Coke, because they don't want the bias. They use folding chairs in their meeting rooms. It permeates every aspect of that company's culture.

David Pullara: And that's the brand, right? Because who they actually are, are, "Let's offer low prices and let's do everything we can even internally to make sure that we can offer low prices." So, not only do they communicate that externally, but you have to prove it every day. And if you were to walk into Walmart and consistently see prices that were higher than what you know you could get somewhere else, they wouldn't be living their promise. They'd be making a promise to you, and then breaking it. Great brands keep their promises. And their promise is everything they say to you, everything they tell you, everything they do.

Jason Pereira: Fair enough. So, yeah, it's more so, it's not just the public persona. It's also, again, the fulfillment of that promise, because if you don't have that, it destroys the brand very quickly. I guess, it's a reinforcing cycle, right? You need the reinforcement of the promise being lived up to in order to create the expectation or to understand that promise is true, and just keep on feeding back into itself.

David Pullara: Exactly.

Jason Pereira: Excellent. So, let's talk about... and before we get into that, you brought up something in the pre conversation, which is absolutely true. And this is something that scares a lot of people, especially in my industry: it's knowing who you're targeting and knowing who you're not targeting. So, knowing who you're speaking to and who you're not speaking to, who are your customers and who are not your customers. A lot of people get scared by that.

David Pullara: Yeah. You're not going to be for everybody. Right? The biggest mistake that people make, marketers and non-marketers alike, "I mean, I want to sell to everybody." Well, actually, no, you don't. Because although maybe you might like the revenue that comes from selling to everybody, I challenge you to name a single brand, a single product, a single service that is universally liked by everybody. You can't do it.

Jason Pereira: Yeah. I mean, I'll use Apple as an example, right? Apple is phenomenally loved by people like me and Apple lovers, but the amount of hatred on the other side from people who just don't see it or just don't want to get it, it's actually a little bit strange. It's strange to the rest of us of how you can hate a brand to that degree because of a price point or whatever else you perceive.

David Pullara: So, I used to work at Starbucks and sometimes I used to travel for work. And I learned very, very quickly, you know sometimes you talk with the people next to you on the flight, just to make chit-chat? I learned very, very quickly never to tell people at the beginning of the flight that I worked at Starbucks, because either they loved Starbucks and would spend the next hour telling me about their favourite store and their favourite barista, and their favourite drink, or they hated Starbucks, and they would tell me about how it's overpriced coffee and how taste burnt, and so on and so forth. There was rarely anybody who had never tried Starbucks and never heard about it, but everybody had an opinion. And that's okay because Starbucks isn't for everybody. No brand is for everybody. And if you try to be, what you end up doing is you get this watered-down, middling message that nobody actually cares about.

Jason Pereira: Well, and this is what I say every time like advisor, I talk about advisor marketing, it's like... I'll take a step back on that. There's all kinds of data in the US that shows that advisors who focus on specific niches and target very heavily on narrow niches grow at twice the rate of non-specific niches or generalists. And the reason is simple. I mean, if you have a certain specific need or a type of person, or a certain challenge based on the business you're in, whatever it is, and you find... I'll give you a simple example. This one guy I heard speak at a conference, who targets dentists within a tri-state area, who are planning to sell their business to a PE firm in the next five years... very specific, but there's enough of a market there for him to make a very good living. It involves a deep amount of expertise because he's got to help them ramp up the valuation of their business. And if you're a dentist who hears that pitch versus every other pitch, who do you go with, by default?

David Pullara: Exactly.

Jason Pereira: Right. That's his brand. So, everybody is afraid that they're going to isolate too many people as opposed to capture the market that they're in. And as I always say to people, when you market to everyone, you market to no one. Because at the end of the day, let's look at the large national brands that market to everyone, banks, does anyone really watch a bank's commercial and say, "That's me. Oh my God, you guys deeply understand me." Does anyone really watch a general car commercial, a car going through like a windy road and be like, "That car company gets me. That car company gets me." No one really does that. Right?

Jason Pereira: And meanwhile, from experience, when I've done things in national newspapers that specifically speak to a specific case, I've had people call me up and say, "That was me in that article." When you're speaking directly to them is so much more powerful. Anyway, that's my diatribe. I brought you on the show to talk. So, what do you think of that viewpoint? Do you agree with the viewpoint of marking to everybody, is marketing to no one, or am I being too firm?

David Pullara: Yeah. No, I think that's very well said. I think the banks are a good example. I mean, the banks want... in a perfect world, the banks would want every Canadian, all the Canadian banks want every single Canadian to have an account there, right? To have all their credit cards. They do want to sell to everybody. But I also think that part of the reason is that there's really no difference between the banks when you really come down to it. I don't really see the difference. I have my bank and I could just as easily close everything down today, and go to another bank. And would I really notice a huge difference? Not really.

Jason Pereira: Different flavors of vanilla.

David Pullara: I think the difference used to be there, maybe. I remember years ago, now, full disclosure, years ago when I was in university, I worked part-time at Canada Trust before it was acquired by TD. And I think Canada Trust actually stood out. Their hours were 8:00 to 8:00 before anybody else was open extended hours. All the other banks, it was like, you had to rush to get there during your lunch because they worked the same hours you worked, but Canada Trust was open 8:00 to 8:00 so, I could go before work or after work. They really put a focus, and I know this having worked there, they really put a focus on top-tier customer service. And maybe the rates were the same because they had to be, and maybe the product offering was the same because that's what they were selling, but they differentiated themselves on customer service.

David Pullara: And I think when TD eventually acquired them, I think it was pretty interesting that they ended up making Ed Clark, who was in charge of Canada Trust, in charge of TD. And I thought that was a really powerful signal that TD was really trying to focus on service. And for many years, they did that.

Jason Pereira: It paid off. Yeah.

David Pullara: So, I think that they were taking a stand, first Canada Trust, and then TD by acquiring Canada Trust, they were saying, "We're going to be the best service. And their tagline, "banking can be this comfortable". That was, I think, a differentiated factor. These days, I'm not sure that holds up. I'm not sure that I could really say, "I really want excellent advice. And for excellent advice, I'm going to go to bank..." I don't know. I don't know who that is. That's a challenge from a differentiation perspective.

Jason Pereira: Don't get me started.

David Pullara: I think all the banks struggle.

Jason Pereira: Yeah. Yeah, like I said, don't get me started. But that said, all right, so we've talked about, of course here a little bit, but let's talk about the benefits to the business. So, why bother doing this? Besides like I said, becoming a default option within a space, which would be fantastic if you can do that. What are the larger, especially in the early days, what are the larger benefits to the businesses you see?

David Pullara: So, fundamentally, the reason you want to do well with marketing is to let people know you exist. And the reason you want to do well with branding is to give people a reason to choose you. I mean, that's as succinctly as I can possibly say it. Marketing is going to be about, "Here's the product, here's the solution I have to your problem," and letting people know about that, for all the things we talked about, right? Product, price, place, promotion, "Here's where you can find it. Here's what problem it's going to solve. Here's how much it's going to cost you. Here's the value you're going to get." That's the idea of doing marketing well.

David Pullara: The idea of doing branding well is because not only does it give people a reason to choose you -- because a friend told me about it, because I heard good things, because I bought it before, because it's what my Mom used to use -- "brand" gives you a reason to choose the product or service. And fundamentally, it makes it the default. I mean, when you think about it, there are only a few times in your life, think about the average life cycle of a person. There are a few things that happen that are really monumental that cause you to reshift and rethink all of your default brand choices.

David Pullara: So, when you leave school for the first time and you're on your own, and now all of a sudden you have to make these new purchases for things that you might not have ever bought for yourself before, that's an opportunity for brands to get in there. When you get married, and now all of a sudden you're sharing, you have your choices and your partner has their choices, and now all of a sudden you have to figure out these mutual choices sometimes... that's an opportunity to get in there.

David Pullara: Banking might be a good example. I might have had my bank. My wife had her bank. When we were going to have our joint accounts, which bank are we going to choose? So, there's an opportunity to interject. When I had kids, all of a sudden I'm buying products that I've never had to buy before. I'm thinking about products and services that I never had to think about before. So, that's an opportunity for brands to get in there.

David Pullara: And ideally, when you think about how you're going to choose a new product or service, think about what you do as a consumer. First thing is you might ask a trusted (person for) advice. I mean, you get texts from me all the time with regards to, "Hey, Jason, what do you think about this? Jason, what do you think about this?" Well, I'm asking you about financial-related matters because you are my finance guru. You're the person I trust with finance-related matters. You'll send me texts all the time about, "Hey, did you see this in the press? What do you think about this?" Because you trust me when it comes to marketing. So, we've established those brands for each other.

Jason Pereira: Yeah. Like when a certain bank decided to change their logo to something that looks like an empty wallet... that was just priceless.

David Pullara: That was a fun text exchange, for sure.

Jason Pereira: That was one of my most popular tweets ever. It was too bang on.

David Pullara: I shared that one with a few people. But I think that it's important to understand that when you're looking for new products or services, when you have a need something, the first thing you're going to do is ask people you trust. And word of mouth will, and it is, and will always be the most powerful form of marketing: you ask someone you trust what they think. Then you go to the next, the company that you tend to trust you, you search. You go to Google and you search, "what is the best finance option?" "What is the best bank?" "What is the best interest rate?" And you'll search whatever it is that you're looking for, and you'll get the sum of all these results. And that's why search marketing is so important and what they call performance marketing. I hate that term, by the way, but generally, it's known as performance marketing.

David Pullara: My line is, "You know what a real marketer calls performance marketing? Marketing." It's all about performance, right? Marketing done well is all about performance. But that's an aside.

David Pullara: It's really important to show up when people are looking for you. If you ever read the book, How Brands Grow, they talk about these concepts of mental availability and physical availability. If you think about walking into a grocery store, the physical availability is, "is the product actually physically on-shelf for you"; if it's out-of-stock, you can't buy it. But the mental availability is when you see this product on-shelf, have you already heard about it? Are you already familiar with it? Do you already know what this product is based on the research you would have had or your previous experience with it, or whatnot. So, what brands want to achieve is both, mental availability and physical availability. And it's really important for brands to get there.

Jason Pereira: So, let's talk about the considerations that go into the development of it. So, we touched upon this, initially. We started talking about mission and values, and people being like... And I get that. I mean, anyone who's had a business planning thing thrown at them, gets these things. And more often than not, we're just like, "Okay. I got to think about this stuff that I never thought about before." When all I want to really do is X.

Jason Pereira: I often call that the artist dilemma. Artists want to do their art and they want to get paid for it. But if they don't worry about mastering the business of art and what it is and who they're going to speak to, they end up broke. And it's the contrast between Picasso and Van Gogh. Van Gogh died a wild man in the woods who basically was penniless. And Picasso died the richest artist of all time at the time he died, because he knew how to sell as well as create art. And that is too often the problem with anyone who's got a skill. They want to sell that skill. But failure to understand how to market that skill is a huge problem for them. So, what are the first steps in the brand-building situation or the brand-building challenge that is?

David Pullara: I think the first step is knowing who you are and knowing what you have to offer. And fundamentally, I mean, again, if you don't take the time to actually understand that, you're going to try to sell to everybody. That's the problem. So, the second step I would say is figuring out who you're trying to reach and where these people exist.

David Pullara: Sometimes a mistake that a lot of marketers will make is they want to try to be everywhere. You'll have a brand and you'll be like, "Oh, we need to be on Facebook and Twitter, and TikTok, and Snapchat." Well, what is it that you're selling, and who are you selling to, and where do those people hang out? Because if you're trying to sell yachts, maybe you don't need a TikTok account, right? Because how many people on TikTok can afford to buy a yacht?

Jason Pereira: Lots of people claim they can on TikTok.

David Pullara: That's just an example off the top of my head. You need to go where the people are. And you need to know who you're trying to sell to. Then, what are you trying to achieve? What stage of the business are you in? If you're a brand new business, like... Jason, when you first started out... you've been an advisor for a very long time. When you first started out, what was your marketing objective?

Jason Pereira: To stay alive, hugely. I mean, every business' first job is not to die.

David Pullara: Right. It's to let people know you exist, "Hey, I'm out there. I've hung up my shingle. Come give me a shot." So, that's very different now that you've established yourself and you're successful. What's your marketing objective now? Maybe now it's not to bring in new customers. Maybe now it's to better service the customers that you already have so that they can go out and be your brand advocates. And, I don't know, you tell me, but I would imagine that a huge portion of your business right now doesn't come from search engine marketing. It comes from referrals, from word of mouth. Am I wrong?

Jason Pereira: The vast majority does. However, I mean, we have a lot of content out there, so I'd say it's not SEO, it's more so just content marketing is paying off. And it's got a very long tail of paying off, so it's working out well.

David Pullara: Absolutely. And then figuring out what makes you different from everybody else out there and how you can communicate that in a credible way. It's one thing to say, "I'm really smart. And you should hire me because I'm very smart." But how are you proving that? How are you communicating that? How are you demonstrating that in a way that's authentic and not arrogance?

Jason Pereira: Well, it all comes up as a little condescending sometimes, right?

David Pullara: Yeah. You do a very good job with that, with your content. You put a lot content out there. And if I follow you on Twitter for long enough, I'll definitely get the sense that, "Hey, this guy is pretty smart." I joke with people, I agree with about 60% of what you say. I disagree with about 10% of what you say. And I don't understand the other 30%, I'm just not in that headspace. But regardless, you put out a ton of stuff and it proves to me this guy is on topic. He's on-trend. He's paying attention to the current issues. He has an opinion. And I can decide for myself, whether I agree with that opinion or not, and that all becomes part of your brand. So, you have to figure out who you are and how you're going to put that out there.

David Pullara: And then finally you do have to worry about budget. How much money do you have to spend? And are you thinking about it with both a short-term and a long-term perspective? A lot of startups famously will spend all of their marketing budget on lead generation. And they'll do that, they'll try to put as much money in Facebook Ads and Google Ads as possible. And when you're just starting out, that's probably the right thing to do, because you definitely need sales in order to survive, right? You need that cash. You need to get that revenue in there. But if that's all you do, you'll never build a brand. And fundamentally, what you'll do is consistently just give your marketing budget to Facebook and Google.

David Pullara: What you ideally want to do is over time, if you start off giving a hundred percent of your budget to Facebook and Google for ads, over time, you want to bring that a hundred down to about 40. As you're bringing that down, you're increasing money spent on building your brand, letting people know who you are. Doing things like creating content, investing in content, investing in advertising, different sponsorships, different promotions. There's a whole bunch of different things you can do. But at some point you need to start investing in yourself and in your brand, or you're going to perpetually be spending money with Facebook and Google. And there's nothing wrong with Facebook and Google fundamentally, except for the fact that when they raise their rates, you're powerless, or where they change their algorithm, you're powerless.

Jason Pereira: Well, not only that, I mean, once you capture someone's attention or, God willing, their email address, right, you now have a channel to stay in contact with them. And there's kind of, I don't know if you've heard this rule, I'm not sure where I got it from, but it was the 85/15 rule, is that basically, of the market who's looking to buy stuff from you when contact them, 85% they're just aren't going to do it because the time isn't right for them, maybe 15% will make a point of contact. So, if you're not staying on top of drip marketing those people and staying relevant to them, when the time is right for that 85%, they're just not going to think of you. They're going to think of whoever's in front of them at the time.

Jason Pereira: So, I got to believe what you said there, the first piece is like, how do I get it? So that people to basically stay in touch with me as possible. But then once you've done that, great, now stay in touch and be relevant. And that's got to become the bigger issue over time.

David Pullara: I remember back when I was at Coca-Cola and Facebook was still relatively new, we spent an enormous amount of our budget to get Facebook fans. And we wanted to build up, I think we started with like 40,000 fans for the brand I was managing. And when we ended up, we ended up with 400,000 fans. And it was like, "Oh wow, this is amazing." Because every time we put a message out there for free, we're reaching 400,000 people... except that that's not the way it works. If you put a message out there, organic, it doesn't reach your entire audience, it reaches, I think at the time it reached like 15%. And then Facebook changed their algorithm. And instead of reaching 15%, it reached like 10%. And then they changed it again, and it reached like 3%.

David Pullara: And so, what ended up happening is we spent a ton of money pushing people to sign up or join our Facebook group. And the end result is that if we really wanted to message with them, we basically had to pay for Facebook Ads. Now, I'm not picking on Facebook, by the way, I actually like Facebook. I'm on there all the time as you know.

Jason Pereira: I pick on them for further reasons like ethics, but let's continue on.

David Pullara: Put that aside for a second.

Jason Pereira: That's part of their brand, but continue.

David Pullara: As a marketing vehicle, Facebook is hugely effective. But you want to own your own marketing channel. If I had, instead of investing all of that money into building my Facebook group, I'd have invested all that money into collecting email addresses, then I know that every time I send out a message, it's going to that email group. Not everybody may open it, but I would rather have an open rate of 30% or 25%, or whatever it is on 400,000 email addresses than take my chances of putting a message on a Facebook group. And maybe 2% of that group sees it instead. If you can own your customer, own your customer. And that's also been the rise of direct-to-consumer businesses. The most powerful thing that D-to-C businesses have is a direct relationship with the consumer and the data that comes with that.

Jason Pereira: Great. And it's not being reliant upon third parties to whatever degree you can, and just gives you more control. So, it makes a lot of sense. But before we move on, I want to touch upon, so we touched upon gently. And I want to talk about, like, brand voice and being comfortable in your own skin. I think a lot of times, and we talked about this briefly earlier, people are afraid to offend, or afraid to limit themselves as to who they're going to market to. And by marking to someone, you might just be, like you said, perfect examples when you said, "I agree with 50% or 60% of what he says and 10% I don't." Right? And that's not a bad thing, right? You don't have to agree with everything I say, but you agree with enough that frankly, you trust that we're on the same page with most things.

Jason Pereira: And I find that too often and I'll use my industry as an example, most of the marketing that gets put out there is just the stuffiest stuff you've ever seen because everybody is just so afraid to just be comfortable in their skin or risk offending anyone over anything, versus, I'll contrast that to one of the most effective content marketers in the US, specifically Downtown Josh Brown, that nickname alone would defend some people. But nevertheless, that guy drops F bombs like they're going out of style yet. He's still got a segment on CNBC and he still has a massive newsletter and following. And they have inbound marketing reigning down on them. And it's because he speaks to a certain segment of the market. So, how important is getting comfortable in your own skin and just being true to yourself in building your own brand? Because I mean, that's the perfect example of someone I think who's done that.

David Pullara: Yeah. I think that a critical component of a brand is authenticity. And I think that if you try to fake it, if you try to put out a public persona that is not accurate of who you actually are, whether we're talking about a person or a brand, or a company, or a combination thereof, people will get found out. And these days, particularly, it's really easy to get found out. If I use an example, you and I interact and we have a whole bunch of interactions, and if you go on my Twitter account and see a whole bunch of horrible, racist, sexist stuff, and you won't by the way, but if you were to do that, you would say, "Wait a second. This is not the David that I know." And that would be a disconnect for you. And I'm using an extreme example, but I'm doing it on purpose. I mean, brands do it all the time.

David Pullara: An example I use in one of the classes that I teach, we used a case study about Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick in the ad, if you remember that a few years ago. That caused a huge controversy. And without getting into all the specifics of the situation, that was very divisive.

David Pullara: There were people who very much support Colin Kaepernick for kneeling and the reasons he did it. And there are some people who thought that that was extremely disrespectful. It was a huge either, you want to talk about a polarizing issue, that was a polarizing issue. And the question was, should Nike have used Kaepernick in the ad? But when you think about who Nike is and what they've done, Nike is not perfect...

Jason Pereira: That's totally Phil Knight. It's just right up there.

David Pullara: But it's not just because of that. Right? Nike, if you've ever read Shoe Dog, great read...

Jason Pereira: How that company didn't go bankrupt five times, but continue...

David Pullara: Nike supports their athletes. And so, it would be inconsistent with the Nike brand to shy away from using Kaepernick on this issue because Nike supports its athletes. Now, Nike got in trouble at some point for not supporting their athletes. Specifically, there was a situation, I don't remember the athlete's name, but there was a woman who was pregnant and basically, her sponsorship got cut because she couldn't race. That was inconsistent with Nike's brand. And it blew up, not only because it was arguably the wrong thing to do, but what was a really big deal is that Nike supports their athletes... but they weren't supporting these (pregnant) athletes. And that was inconsistent. And that arguably hurt Nike's brand. They rectified the situation. I believe they fixed it, and now they're getting paid. And so, they made a misstep and they were fixing it.

David Pullara: But brand is about consistency. It's really, really important to be consistent with your brand. And it's really, really important to be authentic. So, if you're going to say that you are X, you have to be X and you have to be X all the time. And so, either you do that by having a really good mask that you wear all the time, but the better way to do that is just to be authentic.

David Pullara: So, going back to your F-bomb situation... there are some people I know who would never hire a financial advisor who uses profanity. They would say that that's unprofessional. But there are lots of others who... that doesn't bother them. That's not on their criteria set of "How do you choose an advisor? Well, do they use professional language?" That's not on my checklist. I mean, I know how you talk, right? And you're very authentic. And so, I'm not going to say, "Well, Jason, sometimes doesn't use proper language, so I'm not going to ask him for financial advice." But there were some people who would. That's okay. You're not for everybody. And you don't have to be.

Jason Pereira: Exactly. It reminds me of saying, I can't remember, a football coach that said, "Authenticity is the key. If you can fake that, you got it made." It was, of course, a very good joke. But it reminds me of a friend of mine, an advisor basically talked once about practice management and said that she sees client trust as a meter. And that gauge moves very slowly from empty to full, but it sure as heck can move back the other direction super fast. And every interaction is your ability, is your opportunity to move that needle a little bit further along the full. And I've had that happen. I've had clients where it's just like, "You're going to tell me you're going to do all this. Yeah. Right. Okay. Yeah. Right, sure. You're going to do all this. Look, I'll work with you because this guy, whatever he said that you're the guy and I can trust you, but you're going to do all this for me. We'll see."

Jason Pereira: And then, you get through the process and they do all that. And you go beyond that because something crazy has happened in their lives. And I'm sorry I ever said that. They're just clearly, you've delivered everything you've ever promised and then some. Right? So, that's fine. People are going to be skeptical. But at the end of the day, you know what? Your authenticity is, I think the thing about brand is that person wasn't familiar with me online, right? Maybe if he had been or taken the opportunity to become that, he would've basically been less reticent to believe what I had to say when we actually met.

David Pullara: And there's Procter and Gamble, who was arguably one of the world's first marketers. They invented this concept called the First Moment of Truth and the Second Moment of Truth. The First Moment of Truth was when you would walk into a store and you see the product on shelf. And the first time you see the product, that was your First Moment of Truth. And your Second Moment of Truth would be when you bought the product and you took it away and you actually used it. It was what your first impression was of the product. And then it was how you actually experienced the product.

David Pullara: And about a decade ago, Google invented the Zero Moment of Truth. And the Zero Moment of Truth is really interesting because it's all the stuff that you know about the product -- from doing your Google searches, from asking people about it -- before you ever get to the shelf.

David Pullara: And what's interesting is that I have my Zero Moment of Truth when I do my searches, when I learn about the products. Maybe it's a financial advisor. And so, I'm searching about a financial advisor. And then I come to your door. That's the First Moment of Truth, when I actually come to your door. And then I experience your products and your services, that's my Second Moment of Truth. But my Second Moment of Truth becomes somebody else's Zero Moment of Truth. Because what I do is I tell people about it, good or bad. I'll tell people about my experience.

David Pullara: I had an instance just last week, actually, where my vacuum cleaner broke. So, the vacuum cleaner wasn't working anymore. The brushes weren't spinning. I opened it up to take a look at what was wrong and the belt had snapped. So, I bought this vacuum cleaner at Costco. Costco is amazingly good at taking back products.

Jason Pereira: Even stuff that they haven't sold.

David Pullara: So, I could have just taken it to Costco and returned it. But before I did that, I decided to go online, to the website, it was a Bissell vacuum cleaner. I went online and I went to the customer service and I said, "Hey, here's my model number. Here's when I bought it. I know this is probably not covered under warranty, but this is what happened. Right? I bought it a year ago. I could take it back to Costco, but is there anything you can do?" And the customer service rep said to me, "Well, belts aren't covered under warranty... but let me go ahead and send you a new one anyway." Well, how do you think I felt about that interaction?

Jason Pereira: Well, loyalty to this product, absolutely.

David Pullara: Instead of walking away and saying, "Well, Bissell is a crappy product and their belt broke after just a year." Instead, it was the whole other way. It was like, "Wow, that customer service was amazing." I tweeted about it at Bissell. Bissell responded, "Thank you so much." I said, "Make sure you give this guy the kudos that he deserves for dealing with this in the right way."

David Pullara: But what was really important, and this does go back to the whole brand thing, is that number one, it's the word of mouth, that now I have positive word of mouth instead of negative. Number two, Bissell did the right thing. They could have said, "Well, if you read the contract, it's not covered under warranty" and saved themselves a few bucks. But what did a rubber belt and the shipping to get it to me really cost them, 10 bucks?

Jason Pereira: Well, that's just it. Yep.

David Pullara: Right? But what did they get in return? They got a happy customer, who's telling people that Bissell did right by me. And the next time I need to buy a vacuum cleaner, Bissell is the brand that I remember as someone who took care of me. That's building a brand. And you can't build a brand overnight. You do it consistently and over time. And the more you invest in that, the more positive interactions you have with people, you create these brand ambassadors that go out and tell people about your great product and your great service, and the great interactions they had with you... and that becomes the Zero Moment of Truth for everybody else.

Jason Pereira: So, this is going long, but it's been good. But before we wrap up, I want to just ask, so first things people should be thinking about when developing their brand and getting off the ground and implementation... what are the first questions they have to ask themselves? And how do they get started?

David Pullara: The first question I'd ask is, "Who am I, and what am I trying to accomplish?" The second thing is, "Do I have a good product?" No matter how good your marketing is, if you have a crappy product, great marketing won't save you. And that's really, really critical to understand. You might sucker somebody into buying your product once, but they'll never return. And they'll tell everybody they know about how bad it was. So, fundamentally, do I have something that's worthy of the attention that I'm trying to generate? And then it's really about "be consistent" and "be patient".

David Pullara: A lot of companies, because of various reasons -- and some of them are really good -- they don't have the patience to build a brand. But you can't build a brand overnight. Even the strongest brands you can think of, have taken years to get that way.

Jason Pereira: And in some cases pushing a century, right? That's the reality of it. Talking about Coke and Disney, and whatnot, how long they've been around. Yeah, agreed. So yeah, thank you for this. This is insightful. I think it's going to be helpful to any business owner to think about how they can better not market themselves, but basically get their brand identity out there and how beneficial that can be. So, before we go, I'm going to let you plug your blog. Where can people find you?

David Pullara: Well, if you want my random thoughts on all things going on in the world of marketing, you can visit my website at It's Or you can sign up for my blog at And I put out some writing, some blog posts, three times every week.

Jason Pereira: Excellent. Dave, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

David Pullara: Thank you. It's been fun.


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