EP - 059

Should You Invest in Your Personal Brand?

With Guest Ron Tite

How blending creativity with strategic thinking can lead to innovation and success in today’s competitive market

The How To Sell More Podcast


March 13, 2024

In this episode of "How To Sell More," host Mark Drager welcomes Ron Tite, a renowned expert in advertising and thought leadership, to discuss strategic creativity for dynamic branding. As the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Church+State, he helps brands navigate the unified worlds of advertising and content. Ron shares his insights on how blending creativity with strategic thinking can lead to innovation and success in today's competitive market.

-Integration of Creative and Strategic Thinking: Successful business leaders should blend creative thinking with strategic business approaches, especially in the creative and advertising sectors. 

-Importance of a Compelling Message in Branding: Brands should focus on creating messages that resonate with their audience's needs and aspirations to ensure relevance and engagement.

-Adapting Sales Strategies in Response to Market Uncertainties: Diversifying sales approaches, such as adding value to existing products or services or exploring new markets, can help businesses stay resilient and competitive, even in challenging economic conditions

“The breakdown between content and advertising is no longer about the separation of content and advertising, but the unification of content and advertising.” -- Ron Tite

Links to This Episode

Key Takeaways

  • Be Flexible: Merging creative and strategic skills is essential for effective leadership in the marketing and advertising world.
  • Be Clear: Crafting a clear, engaging message is vital for building trust and standing out in the marketplace.
  • Be Adaptable: Adapting sales strategies to meet the challenges of an uncertain economic climate is crucial for sustained success.

Top 3 Reasons to Listen

Content Creation and Marketing Strategies: Learn about the significance of content as a tool for marketing and how it can be effectively utilized in branding.

Adapting to Market and Client Needs: Uncover strategies to pivot business approaches based on market trends and client challenges to ensure continued relevance and success.

Personal Branding for Executives: Explore the concept of personal branding for executives and how it impacts their organizations and personal careers.

Follow Ron Tite on Social

Website: https://rontite.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rontite/?hl=en

Check out his book: Think. Do. Say.: How to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rontite/

More About Today's Guest, Ron Tite

Speaker, Author, and Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Church+State

Ron Tite is a distinguished best-selling author, speaker, producer, and entrepreneur known for seamlessly merging the realms of art and commerce. His illustrious career includes roles as an award-winning advertising writer and creative director, contributing to the success of global brands such as Air France, Evian, Fidelity, Hershey, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Intel, Microsoft, Volvo, and many more.

As the visionary founder of Church+State, Ron also shines as the host and executive producer of the popular podcast, "The Coup," and serves as the publisher of the critically acclaimed and satirical best-seller, "This is That Travel Guide to Canada." His creative endeavors extend into television writing, authoring a children's book, producing and performing in a celebrated play, creating a branded art gallery, and taking the helm as executive producer and host of the award-winning comedy show, "Monkey Toast."

Ron is a globally sought-after speaker, sharing his insights on leadership, disruption, branding, and creativity with top organizations around the world. His literary contributions include "Everyone’s An Artist – Or At Least They Should Be" (co-written with Scott Kavanagh and Christopher Novais), published by HarperCollins in 2016, and his latest work, "Think Do Say: How to Seize Attention and Build Trust in a Busy Busy World," which was released in October 2019.

A Transcription of The Talk

Mark Drager: Ron, can I ask you? Have you ever m’cd a TEDx conference?

Ron Tite: Yes, I did MC one.

Mark Drager: Back in what? Maybe 2017 2018?

Ron Tite: Oh, you think even way earlier than that? It was in Waterloo, I think, or something like that. I think, um, but I'm not sure. It's funny because as a speaker, people ask, if you've done a TEDx talk, and I'm like, no, because when you do a TEDx talk, to me, what you're telling people is like, yeah, I spoke once for free. And I don't speak for free. I don't play lotto like, maybe this will go viral, like, yeah. But that's a lottery ticket. And I get paid to speak. So I don't do it for free unless it's for a nonprofit organization or something like that.

Mark Drager: And I love it. And I wanted to start there because you have these two sides of you. You are a speaker and an author, but you're also the founder of an advertising agency and a creative agency. So, I find that many people who are in the creative space, on the advertising side, the marketing side, as founders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs, tend to blend this thought leadership, personal development, and personal branding with writing books, speaking from the stage, and doing this. And then you have the actual agency side. So, getting to know you better, are you a creative director, an ad guy first, who happens to speak? Or has speaking really taken over as the passion and the drive?

Ron Tite: It's really funny because I had the same conversation. People asked me the same thing when I was in comedy. Like, I would do full-time comedy. Everybody would go like, "Oh, so you just want to be a full-time comedian, right?" And I don't know, I find hanging out exclusively with comedians is depressing as hell. And exclusively with ad people is depressing as hell.

Mark Drager: I was gonna say that because there's so much cynicism among people. And you can't be excited about anything, right?

Ron Tite: No, no, no, no, you gotta play it cool. Oh, yeah. That's why I don't speak to agencies a lot because they're way too cool to actually acknowledge another speaker. I think the best piece of feedback I got was when I spoke to an ad agency in Milwaukee or something like that. And one of the points of feedback was, "His name should be Ron Trite." Brilliantly written, like, great, creative feedback. But it's like, we're too cool for this video. To your question, I think I am both. That's not to skirt the question. I really enjoy that it's, they're not mutually exclusive. There's the part of thought leadership and speaking that I love, which is being able to test a thought, like, reading something and thinking, "Oh, this has implications for somebody." And then exploring that on stage and delivering it in a way that makes people nod their heads and go, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense." And then coming into the agency and literally applying it because unless you have that application, then you're just talking theory, which is great for some people, but I like that I have an application lab every single day. People call out the reality of the situation on the thinking that I shared on stage. So it's this loop of getting better and smarter for your audiences and for your clients.

Mark Drager: Thank you for sharing that. I love it because I have found the same thing. You know, I own an agency as well. And I have found that my time in front of clients, my time in a boardroom doing scoping, strategy, pitching, taking really hard feedback, all of the conceptual stuff that I hear at conferences that I think of, that I jot down that's on stage, and then you sit down with your team. And they go like, "How do you want us to actually make this thing real?" And you know, like, we're up in the clouds, "Oh, we can do all this stuff." And they're just like, "Yeah, but what does that actually mean? And how are we actually going to do that? And what are we going to do?" And then we do it all and it's like, "Oh, it should work, but it doesn't work." Or everything is actually a lot more chaotic and random than one might think on the ad side of the marketing side. But I love what you said in terms of it makes you better on both sides. It makes you a better strategist, and a better operator as well. Because you do have both things. Do you believe that CEOs, leaders, and heads of organizations should be more comfortable doing what you're doing, which is putting the thought leadership out there, creating content, speaking from the stage, and being known? Or do you think we will look back at the 2010s and now the 2020s and go like, "That was a fad"?

Ron Tite: No, I don't think people should do it. I think people can do it. I think there's a need for great thinking, business development, and all the things that this situation has. But I don't know that CEOs should do it if they're not comfortable doing it, or they're not passionate about doing it. Just like a creative director should have equal parts, you know, a writing background and an art direction background, and be able to kind of coach both of those crafts.

Mark Drager: They tend to come from one or the other, though.

Ron Tite: But they kind of come from one or the other. And so what do you do? Well, what I do is I backfill with people who are much better from a design and art direction perspective. And I defer to them, in some cases, but not always.

Mark Drager: But from a positioning strategy copy side of things.

Ron Tite: Yeah, exactly. And so, you know, you need all those things, but CEOs shouldn't do it if they don't want to do it. I think it's valuable to do it, but it doesn't have to be. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Mark Drager: I guess what I'm saying is, maybe it doesn't have to be the CEO, but does every organization in this world of authenticity and the drive to be more personal and humanistic? I don't even know if that's the right word. It sounded good. But should someone within an organization, let's say it's a medium to large organization, non-enterprise, not a startup, not a small business, but should there be a visible leader? Or can a brand stand on its own?

Ron Tite: No, a brand can totally stand on its own. I mean, you'll counter with, well, people like to follow people and people like to hear from people.

Mark Drager: You're like, alright, let me go seven steps ahead in the argument. Yeah, cool. Just cut straight to the chase. What works?

Ron Tite: Yes. So yes, all those things are true. People do like to follow interact and engage with people. That is true. But I don't know what's more authentic, like hiring a hired gun because you don't have anybody who's personable enough to do it, training somebody and having an internal salesperson, or having somebody that's the evangelist, who is just out there doing their thing, but they have no actual operational role. Their only role is to do that thing. I don't know what's more authentic. I think a brand can stand on its own. I think a brand can produce content and thought leadership. And that was how I started the agency. I wrote this line: "Brands need to be media properties and media properties need to be brands." And if brands need to be media properties, then, you know, if you go to Microsoft, I'm going all over the place here. If you go to Google, look, Google right now has more researchers and more people working in AI than any national publication. They have more researchers at their disposal to produce thought leadership. So who are you going to believe, an individual staff writer from the Globe and Mail, or Google as a brand who accesses all of the people that they have access to?

Mark Drager: Wouldn't most people say that they would actually trust, you know, Jane Doe, from the Globe and Mail, then Google, that big evil brand?

Ron Tite: Yes, in some cases. The critical part for brands is that they have to remove their sales bias, or at least acknowledge that or say, "Oh, yes. But" and that's all of us have. You know, we, you and I, have a sales bias in every interaction we have. And you know, the traditional press, I think there's now a sliding scale of what that is because there are so fewer eyeballs that are paying attention and consuming traditional media with its kind of journalistic integrity, and more people sliding into influencer-based information. And I don't know who I trust more in that case. Do I trust Google, which is an enterprise that will have to suffer, you know, whether in market share or brand reputation or something, by providing false information? Or do I trust an influencer? Who is being compensated by a brand who themselves have a sales bias? Or is looking for more brand deals? So, it's not in 1980. Yeah, that was a different world. Now, it's a sliding scale. I don't think it's black or white anymore.

Mark Drager: And if you're listening to this and thinking, you know, this is all great, Mark. I'm not the leader of my organization. I'm in marketing, I'm in sales. I'm a team lead, maybe you're a C-suite or an executive. The reason I bring this up is that actually, on an application level, affects all of us. You know, I had a conversation a few weeks ago where we were looking at LinkedIn structuring. And we were having this very question about a small client, a small organization. Who within the organization should be showing up on LinkedIn, under the brand of the organization versus a personal brand? And can you ask your employees to represent your brand? And should they? Should their entire image on LinkedIn be part of the brand property? Or should it be unique and different? And if you were to invest in content, advertising, or marketing to build up LinkedIn profiles on the personal side versus the corporate side? Should you be doing that only with partners, only with people with ownership? Should you be doing that with employees? What if those employees leave? And so I think often people think of thought leadership as the founder, the entrepreneur, the CEO, wanting to go off and stand on stage and make a bunch of sales, and feed their ego. But on the application side, I feel like this is a conversation that I don't know if there's a clear set of rules, with the work that you've done with huge organizations, like Bell Media, and CBC, and you've worked with Walmart Canada, and DoorDash, and build and all these people. Are these types of conversations you're having a church and state?

Ron Tite: Yeah, we just finished an entire strategy for the president of Centennial, you know, like, how should the President's ...

Mark Drager: Centennial College, it's a local college here in the Toronto area.

Ron Tite: You know, how should an executive have a personal brand? And how do they deploy that personal brand to represent the organization that they're employed for? So when it comes to a church and state, first of all, I highly recommend to all our people that they invest in their personal brand, that they get out, and they create content, and they share content, and they have a perspective. Now, I want to ensure if they're doing it under the guise of a church and state employee, that whatever they share is consistent with our values and consistent with what we think.

Mark Drager: Would you turn over creative hours, or would you turn over agency hours to help them make stuff?

Ron Tite: Yeah, I mean, I guess our clients are our priority. So there's always, I don't know what the breakdown would be in terms of utilization of whether it's, you know, if we wanted them to do it, or somebody said, "I want to do it." We would look to lighten their load in other ways, whether it's additional administrative things, but clients are the priority for me as well. I have a kind of operationally efficient way of doing it. And my role is different. So my time is spent differently. But one, I think people should invest in a personal brand and should share that content and their perspective. It doesn't have to be, they don't have to agree with me. Like, they don't think if I say that a brand should do this, they don't need to agree with that. If it's coming from their personal profile, no, I want them to be completely authentic. And they don't have to agree with me. From a value standpoint, though, they should be consistent with our values. And that's pretty important. Should they do it? Yeah. I think, to lengthen their career. Now, what you said partway through was, what if they leave?

Mark Drager: And there's that classic like, well, what if they stay?

Ron Tite: There's that agreement we have with our employees: we believe that everyone deserves to be happy and fulfilled in life, and at work. If you're not feeling happy and fulfilled while employed by Church and State, tell me. I will help you find another gig. I don't want anyone who's unhappy here. We are a specific type of agency with particular clients suited for certain types of people. Some people realize, 'This isn't for me.' Great. Thank you for telling me; I will find you another gig. So, do I limit encouraging them to pursue personal endeavors, fearing they'll grow too big and leave? Well, if we can't offer what they need to survive and thrive at work, they're going to leave anyway. I believe our responsibility is to help people build their careers.

Mark Drager: And so when you mentioned that you just worked through this with Centennial and the president, and how does an executive craft a personal brand? Where did you land on this? Were there certain nuances? Or is it just really about getting the message out? Being authentic, real, showing some personality, and just consistency?

Ron Tite: Well, we take a very strategic approach when you deal with people, it's very different. We work with a lot of executives, thought leaders, Olympians, and personal brands. When you go in for just a brand, you can go with the full content calendar. That kind of takes the strategic insights and the strategic priorities that that brand needs to communicate and comes up with a year-long content calendar at a top level. From a personal perspective, it's really different. Because yes, you've got all those strategic priorities, but you have this other angle, which is, "Yeah, but I don't want to do that. Yeah, but I'm not comfortable doing that. Yeah, I disagree with that, or that's not in my tone of voice." So, it really is about marrying those two aspects – the academic side of what we think you should do, and then matching that with the personal side of, "Well, I don't want to do that. That's not me. I want to do this, this, and this." And so it's just combining those two things together. But most importantly, they need to drive it – it certainly has to be in their voice. And we're not writing stuff for them; it was more about strategy and approach. So, you know, he wanted to ensure that his message was being heard as widely as possible. Why? Because he was responsible to the college and wanted to represent the college in the best way possible.

Mark Drager: So one thing that I really admire about your agency is that it appears to be, and I'm looking from an outsider's point of view, but it appears to be pretty much one foot on the content side, one foot on the advertising side. Often, when I sit down with business owners, I have to spend quite a bit of time educating or explaining the difference between, say, a marketing agency, a content agency, a social agency, performance marketers, and an ad agency. Often when people want to develop a really big campaign, a really big creative, when they want to have a really big placement, I say, "You know, you're really looking for an advertising agency. You might be thinking marketing, performance marketing, whatever, but you're really looking for someone on the ad side." And then often I see people going to advertising agencies for things that should be going to a marketing agency or a content agency, social media, or what have you. Having been in this world, maybe I'm just slicing and dicing things a little too much. But in your mind, in 2024, what is the state of all these different types of agencies? And how should those on the executive side, the ownership side, and the operations side, think about their vendors, and which type of agency is which?

Ron Tite: I think clients can get too focused on tactics, and they hire agencies for tactics. They think they want this, this, and this. So they go and find an agency to do those things. What they lose through it all is the strategic oversight that kind of connects all of it together.

Mark Drager: I think in their mind, though, theoretically, they're providing that strategic oversight.

Ron Tite: Yes, well, they're providing, and I think in a lot of cases, they're providing the operational oversight. But most wouldn't be, wouldn't have a hand in strategy the way they maybe they should or the way they think they do. So I think what every brand needs is an operating system. And so it's here somewhere. That's why we use things to say. Looking,

Mark Drager: Rogers mentioned in his book, "Thing to Say: How to Seize Attention and Build Trust in a Busy, Busy World," a book that came out in 2019.

Ron Tite: Yes, so I'm not just pitch-slapping you with my book. We actually, you know, I did that for you. Thank you. Thank you, everyone else, like, pitch slap. And I hate when people do that, by the way, if you read my book, anyhow, the operating system we use is called "Thing to Say," which in large part is based on the book, but the book is kind of, you know, the corporate theatre version of what we call a brand operating system. And it really is about what do you fundamentally believe? What is your higher-order purpose? Secondly, what do you currently do? And what else can you do to reinforce that purpose? And thirdly, how do you talk about it? And that's it. And the "how do you talk about it?" part can't be, "If you do go through a customer journey, you analyze one of the things that you should say," like, you know, we do all this stuff in our consulting. But if you go, "Well, the big void here is that they don't know where to look for the right information. Oh, like sounds like maybe there are some trust issues. And maybe content is the thing that will help you kind of accomplish that goal." So it's not every brand is the same, some people need way more content than they need ads, and some will need way more ads than they need content. What you should be concerned about is an agency that says the only way to solve your problem is with nails, nails, nails, nails, and we're a hammer agency. So, I don't think it's that easy. And we've said to clients, "We think you need to do this, and that's not really in our sweet spot.

You should speak to these people because they're really good at that." So I think that's what we try to do, and if it's something that's malnourished, we thought we can bring in somebody to help do it. But it is just a collection of things. And the breakdown between content and advertising, this is why our agency is called Churches & State, is no longer about the separation of content and advertising, but the unification of church and state of content and advertising. And every single ad can be a piece of content if it's good enough. We've seen Netflix share their stuff, like, we know, we do countdowns, some Super Bowl commercials, and all that kind of stuff. We know great ads can be content if they're good enough. We also know that great content can be an ad, if it's authentic enough and responsible enough that you can have a way of presenting content by saying, "By the way, if you want more of this, come on over here." So you can do both. It's just about the tone and the authenticity of how you do it, and being totally transparent when you're doing it. So, I don't think it's as... I didn't even know, like when I started the agency, and how that line, man, brands need to be media properties, and media properties need to be brands. Someone said, "Oh, that's content marketing." As it oh, that's the thing. I didn't know it was a thing. Okay. Yeah. It's that.

Mark Drager: I had one of those moments because I had developed this whole methodology around what I called credibility hacking. And then I found out that that's apparently called authority marketing. Like, I didn't even know that there are all of these, I was like, oh, okay, I call it credibility hacking, which I think is a much better name. Anyway,

Ron Tite: It is a much better name, but tell me because I'm probably going to disagree with you on it. But tell me your version of credibility hacking.

Mark Drager: So the first step is determining your objectives, your audience, and the market that you need to move into. So that way you can overlap who you are with, frankly, who you need to be. The second step would be once you determine who you need to be start to work to show up that way, right? It's not a fake it till you make it, but we understand that when you show up looking a certain part or acting a certain part, or if you figure out that maybe you need to boost credibility by more third-party content, or more testimonials, or more awards, or whatever it might be, there might be a hole in how you're showing up where the general public or people who are not in your world might go like, "Wow, you're amazing," but people who know might see through the chinks in your armor. Yeah. So what we try to do, what I try to do is try to analyze what that is. So that way you can show up looking the part and with respect to those who do this all day, every day. And, and in that, you're gonna develop your skill and your gaps and what have you. Then the next thing you're going to do is you're going to look at your ultimate target for what you want do you want the stage, you want the PR press, you want the client like you to want something that pinnacle, and the gap between where you are at and showing up not only good enough to be able to play in that space but in a way that that person that you want to be able to respect looks at you as a peer, as opposed to someone a few levels below you, we need to close that gap. And the only way to close that gap is to ladder up.

Now the specifics of that laddering up will depend on that whether it's the stage or the podcast, or like, you know, you want to be sitting across from Oprah, you want to be getting that Academy Award, you want to be winning, you want to be winning salesperson of the year, whatever that is, there's going to be a gap where people who know what they're talking about are going to look at you like you're full of shit, right? And so the goal is to start with the most achievable level. And then and then strategically move like step by step by Oh god, okay? And so this could be for building your portfolio, if your service-based business this like, like we do this all the time, right? It's that yeah, not expecting to go from, I'm getting the $5,000 contract to I'm getting the half a million dollar contract, but you got to ladder up and you got to do it strategically and aggressively. And usually, that's a combination of also spending so that way you know that there are certain vanity metrics. But those vanity metrics will help you. There are certain people where you might need an agent, or you might need a referral, or you might need a software in but that will help you and you can't go straight up, you have to usually do five or 10 steps. And so some people call that authority marketing, I look at it like how do we get as quickly as possible to the level we need to be perceived at? So once we're in the right room with the right people we can actually show up and also hopefully impostor syndrome doesn't slow you down along

Ron Tite: Where I thought you were going with it is something I dislike as I did. Oh, so I hope that means you like what I said, Yeah. Well, it seems to me I liked the incremental steps towards because there's what there are too many people who are trying to game the system of credibility, which is you know, I don't know how many a month hyaluron were leaders of today. Mag disruptors.

Mark Drager: Are you sure they're not disruptors?

Ron Tite: Well, no, it's the people who are like, "We're Leaders of Today Magazine. And we've named you one of the top 10 leaders to follow in Canada and for only $3,000, you can buy the front cover of the magazine." And I think that's bullshit. I think if you like,

Mark Drager: I think the Canadian Business Journal reached out to me like, I don't know, in 2009 or 10. And I thought it was a real thing at the time. I mean, not to say it's not a real thing. I don't know much about the organization whether it still exists or not. But I was really pleased with myself until I found out what I would have to pay to participate.

Ron Tite: Well, I did one. So I said to one once, "Yes, I'm more than happy to do it." And they're like, "Amazing, okay, great. We'll set up an interview and blah, blah, blah." And then I said, "I just want a veto on the headline." And they want to go, "Yeah." I want to write the headline for the article. And they go, "Okay." And I said, "I want the headline to say 'Ron Tite Paid for This Article.'" And they wouldn't do it. Ah, I think if we're true leaders, then we need to be transparent about that. I just paid for this. The agencies, you know, who say like, "Thanks to Strategy Magazine for including us in your what." You paid for it, you paid to be on the list. Like, that's not credibility when you paid for something. And the thing is, it's become very easy to get the hallmarks of credibility, but people are acting like they are. So, you know, last summer, I think I did one of the closing keynotes for the National Speakers Association in the US, virtually. And I made sure that in my bio they ended with, "and he's the best-selling author of two books." Because, again, it's a room full of speakers. I said, "Who out there isn't a best-selling author?" Nobody, we're all best-selling authors. Because Amazon has got this thing, if you can get an Amazon best view or like a top book in your category for 10 minutes, you are an Amazon bestseller. So, you know, I'm a best-selling author. Everybody says that. And so while we individually chase credibility, collectively, we've destroyed it. Because the very idea of a best-selling author means absolutely nothing now. It means nothing, even to say, "Do you think that means this?"

Mark Drager: Does that mean nothing to the people in the know? Or do you think that has eroded credibility amongst even the general public? Well, so if you're a professional speaker, then your goal is to be able to either go through a bureau or go directly to the event planner, or the organizer who's going to hire you and put you on stage. But what they care about is the event and the audience, the people in the audience who are sitting there, for whatever reason they've purchased a ticket, or it's their organization or their AGM. The people sitting in the audience may still be impressed by the fact that you are a best-selling author.

Ron Tite: They may be impressed for 15 seconds.

Mark Drager: But this is where hopefully your skill backs up, which is why you got to ladder up, right?

Ron Tite: Yeah, if there's a disconnect between the credibility you've established and your actual talent or expertise on stage, you're actually harming yourself by chasing that credibility. You're chasing credibility, that you were a best-selling author on a particular list that you paid to be on. And so there's an expectation that you're going to be that type of person. And if you are not, then you've actually hurt yourself by chasing that credibility.

Mark Drager: There's this amazing episode in Modern Family, I think in one of the later seasons, where Catherine O'Hara plays a guest spot. She is the author of a book that I think is called something like, "Clean Out Your Junk Drawer." And the idea is that they have all of the couples from the show who are there and they have a half day with her. They won a silent auction at a local charity event. And she's going on and it's just so painfully thought leadership-ish, where she's like, keeps referring to the junk drawer. And she keeps saying clean out your junk drawer. And this is the process and this is what we're doing. And she's trying to hold it all together as everybody freaks out around her because it's a comedy. But in the end, what I loved the most was the punch line. She found out that the charity booking was only $86. And she's like, "I've just given you a half day of my time. I am a trained psychologist. I've spent 30 years doing research and clinical studies, and I put everything I know and love into this book, and my stupid agent suggested that the junk drawer would help them sell better. And now I'm here spending a half day with you for $86. I'm out of here." She takes off.

Ron Tite: I love that Catherine O'Hara played that role. She's perfect.

Mark Drager: And I love it though because this is the truth, right? There are some people where it's just like, they're good at marketing, right? They come up with the junk drawer thing. And then they're just gonna pump out a book and they're gonna sell a book and it's full of all the old stuff, the same old stuff. And then there are these expert professionals who have dedicated a life to it, who step into this world and put everything they know. And then they find themselves doing the free TEDx talk. Yeah. $86 half day.

Ron Tite: Well, it's also not to say that approach sometimes doesn't work. It's just now you have to look in the mirror and know that you're the person who uses that approach. And I'd rather not be that guy. I'd rather, you know, build my credibility through the work I've done and the stuff I've written. Now, does that mean I just ignore marketing? No, you know, the main tenet is that true growth comes from other people adopting our ideas. That's where growth comes from, whether it's personal growth or the growth of your business, but other people adopt your ideas and your passions. Well, how do they do that? Well, it depends on how you communicate it. And we know that stuff that is branded in a way that is consistent and concise and maybe clever, memorable, that you know, or using story or metaphor, like all those things, help us deliver our message in a way that other people get it, understand it, integrate it. And so we are more effective by having a part of that part of our brain being a marketing brain. We do need that stuff.

Mark Drager: So final question for you, Ron, I ask this of most people who come on the podcast, and I typically end with two questions, but I want to hit you with this one in 2024. With everything that you know, and everything that you've done, what would be your recommendation to help us sell more?

Ron Tite: I think it's to stay focused and be ready to pivot. We don't know what this year is going to bring. We still don't kind of know. Are we going to hit a soft recession, or a hard recession? At least in this country, we have a housing crisis, south of the border, there's going to be an election in one year's time. We don't know where interest rates are going to go. So there's a lot that's really up in the air. And things are, we're not in a recession, per se, but we're in kind of a hesitant or tentative kind of business cycle where people...

Mark Drager: Haven't we been in a pretty soft market since like 2017, 18, though? It feels like there's always something on the horizon to scare people.

Ron Tite: I don't think so. I think it's been really since about 2022, since that, since like the housing interest rates. And since mortgage rates and interest rates have gone up, and we've been in this, I think it's ever since we've been in kind of the hyperinflation environment where then interest rates were needed to bring inflation down. And when that happens, we know that housing is affected, and then it's a trickle-down effect. So yeah, that's the inflation environment that has really done it. And I think we've managed it, kudos to all levels of government who've had a hand in that. I think we've done pretty well considering where we were. So because of that, from a sales standpoint, b2b, be hyper-focused on what are the problems that your client is currently facing. Because if they've got a reduced budget because people haven't given them the budget that they need to do what they need to do, they're not going to be buying your wares. Is it, you know, the difference between people buying homes, they renovating homes? So if you're in sales, maybe there's a way of, instead of selling the new widget, is there a way to add on software as a service that you can increase value on the widget, or you can polish the widget or you can consult on the widget? So what do you do in an environment where spend is tentative? I think the best way to do that is to look at the problems that your clients are facing and how you solve them.

Resources & Go Deeper

"The future of digital advertising: Four key trends shaping 2024"

Marketing Week highlights the significant role of AI in digital advertising. It emphasizes how AI can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover actionable insights and automate tasks, enhancing the precision of reaching target audiences through programmatic advertising. The article stresses the importance for marketers to stay updated with trends like economic uncertainties, the rise of first-party data, and the integration of AI in advertising strategies .

The future of digital advertising: Four key trends shaping 2024 (marketingweek.com)

"Digital marketing trends and predictions for 2024"

Think with Google discusses the importance of agility and adaptability in marketing strategies, suggesting that companies should replace long-term plans with continuous micro pivots based on real-time consumer feedback and market changes. It also underlines the ethical use of AI in marketing, advocating for transparency, legal compliance, and the integration of sustainability in marketing efforts​.

Digital marketing trends and predictions for 2024 (thinkwithgoogle.com)

"20 Key Advertising Trends To Watch in 2024"

Thrive focuses on the growing impact of influencer marketing, particularly the shift towards utilizing micro-influencers for their cost-effectiveness and authenticity. It also explores the dominance of Amazon in eCommerce advertising and the evolving landscape of native ads and their effectiveness in engaging audiences without disrupting their experience.

20 Key Advertising Trends To Watch in 2024 | Thrive (thriveagency.com)