Catch Marc Gutman on the #PirateBroadcast™ - russjohns

Catch Marc Gutman on the #PirateBroadcast™

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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.q

[00:00:10] Russ Johns: Okay. We almost forgot to start the show Marc, because we were in a deep conversation about branding and consistency and some of the things. And so if you're watching this live, replays, whatever it happens to be, thank you. All the appreciation and #gratitude for being here. Marc, good morning. How are you, my friend?

[00:00:31] Marc Gutman: Russ, good morning. Thank you so much for having me on the the #PirateBroadcast™. I'm excited to be a pirate and I love that in your intro when you talk about #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. So I'm so excited

[00:00:42] Russ Johns: That's a theme. That's been a theme and it's been consistent for at least I know the last decade. So I really I really appreciate that because, one, you don't know what people are going through. You don't know what they've been through. And just have a little kindness and consideration. It makes life a little easier. And I just wanna emphasize that in our conversation today because you are a long time storyteller, someone that's really done a lot of work historically with some fairly big names and a while now you've been in the business. Give us a snapshot for those that may not be familiar with you yet. How'd you get into storytelling and what's your drive.

[00:01:24] Marc Gutman: Yeah, thank you, Russ. And I'll start with where I am today to give you context. But today I'm the Founder and Chief Brand Strategist here at Wild Story. We're a brand strategy studio and we then design studio based outside of Boulder, Colorado. And we help brands outmaneuver their competition using brand strategy, but it wasn't always that way. And I certainly didn't grow up dreaming of being a brand strategist. I didn't even know that existed, like I think I wanted to be a lion tamer at one point. I grew up in Detroit and my whole, it was great upbringing, but like nothing really ever happened, and it was like this pretty Midwestern run of the mill upbringing and my whole contextual understanding of the world came from movies and a little bit of TV, but mostly movies. And I loved movies and that's how I understood the world and that's what I thought the world was basically what was presented on the screen and all movies are made in Hollywood. And a lot of movies showcase California, I was obsessed with California. And after I left college, I went to California and wanted to work in the movie business and got involved in the movie business and couple things. One thing led to another and I ended up walking into a job as the story editor for director, Oliver stone. And that's where I really learned. I had learned in college about story structure and all these kinds of things, but really how to put a story on the screen and that everybody thinks they have a great story. As the story editor I would be taking in scripts and submissions and they would come in so many, especially Oliver at the time was so generous if he met anyone and they were like, I've got a screenplay, he's like, send it in. But not everyone can tell a great story. And so really understanding that was incredible. And then I got an opportunity to work on an animated movie called Osmosis Jones for Warner Brothers. And the thing that was really cool about that as the story was up on the wall and it lived up on the wall for a year, people come in with it and stuff, a lot of discussion around that. So I always loved that. And I had some really great experiences there, but I was young and I wanted to do some other things, and I came up to Colorado. It was just an interesting time. I was just, again, really lucky because there was this kind of new thing, this new startup scene, this new entrepreneur thing happening in Colorado was really big and I was like these people, these people are cool. Like I thought they were way cooler than the people I'd met in Hollywood. They were like starting businesses and doing all this great stuff. And people would come up to me all the time and say, hey, Marc, can you help me tell my story? Yeah, I can do that. I worked in the movie business and we'd sit down and write. Like sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn't, cause neither of us really knew what that meant. And I think that, we were talking in the pre-show, I think that people use this word story all the time and it's broad because a story in the movie business can be translated into a real business, but there are different, and let me say things like, oh, I'm going to put something on my Instagram story or I'm telling my brand story. And so it's very confusing. It took me a long time to learn, through a lot of trial and error what that really meant. And I really discovered it. I had started a tech company myself and, I was pretty, I was an average entrepreneur, but the one thing I was really good at was branding and marketing. And that's where I put all my energy. And I loved that and really learned this kind of idea of what a brand is. And primarily, how I learned about it was when I'd go out to do my marketing, when I would build my website, when I would work on social media, when I'd send emails to my customers, I would sit there like frozen at the keyboard and I'd be like what do I say? How do I talk about myself? And what I really realized was that was all fundamental foundational branding stuff that helps to fuel that in your storytelling and how you go out there. Sold that business. That was a good experience for me. And after that, just really decided that I believe that branding and brand strategy is like the fundamental piece that businesses need, especially like smaller businesses. When I say smaller, anyone that's just not like a major household name. It's the fundamental piece you need to stand out and beat your competition. We have a lot of choices as consumers and, the old adage was, hey, branding's your logo. It's your websites, cool hats, things like this, but those are just all outcomes. Those are all byproducts. Those come from understanding who your target customer is? What makes you different? What are your values? What's your purpose beyond making money in this business. And then, you can also end up what's your personality and things like that within your brain. And then you can go out and then you can start doing all these tactical things like your website and your social media and all those types of things. So I just urge anyone listening that if you're sitting around saying, I need a new logo, got to update my website. We're just not being perceived the way we want to be perceived. We don't have enough customers. So I'm going to go out and hire a marketing agency, take a step back and really think about what are the core fundamental problems making me say these things. They're probably going to be brand problems. Most likely you haven't either figured it out or for a lot of founders, they know a lot of these answers, they just haven't gathered it and pulled it out of their brain and put it into an organized, articulated framework so that their team and their employees and the people in there and their partners and their vendors can all look at, maybe like a brand guide and say all right, this is what we're supposed to do. This is what we're supposed to say. Now we can double down on what we're good at. Like for instance, paid marketing or paid advertising like on Facebook and we can drive those clicks in a brand supported way.

[00:06:51] Russ Johns: It's almost like an anchor that you can come back to. And I think the more effort you put into developing that foundation of your brand and what you stand for and what you don't stand for, what you include in your messaging and what you exclude from your messaging is so key because I go back when you were talking earlier about the the startup community, you have to boil it down to a pitch and you have to have exactly what you're looking to accomplish, who you're looking to assist and what the outcome is going to be. And I think a lot of brands just grow organically and they never have that process to think about it and discover what is my intention in the community? What is it that I'm really here to do? Who am I here to help? And I think brands putting more thoughts through that are brands that really stand out, would you agree or disagree?

[00:07:44] Marc Gutman: A hundred percent, what I will say is that there's a lot of businesses that people start and they get into business and their first mission, their first obligation is to turn a profit. It's like they got to get out there and make some money. And so we work with a lot of brands that kind of follow that trajectory. They got into business, proof of concept, they started to get some momentum, but then as they start to grow a little bit, as they get a little bigger, they start to realize or weigh like that sheer inertia that, the will of the founder, isn't enough to keep it going. And so that's where then we can take a step back, look at everything, and then also I like to call, a lot of times businesses and the brand becomes a little bit of like a meatball sundae, right? Like you start with one thing and then you add another and then you keep adding because you're trying to figure it out. And you also duct taping things together, different creative, and you look and you're like, oh, this is all globbed up thing, and that's a great time to also take a step back and say, okay, let's clean house. Let's refresh this thing. And that's for the next stage of growth, let's redo our brand. But I think that I would challenge anyone listening that think about the brands that you associate yourself with, we are living in a culture where we associate ourselves with the brands that we buy and we're not even so much buying brands. We're joining, we're aligning, we talked, you asked me earlier about some of the brands that I like and that I think are cool, and I mentioned, one of them was Tesla, but why do I like a Tesla? Yeah, it's a cool car and everything, a lot other cars that can get me around, but it I'm joining this movement of forward-thinking, clean energy vehicles and all this kind of thing.

[00:09:21] Russ Johns: It's a community. It's really a community. And I think we're going to see a lot more community being developed over subjects and outcomes. There's a lot of people that shop in certain stores or they associate themselves with somebody that is unique and special, an outcome that they look for and hopefully achieve results through this brand. And like buying a Rolex watch, Timex can tell the same amount of time, you can have the time on your phone and still people spend a lot of money on a Rolex watch. So it's brand association as well.

[00:09:58] Marc Gutman: Yeah, that's a great example. I grew up my whole life thinking when you're successful you get a Rolex. And I finally had enough money. I got a Rolex or I went shopping for a Rolex cause I knew I wanted a Rolex, but I was like, what Rolex do I want? Which Rolex is me? And I'm looking at all the different models and they have an Explorer model. It's the original Explorer and I'm totally taken with this idea that it was the Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary that went up and they were the first ones and they were wearing this watch. And they got top of Everest and they were the first people to summit and I'm like that story I'm aligning, I'm joining into that story. And that made me an explorer. Now I got home and I wore it a little bit. I was like, okay, it's your, to your point, I was like, it's a Timex. And now I wear a every day Citizen Watch because I don't have to worry about it. And literally the Rolex is sitting at home, I think on my bathroom counter, but at the time it was such an emotional purchase. And I think that's the other thing that I want people to understand is that we are emotional buyers. If we buy emotionally and any given audience today, right now, people listening. There's people that are primarily tactical buyers, that the people that you know, that need to hear the facts, the features, the checklist, and then there's emotional buyers. And they're going to buy the story and buy that story of going to Everest. And I really believe that most people are a combination of the two, they're just not equally weighted often times. So I know that it doesn't like as soon as I see like real basic features and functionality that I need or a category, for instance, I knew I wanted a Rolex, then all of a sudden it becomes all about emotion for me. Like I'm very heavily weighted on emotion and that's just my kind of personal buying profile, but a lot of people follow the same type of pattern. And I would challenge everyone to think about the products they buy. Why do you buy them? I think about it all the time. Like when I'm looking for a car or a phone or clothes or camera gear or whatever it is, and I'm just looking around my office, even books, I'm ordering books all the time on design and brand strategy and I surround, you can see them in the background, I surround myself with all these books. Yeah, I like the knowledge, but I also it makes me feel like I am a design branding pro. It makes me feel like I'm a student and that I immerse in that and that gives me confidence in a lot of other things when I go out and do my work.

[00:12:14] Russ Johns: Well, always evolving, I think, is the key factor there is because brand is not only well-established, like someone like Coca Cola, they haven't changed their logo for ever, never and they're long established brand. However, the economy that we're living in and the opportunity we all have to start a business from nothing and grow it. And look at the businesses that have started up Uber, Airbnb, some of these businesses that started with an idea in very short period of time, grew into a large organization that is doing some amazing things. And by brand story and telling and sharing this message about, here's what we stand for, I think it's even more important now to think about brand than it ever has been.

[00:13:04] Marc Gutman: A hundred percent. And I love that thought of that Russ because a lot of the, and I like the Coke example because they're a brand that's endured close to a hundred years I believe. And yes, they haven't changed a lot in kind of their core beliefs and their logo, but the world around them has. And so they need to stay relevant. I like to think of it almost as these circles rotating until you like get a lock, right? But then the world shifts a little bit and that brand has to adjust too, within its own lens of who they are and what they believe in and to your point, the consumer. And that's really what we're here for. We're here for our customers. We're here to solve problems. No customers, no business. And they have a voice like they've never had before. Like they can enact change. We see brands get canceled all the time. We see brands and make flubs and screw ups and that's actually part of it. It's so conversational, it's so where we used to live in this kind of industrial complex was like Nabisco and it was the brand was in your face and that was it. And it was like, a big kind of stall, very respectable brand. And now they're fluid and even brands like GM and IBM and GE, they have active, robust conversations on social with customers and it's crazy. That's part of knowing what your story is and who you are, so that you can show up consistently there. And that's so important because to your point, we've never lived in a time where it's more important to know what your brand is, what you stand for, what makes you special. And then to actually back that up out in real life with your customers in that conversation.

[00:14:49] Russ Johns: Yeah. And there's plenty of examples of people that haven't listened or paid attention to that. And the evolving environment, Sears, Kmart Kodak, all of these businesses that were huge and incredibly powerful and made an impact on, growing up and part of who we became, are gone as a result of not evolving and not changing their story and their impact and who they're talking to and who they're having a conversation with.

[00:15:20] Marc Gutman: Yeah, and those are great examples. And I think the very first thing we do in any branding process is we work with companies to uncover their purpose and the purpose for us is why are you in business beyond making money? And what that does is if you always return to that in those examples you gave Kodak like Sears, and remember why you're in business. You can use that to stay relevant to the changing times. And if it was a Kodak, if their purpose was something about capturing memory, lifetime of memories or something, then they can say, all right, great. We can go digital. We can do all these other things. We don't have to be myopic and tethered to film and things like that. It's a great way for brands to evolve, but also stay consistent to the core.

[00:16:05] Russ Johns: Yeah, I love it. I want to give a shout out to a few people that have joined us. We got Elize in from South Africa. Thank you so much, Elize for showing up every day and being here. Jenny Gold, she's in your neck of the woods. She's up in Colorado, near Denver, but you're close.

[00:16:20] Marc Gutman: 20 minutes away, we're close.

[00:16:21] Russ Johns: Yeah. Michael Baker in from Florida, authenticity and vulnerability lead to admirablility. I love that. I also have Erica Warfield. Erica, it's awesome to see you here. Thank you so much for being here. And I also want to give a shout out to Howard Kaufman. He's an entrepreneur that's been doing some great work. Community enhances the two-way dialogue with your customer. Also, your customer becomes a free agent again, in the moment they make a purchase from you. Expand on that a little bit.

[00:16:53] Marc Gutman: Yeah. And, I think that and was it Howard? I think it was Howard. Yeah. Hey Howard. And I think that's a good point. They do to a point, I think that, brands have a great opportunity. And I think that maybe what Howard is saying is also like building that brand and taking care of that customer doesn't end after they purchase from you. And how do you continue that dialogue? How do you continue that relationship? We all know is entrepreneurs. It's way easier to sell more stuff to existing customers, to people that we've already brought into our world and service them and help them and we've learned from them. And I really always encourage all my clients and I ask them this because we're so focused on selling our things, selling our thing. But, what is the value that you can provide to your customers beyond your products and services? And this is where I think things like live streaming, podcasts, where I think giving real valuable content on social media, having very valuable newsletters that are thoughtful and thinking if I were my customer, why would I read this? And what would help me out? And it's a major, but simple mind shift, especially when in the grind, when we're trying to build our business, we're just like, how do I sell more of my stuff? And really the question should be, how can I continue to add value beyond my products and services?

[00:18:24] Russ Johns: Zig Ziglar said, if you help enough people get what they want, you'll get what you need.

[00:18:28] Marc Gutman: Totally. And I think we all logically know that and some of us emotionally feel it. I've been an entrepreneur for many years now, and I know what it's like. You sometimes lose sight of it and you just get head down and you've got so many other problems. This all sounds great in theory.

[00:18:41] Russ Johns: It takes some deep thought though, Marc. And I think a lot of times it takes a guide like yourself that is outsider perspective because sometimes we're in that circle of, the zone of knowledge that we can't necessarily see and project what others see about us.

[00:19:00] Marc Gutman: A hundred percent. And I think the saying we say a lot is, it's hard to read the label when you're inside the bottle,

[00:19:06] Russ Johns: The pickles can't read the label.

[00:19:08] Marc Gutman: And absolutely, and even as I'm a brand strategist myself, I bring in friends and colleagues to review our brand because we can't see it as cleanly as others can. And that's one of the things too, is having that unfiltered reflection back about the simplicity and the things that are standing out like when you go through a facilitated session and then client's oh really? Yeah. And sometimes I feel a little guilty because I'm like they want me to come in and facilitate and be a magician. But the reality is they have all the answers. It's more like...

[00:19:40] Russ Johns: It's more like translating the hours, their ideas and everything they have in their head. Something that they can translate to the general public.

[00:19:49] Marc Gutman: A hundred percent. And taking all this stuff in a massive kind of funnel idea of all their ideas, all these things that they've been talking about and saying, hey, let's get down to some really simple ideas that take a lot of work and complex work to get.

[00:20:03] Russ Johns: Peter says, I like what Marc said about a business staying relevant by going back to uncovering purpose aside from making money. Absolutely.

[00:20:12] Marc Gutman: Thanks Peter. Yeah, and I really believe that even as we go forward and because the way that the world is working, we're living in this land of ubiquity, right? It's really hard to tell a difference if I took, if I just showed you and I do this, when I speak, I have a slide of all these silhouettes of cards. You can't tell what brand they are. You have no idea. And recently, I mentioned that I'm a an avid photographer. I really liked this brand called Peak Design and they sell cool camera bags and stuff like that. And their flagship product it's called the everyday sling. I think it's 130, 150 bucks. And a couple months ago, Amazon basics came out with it's called like the every day sling, as well, or something like that for $30. It looks exactly the same. And the only thing that we can do is have purpose and build a community and that's why peak design is going to continue to thrive for what they stand for. But it's a competitive market. And what Peter was talking about, getting back to it's a purpose. I believe that if we focus on that and then use that purpose to focus on our employees, our customers, and our community, that becomes the priority, financial gains are the outcome and you will have great financial gains. If you're following the old method of let's focus on the profits. Let's focus on a few stakeholders. If you select stakeholders like some owners or shareholders, that's where we're seeing people feel like they're not heard. That's where you're starting to feel like these brands that are super transactional. That's what happened with Sears, Kodak, all those other brands that you mentioned that have fallen by the wayside there, they were just focused on shareholder returns. They weren't focused on their employees. They weren't focused on customer value.

[00:22:02] Russ Johns: No, I think we're living in the most amazing time in humanity. We could pick up a cell phone, start a show, start a conversation. We could jump on a session just like this and expand on some ideas and share some thoughts about what we're doing, who we're helping, how we're helping. And it's global, it's not necessarily just around a town now, it's not putting flyers on the door, the windows of the car in the parking lot. It's really about how we share a global impact in who we can help. And like you said, the revenue is a side a side effect of doing great work and adding value. So I just really love that concept. You also have a podcast and you're doing some great work around the country. And I just want to make sure that people know how to get ahold of you and track you down, Marc in the event that they want to improve their story and their brand and conversation with their community.

[00:23:01] Marc Gutman: I appreciate that Russ. I've made it really easy for people, especially if you're maybe listening to this on replay in the car or something like that. But I've created a resource page. It's So if you want the good stuff, just go to There you can connect with me directly. We have a free three minute brand audit. If you want to take your assessment and see where your brand stands, we have a brand audit offer. Links to the podcast, as well as I'm very active on Instagram and I'm always dropping some brand knowledge there and a more readable, a little bite-size carousels, not my vacation pictures.

If you want to get in touch with me...

[00:23:40] Russ Johns: But you're a photographer.

[00:23:40] Marc Gutman: That's what Facebook is for, I've decided. So I just got back from Iceland and I got a lot of photos on Facebook. If you want to see those connect with me on Facebook.

[00:23:47] Russ Johns: Oh, very cool. Very cool. Marc, it's been a pleasure. I love the fact that we're able to connect and talk about branding, business storytelling. And I know that we could go on for probably a while. However, for everyone that's watching, everybody that's checking this, love that you're here. Wendy joined in late, welcome to all brilliant pirates.

[00:24:11] Marc Gutman: Be brilliant, Wendy. Thank you.

[00:24:13] Russ Johns: Be brilliant. Michael Baker says put people and purpose ahead of profits, attraction over self promotion.

[00:24:19] Marc Gutman: Yes, sir.

[00:24:20] Russ Johns: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's really what the #PirateBroadcast™ is all about. It's about the opportunity to share and highlight people like yourself, Marc, and the lot of people say what's the pirates or what is that all about? Before we had live streaming, before podcasts existed, if you were broadcasting without permission, you were considered a #PirateBroadcast in the radio business. And so now that we don't need permission, we're all pirate broadcasters, and we have the opportunity to share a little kindness and a few smiles here and there. And so we're going to extend that and continue to pursue a little bit of attention here on the #PirateBroadcast™. So thank you so much for being here.

[00:24:59] Marc Gutman: Russ. Thanks so much for having me. It's been great and just keep smiling and keep doing what you're doing. And congratulations on your upcoming 500th episode. It's such an achievement. As Russ mentioned, I do have a podcast. I know how hard it is. It's not easy. It's like hard. Like probably like around episode 300, you're like why am I even doing this? But you kept doing it and you're working hard. And hats off because I really know how much, work goes into it.

[00:25:25] Russ Johns: Much appreciated. And for those that are listening, watching, consuming this content, please do all the social stuff to make it available to other people, share it with somebody, kittens are happy when this happens and it's like subscribe to the YouTube channel. Let's do some great work and share some amazing people out there because we know#kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Thanks, Marc. Appreciate it.

[00:25:54] Marc Gutman: Thank you, Russ.

[00:25:56] Exit: Thank you for joining the #PirateBroadcast™. If you found this content valuable, please like, comment and share it across your social media channels. I would love the opportunity to help others grow in their business. The #PirateSyndicate™ is a platform where you show up, we produce the show. It's that easy. If you want to be seen, be heard and be talked about, join the #PirateSyndicate™ today.

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