If you’re frustrated with low sales and can’t seem to figure out why, Bear Wade has the answer for you. Many times the problem lies in either not having a designated marketing plan or having one that’s not in the right order. Would you start sending people to your website before you’ve even created it? Of course not. Well the same idea applies to all aspects of your marketing plan. Bear is here to help us define these five specific steps – in the correct order – all designed to help you save time and money, and put your business on the road to healthy, sustainable growth.
Rich: Owner of Unified Creative Agency, my next guest is an award-winning filmmaker who helps businesses build their brand in the right order, to communicate their value clearly and concisely so they can grow. With years of experience creating videos and websites for clients, he quickly realized there is an order to building a successful brand. And as a result, developed the Unify Brand Steps for building a better business.
The Unify Brand Steps was developed to empower small business owners to get clear on their message, launch their brands and campaigns to success, and guide them through easy marketing strategies. Today, we’re going to be taking a guided tour through those brand steps by none other than Bear Wade. Bear, welcome to the podcast.
Bear: Hey, thanks for having me, Rich. I appreciate it. I listen to your podcast and I love it. I’m glad to be here.
Rich: Well, and that’s obviously the first step, you have to listen. No, I’m just kidding. I appreciate the fact that you listen.
Bear: Yeah. Long time listener, first time guest.
Rich: So how did you get started creating videos and coming up with this whole step-by-step process?
Bear: Well, I have a filmmaker background. I’ve been doing videos since I got out of photo school. I have a photography degree and audio engineering. I ran sound for bands in high school and tech theater and kind of put those two together, that’s where I got the video from, and been doing that for 20 years. And I have a film on PBS that’s been out for 10 years now and it’s still airing, about the national parks, and it runs alongside Ken Burns’ national park film series.
And so on the side, there’s a joke. What’s the difference between a large pizza and a documentary filmmaker? Well, a large pizza can feed a family of four. Meaning I had to do some work on the side to pay for my documentary film habit. So I did a lot of marketing work. I had done it for the film. I do it for other clients. And so I was doing that, picking up work as I went along. So I’ve been asked to do lots of video work because of my background in video, but I have done lots of branding and website work as well.
And so yeah, kind of came across my issue over and over, because people would come to me for video. Which it was that I’d asked them at the end of the video we’re going to post it everywhere and we’re going to drag people back to your website. How is your website converting? Is it converting viewers into paid customers? And most of the time and say, well, we have a website, but it’s not that good, we still have to work on that, too. And we both kind of look at each other like, well, what’s the point of doing the video if you’re gonna, you know, if the website’s not ready. So we kind of pushed pause and moved to the, let’s figure out the website. So we’d sit down and have another meeting and say, well, every good website foundationally has a logo. Your brand colors define authentic photography that shows your product or service. If the value proposition or what we call a brand script of some sort and a clear call to action. And most of the time people don’t, you know, when they’re, if they’re just kind of getting it going, they don’t have most of that stuff figured out. They always say, “Well, we have a logo, but my uncle made it 10 years ago in PowerPoint.” And we all smack ourselves. And so then I just realized over and over with working with businesses that we were doing it backwards.
And so finally I was like, wait, there’s an order. And so I’ve been jotting that down and I used to have this huge, long list of a hundred things that you could do. And now we’re down to five, essentially, which we call the Unify Brand Steps.
Rich: All right. So let’s talk about those five steps. Let’s talk through them. Can you first tell us what the steps are, and then we’ll do a deeper dive into them?
Bear: Yeah, this is broken into five steps. The first one is defining, so once you define it all. And then the second one is building, the third one is growing, then ongoing then scaling.
Rich: All right. So in defining, when you’re sitting down with a client, what does ‘defining’ cover?
Bear: And I will say, there’s going to be a lot of information here. You can always find this free on our website, Bear Wade.
So, the first thing that you always want to define is your brand script. It’s how you say what you do and the written words. When I was making my documentary film when I started, because I didn’t really know what the story was going to be. That’s the weird part about a documentary. You kind of discover it as you go, and people would ask me, you know, friends who would go to parties and stuff and they’d ask, you know, so what’s the film about, and I’d say, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. I kind of stumbled through it. Then finally we got closer to the end, and I was getting ready to pitch this thing to sponsors and stuff. And we realized that we had to say these key points. Like I had to say ‘1920’. Because the things started then and I had to say ‘national parks’, and I finally put in these key elements. And then we tried to figure out what the order was and try to make it as succinct as possible. And that for me was, we put it on the front of the website, we put it on the DVD cover, the back of the DVD in the description. If you opened up the PBS catalog it would say that same thing. It was on the front of the website. So we had it everywhere. And so the brand script. And when I was pitching to people, that’s the thing I be off every time.
Then it’s the brand identity, which is more than just your logo. Usually an emblem or icon, and you know, figuring out what fonts work, your color palette and any other design elements. Because you’re going to add that to everything as you go along and then from there to brand media. So having authentic photography and some video footage to explain your product or service.
Rich: So when it comes to that brand media, how important is it that you have photos of your actual products and services, versus using even high-end stock photography?
Bear: I think you can use stock. There’s a place and time. For the time that I’ve used stock is when I’m trying to portray something that’s really hard to get. I’m using some right now because we need pictures of kids in school and going to photograph kids in school was really hard to do with getting permission. And so going to stock footage and photography for that is much easier.
And sometimes it’s easier to just, somebody has already created or limited the variables to create the story you’re trying to tell. So sometimes it’s good. Other times it is not good and cheesy and soulless and it’s too generic. And so, it doesn’t show you off enough. And so there is a time for it and there’s a time you should pass.
Rich: Yeah, I agree. There are some real high-end sites, and there’s even these days affordable high-end sites with some nice photography on it, but you still have to choose well. And we tend to use it more on blog posts and informational stuff where we can’t do a photo shoot every single time. But then on our website, in the key pages, we have photos that are of us, of our clients. And it doesn’t work in every case, but that’s kind of the dividing line for us. It’s like, are we presenting or are we just trying to give some visual impact to something that we’ve created.
Bear: Yeah, I that’s about my line as well. I agree with that. Yeah.
Rich: So step two in this order is building. So talk to me a little bit about what goes into building.
Bear: The first step of building is defining your pricing structure, which is kind of weird. It’s a weird place for it. But if you don’t, you have to figure it out before you start a website. Because you’re going to put it on your website. Probably you’re going to have some, you’re going to have to define that somehow. So if you don’t have your pricing structure figured out if it’s public or not, you should figure it out now. So to figure, you know, to figure out how you’re going to convey what you sell, the scope of how you sell it, and the price of what it costs. Now’s the time to do it.
Rich: I want to interrupt you here or stop me. Just because I know that for certain businesses like an e-commerce site, well, of course you’re going to have your price on it. But other things like accounting services, web design services, even maybe video shoots, and it depends. So are you suggesting in those cases that we literally put our prices on there, or do we put something that just kind of shows what you should expect to pay or kind of how we organize our payment tiers or whatever they might be?
Bear: I’m not suggesting any of that. You can do. If you want to put your price on your website, you’re welcome to. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But this is the time that you figure it out. Even if it’s in-house, if it’s totally private and you don’t make it public. Because once you put your website out and you start getting somebody making a phone call, you better know how to say what you’re selling and how much it costs. So this is the time to do your pricing structure. Now, if you put it on your website or in your brochure, that’s up to you. That’s a personal practice.
Rich: All right. So what else goes into building?
Bear: So for building after that it’s about building your website. The know one thing that I was going to say, Rich, is that the reason why you’d want to build these in order is, because I’ve been doing video for a long time and website work for a long time and I do a lot of graphic design, that we have sometimes you’re figuring out elements to make a good video that if you did them first it would make everything else cheaper. So lots of times video is expensive if you work with a professional, because they’re figuring out some of those elements, like your brand script and your colors and your fonts, or they have to make it up and make a good looking. But if you already have that defined, all they have to do is apply it.
Same thing if you’re making a brochure, if you already have that photography, and the colors, and the logo, and the brand script, it’s just formatting it for the brochure. Same thing for the website, at least for a beginner website, you know, brochure-based website, it’s just applying that stuff. So now once you have your website or sales funnel figured out, you can then apply all those elements that you’ve defined into your social media channels as well.
Rich: And I assume that also extends into things like email marketing and anything else where you might be putting your name out there.
Bear: Yeah, right.
Rich: Anything else that we should consider during the building stage? Are we ready to move on to step three?
Bear: If you are getting into a print media at all. So, you know, postcards, brochures any other handouts, if you’re doing face-to-face or trade show work, or business cards, this is the time to do it. So now that you have all your elements in place, at least decide on if you’re going to do any print media and what those should be.
Rich: All right, sounds good. So we built it out. We figured out our pricing structure. We’ve got our websites, social media, email, all of our branding and marketing in place. What happens next?
Bear: Now we move on to growing. Which is basically you’ve built this great platform. You defined it all. You’ve built it all. Now it’s about making sure you keep track of your customer list. You generate leads and you come up with a campaign initiative, something that is specific to your ideal customer’s pain points that you can solve. And you define that and give it an identity and push it over.
So the three kind of sub steps within growing are, define your customer list, or make sure you keep track of it. Define your lead generation spigot, we call it. Like, how can you turn it on and turn it off when you need to, and then your campaign.
Rich: And before we move on, how often should be we be reassessing these? We’ve been in business for nearly 24 years. I’m sure you’ve worked with people who are brand new and people who’ve been around for seemingly forever. I’m guessing this isn’t something where we do it once and then it’s just set in stone. So is there a recommended time that we keep on re-evaluating all of these previous steps?
Bear: Yes, definitely you should definitely reassess. I have it as a step, which is coming up.
Rich: Oh, I’ve jumped ahead, I see.
Bear: Yeah, no it kind of moves into scaling. Which is analyze what’s working and retool what isn’t. I definitely always take a step back and go ‘what is working and what’s not’, so I don’t really have a set like you should do it every year or every three months. That depends, but you should definitely add it to your calendar and make sure you’re checking in on it.
Rich: And since we’re building on all these, we’ve got our brand script, we’ve got our brand colors, identity, all that sort of stuff. How critical is that in things like lead generation and the campaigns? Like how much does that figure in? Is it something that’s just in the back of our mind because we’ve done this work and we know who we’re talking to and what we want to say, or is it something that we really need to focus on every single time we launch a new campaign?
Bear: I think it’s super helpful to make sure you have it in your mind, or you just keep saying the same kind of script over and over. People need to hear it a lot and you need to practice it a lot to make sure that it’s coherent and that people understand what you’re saying. And so, especially for campaigns that if you’re designing something and you kind of know your ideal customer profile, try and figure out what their pain points are, and I would hit that brand script over and over.
Rich: All right. Any tips on, we’re talking about campaigns, we’re talking about marketing, we’re talking about all these different channels that we might be using, and they all seem to have different sizes and they all have different, like one’s a circle for your profile, one’s a square for your profile, one is this size one is that. Do you have any recommendations in general for making sure that you’re staying on brand while you’re doing all this creative work?
Bear: I like with a visual identity, I love having an emblem along with some sort of stylized font for my logo signature. So, if you think about the Nike swoosh, the swoosh can live by itself without the word Nike, and it can go with the word Nike next to it, is an obvious one. And so I always like in a digital world, it seems like having an emblem really helps you stand out a little bit. And it’s really great for social media as far as using your profile photo and all that. So if it’s a personal social media page, use your face, which is your emblem. But for business, it’s nice to have some sort of emblem or icon that you can use.
Rich: Absolutely. And I completely agree. You know, as you can see on the screen right now if you’re here and not listening to the podcast, we have the flyte new media logo, which we use sometimes with the full name sometimes just with it but creating that style guide early on so people know how to use this. And if you’re working with an outside agency like yours, to be able to hand them that style guide and say, ‘Here’s how I want you to use my stuff in a video, in anything like that”, can be incredibly helpful as well.
Bear: And I am surprised at how many people don’t have a style guide with their professionally designed logo. And so knowing what your brand colors are, knowing what those color codes are, if you have the PMs colors or Pantone colors, knowing what those are as a business owner is really helpful because then you get it to translate from screen to print, to t-shirt textile, and it all looks the same.
Rich: So, if you are creating something these days, I’d almost always go for something that fits nicely in a square or a circle shape. Only because I see these companies and their brand logo is super long or it’s their name, and suddenly it’s like you can’t read it in that Facebook profile image or whatever it is. So if you can have some element of your branding that is round or square, but that kind of symmetrical from all angles, I think that is much better from a branding standpoint for all the different channels that we find ourselves on these days.
All right. So we’re growing, life is good. What comes next?
Bear: Next is ongoing. It’s about maintaining, it’s finding ways to continue to deliver to your tribe, to your potential customers, and your current database. So, it’s really about to find your content pipeline, which is who comes up with the ideas, who’s going to write the content. If you’re going to shoot video, who’s going to be on camera and who’s going to shoot, who’s going to edit, who’s going to a format and edit the copy. And then who’s going to click the buttons to deliver it over email and over on social. So having that content pipeline in place and making sure that it’s defined in a way that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing is really helpful. So pass it down the line, make sure that the stakeholders all have kind of looked through it and that it gets stamped before it gets sent out is really helpful if you’re a bigger organization. And then defining who does what, team roles is really helpful.
Then the next step in ongoing is a content schedule. So trying to define, you know, looking ahead what do we want to roll out? What content do we want to schedule? And then you can work yourself backwards and try and figure out when you’re going to generate that content to then deploy that certain time.
And then the last part of that is actually deploying the content and monitoring that it went out correctly and all the tags and hashtags that you added actually worked and making sure all the links are there and you’re getting good comments and good feedback. monitoring the comments.
Rich: It feels to me like this phase, this step of ongoing really does three different jobs. So tell me if you think I’m mistaken here or add anything you want to it. But retention, very often as marketers we’re so excited about getting the sale, we don’t do enough to keep those coming back. Then there’s new sales. Because obviously there’s always hopefully going to be new customers coming towards us, so that new content that we’re creating, the ongoing content is also going to attract and build trust with them. And then also I’m guessing that a lot of this content that we’re creating in the ongoing phase could be in support. So somebody buys a piece of software from us or some tool, and we’re looking for ways to make them understand and get the most out of it so they continue to be satisfied with their purchase. Would you say that we can accomplish all three of those in ongoing? And is there anything that I left out that you think is another good ‘why’ behind ongoing?
Bear: Yeah, I think all three of those are excellent. Excellent. The fourth one I’d add is internal training. So if you’re working with your team and you’re rolling out a new product and you have a sales team, but they aren’t all in one place, you might be working with a bigger organization or something and you need to show why this thing works. You can record videos of yourself. And if you are the specialist, you put those words in your sales rep’s mouth and you get a much better chance of selling more. But so internal training, I guess, is probably my fourth. But your three are great.
Rich: And the final step in your order is called ‘scaling’, and assumingly it’s all about growth, but tell me a little bit about that.
Bear: So back to that ‘analyze what’s working’, you don’t need to scale what’s not working. So we want to push pause, congratulate ourselves for all the work we’re doing, especially after the ongoing phase where it’s just a treadmill of content generation, and boy just never ends, and it can be really a slog. So, taking a beat and just celebrating with your team and looking through the data every once in a while, and seeing what’s working and tweaking what’s not, or cutting out what’s not or pivoting. Whatever that is, is the first step in scaling.
Then from there, it’s making sure you define your project management system because there’s nothing worse than working so hard to get your marketing in order and your sales coming in and dropping the ball on delivery. And so that is part of marketing. And a great example of that is of course, Amazon, right? It just shows up at our door and we are so thankful for them, and it’s no pressure to us. And that kind of delivery is something that delights us. And so what is that for your company?
And then last, as far as the scaling, it’s about hiring new team members. It’s about training them and delegating and monitoring and inspiring them to go above and beyond, taking whatever you’ve trained them to do and adding their own flavor and their own experiences and excelling beyond what it could have been with you doing it.
Rich: So in a perfect world I’m sure we would, before we even write a business plan or get a license or anything like that, we would do as many of these steps as made sense. But you and I both know that most businesses just start because you fall into something or because you have to, you just got laid off or you just got out of school, and you just need to get some business right away. So we both know that a lot of companies start without any of these brand things, and then they get to a pain point where all of a sudden they realize like, “Hey, we’ve kind of haven’t done things optimally.” How does a company that maybe is already working, is already moving along, stop and suddenly start back at step one and ramp up?
Bear: I am self-admittedly doing this right now. There you go. So I have been evolving as we go along. I realized that me going out and shooting video is a one-man thing and so I’m trying to, you know, we’re just evolving. And the whole agency, we have a great team right now. And so I want to shape what we offer in a different way.
And so it’s funny that I’m going through this right now. So I’m redefining my brand script. I’m just starting back over. I opened up my old book and started looking through it again and it was hilarious, but I think that it never hurts to reassess. It can be daunting; nobody wants to redo their entire website. But I think it’s amazing too, and rejuvenating, to go through the process again. And once you come through its cathartic. It’s like, once you come through it, you feel more re-energized and you’re like, damn, now I got some focus.
Because you kind of get, as a business owner for me, I get really stuck in the weeds of between the doing and the managing and all the other things. And so it kind of refocuses me. I think the Unify Brand Steps works really well for a campaign. So if you’re thinking you could almost run through the whole thing again as in a mini cycle. So let’s say you’re rolling out a brand-new product and it’s going to be one of your kind of flagship things, you would run through what your brand script is for that specific product. And then you’d come up with your brand identity for that product. So if I’m Nike launching a new shoe and it’s the LeBron shoe. I don’t know if LeBron is even Nike. But if they’re launching a new product, Air Jordan’s, then they are going to give the thing an identity. They’re going to call it whatever it is. And they’re going to have its own brand media, new commercial for it, and that kind of thing. So you can kind of run a new cycle through the brand steps.
Rich: I agree. And I think that this is something that is beneficial because as you go through this work, you start to really get a clearer picture of who you can help and what the message is that they’re most likely to resonate with. And so by doing that, I’ve always found that you can attract the right type of person while still keeping the wrong type of person at arm’s length. And we all know we have the wrong type of clients, and they’re not bad people, they’re just not good fits. And so I think a lot of this work is very helpful for that. So I would agree with you. I think this is just something that can be done for any level for any new campaign, any new product, any new audience.
Maybe you’re moving into a new territory or you’re going after a different audience. You’ve always created products for women, now you’re creating similar products for men. Obviously, there are going to need to be some adjustments done and this process would make a lot of sense for any kind of those rollouts.
As you’ve worked with clients doing this, what has been some of the toughest challenges that you had to help them overcome as they try and adopt this system and internalize it for themselves?
Bear: Just trying to cut through the difference between what their – I don’t want to say baggage – that’s probably rude, but you know. You can call it that specifically, just their internal struggle between what they’re emotionally tied to versus what the customer… like for instance, I’ve had a client who named their business a thing, like the name of their dog or something. And it was like, that has nothing to do with anything. And it’s hard to remember and it’s hard to understand over the phone. Like, it doesn’t pass the phone test for me. And it’s like, I know you love your dog, but don’t take it out on advertising your business and marketing. So there’s stuff like that.
And I have one client now who their business name says their industry and what they do, but they are growing beyond that industry. And it’s like, you’re kind of limiting yourself now. And so it was interesting how they kind of niched down. But now they’re blowing up in different ways.
Rich: And of course businesses go through that kind of problem all the time. Dunkin Donuts becomes Dunkin, Apple Computers becomes Apple, Kentucky Fried Chicken is like, oh, nobody eats fried chicken anymore, which is a lie, and they become KFC.
Bear: Which is a fricking lie. Yeah.
Rich: Anyways, this has been great, Bear. This has been very helpful and I’m sure there’s a lot of people listening who all of a sudden things are clicking for them. If they want to reach out to you, learn a little bit more about you and your process, where can we send them?
Bear: I have a new book coming out. It probably is out by the time this podcast airs, but it’s called Unify Your Marketing, and it’s five steps to building your marketing in the right order so your business can soar. And so you can get that at unifyyourmarketing.com or you can find it at bearwade.com.
Rich: Excellent. We’ll have links to both of those in the show notes. Bear, thank you so much for showing up today and sharing your process with us. I appreciate it.
Bear: Rich, thanks for having me.
Bear Wade wants you to stop wasting a ton of time and money on marketing. He’s created the process in his new book, now you just need to follow it!
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.