The Social Media Success Ingredient You Mostly Ignore

The Social Media Success Ingredient You Mostly Ignore

Bernhard Schroeder, Clinical Lecturer at San Diego State University and Author, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss connecting with millennials and building a solid brand image.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

The Social Media Success Ingredient You Mostly Ignore

The Hero’s Journey

Take a moment to imagine where the galaxy would have ended up if Luke Skywalker had never gone to see Yoda. Or maybe if Neo had never met Morpheus, or if Frodo never trusted his friend Gandalf.

You get the picture. Every hero needs a mentor.

Now swap the word “hero” for “marketer” and you have an idea of why there is so much noise in today’s social landscape. As a younger, more social oriented generation begins to take its place in the business world, it seems there’s less time spent on seeking the wisdom of seasoned veterans and more spent jumping straight in.

Bernhard Schroeder of San Diego State University’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center is out to change that by fostering an environment where millennials are embraced for their strengths and brought into the fold. The instruction of branding concepts not immediately inherent to the digital world combined with their natural understanding of modern values will train up millennial marketers to be true brand heroes.

In This Episode

  • Why many millennials don’t understand branding
  • How the move to digital has affected the passing of branding knowledge from generation to generation
  • Why social media engagement doesn’t always equal brand value
  • Why having a cause and putting it forward can solidify your brand image
  • How to be a marketing leader and approach marketing from an educational standpoint
  • Why your social media content should be dictated by a brand story

Quotes From This Episode

“I look at millennial marketers as Frodo, and they need to go find their Gandalf.” — @bernschroeder1

“Millennials are the most important audience for the next 10 to 15 years.” Click To Tweet

I need to build something out when someone hears me, sees me, sees my logo, they immediately think I’m more valuable even before they’ve done the product evaluation.” — @bernschroeder1

“You can't get strategic knowledge in a heartbeat.” Click To Tweet

Resources

See you next week!

Episode Transcript

 
Jay Baer: Welcome everybody to Social Pros, the podcast for real people doing real work in social media. I am, as always, Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, joined as usual by my special, special Texas friend. He is the executive strategist for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He is, my friend, your friend, all of our friend, the social media man of the plan, Adam Brown.
Adam Brown: Hey Jay. Salutations, and happy holidays from Boston!
Jay Baer: Heck, we're getting there!
Adam Brown: Yeah! Can you believe it?
Jay Baer: Yes, it is ... Well, it feels, finally, seasonal. Suddenly it's gotten a little chilly, so here we go. Got our tree put up, got a new tree. The other tree was full of spiders, which is probably something that we don't need to get into on this episode, but ...
Adam Brown: No, that's for your other show.
Jay Baer: It's not what you want, in a tree for sure. Riddled with spiders is not what you're looking for. So new tree has been purchased and assembled, and we're off and running.
Adam Brown: Fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing it on Snapchat, or Instagram.
Jay Baer: Absolutely
Adam Brown: Or any other social platform.
Jay Baer: All of those things ... You know who likes the social platforms?
Adam Brown: Who is that Jay?
Jay Baer: Millennials. Millennials, like a lot. You know what's funny about millennials and using social platforms, is that sometimes we feel like maybe they're just going through the motions. They don't really understand the big picture, and I'm not trying to be a generationist I guess would be the word ... But our guest on the program today has a whole book about this topic. He is Bernhard Schroeder, who is the director of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University. And always, fantastic, San Diego California. Bernie's new book is called Brands and Bullshit. Excel at the former and avoid the latter, a branding primer for millennial marketers in a digital age. Couldn't say that title better myself, I just said it myself. Bernie, welcome to Social Pros.
Bernhard S.: Hey, thanks for having me Jay.
Jay Baer: So you have been in this game a really long time. You have been a branding expert for longer than most of these social networks have even been on the drawing board. You come from, at some point, SKS Partners which is a billion dollar integrated communications agency. One of the largest agencies in the world. You yourself, your own self, helped create and launch the brands for a couple of small businesses our readers may have heard of. Adam, have you heard of a company called Yahoo!? He's heard of it. Have you also heard of a business called Amazon? Very appropriate in this holiday season, so our guest today helped build the band for Yahoo! And Amazon. And he's got some concerns about today's modern branding and some fundamental disconnects.
Thanks so much for being here. We really do appreciate it. Why do people need this. Why do you feel like now is the time for a new branding lesson? What's the disconnect? Where have we gone astray?
Bernhard S.: You know I think what's happened is if you think about how digital agencies rose, and let's say the late 90's into the early 2000's. And then you think of social media really taking off, probably in the early 2000s to the mid 2000s. A lot of these millennial marketers that you have today have never worked in a traditional shop. They have no idea what branding really is, so they've become digital experts without what I would call an element of strategy. So they'll spray and pray until the cows come home, but if you ask them what the brand persona is or the brand promise, they may or may not understand it. The book came out of frustration. What I do at the Lavin Center is I help kids start companies. So I've probably helped start more than a hundred companies since I got here.
And as I'm mentoring these millennials, which by the way I love because I love their passion, I'm having conversations about strategy with them as they’re growing their companies. And I'm find that I cannot have strategic conversations with them because they don't even understand what I'm talking about. The book itself came out of a frustration that I experienced one afternoon after meeting with a person who I helped start a digital agency with that did 10 million last year. And I was so frustrated at the end of our conversation, I went home and wrote a LinkedIn post. And the readership exploded on it to the point where people were saying, "you should write a book."
So I did.
Jay Baer: If it's just that easy! Write a LinkedIn post, turn it into a book. I love it. That is a modern day publish and success story! And you know what, that's a frustrating meeting. If that meeting's so frustrating you're going to go to LinkedIn and write a rant, and then turn it into a book, that is a catalytical meeting. I think it's spectacular.
Bernhard S.: You know, I love the guy I was meeting with. I met him as a student, he just turned 29, and I just love this guy. But for me not to be able to have a strategic conversation with him, and for him not to understand what he didn't know, was very very frustrating.
Jay Baer: Who's responsibility is it to teach those things? I have a daughter who is a freshman in college right now as well and is in the business, wants to be in the business, has done some work for us and some other organizations. And I know what you mean, there's not a ton of big picture understanding there. But my question is, obviously reading the book is one way, but how else does that knowledge get acquired? Is it at the workplace? Like let's go work for a big agency that does branding, and you sort of learn it through osmosis. There, is it something that should be a part of the curriculum at universities like SDSU, or how are people supposed to take this knowledge in in your estimation.
Bernhard S.: So the way they took it in in the past is in traditional agencies, or even in integrated agencies, you had a mentor. You had someone who put you through a branding knowledge base. If you worked at a big retail brand like Macy's or Proctor & Gamble, you were taught branding by branding experts. It was usually a five to six year process. While what's happened with the rise of digital and digital agencies, there is no branding mentality in that shop. I just visited nine agencies in the last 60 days, and made kind of a branding presentation based on the book. And I'm staring at 21 to 29 year olds who are staring back at me with like, I don't even know the hell this guy's talking about.
So the element of brand strategy inside of most digital marketing, either departments or agencies, they don't have a Gandalf, Jay. They don't have someone who can teach them the core of what they need to understand about brand. So just like Lord of the Rings, I look at millennial marketers as Frodo, and they need to go find their Gandalf. So for example, I have a daughter who is in digital marketing, and as she got in there I said, "who is going to be your strategic mentor?" So she reached out to a brand in town, a 400 million dollar brand, found a woman as the VP of marketing, who now mentors her on brand strategy.
Jay Baer: And I suppose the real danger is if you have digital agencies that lack that kind of mentorship, and that kind of focus on larger brand creation elevation. And then individuals who are perhaps younger ultimately end up running those agencies, as is the natural course of things in any business environment, then you've now missed an entire generation of marketers. And so now the leadership of the agencies don't have a background in branding as well and this cycle continues and probably gets worse, yeah?
Bernhard S.: Boy, I felt like you were channeling my mind as you were saying that. This is another example, I met with the head of another agency here recently, and he let me know they want a small piece of business with a good retail brand. And I said, "what did you win?" And he said, "we want about $150,000 worth of social media content and a little bit of AdWords." And I was like, "that's great!" I go, "what do you think your strategy is going to be with them?" And he kind of stared at me and he said, "we're just going to do social media content and AdWords." And I said, "the reason I ask is because I'm having dinner with the CEO tomorrow, and he's asked for dinner with me because he's looking at his five-year strategic plan and he doesn't know whether he should go left with the brand or right." And this guy just stared at me like, "yeah, we're dealing with the manager of digital there, like we're not any higher, and I don't think unless I barged into the building I could meet with the CEO." So it was really fascinating.
Jay Baer: Do you think that this is a by-product of the move to digital? That it is so campaign oriented and so measurable and so granular, that it's more about fiddling dials than it is brand strategy? Do you think that this is entwined with digital, or is there something else afoot?
Bernhard S.: No I think it's entwined with digital, and I do think it's going to rock back to a brand essence. I honestly believe that I met with another agency recently that's already made the move. It's a tiny little agency here in San Diego called BASIC, but somebody trained this guy, he's only like 32, 33, but he's been brand trained. And so he positioned his digital agency as a branding digital shop. And he can't handle the work he's getting. And he gets it. And so he believes that out of this clutter, out of this massive digital clutter, some of which is actually quite good, is going to come an elevation of agencies that are now going to have to be strategic in addition to just being tactical. So he sees it.
I think in the next ten years, as competition continues to heat up, you're just going to see a natural evolution of people going back to, okay okay we're doing everything online yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, strategically, do we buy this other company, don't we. Do we go into that market, don't we. And I think these digital shops are going to find out that they're going to have to become more strategic. And I think it's the natural evolution of any industry that kind of grows up quick and then has to grow up.
Jay Baer: Do you feel like social media allows brands to double-down on the essence of that brand. Isn't that what good social really is is to reflect and amplify the brand attributes that make that business stand out?
Bernhard S.: 100% if it's done well. But if you have a 24-year-old who's writing content for a brand, and that person doesn't understand the brand promise or persona, they think they're just engaging in conversations that the crowd controls instead of creating that kind of brand presence and brand persona. I mean, I look at a brand like Patagonia for example and I'd look at what they say and how they say it. And they're absolutely aligned with everything. They post on social media with what their core belief is. And I don't see that always being true for all brands.
Jay Baer: Yes, they are incredibly consistent offline, offline, in retail, in email, the homepage of their website was changed just this week in reflection of the president's move to shrink some of the national parks. You know, they were on that in ten seconds. Changed their homepage. It was really pretty impressive to see that kind of reaction in real-time. Do you feel like one of the issues here is that people who are working in digital social media in particular are seeking engagement and are using that as a success metric. And engagement doesn't necessarily add to brand value all the time, right. Engagement, you can't pay your rent with retweets, as I've said a number of times on this show. And while engagement is probably better than no engagement, engagement doesn't necessarily equal brand value.
Bernhard S.: Boy, it's funny that you say that, I was talking to someone the other day and they had talked about how successful they were in the first 90 days with a new client. And I said, "how are you measuring your success?" And they said, "well, you know the number of engagements we get, the number of retweets. This, this, this, and that, right?" And I said, "well how many of those are going to become core customers of the brand? Are you measuring loyalty? Are you measuring, you know, customer sat with people that are buying? How are you tying together that these are the right people that you are attracting." And this person just stared at me, and said, "we've exceeded our numbers." And I was like, "okay, great. Are they the right people?" And they couldn't answer that question.
Jay Baer: One of the things that I am personally irked by is when businesses have one brand that manifests in social, and that brand does not necessarily manifest in other places. And I'll give you a specific example, I am on record. I haven't talked about it too much on this show, but I've written at least three columns about this in different media publications about the Wendy's Twitter account. It has caused [inaudible 00:12:43] lot's of people in the social media community love what Wendy's does in social. It's very snarky, it is very pointed. It takes pot shots at competitors, it takes pot shots at customers. It is the snarky sort of teenage Twitter account for the fast food industry. It is by many accounts remarkably successful if you measure it by engagement rate and by industry buzz. I contend however that that is not a good strategy because there is no other dimension of Wendy's that is snarky. It's not like a Joe's Crab Shack, right. Where you go in there and by definition it's snarky and they insult you and that would be on brand.
I have never, before this Twitter account was created, I have never in my whole life thought Wendy's equals snark. And so while it succeeds from an attention getting perspective, I don't know if it succeeds from a brand perspective. And I don't want to put you on the spot, but I thought since we have you on the show, it'd be an interesting time to talk about that particular case.
Bernhard S.: I think one of the ... So first of all I agree with you. The only way you can go from snark is down. Because if you try to out-snark snark, you end up really moving further away from the brand, and pretty soon yourself in a place where you're going to do a major faux pas. You're going to say something that the whole crowd is going to react in a different way. So right now they're like, "yeah, this is cool, it's funny." But you say the wrong thing, and the same crowd can absolutely turn you off. So I agree with you.
If you have a brand that an attitude, you know, like if you're Axe and you want to target young men and you want to be super incredibly critical, funny, snarky about deodorant and fragrance but do it in a social commentary, people might look at Axe and go, "yeah but it's Axe. You know, I mean, they're a little off-kilter anyway." I think what Wendy's has resorted to is because there's probably one person related to that Twitter account that decided to feed something out there that got responded to, so they fed it again. And I think in the area of the burger wars, and what I call fast food burger wars, they got nothing going on. They can only steal share from each other as they look at share being stolen by the gourmet burger brands.
So this to me is like I'll create a comedic moment and maybe that will draw attention to me, and maybe, maybe it will increase sales. Not going to happen.
Adam Brown: One of the things, Bernie, that I've recognized ... And I'm so excited to have you on the show, because branding is near and dear to my heart. I've had the opportunity to work for some great brands, and on this show we've had so many great branding and marketing leaders come on. One of the things I've noticed is when I start thinking about the brands, not the marketing not the advertising, the brands that I would kind of put up on a pedestal right now is doing some of the freshest newest most innovative work. They seem to be very much entwined brand marketing and kind of cause marketing.
You mentioned Patagonia, I think is a great example of a brand that's doing wonderful things, and very much has their social causes and the environmental aspect of their clothing. First and foremost, I think Subaru is doing very much the same thing. It's becoming less and less about the actual product. The automobile, and more about, I feel good driving this car because they help all these charities and philanthropies. As you go out and you talk to marketers and branders, young and old, are you seeing the same thing? And what are your thoughts on that?
Bernhard S.: You know, it's funny that you picked up on that. I mean, the Subaru commercials where the daughter grows up in front of our eyes and they trust sending her off to college in a Subaru. I mean the whole thing is shot with her as a little girl. Her playing soccer, her her her. You only see the car during the end of the commercial.
Adam Brown: With that, yeah.
Bernhard S.: I think what Subaru's picked up on, and it's smart, whoever the chief marketing office there it's smart, he's aligning himself with the intentional values that he believes millennials have. This whole idea of it's not always about the product and it's about humanity and social cause, is something millennials are big into.
I can't tell you ... Honestly I'm on a college campus so freaking surrounded by millennials. They want to save everything. And it's funny because I had someone come into my office the other day and they ranted about some little ... honest-to-god bullshit thing. And I was like, "you know what your problem is?" And he was like, "what?" I go, "you don't have a freaking cause." I go, "in the 60's we had this, and the 70's we had that, and the 80's we had this. You guys need a cause." And he started laughing, and he was like, "but we're trying to help the planet, and we're trying to help this and we're trying to help that." Well, the marketers, the really good marketers and especially the really good branders, they've picked up on the fact that not only is this important to the millennials, but that the millennials are the most important audience for the next 10 to 15 years. Period. And so, they're being very very crafty in a good way about what they're doing now.
Adam Brown: And do you believe that this is sustainable? I mean, my question is, you would think that social and branding would be one of the same, because we all know that if we own a social ... or manage a social channel for a consumer product, we cannot talk about the consumer product two, three times a day seven, eight times a week. If we're like you, use the example of Axe Body Spray. We cannot talk about the spray, and the smell, and the scent, and the propellant, and the sexy packaging eight or nine times a day. We would be unfollowed immediately. We have to talk about other things, or go those other things are around and surrounding the brand.
That being such a tight intersection, why is it so difficult for many new marketers kind of begin to put those pieces together?
Bernhard S.: Because unless they're being led by an experienced brand expert, they're just fulfilling the organization's request for noise. We need AdWords, why? Everyone else has AdWords. We need content, why? Everyone else is doing content. We need to go all-in in social media. Why? I met someone in an elevator the other day and they were a consultant and said, "we need to go all-in on social media." So I'm find that in a lot of the core brands that are out there that are doing great work, there's a core discipline. There's a cross. There's company strategy about how to interlink the silos of marketing and product groups together. When it's not, then I think you see a little bit of chaos. And you see a lot of noise getting created because they're required to create noise.
Adam Brown: Are you surprised that we aren't seeing an emergence of more, and I'm going to start where you are at the academic level and then go to the corporate level, of the idea of classes and curriculum on branding. Typically, we all know, it all kind of focuses more in college on advertising classes and public relations or communications. Everything kind of fits in one of those two buckets, and if you really think about it, minus the several very powerful, very influential branding agencies, most branding work is still being done by public relations and advertising professionals. I'm curious, Bernie, kind of how you feel about those two groups. Typically they kind of have to come together, and they do come together at I think brands that do a good job in branding. Why don't we see a chief branding officer like we see a chief marketing or a chief communications officer, or are we beginning to see that?
Bernhard S.: I don't know, that's a great question. I mean, I'd look at the courses we're teaching on the college campus, and we have classes on branding. We have way more classes on digital marketing and what I would call internet marketing, social media. It's funny that at an undergrad level, I'm just thinking as you said that, I was thinking about the difference between our masters programs and undergrad programs. I don't think we're teaching very much strategy at all in our undergrad programs, and I see more strategy being taught in the graduate programs. And I think that's a demand from the market, because like any good entity in a community, I think SDSU's hearing from the community that they need more digital marketers. So we're telling the kids on the campus, "you need to be really good at digital marketing if you're going into marketing."
So we're kind of delivering what the community is asking for in not a completely direct way, but I see it. And I think there's a belief on campus from a lot of professors that you can't teach too many high level strategy to undergrads who don't have the experience yet. So there's not a lot of strategic classes in undergrad programs.
Adam Brown: Do you find that the ... The young students, here they are, they might be freshmans or sophomores. They're just a couple years out of high school. They come in and you start talking about branding. I'm curious kind of how you articulate those. Maybe those first five minutes of your class with them. I've had the opportunity about two months ago to go to be with some juniors ... I guess more sophomores and juniors, that were communications, advertising and PR students, and I ask them a little bit about branding. And their initial response was, "oh you mean like logo design and things like that." Very much the tactical side of branding. I had to kind of correct them, and I'm curious if you see the same thing day in and day out at San Diego State University. And as you talk to students at the undergraduate and graduate level across the country and world.
Bernhard S.: So here's something I'd do in my class when I'm just teaching the integrated marketing class. I would walk into my class on the first day of the semester, and I had two shirts in my hand, and the logos were covered up. And I asked the class which shirt was more valuable. And they were staring at me like, shit I don't know. And they would go, the one on the left, the one on the right. And then I would uncover the logos. And they would be like, hey I didn't know that was a Nike shirt, so that one's more valuable. And I would be like, why. They're identical.
Eventually what I would get them to the core of the conversation is, products are identical. Brands are different. And that's what I do in five minutes, and they get it. All of a sudden they go, holy shit. Like if I build something, I need to build something out when someone hears me, sees me, sees my logo, they immediately think I'm more valuable even before they've done the product evaluation.
Adam Brown: I love that.
Bernhard S.: They get it. I mean, I can explain that to them and they get it. I'm not going to tell you that they're going to be good at it yet or they're going to actually do it, but boy they get it in a heartbeat.
Adam Brown: And I think that that's an important distinction that we all need to remember. And I think we all need to be reminded of. I think it's very easy and something that you and Jay were talking about before you threw it over to me. I think it's so easy for us especially in social media, especially with all the tools. And I think as Jay said, the knobs and levers that we can all throw to get fixated on throwing those levers and knobs, because that's what makes us as social media professionals very much different from maybe traditional media professionals.
We have to be reminded of that. And Bernie, I want to ask you, what is your advice to social media professionals who do. I mean, I catch myself doing this each and every day because of the power of the tools we have to focus and gravitate a little more tactical, when really what our customer's asking for, what our brand is asking for, what our consumers are asking for, is a more strategic thought leadership around what marketing, advertising, public relations, branding, digital social really means.
Bernhard S.: So here's really some quick advice I would give someone who wants to be a leader in marketing. You can be tactical until the cows come home. One, follow trends. Two, be more curious than the next person. Have a deep network, number three. Four, the only way you're going to acquire knowledge is either to read, or steal. Right? Reading, things like positioning, read Brand Gap, read my book. I don't care. Stealing comes in a good way from having an amazing mentor who understands strategy or branding, and that's a person you have to align with. That's a category you have to go to. If you want to go to conferences on branding, great. That's a plus. But you got to become more strategic as a marketer, or these digital marketers, as we shift to more strategic elements of marketing in the future, these digital marketers that are left as tactitions are going to be left behind.
Jay Baer: Well just so. Adam and I have been talking about this on the show and I've done several webinars on this point in the recent past and in the near future as well. As more and more companies adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning, software stacks like Sales Force Marketing Cloud, a lot of these tactical, procedural, executional tactics are going to be done by robots. Like for real. So if you're not strategic, and you can't add anything to the strategic conversation, if you don't know why something works, if you can't tell the robot what to do and have a reason for that, you are going to have a hard time being in this business in five years in my estimation.
Bernhard S.: I don't disagree, you know. It's funny because, and I don't think it's my ego that's speaking, but if you handed me a retail brand and you handed a retail brand to a 30-year-old millennial marketer, I'm going to slay him. I'm going to slay him. It has nothing to do with me, it has everything to do with the knowledge of being strategic first and executional second. Like you just said, I can either get the social media knowledge, but you know what you can't get? You can't get strategic knowledge in a heartbeat. You can't just get it. And so I'll be the Gladius Maximus in the arena, and here comes a new gladiator. And I'll be like I will win not because I'm Gladius Maximus, but because I've been in 300 fights.
And then millennials need to understand this. It's not about that they're millennials. Millennials are smart, are you kidding me? With all the tools that you and I see today, Jay, knowing that we've done marketing in the past, it's a cornucopia of ammo. The key is putting it together in a strategic way.
Jay Baer: Absolutely. And let me just take this point, probably a good time to do it, to remind our listeners that our sponsor of Social Pros is Sales Force Marketing Cloud. I'm actually doing a webinar on the 12th. So this episode's going to come out pretty soon, it should be out in a couple days, so you should get on this webinar. It's called How to Drive Intelligent Personalized Consumer Engagement. Using data and AI, myself, one of Adam's colleagues Tiffany Tulie from Salesforce. It's on the 12th of December, 2:00, eastern. Go to socialpros.com for the link and to register. Go to Social Pros to sign up for the webinar and how to drive intelligent personalized consumer engagement using data and AI. It's going to be a good one.
Also just a quick moment here while I'm talking about sponsors. Super fired up! Adam, I don't even think you know this, this is all new. Super excited to announce for the first time here on Social Pros, we have a brand new co-host on Content Pros. The Content Pros podcast long time sister show of this show. Content Pros is all about content professionals, so for next season, 2018, the show's going to be co-hosted by our pal Randy Frisch from Uber. And as of January, Anna Hrach who was a senior strategist on the Convince & Convert team. She is one of my very best peeps on our strategy organization and she is going to bring a lot of pep and vigor to the Content Pros podcast, so super excited for Anna to take the mic here in just a couple of weeks. Contentpros.com for all of their archives, and schedules.
Bernie, let me ask you a question about tactics. So we are in an era now in social where there's lots of storytelling devices, and story and brand are very much correlated. Do you feel that all of this new storytelling stuff ... Let's just put a point on it and say things like Snapchat, things like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Facebook Messenger Stories. The short form video capabilities that are so prevalent in social, do you think those are big opportunities for brand? Are they not big opportunities for brand? Or are they big opportunities but just typically used incorrectly?
Bernhard S.: You know, I think they're big opportunities in general. I mean, anything video or anything that is story-based, I think goes a long way. I don't know how appropriately they're used. It's kind of fascinating. I used to think you could put a baby and a cat in a video and it would get two million views, right? I don't know what the value of that is, but everybody wants to see a baby and a cat. But if I look at what good brands are doing, across their disciplines, they're really telling a long story in tiny little segments. And they piece together ... The ones that don't kind of do story du jour, and content du jour, which gets a little frustrating.
It's almost like I used to ... I said to one digital agency, "do you have a storyboard for the story you're going to tell for this brand for the year?" And they just looked at me and said, "no we're doing campaigns." And I go, "well how is the brand story going to come through all these different campaigns you're running?" And again, they didn't know what I meant. They're just like no we're running campaigns to sell shit. And I was like okay, great, have at it.
Jay Baer: And the unit of measure is so small now, right. It's what are we doing in this one individual post that has an atomic life of ten minutes. It's very difficult to stitch together. And there which is why one of the things we're doing that Convince & Convert this year is working with all of our corporate clients on shows to say, okay, what is this show, and they're sort of taking from a television parlance, that what is the Instagram show and how does that Instagram show tie back into the network which is the brand. And trying to use those sort of analogies to have more consistency and more tune in ability so that the audience knows what you're going to get from a brand on Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, etc. So it's an interesting time for sure.
Speaking of LinkedIn, I wanted to ask you about your use of LinkedIn to get mentors back to SDSU. We've talked about mentoring and how it's important to have young professionals have access to more experienced professionals to get more brand Galdalf wizardry at their disposal. And you're doing that by getting grads back to the organization, helping young students. Can you talk about how that's worked?
Bernhard S.: When I first came to the center in '08 after ... after I left the marketing agents in Silicon Valley, I came down to San Diego and I turned four companies around in eight years. And they were all publicly sold. So after doing that I got tired. I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. And I thought I had the most fun when I've guest lectured on college campuses, so I get to center in '08. There's really nothing going on here. And so that was why I came to the center. I wanted to create an amazing center, I wanted to blow it up. I wanted to build a brand, right?
And as I started looking around, I was like, well shit there's been a lot of good companies created by us. You see, we've got the Cosco guy, you got Rubios, you got Chili's, there's some good brands! Then I started look at the secondary brands. A lot of action sports. Volcom, just other brands in that space. I'm actually having lunch in about 20 minutes with the founder of Sector Nine. The guys who started longboard, skateboards. The way I reached out to him was the way I reach out to about 300 alumns now that I've brought back to the campus. I don't reach out with the generic LinkedIn message. I reach out with, "looked at your background, thought you'd be a great speaker on the campus or a mentor for one of the kids in our special programs. Would you be interested in engaging with the university?" And I dial him in, and just dial him in. And they all want to come back. They all have stories they want to tell. You just have to know how to reach out.
If I did a generic, "want to link in with me?" I'd get a denial, right? But I give them a reason to come back, and I know the kids that they need. We're lining up the kids, we have about 150 kids, we've identified about eight mentors. So LinkedIn has been amazing. I've never not had anyone in about seven years not respond. Not saying they all said they would do it, but not respond. They all responded.
Adam Brown: That's incredible. Do you believe that one of the reasons that they are is interest in participating. And one of the reasons I think, you Bernie have had the success that you've had with turning around companies. Is your ability to understand branding, not just from a marketing and communications and advertising standpoint, but understanding branding from a business standpoint. I would like to place a hypothesis that one of the differences I see today in leadership and as we see millennials and people a little bit older than millennials may trick you up into business organizations is their focus on statistics. Their focus on putting it in a spreadsheet. And one of the challenges with branding is being able to attribute branding success that correlates to business success.
It kind of usually ... correlation not causation. Do you think that your ability to understand both and put those abilities together had a level of rushing out for the success that you've had, but also these people that you're bringing back to participate in the program at SDSU.
Bernhard S.: You know, it's funny because when I think about bringing someone back or even if I was working with a company today, and I still cook on the side a little bit with some brands, I think about what is the emotion or the feeling I want to create. So I don't think about the message. I think about when I reach out to that alumn, I'm like, okay let me go do a little due diligence on his background. Let me see what he or she has done. So when I write my message, I want to evoke a feeling or an emotion from them.
When I work with ... Like I got called in to kind of ... Introduced to Berkshire Hathaway brand when they brought Credential California here about four years ago. So that's a four billion dollar acquisition. The first thing I did when I was talking to the CEO of Credential California, I said, "what is the emotional feeling you want to create with your customer and with the agents that you have today when we tell them they're going to be a Berkshire Hathaway company? And what we ultimately agreed on was we wanted to create the feeling and emotion of success. And that we were going to tie everything from Warren Buffet and hard. But an emotional way around success. We did that transition in eight months, revenue exploded, the company is probably one of the leading real estate companies in California right now.
And to do a brand transition of an older company in an existing market, not lose share, not lose agents, is very very hard. Berkshire Hathaway was able to do it, move upstream. And it's like it never happened. It's like Berkshire Hathaway Home Properties has been here forever, right?
Adam Brown: As you look at the social channels that you've used for your personal activities for the activities with the center that you run, with the properties that you've used with these brands you've turned around, is there one particular that you like okay, that is the right platform to do it? Or is this really channel and platform agnostic? You know, one of the things I was laughing to myself and hearing you and Jay talk about is Jay was talking about the use of Facebook Stories. Of Snapchat Stories.
And I recognize that the word stories is in the name of a lot of the social channel products that they're trying to market to us as marketers and communicators to use. Do we sometimes get confused and want to one tool or really it's so less about the tool. It's not tactical, it's all strategic. Or is there one channel where you're like yeah, that's the best for branding.
Bernhard S.: I think, you know I don't know what's the best for branding. It's funny that you say that. There's another brand that I've been mentoring called Pura Vida. They make women's fashion bracelets. It sounds like nothing, right? But they put a social cause behind it, and they've raced to about 25 million in revenue. The most amazing thing is when I was mentoring these young guys, they literally said to me, "Bernie, we seem to be getting the most response to our brand and our cause, as well as our products and Instagram, so we're going to double and triple down on Instagram. We are going to do AdWords. We are going to buy some Facebook ads, but on the Instagram side we're really going to focus on the brand messaging and the storytelling, and we're going to get a million followers." And I remember when Griffin told me this about three or four years ago. I thought good luck with that.
They have a million. And it's absolutely exploded the company. So I think there is for your target audience. I think there might be a medium that is more appropriate for the way the audience wants to digest what you have.
Adam Brown: Can you today, as we get very close to 2018, create and maintain a brand without a cause?
Bernhard S.: That's a great question. That's a great question! I'm working with a brand right now that is 100 million dollar brand, they don't have a cause, but strategically they aligned all their products around natural organic. So if you don't have a cause, I think you got to lean back into something you're doing. In this instance, natural organic, and another it might be recycling, and another it might be Axe. I think you better be doing something if you care about the millennial audience.
Adam Brown: What is the millennial audience want? Other than what we kind of talked about ... Than other audiences? In your opinion.
Bernhard S.: Yeah, from my opinion, having ... I've been hanging out with these kids now for 10 years on the campus. What they want is they want to believe they have a purpose in life beyond what they've seen their parents and other people do. It's not too dissimilar generationally. What's dissimilar is they don't have a blow-away major cause. They have things they believe in. They believe the planet shouldn't be ruined by pollution and other things. They believe we should be kinder to people. They believe that someone should be able to run a company and be responsible. And so as I look at what they believe, to me this is a core shift, and it's been a core shift. I think you guys know it. Any marketer that could see it would know it.
You as a brand, if you're going to be relevant and you're going to survive the next ten years, you better really be attuned with this millennial audience. Not just from a faux marketing point of view, because the one thing they will do, they will do their due diligence. And if they find out you're phoning them, they'll drop you. I think you have to seriously look at your business model and say what in our business model aligns with millennial values?
Jay Baer: Yeah, that's a really interesting concept, to spend time thinking that through. And kind of almost reverse-engineering it? Again, not in a way that is negative or trying to game the system, but really say alright so what can we offer that is going to resonate with our target customer base?
Bernhard S.: Yeah, especially from a business model point of view. Because I think you can be very successful in anything that you do. I think there has to be room in the business model for leaning into your customers, whatever that means.
Jay Baer: I know what I believe. And that's that everybody needs to go grab a copy of Brands and Bullshit, excel at the former and avoid the latter. Make sure you pick up a copy on the places that you can get books, including a brand that you worked on at one point, Amazon.
Bernie, we're going to ask you the two questions that we ask every single guest on the show. Approaching 300 episodes, in fact we'll be making a big announcement soon folks on our special 300th episode celebration which should be coming up in January. Super psyched about that! Bernie we're going to ask you the two questions that we ask everybody in the show.
Question number one. What one tip ... I think you gave us four earlier so I'm going to make you condense it to one. What one tip would you give somebody looking to become a Social Pro.
Bernhard S.: Get a mentor. That's been there and done it.
Jay Baer: Yeah. And it's good advice, something we don't talk about enough on the show. I'm going to start asking some of our guests that question, because many of our guests on the show are senior social media managers for big brands. I'm going to start asking them about who mentored them and how they got into this and how they learned it. I'm going to start adding some of those types of questions in our interviews here. Thank you for that, it's going to...
Adam Brown: And how we can all be mentors too, Jay. That's a great point for all of that have been doing this for a couple of years.
Jay Baer: Yeah, yeah. Somebody asked me about being their mentor just yesterday actually at this event in Dallas. The universe is aligning for me with this interview, so thank you Bernie.
And the last question. Bernie Schroeder who is the director of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University and author of Brands and Bullshit. If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Bernhard S.: I probably would do it with the current CEO of Apple. What's his name, I've forgotten his name, Tim what?
Jay Baer: Tim Cook?
Bernhard S.: Yeah, Tim Cook. And the reason I would do it with Tim Cook is that we had the opportunity to work in our agency to work with Steve Jobs three times. And I would want to understand from him what he sees in the future for that brand. So many people have said that brand could not live without Steve, and I think he's done an admirable job. I would just like to just kind of peer into his eyes and say what do you see over the next 10 years?
Jay Baer: Yeah, I mean, so he doesn't have the tribe of blind loyalty and sort of the Galdalf eskness that his predecessor had, but the numbers don't lie right? And Apple has grown considerably since Tim Cook took over and people can say that they don't like the way it's happened or they think it could be more than etc. But you know, the facts are that he has been wildly successful by any measure, but yeah I think it would be a fantastic conversation. That's what we should do. We'll set that up Adam. We'll have Bernie, Tim Cook here on the show. That'll be a part of the 300th episode celebration.
Adam Brown: That's one of a hell of a teaser for next year, isn't it.
Jay Baer: Yeah, there you go, yeah. Shouldn't have let the kid out of the bag.
Bernie thanks so much for being here. We really appreciate your insights and your work and all the effort that you're putting into raising up a better generation of future digital marketers. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you grab yourself a copy of Brands and Bullshit. It is spectacular. We wish you nothing but the best. And anything we can do for you or your students, please reach out to Adam and I at any time.
Bernhard S.: Alright. Again, Adam and Jay, thanks for having me, and have a great holiday.
Jay Baer: And you as well. Mr. Brown can't wait for our next episode. We've got a whole collection of great guests coming up here on the show as we finish out 2017 and approach our big 300th episode celebration. Fired up for the next one as well which I believe is going to be our friend Rohit Bhargava who was on the show last year talking about his book Non-Obvious. He has Non-Obvious 2018 coming out soon. He's going to talk about all kinds of really interesting trends that you need to know to be the best professional you can be next year. And this last one, I just finished reading that last night, it is amazing. I think it's his best one yet. It's really really great, so can't wait to have that conversation next week.
Until then, he is Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I am Jay Baer from Convince & Convert and this my friend has been Social Pros.
 
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