The B2B Revenue Experience Podcast Guest Appearance
Dear brand, marketing, and growth-minded friends and colleagues, Bobby sat down with Carlos Nouche on his podcast, The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. They talked about how Propr helps its clients get the reputation they deserve, not necessarily the reputation they want, through strategic brand-building and storytelling.
Give it a listen, and let us know what you think.
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Intro: You’re listening to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you’re looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s accelerate your growth in three.
Carlos Nouche: Welcome everyone to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. I’m your host, Carlos Nouche. And I’m joined by my co-host, Lisa Schnare. Say hello, Lisa.
Lisa Schnare: Hi, everyone. Thanks for being here today.
Carlos Nouche: We’re talking about building your brand, which is a big question for B2B organizations but also for individuals these days. How do today’s B2B organizations really implement a strategy to scale through better positioning, messaging, design, and web marketing?
Lisa Schnare: And to help us out with this subject today, we have Bobby Gillespie, also affectionately known as Bobby G, who is the author of the upcoming Build Your Brand Like You Give a Shit! and founder and principal at Propr Design, which advises and develops your brand’s positioning, messaging, architecture, identity and design to empower growth and scaling. Bobby, thank you so much for being here today, and welcome to the show.
Bobby G: Thank you. It is my pleasure. Absolutely.
Carlos Nouche: All right, Bobby, here’s a question we’d like to start every episode with, and it’s a great way to get to know you and for the audience to get a feel for you a little bit better, and that is what is something that you are passionate about that those that only know you through business might be surprised to know.
Bobby G: This is a great question, and I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve been asked it before. So I would think for me is testing my mental, and that means getting into very uncomfortable situations and feeling alive during those situations and then getting out the other side. For example, a couple of years ago, I decided to do the Maryland Challenge, which is hiking the 42 miles of the Maryland length of the Appalachian Trail in one day. And we got dropped off at the Mason-Dixon Line at midnight. It just happened that it was midnight. It was just kind of serendipitous.
And then we hiked south to West Virginia all night. And I’ll tell you what, it was excruciating. It was painful, but it was amazing because I was alive the whole time, and I knew I was alive because every step hurt. And coming at the other end is like really a proud moment to be able to say, like, I conquered that. I did it. I’d never had to do it again, but I did it. And it’s a great story, and it’s a great accomplishment, and I think it sets a great example for folks who are feeling that they can’t do things, but they can. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
Lisa Schnare: Yeah, well, it’s a great way to celebrate your physicality as well. It’s like you’re healthy, and your fitness level is enough to be able to complete these tasks, which is something I think we should all be grateful for every day because not everybody’s in that position. So it’s a great way to celebrate.
Bobby G: Absolutely, what you can do.
Lisa Schnare: Amazing. Bobby, so, jumping into business a little bit, can you tell us a little bit about Propr, what you do there, and how you arrived at this point in your career?
Bobby G: Remind me if I get a little off track here. There’s a lot to unpack. So Propr is essentially we take a consultative role with our clients and helping them really build a brand foundation that’s going to empower them to sustainably, grow, and scale their organization. It’s really built on the entrepreneurial bug I was bitten by, was there’s always the idea that there’s a better way to do something. And throughout my career of working at agencies, in-house, and across the spectrum, I just felt that working in your client’s best interest was something that was a little bit scarce. Working in your team’s best interests is equally scarce. So I hedged my bets and said, hey, listen, we can really deliver a lot of benefit and value to our customers by giving a crap and doing what’s right and not taking advantage of any situation. So what we did was started the company in 2014 after leaving another agency, and we have just kind of been rocking around since then. I’m a terrible employee, and that’s why I found myself in this predicament where I can create a culture to empower our team and give people autonomy. As Eisenhower said, leaders put people in a position to be successful. They don’t tell them what to do. They just give them their lane and let them work it out.
So we’re very entrepreneurial in that respect. But what we really do with our clients is, I believe Unique is taking a very holistic and deep look at their situation; our clients are primarily B2B tech brands. And you have engineers, you have data scientists, you have these brilliant folks who know their game, but they struggle with how to contextualize that to a nonsort of geeky person. So kind in line with my sort of passion for the strenuous life, as some call it, is that we love to learn so much about our clients. We love to rub elbows with these brilliant folks and then help really clarify their positioning and messaging and values, and personality to be able to build a brand that authentically reflects who they are and makes real connections with their target audiences. So it really impacts every aspect of the organization, from recruiting to marketing to business dev HR; everything is integrated into the core of your brand. And that’s what we start with. We identify that we clarify it in a practical way, and then we use it as our guide to creating the critical assets any brand needs to properly scale.
Lisa Schnare: I love that. And is that where the proper simplicity mindset comes in?
Bobby G: Confucius said nature is simple, but we insist on making it complicated. And 2000 years ago, he recognized that. And to this day, life is more complicated than it’s ever been. We really look at Ockham’s razor as short. Ockham’s razor doesn’t really apply to branding unless you think about it from a different perspective. And it’s really the simplest solution is the most appropriate solution, right? So the Simplicity Mindset really is about getting the excess out of the way. I use a metaphor, or I use a story, an unverified story of Michelangelo. He was asked by a reporter, how did you create the statue of David, this masterpiece? He said, essentially, it was easy. He just chipped away at the stone that wasn’t David. And that’s how we look at brands. We’re not creating a brand at of thin air. It already exists. Right?
So when you’re seeking simplicity, practicality, tactical in nature, things that people can be all on the same page and unified, working towards a common goal, you can’t have all this clutter in a way. We can’t have pig pens from peanuts leading the way. We need something that’s crystal clear, and you can grab your hands on it and put everybody on the same page. So the Simplicity Mindset is really a call to action for folks to dedicate and commit to achieving a simpler environment. And when you think about managing Umbrel brands or brand architecture, where you’re scaling and creating new products and services, folks are looking at sort of the mega brands as the example to emulate. But that causes too much complexity. And as we all know, complexity doesn’t scale. And a lot of times, that’s what’s holding the brands back where they have too many moving pieces. And we could strip it down to something that is not boring and simple but simple and elegant. And that really empowers all aspects of the growth and internal teams to be able to really be empowered to make a difference and scale.
Carlos Nouche: All right, talking about stripping it down, what might be some of the things that we should be avoiding or that you don’t recommend in trying to initially build that brand?
Bobby G: Gimmicks hacks? An overnight success, right? The media, the books, higher ed, it’s all full of, hey, you know, look at these guys. Overnight successes, right? But only took 15 years and $3 million to be an overnight success, right? So I’ve worked with entrepreneurs. I’m an entrepreneur. One thing that we have to keep in mind is nobody knows what they’re truly doing. So, like that perception that you’re looking at other people and comparing yourself to the usual suspects and say, look, they got their shit together, but they don’t. Right? We’re all figuring it out. And when you’re thinking about how the goal is growth. The goal is higher profits, larger margins, better recruiting, whatever those goals are. There are always some cross-spectrum goals and initiatives that particularly B2B brands are struggling with. And it’s going through an authentic approach that is going to get you the results you’re looking for. For example, pushing a false narrative, right? Like using gimmicks in your marketing advertising. What is that really saying? Is that helping or hurting your brand? And when you think about what your brand is, it’s your reputation. And we’re not looking at brands as logos or products or services or features. When you look at your brand as those things, then you’re marketing a commodity. And we all know what the commodity world is, is you want them the most for the least, right?
And they’re not really thinking about the value, which I think aligns perfectly with your approach to selling. And we want to really convey the value and benefit of the brands we work with and really develop their tone of voice and point of view on things so that when it’s time for the conversion, the connection to be made, the conversations to be had that are going to lead to a sale, there’s already rapport developed. There’s already a relationship that’s being fostered, right? And my parents always instilled in me that the most important things in a relationship are trust, honesty, and communication. And that’s what we want to lead with when we’re building a brand, when we’re doing outreach, when we’re marketing, when we’re making connections and connecting and communicating and even competing on your core values, which is really popular these days, which I’m really excited about that because that’s where we start. It’s really popular for a good reason because people want to engage with brands that they can relate to and full circle, right?
They’re not related to your products, your services, your features, or your ingredients. They’re related to your purpose. They’re relating to what you give a crap about. And that’s what we really want to do, is say, hey, what do you guys give a crap about? And by the way, what do you actually do and who do you do it for, and how do you do it differently? And when you put those things together, you have a really genuine positioning that is going to make sort of all the backend conversion stuff, hiring, sales, all the marketing metrics a lot more easy to accomplish, and it’s more sustainable, right? If you’re pushing a false narrative, well, you better have a huge PR budget, you better keep everybody on track. Why not just keep it real? It’s a lot easier.
Carlos Nouche: You talked about measurement. Are there certain things in building your brand that we should be measuring? And what types of outcomes have you seen?
Bobby G: So when we’re in the brand foundation, so we’ve created, everybody wants to prioritize their services, and it’s a great idea, so you can have good conversations and be consistent. So we’ve broken down our process into two and a half frameworks. The first is what we call brand clarity, and we have a workshop, or we can do it as part of a bigger engagement. What you want to measure there is your gut. Does it feel right? Do you get excited about this? Because we’re working with the senior leadership of these brands, growth leadership, founders, CEOs, and the C-Suite, and we want them to wake up the next morning and feel more energized than they did when we were going through the exercise. Or do we want them to wake up in a cold sweat and feel terror and say, no, it’s wrong, right? And then we want that. We want people to trust their gut. When you get into brand activation, which is informed from brand clarity, and our 0.5 framework is Enablement, and we’ll get into that later, but when we get into activation, we’re building the website, rebuilding the website or transforming the website, whatever channels and templates and core items that the sales and marketing folks need to do their job.
What we want to measure there are the typical marketing stuff engagement, conversions, and revenue. And that’s where we see the biggest impact. And the reason that the catalyst for creating this approach was before I started Propr, I worked at an agency that did enterprise e-commerce sites. And the common roadblocks to success to be able to truly deliver and bring amazing value to our clients were themselves, their egos, their whims, and their insecurities. So I decided I was like, how? I’m a problem solver. I have a little bit of a scientific mind as well as this creative madness. And I said, how can we take their whims and ego out of the equation and make it about what’s best for their brand and what’s best for their future customers? And that’s the North Star. We have it Propr. Is that the question we want to empower our customers to ask and answer? Having the clarity to be able to answer that validates everything you’re investing in growing your brand. Is this what’s right for our brand, which includes your people? Right. Is this what’s best for not our current customers?
Because we’re already doing a great job with them, our future customers, right? And that really empowers things to take a brave approach to say like, okay, let’s commit to doing what we need to do to be able to answer that question and then get the whole team on the same page. And it really aligns everybody to come from their unique place and perspectives and insights to contribute to the success of the company. Think of it as adopting the Horizon line. We don’t want your team to line up in a single file or be clones or automatons walking, marching away in the distance. We want them to be across the board, right, everywhere. But we want them to be marching towards that common goal. And that only starts with being able to clarify who the hell you are, what you give a shit about, and why do your customers care? And that really lets us to really align our purpose with our ideal client’s purpose. And all the conversations on the back end are pretty easy.
Carlos Nouche: Great insights, sir. Bobby, in reading your background, one comment that came to mind was everything is marketing because everything you do sends a message. What do you mean by that?
Bobby G: Yeah. So everything is marketing is Seth Godin. So I thank you, Seth, but I’m going to add words, which is unusual. I’d like to strip things down, but I’m going to add words. Everything is marketing because everything sends a message. Everything you do, the way you answer the phone, your logo, your messaging, the performance of your products and services, and how your team interacts with other people, right? How you drive into the parking lot at the office, that’s all sending a message, right? And that message and how it’s received is your brand. So your brand, again, is not anything else but your reputation. And that’s why it’s so important to have it consistent across the board because you’re going to get the reputation you deserve, not necessarily the reputation you want.
Carlos Nouche: Great point. Since sales are a key part of our brand, as you get sales professionals engaging with buyers, how does that affect your brand strategy? Where do they come in the play? What advice might you have there?
Bobby G: So most of the folks we’re engaging with, are not necessarily the decision-makers in terms of hiring us, but they’re the champions that we work with. It’s marketing leadership and sales growth leadership. People are responsible; a CML used to be the person who managed marketing and set the goals. Now they’re in charge of growth. Right. It’s just crazy. So it’s all integrated. So we’re working with those folks. Where are your challenges? What are your desired outcomes? What does success look like to you? Where does it hurt? And we want to take a holistic look at that stuff because we don’t want to just address the symptoms. That’s why we started the foundation. We want to address the cause. So we’re like, oh, we’re not getting enough engagement, we’re not having enough conversations. Our pipeline is a little weak, right?
We only need three customers a year, new customers a year. But we’re not having any fruitful conversations. So we’re revising around that. Well, let’s take a look at what you’re doing and assessing that and then benchmark it against what we’ve seen with our other customers, what their competitors are doing, and say, all right, here’s your opportunity, here’s your advantage. Let’s leverage that, and let’s get you more fruitful conversations with your ideal customers, and stop talking to these folks.
Carlos Nouche: I know we’ve been talking about B2B, but I kinda feel like sometimes, even within an organization, individuals are trying to kind of establish their own brand. And we talk about it all the way from BDRs, trying to create their own brand online. So when they engage with other professionals, it’s not about just the brand I represent. It’s about me as a professional. Any advice there?
Bobby G: It’s all the same, right? Just keep it real. Be yourself. I grew up in Philly, and I went through sort of the city education system where they’re preparing us to be factory workers, where all the factories were gone. So they wanted us to just take orders, and man, I caused a lot of friction. I got a lot of ideas, right? And I bore easily. So I’ve always, thanks to my parents and great mentors and influences throughout my life, have always felt confident to be myself. And when you’re your true authentic self, as Naval Ravikan said, you don’t have any competition because no one can compete with you on being you. So just do what you do. Be who you are constantly. Seek improvement, learn new stuff, be interesting, read stuff that is out of your normal genres, and listen to something that you don’t like. And we take the same approach to brand development and marketing, all this growth stuff. We help with the best ideas that aren’t dogma. The best ideas come from so many different places. I read a ton about anthropology. Humans are so fascinating, right?
Where we came from, where we’re going. Wow. Right? But that informs so much about how we interact and how we live in societies and cultures and communicate throughout the thousands and thousands of years. There are great ideas that we put into play there that really move the needle for our customers. And the same goes for you as an individual, right? You want to talk to people that have something interesting to say. You want to relate to somebody, your dogs, you’re in the cars or music, and all that stuff is fascinating. Right. And that makes us interesting creatures. We all hear this, right? And I’m the revenue executive at my company. Somehow I found myself in this predicament, but I kind of like it because I like to have conversations with people, but I don’t want to sell to anybody. It’s like, what’s the benefit of what we can do for you? And is this the right fit? Are you good for us, and are we good for you? And we only know that being authentic and keeping it real, not hiding your tattoos or not trying to cover up your accent, and all the stuff that makes me this East Coast rebel is also what appeals to the right folks. And the ones who don’t like it, cool. Like, we don’t have to bother each other.
Lisa Schnare: Yeah, I love that. We talk to a lot of particular strike calling. They’re grinding the phones, and it’s just like if you’re not authentic and truly enthusiastic about what you’re selling, that comes across.
Bobby G: And enthusiasm is big. Yeah.
Lisa Schnare: If you can’t connect to some kind of passion around that, then the person on the other end is not going to connect to it. So our tone and the ripple effect of all of these factors that you mentioned. It’s so powerful. So I really love that, Bobby. It’s awesome.
Bobby G: Let me have one thing there. Think about it from the top down, right? If the senior leadership is not enthusiastic about the brand, initiatives, goals, and setting vision, everyone else is not going to be either. Right? So that connection, that passion, that excitement, it’s infectious.
Lisa Schnare: Definitely.
Bobby G: Yeah.
Lisa Schnare: And we’ve all been at that organization where they weren’t, and it wasn’t. So yeah, very important. I love all these points, and I wish we could talk all day, but we’re going to switch gears slightly here because we ask every guest a couple of questions at the end of every interview, and one of them is that you just mentioned you are a revenue executive, so you get prospected to on the regular basis. What is it that stands out to you that actually piques your interest and builds a little credibility that might actually have you respond to a cold prospecting outreach?
Bobby G: If someone tries to bullshit me, I immediately pick it up. Don’t even, and if they try to sell to me, immediately go away. Right. There has to be authenticity there. And I got an email today. Propr is a great fit for us. And I’m like, what’s in it for me? So think about what your customer wants and what your customer needs. Do a little research. People can spend a few minutes and look at my LinkedIn and understand what the heck’s up, right? But we don’t need a phone system. Do a little bit of research, and understand who that person is. Empathy is truly an incredible thing, and I’m an empath. Things make me cry all the time because I’m just so emotionally connected to this world and understanding your customer and their pains and their desires and how they measure success and what’s important to them, and how your purpose can align to that.
We get millions of emails. There was one that I said, yeah, I’m going on vacation. Hit me back in a month. Like, this interests me. And it’s because the brand looked apart. The aesthetic design, like creative director, designer by trade, so it’s got to look apart. Looks like crab, and there are comic fans and all that stuff like, go away. But it has to start from an authentic place, and they have to be genuine. And as you said, they have to be excited about it, interested in me and us, not just looking for the next transaction or conversion.
Carlos Nouche: Excellent. Hey, one last question. We call it acceleration insights. What might be one thing you would like to share with our listeners that would really help them in achieving their own targets? Right? That one big takeaway that you want to leave behind and maybe leave is why you would even bring that one up.
Bobby G: Wow. Okay. So there are so many little things I could offer a little fun exercise for marketing and sales teams to align consistency in terms of tone of voice. So try this. Pull your team together. However, your team is structured virtually in person and starts identifying who famous people, whether real or fictional, best represent your brand and would be like the spokesperson, right? We hear your message read by Bill Murray or something. Sam Jackson, right? Is it Sam Jackson? No. Is it Bill Murry, closer? Is it Helen Miram? Or go through that, yes or no? And you’ll end up putting parameters around what’s appropriate for the tone of voice. And that doesn’t mean that everybody talks like Samuel Jackson, which would be pretty hilarious if your whole company did. But it puts the parameters in place, right? Because you think about creativity. Creativity is the ability to see a solution to a problem or a future state. But without parameters, the potential solutions are infinite. So you put parameters around what’s appropriate, and that allows you to innovate, innovate in this space, and apply this stuff that applies to so much different aspects of business and production and development. But we apply it to brands, right?
Because we want to be in this space. We want to be awesome in this space. And putting parameters around how we talk to our customers to best reflect who our brand makes you really approachable, but it also makes you consistent. We love Anthony Bourdain, right, with all his flaws and everything, right? He was a real person, but he was a master chef. But it wasn’t about the cheffery. It was about relationships, the story, the conversations, and the experiences. All those things feed our souls here. And he’s imperfect, right? And that’s okay. And we want to remind ourselves constantly that that’s okay. So putting Anthony Bourdain as, close your eyes and say he is sort of the personification of the Propr brand really allows us to know what’s right in our gut versus saying, like, oh, this is strict guidelines around this, but you feel it. Right? And we go through that as part of our clarity exercise. And I think that it’s a lot of fun for folks to do. And if you’re struggling around, like, saying the right thing to the right person in the right way personify, it puts somebody at the front of it and have some fun with it. Right? Is it Oprah? Is it Mike Tyson? Who right. But also, who isn’t it? And that’s a pretty good time.
Lisa Schnare: I love that, Bobby. That’s awesome. So if one of our listeners wanted to talk to you more about the topics we covered today, what’s your preferred way that they get in contact with you?
Bobby G: You can always hit me up on LinkedIn. Just drop a note that you heard me here, so I know who you are. And I can give credit where credit is due to my new friends. So my LinkedIn is just a usual LinkedIn. But it’s T-H-A-T Bobby G. ThatBobbyG. That’s a handle I use. Not ThisBobbyG, but ThatBobbyG. You can also check us out on our website. proprdesign.com, Propr spelled uniquely. proprdesign.com.
Lisa Schnare: And did you want to say anything about your book coming up?
Bobby G: So I got this book, right, and it goes back to, if I can do it, anybody can do it. I got inspired to write a book last year. It’s coming out this summer. I hope it’s in design now. Then we’ll get into production and all that stuff. But it’s called Build Your Brand Like You Give A Shit: Embrace your purpose and unleash your potential. And it’s what we’re seeing across the last eight years of running Propr and my 20-something-year career of starting with what you really care about. What’s your purpose beyond making money and using that? It doesn’t have to be saving the rainforest. It shouldn’t be destroying the rainforest, but it should be something like empowering your customers to succeed. It could be making their life easier. It could be helping them communicate better, whatever it is. Right. Use that as a means to lead your organization, to unify your team. And that’s what the book is all about. I really feel that I’m of the open-source mindset. I don’t want to go to the grave with all these ideas and information and experiences and stories in my head. I want to contribute to the human narrative. And I think that book is going to be something that hopefully is helpful to a lot of folks who are struggling with the same stuff that I and many other brand leaders have experienced.
Carlos Nouche: We both love the title we were talking about yesterday, so it’s real.
Lisa Schnare: I can’t wait to read it, honestly. I’ll be watching for it. Thank you so much, Bobby G. It was wonderful having you on the show, and can’t thank you enough for taking the time to talk to us about this topic today.
Bobby G: My pleasure. It was an honor. Thank you. Flattered to be here.
Lisa Schnare: Awesome. Well, everyone that does it for this episode, please check us out at www.b2brevexec.com. Share the episode with your friends, family, your kids, and all the people in your life that could use an interesting topic to listen to today and maybe turn off some screens for a little while. And if you like what you hear, please throw us a five-star review on iTunes as well. Until next time, we at Value Selling Associates wish you all nothing but the greatest success.
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