So many people these days are doing what you call “megaphone marketing.” They shout nonstop from rooftops, thinking they’re the only ones screaming. Although these marketers assume everybody will hear and eagerly listen to them, this is far from the truth. Instead of giving everything at once to your customers, it is much better to serve as their guide along the way. Take a minute to really understand your brand, why you’re selling, and why your target market must buy from you.
Join Ben Baker as he talks to brand architect and #1 international bestselling author Kate DiLeo. Learn how to step away from the ineffective yet tedious megaphone marketing and adopt the more engaging conversational marketing. Find out how to determine your niche and use your brand to reflect your authentic self!
Listen to the podcast here
Muting the Megaphone With Kate DiLeo
[00:01:43] This time of year, more than any time of year, because it’s getting to be the end of 2022, we’re starting to hear more noise on the radio, television, and everywhere, trying to get people’s messages across. The problem is when everybody else starts amplifying their message, and all of a sudden, the amps are up to 11. It gets to a point where it’s deafening, nobody gets heard, nothing gets understood, and no business happens because nobody trusts each other anymore. My buddy Kate DiLeo and I are going to talk about muting the megaphone. We got to mute the megaphone. Kate, welcome to the show.
[00:02:28] Thank you much for having me on the show. I’m excited to have a conversation with you about all things branding, noise, marketing, and all of it.
[00:02:36] You and I have no experience in the two of us branding, strategy, or marketing. I’ve got many years. I’m sure you’re getting close to me, but you’re much younger than me. There is so much noise in the world. There are many people shouting from the rooftops, thinking that they’re the only ones screaming and assuming that everybody’s going to hear them, and it’s not. Give people a little bit of history about who you are, where you came from, and what brought you to muting the megaphone. The book is done great. I love the concept behind it. I want people to have a little bit of knowledge about you before we get into the conversation.
[00:03:30] I’m an older Millennial. I graduated right around the time the market crashed. My journey into doing my work, which is branding, specifically copywriting and messaging, started in academia because I plan to pursue a PhD in Linguistic Anthropology. Right after that, I was about to start that work, and the market crashed, so I had to make a decision, “Do I stay in academia or leave?” I had a professor that told me, “You should go get a day job. Pay off your undergrad debt. We don’t know what’s going to happen to this field. Come back in five years.” I tell this story all the time because my Italian father was like, “Leave my house. We love you, but it’s time for you to go now.” I left.
[00:04:13] An Italian father wanted his daughter to leave the house?
[00:04:16] He was like, “Bye. You’re the last one. We would like to live our lives now in our 50s and 60s without children in our house.” I left and got a sales job. It was my first sales job where I was cold calling IT professionals to sell them $2,500 training classes, which was the crapiest job you could take. It was there that I learned the make-or-break power of how to deliver a simple yet provocative brand pitch. I’ve spent about fifteen years working in sales, in marketing agencies to build brands, in Corporate America, and all the wild in side hustling and building brands on the side.
I’ve now worked with over 300 companies globally to help them build brands that win more work. We’re here to talk about the noise that’s out there in the world of marketing, branding, and business in general because I have this belief that marketing has turned into what we call megaphone marketing. That was the precipice of my book, Muting The Megaphone, which is how you take a step back from that approach to your marketing and messaging your branding and understand how you can create brand conversations that engage and convert with your target audiences.
[00:05:25] You and I are both recovering salespeople. I spent one decade in high-tech sales before I got into marketing many years ago. Sales is a great training ground for anybody in marketing because you get to talk to the actual end user. You get to listen to people and understand their pain, their suffering, and what they need versus sitting in an ivory tower. I’m not saying that all marketing people are like this, but marketing people get out of the office and talk to people. We need to sit there and say, “Who are we serving?” We’re serving human beings. The first question I have for you is why do you think that marketers, knowing what we know about human beings and human beings who want to be listened to, understood, and valued, are shouting, to begin with?
[00:06:26] In the last several years, we’ve seen this inundation of what I call megaphone marketing, especially with the onset of the sales funnel pages when the glory days of digital marketing started to take off. In the middle of not only the recession but when we started to see Mozilla, Moz, and HubSpot come on the theme, with Salesforce and Marketo were upping its game, there was this whole new iteration of what marketing could be from a digital landscape potential, the creation of content and inbound marketing.
These concepts started to come on the scene, and even sales funnel pages, the huge long pages. When a lot of these technologies came out, we had originally understood what the best practice was. Give your customers as much information as possible. Inform or teach them and give so they have all the information they need to make a buying decision. The problem is that we took that very good concept and went rogue with it.
What happened is we started throwing feature, benefits, special offer, and call to action. It creates that sense of overwhelm instead of layering your content in the order of operations with your brand at the top. To be able to allow that person to self-select every step of the way and want to know the next piece, that’s conversational branding versus megaphone branding.
[00:07:57] I want to get back one step further. I take it back to the young days of cable versus network television. It’s the CNN and the Fox of the world where news flash or there’s breaking news coming across the screen every 30 seconds when you’re dealing with media hitting you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Everything is not about being right. It’s about being first. That’s the genesis of it. I truly believe that is what drove marketing. People seeing that news went from being a way to educate, going from being a cost center to being a profit center.
Marketers took that, elevated it, and took the whole psychological factor behind it, like ClickFunnels and everything else that goes along with it. They sit there and say, “How do we get inside our people’s minds and build that sense of urgency?” The problem is, when you’re building a sense of urgency, that’s fine. When a million other marketing companies are all trying to build that same sense of urgency at the same time, we turn off and turn out.
[00:09:11] As a society, we become deaf and desperate because the amount of noise we have had has caused most of us as consumers. If we put ourselves in the shoes of a buyer, whether we shop on Amazon or in our favorite store, don’t we just throw out the junk mail and don’t even look at it anymore? You don’t even look. The crap that comes with your newspaper, online, and emails, you’re like, “Unsubscribe.”
How many of us do that and see our junk holders filling up, and we’ve tuned it out? Why is it, as marketers, we’re still taking that approach? I honestly think that one of the biggest things that we have to address as we move into this next era, especially post-COVID, is calling out the fear that we have for many of us as founders, leaders, and marketers, that if we don’t tell them everything, we don’t tell them how amazing all the things are, they’re not going to want to buy from us.
[00:10:03] That’s profound. There’s something about building curiosity instead of showing everything, “Let’s open up the kimono, and you can see everything. Because you’ve seen everything, you’re going to come to us.” Is that true? How many times do we see people go into a shoe store, try on fifteen different pairs of shoes, decide on the pair they like, say, “No, thank you,” walk out the door and then buy them online because they can save 5%? That poor salesperson is left having to rebox and restock fifteen pairs of shoes, and there’s one hour of her or his life that they’re never going to get back. We need to change our thought processes.
[00:10:46] One of the biggest a-ha pieces to think about is when we think about content in general for marketing and messaging. It’s more about an order of operations. If you’re a technology or staff company, I would never say, “Throw the baby out with the bath water, and you should not have your amazing explainer videos or your charts, graphs, and all that information.” What I am saying is that the job of your brand specifically is to be the lead that provokes somebody to want to know all of those details, features, and benefits.
What often happens in megaphone marketing is we lead with all the stuff versus a very clear, simple, punchy brand message that says in five sentences, “Here’s what we do. Here’s how we solve your problem. Here’s how we’re different.” Based on the buyer’s psychology, it’s fascinating, the stuff that somebody needs to know who gets to a point where they do convert, and they want to click and go deeper and know about, “Tell me how it works. How much does it cost? What do I get? What are the inclusions?” If this is a question of us taking a step back as marketers and asking ourselves, have we put our information in the right order to allow that person to self-select every step of the way as they read, listen, or hear that content? That’s what it’s about.
[00:12:06] I love something you said, “Self-select,” because your marketing should select people out as much as it selects people in. We are worried about not getting every single dollar out there, that we’re chasing dollars that we shouldn’t be. We are chasing clients that never are going to buy it from us, never have a real need for us, and never are going to see value in what we do. How do we get business owners to understand that this wonderful shotgun approach of, “Hit everybody. Tell them everything,” and then hopefully 3% to 4% of these people are going to come to you is not time and money well spent because you’re saying that 97% of the people that you’re aiming at are not your customer?
[00:12:56] When we think about content marketing, we think about any tactic we would take on not only a marketing approach but a sales approach. We always have to go back to the beginning and continue to remind ourselves who we are going after and why. Have we defined the 1 or maybe 2 groups to whom we think of the highest potential of purchasing from us and go for those? What often happens with a brand is we think that we’re supposed to speak to everybody. That’s completely incorrect. Great brands do not go after everybody. They go after the few.
I always say, “You are not in the business of convincing. You’re in the business of converting.” It is not your job to have everybody purchase from you trying to spin your wheels, convincing them, “We can help you here.” It’s your job to convert the one who’s seen and heard your messaging, deeply resonate with it at a heart level, and say, “Are you ready to have the problem solved?” AKA convert those that are at the point of readiness.Great brands don't go after everybody. They go after the few. You're in the business of converting, not convincing. Click To Tweet
[00:13:48] Also, if they can afford to pay for it.
[00:13:51] Do you have target audiences to find as well with buyer criteria, who has the highest level of pain, the right type of bureaucracy, and the decision-making style? Do they have the budget? Can they cut the check? What about coachability? If you’re in B2B services, culture. If you’re in B2C, what kind of shopper and economy is this person? Are they Target or Walmart shoppers? Do they drive a fancy car or a Toyota Corolla? Sometimes as marketers, we move beyond demographics into the psychographics of what ideal means, and then you have to put stakes in the ground and make decisions, “Are we willing to recognize that our revenue generation hinges on our ability to go after those people and do a good job with a brand that resonates with them and over time, allows our market share to expand what other people start to like us, find us, and want to buy from us?”
[00:14:39] It’s like Seth Godin said, “It’s the minimum viable audience.” What’s the minimum viable audience that you need to be able to be successful in your business? What do you need in order to be able to say, “We can make a good living, afford to pay our staff, pay our bills, put some money in the bank, and build for the future?” Those people will turn around and let them tell your story because those are your champions.
[00:15:09] You hit the nail on the head. Everything goes back to deciding who you say you are, being yourself, not worrying about who you think you’re supposed to be, then taking in an honest assessment as an organization and going, “Who do we have the best chance of serving?” Those things often marry up. When you do that and are willing to put some stakes in the ground, you can write a brand message. You can build the content and the collateral and do the marketing tactics that will resonate and work. Everything has to go back to who we are going after and why.
[00:16:08] Before we go any further, so there’s no ambiguity, how do you define brand? Different people define a brand differently. It’s important throughout this entire conversation, and we probably should have done this at the beginning, but that’s okay. How do we define brand? It’s not the logo or the jingle. What is it?
[00:16:29] Your brand is your path of least resistance to revenue. It’s your ability whether you walk into the Zoom room, somebody sees it on the website, they hear you in a webinar or on your podcast, whatever it might be. Your ability to tell somebody in fifteen seconds or less, “This is what we do. This is how we solve your problem. This is how we’re different,” is the stuff that is going to authentically provoke that other person to go, “That’s interesting. I want to have a conversation.” That is what the brand is all about. The brand is the singular point of opening the door for you and your prospect to come to the table together and have the conversation that’s going to convert.Your brand is your path of least resistance to revenue. Click To Tweet
[00:17:06] Let’s look at it this way from a brand point of view. Somebody told me we had crossed the eight billion-person market in the world. If you had 1/10000th of 1% of the world population know, like, and trust you, they understood the problem that you solved, and you were the person that could do it, that’s 8,000 people or 8,000 groups. For the majority of companies in the world, that’s a fortune.
If you start thinking about the world that way and sitting there going, “Who are the people that you know who have a right need that needs to be fixed?” If you start thinking about those people, those are your tribe. If we mute the megaphone, we forget about the other 99.9999% of the people in the world and start having a quiet conversation based on value, intent, and aspiration, with that 1/10000th of 1% is our time is much better spent.
[00:18:15] Do you know the saying niches lead to riches?
[00:18:19] It’s what you’re saying. I believe and support your entire, complete philosophy here. Our ability to niche in, take a step back, and not be in a place of fear that we have to serve everybody, yourself to everybody or reach everybody, but to decide that we could have a beautiful, healthy, sustainable, growing business by trying to go for the right view, it does a lot. First of all, you’ll see revenue growth, but talk about your time being better spent. Talk about your energy and bottom line improving.
I see this with my clients all the time when they decide to niche in from a target audience perspective and build the messaging for that, they see a huge impact on things such as sales cycle time and customer success teams being better equipped to deliver. In fact, they get calls from the team, and they’re like, “Thank you because we’re no longer dealing with those terrible headache clients, but we’ve got people we like to work with.” All of a sudden, you see efficiencies, better morale, culture improvement, and CEOs and decision-makers being more aligned. You can make more surgical decisions because you’re no longer trying to be in this business of being everything for everybody. You can grow in a beautiful way by being fully you for the right people.
[00:19:35] I remember when I started off in actual direct mail, remember that, “Lick stamps, print stuff, put it in the mail.” I was the guy that produced hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pieces of direct mail on a monthly basis. Canada and the US Postal Service loved me. I was one of their best friends. I was the guy that they flew down to conferences because they loved me much.
[00:19:59] I remember we had to rent the printing machines from the post office. My dad had one, and we would sit there, my sister and I, with his business as kids and label everything. He used to pay for more postage, and I would go to the post office every day with my dad. He’d have more packages.
[00:20:13] I remember we had a client in the casino business. I walked in. I signed their NDA and sat down at their computer. I looked up at their screen and started to drool. They said, “What are you doing?” I said, “You have no idea what you have.” They said, “What do we have?” I said, “You know who’s coming down, how long they’re coming down, what games they play, how much they won, how much they lost, when their birthday is, and who the people they come down with because their cards are all connected.”
He said, “We created a birthday campaign that ran for three years. Fifty thousand birthday cards went out every single month, inviting people to come down for their birthday. The birthday boy or birthday girl got a free lunch. Their friends all got a free piece of birthday cake. If they gave us $50 Canadian, they gave us $50 US.” It was all variable based on how much money they spent. We got a 45% response rate on a month-after-month basis. A normal drop mail is 3% to 5% if you’re lucky, but because we realized who our target audience was and understood how to speak to them, what motivated them, and what inspired them, we were able to engage. That’s muting the megaphone. That’s sitting there going, “I could care less about anybody else except whoever’s birthday it is this particular month.”
[00:21:43] That’s the power of a brand. Brand frees you up. When you have your brand down, what’s funny is that you see the beautiful alignment between sales and marketing. You start to see this synergy across the organization. If you’re willing to risk it, go in and develop that brand and decide, a lot can happen in a positive way. It can feel scary.
The thing is, what are you waiting for? Would you rather be in the same boat where you have a 0.2% open rate, or do you want the 45% open rate? Not only from a marketing standpoint, do you want to grow 1% or 10% year over year? What are you willing to do to get aligned around who you say you are, who you’re going after, and what message you’re delivering? What are you willing to do, and what’s it worth it to you to get your brand nailed down so that you are no longer trying to shout like a megaphone or tell complex stories that you can have actual conversations that convert?
[00:22:35] How do you help leaders get out of the FOMO mentality, the Fear Of Missing Out? That’s what it comes down to. If we ignore those 3 people in Idaho or the 6 people down in Florida, there could be $1,000 of business that we could have lost, and that’s a $1,000 that could go into our register. The fact that it costs us $999 to acquire those people is a different story altogether. How do we get people out of the FOMO mentality and realize that not every opportunity is a good opportunity?
[00:23:10] There are some practical exercises that you can do. When I work with my clients, I try to make this as tangible and practical as possible. What I’m often doing with them is creating for each target audience they have. We choose their top 2 or 3. There are a couple of principles you can do. In general, nicheing in, there’s this principle of the 70%. When you build your messaging, your first step is to decide, “Who are the top 2 or 3 audiences where I think 70% of my revenue’s going to come from?” You’re going to build your message to those groups with a full acknowledgment that you can have great people that are outliers over here that love, like, find you, and buy from you, legacy clients or whatever, but they’re not your bread and butter necessarily.
Don’t throw them out, but are you actively trying to message and market to them? No, maybe not. You have to decide your top 2 or 3 audiences. For each of those, you need to build out a list of 10 to 20 buyer criteria or characteristics of what the ideal looks like. Once you do that, you start to overcome a little bit of fear because what happens is your founders and leaders start to realize, “We don’t want to work with these people. They’re a pain in the butt. I love working with this group.” Here’s the piece that most people go, “Light bulb.” Once you decide who you’re going after or what ideal looks like, the third step that gives people a strong sense of how to move from fear to opportunity is this question, “Where do those ideal customers already show up digitally or in person?”If you want to move from fear to opportunity, always determine if your ideal customers show up either digitally or in person. Click To Tweet
What happens is pretty powerful when they start to go, “They’re in CEO mastermind groups. They listen to these podcasts. They’re not on Facebook. Why are we on Facebook? They’re on LinkedIn. They’re at these cool association groups that I can join and get in the room and have conversations with.” Even if you only have 8,000 potential people that are your ideal client and you only need to close 10 to 20 a year, what rooms can you go into to meet 10 to 20 at a time?
[00:25:03] Target rich audience.
[00:25:04] That’s the question we have to start to ask as marketers. You start to realize that you can do a lot more with a lot less, and you don’t have to be afraid because your buying cycle will decrease because your ability to connect with them will be faster. Your actual cost per acquisition is way down. That’s when they start to go, “This is not fear. I have a huge opportunity in front of me.” You got to know who you’re going after, define what the ideal looks like, and start to make a list of, “Where can I find those people?” As soon as you do that, I can guarantee you’ll move from fear of missing out to, “I can capitalize on that opportunity.”
[00:25:42] All of that is predicated on, “Where do we want to be as a company? Where are we today? Where do we want to be 3, 5, or 10 years from now? What’s the bridge we need to build in order to get there? When we get there, why do we want to be there in the first place? What’s it going to enable us to achieve?” If we ask those questions, we start building out the types of clients and speaking the brand message that will get us over that hump. It’s going to allow us to cross that chasm. There are many clients out there that are bad clients for us because they won’t allow us to grow, and they’re time suckers.
[00:26:19] A lot of us are going to make a phone marketing out of fear of maybe not being sure of who we are, what our competitors are doing, or of missing out. To have a powerful path that is at least resistant to revenue type of branding and marketing methods, we have to be bold enough and willing to decide who we are and who we’re going after. You do have to decide who you are and why you’re in business in the first place. It’s funny when you go back and analyze that like you’re saying, it gives you a deep sense of peace and confidence, “Why are we in this business in the first place?” Let’s own that so we have aligned audiences who will likely buy for the best for that purpose.
[00:27:06] I look at it and sit there and go, “All of what we said is true. Everything is right. We need to mute the megaphone. We need to find our niche. We need to think about this.” The question I came up with is how do we enable people to realize that they’re chasing the wrong thing because they are terrified? We’ve talked about this about sunk costs, getting them to realize that sunk costs are sunk costs, the past is the past, and we need to look forward because there are many people that are sitting there licking many wounds because they’ve gone in many bad directions and bad advice that they don’t know who to trust. They don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore, so they follow the herd.
[00:27:59] That’s a process. We have to remember that because we’re all human and people. As a consultant, I can’t imagine coming into an organization and being like, “Change right now. Two days. Done. Forget that.” We’re dealing with people’s lives and their fears, cultures, teams, and all the things. When we talk about brands, we’re dealing with people. It does come down to an interesting cost-benefit analysis. I like to ask the questions that provoke whether somebody’s ready to move forward, how they can snap themselves out of it, where I ask, “What is it costing you to stand still and do what you’re doing? What is it worth it to you? What is it worth to step into something else? Even if it’s a quarter turn, what’s it worth it to you to try? What’s it costing you to stand still?”
[00:28:50] All of a sudden, you’re getting people to think aspirationally. You’re acknowledging that there is fear and there have been challenges. You’re not negating the past or where they’ve been. You’re understanding it and then helping them find a path forward that is going to put them in a better light. What true marketing and branding need to do is to be aspirational and to be able to start those new conversations, whether it’s conversations inside the company or outside the company. I thank you for that.
[00:29:24] This has been fun. I appreciate you having me on to talk about this. We could talk for days.
[00:29:32] The best way for people to get in touch with you is through KateDiLeo.com.
[00:29:37] That’s right. There are tons of information. If you’re curious about the method around how to mute the megaphone and approach to writing your brand, you can check out my book on there as well. It’s called Muting The Megaphone. It’s a simple hotter page, practical guide, step by step, from what I walk my clients through to tangibly writing your brand in a different way.
[00:30:18] Here’s the last thing I ask everybody before I let them out the door. When you leave a meeting, get in your car, and drive away, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in the room?
[00:30:28] She’s confident, but she’s kind.
[00:30:32] Let people know that you’re able to help them and that you’re empathetic. That’s something that we all need in the world. We need a partner. We don’t need somebody to come in and say, “You broke your leg. See you later. Here’s my bill.” We need somebody that comes in and says, “I’m sorry your leg is broken. Let me help you fix that.” I know that you’re that type of person.
[00:30:51] I appreciate it. I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t genuinely care about helping people step into their purpose. It happens that my slice of the pie of how I can help them do that is through powerful branding.
[00:31:04] Thank you for all the gifts you give to the world and for being you.
[00:31:09] Thank you, Ben.
About Kate DiLeo
Kate DiLeo is a brand architect and #1 international bestselling author whose approach is rooted in the belief that brand is the path of least resistance to revenue. She teaches you to eliminate complex and ineffective storytelling by delivering a simple yet provocative message that tells prospects what you do, how you solve their problem, and how you differ from the competition. The outcome? Brand conversations that convert. Kate is honored to have partnered with more than 250 organizations, helping them craft brands that bring more prospects to the table, more users who click, and more customers who buy.
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