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5 Things You Need To Do Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand, with Jon Ferrara and Chaya Weiner

People overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. I’d say try to do a little bit each day; don’t try to do it all at once. Say no to enough things to enable your team to focus on a few things that can really move […]


People overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. I’d say try to do a little bit each day; don’t try to do it all at once. Say no to enough things to enable your team to focus on a few things that can really move the needle.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble. Jon is a pioneer and creator of CRM solutions, and noted speaker on topics such as Social Media’s effects on sales and marketing. Jon’s most recent venture is Nimble, the simple smart CRM for Office 365 and G Suite teams. He’s been recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 10 Social CEOs, Top 10 Social Salespeople in The World, and among the Top 50 Social Business Twitter Accounts You Must Follow.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

There’s a number of things that bring us to where we are in life. I’m just an accumulation of the shoulders I’ve learned to stand on in my life journey. My father was one of the top Lincoln Mercury dealers in the 50’s. My uncle helped invent radar microwave at MIT in the 40’s and was an Aerospace entrepreneur.

The funny thing is that I never wanted to be a salesperson. I studied computer science. After two years of working at Aerospace, I decided I wasn’t an Aerospace guy. After that, I got a job at a tech startup and they put me in sales. I quickly realized I was struggling with growing relationships at scale, collaborating with my team, and achieving my business goals.

Now, this was before Outlook or Salesforce existed. There wasn’t any type of contact management platform or a way for teams to easily collaborate with each other. There wasn’t a tool that integrated email, contacts, calendar, sales, and marketing automation into one unified platform. That’s how I got started on the career path of pioneering CRM, contact management, and relationship tools.

I really love to build these tools because they not only empower me, but they also empower others. It aligns with my philosophy in life that we’re here to grow other people. I build relationship management tools and teach people how to build relationships at scale. I believe if you teach someone to fish, they will eventually learn that you sell fishing poles. That’s what I do — I sell relationship fishing poles.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, I once thought that I could hire someone to tell my story for me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that no one can tell your story as well as you can. I didn’t know that when I started my first company, Goldmine.

So, I hired a local PR agency. They sent out these people in these beautiful English suits and their beautiful accents; and there I was in my sneakers and shorts. They convinced me to put them on retainer. After doing so, they never really delivered the type of eyeballs and branding I expected they would have. The funny thing is that one of the people involved was a database admin named Brian Solis, who grew into one of the greatest digital analysts, global keynote speakers, award-winning authors, and became a lifelong friend.

My lesson from that experience was that no one can tell your story better than yourself. If you want to do PR effectively, you should always do it in-house. PR opportunities happen quickly, and you need to be able to jump on them when they happen; you need to be able to work closely with your team to do so. No one is going to care as much about your storytelling than a fellow team member.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I really believe our brand promise is what makes our company stand out. People don’t buy great products — they buy better versions of themselves. If you align the promises you make to the experiences you deliver, you can truly build a goldmine. That’s what we do here at Nimble; we help people see that relationships are critical to their life success.

Our customers love that our promise is to help them build relevant and authentic relationships at scale, and that we help them achieve their dreams by helping other people achieve their dreams. By building sustainable relationships and networks that flourish like gardens around their business, we help our customers achieve their dreams.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re working on a really exciting project that should be released in the next month or so.

Today, we all work so hard to build our Linkedin connections. Linkedin is like a jail for our contacts; you can’t get your contacts out once you put them in there. Even if you try to export them, Linkedin doesn’t give you anything but your contacts’ first name, last name, and company name. They don’t even give you contact location, let alone email or any other segmentable data that allows you to take that valuable network you’ve been building up and reach out to them for 1:1 conversations.

Nimble will soon take your limited Linkedin exports and turn them into deeply enriched databases that give you not only your contacts’ emails and phone numbers, but information that will help build segments around people that matter. Additionally, it will also provide AI models that will help you find additional contacts on Linkedin you already have in your network, as well as net-new contacts.

It’s essentially an AI-powered, big data add-on to Nimble that will unlock not just Linkedin, but other silos in your company such as your accounting systems and more.

There’s a goldmine of potential in the people you’ve already sold to. Most people ignore those people; Nimble can unlock any set of contacts you have in your system today.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic; pushing out a message to get results. Marketing is essentially: “buy our product because it’s better than theirs.” It’s not branding. Branding should proceed and underlie any marketing strategy; it’s not push — it’s pull.

Branding is the expression of the truth or value of a product or service. It clarifies what the brand is and is not.

Branding is strategic; marketing is tactical.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Marketing can definitely contribute to the success of a brand, but the brand is bigger than any marketing efforts. The brand is what’s left after marketing campaigns come and go.

It’s what sticks in your mind in association with a product or service, whether you buy it or not. Branding is vital to the success of a business or company. It’s that brand story and promise that ultimately determines whether someone is going to become a customer or not.

The marketing of a brand may convince to buy a particular product or service, but it’s the brand who will determine that you will buy it for the rest of your life.

Can you share 5 strategies that a small company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

1. Give your knowledge away. Become a trusted advisor to customers, prospects, and ideally their influencers as well.

2. Build identities where your customers are having conversations. Create or share content that inspires you.

3. Serve rather than sell. Connect and engage on a regular basis with people who are connecting with you; turn those connections into conversations, and consequently into mutually beneficial relationships.

4. Teach the people on your team who are engaging with customers not to talk about the product and services, but to ask questions about the customer themselves.

5. Find value. If you do that properly, people will naturally ask you about those products or services. Zig Zigler said it best: the more you help people grow, the more you will grow.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Nike. I like that the promise that they make to help you achieve anything you want — you just have to “do it.” Figure out what your passion is, build a plan to achieve it, and make it your purpose on a daily basis.

Beyond that, I like that they challenge the norm. They’re willing to stand up for what I believe is right in this world; whether it be their Colin Kaepernick campaign, or how they supported the U.S. women’s soccer team. That really resonated with me.

People of color are consistently challenged in this world, as well as women. The whole world is lifted when we lift people up that are downtrodden.

I believe in the Age of Aquarius and that there will be an Age of Enlightenment. I do think we will have to go through a little bit of darkness before we get to the light; and I believe Nike stands for the light of truth, success, and determination.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

I think that it’s similar. If you think about marketing, it’s measured by the eyeballs generated and the sales generated as a result of that. Branding is about the amount of people you can turn into storytellers on your behalf.

It’s obviously more powerful to have other people talk to you than to talk about yourself. When you build a brand story promise that resonates so much that other people tell your story for you, and the name of your brand inspires other people to envision a better life for themselves, I think that you’re definitely doing a really great job with brand building.

In regards to shaping the Nimble brand story, we start by identifying the influencers involved in conversation around our brand promise and share their content to inspire the world at large. We then connect with those influencers and turn them into storytellers.

We can measure our success by the share of conversation that we get in relevant categories, how many people talk about us, and how many influencers are telling our stories. In this way, you can measure brand-building campaigns in a similar but slightly different way than a marketing campaign.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media plays a huge role in our branding efforts. It is changing the way we work, play, buy, and sell. Additionally, it is changing the journey of decision making processes and even branding itself

We built the Nimble brand by identifying influencers within areas around our brand and began to share their content. We would attribute their name and hashtag the category appropriately, and then engaging in conversations with the people that content resonates the most with (including the audience of the influencer and influencer themselves). We would then turn those connections into conversations, and eventually measurable business outcomes.

We haven’t done any advertisement at Nimble in the ten years we’ve been in business. It’s all been through influencers, social media, content conversation, and engagement. I’d say it plays a central role in our branding efforts.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

People overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. I’d say try to do a little bit each day; don’t try to do it all at once. Say no to enough things to enable your team to focus on a few things that can really move the needle.

Here’s a simple formula for social media storytelling: if you create an identity where your customers are having conversations, identify the influencers around the areas of promise your brand represents, begin to share their content, and engage with those people on a regular basis, you will be overwhelmed with connections and conversations.

This only requires a little bit of time each day. While you’re having coffee and doing some morning reading, share the things that resonate with you. Spend 30 minutes a day doing that, and then spend 30 minutes in the afternoon to engage with the people who responded to you. If you take that hour each day, just five or seven hours a week, you’ll be amazed at what it produces.

The key isn’t to just do this yourself or hire a social media person to do it for you; you need to inspire your entire team to build their brand. I believe that a company brand is built on the promises they make and the experiences they deliver; most of those experiences are done through your customer-facing business team members. Empower you team to build their brand in order to build the company brand — ideally, this will also humanize your brand as well.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We’re on this planet to grow our souls by helping other people to grow theirs. The more people you help grow, the more you will grow in turn.

There is a higher purpose for us on this planet. Were all made of star stuff, and we will all return to star stuff. In the brief time that you’re here, be as present as you can — not just with other human beings, but other organisms on this planet like trees and mountains. By being present with other people and the earth around you, you will get more out of this life.

As Buddha shared, most pain comes from trying to grasp onto things you can’t have or that you don’t want to lose, and averting the pain you don’t want to see. If you just accept the natural cycles of life and are present, you will be much happier.

I would teach the value of REALationships to achieve your dreams in life. The value of not spending your day ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, holding on too tight to the things you cherish, or averting the pain you might feel from dealing with whatever you need to deal with.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a life lesson quote I’ve actually come up with myself. I call it the “three P’s of life success:” passion, plan, and purpose. If you exercise and identify these three P’s, you will transform yourself through and through. Maybe not exactly how you imagined, but the journey you will have and the places you’ll go to will transform your life for the better.

My other favorite life lesson quote is that, “you can get whatever you want by helping people get whatever they want.” I believe service is the new sales, which is why I build the tools people need to build relationships at scale.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He has transformed Microsoft from a has-been to a market leader by teaching his team to lead with the heart through empathy for their constituency. Their constituency is more than their customers — it’s their partners that help deliver their promise that they’re trying to deliver to their customers at scale.

Satya is a philosopher and a visionary. That heartfelt leadership resonates with me; I believe that we read from the same hymn book on the value of relationships and the power that brings. I look forward to having my breakfast with Satya. 🙂

How can our readers follow you on social media?
 
 
I’m @Jon_Ferrara on Twitter, you can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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