An interview with Jim Everhart (Video Podcast)
In the 55th episode of the On Branding Podcast, Arek Dvornechuck interviews Jim Everhart and talks about how you become a brand visionary.
Follow Jim on Social Media: LinkedIn
Get his book, “Brand Vision” — The Clear Line of Sight Aligning Business Strategy and Marketing Tactics here 👉: Amazon
You can also watch this interview on my YouTube Channel
Table of Contents
*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.
Arek Dvornechuck: What’s up, branding experts Arek here at Ebaqdesign and welcome to On Branding Podcast. And my guest today is Jim Everhart. And Jim is a freelance strategist and writer who works with corporations and agencies to help them develop marketing, communication tactics, and campaigns. So he spent more than four decades in the marketing industry and most of it at Godfrey Advertising.
Which is one of the largest B2B marketing agencies in the United States. And so today we are gonna talk about Jim’s new book, Brand Vision, which I have right here. So the title is Brand Vision, the Clear Line of Site, Aligning Business Strategy, and Marketing Tactics. Hello Jim, thanks for joining us today
Jim Everhart: Well, thank you for having me, Arek.
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much. So in this, this book is basically for marketers and corporate executives alike, right? So, Yes. So in this book you basically show us how to align marketing with the overall business strategy, right? And business objectives. So just for our listeners, just to understand what we are talking about here.
So, you know, problems like how to make aesthetic decisions when it comes to branding, the color graphics, the topography, but also What marketing tactics should we use? Should we for, you know, make videos? Should we run Facebook ads? Or maybe start a blog, print out brochures and do a trade show, and so on.
And if you write emails, for example, what our emails should say, what our websites should say, so how to be more strategic with the messaging. Yes. And also other things like, how to plan and then justify the budget for our marketing campaigns. Right. So I just wanted you to start off with a simple question.
What strategy really is, because, you know, people would show this as you said in your, in your book, people would show this term around to describe different things. So what does it mean to.
Jim Everhart: To me it means you know, basically, it’s an expression of who the company really is. That’s the important thing for me, and that’s why it’s so important it for the creative team to have this information because they, they have a better sense of, of the company that they’re trying to describe.
And, you know, the more we nail that down, the better the creative is gonna.
Arek Dvornechuck: Right. So some of my takeaways from this part, so. Strategy, basically, to many people, it means that we just have a thought-out plan for doing something right? But as you described in your book, the problem is that, you know, when we think about marketing strategy, we usually think about tactics, which is not strategy, right?
Like, should we use Facebook or Instagram? You know, should we run like paper, click ads or use seo for example, start the blog and stuff like that. So so these are tactics as you point out in your books. So things like social media, pr, email, these are not strategies. So strategy is the spirit behind all of this.
So it needs to be like an overall strategy. All of, you know, all of this communication. So and needs to be linked to each other. It needs to work together, right? So so basically in your book you say that strategy basically answers the question, who are you as a company? So it’s basically your core purpose and positioning.
So for the, for example, I just wanted you to talk about a little bit about. Those three main positioning strategies that you described in your book. And by the way as you guys can see, there is like a triangle, like a pyramid on, on, on the cover of the book. This is because Jim includes a lot of exercises in the book, which are basically, they look like a pyramid right?
So Jim, can you describe a little bit those positioning strategies?
Jim Everhart: Basically this is just an approach based on, you know, some of the big brain gurus of business strategy. But what you really think about is there’s really only about three essentially.
Different ways a company can, can succeed and make money and be profitable and, and have long term and build long term competitive advantage. One is product leadership or technology leadership, And that’s really, you know, it’s a good illustration like we would think of Apple or somebody like that in the past.
A lot of the examples used Sony, you know, when they were in their heyday. And this is about a company. That doesn’t have to, but continually reinvents its state of the art equipment, maybe makes its own equipment and its own products obsolete. But it focuses totally on improving and, and advancing the technology.
Then there’s customer intimacy, which is you know, you tend to think. Like a company that builds its entire offering around how can I help you as an individual company? How can I help you as a customer achieve your objectives? And so there’s not as much it’s totally wrapping your own company around, you know, your customer’s effort. They use example of ups and it’s logistics kind of , logistics offering. And then the last one is operational excellence. And here you tend to think of Walmart or maybe.
As being a company that really just absolutely, you know, gets its processes ironed out to achieve either extremely low price, and that’s the most, the most obvious example. Or you could use like maybe a chemical company might use operational. To drive, you know, extreme product purity, like, you know, absolutely executing, just time after time delivering exactly the same chemical with exactly the same composition and exactly the same, And that, so that might not necessarily be the lowest price, but it’s, it’s the product of, of operational excellence.
Arek Dvornechuck: So these are those three main positioning strategies, right?
Yes. And just for you guys, there is an illustration, for example, I believe it’s on the page 20. It’s right, it’s right here. For example, I’m not sure if you guys can see it’s on page 28, but anywhere in the book you give us a lot of examples so this is really helpful to understand the concepts, right?
So just to sum up for our listeners, as you mentioned, you know, and you have the whole section about this in the book, about those positioning strategies because that’s where everything starts, right? So we decide on those, we, we brainstorm with the team or with our client, and you actually, you know, walk us through step by step how to do.
What are some of the problems that you encountered with, you know consulting people and how to go about that? But just to sum up, so three main positioning strategies. First, it could be, a product or technology leadership like Apple another example would be probably BMW in sports cards.
A sport cars, right? Or as you mentioned, Sony back in. Second would be customer affinity, like ups, for example. And, and the third strategy would be operational excellence, like Walmart, when it comes to price or like Amazon when it comes to maybe, I don’t know maybe it’s not the lowest price, but they, they definitely excel in operational excellence, right?
Arek Dvornechuck: So now let’s talk about the second part, which is which is super important as well, which is about knowing our audience, right? So in order to, as I mentioned it before, in order to write, you know, proper messaging and, and communicate effectively, we, we really need to know who they are, what kind of benefits they, they would They would relate to like so, and there are different types of audiences as well.
So can you talk to us a bit about this, what are some of the most important considerations when it comes to defining our audience?
Jim Everhart: Well, sure. I mean, I think one of the things that we tend to forget is that at times we’re overwhelmed by this. You know, especially when you’re dealing business to business, you people get overwhelmed by the.
The buying team and the fact that there might be like, five, 10, even 15 people or more, and when you’re talking about healthcare, need to meet the buying committee in a small, you know, minor league baseball stadium. There’s just so many people involved and. The first thing we need to think about is the fact that while there may be lots of people involved, there may only be one or two decision-makers.
And that’s, so that’s really important to know and understand who the decision makers are and to make sure they’re equipped with what they need to make to, to drive the process forward. The second thing is that the other people don’t, maybe don’t need all the information that the decision-maker needs, but they might need something specialized like an IT director.
We’d wanna make sure that we understood what they get. The information they need about the protocols that your product is compatible with, things like that. What communications it, it needs to, to work in a, in whatever, whether it’s a factory environment, especially a factory environment, but any kind of, you know, other IT landscape.
And, and then the third thing, That we need to, to understand where somebody fits in the overall, what would you call it marketing landscape, I guess. Like for instance, are they an original equipment manufacturer? Like you know, a company that, that manufacture products or are they a distributor or are they.
Are they some other partner of your company? And, you know, it, it depends a lot, you know, Or are they an end user, for instance? And the difference, especially between an end user and an original equipment manufacturer, and we use a car example. Yeah. A, a a car manufacturer you know, the design engineer there is worried about like, is it lightweight?
Is it going to be, is it gonna fit in? You know, how’s it gonna fit into my manufacturing process? Where’s the end user is gonna wonder, you know, is it comfortable? You’re talking about a car seat or something like that. Is it comfortable? Is it gonna wear well? Is this a look good?
Those things like that. So it depends who you’re talking to. And it helps to know the person’s position in the marketing mix. That helps you understand a lot about who you need, right? How you need a message to them,
Arek Dvornechuck:right? And you really break it down, like you really go into deep into your book.
Just as you mentioned. So there are different audiences as, as with this car manufacture, right? So this, there’s end user, and other audiences in between. But really so you break it down all the possible scenarios and, and types of audiences, but we, what we really need to, remember My takeaways from this part is to just create personas, right?
So we to identify those people and then create personas for. So that we, we can dive deeper and we can understand, you know, this audience, what resonates with them, what kind of benefits, how we can connect with them, what should we say on our website, in our emails. Emails, and so on. Right? Yes. Okay. So since we discussed this, I think the next one is super interesting.
When, when it comes to our audience, which are usually designers, creatives, but also entre. Because the next part is about the creative, right? So the messaging, but also the design, right? The graphics. So and here you said quote, Great creative begins with great strategy, period. No matter how fun or code the creative is, if it’s not on strategy, it’s useless.
And I couldn’t agree more with this quote. So can you talk to us about creative.
Jim Everhart: Sure, Sure. I mean, I, and that’s where I said in a lot of ways I felt like at first I felt like a trader saying, Okay, yeah, boy, you know, your design has to, has to follow the strategy. But, but what you realize is that.
Marketing and design become marginalized if they’re not really advancing business objectives. If you’re really not helping the company to succeed, you might have a beautiful thing. It might even a win awards. It might be great, but if it doesn’t help the company succeed, I mean, you could. You know, it was funny, I was thinking as we were talking about even the strategy, you know, talked about following the strategy.
If you have a product excellence company, and you might have a great thing about how to, how to emphasize price. But, and it might be beautiful, it might be great, but it could in actually undermine the positioning and, and really hurt the company going forward and Yeah. And so, you know, in fact, the better it is, the, the more it hurts.
So that it, it’s really important. And I, The creatives. I know the really, really good creatives. I know. I always do a really, really, they love good direction. They love definitive things. I mean, one of the things that’s happened in my career over the years is an account management comeback or something and say, Oh, geez.
You know, they have this kind of nebulous thing. And, and as a creative director, when I was functioning as a creative director, in those sense, I would never let that through because I’ve seen creative groups, you know, they’ll, they’ll, they’re gonna focus on something and as soon as they get into it, they’re gonna say, Well, what’s that mean?
How am I supposed to work with that? And they would spin and churn on that. and, it was not beneficial for the end result. And so that the more definitive more clearly you state something, the better it’s gonna be for the creative people. And, and a good creative team will, will, we will be so thankful and we will be off and running as soon as, you know, there’s just so much wasted time when.
You know, or trying to be cute or trying to finesse something or trying to, you know, not, not be clear. And I am, over the years, I’ve learned the hard way. Clarity is everything.
Arek Dvornechuck:Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Clarity is simplicity. Your design cannot get in the way of you know what you’re trying to convey.
Right. And yes. Your message. So those things definitely they need to work together. So okay. And then you talk about the story that developing your story. And then again, you know, on page 84, I have some notes here. You actually show us like how, how it all works together, right? Taking this pyramid a kind of a structure, you know, how we go from the strategic vision.
How we support this with our reasons to believe how we show our proof points, and then we go deeper and deeper into developing stores and so on, choosing the right channels for marketing and so on. So obviously we, we won’t have time to, to discuss everything on this podcast, but there are also two other very important parts, which is about, actually about the campaigns themselves.
And about the analytics, the measurement of those campaigns. So what are some of the most important things that you wanted to talk about or maybe things that you see often people struggle with?
Jim Everhart: Yeah, I mean, I’ll never forget when we first started. We first started having all the different things like Twitter and Facebook and all those, you know, and Instagram and all these things.
I mean, number one, people got overwhelmed. You know, and, and, and people then also got into believing that there was this, oh boy, this rifle shot thing. If they just did this, you know, there was this silver bullet that they were gonna be able to go viral and, and create this you know, this whole groundswell of sales and success.
It occurs to me That we’d be a lot better off if we started thinking about, I mean, to me, going viral on something is, is, is like trying to win the lottery, you know, using that as, I’m gonna try and win the lottery and, and some people do and that’s great and, and more power to of them. But what we need to do is focus on the fact, the best thing we can do when we are, we are faced with all these different techniques and all these d.
Tactics that we can use is to say, okay, is to organize our campaign and understand that, that none of these things do everything. And, and that’s, that’s a critical understanding. These things are made to be connected so that, you know, it’s from the very beginning. I’ll never forget we had. We had when, when there were websites, when people had first came out with websites, everybody said, Oh, wow, this is great.
All we gotta do is do this website. Well, not exactly, because, we started saying it at the time to quote the famous movie line. If you build it they will. That works in the movies, but it doesn’t work in marketing. You need to get people to your website. So you need campaigns and you need a campaign to find a way to get people, to show up on your website.
And whether it’s email, or whether it’s search, or whether it’s online advertising or even, you know, direct mail and, you know, old, old fashioned stuff like, You need some way to get people there. And so that once you understand that from the very beginning, that’s, that’s what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about a lot of different ways that are, are help people help you connect with your audience. Then You convince them at the website. You know you put lots of detail in even that, well, you have a site, but then boy, there’s downloads, there’s video, there’s all kinds of things there. And then there’s how do I convert this person into a, a sale and Right.
And if you organize, once you understand that, that’s what I, what I need to do to create a campaign, I need to have things that. You know you know connect with people. I need to have some places that they’re convinced and then conversion.
Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah. The CCC model, right? So yeah, and you break it down in, in the book how to actually, what does it mean in, in more detail, right?
So the CCC model Yeah, I got it in my takeaways. That’s definitely something that you should check it out if you wanna check out. So this basically sums up, how we should think about running campaigns to first, to connect with our audience, then to convince national, the proof, why it works, reasons to believe and so on, and then convert them, right?
Yes. Okay. So as we are approaching the end of our episode, of course I’m gonna link to the book. The book is available on Amazon. And , I have a physical book, but you can also download the pdf, a Kindle version, right? But it, what’s the best way to connect with you for people who, who are either wanna work with you or just find out more. I know you, that you are active on LinkedIn. Is that?
Jim Everhart: Yes, I’m very active on LinkedIn. What I, one of the things that I do on LinkedIn I do like when I see something that I think will be interested or will be yeah, interesting to people who are in the marketing industry. I try and, you know, repurpose it, push it there.
So it’s kind of like I do some news aggregation there. So, I’m very active on LinkedIn and I also have the book, brandvisionbook.com. I also have a site, a small site where, so that’s another way to connect with me as well.
Arek Dvornechuck: Oh, okay. So you’re gonna link to that as well. Okay. Jim, thanks for coming to the show. I really appreciate that.
Jim Everhart: Well, thank you for having me, Arek. It was great, and I always enjoy conversations with marketers and people that enjoy discussions about how to make strategy relevant to marketing.
Arek Dvornechuck: it was awesome having you today. Thank you for your time
Jim Everhart: Thank you.