Taking On Your Industry Giants

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Craig Alexander, President of the award-winning full-service advertising agency, Gumas, shares strategic insights to help you challenge your industry’s giants.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Craig Alexander, President of the award-winning full-service advertising agency, Gumas, shares strategic insights to help you challenge your industry’s giants.

Craig is a world-renowned authority on Challenger Brand Marketing with over 30 years of experience in branding, advertising, and marketing. He has worked with iconic brands like Microsoft, Sony Pictures, and The Walt Disney Co., transforming their narratives with innovative strategies.

At Gumas, Craig has been lauded for creating memorable, relevant, and motivating campaigns that inspire action. He is also the co-author of “Challenger Brand Marketing,” a book that encapsulates his approach to developing potent marketing strategies against larger competing forces.

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In this conversation, Craig intends to delve into how challenger brands can effectively compete with industry giants, leveraging his deep understanding of what it takes to succeed with Challenger Brand Marketing.
The Livestream opens with Damon’s excitement for the engaging topic, stressing the intriguing phenomenon of industries being shaken up by unexpected contenders. He shows curiosity in hearing Craig’s story based on his career development.

Craig details his career path, starting at a New York-based advertising agency where he worked on the Miller Brewing Company account, gaining insights into industry giants’ operations. Recognizing the scarcity of opportunities for non-giant brands, he moved to the outdoor industry, a challenger brand sector compared to mainstream media. He practiced storytelling through billboards and digital platforms, and after selling his agency, he joined forces with John Gumas, drawing on their shared passion for baseball.

Damon inquires about the connection between Craig and John, referencing their shared involvement in baseball from a young age.

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The guest reveals further about his twelve-year-old connection with John. Their shared focus was assisting marketers who lacked the resources to engage big advertising agencies but were passionate about forming significant customer connections. This shared understanding motivated the duo to establish challenger brand marketing at Gumas Advertising Agency, a concept they subsequently trademarked.

Their collaboration also extended to co-authoring a bestselling book on challenger brand marketing, released in February.

Beyond personal enjoyment, their affinity for baseball is also evident in their professional endeavors. Craig mentions their involvement with the San Francisco Giants and his current position on their board of directors. This association reflects his deep passion for baseball and community engagement.

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Craig’s replies make Damon reminisce about his extensive involvement in baseball. The host shares his experiences as a president of a major baseball club in Seattle and his son’s achievements in the sport. He recalibrates the discussion by asking Craig to define what constitutes a challenger brand and how one can determine if their company falls into this category.

Craig explains that being a challenger brand is primarily about being out-resourced by competitors, often meaning being outspent. This can manifest as competitors with larger budgets for marketing, branding, and positioning. He notes that resources extend beyond money and can encompass aspects such as brand recognition, superior shelf position, better distribution, and the ability to offer competitive prices.

Craig says that as an agency focused on challenger brands, their central role is helping clients recognize what makes them unique. This involves defining what could make the brand stand out and become memorable. Once this uniqueness is identified and articulated, it forms the basis for emotionally resonant messaging that connects with people. This connection, combined with factors that can lead to fame, drives action.

Damon asks what strategies a smaller brand like this can adopt to excel, especially without larger competitors’ massive advertising budgets or national reach.

Craig outlines a strategic approach for challenger brands to achieve success. He introduces the concept of reducing the playing field by identifying a specific environment in which they can excel. He uses a pencil analogy, illustrating that placing the pencil in different contexts changes its competition. For instance, if the pencil is on the floor, it competes with everything in the room, but if it’s on a desk, it only competes with items on the desk. The key is to understand the brand’s message and personality and effectively convey it in the chosen environment, where the true impact lies.

Craig shares a compelling success story about a client, Mi Rancho Tortillas, a fruit service brand that aimed to transition into a consumer brand. Despite being a challenger brand, Mi Rancho produced many tortillas daily. Their challenge was to become a recognized consumer brand and compete against established national tortilla brands. Through a thorough process of customer interviews and internal workshops, the agency aimed to uncover what made Mi Rancho unique and translate it into effective messaging.

After extensive research and two months of discovery, the agency identified Mi Rancho’s essence: providing pure tortilla joy. This sentiment resonated with their commitment to exceptional quality and outstanding flavor. The new tagline, “Pure Tortilla Joy,” captured the essence of the brand’s identity and superior products.

Damon, impressed, underscores that such condensed phrases carry immense meaning and drive action, “It’s a rallying cry.”

Craig reveals that his agency frequently collaborates with nonprofits. He mentions his work with the Giants Community Fund as an example. The guest stresses that nonprofits function as businesses and need to view themselves as such. They must market themselves effectively since donors have choices when deciding where to contribute. In this sense, nonprofits can be considered challenger brands, aiming to distinguish themselves and attract support in a competition.

Damon believes that major corporations like Microsoft or Google require a significant emotional and strategic connection to secure substantial funding for nonprofits. These compelling taglines evoke the emotions of the readers.

Speaking from his experience, Craig says that data should guide decisions. An advertising agency’s input alone isn’t enough. The philosophy is to let the marketplace inform what a brand communicates to its customers. This involves gathering customer and internal team input and studying competitors’ strategies.

Damon inquires about the passion to write a book on challenger brand marketing, considering that Craig’s agency is already active and successful in the field.

Craig responds that the book serves as a workbook with strategies to maximize marketing budgets and make a significant impact. Gumas aims to be known as a champion of challenger brands and provide practical tips to help marketers succeed against industry giants.

The guest further explains that the book’s release helped him reach out to the world, adjusting its content. However, the process also served as a valuable reminder of core principles they must adhere to when working with clients.

At Damon’s request, Craig shares unexpected feedback from the book’s reception, noting its global appeal with readers from various countries showing interest, including South Africa, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Brazil. The feedback he consistently received indicates that the book is not only easy to read but also pertinent to marketers worldwide.

Similarly, Craig discusses the impact of AI on the creative advertising industry. He says that AI’s presence is set to evolve and remain a constant in our lives, similar to the transformation of Dot Matrix printing into contemporary printing methods. While recognizing the potential risks tied to AI-generated content, Craig underscores their strategic approach. He explains that they view AI as a useful tool for search, content generation, and brainstorming.

Agreeing with the guest on the power of AI, Damon concludes the show by thanking Craig for joining the session and acknowledging the viewers who participated through comments.

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40:50
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
brand, challenger, tortillas, advertising agency, people, work, marketing, great, world, book, competing, industry, damon, nonprofits, customers, write, craig, gomes, baseball, ai
SPEAKERS
Damon Pistulka, Craig Alexander

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I am Damon Pistulka, your host. And I am excited for our guests today because we have Craig Alexander here from Gomes, we’re going to be talking about taking on your industry giants, and challenger brand marketing and lots other good stuff. So Craig, welcome.

Craig Alexander 00:23
Oh, Damon, thank you for having me such a treat. This is my favorite topic in the world. So I’m looking forward to sharing some thoughts with you.

Damon Pistulka 00:32
Yeah, I just think it is, it is a fun topic, because we see that, you know, so many industries are disrupted by companies that come out of seemingly nowhere. And I think that, you know, the good ideas are one part of it. But really understanding how to get those good ideas out to the right people with the right message, so that they can disrupt an industry is going to be fun talking about that today.

Craig Alexander 00:58
Yeah, boy, you touched on two really critical elements, the right message, and the and the very beginning part of that, seemingly out of nowhere. And it’s nearly impossible to come seemingly out of nowhere. These are our organizations that have spent many, many years in development and evolution to become a challenger brand. And it’s really only until they understand what it is that they need to say to their customer, that’s going to make a difference through the messaging that you mentioned, that’s going to change the way that they attack their industry giants.

Damon Pistulka 01:36
Very cool. So let’s let’s back up a little bit. Craig, let’s How did you how did you find yourself at Gomez in helping people to challenge your marketing because you’ve done other things. And it’s interesting to hear your story that how you got here.

Craig Alexander 01:54
Yeah, happy to share that that pathway. I began working in a very traditional New York based advertising agency. So my my first job, I spent nearly a dozen years working on the Miller Brewing Company business. So that was my one single account, all I did was work on beer. And as a 22 to 33 year old male. Everything I did was targeting me. So there are very few brands that I could work on that would be more interesting to a young adult than a beer brand, especially in the heyday of advertising beer, which was this was the era of light beer for Miller. That’s filling the light all stars. Oh, wow. Well, category was was developed during that bad timing. So I learned all aspects by working on a what we would call an industry gorilla brand, right, Miller? Me was an industry gorilla, dude. Yeah. So I began learning how the Giants work, and spend a dozen years dealing with that. And then I’m able to recognize that everybody else was left, you know, picking up the crumbs. And if you aren’t an industry gorilla, that we use that term, then you’re a challenger brand. And so in the beer world, 1000s and 1000s of brands would be challenger brands, compared to a Miller Brewing or an anhyzer. Bush or even a Coors. If you look at this time on Miller, Coors is combined brand now, yeah. So over after leaving the agency on Miller Brewing Company, I worked in the outdoor industry for a while. And that is a challenge of brand industry, when you’re talking about media, outdoor is a challenger brand compared to television, radio, in the emerging world, of course of digital as it became a bigger player. And I love that medium, because if you can tell your story on a billboard, then then you can you can do anything. Yeah. And love the industry was, was great. I got involved in an advertising agency exclusively working in the outdoor medium, and then sold that agency to a large conglomerate. And then John Gomes and I, who had been friends for many years before, before coming together to work with with his agency. We played baseball together to around play, the lot of we still do. That’s a side story.

Damon Pistulka 04:44
But we’re gonna talk about that. We’re talking about baseball. We’ll talk about baseball in a minute.

Craig Alexander 04:48
Yeah, hold that note. John and I connected about a dozen years ago, and really focusing on all those marketers who didn’t have the resources to take on big advertising agencies, but wanted to find a way to connect with their customers. And we recognize that that was an opportunity. And so at Gomes, we created challenger brand marketing. It is trademarked to us, we hold that language. And then of course, as you were kind enough to mention, literally wrote the book on challenger brand marketing, which was released in February and was a bestseller on Amazon. And we can talk a little bit about the details of that. So that was my path. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 05:35
yeah. Okay, gotta go back. You and John playing baseball, you’re playing like Little League. You guys knew each other that long or when did you start playing together

Craig Alexander 05:45
as adults as really your baseball, and so nice, and softball and other things as well. But I it’s baseball that we continue to play to this day. We baseball is a big deal to us, not only personally, as you can tell, just from this conversation, but we also do a lot of work with the San Francisco Giants. I currently serve on their board of directors. It is a passion, passion, and their their community fund is is work that I I could do that all day every day and it would be a very happy life.

Damon Pistulka 06:25
Very cool. Very cool. Yeah, I was. I was heavily involved in baseball for a number of years. Until the last few Yeah, I was actually the I was president, one of the largest baseball clubs in Seattle. My son’s team through high school have four had five D one players on it. Three of them are in the MLB now, and what a legacy. Yeah, yeah. And the club where he practices is where Blake Snell who pitches for the Padres won the Cy Young, that’s where that’s where he grew up. His father runs a club and we my son actually pitched beside Blake in the wintertime when he was in the minor leagues and stuff growing up. So I can still remember when Blake was in the minor leagues they the he was in pitching one day. And of course the you know, you have to you know, sort of put any catcher down there and when they’re doing it so they have to bring bring people in to do it but and he said he said hey, do you want to go down there and stand and him throw a couple balls to you. And I was like they said, just don’t don’t stand in the normal batter’s box stand back a little ways. And I will tell you when you get a big lefty that’s that can do what he could do with a ball even then, and he’s gotten bigger and better now, but it just scared the heck out of you. I’m just telling you something. Just put a shutter through it. Yeah, when you throw in the big left hand curve coming into your back like what it was, but baseball has been a big part of my life. I mean, I started playing a little league and and I coached I don’t know how many years until I started doing club ball you realize that as when you get into club baseball and you get into to more serious competitive baseball that coaching it is very difficult. And it’s it’s not your run of the mill. There’s a lot going on in a game and but love the sport as I just had a game two nights ago. Down in Seattle, so So are you playing currently? No, I don’t I don’t play anymore. I don’t play anymore. Too much. Too much. Too much road miles on the body. Too many road miles but but they are Yeah, but it’s I mean, it’s it’s it’s a sport near and dear to the heart. And I can see where man I bet you have a lot of fun. Fun playing yet. Yeah, yeah. It’s good, good guy. That’s awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Get to talk about that for a moment. Because it is such a it’s such a such a humbling game. Because it’s it teaches a lot about business, you know, because if you’re playing baseball, you’re not going to hit the ball every time and in business, we run into a lot of the same thing. So, you know, when you’re when you’re helping companies and you talk about challenger brand marketing, you talk about challenger brands. You know, you identified a challenger brand here as a company that’s competing against the big the bigger companies, or can you just tell me, how do I know if I’m a challenger brand?

Craig Alexander 09:22
Sure. It’s really a matter of Are You Being out resource by your competitors. So out resource frequently means outspent. That’s like the easiest way to define it. So you’ve got competitors in your category who have all the money. So they have the biggest budgets to support with marketing and branding and positioning. But resources certainly come in, in other forms outside of money. And if you are, have greater brand recognition, certainly that’s being out resource. If you have greater shelf position. If you’re in a retail environment, you have better distribution. If you have a price point that you can afford to undercut other other brands, that can be a resource that will take out a challenger brand. So the resources come in many different forms and fashions. But oftentimes, I think anybody can relate to being in a competitive environment where your competitors have greater resources than you do.

Damon Pistulka 10:32
Yeah, yeah. So when you look at your challenger brand companies, what are the specific advantages that you, you know, not everyone has, but you kind of see across the board on these these challenger brand companies, part of

Craig Alexander 10:49
our job as an agency dedicated to working with challenger brands is to help that marketer identify what it is that makes them special, sometimes they can articulate it, and we have to put them through a process that helps them wrap their arms around what what we believe will ultimately make them famous, they may not know that, but they need to, because that’s where the messaging lives, right in that area, that connects the emotion with what customers love about you, with the elements of what ultimately will make you famous. So once we’re able to identify that, and then we’re ever able to articulate what it is that makes you special, then we can put that in front of prospects, and they will connect with that and whatever, then the next step will drive them to action. But that’s, that’s really the secret to all of it. So there, there’s,

Damon Pistulka 11:44
there’s, there’s the whole thing, but inside of this whole thing, there’s there’s a lot to go, there’s a lot to go, that’s for sure. Because you are you are talking about. So I mean, I would ask where you start with, but I mean, kind of, if you’re going to fight on each fight one of these giants, right, so I’m a small, let’s take what you were in before you’re a small beer brand. Sure. You’re like, you’re like, Hey, I’m gonna go and when we’re talking to small beer brand, now it’s a large regional brand anymore to for small beer brand. And we’ve got some of those here in the Seattle area that have that have come out and got bought and doing those kinds of things. But you know, what, what are some of the things that that we’re gonna have to do differently because we don’t have that ad spend, we don’t have that we that national force or whatever we want to do? I mean, what are some of the things that that you’re really able to help them do that a large company is not going to do.

Craig Alexander 12:48
So we want to fight in an environment where we can win. So the first the first step that we want to identify is we want to reduce the playing field. I like to use I like to use the pencil on the ground analogy. So your listeners can’t see me but I’m holding up a very typical looking pencil. And the way we talk to our clients is I’ll put this pencil on the floor. And this pencil represents our beer brand. So we’re up in Seattle, this is my beer brand. That’s marketing, to Seattle, I put it on the floor. And that beer brand now is competing with everything in my room. It’s competing with the carpeting, it’s competing with the cabinetry, it’s competing with the walls and ceiling is competing with all the equipment on my desk. It’s competing with the books on my bookshelf and the furniture is a lot to compete against, yes, that pencil up off the floor, and I put it on my desk. Now it’s only competing with everything on my desk, right so now it’s dealing with my computer and my phone and my printer and my notes and files. But if I take that print that pencil off of my desk, and I put it on my notepad now all I have to do is when here in this environment has to be the notes on my notepad, this post it notes, whatever else I have sitting in this small space, and this brand now becomes the dominant player on that notepad. So we translate our marketing tactics to the environment. And now we find the areas where we can dominate. If that is instead of getting putting our brand on national network television, and spending the hundreds of millions of dollars it requires to compete against Budweiser and Miller and other brands. We’re not going to be successful. We have to find an environment where we can be successful and maybe that is digital, out of home or television in retail so that you You see our ad just in grocery and liquor stores and, and convenience stores, and the ad runs just in the environment where people have the opportunity to purchase your product. So we’ve seen that playing field, yeah, must the point of purchase, or in a digital environment, there are lots of ways to really hyper focus on just our target. And once we identify who that is now, depending on what the brand’s personality is, that brand personality may be heavily sports oriented, and we want to be in a sports environment where where we can be successful, and we’ll find ways to deal that. So So tactically reduced the playing field. Before that, though, we really have to understand what it is that that marketer needs to say that’s going to impact Yeah, place and that’s, that’s where really the magic lives.

Damon Pistulka 15:53
In learning what gets that emotional connection to your, your ultimate customer

Craig Alexander 16:00
completely, right, because the people who love you, now, they have an emotional connection to you, we just need to find out what it is. And then replicate that for people who don’t know you, and put that emotion in language in front of them. Again, in that reduced the playing field, so that they’re surrounded by the message now in an affordable way. But that emotion lives within the brand and lives within your consumer. And if you ask the consumer what it is, they will tell you, you just have to ask them.

Damon Pistulka 16:35
Very cool. Very cool. So as we’re sitting here, do you have a couple examples of Challenger brands that we might know.

Craig Alexander 16:45
So certainly plenty that you would know that we haven’t necessarily worked on. But I can tell you some stories that I think you might find interesting, whether you know the brand or you don’t. Good one, one of our favorite clients is a brand called me Rancho tortillas. This grace is a fruit service brand, or at least was until they met us. And they produce Oh, probably about 6 million tortillas a day today. So it even though it’s a challenger brand there, they still have some girth and some fight to them. Yeah, they’re based in Sacramento area. And they produce the world’s best tasting tortillas just flat out. They’re tremendous. And when they came to us 567 years ago, they they had made a decision to expand from their initial business, which was a 75 year old business at the time of producing food service tortillas. Right, so tortillas that would be sold in restaurants and fast food chains. But brands that wouldn’t. But a brand that doesn’t necessarily stand on its own and matter. Consumer, they wouldn’t ask for the product by name in a Mexican restaurant. It’s just happens to be the product serve because of its quality and, and anticipating. But when they came to us, though, they needed to they they had made that decision that they wanted to become a consumer brand. Right and become Rico retail. And then that’s a whole new world. Yeah, they are a complete challenger brand when you’re competing competing against large nationally recognized tortilla brands like tortillas. Yeah, a brand that you probably know there’s a brand in the industry. So we needed to identify what it was about me, Rancho that their customers love and put that into language. That could be certainly that you could use to surround potential customers so that they get the same feeling. And so we put that client through a process where we conducted a number of interviews of customers, we interviewed them. We spent half a day internally with their leadership team in a brand symposium that ran them through a series of exercises that got them thinking differently about their product, visualizing the brand, as well as articulating and messaging the brand. After two months of this research and discovery, we were able to extract from them the essence of the organization. And the messaging, which happened to be the same thing. At the time, their tagline was quality since 1939. That was that was the tagline then, but that said nothing about who they are and what they stand for. What, what their essence was, and really what now is their tagline is pure tortilla joy. That became the core language for everything that they’ve done since and continue to do now. And there’s this sense have just this is what we do. And we do it better than anybody else in the world. And now you can buy these at your local grocery store and bring them home with you. So me Rancho had probably gone from a million tortillas a day to six and a half 7 million today since since they appear to play. So look for them in your grocery store. You won’t be sorry.

Damon Pistulka 20:27
Yeah, we will. We will for sure. And I love how you boiled it down into three words. Kurt torchia. Joy. I mean, it seems like when you really think about the essence of brands, the fewer words. And you can make those words so impactful like this per torchia joy. You just you know what that means? Yeah. It means you need to get it.

Craig Alexander 20:55
Yeah. And these people take this stuff seriously. Yeah, well to them. You make such a great point, Damon, right, because the easiest thing in the world is to write three pages on how great your product is. Yep. Nobody cares about that. Right. Mark Twain? Mark Twain said, famously right, one of the greatest coach of all time, as I would have written you a shorter note, but I didn’t have the time. Yeah, right. Yeah. And easy to write pages, it’s really hard to boil everything down in just a few words. And that’s really our job.

Damon Pistulka 21:26
It is the how you boiled this down. The thing that’s so nice when you do that it connects customers, and people that work for the company, founders of the company, friends and family of the company, everyone together around that, what do we do? Because I just love this because people go, Oh, it’s marketing? It’s Yes, it is. And it’s a it’s a rally cry.

Craig Alexander 21:54
It’s usually a rally, rally cry.

Damon Pistulka 21:57
It’s like, do make a decision. I’m sitting there making a bunch of tortillas, or I’m doing something for the company. I’m a driver, and someone talks to me about the brand. How do I talk about it? How do I what happens if we have some sort of this happen? And how, what kind of decision do we make? Well, is it creating pure tortilla joy or not? Because this is what we do. It’s not that we kind of do it, or we would like to do it. This is what we do. And I just love how in great essence, like you pulled out there really gives everyone it ties everything together.

Craig Alexander 22:32
It’s emotional to Damon, which language has to be to make a difference in to compete against the gorillas, you have to have the emotional language that gives you a reason, because tortillas are generally a commodity, right? Yes, whatever’s on sale, I’m gonna buy that. But once you’ve established this sense of pure tortilla joy, I’m willing to spend 50 cents more a bag of tortillas because I’m getting pure tortilla joy.

Damon Pistulka 22:57
That’s it. That’s it. And then when you look at a another big brand beside it, it’s like, oh, yeah, here’s our tortilla brand that we know this is them. We see him in every store and then you go pure tortilla joy. It’s like, got to go there. Yeah, let’s

Craig Alexander 23:14
give that a try. For sure. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 23:16
no doubt. We got a lot of great comments coming in here. And sorry, if you don’t turn your profile on to public, I can’t I can’t see who it is. But we got somebody coming in from the UK. We got Charles he pointed out a challenger brand that could be SpaceX against NASA that might I think they want to technically,

Craig Alexander 23:36
I don’t know, I don’t know anyone who would refer to an Elon Musk brand as being a challenger brand. Yeah. That is as much of Gorilla brand as exists.

Damon Pistulka 23:46
Yes. Yes. That is true. That’s true. So it as well, if you’re a nonprofit, I think. Yeah,

Craig Alexander 23:53
absolutely. We work with nonprofits all the time. The Giants community fund, we touched on that at the beginning of the conversation, right. So nonprofits are businesses. Yeah, they have to treat themselves as businesses. And you have to market yourself as such, because people have choices, right to donate for one organization versus another. You have to position yourself on an emotional level as being the choice for that donor. So absolutely. Nonprofits or challenger brands.

Damon Pistulka 24:19
Yeah, this is this is a great point. And as we talked about earlier, and the baseball club that that I was part of, I mean, you are not the only one in the market, especially down are you living in, in in California and in Southern California. I mean, these are big businesses and you look at clubs you look at some of the other nonprofits like you said the larger philanthropic things it is. And I’ve got some friends here on some other large nonprofits, where you’re if you’re going to a Microsoft or somebody like our Google and you’re saying, Hey, we would we would like to get a few million dollars from you. I mean, you really have to connect to get that kind of money to to float here. are nonprofit?

Craig Alexander 25:01
No, I completely agree. And one other thing too, just as a side note, based on what you just said, many men, I’m sure many times in your in your lifetime, and you’ve run across organizations who feel like they have no competitors, we’ve created a product and there’s no other one in the marketplace. And to those people, we would we would suggest, you’re not in living in reality, every product is in a competitive environment, every brand is a competitor, people have choices to even if the choice is to not buy you, and that that is a choice, they’ve lived their lives without you. And they will continue to live without you unless you make a compelling case that they can’t live without you.

Damon Pistulka 25:44
Yes, yes. The movie, we won’t mention it, but it’s your your chances of living with me or here or without me.

Craig Alexander 25:56
Film Exactly. Great. Wines

Damon Pistulka 26:00
it because it is it’s really I mean, you’re you got the people have choices. And and, and this is the other thing that you brought up, I think is a is a great thing for people to think about that emotional, compelling, emotional reason will get people from, I’m not going to do anything, to doing something to because sometimes our biggest competitor is doing nothing. Oh, completely. You’re right. And and so that’s it’s not like you’re competing against other people, you’re just competing against people deciding now I’m not gonna do anything. That’s, that’s a, that’s a valid choice for the buyer. And it’s another reason why you need to do that. So great, good stuff. Well, the, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Because it’s, it’s really shows what you can do, when you take the time to understand your brand, your customer and that emotional connection.

Craig Alexander 27:03
These these decisions have to be made driven by data. So you can’t just have a San Francisco advertising agency walk into your your building and say, Hey, I’ve got some great ideas for you. It has to be the marketplace telling you what you need to say to your customer, because who knows that better than the customer themselves. So our our philosophy is that we let the data direct the strategy. And that data is the information right? Not only the interviews, we talked about interviewing customers and interviewing the internal leadership team, but we also want to study the competitive marketplace and identify those competitors. And what it is they’re saying to the same prospect that we want to speak to, that has been working for them or isn’t working for them, whatever the case may be. But we need to learn from that, because that’s all going to inform the recommendations to build a messaging strategy that’s going to work. We believe challenger brands have one chance to get it right. So we’d like to hedge our bets and study the marketplace, and let let information, direct our decisions. And not just hey, we think this is a pretty cool idea for a tagline. We want the research to tell us this. This is who you are.

Damon Pistulka 28:21
Yeah. It’s so what you said they’re really hits home, because when you look at big brands, they can throw out, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, it’s like well, that’s, that’s a sunk cost, we may move the market a little bit, but when you talk about someone that it’s a much smaller spend, they need to move the needle with that spend, it’s not in there, they’re really trying to go from A to B rather than a a minus to, you know, a plus or a you know, just move it a couple little teeny points, you know, the challenger brands are trying to move a lot more grunt cover a lot more ground with their marketing spend

Craig Alexander 29:02
their resources, so much more limited data and afford to miss mistakes are costly. And those those mistakes could could cost you years in development.

Damon Pistulka 29:13
Yeah, yeah. So you guys came out with a challenger brand marketing book in February. Yes. What what I mean, you’re sitting here, you got your agency you guys are you’re doing this. You’re having fun. You’re working with some great brands. Why write a book?

Craig Alexander 29:32
Opportunity. There’s a hole in in the marketing marketplace. For this sort of, of a an advertiser, right challenger brands, is really a phrase that is pretty new. It’s language that people haven’t really been using before about maybe 10 years ago. And we wanted to position our advertising agency as the authority on this niche. So we talked about it Earlier in this call, and as we speak with our our clients, we want to find that one thing that’s going to make them famous for us for Google’s advertising in San Francisco, it’s being the champion of the challenger brand. So since that is our niche, we needed to prove it. And so we wrote the book gives all marketers the opportunity to take on their industry, gorillas and win. And the book is, it’s a workbook to give you all the tips and tricks that you need, many of which we’ve talked about in this call. But really, lots of ways to make your marketing budget go further. And how you can make a difference in your industry.

Damon Pistulka 30:45
Yeah, good stuff. Good stuff. So as you are doing this writing the book, yeah. How do you think that it improved your process the way you the agency thinks about what you do, because now now it’s not just us in the room, we’re talking about this with our team, which is sizable, but now we’re talking to the world do we did you have to go Oh, we got to this is we thought this was good. But we really don’t have this defined, or we need to refine this lesson learning there,

Craig Alexander 31:17
right? Because it was take the pencil off the notepad and throw it on the floor now. Because now the book is reaching the world, we have to make sure it’s relatable, and relevant everywhere. So yeah, we did make some adjustments, we adjusted some of the ways that we thought. But the book also served as a reminder of the things that we need to do for our clients that we may have, may have omitted or evolved away from the book reminded us that these are some corners that can’t be cut. And so I think it really worked in our favor to tune us up as as a marketing team, to remember what makes us different from other advertising agencies and focus on these elements. So I think you asked a really wise question, and it did make us think a little differently about us.

Damon Pistulka 32:11
Yeah. And you said one thing, too, I think that it’s really easy for you being in the marketing agency doing what you’re doing every single day is we as you get better and better at something you said tend to skip over steps. Because Oh, I know what that is. And those steps can be costly if you if you don’t do them, because you’re assuming something that may not be right.

Craig Alexander 32:34
Yeah, we see we talk to our clients about this all the time. Right? The one of the main reasons why a client needs an advertising agency is because they’re just too close to it. And they skip steps and they miss things and they don’t hear what their customers are saying with the same ears that an outside independent third party marketing expert would hear that that language differently. So yeah, we need to learn from what we say to our customers. We have to learn that ourselves.

Damon Pistulka 33:03
Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So what what are some of the comments you’ve got back from from readers of the book that that a inspired you? You weren’t expecting this? What are some of the things you’ve heard that?

Craig Alexander 33:19
It said for several things? One thing I wasn’t expecting was the interest that people had around the world, that there were a lot of books sold globally, like South Africa, New Zealand, Great Britain, South America, Brazil in particular. That’s interesting. So clearly, the idea of challenger brand marketing resonates the world. What we’ve heard most frequently is it’s an easy read, and it is relevant to any marketer. It’s also relevant to any relationship, because the way that that we address marketing challenger brands is a lot of in the ways of that people relate with with other people. And those sorts of things come out in the exercises and conversations in the book. So I think that consistent feedback on challenger brand marketing as a book was that it’s relevant. Easy to apply. Of course, this makes logical sense. So and there’s some funny stories and I taught personal experiences and I tell some good stories about my wife and that book and good to go to Amazon

Damon Pistulka 34:34
and wait, yeah, we need to challenge your brand marketing. So we are in a changing world of marketing right now. This little thing that people talk about, I don’t know every other sentence AI what defect Do you really see within the work that you’re doing?

Craig Alexander 34:56
Yeah, it’s they’re probably few We’re industries more affected by AI than the creative industry of advertising. Because it’s so easy to push a button and write copy. We know that AI is not going away, it’s just going to evolve. And it’s going to be a part of AI our world that just like, you know, Dot Matrix printing turned into, you know, the kind of printing we’re doing today. It’s something that we’re going to we’re going to live with, and we’re going to use it to our advantage in the most protected way possible, we recognize the risks associated with any kind of content generated through crowd sourced material. And if you were to asked chat GBT today, to write me a 500 word article on challenger brand marketing. We know most of that will be coming from our book, from our blogs are coming, it’s going to come right back to us. We’ve written it before, most of its going to come from us. We are at the place where we’re accepting AI as a valuable resource. It’s a search tool. It’s a idea generator. We think that it’s just going to make things better. So we’ve chosen to accept it, and you’re very jujitsu sort of way. Use it to our advantage.

Damon Pistulka 36:36
Yeah. I agree. I think that that the real, the real. And I couldn’t use the right words. But the real shame in AI is what you talked about for content creators right now is that you have created many, many blog articles around challenger brand marketing, you have, you know, all the any, any releases, anything you’ve done. It’s, it’s absorbed it, it’s absorb it, and now it can spew it out. Like it wasn’t yours. And that’s the thing that I think anyone that writes anything, you know, with their mind and their fingers, whether it’s writing on paper or writing and ever somehow got online, it’s it’s a question we’re going to have to answer because there’s just too much of it. Right. And I, it’s just, there’s just so much content that is out there that people have created, that it is their own, I was a question that it came up, actually, in the last couple of days, because I hadn’t thought about it, in terms of the crawlers, just crawling every website pulling every bit of information. And they’re talking about that now and talking about being able to stop it because, yeah, I mean, there’s there’s people every single second of every single day pouring their heart into research and writing and compiling the thought that it took from understanding all things like, you guys would challenge your brand marketing. And they can just be taken like that. Yeah. So it is,

Craig Alexander 38:11
I don’t know, Damon, if the if the issue is going to be attribution and compensation, or a matter of Hey, that’s mine. And it’s just, you know, you’re stealing from me? Yeah. I’m not sure. I don’t know where the issues are going to be yet. It’s also new.

Damon Pistulka 38:28
Yeah, it’s something we have to think about, we’re gonna have to decide because it is and, and like you said to, it’s a useful tool on the other hand, because if you need an idea generator, you need to, you know, I don’t know, there’s there’s some things that it does well, when you use it protected, like you said, and, and, and do that. So what’s exciting for you guys coming up. That’s exciting for you guys coming up at Google.

Craig Alexander 38:52
We are, as soon as I hang up with you, I’ve got a big presentation that I’m going to share with a credit union that we we love that’s based up in Northern California, we’re going to it’s really the culmination of everything I talked about on this. So nice. I’m going to share all of it, they don’t know any of this. So what was pure tortilla joy for me, Rancho tortillas is going to be new language for this credit union in about 11 minutes. So I get the opportunity to present all of that to them. And it’s going to be it’s gonna be great,

Damon Pistulka 39:26
nice. Well, it is exciting. That is exciting, Craig. And with that, we’ll wrap up because we want to make sure that Craig has some prep time for his his next one but man I’m telling you, I really appreciate you stopping by and talking about challenger brand marketing, because I’m always rooting for the little guy and taking on your industry giants. Like you said, it’s you got to take your time to do it right because you’re not going to get a second chance. And when you got the right people helping you it can be you can do it.

Craig Alexander 39:56
Damon, thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss my favorite Topic. If any of your listeners want to follow up with me, please do. My email address is C. Alexander. C. Alexander at Gomes Gu ma s Gu mysite.com. Website gomez.com. And the book is at Amazon. So yeah, look it up.

Damon Pistulka 40:21
We’ll do that. We’ll do that. Well, thanks so much for being here today, Craig. And I want to thank all the people that dropped the comments today. Patients at the end right at the end there, thanks for doing and Charles and the other people that dropped comments, but we didn’t know who they were. Thank everyone that dropped the comments or was listening today. Thanks, Craig. Have a great rest of your week. We will be back again next week with more guests on the faces of business. Talk to you all soon. Hang out fist firm

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