You may know Larry Weber as a successful entrepreneur, thought leader, and author, who founded several global marketing companies and is currently CEO at Racepoint Global. He joined us at the D S Simon Media office in New York to discuss key takeaways from his sixth and most recent book, Authentic Marketing. Authentic Marketing provides a new strategic framework that takes business, marketing and technology strategies out of their dated and effective silos and tightly integrates them around the central concept of corporate purpose. He was interviewed by Mike Bako, Director of Media and Content Strategy at D S Simon Media. During the interview, Larry discusses the importance of taking time to cultivate an authentic brand and the value of tying each piece of marketing to your company’s “story”.
Click here to purchase Larry’s new book: Authentic Marketing: How to Capture Hearts and Minds Through the Power of Purpose
Mike: Larry so much of what’s in this book Authentic Marketing is about brands and companies embracing a higher purpose. How did they do that and how did they mind their corporate DNA and history to to get to that point?
Larry: Most companies in this age have come from really one specific type of industry talent. Oracle was a database. Microsoft was an application software. John Deere was green tractors. So let’s take Deere as an example how we found their moral purpose was they were trying to shift from being just a green tractor company to more of a data and software company to help farmers have better yields. Well hey guess what. One of the problems in the world today is how are we going to feed 2 billion more people by 2050. So therefore it fits perfectly with a company that has been working with the land. What this is about is being authentic to your soul to your roots as a company to try to say what’s in there that can do something better. U.S. Steel would be another example the future of materials so that they’re sustainable that they’re not polluting the planet you know cetera. So you can find things when you look.
Mike: So it’s less of a we should do this and more of a if we don’t do this we’re going to be left behind. It’s not it’s not an either or it’s a you must embrace this?
Larry: Totally especially because why did I do it through a marketing filter? Well it’s because eventually marketing is just going to be about presenting your story in a transparent way in a thoughtful narrative way and probably in a visual way. You know increasingly so to have that story in that narrative about why we want to do something for the planet for the people something good that that’s going to bring authenticity to our narrative then this is why we have to do this. It’s not going to be about television ads much longer.
Mike: Now when it comes to that authenticity what’s driving that? Is that just a cultural thing is that an age thing is that everyone embracing their own sort of personal authenticity.
Larry: I think it’s a couple things I think one is the impact of social media I think is a big one and as you see social media going through its teenage years right now. You know it’s having its downside but it’s it’s eventually going to have even more impact on sharing of you know visual stories and and also where the customers become the first line ambassadors for a company and they want to say hey you know what. This is a good company. You should buy from them and represent that pioneers in this were companies like Patagonia you know who were very good at that early on and use social media early on you know to do that. So it’s pretty exciting actually.
Mike: You mentioned that the social media aspect of things what dangers does a brand have if in their quest to be authentic they’re inauthentic in their quest for that authenticity.
Larry: Well they’ll be called out very quickly on social media and on other platforms and that could really influence how they how brands go about these right. And that’s why it has to be prepared very carefully. You know you’re now living in an age where a corporation has the responsibility to take a stand on certain issues and make sure that that’s available and you’re going to of course you’re going to take some hits on it. But the more goodwill the more transparent you are the more you follow your moral purpose. I think that during those times that you might have a little negativity you can usually get over it that way. You know Facebook needs to pay far more attention you know to the issues and the negative side of their things. But there also is a positive thing that there’s two billion people on a platform. So there must be some reason that you know there’s that much excitement about it.
Mike: So as brands strive for this authenticity and they get into the media space securing interviews with TV stations and journalists digital outlets, how does that authenticity translate into the storytelling that they’re trying to get out on on media platforms and when they’re trying to pitch media? How how does that translate?
Larry: I believe the evolution of that is we’re not really pitching media as much as we’re illustrating a narrative that’s powerful for our client. And it has to be told thoughtfully it has to be told with strength with examples with multiple examples it’s more of a community not an individual. And I think that media responds to that kind of honesty and that authenticity. Also if there’s no story you don’t try you know. But you know if you can build again a story around feeding the planet around sustainability I was just talking to Best Buy about being the technology experts and everybody’s community you know well that’s sort of a cool thing that you could start to play with and remember everybody’s media. Now it’s not just pitching the you know the traditional media on something and the influencers are becoming more and more important. And I mentioned in the book that paid influences or even growing you know as a kid as a category of distribution. So again if it’s a good solid story it’s clear it’s clean, I think it can carry a lot.
Mike: Quickly as we wrap up, when it comes to PR firms who are working with these brand influencers who are working with companies to strive for this authenticity whereas authenticity fall to a PR firm. How do they reach that?
Larry: Well I argue that PR firms and PR in general to be successful had to be authentic from the beginning. All right. Because you have to earn the media. That’s why it’s called earned media now so paid media was a lot easier. You paid your money you had your 30 seconds or your 60 seconds when you don’t pay your money for that time you’ve got to earn it with a thoughtful story a strong narrative good examples and honesty and directness and some creativity. So that’s what I would say it’s evolving to.
Mike: Larry, thank you for joining us, and thank you (audience) for joining us. Larry Weber was our guest today taking us inside his new book Authentic marketing.