Dan Gershenson, CEO at Caliber Brand Strategy, shines a light on life as a licensee of a productized marketing system called “Duct Tape”. We talk about how adopting a proven system can enhance your creativity and productivity, why licensees buy and why they stick with the program.
“People think they are buying into a system, but the reason they stay is for personal relationships.” - Dan Gershenson
Dan Gershenson is the ideal partner for service-based businesses that are in need of insightful brand strategies and powerful content to resonate with their customers. If it can be written, Dan can tell the brand story, and has even helped a number of clients bring their dreams of writing a book to fruition. As a certified Master Consultant with the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, Dan uses a system that’s proven to deliver clarity, consistency, confidence and customers. A native of Chicago, Dan is active in several networking groups in the area and frequently speaks to groups on the topics of branding, strategy, positioning, social media, business development and transforming employees into brand ambassadors.
Max Traylor: Welcome back to another pleasurable episode of Beers With Max. This is my very last Wandering Thought by Exhibit A. And here to share wandering thoughts is Dan Gershenson.
Dan Gershenson: Hey, guys. How are you doing?
Max Traylor: I mean, I know everyone's impressed when I pronounce your name correctly, but we literally just went over it three or four times.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. Gershenson. You got it great. You did good.
Max Traylor: I know. We have genetic theories going on. So there is a pre-show prep, guys. I'm not inhuman. Dan, what are you drinking today?
Dan Gershenson: Today, this is I know a tiny little glass, not ideal beer glass, but this is all they have here at the co-working space I'm in. This is actually Three Floyds Brewing Company and the beer's called Gumballhead. So this is one of their most popular ones from Three Floyds.
Max Traylor: And you're coming to us from a quasi phone booth inside of a co-working space in Chicago. Give a shout out to what you're doing because people are probably entrepreneurs. They listen to this.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I am actually in a co-working space that is brand new. It's called Convene and it is right here in the heart of Chicago's loop. And it's a great place to hang your hat besides the home office.
Max Traylor: Wonderful. What is it you do professionally inside this phone booth there in Chicago?
Dan Gershenson: Inside a phone booth. And desks and other places they'll let me be. What I do is brand strategy and content marketing. The name of my company's Caliber and I have been running this particular firm for about seven years now. So when I say content, it's pretty much anything that can be written online and offline. So blogs, websites, social media. People need help with that stuff, getting written all the time, but they also need a quarterback for their brand. And that's where they don't have a marketing department. Maybe one person in-house who can handle a little bit of that, but not a lot. And so they need a lot of help. And so that's where the strategy and road map of what I do comes into play.
Dan Gershenson: So they're all small businesses that are professional services, firms around here.
Max Traylor: Yeah. Here's a very opinionated, biased, leading question. Which one do you prefer, which one do you think is most important?
Dan Gershenson: You mean strategy or content?
Max Traylor: Well, yeah. You describe yourself as two beings rolled into one, strategy and content. What's your theory on which one you enjoy the most today? You know in The Matrix when he says one of these careers has a future and one of them does not?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I'll tell you the one that is more important to everything I do has to be the strategy part. I won't do the content part usually until we do the strategy part. And that doesn't take a long time, but that's where we start with everything.
Max Traylor: Brilliant answer. You passed the test.
Dan Gershenson: I will tell you, my first love, though, I started as a copywriter. So you can't ever really turn your back completely on content. It's too much a part of who I am.
Max Traylor: But you won't do it without strategy.
Dan Gershenson: I won't do it without strategy. No.
Max Traylor: Okay, so this is interesting because you've got a writing background. And I should've known that, but I didn't. So we're being honest. When did you make the decision that you weren't going to do the thing you were so passionate about without first addressing strategy?
Dan Gershenson: It probably hit me, to be honest with you, when I was running a business before this one, an agency before this one. That when you go from being a copywriter and even creative director to running your own agency, and you're really dealing with clients more than you ever did, you learn some of the things that you should also incorporate. Which we didn't have to worry too much about strategy for the most part. It was already cooked up for us in the agency world that I lived in.
Max Traylor: Right. It was being dictated, "Hey, do this." Perfect, that's good.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah, and so life is simple then. Here's a brief, go write something around this. This is all the stuff you need to know, it's already been done. And then when you go out and do your own thing, you just forget how much you need to start doing that part, too. And so I would say this is 2005 was when I was running my first shop. And I think very quickly, in the first year, it was a wake up call. Yeah, how could we not incorporate this? But we just didn't know. We didn't know until we got out there and did it.
Max Traylor: No. Well, no secret, closet reason I'm excited to talk to you is because I'm a broken record. And the theme of all my interviews is intellectual property, systems, and processes. They're the secret to profitability, they're the secret to profit margins and price premiums. And a lot of people are self conscious. They say, "Well, my knowledge couldn't possibly be to the point where I could package it, and sell it, and even get to the point where it's licensable. And other people would pay for the privilege to access, learn, and leverage those processes in their own business. And you are on the receiving side of one of these organizations that probably started as a paranoid, schizophrenic I don't believe I have the value, and they pushed through those limited beliefs.
Max Traylor: And now they're impacting people like yourself and giving you the confidence to come out, do strategy, and freeing up your mind to focus on totally new things. So what programs have you invested in that make the business of strategy a little bit more streamlined for you.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I think one of the most powerful decisions that you can make is when you join any kind of marketing community that happens to have a methodology and a system that you can use behind everything you do so that you don't feel like you're just throwing stuff up against the wall and seeing what sticks. And so I think it was about three, four years ago that really hit me, where I was like, "I know people are happy, but I feel like I could be upping my game and doing more here, to use more of a proven system." And I didn't want to reinvent the wheel in terms of creating my own thing from scratch as far as a system. And so I investigated some different ones out there.
Dan Gershenson: HubSpot was one of them, but then I crossed one that I really enjoyed and still enjoy called the Duct Tape Marketing System. And it is a small business marketing system that just really gives you a framework to build a lot of your engagements around. And so you don't have to think about what do I do first, second, third, and without forcing you too much into a predetermined format. You've got some flexibility, but it just helps you focus on doing things in the proper order. And that works for you and each particular engagement. Plus, at the same time, it's not like you franchise, where you have your own company name and nothing changes in that way. You're just using someone else's framework and you're using that license.
Dan Gershenson: So that, to me, to be on the receiving end of that was probably one of the best investments I have ever made. And it just continues to pay off because that or any other community that you may join I think is necessary. You can't do the work and be 100% educated on what's new, and hot, and the growing tools, and trends, and all these other things. It's just too much for one person to constantly be on top of if you're a small business, small agency. And so this allows me to listen to weekly updates from the leader of this particular group or other people, other consultants, who have thoughts and specialties. Let's say SEO or other things like that. And besides that, then there's quarterly boot camps and other things.
Dan Gershenson: So there's the learning aspect of it and then the added benefit is that you have this awesome comradery of other people who do what you do. And they have the same challenges that you have. So all of this stuff where you were like, "I thought I was the only one going through this, and this, and this," and there's 50 other people or more who go through the exact same thing. And so I'm a big, big fan of this structure or others like it to invest in.
Max Traylor: Well, I'm curious about when you were making the decision to do it and what you were evaluating. I mean, you were looking at HubSpot and HubSpot's training is very ... Well, I mean, when I was a part of building it, it felt very tactical, it felt very aligned with their software and software features. They'll give you best practices on what to do and in contrast someone like Duct Tape focuses on the process of creating a strategy, a plan, and being able to sell that. But what went into the decision making process for you? What were you looking for? And if you can think back that far, what really helped you make that decision?
Dan Gershenson: And by the way, side note, there are some people who even do both of them. I don't know how they do it, but do or three of these things at a time, I'm not sure how they do it. But I tip my hat off to them...
Max Traylor: They'll invest in multiple programs and use that as their fuse or ...
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: They'll just create a menu of things that they've purchased from other organizations?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I just don't have that level of sophistication.
Max Traylor: My initial thought is even if you are sophisticated, you got to see the value in focus.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: I mean, these systems, they are simplified for the benefit of us, but to say that they're easy is not true. They are difficult to understand, to follow. And to say that you've got five or six formulas under your belt, I mean ...
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. You've got to be all in.
Max Traylor: Yeah.
Dan Gershenson: And I say that in a way that is positive. If you see a system that you really want to belong to, Max, I know you have the blueprint thing that you put out there to people, I believe.
Max Traylor: Once upon a time.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah, once upon a time, but if you put that in front of people, you want people to just be all in on what it is that you're putting out there. And I don't think you invest in anything like a system, a marketing system, and just dip your toes in the water for a year, and let's see how it goes. That's just not how I do it.
Max Traylor: The only people that I really remember as being successful still use it today. And it is the core of every business engagement. And everyone else was aflame. It was a one night stand. Yeah, you made all your money back and more, but then you went back to selling whatever under the sun and trying to figure it out as you go. And most of those businesses don't exist.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah, but I also want to answer your question about why it shows Duct Tape and I have to say the reason is, for me, I just felt like the way it seems to work through some things, like the buyer's journey, really interested me. They have a concept called the marketing hourglass, which helps me ... For me, it helps me think about the strategic process of when somebody is knowing, and liking, and trusting your particular brand. And then what you should do tactically with each stage of the process of know, like, trust, try, buy repeat, and refer.
Dan Gershenson: I love that and it made me just wrap my head around this thing of there are certain tactics that work in one stage and then certain tactics that don't work in another. And I was struggling with the idea of you've got 15 different tactics. Where do they all go? Or more. We're bombarded with different types of marketing tactics every single day. And instead of trying to do the hottest new thing, being on video, or Instagram, or whatever because everybody else was doing it. I wanted to have a framework for how I could really help someone make sense of their entire journey for their client. My client's client, in other words.
Max Traylor: Yeah. My interpretation of that is there's a lot of people out there that are helping you do something. That's the shiny object. Hey, there's this new thing called Chatbots. Let me help you do that. But what you found confidence in is a system to help you determine what to do or as a service help your clients determine what to do. A map.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. And I have to say part of thing, quite honestly, is sometimes with some of these systems there's a person at the top of that company or system that you have gravitated to, and you've respected, and admired. And you've just thought, "Well, that's a cool person that I can understand and relate to." And in the case of Duct Tape, I had already been following John Jantsch who really founded this entire system. I'd been already following his blog and some other things for a while. And so it was a very easy transition to just be like, "Okay, well, here's somebody that I've already really liked reading about." I've liked reading his stuff and I can totally see myself buying into this system.
Max Traylor: Well, I'll tell you what, a big conspiracy theory in my mind ... Well, it's not a conspiracy theory to me, but I want to do a live debate. And I want to get all the people together that think people are purchasing from brands and I want to get all the people together that think they're purchasing from personal brands. Do you know what I mean?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Was the decision Duct Tape or was the decision John? My point is I get to be opinionated. I think it's 100% personal brand. That's my camp, but I want to facilitate a discussion of what it means. I agree, there's some value in the overall brand, but I think the overall brand is simply a function of the culmination of the personal brands within it. I don't think anyone's buying from companies anymore when you're talking about organizations that are sub $20 million. Especially professional service organizations. 100% of the trust, 100% of the confidence, has to come from the individuals within. So that's my ...
Dan Gershenson: Now that you mention it, you raise an excellent point. I think that's very, very true. There is a personality there, a personal brand with John that I really liked and respected. And I don't think it would've been as easy without him because I already identified with that person. I'll tell you what also did it for me, that really sealed the deal, was another personal brand in the same system, which was another agency owner who said, "I was going through A, B, C, and D before joining this." And then I was like, "Well, dang, this is like looking in a mirror hearing all this stuff that this guy is saying." And I could relate to him.
Dan Gershenson: Not his agency, to him, what he was emotionally going through. And it just made me say, "Gosh, I got to go down and get certified for things and make this happen." And you're right. Looking back on it, it probably was personal brands first before system.
Max Traylor: Well, we might also be cracking the code on testimonials or case studies because consumers, and by consumers I mean companies that buy things, they understand that everyone's investing in marketing. Everyone can cook up a good story in a dark room somewhere. They want to go straight to the proofs, they want to talk to references, they want to see the case studies, they don't believe the three page case study that you've written. And it has perfect copy, and punctuation, and things. They want to see people. And it's interesting that most case studies that are written about a company, here's the company background, but what you connected with was the individual, the emotion.
Dan Gershenson: Yes, and I don't think anybody, and I mean anybody in the entire system network that I belong to, would say anything otherwise. They have all said we came for what we thought was the system, we stay for the personal relationships that we have. In other words, I don't care what kind of system it is, you're never going to be a part of some room that's full of jerks. I don't care whether you're networking, I don't care whether you're part of a marketing system. If you don't enjoy being around other people, you're not going to stick with it. And that's just my belief. And so there's a personal brand connection that starts at the beginning, though.
Dan Gershenson: Even in that way, even when you don't know everybody that's part of the group, you've got to feel something for at least one or two people before you can really, really dive right in. But it really reinforces it then is not the system, in my mind. It's the other personal brands that you come into contact with. So that when you go to the conferences, or the quarterly boot camps, or whatever, you go to these people, not the system, these people are really reinforcing my decision and making me feel good about sticking with this. Does that make sense?
Max Traylor: Yeah, you should be a professional buyer persona interviewee. You could be like, "Look, I'll buy your stuff and then you can interview me later and I'll give you an articulate dictation of the buying process." It's brilliant. I love it.
Dan Gershenson: Sometimes people, they get so close to their own stuff. They can't really talk about it in that way, but when you're on the receiving end and you've gone through it for a while, you can really get a good rounded picture.
Max Traylor: Well, let's get Duct Tape to pay us for this. I say that semi jokingly. It's become the Duct Tape show, but I'm interested in it. So what are the most valuable? I get the community thing. I don't want to undermine that. I know that's the most powerful.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: For the box tickers out there, what are some of the most valuable resources that you use on a day to day basis when clients are paying you a lot of money and you have to rely on these processes and these resources to deliver a consistent and valuable experience?
Dan Gershenson: There are a number of tools that I think ...
Max Traylor: Let's say most important one.
Dan Gershenson: The most important one?
Max Traylor: The most important one. The human brain has trouble, especially when they're drinking alcohol, retaining information. So if we can make it one thing, people might remember it.
Dan Gershenson: Okay.
Max Traylor: That's what I've learned of five years of drinking beer with [crosstalk]
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. Quite honestly, I don't know if you'd call this a tool or not, but the fact that this program gives me a cookbook of sorts for different packages that I can put out there to different types of clients. So it's not necessarily a social media tool that I use. I'll give you my favorite social media tool. My favorite one, which I think is part of our network now, is SEMrush. That's my favorite.
Max Traylor: Well, forget about tools. Your answer was really insightful.
Dan Gershenson: Well, good. I'm glad.
Max Traylor: So the answer is no one tool. Forget about it.
Dan Gershenson: Gosh. No. Yeah. No, there's no one tool to rule them all. No, I think that's phrasing it.
Max Traylor: Well, it's to give you a cookbook, a troubleshooting guide, a way to be dynamic, a way to pursue what is most important for your client, but without sacrificing the idea that you need processes and systems for whatever you are doing. So it's that nice gray area, it's that nice middle ground, between flexibility and predictability.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I mean, let's face it. Some of us are creative people who just ... Process is not our main thing. If we grew up on the creative side of advertising and marketing at all, some of us, maybe the person in this phone booth, is not as process oriented sometimes as he should be. And that's okay, but you need help. And so sometimes joining a community like this that has preset stuff that you can go, "Okay, this makes sense." Step one, step two, step three. And you don't have to follow it to the letter, but it gives you some structure so that you can play to your strengths. I don't want to think about process all day. I want to think about creative work all day.
Dan Gershenson: And so if there's something that just makes it that much easier so I can focus on creative work, but gives me a framework to follow, that's what I'm after.
Max Traylor: I'm exhausted. No, I'm totally [crosstalk] yeah, love it. Let's talk about you personally. What I love about these programs is it's very rare that you find something truly unique and differentiated in the marketplace. Now, not to knock Duct Tape. Obviously, I'm here because I think what they're doing is brilliant, but what they have systematized are things that are competitive in the marketplace. There are other people thinking about these things. So your reaction is, "Hey, why reinvent the wheel? Let's adopt these systems." My question is how do you take their adopted systems and the rest of your brain power that doesn't now have to think about process around the stuff that's been done before, and what's that next frontier?
Max Traylor: What's that magic combination of what's been done with your personal expertise, your personal experience, that's going to make the ...
Dan Gershenson: The next phase of business interesting?
Max Traylor: Yeah, I need help. I don't know. That's the extent. I don't know. I was on a rant and then [crosstalk]
Dan Gershenson: The thing that I think is really exciting is you can use a system like this to ... I use it for my main business, but as part of that business, I get asked to do other stuff that isn't necessarily marketing services. And so when you've got something that has your back on the main side of what you do, it makes it easier to spin off things that you may get requests to do. And you go, "Well, maybe there's a business off of this thing." So, for example, I've been asked over the last several years to help people write books. And the first time it happened, it was like, "Yeah, sure. Okay, yeah. Fine." It was for a client or two, no problem. I'll do it. Well, now, there's a number of people who need help with that.
Dan Gershenson: And it's not a totally separate business, but it is something where when you have a system backing up your main business. It can help you diversify into other things so that you go, "Maybe I can do a book writing service, or maybe I can diversify into some other things that are still in the same universe as what I do." It's just other revenue streams.
Max Traylor: The only reason I'm even entertaining that idea is because you have a background as a writer.
Dan Gershenson: Yes. Yeah.
Max Traylor: Yes, I think that's a potential answer. So I look at the whole Duct Tape thing, I look at any licensable set of intellectual properties as a springboard. It gives you confidence, it gives you structure, it gives you predictability, but that's not the end game. I believe for everybody, what they should be striving for is true differentiation in the marketplace. And it's the combination of something that works, something that you could build off of, but then what is the culmination of your childhood, your education, your professional experience where you can add a sauce on top of the cooked duck.
Max Traylor: You have a duck meal and you have a special sauce on it that makes it ... It's your special sauce. It turns a burger into brilliance. Do you know what I mean?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: So my question is what is that piece that's going to make what your interpretation, your wielding of the Duct Tape lightsaber better than anybody else?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. Well, you go beyond the experience that you have, you go beyond the system, then it's really about what kind of person you are. And I think when it comes down to it, I'm a person who is no BS. And I don't always feel the client is always right. And so people who hire me, they know that. And sometimes it goes along with people, and sometimes it doesn't, but part of your brand ... Let's go back to your personal brand thing. Part of who they're really hiring is whether they like you or not. And it's your style, it's your accessibility. Who you are personally is going to be a differentiator in itself.
Dan Gershenson: Are you a fun person to be around? Are you a person who, speaking of beers, is it going to be ... I always give clients the beer test. I always say are they ...
Max Traylor: You give clients the beer test?
Dan Gershenson: I do.
Max Traylor: I won't work with anybody that brings a Bud Light to this fricking interview.
Dan Gershenson: No. Well, not a Bud Light.
Max Traylor: It's not a literal beer test like that, is it?
Dan Gershenson: No, but it's ...
Max Traylor: I thought I was the only one.
Dan Gershenson: No, this is my beer test. Is this person someone that I would want to have a beer with anyway? Whether they were a client or not, are they an enjoyable human being that I'm not just having a relationship business wise because they pay me money, but do I enjoy ... Am I interested and fascinated by their business? Do I like them as human beings? Do I have an interest and they have an interest in me, in other things that make us tick and that we're passionate about? Because we have a good relationship, can I see myself being referred from them or being highly reviewed from them?
Dan Gershenson: And so I get very, very, very attached for better or worse to clients who ... It's not just a transactional thing for me. It's got to be something that I hope is a relationship that lasts for years. And there's no bull about that. And I got to tell you, Max, it's not something that you can fake. It's something that I believe makes me profoundly different from a lot of people in this marketplace who just go about showing ads, and websites, and social media. And they just try to pitch, and get some buy off, and call it a day. And I can't do that. I got to have more than that. I gotta have more than that.
Dan Gershenson: I got to have something that's deeper. Of course you got to do good work for people, but for me it's got to feel like an emotional reward so that I really care about that person. And hopefully they care about me. And that's something that you are not going to see that too much in certain people. So if you have that ingredient, no matter where you are, I think that positions you very differently.
Max Traylor: I was prepared for a retort that says liking you doesn't command price premiums. You convinced me otherwise in your rant. I say that all the time, yes, it'll help you win deals. This is what I say and I'm saying you broke the rule. You've broken my rule. I've now changed my opinion formally.
Dan Gershenson: Boy.
Max Traylor: Five minutes ago, people do not pay price premiums for liking you. People will hire you because they like you. People pay price premiums because they believe that you have knowledge about their particular situation and their business that no one else has. It's a matter of focus.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Which, by the way, I have yet to hear from you, but I'm so interested in the other shit you're talking about, I don't care.
Dan Gershenson: Listen, I don't disagree with what you were saying there either. I think you got to bring a certain focus and understanding about their business. That comes with the territory in my mind.
Max Traylor: Yeah. I'll tell you what, you have emotionally transported me into a time machine where the original idea from Beers With Max, the whole reason I do this, and the decision I made, and the rule that I have is that I will not work with anybody that I don't thoroughly enjoy their presence. Which is why I do Beers With Max, which is why I start every relationship over a beer, and because you're cheating yourself if you have a beer and don't record it for the brilliance of marketing content that becomes all this stuff that I get to do in this video. All I have to do is golf clap. Yeah, you've transported me back in time.
Dan Gershenson: Not to get heady about it, but we only get one go around with this thing. And if we're going to have fun doing what we do, then we sure as hell should be doing it with people we enjoy and like working for. And people who respect us as partners and don't just see us as do whatever I say. I don't care. When you get down to it, one of my mentors had a very simple question. He just said how many clients do you actually need? And a lot of people don't ask themselves that. How many do you really need? You don't need 50, you probably only need 20, or 15, or whatever if you pay a certain price premium. Hell, it could be five.
Max Traylor: Five.
Dan Gershenson: It could be five. If you do the most robust offering that you got and five clients can pay for that, then why the hell do you need 15 of them?
Max Traylor: I'll one up you. You could do the most basic offering you got. And if you focus on that one thing, you can charge five times as much.
Dan Gershenson: Right.
Max Traylor: [crosstalk] robust.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. And it was such a simple question. And I said, "I really don't need that much if I charge the right amount."
Max Traylor: Dan, let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen somebody charge $50,000 for a positioning statement? I'm talking about one sentence.
Dan Gershenson: God, no. No, I haven't.
Max Traylor: I've seen it with my own eyes.
Dan Gershenson: [crosstalk] for getting away with that.
Max Traylor: I've seen it with my own eyes.
Dan Gershenson: Really? Well, then I am [crosstalk]
Max Traylor: I've seen crazier than that. I've seen million dollar, 30 slide presentations.
Dan Gershenson: Wow. I'm always amazed by these things.
Max Traylor: Just go look at the big consultancies. Go look at the big agencies.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Look, it's all about perceived value.
Dan Gershenson: Right.
Max Traylor: It's all about the budget that is being controlled by the direction you provide.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: It's completely relative.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. No, you're absolutely right. Sometimes I'm amazed by that.
Max Traylor: I'm amazed consistently by it. And I've been amazed for five years now of seeking out these ridiculous situations that are seemingly unbelievable, and having a beer, and listening to people talk about the reality of their situation.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I mean, I don't mind sharing that sometimes I get around other people who have ... I don't know if they've charged that much, but they've certainly charged more. And it makes you go, number one, maybe I should be raising this stuff rate wise, but number two, more importantly, you realize what a value that you're really giving people.
Max Traylor: Well, you would talk to one of these people, and you would look at what they're doing, and you would consider it blind robbery. My question is does it matter? And my opinionated answer is no. The only thing that matters is whether the client feels like they got the value.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: And these people continue to get business, so I have to imagine that their clients are on the internet defacing them, telling them about how it's blind robbery. They have to be satisfied in some way by these marginal contributions that we look at as single sentences.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: [crosstalk] strategies.
Dan Gershenson: That's the only explanation because I can't wrap my head around sometimes things that are related to a new name or a new logo. Which maybe isn't that great of a new logo, but the only thing that somehow brings it home for me that there could be some value is that they're going to use this for a really, really, really long time.
Max Traylor: And everywhere.
Dan Gershenson: And everywhere. And so that's how they get away with it, but you're absolutely right. And I don't really want to insult designers when I say this. I don't.
Max Traylor: I insult a lot of people on my show. I think.
Dan Gershenson: You and I both know we are living in a world of crowdsourced ... There are crowdsourced tools. You can realize [crosstalk]
Max Traylor: The most powerful labor force out there, gig network. Anybody in India to do what you do here for [crosstalk]
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I mean, somebody yesterday was just asking me about this. And they had no idea that such a thing existed. And I said, "Yes, it's a logo design thing. And you will get dozens of designs." Not three, dozens. And you'll throw out 20 or 30 of them right away, but you're not going to pay thousands and thousands of dollars either. And so this is a reality that if you were to ask me 20 years ago if I was going to use something like that, I would probably say, "Gosh, no. The integrity of it. No, I'll only go with one kind of customized design," or whatever. Well, this is the world we're in.
Dan Gershenson: And the world we're in, there is some crowdsourcing that makes a lot of sense. Which then you can mark up or whatever.
Max Traylor: Yeah, but there's an immeasurable amount of emotional pride that comes with working with the person that charges the most.
Dan Gershenson: One of my great mentors, I've been lucky, I've had a few, and one of them said aspire to be the most expensive. I am not the most expensive, not even close to the most expensive. And he would probably kick my butt right now if he knew what I was charging.
Max Traylor: Yeah, my question is why? Why not just go ahead and be the most expensive?
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. And I think that's something where, I'll admit it, I think sometimes we get wrapped up in our own fear of why we're sticking to one thing. It's absolutely to what you spoke to about people who charge $50,000 for a positioning statement or more than that. You just got to look at your lifetime value. And I forget that metric all the time.
Max Traylor: They didn't make that up.
Dan Gershenson: No.
Max Traylor: The impetus was somebody paid them one time to do that. And that put all emotion aside and they just had a deep breath and said, "Wait a minute."
Dan Gershenson: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Dude, people will pay that? Wow, let's try that again. And then again, and again, again. And everyone else is sitting there in fear and personal doubt knowing the positioning statement. I don't know. That's worth $1,000.
Dan Gershenson: You can definitely sell it higher when you put it like this. What if that positioning statement was something that your whole culture could actually rally around because they believed in it? A statement's not going to do that by itself, granted, but let's pretend that you're the inspiring leader who can really rally the troops. And you've got some other people where that potential exists that can help you and back you up. So you go to your main, let's say, five great allies in the company and you go, "This is our positioning. And you know what else, guys? We talked to our clients and they believe this is our positioning." Very important, by the way.
Dan Gershenson: So we talked to five, 10 other clients and they totally buy into it. We actually got this from them telling us this. So not only is it authentic, not only is it something that we can live up to as a strength, now we have to get the people out here buying into that positioning statement. If we can pull that off, then we can transform the culture of this company, we can retain people a little bit longer, and maybe we can even come up with new things that we never thought we could before. Now, bring all that back to one positioning statement that starts the ball rolling. Suddenly, you and I know that it's not just $1,000 anymore for that. And I will admit, I forget that all the time.
Dan Gershenson: And it's not just here's something that we can tie ourselves to and a logo is not just something to put on a business card. And our core values are not just something that hangs up in a conference room. It's something that if we really live by this stuff and energize people with it, then we can be a transformative company. So there's a lot of ingredients in that, but it's totally possible. Am I blowing your mind?
Max Traylor: That's all I got. That's why I do this, to hear people say stuff like that. I've got nothing to add.
Dan Gershenson: Yeah. I will say sometimes we do this stuff and we don't think of it as anything more than a blog post, or a tagline, or a logo, or whatever. And we just forget the kind of impact that we can really have on other people and the people that those people serve. So branding, it's not only far more powerful than we think it is, it's probably something that we can charge more for because it is more valuable than we think it is. And I should probably [crosstalk]
Max Traylor: Content may die, but branding will live forever.
Dan Gershenson: Well, I hope not. I hope content lives for a long, long time. I think content's still here to stay hopefully for a long, long, long time. And I think people actually do read the content. I don't buy that BS. I think they read it and if it's good, they'll read a lot of it.
Max Traylor: Well, you have a personal, emotional struggle on your hands between your two fractured identities. I could tell you that, but I enjoy listening to you talk about it. And you're articulate. Bless you for that.
Max Traylor: Well, I've enjoyed my beer thoroughly.
Dan Gershenson: And me, as well.
Max Traylor: Time to go away. Yeah, bless the WeWork people for supplying taps.
Dan Gershenson: No, this is Convene.
Max Traylor: You're right. It's not WeWork.
Dan Gershenson: Shout out to Convene for having me.
Max Traylor: Convene, if you're a part of the Chicago community scene. Anyhow, for those of you listening, don't drive and listen to Beers With Max. It's not worth it. Grab yourself a beer, and go ahead and binge, and tip your waitress. Cheers.