The 5 Forces of Entrepreneurial Storytelling with Chris Smith: TREPX Podcast Episode 66
Stories are how we learn about history, people, and even businesses. Poorly told stories are forgettable and hard to connect with, but we rarely think about investing in the stories we tell as entrepreneurs. When we don’t clearly communicate our company’s brand and message, we miss huge opportunities. Even a simple networking introduction can turn into thousands of dollars of business and long-lasting business relationships.
In TREPX Podcast Episode 66, host Micky Deming talks to The Campfire Effect Founder Chris Smith. “We teach entrepreneurs and their teams how to tell their story in a really powerful way so they can do three things,” says Chris. According to Chris, those three things are:
- Get More Clients
- Build a Stronger Culture
- Make More of an Impact
Could something as simple as a story really bring in more clients, help internally with culture, and assist the business in making a bigger impact? Absolutely, but it doesn’t come to each of us naturally. “Very rarely do entrepreneurs invest in knowing how to tell their story more powerfully, and it’s the one thing they have to do every single day for the rest of their life,” says Chris. We have many opportunities to explain what we do for a living, but it’s rare for us entrepreneurs to work to perfect our response to this question.
When looking at perfecting something, like our story, we need a goal first. “The goal of storytelling is to be able to tell your story in a way that is so clear and so powerful that the person you told your story to can immediately go and re-share and re-tell it to someone else,” says Chris. Making a story easy to connect with and easy to share increases the impact of the story, making it a force that can drive growth for your business.
As we all know, stories are powerful…when they are used appropriately and given the proper time and care when crafted. Smith believes that there are five forces of entrepreneurial storytelling.
- Who You Are: “First, you have to tell people a little about who you are. You don’t have to give them your life’s narrative or your life history, but like for me, for example, I tell people ‘Hey, I’m a fifth generation native of Arizona. My family came to Arizona in 1877. I grew up in a ranching/rodeo family. I have a really deep connection to my roots. I was fascinated with storytelling as a small child, growing up around cowboy storytellers. You know, my wife is my hero; she’s always believed in me and my four kids are my best friends. Right? That’s a little bit about who I am.’”
- What You Do: “You’ve got to tell people what you do,” says Chris, who also says that this is where most people go wrong and that your explanation has to pass four filters. “It should be clear. It should be succinct. It should be thought-provoking and most importantly it should deliver a benefit.”
- Why You Do It: Why we do what we do can differentiate us from the competition. “If I’m talking to a prospective client and another consultant that’s talking to a prospective client that does something similar to me, all things being equal, it’s whoever that person has the strongest connection to their “why” is who they’re going to do business with,” says Chris. Were you put on this earth to do what you do? Or, maybe you struggled with the pain that you are now solving with your business. This is important information that will help you build a relationship and trust with clients. “That’s why I do this. It’s because I’m tired of seeing entrepreneurs who are so much more powerful than their story that they tell people,” says Chris.
- How You Do It: Chris Smith says the fourth force of storytelling for entrepreneurs is the most misunderstood of all. “How we actually get the result for most of us is pretty unique, but because we don’t brand it, we don’t know how to articulate the ‘how,’” says Chris. He recommends branding your process and finding simple ways to explain it to prospective customers.
- Social Proof: Testimonials are powerful, which is why we see them on nearly every website trying to sell a product or service.
Do you have a success story you could share in person? If possible, use examples of how your product or service helped someone similar to the person or company you’re marketing or speaking to. By showing them the success of others, they can clearly see how you can help them similarly.
Our Favorite Quotes from Chris Smith in TREPX Podcast Episode 66
“A lack of clarity promotes a lack of accountability”
“The word “brand” in branding has been so ubiquitously used and it means so many different things to so many different people that the term brand has really lost a lot of its meaning and it’s watered down.”
“Growth is found in your roots.”
“I believe that so many entrepreneurs are more powerful than the story they are telling.”
“When we talk about “brand”, your brand is what you stand for. It’s the soul of who you are.”
“So our brand drives culture. Our brand drives sales. Our brand drives the customer experience.”
About Chris Smith: What do you want to be known for? This question is one of great importance to Chris Smith. Each day, he asks entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes this question to help them rethink their approach to cultivating life-changing stories within their businesses.
Chris describes himself as a “cowboy, entrepreneur, speaker, brand expert, story strategist, husband and most importantly, a dad.” To discover more of what Chris has to say and how to refine your messaging and story, visit TheCampireEffect.com
Micky Deming: (00:34) Hello, this is Micky Deming and you are listening to the TREPX Podcast. A podcast focused on helping entrepreneurs grow a business into something bigger than themselves that impacts their community and I am so happy to share another episode with you today where I had a chance to speak with Chris Smith from the Campfire Effect. Wow, this interview blew me away!
One thing we all have in common no matter what the business is, no matter what we’re doing, one thing that every single business has to do and has to do really, really well is tell stories. They have to tell their own story. They have to know their clients and customer’s stories and how they are able to serve and help them and that is exactly what Chris is an expert in and what the Campfire Effect is doing and so in this interview, we talk about exactly how to tell stories that get messages across in a clear way that moves people to take action.
Chris actually walks through the exact framework that he teaches for telling stories for communicating your brand story and it is phenomenal. You’re definitely going to want to take notes and apply this immediately to your business. I am very grateful for Chris and everything he shared.
To see more about what Chris is up to, you can check out the CampfireEffect.com and if you go to the CampfireEffect.com/success, he has some special downloads that you can take away after this episode. So, had a great time talking to him. Check out the episode at TREPXGroup.com where you can see all of our 60+ episodes with successful entrepreneurs and you can also see what we are doing at TREPX Accounting, where we’re helping entrepreneurs grown into something bigger than themselves by simplifying their financials and making it more clear. Check that out and check out this episode. Thanks again to Chris and without further ado, I invite you to please enjoy this episode with Chris Smith.
Hello Chris! Welcome to the TREPX Podcast! How are you doing?
Chris Smith: (02:35) Man, I am great Micky! Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be on!
Micky Deming: (02:40) I am very excited! There is nothing I love more than sitting around the campfire and having some s’mores and hanging out, so I am pumped to hear about how you help people create that atmosphere in their world. So I guess we will start there. Your business right now, the Campfire Effect, can you just give us a big picture of what that’s all about and what you’re doing with that?
Chris Smith: (03:04) Yeah so, the Campfire Effect, we teach entrepreneurs and their teams how to tell their story in a really powerful way so they can do three things, get more clients, build a stronger culture, and make more of an impact.
One of the things that is fascinating to me is that as entrepreneurs there is one thing that you’re going to have to do multiple times a day for the rest of your business life and that is you’re going to have to talk about what you do. You’re going to have to tell your story. Whether it is telling your story to perspective customers, whether it is telling your story to your team, but it is this language of storytelling that we use, and we do it every single day, but so few of us as entrepreneurs are really intentional about it. It is one of the few things, surprisingly, that we don’t invest in. As entrepreneurs, we will invest in almost anything in our business, marketing, advertising, you know technology, websites, systems, but very rarely do entrepreneurs invest in knowing how to tell their story more powerfully, and it’s the one thing they have to do every single day for the rest of their life.
Micky Deming: (04:06) Yeah, you’re right. That’s a great point and it’s interesting. I love it when you talk to people who, like they’re an expert in something specific, and then you see how they do the thing that they’re teaching other people how to do. So like, people that have website business, sometimes they’re like “our website is worse that all of our clients because we’re spending all of our time focusing on our clients”. And then for you it’s like you know, tell me what you do and I love the way you share that. You know, you have these three things. These are three benefits that happen when you get this right, so it’s fun to hear you tell your story, but it makes since. So with that, if people neglect, people put it off, when you are intentional about it where do you start with something like that? Where do you start to uncover this to tell your story better?
Chris Smith: (04:51) Yeah, great question because that is the big, I think, kind of daunting task when it comes to your story and your brand is there’s a lot there, right? Your story can span your entire life, so where do you start? How do you start?
So what we have tried to do. So the Campfire Effect is our methodology and we have created the framework and there’s really four parts to the framework and within each of those four parts, you know, there’s different processes. The idea is that we want to build a brand and a story that connects and flows in a way that, you know, is consumable and easy to understand by the people listening to it. Here is the goal of storytelling. The goal of storytelling is to be able to tell your story in a way that is so clear and so powerful, that the person you told your story to can immediately go and re-share and re-tell it to someone else.
Where that all starts though, is it really starts with who you are as the entrepreneur. It starts with digging into your roots. We are a big believer with the Campfire Effect that your growth is found in your roots, meaning who you are, where you come from, your ancestors, your family. There is so much strength and power found in our roots because it literally has shaped who we are, whether we recognize it or not. Your roots are what I call the soul of your story. So many times as entrepreneurs we want to get right into talking about what we do, focusing on our product or our service, and focusing on the features of our product or service, but what people want to know in addition to what you do, they want to know who you are and we as entrepreneurs have a real habit of starting our story at the present day. So if I’m like “Hey Micky, tell me a little about you and what you do”, you more than likely start with “Well, let me tell you about Kahuna and our podcast TREPX, let me tell you about that” starting today going forward. But, what makes your story so much more interesting and what allows me to connect other than your story more powerful is if you give me a little bit of the back story, right?
Micky Deming: (06:46) Yeah.
Chris Smith: (06:46) How did it come to be? Why did you start it? Who are you and how does that relate to this business? And so, we call it the five forces of storytelling and these are the five things that have to be in your story, or that should be in your story if you really want to get clients, build a strong culture, and make more of an impact.
First, you have to tell people a little about who you are. You don’t have to give them your life’s narrative or your life history, but like for me, for example, I tell people “Hey, I’m a fifth generation native of Arizona. My family came to Arizona in 1877. I grew up in a ranching/rodeo family. I have a really deep connection to my roots. I was fascinated with storytelling as a small child, growing up around cowboy storytellers. You know, my wife is my hero; she’s always believed in me and my four kids are my best friends. Right? That’s a little bit about who I am.
Micky Deming: (07:32) Yeah.
Chris Smith: (07:33) And then the next piece is what do you do? You’ve got to tell people what you do, but here is my big thing and you will probably notice that I started off today when you asked me “hey, tell me a little bit about the Campfire Effect”, I started off with what we our “Golden Thread”. So, the Golden Thread is something we teach in our framework and it’s basically “how do you tell people what you do?”, but it has to pass four filters. It should be clear. It should be succinct. It should be thought provoking and most importantly it should deliver a benefit. So when someone asks you what you do, don’t tell them accounting or don’t tell them consulting, right?
Micky Deming: (08:10) Right.
Chris Smith: (08:10) So when people ask me what do I do? I say we teach entrepreneurs and their teams how to tell their story in a really powerful way, so they can get more clients, build a stronger culture, and make more of an impact.
Micky Deming: (08:21) Yeah, I love that! When you said, I was like “Hey that was succinct and I want more clients, I want better culture, and I want more impact”. You know, I could tell that that makes sense. I’ll let you keep going on the five forces, but I think that’s a great key point in what you do, is like, when I heard those benefits I was like “Oh, ok”. I think people grab onto that really quickly.
Chris Smith: (08:44) Yeah I’m amazed, Micky, to that point, how many entrepreneurs that I’ll talk and at some point in time in the conversation, you know, what they do comes up. I’m amazed. No joke, I would bet 95% of the time they don’t tell me any benefit of what they do.
Micky Deming: (09:00) Yeah.
Chris Smith: (09:01) And it’s not that your golden thread, it’s not that it’s not going to make or break your entire business, but if you do have that short window of opportunity to tell someone what you do, tell them the benefit of what they could get from working with you.
Micky Deming: (09:13) Right! Well, and I think it goes back to your point at the beginning that I think is really, really key to this whole thing and it’s that people. This is one of the most important things in your entire business, like because you’re saying it every single day and it is your key to culture, key to revenue, but nobody sits down and takes time and says “what do we want that story to be?” and so when you ask people they’re just saying whatever pops into their head. So what pops into there is, you know, what that interactions with people and like you said before, it’s the present day situation and so it’s not like get better at responding to that question. It’s like no, actually take time and build this out. I think that’s kind of what you’re saying is like it needs to be an intentional, well thought out answer.
Chris Smith: (09:59) Yeah, I mean every networking event that you go to for the rest of your life, you’re going to get asked the question, what do you do? Most entrepreneurs hate that question. Most entrepreneurs will say that the question, “what do you do?” is the bane of my existence because I never know how to respond. And my thought is, well then wouldn’t you put some thought into it because you know you’re going to get asked the rest of your life and what a great opportunity. I love getting asked the question, what do I do, because I feel like I get to showcase my golden thread and usually when I tell people my golden thread they usually say one of two things: Well hey, “how do you do that?” or “Tell me more about that.”
Micky Deming: (10:33) Right. That’s great.
Chris Smith: (10:35) So the first force is who you are, little bit. Second, what do you do? And there is a real science that goes into the golden thread. I don’t want people to feel like, you maybe get discouraged, like “Oh, I just came up with that.” I mean, that took me a long time of narrowing options and working on it to get to that.
The third thing is “Why do you do it”? This to me is like all things being equal, if I’m talking to a prospective client and another consultant that’s talking to a prospective client that does something similar to me, all things being equal, it’s whoever that person has the strongest connection to their “why” is who they’re going to do business with. So if they feel like one consultant is doing business because they can make money or they feel like my “why” is because I believe entrepreneurs were put on this earth to be powerful creators and I believe that most entrepreneurs are so much more powerful then how they talk about themselves and I want to unleash that power from them. That’s why I do this is because I’m tired of seeing entrepreneurs who are so much more powerful than their story that they tell people.
Micky Deming: (11:47) That’s great. So like when you say what you do and it’s like “I help you have more clients, more culture”, do you feel like it’s incomplete at that point? You know, these five forces, like even if what you do is something I really, really am interested in that if there’s no “why” is that what you do, the depth that people are going to be able to buy into is a lot less?
Chris Smith: (12:10) Right, for sure. And the why isn’t meant to be, again, this really long thing. It’s to give them context and to give them some purpose that I am not just doing this because it’s a career or a job, I’m doing this because I feel like I was put on the earth to do this. You know, my favorite quote is by Mark Twain. He said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why”. I tell people, like when I’m talking with people, I was put on this earth to help people like you. I think people want to hear that. I think people enjoy knowing that this is real deep, like, conviction for me. That I’m not just doing this because I can make money as a consultant.
Micky Deming: (12:51) Right. No, that makes a lot of sense. So it’s who you are, what you do, why you do it, and then what?
Chris Smith: (12:58) And then the fourth force, which I think is the most misunderstood in that I think it’s the biggest missed opportunity of all the five forces, is how you do it. Now, here is what I mean by that. If I was to ask you Micky, “Hey Micky, do you guys have a process that you use to get results for your clients?” What would you say?
Micky Deming: (13:18) I would say yes.
Chris Smith: (13:20) Yeah, of course. Every business has a process. Without a process you cannot get a result for your clients, right? Now, do you guys feel like, Micky, your process is somewhat unique for the industry or is there a process through how you work with clients, your culture, that is as bit unique in your industry?
Micky Deming: (13:38) Yeah, I think so. I think in the way that we get people started and in the way we have ongoing education. I think that’s a bit unique.
Chris Smith: (13:45) Ok. Now let me ask you this, have you ever thought of naming that process or branding it and giving it its own brand?
Micky Deming: (13:51) Yes, I have and I thought of it like 24 seconds whenever you were starting to lead down this path, but prior to that, no.
Chris Smith: (14:01) Here is what is so fascinating about that, Micky. We as entrepreneurs, most of us, really do have a unique way in which we do that “how”. How we actually get the result for most of us is pretty unique, but because we don’t brand it, we don’t know how to articulate the “how”. When we show up to appointments to meet with prospective clients and we start talking about what we do and how we do it, we sound like everyone else and we get no benefit from this uniqueness of our process.
Micky Deming: (14:28) Yeah.
Chris Smith: (14:29) And as an entrepreneur, you probably take for granted that you have a unique process. To you it’s like, well yeah it’s our process, but it’s nothing special. It’s just what we do, it’s how we do it. Well no, it is special, it is unique because it’s how you’re going to get a result for them.
Micky Deming: (14:44) I love that.
Chris Smith: (14:45) A lot of times as entrepreneurs we get stuck in the trap of talking forever about what we do and what I realized is most people don’t really care to know a lot about what you do. They want to know enough about what you do to see if they’re interested and then what they really, really want to know, even if they don’t know how to ask it this way, what most people are working for is can you explain to me how you do it? If I know how you do it, that’s what builds confidence. If I have confidence in how you do it then I’m going to write you a check and do business with you.
What I’ve found is, you don’t have to tell them every detail of the how. You have to just simply let them know you have a process. So for us, I give them the who I am, I give them the what I do, the why I do it, and I say and now how we do is through a proprietary methodology called the Campfire Effect. Now the Campfire Effect is a four part framework we’ve created that systematically, in modules, takes someone through a process and at the end of that process they have their whole framework of their brand story and the first pillar we start with is called Root Force. Root Force is a four step framework within the Campfire Effect and that is really where we get into the nuts and bolts of teaching you how to be a powerful storyteller.
Micky Deming: (15:58) Yeah, this is so eye opening for me right now. I have so many notes! I think that makes total sense. It’s like, how do you do it and then you’re just like “Well, here are the four steps, step one, step two, step three, and step four”. It’s just kind of a detail, but if it’s like this is the proprietary process that we run you through and that has four parts in it, it does a lot of things. I think for me as the potential buyer, I’m like they’ve really thought this process through because it’s got a name. It must be well thought out.
I know you’ll get into this too with the culture, but I think when you as a team are able to break something down into its own brand, its own identity, I think there is a greater sense of ownership of that process. It’s not just a series of steps to get from A to B. It is its own kind of living entity that you take care of. Is that kind of how you approach it?
Chris Smith: (16:55) 100%! Like, our proprietary process, the Campfire Effect, our methodology, it’s got its own logo, it’s trademarked, and it’s something that’s so easy for our people to get behind and realize this isn’t just a gimmick. This isn’t just a sales tool. This really is what we believe. This is how it do.
The other thing is, you want to talk about empowering your business development people, your sales people. To empower them to go out and differentiate with the unique branded process. What I’ve found is, when I used to try to get into the “how” before I had a branded process, that’s when I would lose people. I would talk for 30-45 minutes and try to articulate this really complex, you know, confusing, you know we do workshops, we do in person consulting and it was just all over the place. People were interested, but they couldn’t quite grasp how we were going to do it. When I went and took that 30-45-minute explanation down to what I literally just shared with you in a couple of minutes; it was amazing! People were like ok, yeah that sounds great and what do we do next. I was like, what do we do next? I mean, don’t we have to meet another two or three times before you understand what we do and how we do it? Because you like you said, people had confidence just by the fact that we had a process. That we though it through enough to name it, brand it, trademark it. This wasn’t the first time we’d done this.
It was a huge driver of the culture because one of the things I’m a big believer in with culture is that a lack of clarity promotes a lack of accountability. And clarity promotes accountability, so the clearer you are as an organization about the five forces, who you are, what you do, why you do it, and then the how and people can get behind that then it becomes its own form of people can align with that and buy into that.
Micky Deming: (18:44) That makes a lot of sense. I do have one quick follow up because one thing you said that was really interesting, that I think is a fine balance in this, when you talk about not making it gimmicky. Is that kind of an art form? I do think there would be a way to say that this is a proprietary thing and people kind of see through it like you’re just putting a name on something that everybody does. Like what is the trick to making it unique, but not crossing that line into being kind of a gimmick?
Chris Smith: (19:15) Yeah, that’s a great question! So in Root Force, so Root Force is the foundational pillar of the Campfire Effect, and within Root Force there are four steps. There is Brand Journey, Brand Framework, Brand DNA, and Brand Vision. The branded proprietary process and the golden thread fall within the brand framework and it is by far the most meat and the heaviest part of the framework is that piece because, your right, this idea of having a proprietary process or a branded framework is like, it’s the engine that generates all the revenue and makes it work and generates culture, right? So that’s where we spend the most time with organizations and it really is an art form to create branded process that is authentic. That really is part of the story. That when you say it it’s going to build credibility and trust, not this “Oh yeah, of course. You say it’s a brand proprietary”, right?
And so, part of that though is, and I’ll probably sound like a broken record on this podcast, but it’s so much easier to create your golden thread and your branded process and these other components if you’ve spent time understand who you are and connecting to your roots. This idea of connecting to your roots isn’t just for individuals. It’s for businesses. A lot of entrepreneurs that we work with that have been around 10, 15, 20 years that have successful business, somewhere along the way they have lost a little bit of the connection to why they started their business in the first place.
Micky Deming: (20:44) Definitely.
Chris Smith: (20:46) They’ve lost a little bit of their identity of who they are and they are so focused on what they do every single day to keep the doors open that when we go back and reconnect them to their roots, they start feeling feelings and thinking things that they haven’t felt or thought since they started their business and this it’s this birthplace of explosive creativity. They reconnect back to their roots and they get this sense of who they and so that when we get to the branded process, we really are creating a process that is really authentically aligned with who they are at the core, and I think that comes through in the story.
There’s a little bit of art form to obviously creating this story, but then there’s also some art form into how you tell it and how you deliver it. So, I could deliver a branded process to you that comes off really gimmicky in just how I say it and how it flows in the context of the story and then I could take that exact same branded process, deliver it differently with flow and the context of the story, and it would seem totally authentic.
Micky Deming: (21:44) Yeah, I think everything that you’re saying goes back to authenticity. It just seems like and I want to ask you about this later just because sometimes I think people separate the culture aspects and the knowing yourself aspects and then the sales aspects, but I really think it’s all the same. And that question of like, does it feel gimmicky, it’s like really I think probably just comes down to do you believe in it? Do you believe that it works? Do you believe it’s unique? If you don’t then it probably is gimmicky and will come across that way and if you’re bought in and you know that you’ve put in the work to make this stand out that your communication is going to align that way too. It’s like really all this communication is for yourself first and then if you get that right, you know, you’ll get it right speaking externally too.
Chris Smith: (22:31) Yeah and one of the things you reminded me of, you brought up this, one of the things that makes your branded process, or your methodology, so powerful is the fact that your branded process, like the Campfire Effect for me, I didn’t just wake up one day and create the Campfire Effect. The Campfire Effect was actually a culmination of about 10 years of observations, realizations, and real life lessons and experiences, right?
One of the things that we do a horrible job of as entrepreneurs, as I said earlier, we don’t give people the back story of the lessons we learned and the realizations we had along our path and along our journey that lead us to this big breakthrough solution, which is our process. If people have context as to why you created your branded process, your proprietary methodology, then it really makes sense to them. If they’re like “Oh my gosh, so Chris you mean to tell me for 10 years you were in industries like commercial real estate and insurance and the supplement industry and you kept seeing over, and over, and over for 10 years entrepreneurs that just did not know how to tell their story in a powerful way? And over, and over, and over you saw organizations that just had these massive cultural problems? So you decided to do something about it? Like after seeing all of that and experiencing all of those things, you said “Look, I want to do something about this” and that let you down this journey of creating your company, which lead to the creation of the Campfire Effect as your proprietary methodology. Ok, that makes sense”. But if people don’t have the back story then how do they put your breakthrough solution into context? Well they can’t.
Micky Deming: (24:10) Right, right, yeah did you just sit with a notebook one day and think, “What would be a good process that would help people”? Ok, got it! I think that they all tie together. This is really helpful. So ok, we are getting through the five forces. We are at the who you are, what you do, your why, how you do, and then what’s number five?
Chris Smith: (24:33) So the fourth again, as I said the most misunderstood, the fourth force of storytelling. The fifth is the most important when it comes to that final decision of someone’s going to work with you or they’re not. It’s the capstone and we call it Social Proof. Social Proof is this idea that if you’re going to tell someone who you are, what you do, why you do, and how you do it then wouldn’t you want to end it with the time that you’ve actually done it for someone else?
And we have so many success stories as entrepreneurs. Like if I was to ask you right now, “Hey Micky, have you ever gotten a result for any of your clients? Do you have any success stories?”
Micky Deming: (25:12) Absolutely.
Chris Smith: (25:13) Yeah, tons of them! And then if I was to say, “Ok Micky, how often are you using a success story when you’re working with a new prospective client?”
Micky Deming: (25:21) Yeah, not usually. We have them, you know, on the website like everybody, but not introducing them as part of the story.
Chris Smith: (25:28) Right! And what a missed opportunity! If we are sitting there with someone that reminds us of a client that we have successfully helped in the past, how powerful would it be to say, “Ok, I just told you how we did it. Now Micky, you remind me a lot of a client that we recently took through our process. Do you mind if I share their story with you and what we were able to do help them?” I promise you, you’re not going to say “Nah, no that’s alright, I don’t want to hear it.”
Micky Deming: (25:53) Right.
Chris Smith: (25:54) I mean, there’s nothing more you want to hear! If I’m telling you that I have worked with a client like you and taken them through the process and so I’ve got success stories around, you know, smaller companies that are needing to tell their story and build their brand and start-ups and then I’ve got success stories about, you know, existing organizations where we have impacted their culture. So depending on who I’m talking with I might say, “Hey you know Micky, you remind me a lot of a company that we recently helped called the Connect. So Connect was wanting to, you know, re-brand themselves. They had been around for about 15 years and they knew they needed to refresh. The industry they’d been in had changed and they’d been for about two years had been trying to figure out how to re-brand themselves and tell their story and kind of fresh and be more relevant. So two years on their own they’d been working on this and they were losing confidence in their ability to sell, sales people didn’t feel they had a really compelling message, people weren’t selling as a result, so they came to us and went through the Campfire Effect workshop and within three weeks we created a new brand, a new name, a new story. We took them through the Campfire Effect and within three weeks they had created $7,500.00 a month of recurring revenue, after two years of trying to do it on their own.”
Micky Deming: (27:02) Mmm hmm. The social proof makes such a big difference.
Chris Smith: (27:08) Yeah, there’s nothing that can say that and here’s the interesting thing about social proof, it is used on us all the time, but we don’t leverage it ourselves. So for example, like when I go on Amazon, I bought something for my MacBook Pro the other day on Amazon, I totally bought it based off of the reviews on Amazon. I bought it because of social proof. When my wife and I are looking for a restaurant to go to, we usually pick restaurants based off of social proof. Social proof works and I call it liquid gold. Like these client success stories, we have. It’s liquid gold because most of us let it run right through our fingers and down the drain. We have it, we just don’t use it.
Micky Deming: (27:44) Yeah, there’s nothing more powerful than to just know someone just like me has already been there before. I think that’s people’s fear. I mean if it’s something that’s a commodity then ok I’ll try it and see how it goes, but if it’s a relationship then there’s a fear in that, there’s a commitment, and there’s no better way to kind of work through that than to understand, like, someone else has been there before, they’ve done it, they’ve gotten results, and there’s their story right there. That makes a huge difference.
Chris Smith: (28:14) Totally.
Micky Deming: (28:16) So this is really great! I mean this story framework, I think anyone listening to this will have a lot to work through, a lot to think through, and it’s very clarifying. I sometimes, you know, I get nervous in a conversation like this, like, I’m going to get overwhelmed or I have all of these new ideas and not know what to do with them. I think this is simple enough to kind of work through and then to build on that. I think this is where I’m most intrigued because when you shared basically what Campfire Effect is all about and what you’re doing and it’s helping people get more clients, helping them improve their culture, helping them have a greater impact, do you think part of the problem in how people use this is that they separate those things too much? Specifically, I think people think getting clients is kind of one activity and one team, one focus area and then on the other hand there’s like culture and knowing my story and it’s being separate. Do you think that’s a big part of the problem is like not working this frame work, number one, but then number 2 not applying it to all facets of the business?
Chris Smith: (29:21) I just have to laugh because absolutely! It’s the biggest thing I think we run up against all of the time and I’m really just crazy about educating people in this. It all comes back to the brand. Sometimes people say, “Oh Chris, you guys do branding, right?” And I tell them no because it depends on what you mean by branding.
The word “brand” in branding has been so ubiquitously used and it means so many different things to so many different people that the term brand has really lost a lot of its meaning and it’s watered down. To some people, your work is branding, it’s your logo, it’s marketing, it’s advertising, it’s your product, right? It’s your branding.
When we talk about “brand”, your brand is what you stand for. It’s the soul of who you are. So when we can get organizations to rethink how they define “brand” and when they start to recognize that their brand isn’t just external branding, but it starts internally first and they start to realize you know what, this idea of what we stand for and what we want to be known for, and the soul of organization, they start to recognize, wow, that drives everything. So our brand drives culture. Our brand drives sales. Our brand drives the customer experience. If we can get everyone aligned to what our brand stands for then we can stop operating in silos in every department of our organization and we can stop having, like, disconnection between culture and sales. Because it is all connected and the sooner organizations can get aligned to this idea of what their brand stands for and realize that brand drives everything.
Your culture is the result of what you’ve decided to stand for. Your sales are the result of what you’ve decided to stand for. Your client experience is the result of what you’ve decided to stand for. If everyone in the organization has agreed that this is what we stand for and we have absolute clarity, now we are going to hold each other accountable for that. I think one of the biggest dangers is a separation of well we’ve got our external brand, marketing, and sales and we’ve got these internal culture problems and they’re different. No, they’re not different. They’re completely connected.
Micky Deming: (31:43) Yeah, I think that totally makes sense and I think everything you’ve said this whole time has just I think made that very clear, that these things are connected and that the more unified everyone is, whether it’s small team/big team, that it’s going to basically permeate through everything you do. So I couldn’t agree more that if your internal communication is bad then your external communication’s probably not going to be that good either. So those things all tie together. So I guess as we start to wrap this up, one question that I think people will have is, like you know, and I’m sure this is probably the biggest thing you work through all of the time is, ok where do I start? How do I implement something like this? I’m constantly moving forward. I’m constantly still doing things. What do you recommend as a good first step for people who are like, you know I have gotten away from my roots, I have gotten a little bit off track in clarity? Where is a good place to start to start to pull this message together as a business?
Chris Smith: (32:48) Yeah, great! The very best…organization has is their clients and their frontline employees. So when I go in and do workshops, often times I will ask leadership teams, “Hey where do you guys think the best ideas come from in your organization?” You know the ideas for growth, innovation, improvement, all of these positive things, where do you think they come from? And leadership teams will always say, “Oh, from our frontline people because they’re in it every day, they’re living it, they’re seeing it from the customer’s perspective”. I’ll say, “Ok yeah, I agree with that”. I’ll say, “So if the very best ideas for growth, innovation, good things are coming from your frontline people, then how often are you reaching out to those frontline people for ideas?” And every time I ask that question, the room goes silent and then shamefully they will always say they are not.
I say, “So you mean to tell me that the one place where you know the very best ideas for your organization come is the place that you are leveraging the last?” And so the one thing that I always encourage and that, we are doing a two day workshop this Monday and Tuesday with clients coming in and spending two days with us, and the last couple of days I’ve been calling and interviewing the clients and I have been calling and interviewing some of their employees. If you really want to know what your brand stands for and you really want to know what people think you do and what your story is then call some of your clients and ask them. They would be glad to help you! They love feeling like they’re part of it. They love being asked for help. So when we call and interview some of our client’s customers or clients, we ask them things like what are the three things that this brand stands for? Why do you personally work with this organization? What is unique about this organization? If you had to describe what they do, what would you say? Then we interview their employees we ask similar questions. We ask why do you work here? What makes this organization unique? What do you think this brand stands for that you work for? But then we also ask clients and employees challenge questions. We will ask what’s most challenging about working here? What do you think are opportunities to improve the brand and the story? Or we will ask clients, what is most challenging about working with them? How do they add more value to you? Every time we do this exercise, entrepreneurs are amazed at the insights that come out of this. Because these people have such a great prospective on your brand and what it stands for, maybe how you’ve gotten off track, how you’ve lost the way a little bit, right? That is one of the very first places we should, I believe, we should start is by asking the people who have the greatest insight into our brand and what we do, our clients and our frontline employees.
The second thing I really like to encourage people to do is go back and think about why did you start your business in the first place and see if you can find a connection between who you are as person, like your roots and where your come from, and see if you can find your connection between that and the business you do today. See, I teach entrepreneur storytelling and culture. It was not until later in life, Micky, that I realized I had been fascinated with storytelling in my roots ever since I was a kid, but once I realized that and I made that connection, and I made the connection between who I was a person to the work I was doing today, it gave my work a whole new purpose and clarity and meaning because I could see, like, Wow! This isn’t just coincidence, this isn’t just a career I fell into and I’m aimlessly working it until I retire. This has always been there for me. These little dots have always been there; I just never was able to connect them.
Micky Deming: (36:30) That’s excellent! Man, this has been one of my most enjoyable interviews. I have so many notes and so many take-aways. I think this powerful stuff! I think people will, just from this alone, will be able to really dig deep into why they’re doing what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and ways to communicate that. I am really grateful for you taking the time. Where can people find all of the info about everything your up to and how they could not learn more from what you’re doing?
Chris Smith: (37:00) Yeah, can I offer the listeners a gift? Micky, is that ok?
Micky Deming: (37:04) That’d be great!
Chris Smith: (37:05) So if you guys go to the CampfireEffect.com/success, there is a little page we put there and there’s a small little video course that I put together for free. Anytime we do a podcast or we work with a partner of ours, we offer this, but in that I provide a little formula, a networking formula, that I use every networking event I go to. I rarely go to a networking even without getting clients or partners. The last networking event I went to was a two-day networking event and just by using this little formula, it is a video that I put together, just by using that little formula I think we will end up doing about, you know, $60 and $70,000.00 in revenue.
The other thing that is on there, you can get more information about our group coaching program that we do and there is a code on there that if anyone was interested in our group coaching, there is actually a 50% off discount code. And again, we only share that with people we do interviews with or our strategic partners, so the CampfireEffect.com/success. I appreciate you having me on Micky. I love it. I could talk about this stuff, you know, way too much!
Micky Deming: (38:30) That’s great! No, I love it! The passion comes through and is stuff we needs to be talking about. I can’t thank you enough. We will have that link in the show notes and everybody can go check it out. So, thanks a lot Chris! You have a great day!
Chris Smith: (38:44) Alright you guys, thanks and go start a fire!
About the TREPX Podcast
The TREPX Podcast provides insight, stories, and tips from entrepreneurs to help strengthen and grow your business. Starting in early 2015, host Micky Deming has interviewed dozens of founders, experts, business professionals and fellow podcasters to understand how they got to where they are now, and share their stories and expertise with others seeking to achieve their desired level of success.
Guests include Peter Shankman, Michael Port, Mike Michalowicz, Aaron Walker, Pam Slim, John Lee Dumas, and Jack Zerby. Discussed topics include marketing, mindset, customer service, business growth, social media, and much more. For audio to every episode, visit TrepXGroup.com/podcasts, or listen to the TREPX Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.