Andrew Davis is a keynote speaker and a bestselling author of BRANDSCAPING: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships and TOWN Inc: Grow Your Business, Save Your Town, Leave Your Legacy. Before building and selling a thriving digital marketing agency, he produced for NBC and worked for The Muppets. He’s appeared in the New York Times and on the Today Show. He’s also crafted documentary films and award-winning content for tiny start-ups and Fortune 500 brands.
In today’s episode, we’ll discuss public speaking, Andrew’s career, and brandscaping.
How to Earn Credibility with New Ideas in Public Speaking
In one of Andrew’s books, he discussed how to gain credibility through public speaking. He explained that most people share tips and tricks when they are speaking, but “if you can Google the answer, it’s not a great speech because everybody can speak about it,” he said.
The speakers who challenge conventional wisdom, bring something new to light, and cause people to think about their topic in a new way are the speakers who are constantly getting booked. They’re not giving “how to” or “10 tips for” speeches.
Andrew said, “It boils down to what I call the journey to Visionary Town. . . . It’s all about making a trip from Expertville, where it’s very commodity driven insight, into what we call Visionary Town, which is not overpopulated; it’s grassy green, and people are looking for new ideas and insight.”
When we give our audience a few hacks to try, they may consciously or unconsciously think, “Well, I could have skimmed an article on that,” and they likely won’t remember our speech very well. When we challenge their ideas, they will keep thinking about the speech long after it’s over.
Andrew and Pete
There are two speakers from the UK, Andrew and Pete, who run a company called Atomic. The duo wanted to speak all around the world as keynote speakers and elevate their business. For five years, they spoke all around Europe for free, thinking that if they did enough speeches, they would be asked to speak at bigger and bigger events.
They weren’t bad speakers; they had fun and entertaining presentations. However, no one invited them to speak at bigger events. Three months before they would have a big opportunity to speak in front of 300 people at the Youpreneur Summit in London, they decided to stop doing speeches until the event. They wanted to focus all their time thinking about new ideas for their speech and rehearsing it to be the best speech it could be.
They came up with the 90:10 rule, which says when it comes to content planning, we should spend 90% of our marketing efforts doing one thing remarkably well on one platform and 10% of our marketing efforts experimenting with everything else.
They put together a challenging marketing speech about the 90:10 rule. It had all the right ingredients: it was funny, it had a signature bit, it had a new idea, and it was beautifully written. Before they finished speaking at the event, someone in the audience texted the organizer of Social Media Marketing World, one of the biggest social media marketing conferences in the world, and told them that they should have the duo speak as one of the closing keynotes.
They got that event and since then they’ve been invited to speak all over the world. They became referable speakers when they realized they needed a visionary speech with a signature bit, a speech that was entertaining and transformational for the audience, and challenged their conventional wisdom and made them think differently.
What’s a Signature Bit?
A signature bit is the hallmark of a referral speaker. It’s the five minutes inside of a full 45-minute or 60-minute keynote that people remember and constantly talk about with other people.
Andrew said, “You’ve got to have something that is entertaining. Entertaining doesn’t mean funny. For me, I do a lot of funny . . . signature bits, but it can be emotional in any way, can raise tension, it could be a sad or dramatic story, it could be a transformational story with lots and lots of drama. The signature bit has to be the thing that sticks in people’s minds years from now.”
When Andrew started speaking, his signature bit became a story about his search for meatloaf, which people now just refer to as meatloaf. When he’s speaking, even all these years later, people still ask him if he’s going to do meatloaf. “It’s like your greatest hit,” Andrew said. “Every one of the speeches I deliver has a signature bit that I expect to hone to the point [where] the audience can refer to it over and over again in a very simple way.”
Andrew constantly enhances his signature bits, so they improve for his audience and he doesn’t get tired of telling the same story over and over. He records every speech he gives and then tries to watch it within 24 hours. Then he chooses a section up to five minutes that needs to be reworked.
Andrew studied television and film in school. Right out of school he worked for a local TV station producing two shows a week. One of the shows was the highest rated medical call-in talk show, which was fairly easy to achieve because it was the only medical talk show on the air at the time. One of the things Andrew learned working there was to find a content hole, something that people haven’t made content about, and take advantage of it by making content first.
Andrew started producing for some major television shows like the Today Show. Then he got his dream job at the Jim Henson Company with The Muppets. He met his wife there, and he also learned everything he needed to know about marketing there. The company made a lot of their money not from the shows they produced, but from the merchandise they sold.
Andrew learned that if the Jim Henson Company didn’t create content that people fell in love with and characters that people wanted to know they had nothing to sell. When he left the company to be a marketer, he realized the same thing applied to other companies. “If you can create and build a relationship with an audience [through] the content you’re creating, you can inspire them to buy almost anything,” Andrew said.
He started his own marketing and advertising agency, built that company, and sold it in 2012. Ever since, Andrew has been writing books and speaking around the world. Publishing his books has been the greatest home run of his career. He’s enjoyed challenging conventional wisdom and creating a legacy.
What is Brandscaping?
Brandscaping is creating content with like-minded brands to gain access to their audience and drive revenue.
For example, Converse wanted to sell more shoes, but they knew that most people who were into shoes already knew about them. However, they noticed that when a famous musician like Justin Timberlake wore their shoes in a concert or on TV, those shoes would sell out over the next few weeks.
They couldn’t afford to partner with anyone like Justin Timberlake, so they asked, who is the next Justin Timberlake? They didn’t know much about music, so they went to Guitar Center and asked them what problems they or their customers were running into. Guitar Center said, “We have budding musicians come into the store all the time. They’ve just bought some new equipment, and they want to record their songs with a professional engineer.”
Converse and Guitar Center teamed up to build a studio in Brooklyn. They hired a full-time engineer to work there, and bands or musicians can book a free day-long recording session in that studio as long as their band can get there. All Converse and Guitar Center want is the ability to share their music and say, “Brought to you by Converse and Guitar Center.”
There are now 12 of these studios around the world. Andrew said, “This only works because both Guitar Center and Converse are selling more stuff as a result. People that are Guitar Center fans that never would have bought Converse are now like, ‘I love Converse because they invested in my music,’ People who are Converse fans but never thought about making music are now interested in new bands, new music, and even starting their own music as well.”
He continued, “That’s the perfect kind of brandscape, a long term relationship that’s designed to create content that inspires people to buy things they didn’t know they needed.”
How Brandscaping Can Lead to Success
Brandscaping is often an unconventional way to success because it often involves nontraditional partners. Converse and Guitar Center don’t seem like they would attract the same audience, but they do. There are many unconventional partnerships that make brandscaping work.
For example, one day, a marketer for Crocs was touring restaurants in Manhattan because he was a foodie. In three different restaurants, he noticed many of the chefs were wearing Crocs. He asked one of them why, and they said, “Three reasons: they’re practical and comfortable, they clean easily, and they don’t slip.”
The marketer went back to his team and told them what he found out. They called up one of the chefs and asked, “How can we make our shoes better for chefs?” The chef said they have some ideas, and they formed a partnership. Now there is a chef’s line of shoes that is only available in restaurant supply stores.
This unconventional partnership has resulted in success for both Crocs and chefs. Crocs is getting sales from more chefs. The chefs who helped design the new shoes are featured as helping enhance the shoes, and they get new hires because they are seen as an innovative restaurant.
To start brandscaping, we need to think like the “Frequently bought together” bar on Amazon. We need to think about what would be next to our products or services if they were on that bar.
For example, if we sell tax accounting software, someone who just bought our software might also buy books on tax accounting, filing cabinets to sort their receipts, a calculator, budget spreadsheets, etc. “These are the immediate people that you should consider as your partners,” Andrew said.
Then, we should start with the other products that are closest to us. In this example, it might be a book called Tax Accounting for Beginners. We can call the author and ask, “What does your audience struggle with?” Andrew said, “You’re not looking to immediately start a partnership. You’re looking to offer your help and assistance to whoever you’re going to partner with first.”
Once we’ve found someone who we may want to partner with, we will want to run a test to see if the partnership will work. “Don’t embark on a long-term partnership immediately. You want to try to prove to each other that your audience will find whatever you’re sharing valuable.”
The last thing we need is to embark with a mindset that we’re creating something new. Andrew explained, “The content you’re creating, the partnership you’re working together on, for the long-term isn’t going to live on your website or their website; it’s going to live on both. It should live in a third place. You’re creating a third ‘content brand’ that is outside of the purview of either of your [businesses]; it’s just designed to reach the exact same audience where the overlap is and generate leads and business for both of you in the most mutually beneficial way.”
How to Set Up Partnerships
One of the biggest mistakes Andrew made in his career was not following the three rules of setting up partnerships. Anytime a partnership for him has gone badly is because he didn’t do one of these things.
First, in partnerships, we both need to trust each other and be excited about the future of the thing we’re building. Second, we should have the same vision for the partnership and the future, even if it’s constantly changing and updating within the partnership; we should have the same kinds of values.
Last, we need to have a conversation about who owns what. We need to talk about what will happen if the partnership doesn’t work out. This can be a tough conversation to have but it will make everything easier if it doesn’t work out. Andrew said, “It’s the tough conversations that make a great partnership.”
Thank you so much Andrew for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- When we challenge our audience’s ideas, they may keep thinking about our speech long after it’s over.
- Every speech should have a signature bit that sticks in people’s minds for years.
- We should find a content hole, something that people haven’t made content about, and take advantage of it by making content first.
- Brandscaping is creating content with like-minded brands to gain access to their audience and drive revenue.
- Brandscaping can lead to great partnerships and huge success.
- When starting partnerships, we need to make sure we have trust, the same vision, and we should talk about what will happen if it doesn’t work out.
Connect with Andrew
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