How to Build an Authentic Brand | Rick Wittenbraker

Feb 9, 2024


Rick, the Chief Marketing Officer of Howler Bros and ex-CMO of YETI. Rick shares his journey from his early days at Yeti to his pivotal role at Howler Bros, emphasizing the importance of building authentic brands and creating meaningful customer connections. He dives into the challenges and strategies in the current marketing landscape, discussing the impact of technology on sales, the importance of brand storytelling, and the evolution of sales tactics in a digital world. This episode is a must-watch for anyone interested in brand building, sales strategies, and the future of marketing in the tech-driven era.

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Rick Wittenbraker:At the end of the day, if he keeps growing his business, he's going to add more trucks, more people, more equipment. And so that you can definitely build a really awesome, cool business, but you may never get that breakaway that you can get with software.

Andy Mewborn:Howler Bros has a lot of different designs. SKUs, what does the creative process look like for like Howlerbro?

Rick Wittenbraker:I'm giving away a little secret hint here. For those of you out there that think that using Sales Navigator or scraping LinkedIn is the answer.

Andy Mewborn:And then now that with AI cold calling and stuff, like I think people, as you mentioned, are getting smart and they're like, oh, this could be a bot, what's going on here?

Rick Wittenbraker:I look at all those sales emails and I am probably blocking and marking as spam 95%.

Andy Mewborn:listening, Rick, I'll introduce you, Rick, before we get into this, so people can be like, who's this awesome guy, Rick? Who is that weird guy? Yeah, who's that weird guy, Rick, with the awesome clothes in the background? And why is Andy talking about wearing Howler Bros? And what's up with this? So, Rick, I'll give my spiel on Rick, and then you can give some color. I think that would be awesome. Or I'll just get some color and then people be like, holy, holy shit. That's awesome. Right. Which is, uh, so Rick was like part of Yeti back in the day. Right, Rick, am I am I getting that right? Yeah, that's right. Part of the early team at Yeti. That's the first thing. So I'm sure everyone that's going to listen to this knows what the heck Yeti is, at least in the US. Right. And then secondly, now Rick runs marketing at Howler Bros, which is another awesome Austin based brand. Right. And then I want to dive into all this, man, specifically Yeti and like building a brand and how because you've done it twice now. with two awesome brands. So I would love to dive into that, man. But did I miss anything? Anything cool that I missed?

Rick Wittenbraker:Man, well, I hope there's more than that. You're not incorrect. I started doing work for Yeti when they were pretty early on. They had eight employees and all shared one Gmail account at the time, if you can believe that. And then, and that was a like, that's including the warehouse. I mean, it was like eight total humans. And then that I started off doing some really like consulting work and then some project work. And then it just snowballed into more and more stuff. And to the point where, uh, Roy, the founder just said, look, man, this is great, but I want, I just want all your time. So just come on board. And, uh, and so that's how I started working with them. And, uh, You know, I've been outdoors in my entire life, but never professionally done anything around the outdoors. And so for me, it was super fun to get to sort of combine those two things. And it was just exciting and fun. And yet he was just starting to really kick into another gear. And so we had some real rocket ship, you know, triple digit years there where we were cranking. And it was a lot of fun and we got to do a lot of really cool stuff, you know, basically fleshing out, building out a new category, especially within the outdoors. And so that became a very fun and cool thing in itself. And then, um, Along the way I met, while I was at Yeti, I got introduced to Chase Hurd, co-founder of Howler, who is now one of my business partners. And a mutual friend just introduced us. We go to lunch one day and we hit it off and I became a fan and a customer first. Chase and Andy Spannan, the other co-founder, had done a lot of really cool, interesting stuff, both super smart and incredibly talented, creative people. But they had never manufactured a product before and had also never done anything in the outdoor space. And so I I just more as a buddy started kind of helping them out or making intros or connecting them to people or suggesting stuff. And so that's how Chase and I really hit it off and became friends. And we would go grab beers like once a month and talk shop. Uh, it was pretty, pretty easy, really, and pretty, you know, organic and fun. And then, uh, that also started snowballing. They asked me to be an advisor and then we kept, uh, just kept plugging away. And then I reached this point four years in there where I said, okay, I'm kind of ready for a new challenge and decided to leave Yeti. And, uh, Jason, I tried to make it work. The business just wasn't quite ready to take on another partner. And so I said, no big deal. I went and did this other job for a little while. And that was pretty miserable. And so I was at the other job, and Chase and I are having beers one night, and I was like, dude, I gotta leave. This place sucks. And so then we did hammer it out, and Andy and our other partner, Mason, came in town, and the four of us all sat down together, worked out a deal, and that was that. And it was great. And now that's been nine and a half, going on 10 years. And so that's, yeah, that's awesome. Uh, and by far the longest job I've ever had and, uh, the most fun and the most rewarding. And so it's great. Um, and for those who don't know, uh, the, the business is called Howler brothers. Uh, we're based here in Austin. We make outdoor apparel, uh, primarily for guys, but we have all different kinds of people wearing it. Um, and, uh, Unlike a lot of outdoor brands who sort of claim this man versus nature or look what I conquered, our whole a part of our inspiration is really about, you know, when you take fun trips with your friends and you go do these cool things and, and have those great, you're, you're making these great memories together. And it's really about being together. And so it's the shared moments, it's the time together. And it is all the extra stuff that adds flavor, like getting a flat tire in the middle of the jungle or, you know, finding, getting lost and then eating tacos at some roadside stand. And those things are what you talk about years later. And so that's why when Chase and Andy were really brainstorming what this brand could be, they really held tight on brothers, plural, because it's we, not me. And then the Howler name comes from the Howler monkeys in Central America, and they used to take a lot of surf trips down there. And those monkeys are just screaming the whole time up in the trees. And it's, yeah, and it's, it's a little off-putting at first, but once you get used to it, it's pretty awesome. And, uh, and so, you know, again, it's like the, it resonates both on a place in a spirit, but then also as a, as a group, as a, you know, we together brothers, plural. Um, and so that's where, that's where the name comes from. Uh, and so, um, and then, you know, one of the other things is that, uh, I've sort of after, uh, day jobs, so to speak, nine to five, I love getting involved with other companies. And so I've tried to do that as much as time permits. And so I've had the good pleasure and good fortune of getting able to be involved with other outdoor brands and other types of businesses. And so it's something I just love doing in my free time. And what I think that Doing that gives you extra perspective on what you're doing from day to day, because you're not just myopic and you're not just coming at it from one angle. And so you're able to pull in all these other perspectives or maybe things you learned over here. And we can do that, you know, at this, at this role. And, um, and so we look at all that, but I just love doing those, those other companies as well.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah, well, yeah, you are an investor in distribute and one of the thing and outreach, right? Like you were an early investor in outreach, which I didn't even know that, which is crazy, because we connected on LinkedIn. And you're like, Oh, yeah, I was early in outreach. I was like, Oh, my gosh, like, that's crazy. So Rick's like this silent, amazing, I would say you're like a silent, amazing angel investor as well. That's like not all over the place on LinkedIn or anything, but has made some great bets, right? Which is awesome to see. We try every once in a while. Yeah. Yeah. So it's awesome, man. And I think what you just mentioned, I think I want to go back to, we had a conversation over tacos a few weeks ago. And, uh, I was like, so gung ho remember on like, Oh, like, I want to create this like liquid death brand, but for SAS. And I want to like, like, let's worry about the merge now. And you froze on me, figure out how we're going to do the merge and dah, dah, dah. And what I appreciate is you were like, Hey man, Like slow down. First, you got to think of the why. Like first, you got to think of that feeling you want people to get, but when they see your brand, right. And you got to think of like, what's, what's the mission there. Right. And, uh, it was an amazing exercise because typically people are like, go, go, go, go, go. Right. Like, I want to make something cool. And I think you really helped me step back into like, okay, what is this feeling we're trying to like conquer, right. Or not conquer, per se, but the we're trying to portray. And so there's one book you recommended, which is archetypes, right? Yeah.

Rick Wittenbraker:Which is awesome. The Archetypes of Branding.

Andy Mewborn:The Archetypes of Branding. Oh man, it's awesome. I started digging into it, right? And like, I think something that I've come up with so far, this may change, right? But like, I've wanted to look at distributing. It's about, as we talked about bringing sales and marketing together. Right is like in in building which I think in today's market because everyone's remote because everyone's kind of. who knows, doing their own thing. They're not together all the time. There's this friction between sales and marketing that's like, since, you know, beginning of time of business, you've kind of seen. And so how do we, how do we mesh those two? And that's still something I'm trying to figure out and mesh and come together with the brand. But yeah, man, I think that was one of the biggest things. And since that time, I think some interesting stuff that I've seen come up, like have you seen around brand, right? And I've seen this brand. Have you heard of pinks in Austin? They're like a window washing business.

Rick Wittenbraker:Oh yeah. They're there. Well, the founder lives right around the corner and they're, they're friends. They do our windows. They were here yesterday watching our windows. Um, and so, uh, Carter is his name. He's a great guy. Uh, and, uh, and actually all the guys that I've met that work there are great. Um, it's really cool. And for those who don't know, like he started a very old school window washing business. And, uh, it's, you know, a million people can go wash windows and it's, you know, effectively a commoditized service and not, you know, just everybody's looking for probably the lowest price, but, but he, he took a different stab at it and said, look, let's go wrap. Let's go do this, but let's do it with some fun and some flavor. and some style, frankly, and it became a cool thing where then companies and businesses want their windows washed. They never thought about it once ever before prior to this, but now they're like, Oh no, we want to be cool. We want to have our windows washed by pinks. And they all wear these, you know, kind of cool retro uniforms. And, uh, I don't know if it's policy, but I think all the dudes have mustaches, you know? But, uh, it's just, they have like, they have a cool logo. Um, they have a cool, uh, it's just cool. They like their execution about it is really cool. And I think what it does is it brings people, it makes people can sit or something that they had previously just overlooked. And so at the end of the day, they, um, and they, they do it with kind of smile on their face and, uh, It's just fun. And before it was something you would just overlook and maybe even be annoyed by. but they made it kind of cool and people come up to them and ask them, Hey man, can I buy your hat or can I buy your uniform off your back? And, uh, you know, it's just cool. They've, they've done a cool job of that. He's done a cool job of building that business. He's actually, so he's actually appeared in one of our, uh, uh, we did a, like an, uh, an about us video and, uh, Carter's in the video. He's, he's the guy, um, He's in one of our shops and he like puts a record on the turntable and then it like spins into this whole other thing. But that's part of it. He's window cleaning and awesome. They're great.

Andy Mewborn:That's that. Bigger picture here just made me think like, holy crap, there's so many like, even sweaty startup businesses, right, that you could basically take, and you could put a cool brand around, right? And like, well, like, it almost feels like there should be like a fund or like a PE firm or something that's like,

Rick Wittenbraker:Going and doing that right like if I was if I was yeah, or maybe Here's I think one of the things there's a couple things and one is that that look at the end of the day That's a very unsexy business. It's, it is manual labor. It, uh, to go grow that business, at least to get off the ground requires, you know, a lot of hustle, a lot of door to door, a lot of like, I want to clean your windows. How can I get your business? They're like, we don't even do that. We don't even pay anybody for that. Why would we start now? And so I think, I think it's probably, requires a thick skin and a lot of determination and hustle. But when you get over the hump and like probably to where they are today, it's really cool. And I think there's something to, you know, kind of to what you were mentioning is that A lot of people, when they think startups, they think, I think the initial thought is tech, venture capital, Silicon Valley, kind of the normal thought, right? And part of the reason why that industry or those businesses make sense is because you achieve with software, especially you can achieve sort of a breakaway from a revenue standpoint, because you can get scalability really quick with software, because you have to keep adding to it and growing it and fixing bugs and those things. But whether we have eight users or 8 million users, it's the same stuff. And we don't have to go manufacture anything. We don't have to have more humans out there doing the service. So it scales really inexpensively once you hit a critical mass. Whereas window washing is so cool, but at the end of the day, if he keeps growing his business, he's going to add more trucks, more people, more equipment. And so that, you know, you can definitely build a really awesome, cool business, but you may never get that breakaway that you can get with software. And so I, but to your comment, I think there, what it means is that there's a huge opportunity for people to go look at businesses like that, whether it's a service biz or even a manufacturing or a product based business where we may never get this breakaway opportunity, but you can go build a really awesome business. You can go build a business that you can scale nationwide. You can go build all kinds of things. It just may not be as sexy on a, from a numbers basis as something like software. But the truth of the matter is. There's a million ways to make money. There's a ton of cool ideas and opportunities out there. And I think there are cool opportunities to go take something that is very overlooked and, and go make it fun or cool or sexy and go do that. And by the way, if you can enjoy what you're doing and make a living off of it, then why haven't you kind of already won?

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. Yeah. You're you're 80. I think you're like, yeah, if you have that ability. And one thing that I wanna, on that, like, okay, so there's this, now a question that popped in my mind is, Howler Bros has a lot of different designs, SKUs, whatever you wanna call them, right? Like, what does the creative process look like for like Howler Bros, right? Y'all have a brand, and let's say like, defining a brand is hard, but let's say you've got the brand defined, right? You're like, okay, we wanna evoke this feeling, wanna do this. What does the creative process look like, Rick? Are you drawing stuff? I think one of the founders, Andy, does stuff. What does it look like before you release something?

Rick Wittenbraker:I got a couple of things. And I think as it pertains to distribute, this is maybe kind of interesting because the street is trying to break down the wall between sales and marketing. And they talk to each other, but there's still very much like this divider between the two. I mean, that's, that's part of the case you're making. Right. And how do we, how do we remove that and let them be a more cohesive team for better, uh, you know, to produce more success, doing, doing whatever, yeah. Better outcomes, doing whatever they're trying to sell. Um, And I think that historically, what's sort of almost cliched today, but especially in software companies, a lot of it is very sales or driven. Right. And I think a lot of software businesses look at marketing as this, this group over here on the corner. that gives them materials that they're going to email out or whatever, but it's, it's, they're basically, you know, just handing them the stuff that they're going to go. blast out to everybody that they can find. And hopefully, hopefully if it's done correctly, marketing should also tell them where to aim and what's the appropriate messaging for that. I think what happens in my experience is that If I'm a salesperson that selling, you know, software X and I'm aiming at, we can't use X anymore. Software Z and software Z and I'm, and something resonates over here and I get a guy to commit or I get, I'm getting more traction by using. you know, the blue PDF that y'all sent me, then, Hey, well, I'm going to, I'm going to sort of like dig into that. And I, as an individual might go off script or might sort of make my own iteration of that. And I think part of the challenge is, well, that's not what marketing agreed upon. And now this guy's going off script or he's doing his own thing. And, but there's not this common flow back and forth. There's not the iterative flow. And, and so I, and I'm going to say this too, and I'll get back to Howler in just a second, but I think one of the, and look as a CMO, I get hit every day by salespeople. maybe 40, 50 times a day. And every, you know, they're, they're calling and they've got my cell phone number somehow. These SOBs, uh, they're, they're, they're email, mostly emailing me, but also they're like LinkedIn spamming me and all this stuff. Right. And so the first thing I do every day when I sit down on my laptop is I do one pass of all my emails. And just like a lot of people, I get rid of the junk and get rid of the, you know, the stuff I'm not interested in. But I look at all those sales emails And I am probably blocking and marking as spam 95% of them. And I want to say that because yes, because it's an issue today and this tactic. That's 20 something years old that has not really evolved. And frankly, I think I could blame an individual rep for being lazy and I do, but I also blame that manager. And frankly, that VP or that whole chief revenue officer for being lazy and running the exact same offense and putting the same cookie cutter down, despite the fact that the world has evolved. And so my one, and I'm going to say this, I'm giving away a little secret hint here, but for those of you out there that think that using sales navigator or scraping LinkedIn is the, is the answer. There's ways for us as the innocent targets to filter that crap and to make sure that, uh, we are, I know when you do that. I know when you do that based on, I'll put it this way, based on our company profile and based on my personal profile. And so my rule of thumb, when I go down in the morning and I'm sifting through my inbox, if I know that you scraped it or automated it and you didn't put a damn lick of time or interest or effort into personalizing to me and not an automated personalization. I'm talking about you dug in and understood who I am, you're trying to reach. You get block the sender, mark his spam. And you're gonna go to perpetual hell over here, and that's fine. But here's why. I think no matter what you're selling, if you are not making an effort to make it relevant and to give a shit about what this person, who they actually are and what they're trying to do, and the software as a tool is trying to help them, or services for that matter, I'm looking at you, all you digital agencies out there who are just so lazy about it. But listen, if you're not making that effort, if you're not making that effort to try and at least tailor what you're saying on your very first message to me, then I don't have time for you. I don't think you're actually good enough at your job, no matter how good your offering is, you're not good enough at your job to actually like connect with me. And so you go to mark the spam and block sender and Uh, there's a lot of tactics out there that I really despise that sales orgs use. I can list those for you, but, but I think the other thing is that it's way overlooked is all these people targeting me as a CMO or marketing person at a consumer products company. I'm a marketer. And then you come at me with a non personalized message. It's not, you have not, you put no effort into it. You're trying to do a one size fits all approach. You also, uh, or if you come at me and because you have copied and pasted into some BS, like blast platform, I don't want to name any of these shitty platforms I get peppered with, but like all these, a lot of the sales platforms. People use, here's the deal. It'll be in like different sizes, different fonts, different whatever. I'm like, I'm a marketing person. All these details matter to me. And you're basically saying they don't matter to you. So you've taken zero interest. You're not even using your brain. You're just trying to like connect these. Oh, if I sync up my sales navigator to my email barfing platform, I can just spray this stuff everywhere. You're out. You get zero dollars from us and you're going to get reported. But, but here, here's the thing. And here's like, look, man, I, I understand. And what happens is, which is how the world evolves, but like, Oh, people like me say, I'm going to mark this as spam. And so then Gmail or whoever says, Oh, we're going to start filtering these into a promotions tab. Or then, Oh, we're going to do this or that man to preserve our URL, our, you know, our ISP. We're going to, we're going to come up with this. We're going to use a second domain just for sales outreach. Aren't we smart? If I see that spam blocks. To me it says you're being insincere and you're not and you're probably not making an effort You're just trying to keep find a way around the rules to keep automating which is what I'm trying to avoid and And so I similarly try and when someone does make an effort, genuinely makes an effort, then I try to say, hey, I'm at least going to read this email. I'm probably going to respond to him, even if it's a hell no. I'm just going to respond to him and say, hey, man, I appreciate that you made an effort. And, uh, this isn't right for us or we're not looking for that right now. We're happy with our existing provider, but thank you. Uh, you can take me off your CRM, but like you at least made an effort. Um, but so here, here's a list of bad executions. Actually, I have a whole file where I save a PDF bad. It's called bad sales emails. And I save them. Cause, um, it's basically a how, how, like what to avoid. But I think using a second, uh, URL, I think that looks incredibly insincere. I think, uh, using the, one of my least favorite things on earth is. And I think it's really a scammy and spammy is to try and send an initial outreach sort of disguised in a LinkedIn connection invite. Not a message is people will send you an invitation to connect, right? Not I can send you a message even if we're not connected. But yeah, if it's a, uh, they sent it as they can put a note in an invitation request. And I think the people who are not as savvy say, Oh yeah, I'll, I'll accept Andy's request. And then I'll tell him I'm not interested in software, but I've now opened up my connections to you. It's very, it's like. people spend a lot of time engineering this shit. I think, I think, but really, I think when it, when you come to like email outreach, when you don't make an effort, you're not making it personalized and less about me, but really about our business and what are we trying to do? What are we trying to accomplish? What are our, maybe our pain points that you could solve for? I think one of the things that just aggravates me is when it's just lazy.

Andy Mewborn:I don't know if you heard about this, Gmail outreach sends out an email. You probably saw this all over LinkedIn if you went on LinkedIn, but outreach sends out an email and it basically went over the new Gmail regulations starting February 1st, 2024. Did you see that? Well, okay. So there's this thing. So both of us.

Rick Wittenbraker:So I can, so I can be ready.

Andy Mewborn:Okay. Okay. Yeah. Well, you're an investor in outreach. So you should.

Rick Wittenbraker:Not anymore. Not anymore.

Andy Mewborn:Oh, that's right. Not anymore. Not anymore. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm still technically invested in outreach in some way, shape, or man. So I looked at it and I was like, uh, well, first I was like, all right, don't react to this. But basically what it said, I'll forward to you a post with it because people think the world's ending. But, uh, with it, basically Gmail is launching this thing where If 0.3% of your emails are marked as spam or three out of a thousand, right? Three emails out of a thousand are marked as spam. Your domain is locked. Like they basically lock your, like your account. So Gmail is doing this. So what happens, right? Like, here's the thing, 0.3%, even sending things manually. like that is going to be very difficult to do. Like even if you were, even if you were personalizing and doing a great job, some people like 0.3% of three out of a thousand is nothing. So that is like the complete. I think that's a little radical in my opinion, right? Like three out of a thousand is like, well, maybe, maybe like, I don't know, 10 out of a thousand or something, but three is like a hundred out of a thousand, 10%. I don't know. But three seems a little crazy to me. So everyone's like, well, what do we do? Right. And there's a couple options. There's, you can go to Outlook, but then what happens when Outlook does that? Right. What happens when Outlook says, yeah, we want to do that.

Rick Wittenbraker:And then,

Andy Mewborn:But honestly, this is also selfishly, this is great for distribute, right? Because this is going to be like, oh, shoot, let me give you something that's relevant, detailed. And then from there, I ask you to book, right, from a piece of content that we've put together that's useful. Yes, you have to send an email first, but if you're including something very useful, right, that could be a benefit. So anyways, going back to that, what do you do? Right. And then some people are like, well, cold calling is coming back, you know, like cold calling then.

Rick Wittenbraker:And I'm like, well, if everyone moves to cold calling, I'm changing my number.

Andy Mewborn:So that's the first thought that people have, right? It's like, okay, now let's do the power dialer. And now let's do this with the power dialer.

Rick Wittenbraker:It's an interesting dilemma. I mean, I do, I fully acknowledge that businesses require sales teams. to prosper. And that's an essential part. I just think that they need to be doing a better job and that the sort of automated spray and pray, the old school way of looking at that, and I'm pushing this all the way up to chief revenue officers. you know, the old school way of looking at it and saying, hey, we're going to go blast everyone out there. And your funnel is like the entire universe. We're blasting. And then it goes down. And part of what they push down, those KPIs or those metrics on reps is you have to reach out to X number of accounts today. And so, right. Or if you have to send you X number of sins, X number of followups, Y number of whatever. And so instead, if you take a look back and hopefully like this, this Gmail change could maybe change some behaviors or change some ideas could be like, hey, what if instead of trying to, you know, paint the universe with our really shitty outreach program is if instead we said, hey, how about we like do some more time on the development side and on the research side and we make more tailored specific outreach? No, we're not touching so many people, but if they're all marking us as spam, or it's not bearing any fruit, then... What does it matter? And so could you end up with the same number of leads or the same number of signups, conversions, if you did it more like in a one-to-one way? And I know I'm sort of over-exaggerating to this side, but I think there's a smart way to do that, even with using AI and science and all this stuff. It's just, it's basically building better program, better systems, better queries, And, and, and frankly giving a shit more. And I think that that matters. I do. And I think, I think because here's the bigger thing where this is, I think coming from talking about privacy and it's not just privacy. And so all consumers now, all people are, are smarter. We're getting peppered with ads and outreach sales efforts all day long. Everyone. even unemployed people. And so I think that there's, we as citizens are becoming more in tune with that and we're becoming better at spotting it. We're becoming wiser about, Oh, if I click this, they're going to get me. you know, the tracking pixels, like the whole deal. Um, and so for me, I, I just think that I hope that what all this means is it will, it will sort of stimulate, uh, sales works to say, well, how do we just be better and do better? And how do we make, do it in a way that provides better connections and, and probably better fruit? than doing something that's just like this blasted out, the more the merrier. I think that's where I'm coming from. Um, yeah, but you know, I'm sure just like all these things, like everyone thought the sky was falling when the new iOS came out or the new, you know, uh, whatever, uh, Google analytics changed or whatever, you know, and, and people find a way to work within the new parameters or to work around the new parameters. And so I guess. I mean, this is like, whatever. It's no different. It's just, they just move the goalposts a little bit and you got to go figure out how to get there.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. Yeah. It's a, it's, I think a couple of things are going to happen. I think one, we're going to see more of these multiple domains. Systems coming out right because people are gonna be like, okay, we can't you know We can't rely on one domain or even if it's a second domain. We need hundreds, right? So I think that's gonna come Yeah, there's that there, you know, I don't know if outreach I haven't heard of outreach is working on anything like that, but I would assume if they want to like save email That would be on the roadmap Right. Like if they want to keep the email thing going. So I assume they would be working on that. The other thing that I think is like these like influence these these content influencers per se B2B like the LinkedIn influencers are going to be like very sought after. Right. For attention. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's good for them being one. I think it's great. Right. I think that's going to be super great because people are going to realize, oh, shoot, like we need to double down on influencer marketing now because we can't get in front of people with just blasting. And then the third thing is I think what people are going to start doing is they're going to move to cold calls. Right. But I think that's a short term kind of fix that people are going to do. And then they're going to realize that that's going to tank. Right. Because because if everyone's doing cold calling, then Right. Like it's just become like what happened to email. Right. Very, very similar. And then now with AI cold calling and stuff like I think people, as you mentioned, are getting smart and they're like, oh, this could be a bot or this could be right. Like what's going on here? So I think that'll get interesting. So I think it's going to come down to content. like getting better at content, creating that connection through brand. Like I really think like that's going to be huge.

Rick Wittenbraker:I mean, I would, I would argue that instead of this, like we're at historically past 20 years today, the, the, the, the, arguably the tip of the spear is very sales or driven. And yes, there's landing pages and yes, there's whatever. But since if URLs are getting taxed, you know, penalized basically, and phone numbers get penalized and you keep pop, if you buy the same domain with every single TLD ending on it, like someone's going to figure out how to just like stop all that. But I think, but also, isn't that just, that's just sales orders wanting to do the same shit and just hating that this new rule has been made. So, oh, we'll just go buy all these new domains. We'll go buy all these robot numbers. We'll do all this, whatever stuff. That's just them wanting to run the same offense, despite where the new boundary is. And so I think, and whether that's you're using traditional domains or you're using some sort of web three thing, like a name base or something like that, like, yes, that shit's going to come to, but I think the heart of that gets to them wanting to run the same program. effectively the same offense and not really wanting to be more sincere and authentic and intentional about it and relevant for that matter. And so I think where ways that especially software businesses can win is how do we put more effort into making marketing our product, not selling our product. Right. So mark marketing organization as a whole, but also let's take that, you know, landing page, sign up, learn more demo, sign up, uh, Legion form kind of play. How do we go make that more tailored and iterative? So we can do things to get in front of those targets or those consumers and we can do smart marketing ways to get in front of them. And we can allow things like content and landing pages and be intelligent about that in mass that is not offensive. that's more open and receptive. And I can tailor my landing page to only guys wearing alligator shirts with blue eyes. And you can tailor it and you're like, oh yeah, that's my guy. That resonates with me. And then that funnel goes over here, but the top of funnel And even the first step or two of acknowledgement and reaction or participation from the target could be all more on the marketing end.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah.

Rick Wittenbraker:And then it gets into a handheld sales thing, warm lead, and not just a freaking spreadsheet database of 1 billion emails that we scraped off of some other site. And so, you know, I think, I think that that's where I think there's, you know, There's going to be sales orbs that embrace that. Historically, that's been a challenge based on content and based on iterating these different landing pages. And if you're really good, you might have seven. Right. And I think the, where something like distribute can really empower the sales org of tomorrow is to say, Hey, we're actually going to put distribute in front of our, our, our whole. marketing org, not behind the sales team, but in front of the sales team. And we're going to empower our greater organization to reach more targets and to pull them in, not try and push them in, but pull them in, appeal to them, be relevant to them. And then hand them, are you interested? Yes, I'm interested. Meet Andy. Andy can walk you through how it works or answer your questions or whatever. And that's not a new concept, but it's historically been difficult based on what kind of assets and content that marketing can deliver to sales. And so I would argue you put marketing out first.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah, I think, you know, who's doing this is, uh, I saw a post from Cognizant the other day. I think they're a data provider. I don't even, and again, I might be completely wrong, but I know who they are because their brand. Right? Like there, I see them like all over the place. And with Cognizant, they, there's a post, was it the CMO? I'm not sure. But they said, we're not putting money towards getting leads right now. Like we're not putting money towards like lead generation. You know, we're putting money to all our money towards building our brand. And, and, you know, they articulated way better, but basically like our brand and becoming ubiquitous and numb. And they're like, and becoming something that people think is cool or whatever. And again, don't quote me on that, but That is a post and I'll send it to you. It was interesting. And I was like, holy shit. I think they get it. Right.

Rick Wittenbraker:I think, let me, let me flip this for all the, the hope sales folks out there, hopefully sales leaders, uh, that might be listening. What if we flip this whole thing on its head? And we said, Nike is ceasing to spend any dollars on brand, no content, no co-labs, no brand activities whatsoever. And all they're doing is employing 1 million salespeople to stand outside and try and hawk sneakers at you. Who would want that? Who would want to be a part of those sneakers? Who would say, sure, they're going to have some success. They're going to sell some. But if I walk down the street and there's 37 Nike guys trying to sell me sneakers, Sales orgs as a whole have sort of gotten, or even I'll zoom out and say companies have gotten away from that. And where brand activities have a real opportunity to pull people in. And that's very different.

Andy Mewborn:Very, very different. And that's hard, right? I don't even know where to start. Well, I know where to start with it. I have some ideas, but it's almost like that's on the art or science spectrum. That's more of the, and again, this is from a novice here on the brand side, but I feel like that's so much of an art, right? You almost can't, you can't put that together in a week, right? It's hard to put the pieces together.

Rick Wittenbraker:It's a process. And it's not, and look at some of it is built on trust and trust is not gained instantaneously. And so I think you have to start and then you layer these things up and you build over time and you keep doing it and you provide that drumbeat becomes you, you become dependable for what you do. And I don't mean like, yes, reliable, but reliable in the sense that you keep putting this stuff out there. Dependent, like it's, it's consistent. I think it's, it's, you're earning trust over time, even if I don't need that right now. Like here's the win, right? I've seen enough brand activities from a cybersecurity software. Maybe I don't have that need. I don't have a cybersecurity issue. I don't even have a website. You know what I mean? I don't have anything that even relates to that software. But I already have an opinion of who I would call or who I would reach out to should I need it. Then when I do have a need, because I put up a website and it gets hacked or I put a website and there's an issue or whatever, I already know who I'm calling.

Andy Mewborn:Who are like the brands you look up to today? Like that you think are doing a superb job, right? Besides Howler Bros, of course.

Rick Wittenbraker:Yeah, I mean, look. Oh man, I think you'd have to look at... different categories of things. I mean, I'm a massive Nike fan, so I love all the things they're doing, and they're so big, and they have so much money, and they're trying to cover all these things, but what they're doing, one of my favorite ways they execute is not even on the biggest stuff, is the way they execute on Nike SB, the skateboarding line. And so when you go to like, when you look at Jordan or you look at like some of the other icons they have around product lines or categories or even sports, like soccer is a great one. They do a lot of really cool, incredible soccer stuff around the world. But the way they do Nike SB is really with, cause skateboarding, if you, you know, is a very like, it's very communal, but it's a very independent thing. And to me, it's, can I pull off this trick, you know, and I'm going to do it 300 times. So I figured out it is very communal.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. There's a, you know, who's doing a pretty good job too, right now, building a brand is a Macklemore just cause I was in Seattle before. So I know him well with his bogey boys. Um, amazing job. Like I just, I mean, obviously he's, he's got leverage cause he's famous as hell. Right. But like also the, uh, the vibe that I think is that he's given is like, he's trying to say, Hey, golfing shouldn't just be for, you know, old white dudes. Right.

Rick Wittenbraker:Like all things should be country clubs and all that. Yeah. Like golf is a great example. There's a, there's a ton of, you know, um, startup offspring, uh, golf brands that are doing something very different. And I think I love seeing that. I love playing golf. I don't play very often, but I love it. And I've always wanted something more than what was offered at golf galaxy or at the country club pro shop. You know what I mean? Like, I think, Um, and I think one of the, I think it's that community wanting more and wanting things that better reflect what they like or who they are or, you know, style. And then I think the other side of that is, uh, when you have a. a large enough industry or sport or whatever. And at the end of the day, there's only so many players and they're putting out their products and that's fine. But like, it just leaves so much opportunity for the flavor components to come in.

Andy Mewborn:But man, Rick, this was awesome, dude. I feel like we could talk all day about this stuff. Yeah, man. Yeah, man. Thank you for coming on big time. It's been freaking awesome.