Didn’t See It Coming with Marc Stoiber

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Delivering brand disruption, one order at a time

May 25th, 2020

As COVID and the economic meltdown grind on, we're seeing yawning market chasms emerge that are ripe for brand disruption. 

One of the most glaring is the massive gap between 'big' retail and, well, all other merchants. 

The poster child for big retail is Amazon. Granted, the giant has delivered an excellent product for these strange times, enabling us to do our shopping from the hunkered-down safety of our homes. But when you contrast that with the crippling effect the shutdown has had on local merchants - 35% of whom are expected to never emerge from the enforced closure - you see that we're losing something important here. Local retail is what makes our cities dynamic and vibrant. They stitch our community together. What's more, they're a critical piece of our financial ecosystem: the dollars we give them are recycled back to the rest of us. 

The last thing we need at moments like these are maudlin, overwrought commercials from big corporations reminding us how much they care about frontline workers. Spare me. 

What we do need are new brands that take advantage of the disruption to deliver new business models, fill niches, and even give some of the most hard-hit businesses a leg up. That's the sort of stuff I cheer for.

A few weeks back, I was introduced to the founder of one of those new brands. Gabriel Cornejo of Delovery.  I loved the business so much I immediately volunteered to help them with their brand positioning work. And I invited Gabriel on my podcast. His story definitely deserves to be told. 

Over the course of our podcast, we covered the inspiration behind Delovery, Cornejo's philosophy of service and social sustainability, and even the brass tacks of how Delovery would deliver the goods. 


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Doing a successful pandemic brand pivot

April 29th, 2020

How do you do a successful pandemic brand pivot?

COVID has spawned a cottage industry of advice on  shifting the tactics of your brand - amping up the education and free value to your followers, reaching out more often, focusing on empathy over persuasion, etc etc. But so much of it seems, well, timid and incremental. And - speaking as a focus group of one - most of it is absolute shite. If I log onto one more webinar that delivers lame advice taken from the back cover notes of a Seth Godin book, I swear I'll walk off a bridge.

Where are the awesome pivots? Where are the titans forging brave new paths forward?

Well, I found one. And as luck would have it, he was right in my backyard, here in Victoria, BC.

Matthew Watson is the CEO of SendtoNews, the biggest sports video service you've never heard of (I can't take credit for that handle - it was the headline of a great Toronto Star story). The company provides engaging, up-to-the-moment official video clips from major sports leagues to publishers. They even attach advertising to the clips, sharing the ad revenues with the publisher and league.

SendtoNews is a beast - outpacing even ESPN as a video sharing platform. They share over one billion video views a month. But when COVID hit, one of the first casualties was sporting events. No sports, no sports clips. How did SendtoNews pivot?

Amazingly well, as it turns out. They started an entirely new video clip sharing service that actually made March 2020 the company's most successful month ever.

What was the new offering? It's all in the interview I did with Matthew. Enjoy!

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In disruptive times, you need outsider marketing

April 2nd, 2020

Outsider marketing means getting an 'outside the jar' perspective on your company's positioning, messaging and selling. Here's why it's more important than ever.

The economy is melting down. Everywhere you look, companies are ducking for cover, going under, or struggling to stay alive.

Or are they?

Times of disruption deliver opportunities for companies agile and aware enough to seize them. Smart companies are already engaged in finding those opportunities, and retooling. Their goal is to slingshot out of the disruption stronger than ever. 

Karen Hayward is a Managing Partner with Chief Outsiders, a national consulting firm that delivers fractional CMO's to mid-cap firms on limited engagements.

Today, that means her team is working with a lot of CEO's who need slingshot strategies.

I chatted with Karen for my podcast. Her insights were sharp, her tips thoughtful, and her personality infectious. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. 

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From idea to innovation to business success: the story frustrated entrepreneurs need to hear

March 13th, 2020

Chris Meade, his brother, and his best friend were just sitting around watching ESPN when an idea for a cool game hit them. 

Today, that game is on the shelves at Amazon, Wal-Mart and Home Depot, to name a few. 

It's called CROSSNET, and it comes with a story that'll inspire every entrepreneur frustrated by the deluge of data and get-rich-quick advice flooding the internet and social media. Enjoy!

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Build a better brand with customer discovery

March 6th, 2020

As an entrepreneur, I know how easy it is to be swept up by a new idea, ignoring lukewarm or contradictory feedback from potential customers. 'They don't get it' or 'They don't know what they want', we blithely say while charging forward.

Truth is, consumers do get ideas they like. And if your idea isn't resonating in its most rudimentary form, chances are developing it further won't solve their problems - or yours. 

Customer discovery is a methodology for testing pain points, and crafting solutions to answer them. It's not a new concept, but it is all too often ignored by entrepreneurs. 

To provide a better understanding of customer discovery, and how to apply it, I spoke with Christopher Naismith, an entrepreneur using the methodology to effectively develop a new product in the commercial building management space. 

We defined customer discovery in common sense terms, and went through steps to conduct it that every startup founder could follow. 

Hope you enjoy the conversation. Here's to using customer discovery in your next project.

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Test or trust: the idea validation debate rages on

February 7th, 2020

Oh, the stories I could tell of pitched battles over idea validation.

I've seen the debate swing like a pendulum between test and trust through the years. In the pre-digital days - back when dinosaurs and mad men roamed the savannah - creatives like myself battled researchers over the validity of focus groups and mall intercepts. Usually, we'd be given leeway to trust our intuition on ideas... until a concept bombed. Then, like Dad busting up the keg party, researchers would be brought in to restore a bit of sober adult thinking to the proceedings.

Fast forward to the birth of the internet. In the raucous pre-bubble days, we witnessed the rise of dot coms with more investment money than sense. Insane advertising (remember the E*Trade monkey?) made us laugh, but not buy.

As the pendulum inevitably swings, so too did the forces of testing. Which brings us to today, where data gathering and testing rule the roost.

Kevin Indig caught my eye with a recent Linkedin post, where he took the position that far too much faith was being placed in testing. This coming from a person responsible for all things SEO at G2 (and previously at Atlassian).  I knew we had to talk.

Here's the recording of our chat - definitely a thought-provoking podcast for anyone with a vested interest in bringing new ideas or innovations to market!

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What goes into a great elevator pitch?

January 14th, 2020

What goes into a killer elevator pitch? Turns out, many of the same things that go into a great brand.

On March 3rd, I'm going to be the lead judge at an event where participants compete with their elevator pitches. Not only will this be a fun evening, but I'm certain we'll see that we all get the same things wrong when it comes to creating a memorable pitch.

The event organizer, Pascale Hansen, had a preliminary call with me to get my thoughts on the subject for an event promotion podcast. She was kind enough to share the recording. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Do sustainability and real estate marketing mix?

August 29th, 2019

Spirit Bay is a whole new kettle of fish when it comes to real estate marketing.

The village, on the southern coast of Vancouver Island in Canada, was developed based on traditional principles of community design:

  • Building light on the land, with homes following the contours of topography – instead of blasting the entire site level,
  • Designing narrow roads with plenty of twists – ensuring slow driving and more walking,
  • Building hundred-year-homes with materials that outlast (by far) those used in other new homes,
  • Tapping renewable heating and cooling using ocean thermal,
  • Working in partnership with the First Nation band that owns the land, to ensure their values are built into the Spirit Bay manifest.

Now for the rub. Perception.

Spirit Bay is a textbook case of how to get sustainability right, and sometimes wrong, in real estate marketing. It was, for me, a journey with a definite learning curve.

I was asked to do a presentation on the marketing of Spirit Bay by the Urban Design Institute. Prior to the presentation, though, I went on the air with Mark Brennae of CFAX to give a preamble to my talk. It was entertaining, to say the least – enjoy!

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Solar lighting: unleashing the brand

August 2nd, 2019

Solar lighting as a brand is beset by misperceptions. People still overwhelmingly believe the lights break, the batteries don’t last, the whole category is a cheap, Home Depot novelty.

Winning hearts and minds over to solar may be a big challenge. But the reward for breaking down the misperceptions will be huge.

Justin Taverna, co-founder of First Light Technologies, is determined to make First Light that breakthrough brand.

I’ve known Justin and his First Light co-founder Sean Bourquin a number of years now. I helped them streamline their brand message then, and I’m helping them figure out how to reach more customers now.

Justin and I sat down a short while ago to talk about the evolution of the solar lighting brand, the a-ha moments he’s had, and the brand space he believes First Light can stake in consumers’ minds.

If you liked this podcast, make sure to share it with your 5,000 closest friends using the social share buttons on this page. And if you'd like to talk about your brand, drop me a line at marc@marcstoiber.com

How to build a top tech city brand

July 31st, 2019

Quick, name two top tech cities. San Francisco, and, ummm...


Being a top tech city and being known as a top tech city are two quite different things. I challenge that the difference all comes down to brand.

Here in Victoria BC, my hometown, we're blessed with an exploding tech industry. Even better, we have an amazing tech city brand. At least part of that is due to the hard work and creativity of people like Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dan and unpack the elements of the Victoria tech brand. Among other things, we dug into...

  • What's in a name - and why Tectoria (the name created as an umbrella for everything from conferences to VIATEC's building) is a great one,
  • The complexities of creating a brand in a city where virtually none of the stakeholders sell their products,
  • The brand power in Fort Tectoria - an HQ that is open to the public as well as VIATEC staffers and stakeholders
  • The connection between tech, spilled wine bottles, and inflatable killer whales,
  • Creating a consistent brand code, and ensuring that code is based on the true personalities that live it,
  • Why orange is cool,
  • The power of metaphors in describing an industry that is often criticized for hyper-complex, unintelligible communication,
  • Origin stories, and why they work for VIATEC the way they worked for Superman,
  • Why people are the best ads, and
  • Why tech industry leaders are coming to Victoria to study how Dan and VIATEC pulled this off.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. As you might guess, it's jam-packed with brand information anyone can use - and there's nary a tech term in the entire 30 minutes!

If you like my podcast, please share it with your nearest 5,000 friends using the social media buttons conveniently located on this page. Hit 'subscribe'. And make sure to contact me if you want to talk brands - I'm at marc@marcstoiber.com

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