Talking with Bryan we find out how we can improve our communication and humanize or rehumanize our message as we compete in this extremely noisy marketplace.
So it was taking a traditional and newly digital at that time integration and bringing the two together by training, educating and selling that service into clients for the agency. And that really kind of became my MO really or the thing that I became I think good at for the next foreseeable future and it became something that I really worked hard at as well because it really was a passion of mine.
So we’re really excited, really pinching ourselves right now with the work that we’re doing and I think just along the way if there’s any takeaway it’s just really kind of, you know, learning the ropes and not saying no to anything along the way because it really helped prime me for what I’m doing here today.
I think for the last, gosh, 10 years, we are kind of the best kept secret because I wanted to and so did my partner Courtney wanted to focus so much on who we were and what we can deliver and what our message is and who our people are and, what does our brand stand for and all those things that you just kind of, you rush through and maybe 10 years was kind of overdoing it. But we didn’t want to — we also weren’t about ego that’s why we named the company Purematter instead of Bryan and Courtney. And, you know, so we really wanted to maintain a Purematter atmosphere.
I needed to take steps up front as the leader and actually get out there and start talking and so that’s what I did. And that was like a big move for not just me but also for Purematter to be able to help support that and to understand that, you know, putting people out and evangelizing the company is where it’s at. So getting the infrastructure straight and right up front and then also stepping out when it’s time to become, you know, a leader and actually start saying what you can do as a company is really important as well.
It’s that dark side when a pop-up box comes up or your shopping cart online all of a sudden becomes zero and all that work you did shopping goes away and you get fed up with the site and you just don’t shop there. It’s those little things that can happen that just make you not want to take part in something because of the way that somebody says something in the contextual way that they’re saying it. So all these different things play into that dark side, it’s the delightful side that I think in our humanity that we need to spend a little more time on.
James: Alright, welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business podcast.
I am your host James Lynch, I am really big, big, big time super excited about my very special guest today. His name is Mr. Bryan Kramer. Bryan is the President and CEO of Purematter at Purematter.com, an award-winning global digital agency based in Silicon Valley. Bryan is a social business strategist and the author of the epic marketing book Human to Human which talks about there is no more B to B or B to C, they are all human to human.
Bryan and his agency have captured over 100 industry awards and accolades with Bryan landing in the Forbes Top 25 List of Influencers to follow. I am totally honored and excited to have him on the show with us today. Let’s say hello to Mr. Bryan Kramer. Bryan, hello and how are you?
Bryan: I’m dong great, happy Monday to you. How are you doing?
James: Fantastic, fantastic. You’re over in the Left Coast so it’s a little bit earlier for you. I’m working on just after the lunch hour but I think we’re going to make it.
Bryan: How is the future?
James: The future, it’s so bright. I have to wear shades. Is that kind of cliché or, you know.
Bryan: Well, and it’s good news too.
James: Yeah absolutely. Hey, thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate you spending some time with us. I’m really excited, you know, for you to help us learn just how we can improve our communication and humanize or rehumanize our message, you know, as we compete in this extremely noisy marketplace out there. So, does that sound like a plan?
Bryan: It sounds great.
James: Awesome, awesome.
James: Listen, just for my listeners, could you give us just a little history about, you know, who Bryan Kramer is, where you came from, how you get your start and just a little bit about the journey that took you here to where you are today?
Bryan: Sure, sure. Yeah and thank you again for having me on here, just, you know, one of the — I’m one of those people that just really kind of started out the same way I think a lot of us did where, you know, out of school, I just wanted to, you know, get in to advertising or marketing. I think there’s a lot of people are listening here to your podcast. And so I worked my way up in the agency world. And I worked in one of the oldest agencies here in Silicon Valley, San Jose. And I got a job out of college working for this agency Carter Waxman [ph] at that time and my role really at all the agencies that I’ve worked for was to bring the digital revolution and integration to the agency.
So it was taking a traditional and newly digital at that time integration and bringing the two together by training, educating and selling that service into clients for the agency. And that really kind of, you know, became my MO really or the thing that I became I think good at for the next, you know, foreseeable future and it became something that I really worked hard at as well because it really was a passion of mine. What I — you know, I studied PR, Public Relations was my degree and digital marketing was my passion. I had built sites and websites and all that kind of stuff in college and then I have such a high passion for marketing at, you know, along the whole spectrum of marketing.
So bringing that together was totally exciting to me. And now I’m at the place where, you know, I get to practice that everyday here at Purematter. I had luckily a nice job where I got to help start a company just before Purematter and that really trained me on, you know, the ways to do business and what to — you know, how to work through the financial situations that every business seems to work through and so on and build a, you know, build people and so on and so forth. So, by the time, my partner and I Courtney Smith started Purematter, I think it’s now 12 years ago, we wanted to combine again traditional and digital and now we’ve grown into a much more digital agency, here working with enterprise clients like Cisco and IBM and Pitney Bowes and MasterCard and Plantronics and companies like that.
So we’re really excited, really pinching ourselves right now with the work that we’re doing and I think just along the way if there’s any takeaway it’s just really kind of, you know, learning the ropes and not saying no to anything along the way because it really helped prime me for what I’m doing here today.
James: Oh that’s awesome and thank you for bringing it right up to date, 12 years, well, I must have come across — I counted 10 but, man, you snuck two more years up in there. So time flies I guess, right?
Bryan: Yeah, it definitely does.
James: Good for you.
Bryan: It feels really fast and being at one job for that long that it seems like it shouldn’t be but I’m still in it to win it kind of thing, so, yeah absolutely.
James: Well, you definitely have a vested interest and, I keyed in to what you said in the beginning about learning or being part of a startup in the very beginning and learning from the bumps and bruises along the way, it’s almost an invaluable probably an MBA, you know what I mean, coming out of college and right before starting your own company. So you could kind of learn from the mistakes and learn from the wins. That’s awesome.
Bryan: Yeah it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun and, you know, that was during the dot com era end the dot bomb era. So I saw the up and the down, the smart move that they made or we all made at that time was to sell out. We grew it and we’re three people when it started and 75 people when it finished, you know, at that point it just became a little too large for me and I like smaller companies to work within myself on a day to day basis although I like working at large companies like, that was the takeaway for me was just to stay, stay small, stay nimble and we can accomplish great things together.
James: Awesome. So what would you consider one of your biggest challenges over the last 12 years and no doubt over 12 years, you’ve got a lot of time to take some of your own bumps and bruises and have some good wins, but what would you consider one of the biggest challenges you overcame and were able to turn things around and get Purematter back on the right track?
Bryan: That’s a really good question and I’d say that there are two things that come to mind right off the top of my head and one is that infrastructure, is probably the most critical before you go to market with anything. You know, so often we just, you know, I see companies produce a product and just go for it rather than concentrating internally and spending the time to get your resources and resource management and financials and all the HR and all the different aspects across the, you know, the internal spectrum up and running first.
And so really, you know I think for the last, gosh, 10 years, we are kind of the best kept secret because I wanted to and so did my partner Courtney wanted to focus so much on, you know, who we were and what we can deliver and what our message is and who our people are and, you know, what is our brand stand for and all those things that you just kind of, you rush through and maybe 10 years was kind of overdoing it. But we didn’t want to — we also weren’t about ego that’s why we named the company Purematter instead of Bryan and Courtney. And, you know, so we really wanted to maintain a Purematter atmosphere.
And so leading into the second leading into the second thing which is, you know, kind of looking at, you know, when is the time to grow and how do you grow and what’s that next step for you? And it’s either grow or die, you know, you’ve got to disrupt in this time and age and if you don’t disrupt, then you’re just not moving forward and at that point, you probably, you’re going to end up finding something new. And so, you know, one of the things that we really needed to do is just to step out and that’s where I started taking a look at social media and figuring out that I really needed to take Bryan Kramer, my brand and not in an egotistical way but in just more of a marketing communications perspective and knowing that people connect with people, they don’t connect with businesses.
That I needed to take steps up front as the leader and actually get out there and start talking and so that’s what I did. And that was like a big move for not just me but also for Purematter to be able to help support that and to understand that, you know, putting people out and evangelizing the company is where it’s at. So getting the infrastructure straight and right up front and then also stepping out when it’s time to become, you know, a leader and actually start saying what you can do as a company is really important as well.
James: Yeah I love that. I took note of a couple of things that you said and, you know, a lot of people say, you know, good, minimal viable product out there and just, you know, get it out there, rush it. But that, you cold shoot yourself in the foot that way and I think, I don’t think 10 years is a long time to start to get out in the front. I mean, you are learning your chops, you’re establishing your base and at the risk of something cliché, dude it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint, right?
Bryan: Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly right.
James: And I like the, you know, you came out with a book and decided to put a face, a human face to the company and you’re becoming an authority and a thought leader. You are and I’m not even saying you’re becoming because I ironically before earlier this morning I was talking to a friend of mine in a shout out to Jess at mind shuffle marketing, she said, you’re talking to Bryan Kramer today? I said yes, did you know Bryan, I said I love his book and totally unrehearsed, totally, you know, this is someone I had no idea that she was following but yeah man, you’re doing just that. You’re getting out there and it’s awesome.
Bryan: Thank you, thank you. I pinch myself when I hear stuff like that. That’s so nice of you to share that with me. Thank you.
James: Yeah, Jessica, she’s going to be a little embarrassed that I talk about that but she’ll get over it.
Bryan: Well thank you Jessica. I appreciate it.
James: Yeah, it’s awesome. So, present day, you know, I did take a peek at your dossier and yeah, heavy hitters, Pitney Bowes, IMB, Cisco, Ellen Degeneres as well?
Bryan: No, that was a campaign that we did actually as a test and it wasn’t run — it wasn’t a Purematter campaign actually that although it was a lot of our team members actually opted in to working with Ellen but short story is that a friend of mine DJ Waldo and I got together and we got together with our wives. We actually met on social media. And we put together this, you know, we had a conversation, we’re all talking of course a couple of bottles of wine. You know, really starts to loosen up the thinking a little bit.
Bryan: And we’re talking about how we can make real world relationships on social media and what does that mean and how we do get that to get the point across and that what’s social is really about. And, you know, it’s really the excitement, when you want to look at social media and you want to, you know, figure out how do you make real world relationships, what’s that process? And so we started talking about how we could use social media to maybe build a real world relationship ourselves. And we are talking about maybe doing it with somebody that’s a little more unreachable but social.
And that’s, you know, a whole bunch of people in Hollywood that we came up with, you know, we took them with Justine Timberlake and all kinds of people. And eventually we came — we settled on Ellen Degeneres because we thought that she could, you know, be somebody that we could eventually have a lunch with. We weren’t trying to get our show and we gave and donated money that we earned throughout the whole thing to Feeding America which was, you know, based upon the fact that everybody needs to eat. So we ended up — it lasted for 90 days, it was called 90 Days to Ellen, it’s still up 90DaystoEllen.com and we leverage the crowd.
We had thousands of people take part. We had over a hundred million impressions, we had assets that people are creating for us and ideas and things coming out that perpetuated the campaign itself into becoming I think it was content marketing campaign of the year by the Content Marketing Institute and got a gold award and, I mean it just really did well. The one thing that didn’t do is it didn’t get a reply at all on any social media from Ellen’s camp. They didn’t do anything. What we didn’t — what we discovered is that people — sometimes people just push content, they don’t engage, they’re not really concerned about what people are actually saying out there.
And that’s what we learn about Ellen and her team is that they were not engagers, they were simply just pushing things out and so they weren’t about the relationship. So did we succeed in that aspect? Absolutely not but did we succeed in building real world relationships? Definitely, it set us both DJ and I on our career path even more so because we built all these relationships nearly globally around the world where people were so vided that they felt they are part of it and they were coming out the content just much as we were. So we definitely did that aspect and it’s due justice. So it was good. It was fun.
James: Now that’s — and you got to make lemonade out of those lemons because the lessons learned was again, there are some people that just don’t engage, they just push content and no matter how you approach or how loud you scream or how many times you scream, they’re just going to ignore and be one way.
Bryan: Totally, agree, totally agree.
James: Yeah, yeah.
James: Now that is cool and invaluable the, and you said, people were donating creative and hundreds of millions of impressions, that’s awesome that there was an exercise well worth the effort. I don’t doubt.
Bryan: We learned a lot.
James: Cool, cool.
James: Cool. Alright, so the book; Human to Human, there is no more B to B or B to C. Now, I did some of looking around and, you know, I read some of the critiques Bryan that, you know, they think that — I think, I think from what I’ve heard, they’re missing the point because you had every transaction, B to B, B to C, there is a human being, they’re clicking, they’re downloading, they’re opting in, they’re pulling out their wallet. You and I are human to human right now, it’s that’s the way we’re exchanging. So, tell me a little bit maybe getting back to the subject of the book and some of the points you bring out. I really like, what intrigues me is how to be delightfully disruptive. Could expand on that a little bit?
Bryan: Sure. Sure, you know, there are two sides to being disruptive. There is dark and there is delightful. So being dark, let’s start there, there is dark sides to disruption everywhere. Excuse me for a second. So when you look at the different dark sides of disruption, you are really looking at everything permanent, something small that might be annoying to maybe something that’s big as the NSA that’s looking at all of our social records online and tapping in to Facebook and LinkedIn and, you know, all our data. So it really expands the gammit of what we think of a negative dark place that we don’t like to talk about and yet we all get angry over.
It’s that dark side when a pop-up box comes up or your shopping cart online all of a sudden becomes zero and all that work you did shopping goes away and you get fed up with the site and you just don’t shop there. It’s those little things that can happen that just make you not want to take part in something because of what the way that somebody says something in the contextual way that they’re saying it. So all these different things play into that dark side, it’s the delightful side that I think in our humanity that we need to spend a little more time on. And I covered this is the book where — and the reason that I’m talking about this a little bit more is because I ran a test online and it was the two words I ran against the #thankyou and the #fail.
And the #fail was mentioned four times more than the word thank you. And so if you think about that just because Twitter is so global and obviously it’s just that, you know, a short little idea of a dark versus delightful way of representing the information. But that said, when you just look at it on that level then, you know, where there is a lot of negativity online that social gives us a lot of ways to talk about things that are challenging for us, you know, whether it’s bad plane ride or bad hotel really or whatever it is, we’re all complainers unfortunately.
And so, you know, as brands start to compete with that, they really need to create unexpected delightful situations that are competing with the dark side, that are competing with that #fail that represents a place where people can be delighted. And I think that that’s our biggest challenge are and then that’s the challenge of every brand is to be delightful even more so today than they ever have been because social media gives them the ability to communicate their negativity.
James: I love it, yeah. That was a four to one fail to —
Bryan: I think yeah, it was either three to one or four to one but it was definitely over the top.
James: That’s amazing, I’m actually surprised but that’s good context for our conversation. So you mentioned, I like to kind of grab like a gold nugget, if we were to take my audience of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, small business owners, consultants, what would be the number one takeaway for them to — that they can put in to their social media practice now on the same thought of being delightfully disruptive or to be the contributor of the thank you and help globally tilt that unbalance.
Bryan: Yeah, again that’s a good question because how do you maintain positivity in a disruptive often times negative or dark, you know, place like I said before where people are — you know, the word fail is resonating loudly. I think that that’s one being delightfully and unexpectedly disruptive is one way. The other way is really paying attention to, you know, what creates things or situations that people really want to share? And this is actually the next book that I’m working on that dives into this a little bit more although I talk about it in Human to Human which is why do people want to share what, where, when, how and why, because again we are sharing.
It’s the humans are sharing even when brands, you see brands share. It’s a human that actually share that.
Bryan: You know, so and as again I mentioned in the book, you know, brands don’t have emotions, people do. So whoever it is that you’re talking to, whatever it is that you’re doing, however it is that you’re communicating, you’re communicating just like again you said here on this podcast, we’re doing as people, we’re doing as humans. So for us to now take a look at what makes a shared experience exciting, that’s pretty fascinating. I think that we could learn a lot from each other and seeing why things spread, why do viruses, good viruses grow?
What is it that makes the people want to share different things? And one of the things I talk about in the book is the human sensory building, how to create something for everyone in a different sense, like if you — some people are more visual, some people are more auditory, some people are a little combination of both. You know, other than smelling and I’m sure that’s coming soon on social media, every other sense is there.
Bryan: We can create a little bit of something for everyone and you’d never know what somebody is, what their preference is in the sensory aspect until you start testing, until you start, you know, putting out content in those different areas. And then you measure it and you see how you got the response and if in a certain situation whether it’s physical or online, you know how that sense did and you can repeat it. So we are in the test and feel atmosphere where we can take things like sensory building and social contexts and crowds and combine all three of those when you start to build layers on top of each of them and testing and failing and testing and failing, you’re going to come up with the mix that works for you.
And I think that that’s really the key out of the book is how do you create human experiences through these different sensory buildings and the contextual area.
James: Yeah. I think you had mentioned or maybe I saw you tweeted about the visual is really and it’s kind of like a trend coming down the pike is not coming down, it is here that, you know, that we’re more visually, we share more of the social media content as visual, we spend more time at the site with the visual.
James: Be an infographics images with texts transpose on top so totally, but your social is to find out what your audience, your particular audience is interested in how they consume and to test the different platforms in different sensory contexts, correct?
Bryan: Yeah, that’s exactly right and I think, you know, the real point of Human to Human is that we’re starting to automate everything. We’re trying to automate everything. And my — you know, you talked about the critics before and the downside to that and or the interesting fact is that I actually agree with most of them anyway that they are saying that what they’re interpreting is that I’m saying there is no more B to B or B to C process that the process within that infrastructure of each of those different companies, you know, does not exist anymore that couldn’t — that is not what I’m trying to say.
A process in a cultural footprint exists within every company that’s totally unique from the next and it is a little bit different in what you would call the traditional B to B or B to C and I’m not touching upon that. What I’m talking about is how we communicate to our customer and how we communicate to our potential customer and how complex we’re making it with these automation tools and how less robotic we need to sound. A lot of emails that you and I are getting right now sound so robotic. I doubt we weren’t reading very many of them. We’re probably deleting them before they have a chance to even be opened.
Bryan: Because of the type of email that is coming up for how many, who it’s coming from. The thing that we always email is an email from our friend and an email from a co-worker and email from a client but when you’re talking about somebody who is new to your world, you really have to earn that trust and not to be cliché but trust is one of the major factors in what we’re talking about here and how you earn that trust is by being human. It’s embracing your humanness. That should be a word.
James: I love that.
Bryan: And actually building that into your marketing.
James: Yes, totally, totally, totally agree and I like how you so eloquently put that the book seems to be resonating well with everyone. So and I did your — you know, your Amazon ratings, so 99.9%, five out of five starts, so yeah, I think you’re speaking — I think you’re touching human hearts out there for sure.
Bryan: Oh, thank you very much.
James: Yeah man, it’s a good stuff. So your successful with businessman, you’re in the heart of Silicon Valley, you’re moving shaker in the industry, how does Bryan Kramer keep it all together? What’s your — how do you keep your mindset or your productivity, accountability, what keeps you moving forward Bryan?
Bryan: I have — I get bored very easily and a lot of things that I do I can’t just sit still. So I’m not a person who can sit at a desk eight hours a day or 10 hours a day. I can’t even barely sit one hour a day. I really am somebody who likes to move around. And because to that, I end up speaking 30-40 times a year and traveling a lot. I’ll be in Sydney and Paris and Germany and I was just in Singapore and all, you know, I’ll be in about 20 different cities the next four months in the United States. And it really kind of shakes things up for me so that I can start to move around a little bit and meet new people which is really what I love to do.
So when I’m meeting new people, I’m getting their positive energy and feeling like, you know, I’m learning from them, hopefully they are learning from me and we’re getting to be in exchange for what we’re, you know, all about. And the other side to your question is that I love wine. I love wine and wine keeps me very, you know, kind of well-lubricated in the evening. So, you know, being with my family and my wife and my two kids is just a blast. And something like this weekend, we just had two days of no working and lots of fun and, you know, outside was just a pleasure.
So, you know, it’s just really kind of — you can’t really call it a balance because I never know what I’m going to do what. But I love the quality time of each of those different situations and want to get into them. I really kind of like just enjoy it for the moment that I have.
James: I love it. You’re working hard and you’re playing hard.
Bryan: Yeah, yeah, totally.
James: Good for you, good for you and yeah, it’s envious. How about business resources? I’m just kind of trying to pick your brain about, you know, where you come from, yeah, from a foundation? Any decent good books or books that you really get an inspiration from or?
Bryan: Good books that I get inspirations from, I — you know, it’s interesting because I have an author’s podcast as well.
Bryan: And my podcast is about helping authors both new and old authors. And I have so many books that I’m not sure I could actually just point one out for the sake of saying that, you know, I love every author that I have on the podcast.
Bryan: I can tell you that the last maybe two authors that I had on the show were really interesting. The last one that I had was Sebastian Rusk. And he is talking about how — the title is kind of funny, it’s Social Media Sucks, Unless You Do it Right. So, you know, and that’s true. I mean, what we’re talking about and how we’re saying that it’s about relationships, it’s not about one-way communication and so that’s kind of cool. And then the other one is the New Rules of Customer Engagement by Daniel Newman. And he is an interesting entrepreneur because he started, he took, I think he took over his dad’s business and became CEO at a very young age as a millennial and he wrote about his experience of being millennial CEO and what that means today.
But man, there are so many great books out there that I — I mean those are just the latest two I saw and —
James: Sure, sure. Maybe not a fair question for you, I’m sorry that’s really unfair. Well a curve ball, no, no, no. There is no right or wrong answer and I appreciate it but yeah I’m finding your podcast at BryanKramer.com, it’s — yeah it’s awesome, The Author’s Point of View?
Bryan: That’s right. Yeah.
Bryan: Yeah, so I started it before I started the book H to H and it really was just an idea that I had about meeting authors I wanted to understand what process they go through and now it’s become a little bit more about helping them to help market their book. And so I enjoy, you know, just kind of focusing on, in on their, both their process and who they are but also what’s their book about and how can it help people? So, you know, that’s just kind of a fun thing that I do.
James: That’s great, that’s great, well it started to be kind of investigative, it ended up being a passion for you, that’s awesome.
Bryan: Totally, isn’t everything that way?
James: Yeah, you’re right. You’re right, touche’ my friend, touch’. Cool, I think I saw Joe Pulizzi on their too, did you interviewed Joe for his epic content marketing?
Bryan: I did.
Bryan: I did. I think he was my second guest.
James: Yeah, I love it though. He’s such a fantastic human being.
Bryan: Cool guy, right?
James: Yeah, totally, totally. Yeah, alright, while we wrap it up, but can you tell us about anything that’s going on? You hinted about a new book and like where we can find Bryan Kramer?
Bryan: Yeah, so the book Human to Human can be found at BryanKramer.com and I’m on Twitter, @BryanKramer, I’m on Facebook @BryanKramer. So pretty much everywhere, you can connect with me @BryanKramer and I’ve got like I mentioned before I’ve got a podcast, I’ve also got a video series that I do with C level executives. Actually tomorrow, I’ll be interviewing the CMO, chief marketing officer of Cisco Worldwide, Blair Christie so that’d be fun. And so yeah, I’ve got a whole bunch of content on Bryan Kramer as well as Purematter.com and the book is on there as well.
James: Awesome. Well listen Bryan, you’ve been really generous with your time today and I really appreciate you coming out and we look forward to the new book. Does it have a title?
Bryan: You know, I haven’t released it yet.
James: It’s okay, that’s okay.
Bryan: It does but as soon as I — I’ve only just even started talking about it but yeah as soon as I release it I will post it up and let you know.
James: Awesome, awesome. Okay, so thank you very much for your time. You take care. We’ll talk to you again soon.
Bryan: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
James: You’re welcome Bryan. Take care now.