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Brand Alignment from the Inside, Out – Chris Wallace, Founder and President – InnerView

October 30, 2019

| Bill Gullan |

As Founder and President of InnerView, Chris builds upon previous success as the founder and CEO of Incite, a sales consulting and coaching practice, and his more than 15 years of sales, marketing and corporate leadership. InnerView is a marketing consulting firm established to help companies reach and influence their most critical audiences – the people and partners that represent their brand. Tune in this week to learn more about Chris’ journey and InnerView. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

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Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch brands, a premier boutique brand consultancy. Thank you for joining us to hear the story of InnerView group as told by its co-founder and president Chris Wallace. Fascinating company. Really interesting concept.

Bill: As Chris will tell his background as a sales leader and a sales trainer has led him to a conclusion about a particular breakage or lack of a bridge in the industry that we’ve certainly found to be the case as well. Which is that the best work and ideas and intent of corporate marketing and brand management may not make it all the way to the sales floor or to the call center or to those who are front line with customers and prospects, and Chris and his team have set out to change that.

Bill: InnerView has a variety of tools headlined by what they call the brand transfer score, which is an assessment mechanism to understand how well brand messages as well as belief extend from those who are driving what brands stand for and those who are delivering it day in and day out. At the retail market facing end of the customer experience.

Bill: So InnerView exists to change that and to help that last mile or the full circle be closed so that brands have the ability to activate their full potential. Enjoy hearing from Chris Wallace.

We’re here, welcome to our office, although yours is like a block away here in Center City. Chris Wallace who is the co-founder and president. We get to interview the leader (or one of the leaders) of InnerView. So that’s my own joke. But thanks for coming.

Chris Wallace: Of course. Thanks for having me.

Bill: So what you all do is so interesting and I think sort of how you personally got to it and what led to the ideas that are forming the basis of InnerView is a fascinating set of concepts. You want to take us a little bit through your history?

Chris: Sure. Yeah. I’m a career salesperson… Actually, probably more appropriately a lifelong sales person. As I sort of progressed through my career, I had the opportunity to start doing some contract work with a company I had been working with for a number of years. Kind of flipped from a full time to a contractor. And found myself in a spot where I was being asked to help them bring new products to market. But instead of doing it externally with their customers, I was doing it internally with their people.

Chris: Call centers, retail stores, technicians, a variety of other job roles and really helping to bring the brand initiatives, the products, things like that to life through those frontline people. So their customers were hearing a consistent and compelling story. So, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to kind of go through a winding road, but wind up in this spot.

Bill: InnerView calls itself, at least at a species level, sort of a marketing consultant. I mean there’s a lot of firms like Finch who are creating stories and marketing, advertising, branding. What is it about… What sort of led you to focus where InnerView focuses? It’s a really interesting corporate story and an area that may be less understood intuitively but super important when it comes to-

Chris: Yeah, it’s a great point. I really look at it as maybe not even a subset of what a company like Finch does, but a real compliment to it.

Bill: Yeah. Sure.

Chris: Really the niche is organizations… Our business depends on scale, right? Organizations that are large and are constantly bringing new things to market. We look at that as products and services, campaigns and promotions, repositioning, rebranding, mergers and acquisitions, anything that’s really impacting the perception of their brand at the customer level. They have a lot of people that they need to coordinate to be on message there.

Chris: As they spend a lot on advertising and they spend a lot to have their brand position the right way with agencies like yours. Our job is to help be the caretaker of that message and that story and make sure that the people who talk to their customers every day can tell that story.

Bill: So in some ways, between all the big brains and corporate and the retail store or the call center or the frontline people, your experience and belief is that sometimes these messages get lost. Sometimes the folks on the frontline, who you would think would be as steeped in it as they can be, actually don’t get it or haven’t been well trained. That’s where InnerView comes in.

Chris: It is. I would put that question back to you. What have you seen? I mean-

Bill: No, doubt. Yeah.

Chris: … you’ve worked on brands all the time and we asked marketers all the time, how confident are you that the brand story that you built is actually being told to your customers every day? I’m sure that you’ve seen that in branding work that you’ve done. You nail the brand, but nailing the brand and executing it are two different things.

Bill: No question. There is certainly a gap or can be a gap. We think the best brands are built inside out. We think that generally just related to culture and other things, but certainly for organizations who rely on those folks who are facing the customer, either in a sales or support or whatever those roles are. Those are the ones who really need to feel it and know it and get it and represent it. So no, it makes perfect sense.

Chris: I think in a world, to take off of that thought, in a world where customer experience is becoming more and more important. The customer experience in a lot of ways has become the brand. In the past it was the product or the prestige or the… It’s not the case anymore. The experience really what the brand is. I mean, you think about Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A, they’re not a chicken company. They are a customer experience and hospitality company that happens to serve chicken.

Bill: No question.

Chris: So hats off to them, but other organizations need to strive to be that. But if there’s that disconnect between the marketing suite and the retail store or the call center, then that experience is going to fall short every time.

Bill: Right. Now, and so doubling back a little bit to your own journey. Undergrad at Cuse.

Chris: Yes, that’s right.

Bill: Okay. I’m not going to about football more than anything else.

Chris: Go Orange.

Bill: Undergraduate interests in sort of PR and history, which is an interesting combination but kind of liberal artsy, but obviously have an interest in communications and the new house school being known so effectively for that. You talked about being a lifelong salesperson, not just a career-long. Tell me what that means in your history?

Chris: I mean, it’s funny. Somebody asked me recently, what does your father do, right? He’s in sales. What did your uncles do? My uncles were in sales. So you start to look back through and I guess it’s sort of the family trait. But I think back to early days with my older brother and I selling little league raffle tickets. Every year we were the ones that sold the most and they had to completely change the way that they did the prizes because we basically broke the system and were getting so many prizes that they had to reorganize it.

Chris: So we’ve been doing that a long time. But I think really how that is related to our work is through the different sales roles that I’ve had in my career. Really seeing the disconnect and the lack of support that sales people get from the brand side. A lot of times you’ve got marketing blaming sales and sales blaming marketing.

Bill: No doubt.

Chris: But somewhere in between there, there really is a strong relationship waiting to be forged. I know from the sales side that having a little bit more of a belief in what I was selling and having people from the marketing side support that would’ve made a big difference. I’ve sold for the PGA tour, I’ve sold for major television networks, and even there, there was a disconnect.

Bill: Yeah, I can imagine. Your first role I think was flooring, Shaw, which is well regarded. I mean, I would imagine there’s a certain nutsy boltsy way that you learn the discipline in the industry and with a company like that.

Chris: Yeah. I think that we published a study earlier this year, a research study with a partner called FocusVision, which is a consumer insights company and technology platform. We did research with them and we asked marketing executives and customer experience and product executives what they were doing to build that alignment.

Chris: What were they doing to better engage their internal teams around the brand and the brand story. They said it was important. Then we said, “Well what are you doing?” What did they tell us? They said product trainings and emails.

Bill: Yeah. Right. Right.

Chris: Okay. So if you think about it-

Bill: Here’s a sale sheet.

Chris: (8:47) But you think about the big question that we believe marketers and product people need to ask themselves is, do you really look at your employees, your frontline teams as key stakeholders for your brand?

Bill: Sure.

Chris: If you don’t keep giving them one-sheets and that’s fine. But if you do, you’re finding new ways to engage your customers every single day. Taking a little bit of a sprinkle of that and using it with your teams internally can make a huge difference in trying to drive that affinity for the brand.

Chris: If people don’t like the brand they work for, or they’re not convinced that the products have value. What do you think that customer experience is going to look like? Yeah. An email is not a way to convince somebody. It’s just not going to move the needle. (9:29)

Bill: Right. Right. No, totally. There’s a couple of different issues it seems and they’re obviously intimately related. But the brand piece, when you talk about customers interest, I mean this is employees understanding and modeling values and beliefs. Then there’s the effectiveness around promotions, around product, around features, around differentiables. You would imagine the folks on the frontline need to really be effective vessels for both.

Chris: They do and I think that the way we talk about it at InnerView is, in the age of customer experience, we think that there’s really two checkpoints on the way to getting somebody prepared to have a great conversation with the customer. There is knowledge, and that is the piece that most organizations double down on, right?

Chris: If they feel like they’re not doing a good job, what do they do? They just push more information out, more emails, more trainings, more one-sheets, more (as one of my partners will say) 72 page one pagers, right?

Bill: Here’s the term levels, here’s the power training, here’s the-

Chris: Just give them more information. They don’t know it. Give them more information. But we look at it as organizations get to that point of knowledge. But the gap between knowledge and belief is really big, and somebody can know something but not believe in it at the same time.

Bill: Sure.

Chris: Our job is to really take that story with each product, each service, each brand positioning, each campaign, and really build that belief amongst the frontline teams. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be sales. I mean this applies to customer service, it applies to technician teams.

Chris: We work with a national pest control brand. They have technicians that go into customer’s homes every single day. The role that they play in delivering that brand story and reinforcing customer loyalty and customer experience, it’s huge. So anybody who’s out there talking to the customers, they really need to understand what role they play.

Bill: Well, and particularly now that we’re all in an era of where we want to measure everything we possibly can, and things like NPS are still ascendant, I’ve always thought that you can get to, and use these pest controls, as an example, you can get to a seven, on a one to 10 by doing your job, get rid of the mice or the lantern flies these days or whatever the case may be. But how you get to nine to 10 is how you treat someone, how the sort of choreography works, how the visit feels, not just what you actually do while you’re there or how much people pay. You’re really operationalizing that it sounds like.

Chris: Yeah. You mentioned measurement and you mentioned things like NPS. (11:50) Every consumer organization has some way of measuring what their customers think of them. What we’ve done when we started InnerView, and even before we actually started the company. We started developing a way to measure really what the employees think. The frontline teams think what their attitudes and perceptions are of their brand, of their products.

Chris: We call the brand transfer score and it really is a literal name. It is how well is the organization taking their brand story and translating that and transferring it down to the people at the front lines so they have the perception that the company wants them to. We can measure based on what the people at the corporate tower think. We can compare it to what the people at the front lines think.

Chris: We can determine how far apart those are. (12:38) We can tell them how much of their stories getting diluted or lost in translation. We really look at those… We look at it as a leading indicator of NPS. If we can build, a measure of sort of belief in confidence in the brand as a leading indicator. Then we believe we can impact the experience that people deliver. That’s going to play out in NPS. That’s not to say NPS isn’t valuable. Organizations have found great ways to use it, but we think there’s one step before that that companies can be impacting.

Bill: No doubt. It’s almost like a very high tech and much more thoughtful version of the game shows where the spouse tries to say what the other one’s favorite movie is and things like that. You see really how well you know somebody.

Chris: The Newlywed Game I like it.

Bill: Exactly. Exactly.

Chris: Cooperate newlywed game.

Bill: Right. Exactly. Brand transfer score is a way of building measureables and benchmarking and tracking progress over time as well as across industries. You guys are two years in so bunch of clients and you have probably a lot of data and you’re building best practices, etc. So let’s say that brand transfer score comes back at high, low, middle, whatever it is.

Bill: What then are the remediation sort of tool suite when it comes to, all right, how do you… We’ve dimensionalized it, we’ve proven it, now we need to do something. How does InnerView help enhance this connection between corporate brand holders or brand creators and those who really need to live those elements on the front line.

Chris: Nice use of remediation. Since we were talking about pest control, right? I like that a lot too.

Bill: Yeah, right!

Chris: So the way we look at it as, at the end of the day we’re marketers and we’re running internal marketing campaigns. The brand transfer study is our market research. To be honest, the brand transfer study was built on market research principles. Organizations are out measuring what their customers think of them and operationalizing that data or at least some of them are.

Chris: We built a brand transfer study to really be market research. Because our customers are big, we get good sample sizes. So we take that data and we follow the data. We go where that leads us, we look at where the message is breaking down, what audiences, what aspect of the message is breaking down. Then we build campaigns to influence it.

Chris: I think that that’s the big difference between where we think we play and the typical training. Again, I said information or the information drives knowledge. We want to drive belief and we think that that belief is driven through experiences. So what we do is we create campaigns that are going to help the people at the front lines really experience and digest targeted messaging in a different way.

Chris: We’ll do things that are as straightforward as customized conversation guides. So if a new brand is rolling out, we’ll look at each role, we’ll define what their role is in communicating that brand message. We will version out what… You talk about singing off the same song sheet. Literally, what part are you singing versus what one of your colleagues is singing all the way up to, we do a lot of peer to peer interaction.

Chris: We believe that peer-driven learning and interactions is a great way to change behavior. So we’ll do anything from team huddles to… We have a couple of clients right now, they’re going to be doing escape rooms.

Bill: Cool.

Chris: So we’re taking the concepts and we’re turning them into an escape room experience where they have to work together to discuss the concepts and find their way out.

Bill: That’s fun.

Chris: We’re not literally going to lock them in, but we’re really trying to push the envelope in terms of what companies are doing to get the information in front of people. Because I’ll go back to product training and email. Is that moving the needle? We don’t think it is.

Bill: Sure, makes sense. I would imagine though perhaps not the primary reason to do this. There is a cultural benefit for folks experiencing this together for folks on the front line, knowing that the resources back at corporate or whatever, trying to think in a new way. There’s a lot of, I would imagine soft benefits to this beyond just the kind of transfer of belief in knowledge.

Chris: Tremendous. There’s aspects of culture built into everything that we do. We don’t say we are a culture changed organization. That’s not really our positioning. But we do believe that there are aspects of it. But even beyond just the culture piece, Bill, when you get teammates talking to each other…

Chris: (17:03) One time we were working with a client and I had somebody in one of these peer interaction sessions say, “I’m embarrassed to ask this, but.” You think about that. These big organizations, people are afraid to ask one of their colleagues, what something means or how to do something or a best practice. If you create an environment where people are doing that and they feel comfortable doing it, new ideas emerge, collaboration takes hold. You find people actually solving problems together and driving results as opposed to sitting in their little corner being afraid to ask a question. (17:37)

Bill: Yeah. Well, I’m sure the last time they asked, somebody said, “Didn’t you read the email?”

Chris: Exactly.

Bill: You can understand why there’s this gap of trust. Where do you tend to land in an organization? I’m sure there’s multiple stakeholders, but is this viewed as a marketing initiative to go that one further miles or is it viewed as a retail operations or customer service initiative to really get the frontline folks trained up. I’m sure it varies, but how did the sort of stakeholders tend to work when it comes to the work that you all are doing?

Chris: Well, the phrase I always use is I think that we are early to the party, but we’re at the right party. What I mean by that is I think that marketing and brand teams are really starting to recognize that the we have our data shows this, that marketers believe that the frontline teams are directly impacting their success.

Bill: Yeah. I know that.

Chris: Whether or not their brand is seen as successful or their product launch is successful. That ultimately is going to come back to their office. So I think that the recognition that marketing is directly impacted by this and needs to really start to lean in, so to speak, on this. We see that starting to trickle into organizations.

Chris: So that’s a long way of saying the marketing teams, the brand teams, the product management teams, people that are bringing things to market. They don’t want their baby to die on the vine. They want it to have life and they don’t want it to be six months in market. People asking why it’s not performing better. So we’re really reaching those teams and in most cases working with them.

Bill: Yeah, makes sense. I’ve always thought or one of my hypotheses for why everyone seems to get CX and customer centricity principles at an academic level. Many organizations, they’ll have trouble operationalizing it. One of my hypotheses is that the traditional work structure, and let’s take a retailer for an example where you may have a CMO who’s responsible for content around brand and what we stand for. Which may not be either the right place.

Bill: Then you have HR that’s responsible for filling these roles and some onboarding and training. Then you have store ops or retail ops who’s responsible for the environment and the experience and look and feel. You obviously have merchants who are bringing in products and even if they’re not as siloed today maybe as they used to be, they are not as integrated.

Bill: So they all have a role to play in truly integrated CX. Effective customer journey and choreographing those experiences. And yet it’s probably hard to get that synced up.

Chris: It is hard, but I think that the… I wouldn’t necessarily want to be a CMO right now. It’s a hard job. But I think that the… I’d be, curious what you see in your work. But we think that the role of the CMO and the impact of brand is becoming wider and wider in organizations. We think that more things are getting folded into this idea of brand. I think that the CMO, ultimately the buck stops with them to be the caretaker of that brand.

Chris: I think experience is an increasingly important part of that. So while yes, it is difficult to coordinate, we find more CMOs reaching across the aisle to their store ops teams and saying, “Listen, every single person that walks up to the counter that’s an opportunity for us to reinforce our brand.

Chris: We don’t want them going to a competitor. We need to make it as good as it possibly can be. And for those that will say, “Well, that’s really hard. It’s hard and we’re big and we’re complex.” So is Chick-fil-A. But somehow they have operationalized that idea of experience. People go there, they don’t even care about the chicken, they go there just because it feels good. There’s plenty of other examples. The Nordstrom’s of the world. I mean there’s a lot of other examples.

Bill: I mean, there’s a pantheon of companies and brands that get this. There are enough examples to know that it can be done really effectively. I think to your point, a CMO who traditionally may have been a really great tactician who really knows external communications and how to create campaigns that drive some degree of demand. It’s a different job today and it is our belief.

Bill: You can almost tell the difference based on whether brand is… That’s a marketing thing versus it’s an all of us. There’s a CEO thing or it’s the brand is about the sum total of the things that you do to express difference and expectation and that touches everyone in the internal piece. Beyond just sort of enablement and creating bridges, it needs to be… I mean brands are built inside out.

Chris: One of the things I think is really interesting build to take off of that. What we found in talking to the marketing teams is… Which has been really refreshing. The CMO and the senior level marketers, their willingness to acknowledge that this is a challenge for them is… it’s probably even greater than we had anticipated when we started InnerView. We had been used to working with sales organizations and nothing against sales organizations, but they’re a little bit further down the line and sales is trying to solve problems that happened yesterday.

Chris: We find that marketers are trying to solve problems that are going to happen in the future. I think that that strategic view of things makes it, if it’s a real problem, we’re finding that the marketers and the CMO level folks more willing to say, “Yes, it is a problem for me. If the way I tell the story in the hallway here does not match how it sounds in the retail store, that’s an issue.”

Bill: Definitely.

Chris: So they’re willing… What do they say the first step to recovery is to acknowledge that you have a problem. So we have found the marketing community to be very, very willing to think strategically and say, this is something we’ve got to get our arms around.

Bill: No. It makes perfect sense. So, InnerView as a corporate entity, you guys are almost about two years in. You mentioned one of your observations is the sort of openness and receptiveness or receptivity to the message from marketing leadership.

Bill: Any other things that have either surprised you or thrilled you or constrained or challenged? How’s it been so far? I mean, I know you guys are crushing it. You have great clients. You’re really bringing this to life in ways that are so powerful. But any sort of reflections on the first, almost 24 months of this company?

Chris: Oh, that’s a loaded question.

Bill: Yeah. Right.

Chris: I would say that the… So surprises, I think the… I would say a pleasant surprise is we have seen… I mentioned this earlier, that somewhere in between sales and marketing there’s this sort of beautiful relationship that’s waiting to come out. Because of the way that we do what we do, there’s no blame, there’s no pointing fingers. We’re able to sit in between the marketing team and these organizations and really foster…

Chris: (24:28) We joke, we say that we’re like marriage counselors for marketing and sales organizations. But we have just seen the development of amazing partnerships inside these companies that didn’t exist before. So I think that the willingness, the common ground that exists and really seeing that play out in large publicly traded consumer organizations.

Chris: To see that fertile ground for a better relationship between the marketing side and their marketing channels, whether it’s sales or customer service. We’ve been thrilled and pleasantly surprised to see how much is possible when you kind of get those two on the same page. (25:07)

Chris: So I would say that’s one, another thing I would say is we’re asking people to think differently. And acknowledging the issue and acknowledging that there’s a challenge. It’s the first step. But just with any sort of new approach and niche concept, getting people to say, “I totally get it and I’m on board, but now I’m going to take the leap and try it.”

Chris: That has been a challenge. In some cases we’ve even done major consumer brands where we’ve done guarantees. We’ve done guarantees on our work because they just needed that last nudge to say, “I need to make sure that I see value from this.” Everything we do is tied to really hard metrics, sales, conversion rate, upsell rate, average order value.

Chris: The things that these companies are looking at everyday and measuring know hard dollars. We want to be attached to those. So we’ve even been willing to say, “Fine, we’ll do, we’ll put our fee at risk for a guarantee and we will show you the results.” More than followed through on that promise with them. But getting people to say I understand is one thing. Getting people to take the plunge is a different one. Just like any growing business.

Bill: Now. Sure. I mean the brand transfer score has a brilliant sort of multiple facets that are really compelling. One is as a diagnostic capability to help drive the work that comes after. But two I would imagine as a leading sort of selling opportunity to come in. It’s an audit in essence of what’s working and what is in and then coming out the other side.

Bill: A, there’s keys for how to act and how to remediate or improve the situation, but also with helps you demonstrate value and establish for a prospective client the degree to which this needs to be an area of attention.

Chris: At the same time nobody wants to be the one to go first. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig. But the good news is two years in my partners and I talk about, we are well past beta on the brand transfer score and the brand transfer study process.

Chris: We have major consumer brands, we have good-sized banks that are using brand transfer score. We have major consumer products brands that have baked it into their entire go to market process. So anytime they roll something out to their teams through their dealer network, they run a brand transfer score. We’re about to conduct our fourth major brand transfer study with them.

Bill: Excellent.

Chris: On their flagship brand. So we’re past proof of concept stage and now we’re able to say to companies, “No, no, no, you’re not going first. You’ve got these large companies that have gone before you and are seeing value from it.”

Bill: Yeah. You mentioned dealers, we’ve talked about Chick-fil-A as a great example of someone who gets this right. Are there complications with this channel in businesses where either it is a dealer or a franchise that isn’t entirely corporate owned?

Bill: I mean, I’d imagine it’s the same principles, but what’s your take on how differently structured businesses may either have incremental challenges or it makes your job a little bit harder?

Chris: It may be a little bit harder, but it’s huge opportunity. I mean, we look at dealer and distribution networks and sort of non-employee representatives as just fertile ground for getting out there and driving that alignment. When you look at those types of partnerships, companies have most times that relationship is driven by two things. Information, like I said before, they have a dealer portal where people can go and take a training module.

Chris: I mean, your listeners can’t see me roll my eyes. I mean those training modules aren’t moving the needle. The other is spiffs and incentives. You do not get somebody to believe in your brand or represent it effectively by paying them more. All you’re doing is shifting. It’s a shell game and it sort of runs out over time. So we look at it as there’s really…

Chris: People will say, well, how am I going to afford to do what you say you can do? It sounds expensive and hard. Well, the reality is if you shifted your focus and took 25% of the money that you’re thrown at incentives and just put this information in front of those dealer partners in a different way, in a more compelling way.

Chris: I mean, we’re talking to companies about virtual reality programs and they’re like, “You mean we would ship goggles out to our dealers and we’re like, “Yes, you would ship goggles out.” You’re paying them a spiff now, what’s a $75 pair of goggles that sits in that store? And now you can actually show them something, they can experience it in a much different way.

Chris: So the concept of how expensive things are is all relative. When you’re paying spiffs per sale, in our case it’s yard’s a carpet or square feet of hardwood flooring or jewelry, in some cases. When you’re paying spiffs on those things, it adds up and it doesn’t necessarily change behavior the way that we think these brands need to.

Bill: Right. It’s just margin erosive, if that’s even a word. But-

Chris: Yeah, the-

Bill: … when you think about dealers and reps and other folks, the incentives are aligned. But often talk about your Shaw experience. If you look at a flooring retailer who is selling all these different lines, the degree to which that group is not only a target audience from a training perspective to make everyone successful. You also need to convince and engage them to lead with your brand versus the other 116 they may have in that retail store or within the sort of rep alignment.

Bill: So it would seem at least intuitively there’s an even greater and you know, spiff has been a historical way to try to manage that. But to create incentives and we were doing totally different part of the rubble, but we were doing an engagement with the Jack Daniels brand at Brown-Forman. It was about how to build relationships with bartenders.

Bill: One of the things I’ll never forget from the insights was that what the bartenders really wanted were smiles on faces and tips in jars. And kind of the way they get that done is by having the tools to engage that person who walks up and orders a cocktail. But doesn’t specify a brand to be able to come with a little nugget.

Chris: A story.

Bill: A story about how this is made or historical fact or did you know Lynchburg is a dry county. All these different little things that… It’s not that they want an extra 15 cents for pouring Jack when nobody really even knows how that transaction’s happening. It’s that they want the credit of having put a smile on someone’s face. And that obviously extends into tips and stuff and relationships. But I mean it really is much more than the promotion of the month.

Chris: Well, what you just described gets me really excited because that’s how we think about it. When we talk about doing brand alignment for organizations, it’s really about changing the nature of the transaction. Rather than looking at the ultimate end goal is being that transaction with the end user. Looking at the person who talks to that end user as the person that you want to buy.

Chris: In your case, the bartender. In our case, maybe it’s somebody in a flooring retail store. We’ve seen situations where we’ve had people on our team that have gone in as actual customers as consumers to buy flooring and they walk in and the salesperson walks them right over to the roll special and back because they got a spiff.

Chris: And a deal to buy that carpet. The salesperson’s getting a spiff to move stock off the back the floor. In the process of that transaction, what they did was created a terrible experience for the buyer. And it was all… So the incentives were aligned for the individuals between the customer, but they weren’t aligned for the customer.

Chris: So when we think about it, it’s much more about they should want to be walking them over to the higher margin goods. They should want to be talking about better goods. Or in your case, maybe it’s better liquor. Think about what the craft beer industry did. It was all built on stories and getting people to retell stories. So I completely agree with you. Alignment isn’t about necessarily paying people to do what you want. It’s really about getting people to believe that what you’re saying is worth sharing.

Bill: No, totally. And sales ultimately when framed correctly is not about pushing but about helping. The more that you believe in something and understand something, the more helpful you feel and probably the more helpful you are. We’ve kept you longer than we promised we would.

Bill: Final thoughts just from your career to this point of maybe words of wisdom where I think we have a segment of our audience who’s kind of starting out or starting over and hopefully finds these interviews to be inspiring. Anything from Chris Wallace, the business person about your own journey that you’d tell somebody who was kind of early in their career that is sort of an important to you.

Chris: Yeah, I appreciate the opportunity to do that. I would say that InnerView is my third company that I’ve been lucky enough to help build. First, I started by myself and achieved pretty good success with that. With some partners, merge that in help grow another business. Build a business up through that.

Chris: Really starting over with InnerView, it’s the culmination of what we’ve learned over the years. You brought it up earlier, Bill, that it is kind of niche what we do. But I think that the thing I’ve learned more than anything else is the value of focus. When you’re in a small business or you’re running a consulting practice, the world feels like your oyster. You feel like there’s so much opportunity and there’s so many people that you could do business with.

Chris: But really focusing in on what your core strengths are and really being sober about the organizations that you can help what that profile looks like. We’ve chosen to target large companies and they’re not easy to get in with and easy to crack through with.

Chris: But we know that’s who we can help, and we know that’s where we can add value. So really being honest with yourself about where you add value and focusing on that area. To me focus is the most important thing. If you’re going to run a successful business, you can’t scramble from one thing to the next, you really have to buckle down.

Bill: Well, InnerView is a perfect example of that and we’re picking a particular problem, you call it a niche. It’s specific. It’s focused. It’s true, sort of objectively widely felt. And can’t wait to see what this company becomes. It’s been an honor to play a bigger role in… Lots of opportunities to work together. So congrats on the success up to this point. Thanks for joining us.

Chris: Thank you bill. I appreciate the opportunity.

Bill: Thanks to Chris for his time and insight. He’s really hit upon a problem or an area where not only do firms like ours pull out our hair and if you see me, you know I’ve done all of that. But I know that those on the brand management side and in marketing leadership are always thinking about how, I think we all realize at this point that the best brands are built inside out.

Bill: So how do you make sure that that content and even more than the content, the sort of belief and comprehension and the depth of feeling that characterize the strongest brands are felt all the way down to the front lines of the business. Retail stores, call centers, wherever those interactions may happen. It’s so important that the person representing the brand feels it, lives it, loves it. Chris is there to make sure that that happens.

Bill: Three ways to support us at Real-World Branding. The first, a rate and a review. If we deserve it, leave a review, tell us how we’re doing. Give us five stars if we deserved it. That’s a good way to make sure we can get found by those who would find value in this content. We’re so grateful for those who do. That makes sure that more can.

Bill: Second thing is to click subscribe. Every other week we’re doing this thereabouts and I think for the new year we’re going to maybe even go more frequently than that. But in any case, we’ve been so gratified by the comments that we’ve received and the interest that people have shown among those who enjoyed this.

Bill: So clicking that subscribe button or tapping it make sure that you’d never miss a single episode when a new one is live and we get some great ones coming. Then lastly, let’s promote a really positive dialogue for how to make this as valuable as possible.

Bill: We’ve had some great incoming requests or ideas for guests and we’ve really enjoyed meeting new people that way as well as being able to bring them to you every other week through these interviews. So those are the three ways we’d greatly appreciate it if you take a minute and stop and help us out here. We will sign off.

About The Author: Bill Gullan

Bill Gullan is the President of Finch Brands. His nearly 30-year (ugh!) career in branding has revolved around naming, messaging, M&A brand integration, and qualitative research. He has been with Finch Brands since 2001.

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