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#35 Saul Colt – Non-Traditional Marketing and Stunts With The Smartest Man In The World

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Saul Colt – the self-proclaimed smartest man in the world, joins Deividas to talk about marketing stunts, word-of-mouth marketing, and other forms of non-traditional marketing.

The first thing Deividas asks Saul is about his craziest marketing stunts.

Saul lists off a few:

  • Skywriting to promote a cloud-based service.
  • A fashion show for a belt company, where the models were naked except, wearing only the belt.
  • A cross-country RV trip where a brand had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with their customers along the way. 
  • And more.

Before all this, Saul was running a publishing company, in which he wrote and sold superhero comics.

Because he was competing against the giants of the industry, he realized he had to do something unique to stand out and get on the customers’ radar.

So, he turned to marketing stunts.

Though, he was given very little guidance along the way. Which allowed him to experiment and excel in his marketing to scale the ideas he had.

In a way, he started backward.

Being a not-classically trained marketer, Saul managed to develop non-traditional ways of marketing and learn the traditional stuff later.

Now, his goal is simple: create things people will talk about, something no one has ever seen before.

In a way, it’s like art AND a science.

When asked how he learned all these, Saul says it’s not about learning, but rather, creating.

He comes up with most ideas with a question. And that question is:

Wouldn’t it be cool, if…?

Usually, the brand has a goal in mind (e.g., social media impressions, more customers, etc.). From there, Saul works backward.

If the goal is to get more customers, they need to put customers in a situation where they can see the product. Once you have the goal, you can come up with a thousand different marketing ideas.

For example – wouldn’t it be cool if we did skywriting because it’s a cloud-based product? No one has ever used clouds to market a cloud-based solution before!

It’s a lot of daydreaming, he says.

Though, the idea is the easy part. Saul says he lets his mind wander for that, based around who’s the target.

The hard part, meanwhile, is figuring out the execution, what’s possible, and how to do it.

His process, whenever he gets hired, consists of 40 questions he runs every brand through.

The questions are two-fold:

  • Get to know the brand and its customers.
  • Find out if it’s a brand Saul is the right fit for.

It’s a two-way interview. He’s interviewing the brands as much as they’re deciding to work with him.

Then, he interviews 5-6 customers and goes through the creative ideation process.

When asked about his confidence – Saul says he’s the perfect mix of over-confidence and insecurity.

Naturally, he gets nervous about his stunts. But over time, he understood what he’s great at and who he can work with.

If they’re not a good fit – Saul simply doesn’t want to work with them.

Most of his work comes from word-of-mouth, so, he wants to protect his reputation. 

Saul explains that ever since he was a child, he wanted to make movies and be a film director. 

Writing comics and scripts allowed him to tap into storytelling and how to connect with people on an emotional level. Even now, he’s telling stories for brands and companies.

Then, Deividas asks an interesting question – what IS Saul’s favorite comic book character?

The answer? Batman.

But it’s more complicated than that.

Saul explains that he loves comic book backstories more than the actual characters. 

But his favorite comic book figures are the actual creators of the characters. 

A lot of his work and personal interests boil down to personality.

Similarly, he says he often offers brands to build their personality – if they don’t have one to begin with.

Brand personalities, like people, should be real, he explains.

Deividas adds that, in a way, the brand’s customer is the superhero, and the brand is some kind of magic elixir that will help them overcome their problems.

Saul says that people are selfish; it’s natural. And marketing people should always be tapping into it.

Subconsciously, everyone just wants to know how the brand will help them. No one cares a lot about when the brand was founded, and who are the founders.

There’s a lot of ‘US’ talk and not enough ‘YOU’ talk.

There are always ten benefits for one feature. And companies should always be leaning on benefits, not the features.

Customers want to know how the brand’s solution will change their lives. 

Features can be copied overnight – benefits can’t.

When asked about a success story example, Saul brings up ZipCar.

They were focusing on a new market and wanted to completely differentiate themselves from their competitor (also a car-sharing service).

Saul’s angle with ZipCar was to position their brand as a secret club that ALSO had a car-sharing service on the side. So, they were more active and engaged within the community and encouraged their customers to invite more people to their events.

They tapped into the need for belonging for the customer and created a community based around the brand. This way, they built a real, genuine relationship, and people didn’t think of it as a service.

The objective is to really understand what customers like about the business, what they don’t, what are some of their great experiences, and so on.

In Saul’s words, marketing literally means understanding your customer and giving them exactly what they want, when they want it, where they want it. 

You speak to your customers, and they will tell you everything you need to know to grow and survive in any situation.

For example, if they don’t even want to talk about anything until the pandemic is over, then you shouldn’t be running paid ads at the moment.

The companies that get in trouble for being tone-deaf are usually the ones that haven’t spoken to their true stakeholders – the customers.

As a final question, Deividas asks Saul if there’s a quote or a saying he lives by.

To that, Saul says there isn’t a specific recurring one. Instead, it’s always whatever the last thing he read that was most interesting.

It’s ever-evolving, always changing, and whatever is the most interesting and recent.

     Here’s what we cover during episode #35:

  • Saul Colt – the smartest man in the world
  • 3 Craziest marketing stunts Saul has done
  • How Saul got started with his stunts and brands he’s worked with along the way
  • Traditional vs. non-traditional marketing background
  • Why non-traditional marketing is like art AND science
  • One specific question Saul asks when coming up with most of his marketing stunts
  • Knowing the goal and working backward 
  • How Saul daydreams his ideas
  • How to learn, or create, non-traditional marketing on your own
  • Why Saul asks 40 questions when deciding if he wants to work with a new brand
  • Where Saul gets his confidence from
  • How Saul actively protects his reputation and gets clients from word-of-mouth marketing
  • How writing comic books helped him develop storytelling skills and how he learned to connect with on an emotional level
  • Why Saul loves comic book backstories more than the actual characters (and his favorite comic book hero revealed)
  • Saul on how he builds brand personalities to be lasting 
  • Deividas on why brand customers are superheroes 
  • Why Saul says customers are selfish (it’s natural) and how marketers should tap into that, without exploiting them
  • Why brands should focus more on ‘YOU’ talk instead of ‘US’ talk 
  • Features vs. benefits – why brands should have at least ten benefits for one feature
  • Saul breaks down his success story with ZipCar: How he differentiated the brand from their competitors (also a car-sharing service) so that the customers didn’t think of it as a service
  • Saul’s advice to service-based brands to help them grow
  • How Saul defines the word ‘marketing’ 
  • One huge mistake companies that get in trouble for being tone-deaf often make (and how to avoid it)
  • Why your customers are your true stakeholders 
  • How Saul stays up to date with the current market situation  

Follow Saul:

Find Deividas:

Links mentioned in the episode:

The Idea Integration Company

eCommerce Growth Hacks | Facebook Ads, Creatives, Email & More | by Sugatan

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#34 Emma Fallman – What PR Consulting is Really Like: Brand Building, and Stories of Ad Agencies

#33 Deividas & Kris – 2+ Years’ Worth of Knowledge in Creative Ads and Running Sugatan

#31 Deividas & Kris – Building an eCommerce Brand From Scratch, Importance of Proper Workflow, and the Structure for Success

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