January 20, 2022
As technology advances and marketing distribution continues to evolve, how can we keep reaching target audiences in a meaningful way? Though many things have changed since Orange Label’s inception in 1972, some key principles have remained the same. In honor of our 50th Anniversary, this special edition of The 19 Podcast features our agency founder, Paul Barth. Listen to Orange Label CEO Wes Phillips and Paul discuss the inspiration for starting the agency and the two most important components in advertising.
Rochelle Reiter : [00:00:06] This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less game-changing insights from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
Wes Phillips: [00:00:24] Hello and welcome to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition. I’m Wes Philips, CEO of Orange Label. Can’t believe it’s already 2022, which means that our agency has been in business helping brand leaders thrive for 50 years! Today we have a very special edition of our podcast in honor of our 50th anniversary. We are talking to the agency’s founder, Paul Barth. Paul and I have worked together since 1983, and what began as a working relationship has grown into a real friendship. He has an exceptional understanding of interpersonal relationships and client communications, and the foundations he laid are still in the DNA of Orange Label to this day. I personally have learned so much from Paul over the years, and now we have the opportunity to benefit from his five decades of experience with brands and expertise in response marketing.
Wes Phillips: [00:01:23] Paul, thank you so much for joining us today!
Paul Barth: [00:01:25] Glad to be here!
Wes Phillips: [00:01:26] Now, one of the things that I’m most interested in when you started the agency back in 1972, it’s actually now become the longest standing, privately held response marketing agency in Orange County. I’m curious what inspired you to start the agency?
Paul Barth: [00:01:42] You know, my motivations were not lofty. I didn’t come from a sophisticated environment. You may be looking for something more elegant, but the fact is my inspirations were earthy, very pragmatic. I guess three words that could describe what I felt were freedom, fun and instinct. I relished the opportunity for freedom to move quickly, to change, to meet opportunities, to take risks. And that goes to the fun, to wake up in the morning with answers and ideas and then be able to act on those ideas. Nothing is more fun than waking up with an idea or being in the gym and having an idea occur. That’s what the instinct it probably was handed down from my father, but I got to tell you a silly story. My first marketing success was way back in high school, and it was winning the high school student body race. My opponent for student body president was the captain of the football team. He was the quarterback and he was dating the head cheerleader. By the way, he was a straight-A student. There is no way I could possibly beat Kelly Burkeline to become student body president, so I thought, What am I going to do? So I went to the candidate for vice president, the one for a secretary and one for treasurer, and I said, Hey, you guys, let’s get together and let’s create a political party and with our own slogans as a party. And this will accomplish a couple of things, number one, that the teachers will be really impressed that we were so innovative and we came up with this idea. Secondly, because everyone was limited to how much advertising they could do. It’ll give us four times the amount of advertising. Well, of course, that gave me four times the amount of advertising we won. I got to be student body president and that was my first experience with marketing. I still enjoy telling that story.
Wes Phillips: [00:03:41] Freedom, fun and instinct. So clearly, instinct paid off for you. And so with that, what was the focus at the start of the agency and then how did it evolve?
Paul Barth: [00:03:52] The focus was retail going after low-hanging fruit to generate cash and gain a higher degree of maturity. We started with a chain of jewelry stores. They had something like, I don’t know, 12 locations, a large furniture retailer and automobile dealership. That retail continued to grow, but later added manufacturers, a significant paint manufacturer, you know, who delivered to other paint stores and who delivered to or whose market was primarily the contractor trade. But they decided to go after the retail trade later financial, including a bank and then office technology and so on.
Wes Phillips: [00:04:29] So your instinct told you, let’s start with retail and then you built off that. What’s so interesting is that today there are so many channels of communication. What communication principles do you believe have remained constant since you started in 1972, now through 2022?
Paul Barth: [00:04:46] You know, the channels, the way the messages are being delivered have changed, but the underlying principles driving the messages are very much the same today as they were back in 1972, when we started with going after the retail business. Number one, of course, the message has to be benefit-rich, not simply recitation of product features. Even at the national level, watching national commercials on TV, for example, it’s still amazes me. Some are excellent with tremendously effective, benefit-oriented advertising, and some are excellent the way they integrate the benefits with the features, but it still amazes me how many offer, like I said a moment ago, a recitation of features without the what’s in it for me, the old WIIFM. The other major issue, of course, is that the campaign has to be delivered with sufficient frequency and ongoing consistency that can’t be overstated. Delivering that message without hesitation and without taking breaks, it’s got to be written in stone that that campaign sort of never ends.
Wes Phillips: [00:06:07] You’re talking about frequency and consistency.
Paul Barth: [00:06:10] Yes.
Wes Phillips: [00:06:10] And the difference between frequency and consistency?
Paul Barth: [00:06:14] Frequency is reaching the target multiple times as often as budget will allow. Consistency is doing that over time. So well, does that make sense?
Wes Phillips: [00:06:27] Yeah, it makes sense. And the follow up question to that is that could have been done in 1972 with the different channels in 2022. Do you still believe frequency and consistency with the evolved channels still plays a key role?
Paul Barth: [00:06:42] Absolutely. The effective advertisers again, are there with tremendous frequency. I’ll use one as an example. Just because it had an effective ending, a company reached out to me with tremendous frequency. I got emails and text messages from them probably three times a week, and it was relentless, you know, for three consecutive months. But here’s what happened when I went to respond and buy some shoes. The website didn’t work. I wasn’t able to buy shoes from one of these emails, so they had me. They got me with frequency and they got me because they continued to be there week in, week out, month in, month out. Unfortunately, when I went to buy the shoes, I was unable to do so.
Wes Phillips: [00:07:30] That sounds like just an example when you get over to the sales side or the sales marketing side, underperformance.
Paul Barth: [00:07:37] Truly, truly underperformance as a marketer. It made me sad because they were doing so many things right and then to drop the ball at the very end. I don’t know why it made me feel bad, but it made me feel bad.
Wes Phillips: [00:07:52] Now, taking a different tact on your approach to marketing, one of the unique skills that I believe that you have is asking the right questions. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of finding the right questions to ask?
Paul Barth: [00:08:04] I called it looking for the pearl. Here’s where it began. I listened with intensity, almost putting myself in the mindset in the mind, in the frame of mind, of the other person. Getting there, getting in their heads, so to speak, and never interrupting, never interrupting because as they’re talking, you never know when the pearl of wisdom is going to drop on the table. If you’re listening carefully enough, you will hear little pearls of wisdom that are important to them or to the marketing or to the advertising. Now the second benefit of that kind of listening, that deeper kind of listening, not interrupting, staying in their minds is that it gives you a deeper, more intimate, more actionable frame of reference. And, by the way, more actionable follow up question. And that’s the trick. The great follow up questions that come out of the previous answer, the questions that again give you those pearls of wisdom and the reason how I came up with the pearl. Because if you’re in a quiet place and you’re interviewing someone fact finding, unloading, unpacking someone and you do this, you listen, listen, listen, ask open ended questions. Don’t interrupt, ask good follow up questions. As I say, the pearls will fall out. I like to think of the pearl falling out and clicking as it bounces along the table, so it’s the search for the pearl.
Wes Phillips: [00:09:37] That is a great way to label that something that I noticed over the years. Labeling everything was always a great approach to help people to understand and to categorize. And I noticed that you worked over the years with a lot of entrepreneurial, spirited individuals. And so in your experience and working with those that have that type of spirit and their leaders of organizations. What are the reasons that you feel they should use to validate bringing in an outside resource to help them with their marketing challenges and opportunities?
Paul Barth: [00:10:07] Well, there are several reasons. The first one that comes to mind if we go back to you asking me what my motivations were and I said I relished the opportunity for the freedom to move quickly. The opportunity to have fun to wake up in the morning with answers and ideas. That means that my mind was always working and at a fast pace. Well, fade to black, come upon later. If your mind is constantly working at a fast pace, you need really sharp people around you to try to stay up with that and to pull out the actionable information, the actionable ideas that may get lost as the entrepreneur is moving so quickly with so many ideas, with so much information and probably going in some directions that are less than productive. So that’s the first reason to have people around who can keep up, who can distill and who can pull together the marketing efforts that need to be pulled together. Another way to say that is that synergy can play a powerful role in strategic thinking and planning. The synergy that comes between an entrepreneur and bright people around him or around her can lead to wondrous opportunity. I guess another component would be to stay close. The ad agency or the marketing firm, the smart people that come from there will also help keep things on track in terms of maintaining consistency with the business objectives and the marketing objectives of that firm. As the entrepreneurs and senior executives are going into all of these different directions and having to run the business. So providing that resource divides the workload. And then, of course, there’s the ongoing need for freshness. Right, an outside firm is able to give a more global view that can blend with the view of the people inside, and that global view can help offer more powerful strategic marketing efforts.
Wes Phillips: [00:12:20] I’m going to say back to you what you just said. One is an outside resource. If they are the right type of resource that they’re bright, have a lot of energy and have the same spirit as the leader of an organization or a company that they’re working with. They have the ability to what you said earlier. They can ask questions and they can hear those pearls of wisdom and then they can execute on that building strategies that are effective that go back to what you said even earlier, which is the messaging which has to be really benefit rich. And by that, I think that’s more emotional oriented. And then if that is happening, what you’re saying is then the company’s leaders can then get on with running the business because they get too close to it sometimes.
Paul Barth: [00:13:04] Right, exactly. You’ve summarized that extremely well.
Wes Phillips: [00:13:09] One of the things that I always like to ask people is, what’s that one piece of advice that you would have for business leaders, entrepreneurs or those that are developing a brand as it relates to communications, marketing or just running a business? What is that one pearl of wisdom that you hope they hear?
Paul Barth: [00:13:29] You know, this may seem overly simplistic, but it goes back to that word consistency. Stay the course. No matter the challenges that occur, no matter the distractions that can occur, it’s just critically important to stay the course because the marketing programs are the glue, they’re the glue that hold the messaging together. They’re the glue that make that strong connection between the market and the advertiser. They’re the glue that create the emotion with consistency. It’s possible to build and nurture emotion, and that is only done over time. Feelings emotion can only be built and nurtured over time. And that, of course, is hugely important for any campaign. So consistency to maintain the messaging and build the brand and especially the emotion of the brand.
Wes Phillips: [00:14:41] I appreciate that. And then if you have a story, I’m wondering if you could tell us about a challenging marketing issue you face with a client and what is the lesson that a business leader today could learn from?
Paul Barth: [00:14:53] Well, there was a client that went into the assisted living business, and they began buying underperforming assisted living facilities around the country. The business model being find underperforming facilities that could be acquired at an effective price point, effective sales price point and turn them around. Well, what was discovered, of course, was while there may have been several reasons these properties were underperforming, I mean, a couple of maybe were in a marginal location. Maybe a couple of them had deferred maintenance, but virtually all of them had a problem with how the property was run. The attitude of the director, the executive director, I think they were called. And as that got pushed down to the staff, they didn’t fully understand what their mission had to be, that their mission had to be over and above the technical aspects of caring for people in an assisted living facility because there’s something that’s behind all the technical while call it the medical care, they need, the physical care that they need. There’s something behind that, and these people were not getting it. The directors, they didn’t get it. So we came up with a concept called The Power of Love and The Power of Love was an ad marketing tagline that was designed to impact each consistency. Starting with the director, the mindset of the marketplace was guided by The Power of Love that put pressure on the director to understand what is meant by The power of Love and to direct that down to the people to really, truly care for these people with an emotional outpouring of care, care and attitude care with emotion care in the unpleasantness, not just delivering care but delivering with love. A lot of people felt that it was inappropriate to use something as blatant as love in a marketing and ad marketing campaign for an assisted living facility. They felt it was too blatant to over the top. But as it came to pass, it was very effective in meeting each of the constituencies. The director of the staff and the families of the residents and the families of potential residents and then, of course, of the residents themselves. So that communication program was highly successful and not only reaching the marketplace, but reaching the internal constituencies and changing the behaviors of the people, of the staff, the teams.
Wes Phillips: [00:17:50] And so the lesson then to other business people that are making decisions in the structure of their marketing programs is?
Paul Barth: [00:17:57] Know what your core product is and build the emotional story around that core product and build the marketing around that core product and direct that core product to each of your constituencies. Current customers, clients, potential customers, clients, internal team members.
Wes Phillips: [00:18:22] Well, Paul, this has been an enlightening conversation. 1972 through 2022, you have made such a huge difference with your insight and your emotional commitment to helping others succeed. And I really appreciate you taking the time today to spend your time today. Sharing so that others can benefit from your experience and your insight,
Paul Barth: [00:18:44] You’re welcome, I appreciate it. This was fun.
Wes Phillips: [00:18:52] Thank you for listening to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Paul Barth. To learn more about Orange Label, visit our website atorangelabelmarketing.com. If you have additional thoughts on the topics we discuss today, send us an email. You can send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wes Phillips: [00:19:19] A special thank you goes out to our contributors, Senior Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, Krystina Holford, copywriter, and Ashley Ruiz, Senior Content Writer. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify, and if you like what you heard today, leave us a review!