One of the great practices that General Assembly employs for its courses is a daily “exit ticket”, which enables each student to anonymously rate the instructor, the content, and that specific session, and add comments and ask questions related to what was covered during that session. Last night, to open up the 2nd week of the 5th cohort of Digital Marketing at GA Atlanta, I took some time to answer the questions that had been posed in these exit tickets from the first two sessions. These are some great questions, and I hope the answers will help future marketers.

  • Q: Can a customer empathy map be turned into a marketing strategy?
  • A: Generally, the customer empathy map is used to focus the brand and define the message and key words that are used to communicate the brand to the intended audience. It’s quite a jump from empathy map to overall marketing strategy; however, the things that the audience thinks, feels, says, hears, and sees are extremely important in defining your brand.
  • Q: Can your elevator pitch be longer than 30 seconds?
  • A: We use the 30-second rule as an arbitrary boundary around the elevator pitch simply to help the entrepreneur or marketer have discipline in sharing their organization’s value proposition. The elevator pitch should roll right off your tongue when someone asks you “what do you do?” or “what does your organization do?” and should not have the listener looking at their watch trying to escape. The number 1 function of the elevator pitch is to get the next meeting, so you can’t – and don’t want to – provide the complete business summary. Rather, you want to focus on the problem that you are solving and the audience who benefits from your solution. Much more about this one at
  • Q: How do we gather the information / answers for the customer empathy map?
  • A: The best (some would say only) way to understand what your customers see, hear, think, feel, and say is to meet them, talk to them, ask them a million questions, and otherwise get to know your customers extremely well.
  • Q: How do you articulate your solution to the problem you are solving?
  • A: This is a tough one because every solution is different. However, my answer to this one is that you speak according to that customer empathy map by using the words and phrases that your audience uses to make sure they really know that you really understand their problem. Your solution – how you solve their problem – is then less important than the fact that you’ve actually solved the problem. Then you have to make the solution a great user experience, otherwise it won’t matter that you’ve solved the problem¬†because they won’t use your solution if it stinks.
  • Q: What is an organization’s “enemy” and how does it influence the branding of the organization?
  • A: The term “enemy” comes from FakeGrimlock’s Minimum Viable Personality, in which you identify what it is that you hate. Not a person or group of people, but a thing that you’re trying to disrupt or do away with. Apple’s “enemy” is the status quo. Uber’s enemy is the crappy experience of getting a cab. Atlanta Tech Village‘s enemy might be the lonely, struggling entrepreneur with no place to go for help or camaraderie in their journey to build a business. How the enemy affects branding is by uniting the team against the “enemy”, so that everything they do is focused on destroying the status quo, crappy cab rides, and the lonely journey of entrepreneurship.
  • Q: Should you have a mission for your personal brand or personal blog? How?
  • A: Absolutely! Determining your mission as an individual should be very similar to how you go about it as an organization. What are your core values? What is your enemy? What are your personal goals? How will you get there?
  • Q: How can you be consistent about your brand without being repetitive?
  • A: You can’t. Here I again used Atlanta Tech Village as the example of persistent, consistent, repetitive branding. “Be nice, dream big, work hard / play hard, pay it forward” is everywhere in that building, and everywhere in their messaging. Same with every great brand. Branding is a repetitive exercise, both internally and externally. It must be repeated early and often so it becomes a part of the DNA of the team and the audience.
  • Q: How do you state your “why” (a la Simon Sinek) without just saying “to make money.”
  • A: Sinek put it far better than I can: “Profit is a result. It’s always a result.” ¬†In other words, profit is not the reason for creating a business, but a result of taking on a cause, solving a problem, or serving an audience. Your “why” is usually rooted in the problem you are solving.

I enjoyed spending the first few minutes of last night’s class answering these questions, and I look forward to the next batch of questions now that we’ve jumped into the marketing funnel and the math that makes marketing work.

What do you think about that?