Dec 21, 2021 • 25M

Purpose-Oriented Marketing Tips From a Pro

Emily Lyman, CEO of Branch & Bramble, Offers Guidance for Socially Aware Brands

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Some of the world's great changemakers join host Devin Thorpe to share leadership lessons you can use to increase your impact.
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Devin: What do you think of as your superpower?

Emily: I love this question because I often think about it as I build internally our teams. I want us all to work cohesively together and very much so. My strength is building client relationships. I have what I call a spidey sense. So I have a very good ability to anticipate the needs of clients, employees, people in general once I build that relationship with them.

Today, Emily Lyman is the CEO and founder of New York-based Branch and Bramble, a digital marketing agency that works with purpose-oriented brands. She has accomplished a great deal since she worked part-time as a valuation analyst for my investment banking firm, Thorpe Capital Group, fifteen years ago. She built her marketing acumen playing increasingly responsible roles at Random House.

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Today, she leads Branch & Bramble helping clients tap into markets aligned with their mission. “It’s not about selling to an audience; it’s attracting based on your brand story and your values,” she says.

“What we have found is that when brands embrace and take a stand, whatever side of the road that might be on, they are going to find and attract the more a more loyal audience,” she explains. “You don’t need to be combative with any other side. You just understand that not everyone is going to agree with you.”

She uses Patagonia as a key example, “I buy Patagonia. I love them. They have that very clear mission statement that they always tie everything back to—every marketing initiative, every campaign, every email that’s sent out, always ties back to that.”

Emily patiently walked me through some marketing fundamentals—the sort of thing she teaches graduate students at Fordham Gabelli School of Business as an adjunct professor.

“Great content happens in one of four quadrants,” she says. “Love, hate, happiness [or] despair.”

Most content that brands produce falls right in the center of that quadrant. That's where it's the boring content.

Whenever you are looking to create content that resonates, that drives a response, you have to be in one of those four quadrants and you have to provide that emotional touchpoint for people to get behind. Whether it's anger at what's happening in the world and how they can fix it, whether it tugs on the heartstrings, whether it tickles their funny bone, it has to fall within those four quadrants. If you don't create content or your branding that does that, you're dead in the water.

One of Branch & Bramble’s clients is the Audio Publishers Association, which supports authors and artists producing audiobooks. “Within the publishing industry, audiobooks have kind of been the, you know, redheaded stepchild,” Emily says.

Emily and her team organized Instagram Influencers who were not audiobook readers, asking them to read one and share their reactions to the books and the experience of listening to them. Emily ensured that the influencers represented a diverse and inclusive group. The campaign was a success. “We caused an 80 percent lift around audiobooks for the month of June,” she reports.

Emily attributes her success to her superpower, her “spidey sense” that helps her build strong client relationships.

How to Develop Building Strong Client Relationships As a Superpower

There are three things Emily suggests for developing strong client relationships.

The first is to build relationships of trust that allow for difficult conversations.

Emily’s approachable, authentic and even corny personality helps her develop trust with clients. “Because I’m anticipatory, because I’m very transparent, because I actually lean on my corniness a lot, which, you know, there’s no guile here. I am able to have very candid conversations with them.”

“Because Branch & Bramble is not—we don’t subscribe to passive positivity. So if you need to hear the hard stuff, we’ll tell you the hard stuff,” she says.

The second fundamental principle is to be a good listener. “Active listening is a very big piece of how I develop that spidey sense,” Emily says. After developing a strong relationship built on listening, she can anticipate client needs.

The third and final aspect of her approach is to focus on adding value for the client. “Branch & Bramble has our client’s best interest at heart. Always, always,” Emily says. “It’s always asking yourself, how do you add value for someone else?”

Following Emily’s three suggestions for developing the ability to build strong client relationships can help you make this a superpower for good.

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