Login or Join

Search
Close this search box.

Storytelling and a helpfulness mindset for agency owners (featuring Kristian Alomá)

In this episode, Kristian shares insights about his agency, Threadline, and the art of crafting a narrative that is relevant, meaningful, and inspiring to the audience.

SUBSCRIBE:      Apple Podcasts    |    Google Podcasts    |    Stitcher    |    Spotify    |    RSS

Author of Start with the Story: Brand-Building in a Narrative Economy, Kristian Alomá knows the value of brand storytelling for agencies and businesses.

In this episode, Kristian shares insights about his agency, Threadline, and the art of crafting a narrative that is relevant, meaningful, and inspiring to the audience. He and Chip cover the evolution of brand stories over time and the need for agencies to live their own brand stories. 

Chip and Kristian also discuss the value of a helpfulness mindset for growing a thriving agency. The importance of building trust and evolving with customers is highlighted throughout the conversation.

Key takeaways

  • Chip Griffin: “Any true entrepreneur is constantly trying to figure things out and hopefully learning, mostly from our mistakes.”
  • Kristian Alomá: “Probably at no point has owning an agency ever actually lived up to what I thought it would be, but at no point has it ever disappointed me.”
  • Chip Griffin: “I’ve always loved about the community of entrepreneurs that almost without exception, entrepreneurs are happy to help other entrepreneurs because they have a passion for what they do.”
  • Kristian Alomá: “Focus on three key elements when it comes to storytelling: is it relevant to your audience? Is it meaningful to your audience? And does it inspire your audience?”

Resources

About Kristian Alomá

Kristian A Alomá, PhD, is a seasoned storyteller and strategist who believes in harnessing the power of narrative psychology and social sciences to forge meaningful connections with audiences. Kristian has spent over 20 years enhancing major brands like Harley-Davidson and Coca-Cola and boosting nonprofit outreach with his marketing acumen.His brand strategy firm leverages his PhD in narrative psychology to develop impactful stories that engage stakeholders. A lecturer at the Kellogg SchoolCenter for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University and author of “Start with the Story,” Kristian champions storytelling’s role in brand building, especially for nonprofits. Committed to ethical communication, he contributes to the American Psychology Association and B Lab’s Marketer’s Network. Based in Chicago with his family, Kristian’s passion for global cultures informs his narrative branding expertise.

Related

The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.

Chip Griffin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Chats with Chip. I’m your host, Chip Griffin, the founder of SAGA, the Small Agency Growth Alliance, and I am delighted to have with me today someone who, like me, likes to be helpful, and we’ll actually be talking about helpfulness as one of the things on this episode, and that is Kristian Alomá, the founder and CEO of Threadline.

Welcome to the show, Kristian.

Kristian Alomá: Thank you for having me, Chip. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Chip Griffin: It is great to, to have you here. I think you’re going to offer some, interesting insights, but before we start getting into those insights, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself with the listeners?

Kristian Alomá: Would be happy to. So, I have been, working in the marketing industry for about 20 plus years or so. And, about halfway into that career, I decided to pursue a degree in psychology. So I have a PhD in psychology. with a focus on consumer identity and narrative. And so, those areas have really sort of informed, essentially, sort of, everything I do and think about in regards to marketing, to branding, to brand strategy, customer service, customer engagement.

and on those foundations, I’ve built an agency called Threadline, and also recently wrote a book called Start with the Story that focuses on how we can build, not just brands, but better relationships with our customers. through story, through narrative.

Chip Griffin: So that’s a good jumping off point. And, and, you know, the fact that you are bringing some proper education to this conversation is probably a good thing because my degree is in political science, or as I like to tell people, I have a BA in BS.

and so, you know, we’re, we’re going to hopefully learn something a little bit more than what I have to offer.

Kristian Alomá: I’ll try. They say the PhD stands for piled high and deep. So, well,

Chip Griffin: there you go. So. One way or the other, it’ll be an interesting conversation. so, so, so why don’t we just, you know, talk about your journey a little bit, and then, then we’ll talk, about a couple of other topics.

But so, you know, how did you decide I’m going to start my own agency? I’m going to, I’m going to take this leap and this is the right thing to do.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah. You know, it had always been, I guess, a desire of mine, even at the last company I had my, my hope, my focus, my development was in basically moving into leadership positions, and leading that organization.

but I come from a family of entrepreneurs, small business owners, medium sized agency owners, that sort of thing. And so this sort of idea of, of running an organization and building a company that is really sort of, you know, again, those were all family run businesses and your customers felt like friends of the family.

And you sort of served folks in these really kind of genuine and authentic ways. I knew I wanted to do something like that. And, and, you know, my just educational path took me to, obviously sort of beyond, the sort of home nest, if you will. And I got into areas that my family’s never worked in.

And so I had to figure out how to make that work in a marketing space, right? In an advertising space. And so, at about, seven years ago or so, you know, I’ve, I’ve had this really sort of deep conversation with my wife about these dreams and these ambitions and these aspirations. And, you know, we had the hard conversation of, can we afford to do something like this, right?

To take that leap and not have that guarantee of a paycheck every two weeks. And, and, you know, we felt really good about it. And we felt like, you know, I had built a personal brand in the industry. I had relationships with some really great clients that I knew I could perhaps rely on. and, and that brought me here.

And from there, it’s all been about, you know, how do I build an organization that is not just another agency, right? That’s not just, you know, the thing that I see as a cash cow or an ATM machine that I can just sort of turn on and off or bring in the right staff to sort of generate enough profit for me, but something that like, I see as a legacy for myself.

I see as part of my identity. I see as something that I want my kids to look at and think that’s, that’s the right way to run a business. I want the world to look at and think that’s the right way to run a business. And that’s sort of is where we are. And it’s a, it’s a learning process for sure. I doubt I’m getting it right every day, but I’m figuring it out as I go along.

Chip Griffin: You know, I, I think that’s a great way of describing entrepreneurship generally, right? Any true entrepreneur is constantly trying to figure things out and, and, and hopefully learning, mostly from our mistakes, right? I always say you learn more from failure than from success. success can be just some dumb luck, but failure, there’s probably a reason for it.

And, and if you understand that, then at least you can try to avoid making the exact same mistake again.

Kristian Alomá: Right, right. And you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, really sort of relied on when I became an entrepreneur in, in sort of right in full, how much the sort of entrepreneurial community reached out and, and wanted to share their experiences with me, right?

I think we do learn from our mistakes. We learn from everyone else’s mistakes as well, if they share them with us. And, and that’s what happened. And, and that was actually probably sort of more rewarding than even starting the business because, you know, starting the business is actually pretty kind of uneventful, right? Like all of a sudden you get an email from the government that says you’ve you’ve filed your articles of organization and all of a sudden you have a business. It was harder to buy a house than it was to start a business to be honest. And so, but when, when all these different folks sort of reaching out and having meetings and saying, Hey, this is what I struggled with.

Or if you’ve got questions, reach out that, sort of really kind of made me feel like I was in the right place. and, and inspired me to say, Hey, if there’s anyone else that’s doing the same thing. Cool. I’m here to pay that back as much as I can.

Chip Griffin: Yeah. I mean, that, that’s one thing I’ve always loved about the community of entrepreneurs is that almost without exception, entrepreneurs are happy to help other entrepreneurs because they have a passion for what they do.

And I’ve been fortunate to basically, that’s my business now. I just run around telling people all the things I failed at so that, so that they don’t, so that hopefully they don’t have to. you know, if you think back to the conversations that you had with your wife, when you were saying, okay, you know, we can take this leap and this risk.

How has owning an agency lived up to or fell short of the expectations that you have had, that you had at that time? In other words, is it what you thought it was going to be?

Kristian Alomá: I think it was, although I should say what I have discovered is what I want it to be constantly changes. You know, when, when we first had the conversation, I had that picture in my head of like, Oh, we’re going to be this 25 person agency with a cool office and pool tables and all this sort of stuff.

Right. And, you know, you start sort of going through it and you start living it and you start to realize. Maybe 25 isn’t what I want. Maybe I want 12. Maybe I want 10. Maybe I want 5. Right? And, and so I’m sort of constantly using the sort of experience that I’m having as feedback to say, yeah, that maybe wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s still everything I could ask for.

Right? Like it’s, it’s a weird sort of, dynamic that I experienced where I’ve, I’ve never, though at probably at no point has it ever actually lived up to what I thought it would be, at no point has it ever disappointed me. in, in sort of a core way, right? There are challenges, there are struggles, you know, we’ve, we’ve hired and we’ve had to let folks go and things like that, right?

Like all of that sort of comes with it and all of it’s difficult. And, and, you know, you learn a lot about what your skills are and what your weaknesses are. You know, I’ve, I very quickly learned, I don’t know like business finance very well. I’m a marketing guy, right? Like I had to figure out QuickBooks. I was watching YouTube videos for hours at a time trying to figure out how to send my first invoice sort of thing, you know, but, but it’s, it’s, it was still sort of worth it.

And, and it still is worth it to this day, you know, even figuring out now, like how do I develop my coworker in a way that’s meaningful to her and helpful to the business? and you know, so it’s, it’s constantly, it almost, I guess the sort of maybe the core principle of it all is like, it will never be what you thought it would be.

And it very rarely is what you don’t want, I guess. Right. Like you are shaping it, you are guiding it and you will find the path that fits you best in many cases, right? That’s some organizations fail. So that’s the part of sort of that maybe the excitement of entrepreneurship is that it could go wrong, but you’re constantly trying to find the path where it keeps going right for as long as possible.

Chip Griffin: I really appreciate that you framed that in terms of what you wanted from the business and the focus on getting that back from it. Because I think far too many, not just agency owners, but other entrepreneurs have the business driving them and, and they’re just saying, well, you know, what’s the next logical step for the business and not thinking about what it means for them as the owner.

And I always say, there’s no reason to take on all the stress and all the risk of being a business owner if you’re not getting what you want from it. And as you say, that may evolve over time.

Kristian Alomá: You’re, you’re absolutely right. And I think, I mean, I, I didn’t know that at the start for sure. I thought that a successful business was 25 plus people, right.

And, and I thought that, you know, when you had a really successful year, you’re supposed to hire some more folks that next year to help keep that growth going. And, and it’s, it’s through a lot of coaching and a lot of reflection and a lot of conversations with my wife and others that sort of helped me realize.

I don’t have to follow that path. And that’s what sort of really reinforced it, right? When I came in saying I didn’t want to run an agency that was like every other agency, and then I literally set a playbook that was what every other agency did. It was having that moment to say, that’s, that’s completely wrong, right?

Like I need to think about what I want to do, what kind of lifestyle I want to have. Like, I remember the first time I realized I was on the right track was when my wife and I looked at each other one day and we said, do you want to go to Ikea? And I said, sure. Right. Like in the middle of the day, I couldn’t do that.

If I didn’t run this business and if I didn’t run the business the way I wanted to run the business. Right. And so we went to Ikea and I had some meatballs and we walked around.

Chip Griffin: I was just going to ask you, was it for the meatballs or the furniture? Which was it?

Kristian Alomá: It’s almost always for the meatballs for me. So, but you know, but it was, you know, it’s the kind of thing where like you realize this is the path for me, because I remember.

If I had done that in my previous job, I would have been so anxious, even though they probably wouldn’t care, right? But I’ve been so anxious that they’re looking for me on Slack and, you know, they’re trying to wonder where I am and all this sort of stuff. Where here it was like, the projects were coasting, everyone was good.

I had time. I could have maybe, you know, maybe written a blog post or something, but we wanted to go to Ikea, so we went to Ikea, and that was, that was, that was probably more important than the financial performance at the end of the year.

Chip Griffin: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we’re seeing more employees, frankly, insisting on those same kinds of flexibilities and freedom.

you know, as we’ve come out of the pandemic. You know, one of the things that we’ve talked here about is entrepreneurs being willing to help each other. And I know one of the things we’ve talked about in a previous conversation was the helpfulness mindset. And I think that’s, it is a driving force behind a lot of what I do.

you know, frankly, even shows like this, I don’t have sponsors. I don’t generate any revenue off of this directly, but I, you know, my feeling is if I’m out there being helpful, it’s likely to come back to me. So I’d, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about that and, and kind of get your take on it.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah.

I mean, I, I fully subscribe to the idea that if you put value into the world, value will come back. Right. And, I used to advise clients on this when it came to branding, right? Where it was, it was like, don’t worry about counting every penny with your loyal customers because if you’re generous to them, they’re going to reciprocate, right?

They’re going to pay that back in one way or another, whether it’s financially or it’s just because they’re loyal and they’ll stay with you forever. Right. It’s, it’s, it’s, I used to say it’s sort of the golden rule is golden. Because if you treat others the way you want to be treated, gold follows, right?

That’s what makes it so special, is that you will find success by just sort of being a person of value. And, and, and, and it’s interesting because it’s almost obvious, right? That like, if you are providing value to the world, they will at some point acknowledge and appreciate that value. Right. And that is sort of the way we approach like our marketing, our sales is, you know, I don’t go out there trying to convince you that whatever you’re doing now is wrong and that this is the right way to do it.

And everything is broken and we can fix it. I go out there and I tell a client, Hey, would you like this white paper? you know, can I, can I do a training for you on storytelling? Right. I try to provide them value as quickly as I can. Because that’s one, I think the best way to sort of build a relationship is that they recognize you as someone who provides more value than they probably expect.

And two, you know, to kind of bring it back to the beginning of our conversation. That was the way my family ran their businesses, right? Like, If they had a loyal customer that came in, my family used to run a, a sub, a sub shop, right? And, you know, the guy comes in every morning, you have his coffee and his donut ready.

And if he doesn’t have change that day, you ask him to bring it tomorrow, right? It’s, it’s, it’s those sorts of things that I think make a difference. Not only in the way you run the business, make a difference in people’s lives.

Chip Griffin: Yeah, and I think that agency owners who subscribe to that mindset will end up performing better because it increases the number of opportunities that you have.

I mean, one of the things that always pains me is, and this seems to be a thing that comes around periodically on social media, where people say, well, you know, I got someone wanted to have coffee with me to pick my brain. Well, my time is valuable. I need to charge for that. Yeah. And, and I really just frankly don’t understand that because if, if having coffee with someone completely solves their entire problem, they were never going to hire you anyway.

So, so, you know, to me, I, I view those, you know, anytime someone reaches out and said, I’d like to pick your brain, I say yes, because it does two things. First of all, it builds that relationship and who knows where that might lead, but it also it’s market research. And, and as agency people, we should always be out there trying to figure out, you know, what the, what the audience is interested in, what the pain points are of our potential clients.

So to me, we ought to be doing as much of that as we possibly can. And I know our time is valuable, so we can’t just fill our day entirely with these things. But, but you need to be out there and taking advantage of those opportunities in order to grow.

Kristian Alomá: I totally agree. And I think it’s, it’s, you know, that is one of the ways I often sort of approach and frame a lot of these things that I’ll do either for nonprofits if I do them pro bono, or if it’s a smaller or startup organization that I know doesn’t have the budget for like the full package that we would provide. For me that’s an opportunity to sort of test something, to explore something, right? It’s it’s there is this sort of mutual agreement like I’m going to give them, you know, as much as I can offer them. And I’m also going to see if they can talk to me about what more we could do, right? Because because I could turn that into a service, right?

It might work really well and all and I’m and I’m less likely to just try that on a client who has specifically paid me for this one thing to just you know, All of a sudden go in a different direction. But if I have a sort of a little bit of a testing ground, then I can kind of reflect back and say, well, maybe this is something that is valuable to others, right?

That is something I can build into the way we run this project, or maybe it becomes a whole new service in and of itself. you know, we were just, I was just having a conversation with my coworker today and we were trying to define, you know, some of the principles of our business. Like, what do we stand by?

What, what do we believe in? All these sorts of things. And one of the things I said is I think we have to measure success in a couple of different ways when it comes to our engagements. One is did we have a successful delivery of the project? Right? Like we provided them deliverables specifically what they asked for the PDF and the report is in their hands, but then there’s also the success that’s, did they use that? Did that, was that valuable to them? Right. And so I often will tell my, my coworker. You know, if, if we’ve delivered a project and the client is like, Hey, can you hop on another phone call just to download the agency on the insights that you uncovered? I always say yes. Right?

Because if I’m on one more phone call telling them about what we learned, those insights have greater life. The work that we did is surviving within the organization. And the more that I can do that, I mean, again, within boundary, like if they’re asking me to run a full day workshop, then it turns into an actual project, but if it’s a one hour phone call to sort of help them understand what I did, I absolutely want to do that.

Cause that means it’s more valuable, right? That means it’s going to be used more. It’s going to impact their business in a greater way. And if I can make that happen, that’s real success, whether they got the deliverable or not, that’s table stakes, but do they actually use it or does it sit on a shelf because they don’t get it?

Chip Griffin: Right. And the more of those conversations you have, the more it gives you an opportunity to, to practice your storytelling, which is, which is where I think we’ll head next, because, because obviously, you know, a brand storytelling is something that is, near and dear to you. You’ve written a book about it, and I think it’s, it’s important for the work that agencies do for clients, but it’s also important for agencies themselves, because I can’t tell you how many agencies I talk to.

Who don’t have a compelling brand story of their own that they can easily tell. Now they often have it. It’s just buried so deep that because they’re, they’re so interested in coming out and saying, well, we’re a full service marketing agency. What does that mean? Right. That, that basically just means you are like everybody else under the sun.

And so, so you need to have a better way to tell your story because that doesn’t really explain who you are and what you do.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah. No, it’s, it’s true. And it’s, it’s, I think to your point, right? Those, those stories are out there and it’s actually a couple of different things is they probably have created a version of a story that is sitting on a website somewhere, but it’s not, it’s sort of like what they wanted to say, but isn’t what they’re doing, in some way.

And then there’s also, if they haven’t, the story still exists. It’s just the clients have made up the story and it may not be the story that they actually want clients to be telling about themselves. And so, so it is absolutely critical that they sort of really kind of thoughtfully craft what is their narrative and not just to your point where a full service agency does X, Y, and Z. But when you craft a narrative that actually sort of centers your customers’ problems at the heart of that story, then it’s how do you solve that problem?

That’s the story that you start telling that starts making it really relevant, really motivating to the audience that you’re trying to serve. And that’s, that’s sort of is one of the things I tell folks is, you know, you really want to focus on sort of three key elements when it comes to storytelling. Is it relevant to your audience?

Is it meaningful to your audience? And does it inspire your audience? Because you need all three of those things to get behavior. Right. So relevant is that, you know, if you’re just talking about being a full service agency and they don’t recognize themselves in what your story is, they’re just going to ignore the story, right?

It just slides right by. Meaningful, because you have to actually address some problem they have. So you might be talking to people like them, but if you’re not talking to the problems that they experience, then it’s, it’s also sort of irrelevant. And then you’ve really got to set up sort of an emotionality.

And what I mean by that is it’s not that it has to be like this emotional sort of deep, thoughtful sort of story. But does it create this sort of outcome that is greater than anything they have today, right? Do you promise this sort of glorious future to them? Because if you do, the emotional power of that inspires them to act.

They want to move from what is maybe now looking like a very gray drab world that they’re in today towards that sort of technicolor world you’ve painted for them, of being, you know, the hero of the brand, of creating a new market for their audience, for their business, you know, and all this sort of stuff.

You want to sort of paint that picture for them in that story so that they want to move towards that sort of vision you have.

Chip Griffin: And what you’ve just described puts the audience first, right? So it’s not, it’s not the story you want to tell exclusively. It’s the story that your audience is looking to hear, because if you’re not telling them, if you’re not speaking to them, what’s the point?

And I think we, and this is a mistake I’ve made a lot over the years where I, you know, whether it’s thought leadership content or brand content or whatever, I think about it in terms of what I, what resonates with me. And my peers. And you have to remember that your clients are not you or your peers.

They’re coming to you because you have some expertise or abilities that they do not. And so therefore you need to put that translation layer into your story.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah. And it’s interesting because, you know, What you said was, was I think important is that it’s not just what you tell, but what they hear. And, and actually I want to push that even further because it’s not just what you tell, it’s what, what you enable them to tell as a story, right?

They are trying to tell, this is what narrative psychology is all about, is that we’re all trying to create a story that makes sense of our lives or creates a hero out of our lives, right? And it makes us feel like we’re doing something smart or creative or generous or, or brave. And if you can sort of help them tell that story about themselves, they will love you that much more.

Right. And so, so I totally agree. I think, you know, and I, I mean, I fall into the same traps and I’m studying this day in day out where I’m telling stories I want to hear about myself. That I think my clients want to hear about me and not thinking, what does my client want to hear? And, and so, you know, one of the things I’ve really pushed for, sort of in this work is, you know, I grew up with the sort of positioning model as a marketer, right?

The seven questions you ask to sort of define your brand’s or your organization’s position. And, and I realized after years that positioning exercises is either really sort of broken, or it’s just sort of incomplete because almost all of the questions, except for like one – who is our audience? – are about the organization, right?

What are your benefits? What do you do? What marketplace are you in? All that sort of stuff. If we can sort of shift those questions to be about the audience and then where we fit into their world, that’s positioning, right? That’s what, you know, positioning was meant to be is how you fit into the mind of the audience, not how you fit into the world.

And so we have to sort of understand the mind of the audience. We have to understand their perspective, take their shoes. And it’s very difficult to do that from the perspective we have. And it’s a valuable perspective to be the outsider, right? That’s why outside agencies are hired. It’s why consultants are hired. Because we aren’t part of the organization.

And that gives us cred within the organization to sort of push them and to challenge them and to have them think in different ways. But we also then have to ask them or find ways to discover from them. What are they really looking for? What are they trying to accomplish so that we can build our brands to serve them, not to serve ourselves.

Chip Griffin: So one thing I wanted to pick up with before we, run out of time here is you, you mentioned the stories that your audience tells, that your clients tell, and, and that’s distinct from just that you’re telling it. And to me, I think the, the, the piece that that also requires is that whether it’s you or your, your client, if you’re advising them on their storytelling is that you actually have to to do what you say, right? In other words, if I tell a story, you know, that, that I have, you know, that I am a, a great physical specimen with lots of hair and, you know, all that kind of stuff that you’re going to take one look at me and be like, well, that’s kind of a weird story for you to be telling.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah. I mean, you just don’t have hair, but you’re a great physical specimen. I, I,

Chip Griffin: okay. Yeah. Maybe, maybe I need to work on the focus here a little bit, but anyway, it’s fine. The. But the point is, and in agency terms, if you say you’re a full service marketing agency, and yet you’re not good at doing paid, and you don’t know what SEO is, and you can’t do design work, so really you’re just a PR agency, and I don’t mean just because I love PR agencies, I ran one, you have to be consistent with what you’re actually doing and make sure that you’re living your story, not just telling it.

Kristian Alomá: Yeah, it’s completely true. And I think, you know, my, my old boss used to tell the story of RadioShack. And RadioShack used to have a tagline for those that maybe are that this dates me. I’m sure. Right. RadioShack used to be all of the electronics you could ever want. I think they eventually became the Shack, after a while, things like that.

But their tagline used to be…

Chip Griffin: I loved going and just browsing.

Kristian Alomá: Oh God, it was my favorite place on earth, right? their tagline used to be, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Right. And if anyone had has been or had been before they closed down to a Radio Shack, you realize that you had questions, but the staff very rarely had answers.

They just couldn’t train their staff, especially in the later days that were 18, 19, maybe younger in all the technology that they had in that store. So they were, they had the right story that people wanted to hear, but they couldn’t live up to that story and that really sort of broke the, their brand in many ways.

And so, you’ve really got to make sure, like you said, you, you can live that story. You can deliver on that story because that’s at the heart of then building a trusted relationships, right? These stories aren’t just for the sake of stories and communicating. These stories are for building relationships.

and these relationships have to be built on trust. And trust is about reliability, capability and accountability, right? So can you do the thing that you’re saying you’re going to do? That has to be step number one. And if you’re saying, and I learned this very early when I started the agency, I had like 10 services on my website about what I could do because I thought I don’t want to say no to anybody, right? I don’t want anyone to come and think I can’t help them. But then I realized I had so much that, one, they thought there’s no way I do all of these things, or two, they would ask me if I could do that, and I just really had to kind of like, kind of try to direct them to the thing I could do that I thought was going to be more successful.

So, so it really just sort of burnt me on both ends. When I started just saying, listen, I do these three things. I do them very well, right? I can give you advice on other things, but I do these three things. The audience knew what I did. I knew how to deliver on what I did. And the relationship was then just deepening and building because I had that capability.

And when you have that capability and you’re doing that work, you have that reliability that you can, you can repeatedly do it and you can deliver on it in the very same way in a very high caliber way. Right? and then you’ve got that accountability so that when they need you, if things go wrong, if things shift, you know how to react to that.

You know how to respond to that. You know how to put it back on course if you need to. And that’s what builds trust with folks because they don’t want to assess another agency. They don’t, as much as we might think it, clients don’t like going through the RFP process again, right? They don’t want to build a new or find a new agency of record.

They want to rely on the agency they have. Because they’ve built trust and trust is expensive as far as time is concerned, emotion is concerned, engagement is concerned. And they don’t want to go through that whole process again. So they want to keep that sort of shortcut. They want to keep that relationship as much as they can.

And you’ve got to, you’ve got to sort of fill your part in that as well as an agency owner.

Chip Griffin: You know, I think the other thing, your, your RadioShack example underscores is the importance of evolving your story over time, because I do believe that that used to be true of Radio Shack, that they used to have the answers.

I mean, when I went in there in the early 1980s, you know, the clerks in there, they absolutely knew their stuff. But then, as you say, as technology came along, as it became harder to, you know, to find those kinds of retail workers, it no longer was true, but they did not evolve their story. And so, just as your business is evolving, your story needs to evolve.

Kristian Alomá: Totally. I mean, that’s what Domino’s has done on the flip side of that, right? Domino’s quality business performance were all dropping because they were really focusing on, reducing cost and delivering as fast as possible. And, you know, they had the whole basically apology campaign that was there to like reframe everything.

And now their business is really picking up right. And, and it’s, it’s growing and it’s growing faster than I think anyone expected because they have evolved that story, and now they’re trying to deliver against that story, sorry for the pun, on, on delivering quality pizza, on better ingredients, better tasting pizza, making the, the customer experience more user friendly through the app, through the store, all that sort of stuff, and it’s, and it’s working for them, right?

And, and that’s what I think is important about stories. You know, we oftentimes think we have to brand on an emotion. Emotions are transient, right? Like I might feel great today and tomorrow I feel awful. If we brand ourselves around stories. Stories are chronological. Stories are alive, especially the kinds of stories we’re talking about.

So they can shift. They can adapt, right? So if you’re a brand that’s serving parents with infants, right? You also want to be able to shift when those infants become toddlers and those toddlers become, sort of, you know, tweens and teens and things like that for those parents. And so your story can shift with your customers as well, or shift with the industry, shift even with your own desires, right?

What do you, what kind of business do you want in the next five years? You can, you don’t have to drop everything you’ve done. Just look to see how that story can move in that direction.

Chip Griffin: Well, this has been a great conversation. We could continue this story for a long time, but unfortunately we’ve reached the end of today’s episode.

So before we go, though, if someone is interested in learning about you or Threadline or the book, where should they go?

Kristian Alomá: The best place to find me is on LinkedIn, or through the website threadline.co there’s no M at the end, just. co. and the book is available, basically everywhere books are sold online at this point, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all those different places.

So, if you like it, reach out to me, let me know. I’d love to hear. otherwise if you don’t like it, I guess tell someone else. but.

Chip Griffin: Excellent. We’ll include all those links in the show notes as well for the convenience of listeners. So if you’re on the treadmill or something right now, you’re safe.

You don’t need to stop and try to write a note. It’ll be in the show notes and you can just click on it and find it. So, with that, Kristian, thank you for your time today. It’s been a great conversation. I think you’ve offered a lot of practical insights for agency owners. And, I would love to have you back again sometime in the future to, to continue this storytelling.

Kristian Alomá: Thank you, Chip. I appreciate it. And I enjoyed being on the show.

Chip Griffin: And thank you all for listening to the latest episode of Chats with Chip, and I look forward to having you all back to hear my next episode.

Never miss an article, episode, or event

Subscribe to the weekly SAGA Newsletter

Subscription Form