1683 – Unleashing the Power of Storytelling: Transforming Marketing with Metaforce’s Allen Adamson

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Co-Founder of Metaforce, Allen Adamson.

Metaforce, the marketing and brand consulting firm co-founded by Allan, is dedicated to helping clients tell their stories effectively. They work with B2B companies, both enterprise and small businesses, whose narratives are not sharp or memorable. Their mission is to help these companies craft a creative story that captures their audience's attention and makes them want to know more.

Allen emphasized the importance of storytelling and compelling communication in marketing. He pointed out that simply being aware of a product or company is insufficient to generate interest or engagement. Instead, businesses must convey a clear message about their product or service and how it can benefit their target audience.

One common mistake Allan highlighted is the tendency of marketers to prioritize awareness over message clarity. Many marketers jump straight to increasing awareness through platforms like TikTok or viral marketing without first defining and expressing their unique value proposition. Allen cautioned against this approach, as it often leads to forgettable advertisements that fail to resonate with consumers.

To overcome this challenge, Allen suggests businesses step out of their comfort zones and seek diverse perspectives. He encourages marketers to surround themselves with people who see the world differently and are unafraid to challenge their ideas. By doing so, businesses can gain fresh insights and avoid becoming complacent.

Allen also emphasized the need for continuous learning and adaptation in today's rapidly changing business landscape. He advises businesses to stay curious and slightly paranoid about the potential obsolescence of their offerings. Companies can stay ahead of the curve by constantly exploring new experiences, engaging with different people, and staying informed about industry trends.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Metaforce as a marketing and brand consulting firm that helps clients tell their story effectively
  • Focus on helping clients define and communicate their story clearly and crisply
  • Working with B2B companies, both enterprise and small businesses, to craft a captivating story
  • Example of weak stories and how they can be transformed to be more compelling
  • Importance of identifying the most compelling aspect of a product or service to grab audience attention
  • Parallel between this approach and movie trailers
  • Emphasis on storytelling and effective communication in marketing
  • Caution against prioritizing awareness over message clarity

About Allen Adamson:

Allen Adamson is a renowned branding expert with a diverse background spanning various industries. With experience in consumer goods, technology, healthcare, financial services, hospitality, and entertainment, he excels in helping clients identify and capitalize on opportunities in their markets.

His latest book, “Seeing the How,” published in May 2023, emphasizes the importance of the consumer experience as a competitive advantage in today's marketing landscape.

Adamson's extensive knowledge is rooted in his career on both the agency and client sides. He began at Unilever, gaining insights into consumer perspectives before moving to agencies like Ogilvy & Mather and Landor Associates, where he partnered with global brands. He also contributed to non-profit organizations such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

As an educator, Adamson has served as an Adjunct Professor at New York University and Cornell University, sharing his expertise on brand challenges in a dynamic marketplace. He is a sought-after industry commentator, appearing on major news networks and contributing to prominent publications.

Co-founding Metaforce, a disruptive marketing consultancy, he offers clients multidisciplinary strategies to stay ahead of evolving customer needs. With degrees from Syracuse University and NYU Stern School of Business, Allen Adamson is a trusted authority in the world of branding.

About Metaforce:

Metaforce is a highly specialized consultancy designed to address business challenges with precision and expertise swiftly. Comprising a team of top-tier professionals spanning various domains, including strategy, branding, creative, digital, and marketing, Metaforce stands out for its unique composition of former CMOs, entrepreneurs, and agency experts.

The company's approach is efficient and results-oriented, assembling tailored teams for each project, eliminating unnecessary meetings and bureaucracy. This approach ensures a strategic focus and flawless execution, delivering the right solutions precisely when needed.

Metaforce's partners boast extensive experience with leading global corporations such as Amazon, American Express, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft. With a commitment to cutting through complexity and delivering effective solutions promptly, Metaforce is a trusted resource for businesses seeking rapid and impactful outcomes.

Tweetable Moments:

07:49 – “Zoom out and don't start maybe selling your product by just telling about the product because they fit it into people's lives.”

12:53 – “If you're not always curious and a little paranoid that what you've invented is going to be obsolete, you're going to get into trouble.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Metaforce website at

Check out Metaforce on LinkedIn at

Check out Metaforce on Twitter at

Check out Allen Adamson on LinkedIn at

Check out Allen Adamson on Facebook at

Check out Allen Adamson on Instagram at

Check out Allen Adamson on Twitter at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Allan Adamson. Allan, you are the co-founder of Metaphors. You're found on the web at Meta You're also the author of the book Seeing the How Transforming What People Do Not Buy to Gain Market Advantage. Allan, thanks so much for being here.

Allen (00:01:18) - Thanks for inviting me.

Josh (00:01:19) - Well, give us an overview of your work both with metaphors, and I definitely want to spend some time on the book as well.

Allen (00:01:25) - Well, metaphors we are marketing and brand consulting and activation firms, so we try to help clients tell their story better because everyone has a story. And if you tell your prospect what you do and why it matters clearly and crisply, you're going to be more successful than if you ramble on. And then how do they get that story out there? Once you define the story, how does it live on social media? How do you do it? And other forms of communications? It's really hard to break through today. And if you're not precise and to the point you won't get through, no matter what business you're in.

Josh (00:02:00) - And who do you typically work with, or maybe what types of companies have you worked with in the past?

Allen (00:02:06) - B2B companies, enterprise or small businesses that are either their story is not sharp, it's mushy and it's not. People hear it but don't remember it because average is over. No one remembers an average story or they're not able to find a way to connect it because there's so much stuff out there.

Allen (00:02:24) - They can't break through the clutter. And we help them craft a creative story that people say, Hey, let me tell me more, as opposed to click, click next one.

Josh (00:02:36) - So what would be an example of maybe a client that you've worked with? Or when we talk about having a pretty weak story, but it's just it's not compelling. Like what would be an example of maybe what a lot of companies do in regards to their story and what might be an example of how we would transform that to make it a little bit more captivating.

Allen (00:02:57) - You know, typically the story is too long. You know, they they got on and saying, here's a great product, you know, this phone and it has this chip and it has this memory and it has this. They list 12 things about their product or service. And the hardest thing to do is to communicate 12 things. So we help them say, what's the one where do you want to start the story? If you had to say one thing about this phone, what would it be? And once we define what that starting point of the pyramid at the point of the story, then we can if you get their attention, you can tell them three other reasons.

Allen (00:03:33) - It's a great product or service, but you know, focus and getting to a simple, crisp idea is really hard for a founder or an entrepreneur because they want to tell you so much. They've done so much thinking, they've been in the weeds. They've they've developed it. They they're so proud of it that everything seems mission critical. And part of the challenge is how do you find where to start the story?

Josh (00:03:56) - Um. So when we think about, you know, you're kind of like you're talking about like paring down to the most, I guess it's almost like, you know, kind of the most critical part of the story. We think about maybe the parallel with how this might seem for like a movie or a movie trailer. And, you know, again, in a movie trailer, you know, we're going to pull out the absolute most compelling stuff and you know, something that's going to really grab the audience. Do you see a parallel there?

Allen (00:04:29) - Yeah. Movie trailers have a real benefit because most of them are 90s long and most people will watch it for 90s because it's sort of fun and visual.

Allen (00:04:38) - But with a business you have, you know, eight seconds. Most most companies can't afford to put out a 92nd message. They're lucky to get a 22nd or a ten second soundbite. So it's more critical for businesses to have a handle on it. You know? There was a great handle developed. Speaking of the movies for Barbie Hammer, you know, the two movies together and they what you want is a handle. I want to talk to you about Barbie. Let me tell you why you're going to be interested in it. But if you don't have that first 10s right, you'll never get to the remaining part. And my first book was actually called Brain Simple. And, you know, most businesses are so deep in their bubble of what how many great things their company does. They, they, they want to tell you everything. And the most successful companies, if you look at insurance is a great example. You know they're we're owned by this we paid our policies on time but the most successful insurance company in the last ten years has been Geico, because they figured out one thing to tell you, you know, give me 15 minutes and I'll save you 15%.

Allen (00:05:48) - Now it is owned by Warren Buffett and they do motorcycle insurance. There are 100 things they could tell you, but they were laser focused on picking one thing to start the story. And that's that's a big challenge today.

Josh (00:06:01) - That's fascinating because you're absolutely right. Someone like Geico could say, Hi, we're Geico, we do car insurance and auto insurance. We do home insurance, we do motorists look at all we've been.

Allen (00:06:12) - In business 30 years and we have an office near you and we're easy to. There are 100 reasons, but you know, figuring out how you start the story is a challenge.

Josh (00:06:22) - That's fascinating. Talk about your book and we'll get back to metaphors in just a moment. But want to share just a bit about your book again. It's called Seeing the How Transforming What People Do Not Buy to Gain Market Advantage. Help me understand why that's so critical to focus on what people are doing and not buying.

Allen (00:06:43) - Yeah. It used to be you could invent a product, a phone, a lawnmower, anything, and you would have an advantage because you were the only one that had that.

Allen (00:06:54) - And it was so distinctive from everyone else that you could just tell your story and say, use this phone because it has A, B or C, But today you look in the in the marketplace, there's it's a sea of similarity. You know, there's so little difference between a product. You have to zoom out and say, all right, my product may be interesting today, but it won't be different tomorrow. You know, how does that product fit into someone's lives? You know, what are they living? How are they doing? So zoom out and don't start maybe selling your product by by just telling about the product because they fit it into people's lives. So the book talks about different lenses you can look through to see what problems consumers are really having. Maybe it's in getting your product, maybe it's in returning your product, maybe it's not related to maybe it's in how to use your product because it can't understand the instructions. Zoom out and don't start selling your company always based on you've got a better mousetrap.

Allen (00:07:49) - And there are many examples that, you know, when one of the lenses is to. It's just we try to look at the market through fresh eyes. And for years people have been taking their car to a service station or dealer and they bring in the car and somebody looks at it and says, well, you need this, this and this, and you go away. And then they hand you a piece of paper and said, We found all these things wrong. You know, recently you go to a car dealership or a car repair and all of a sudden they send you a video and say, Look, we're under your car. Here's a video of your brake linings. They're no longer you see, how much is he worn? They are. And all of a sudden you get this video and you believe them versus them coming out and saying, you know, think you need new brakes. Josh? So simple ways to say, look, we've been doing the car service business forever, but how can we make it better for our customers? How can we explain things and don't need a new product? You can just do virtual things and look for ways to differentiate yourself, not everyone repairs the brakes the same way, but maybe we can be friendlier with our customers or inform them better by taking an iPhone under the car and showing them what the problem is and then showing them the video again and say, And here are your new brakes.

Allen (00:09:01) - Look how much better they are. Yeah. And if you're a car service business, you would only talk about how we do great repair. Yeah. Think about how you fit that repair into people's lives.

Josh (00:09:12) - Yeah. I love this quote here. Theodore Levitt. People don't want quarter inch drills. They want quarter inch holes.

Allen (00:09:21) - And everyone's selling drills. And you got to say, well, my customer needs to get his or her car repaired. What's the biggest concern? The biggest concern is that I'm going to put a part in that they don't need. How can I solve that problem?

Josh (00:09:34) - Yeah. So metaphors. What? You know, share just a bit about the company itself and kind of where you've come from and your your work today.

Allen (00:09:49) - Well, you know, everyone, um, the problems companies have are often because they are too close to the problem. They, you know, they have been in the business, they don't have any perspective. So we have a series of partners with different skill sets, uh, market research.

Allen (00:10:08) - Helping them tell their story or position their product, and importantly, how do they get it out there? Because many people, if you say what's wrong with the company, some people will say, well, you know, people there's not enough awareness. I need to build my awareness. But just being aware of something, saying I know Josh does a great podcast doesn't make me want to listen to it, you know, or I've heard Josh has a podcast. You have to figure out what do you want to tell them about that podcast that as we were saying earlier, there's going to say, Oh, you know, Josh's podcast will help me be more successful in my company because he really talks to people who understand how to do business growth. So, you know, you know, part of our team is to to look at both what defining the problem is and then expressing it. And they're both are important. Many people just jump to the back end. Oh need more awareness. Get me on TikTok.

Allen (00:11:05) - Do some get me. You know you know, help me go viral. And if you if you you know, you watch the Super Bowl and you think, you know, lots of marketing experts, you remember some of the commercials. Um, and you remember the most likely because there was a great celebrity or there was a funny gag. You may not even remember the company name. And and for those of you remember the funny CAG, you and the company name, you may not even remember why you should care about it. So, you know, too many people are out there saying, Hey, look at me, I'm great and not spending enough time figuring out what they want to get across and then figuring out how to get it across. So it's a you know, you can't just spend all your time thinking about what you want to do, but you have to figure out how to get clarity on both sides. That's what we do in metaphors. Yeah.

Josh (00:11:55) - Ellen we've talked about some really important, great principles today.

Josh (00:11:58) - What would be an example or what would be something that someone could do today to kind of take action on what we've been talking about, even if they're not yet engaging with you?

Allen (00:12:10) - I think the biggest challenge for businesses today is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know, they go into their workplace, they do what they did yesterday. Maybe they do it a little better. And the pace of change is incredible. So the biggest challenge think marketers face today is just keeping track of what's going on. And so one of the things I talk about with our clients is you've got to yes, being in front of a computer all day helps and talking to your employees. But get out of your bubble. Yeah, Get people around you who see the world differently, get people around you that are, you know, comfortable saying, you know, Josh, that's a terrible idea. Do something every day that you didn't do yesterday, whether it's go to a different store, watch a different movie, try.

Allen (00:12:53) - We used to watch television to find out what's going on. But if you know what's going on with streaming media, they're just streaming exactly what you want. I went to visit my daughter in university last year and I stayed at a university hotel and watched some streaming television on my phone and all of a sudden saw ads for 25 companies I never heard of because they thought I was a student at this university and everything. So even when you think you see what's going on because you watch on your phone or your stream, everything is so catered to you, they're just serving you exactly what you want to see and you no longer have peripheral vision. So find a way to look around the corner, go to a different part of town, go to, you know, talk to different people every day. If you're not always curious and a little paranoid that what you've invented is going to be obsolete, you're going to get into trouble.

Josh (00:13:49) - So your website for metaphors. It's metaphors. When like when someone begins that engagement.

Josh (00:13:58) - Who are they typically talking with and what does that conversation typically sound like?

Allen (00:14:03) - Um, they typically we're pretty flat partner on the organization because this is really hard to do. And typically you go to a large marketing firm and you speak to the founder and then they hand you to the assistant who hands you to the system. We're senior level people and we're going to be just asking lots of questions and doing lots of observation. How do you sell your product now? What are the touchpoints? Uh, can I go with you on a sales call? Um, what are your competitors doing? You know, so the first part is just really trying to see with what we call fresh eyes, what's going on. And oftentimes when you're wearing the same shirt every day, you think you look pretty good until your friend says, Hey, Allen, you know, no one's wearing blue shirts anymore. Why are you still wearing blue shirts? You don't see it yourself. So step one of the engagement is just to look at fresh eyes with how you're going to market.

Allen (00:14:56) - What are customers hearing? Is that the right story? What, you know, defining the problem because people come in and they often think they know the problem. Oh, we just need more awareness. I wish more people heard about us or we need a new logo or a new ad or a new We need to find an influencer. You know, part of it is making sure you understand what is before you jump into, Oh, we can fix that.

Josh (00:15:23) - Yeah on the website What would you what would you say. Someone's been listening to our conversation. What would you have them do right now?

Allen (00:15:32) - Um, call us up and tell us what your, you know, what your challenge is. Your business is not growing. You wish you were growing faster. Let us take a look at what's happening and then we'll propose. Hey. Hey. You know, have you ever thought of these three things? And if they know, let me go look at it. They can go look at it If they want help figuring out how to do it better, uh, then we'd love to talk.

Allen (00:15:55) - Yeah.

Josh (00:15:56) - All right. Again, Alan Adamson, co-founder, Metaphors website is metaphors. Also, you can buy it on Amazon right now. And by the way, thank you so much for doing the audiobook. I'm a huge audiobook fan. Seeing the how Transforming what people do not buy to gain market advantage. Alan Adamson it's been a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining us.

Allen (00:16:20) - Take care. Josh Thanks for inviting me.

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