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Your Brand Story

Kerry Guard • Tuesday, October 12, 2021 • 42 minutes to listen

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Chris Ott

Chris Ott is the CEO of Creative Blue. Chris is a big believer in story and has a very direct approach on how brand can tell their story.



Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Welcome back to Season nine. Hope you're enjoying the season so far. As a reminder, we drop our full season of episodes Netflix style, so you can binge or jump around either way. No need to wait next week or week after week, you enjoy listening your way.

In this episode, we chat with Chris Ott, CEO of Creative Blue. Chris and I were introduced through mutual connections. He first met my business partner, Mike Krass. And then Mike had the genius idea to see if Chris wanted to join us on Tea Time. And so here we are, Chris and I dig into brand and marketing, especially as it relates to startups who are looking for funding so his company can help them get the funding and then scale. Chris is a big believer in story and has a very direct approach on how a brand can tell their story. Let's take a listen.


Kerry Guard: Hello, Chris, thank you for joining me on Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Chris Ott: Hi, Kerry, how are you?

Kerry Guard: I'm good. How are you?

Chris Ott: I'm fantastic. Thank you for having me today.

Kerry Guard: I'm so excited to have you. I'm excited for our conversation. I think it's gonna be, it's just gonna be a lively one. Before we get into it, though, I always like to start with this question of people getting to know you because for all people here, and where we come from is so important. And our conversation around storytelling is going to enhance the importance of my question. So the first question is, what is your story, Chris? What do you do? And how did you get there?

Chris Ott: No, that's great. Thanks. I totally agree with you. We're all people. And we all have a story to share. Right? So my background, it's interesting, I was a competitive athlete, I was a cyclist and competed, really high levels in the sport of cycling. I've been representing Team USA for the World Championships for about five times and been on the podium at the National Championships and state championship level. And that's been a big part of my life. And I think it's given me a competitive nature that everything I do, I strive for excellence, and I try to get the best out of myself. And not just for the result, but just for the performance sake of achieving something and that never ending goal of trying to improve and improve on what you do. That led me to a life of being in marketing and media, I was fascinated with that aspect of it. So I was the vice president for a company that pioneered sports broadcasting because it was a natural fit for what I did. And I enjoyed that because we were able to create new interactive experiences for sports and how you watch them and be part of them, which forever changed the way that things like Wimbledon or IndyCar and different sports are consumed. That actually led me to this real fascination with, ironically, storytelling. And I was recruited by a large agency that focused on CEO or event, main stage keynotes for companies. And I really enjoyed that I saw a whole different side of being able to tell stories and reach audiences in a very unique way. What that did is it inspired me to understand how that translates beyond just the event because we ironically had a lot of clients and CEOs that would work with us to help tell their story both from a narrative perspective as well as visually to an audience at these big events. But then it would really end there and try to figure out how to extend that and those touch points for a company beyond just an event for their entire footprint. And so with that I started Creative Blue in 2015. And the whole mission or vision for Creative Blue is to help companies or organizations tell their stories and share their ideas in a meaningful, concise way that's effective for the audience to understand and compelling but also has a strategy around it so has a purpose in terms of are we trying to educate somebody or we trying to sell an idea or convince or change minds, change your way of thinking. And so there's always a purpose around a story, not just a story for entertainment purposes but for a reason striving towards a goal. So at Creative Blue, we started out with some fantastic Fortune 100 clients and have been growing every year. And along the way, I really started to work with some early phase companies helping them with not only getting funding from VCs with their investor pitch and how to tell their story, but helping them to grow and scale. And ironically, that's the point in time when early phase companies need the most help with storytelling because of the fact that telling what they do in a concise way so that their audience understands, both from an investor perspective from a consumer or customer perspective, is really important. And companies struggle with that, because they get into the weeds with what they do. And they don't necessarily think about the bigger picture vision. And that's really what Creative Blue focuses on, and I love what I do. I mean, it's really fun and challenging and rewarding to see all the kinds of technology that are out there. And this world is just, what it's gonna look like, say three years from now or five years from now with AI technology for early detection of breast cancer to crops that have seed technology that can make plants and food healthier and more resistant to weather without having to use harmful pesticides. And the list goes on and on. I mean, it's just really fun being part of the innovation for these things to talk about autonomous flight and all the things that are gonna be almost Jetsons world right, so that's what we do. That's my story.

Kerry Guard: I keep thinking, are my kids gonna have to know how to drive?

Chris Ott: I know, right? Well, technology. I mean, I look at when I was young, you wanted a driver's license for freedom. And now my daughter who is turning 18 she'd rather take an Uber, you know?

Kerry Guard: Oh my god. Oh my gosh, I think it's important for people to know where you are in the world, given all this, given everything you just shared. So can you share with us where you are?

Chris Ott: Yeah, Creative Blue. We're located in California in the Bay Area. Our offices are Santana Row, which is a beautiful complex. You know, we have awesome dining.

Kerry Guard: Oh, man, Chris, I just missed you. I was in San Jose, in 2014, we moved out. And I was right down the street from Santana Row and the best burgers in the world, The Counter, oh.

Chris Ott: Yeah, I go there frequently.

Kerry Guard: I dream about The Counter. So good. Which explains a lot in terms of Creative Blue, what you do and where you are. And why you're talking about VC funding. I think I just wanted to sort of pull that string through for everybody of the fact that you're in like, the perfect place right in the valley.

Chris Ott: This is the heart, Silicon Valley with all the VCs and you know, where a lot of technology was really born, right?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the energy, I just remember the energy was just so good. Let's talk about challenges. What, you know, before we get into this, the heart of our conversation around storytelling, which clearly you would I could talk about all day long. But in terms of challenges, and where we are right now in the world, and everything that's going on, what's one challenge you're currently facing?

Chris Ott: Yeah, it's an interesting question, because I think that we're in an unprecedented time, certainly, with COVID, and the adjustment, social distancing, and, and all of those types of things. I mean, everybody's been through it. And you can see some of the devastation. I mean, specifically, you look at industries like the restaurant industry, it's been hit very hard over the past 16 months, 14 months. And it's interesting, because in my business we do a lot of in person meetings with clients to do brainstorm sessions and, and those types of things. But we've had to adjust to a much more, well, almost completely remote environment, because of the fact that, when the lockdown happened and social distancing happened, and so forth, all of these companies really went on lockdown. And so I think that's been an adjustment and, to your point, a challenge that we faced, but I feel that we've been in a very unique situation, because we've been able to adjust fairly quickly to that. And then when the companies start coming out of the COVID, they realize that they have to do business. I mean, they still have to do business and do their things. So we've been able to adjust to that pretty well. But it does create some challenges. I mean, certainly in a creative agency, there's a lot of value in being able to just get together and have that chemistry of brainstorming and just get the creative juices flowing and so forth. So I think the biggest challenge that we faced really is just how do we maintain that energy and that collaboration and that side of things, an environment where you're remote, so you're not sitting next to each other. And certainly as we come out of this, I think it's going to get easier. We're starting to have dinners at Santana Row once a week and those types of things. But we've gotten used to Zoom and other platforms to be able to collaborate easier, so that's probably been the biggest challenge.

Kerry Guard: How have you kept, you said that it's gotten easier, in what way? How have you kept that energy flowing even remotely?

Chris Ott: Yeah, I think that, you know, tools, like Slack and other chat tools to make the dynamic environment possible from a technology perspective, have been incredibly helpful. And just understanding that, you know, we need to be very mindful of time because one of the other pieces of this is companies, they get meeting fatigue, I call it meeting fatigue, where they have Zoom meetings back to back to back all day long. And people find themselves sitting in a chair all day. And so that's one of the things I think, that we've been pretty good about is, is blocking off certain times during the day for everybody where they can just, you know, okay, we're not going to schedule during this time, and we're going to be able to take a little bit of a break. It's easier said than done to tell you the truth. And I find myself sometimes working.

Kerry Guard: Absolutely, I looked at my Monday, and I was like, oh, goodness, I am going. But I do like that idea of blocking off time, especially for the people who are, who have to do that big thinking and are in the weeds of like the execution, we're trying to figure out right now. My Managing Director actually just put together sort of like a meeting manifesto, on how we need to move forward with blocking off times where people are in meetings, and keeping Mondays and Fridays, like client free, and, and so on. And then how we show up to meetings in terms of, you know, making the most productive places we can to get people in and out as quickly as possible. So, yes, yes. So we had to figure that right. Like, even we've been remote for 10 years. Because the rest of the world has gone remote, our clients, I find, need a bit more, even though they've always worked with us remote, now that they're remote, I think they're feeling this need for much more interaction. So our meetings have definitely picked up. And so trying to figure out, okay, how can we still support our clients, get them what they need, but also create some structure to increase productivity of those meetings, and help our people just have some heads down time.

Chris Ott: Yeah, and I don't know if you've noticed this, but I've certainly noticed it on the client side that they end up inviting a lot of people. I don't know why necessarily, I mean, maybe I do know why, but they end up inviting, like everybody, and so I can only imagine their fatigue on their side. It's like, oh, no, no, I mean -

Kerry Guard: I totally agree. It does feel like a lot of people, I think it is just that, like, need for connectivity of like, I don't want to keep, I don't want another meeting to repeat what happened in this meeting. So you're all just coming off?

Chris Ott: That's right. Yeah. And I think the interesting thing is, on the creative side, as a creative agency, typically, that's, I like to think that that's one of the funnest things that clients do during the day. You know, it's like their creative side where they get to think and kind of brainstorm and be thinking about how they're executing their initiatives, as opposed to the financial planning and all the other things that go on in their daily lives. But I think that we are as much, I don't want to say entertainers, but the experience and working together and collaborating with clients is so important to not only the chemistry but just avoiding the fatigue of those meetings because we know that clients are just in those meetings back to back all day. And so if we can make it a little more entertaining or a little more enjoyable and that experience just something that's enjoyable then I think it makes it for a better value.

Kerry Guard: That's such, like, a point we always strive to have that initial sort of, and I think we all do this at least I think at least most means that I've been in you know we don't just launch right into the agenda. Okay, go time. It's like how are you? How's it going? What's new? Oh, I heard this happened. How's it going? Like, just having that rapport of taking a minute to just say Hi, thank you. It goes such a long way.

Chris Ott: It sounds, I mean, it sounds so basic, but you forget because these people, they get into these meetings. And so you're absolutely right, just having some sort of personal connection and sharing a funny story or sharing something that was a funny thing that you did. You know, because they're missing out on all that water cooler conversation or those jokes that they get in the office. And it's, so it's a different social vibe right now.

Kerry Guard: It really is. Well, let's talk about switch gears. And let's talk about storytelling. And I think it's interesting. I want to create the, our listeners are both in that growth stage, like we talked about, and we'll define that in a second. And they are in the, in the enterprise stage as well. And so I just wanted to find where, because you mentioned both of these and working on both sides. In terms of enterprise. It sounds like the story still fits in, but not as from scratch.

Chris Ott: Yeah, I think well, if we think about it, like if we think about a Fortune 100 company, if we think about an Apple or a Tesla, or Google or somebody like that, their story is pretty well developed, I mean, an agency like ours isn't going to come in and change the story dramatically, we're gonna make incremental differences, and we're going to help them with specific campaigns, whether it's helping a company define their sustainability, vision, or something like that, I think that we're very effective on helping to do that within the confines of a campaign and add tremendous value. But the thing that excites me, quite honestly, is working with early or phase companies, or even earlier initiatives within a large company, that we can make a tremendous impact. And, and I'll tell you, if it's talking about a manufacturing, automated workflow company that's utilizing AI technology to improve throughput or something like that, where they struggle with how to define it, and how to tell it so that people can understand. If we can do that effectively, not only can we help them get funding, but we can help them get new customers, we can help that company grow and become something and be the next billion dollar company. And that's really exciting. And even more than the value that that creates for the company. On a personal level. As I mentioned, it's inspiring to me, to see some of this technology come out of that can make a huge difference on humankind, I mean, just the way that we live, and how we can benefit from it. So I really enjoy that. And I think that we can make a big difference in that space. And that's why we do what we do.

Kerry Guard: And it sounds so dry, when you just explain the mechanics of it. Like, I don't even really totally understand what that company that you just mentioned does. And so I imagine the magic is come, you know, almost helping the company step out of the theirselves, and into the client's shoes, potential clients shoes customer who's never heard of them before, and simplify that language in a really powerful way where it does become value based where it's not about the brand, it's not necessarily about what the product is, are unnecessarily does fundamentally. But what it can do -

Chris Ott: Yeah, you hit the nail right on the head. I mean, it's, you know, most of the time, these companies just because, and it's no fault of their own, it's just they're engineering based or innovation type technology, people that have created this incredible opportunity of technology, but how they think of it, and how they articulate it is really on the features and the functionality and the technical details, and what it needs and where we're filling the need is on the area of okay, well, let's talk about the impact, let's not talk about the technical details of what you provide. Let's talk about what that technology is going to be utilized for, how it's going to be leveraged and what it's going to do for the world.

So we like to look at it by saying something like, imagine a world where you're able to produce eight times as many widgets within the same amount of time reducing the amount of people necessary, the logistics and so forth, so that consumers can get a product within within hours instead of weeks and, you know, really focusing on on what the impact of their technology is. And that's how we build a story. The story should be, you know, we look at three buckets. A story should always be concise. So it should really be tight in terms of telling what the product or service or company or whatever it is telling what it does in a way that is easy to understand.

Number two, it should be unique, it should talk about something that's very unique to that specific organization that nobody else can say. I mean, because everybody says we're the most innovative. I mean, what does that mean? Everybody says that. So what is being the most innovative say, so let's demonstrate that, let's talk about tangible examples or things that clearly describe how innovative you are, without anybody being able to copy that. So bring out that uniqueness.

And then the third element to strategic storytelling is, it should be effective, it should accomplish a result, it should do something to drive the audience, whoever's hearing the story towards an actionable position so that they can act upon it. So that's how we think of developing a story.

Kerry Guard: Yes, I love this. And it's, it's actually what we're working on at MKG right now. We're restructuring our whole website, and we're coming up with these things, and I could talk about that all day. But for our companies and our brands, I feel like all three of these are maybe not the last one, I think the last one can be pretty straightforward. Especially if it's something they can sign up for online, whether that's for a demo, or trial or white paper, or actually calling a salesperson, if it's B2B, or if it's e-commerce actually going off and buying the thing. But in terms of the first two, I can see how brands would really struggle, I know that I struggle with it. So I can see, you know, especially more complex brands and a digital marketing agency. I can see how they would really struggle with these things. So in terms of conciseness, when you're talking to a brand, that's as technical as the one you just described. I mean, how do you boil that down? Is it as simple as just talking about that end value? Or do you try and explain, you know, what they are? And what they do, and then the value? Do you try to string those things together? I mean, concise for tech brands just sounds -

Chris Ott: Yeah, right. Yeah, it sounds arduous, right? But the reality is, Kerry, it's really dependent upon the audience that they're talking to. Because certain audience profiles want different things, they are looking for different things. Their motivations are different, whether it, like, an investor is looking for, okay, is this a scalable opportunity? Is this something that addresses a specific market and solves a specific challenge or problem? And can they execute upon that? So those are the things that an investor looks for, but in other audiences, like in, let's say, B2B or something like that, they're looking at how that's going to impact their business and make their revenue, or profitability and improve or their efficiency or any number of things. And so the way that we go about it in terms of hitting that concise piece, is we think about it from the standpoint of, it should remove, and I love the way you said it, it's like how do you remove the jargon? How do you remove the words that everybody puts into a narrative just to have words in there, and that's what we try to avoid. We try to get a story that's really tight, so that if I'm sharing this with my mother, who is in her 70s, she could understand what I'm talking about, you know, and that's kind of a litmus.

Kerry Guard: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, I totally agree. Especially as marketers, we really love our jargon, like, yeah, a lot of acronyms. So helping brands break out of that, I think is so important and simplifying it. And I think sometimes when you simplify it, it's like, aha, but also like is too simple. It's like, no, you just want to hook them. Explain it later, you just catch their attention.

Chris Ott: You can unpack, I look at it as, we first have to get permission from our audience to be interested enough to want to know more. And so that's really what you're trying to do. And if we get that permission, and that's through the interest, like you said, that's the hook that's the interest. If we can get that and capture that then we can unpack the details and talk more. I mean, we can go into the nth degree of detail if we want to explain things and if they're an engineering mind and they want to know what's under the hood. Hey, great, we'll share that with you. But the whole point is to get to a level where we're sharing what we call the big idea to a point that that really gets across to them in the end it really is the carrot that they're understanding they want to know more.

Kerry Guard: I think that's really important because I feel like a lot of the time we feel like we need to throw everything at the audience immediately because you know, but you just need to look for those yet. Like every time somebody clicks you're basically looking for, that's basically a yes. It’s like sitting in a sales call and asking a series of questions. And at the end of each question, you're getting closer to that “yes”. So you think about clicks that way, too, like, for every click, it's a yes. And then the next click is a yes. And if you have fallen off, then you go to a tests to figure out why but you're not looking for an immediate “see it, like it, buy it” or you're looking to bring them on this journey, which is really what storytelling does.

Chris Ott: That's right. Yeah, I love the way you said that, because it's like anything, I mean, human nature, you're going to first have all these touchpoint or exposure points, impressions, right, of either a product or a thing, or a brand, or whatever it is, and it starts getting into your mind as a human. And the human nature is, if you're attracted to it, if you're interested in that product service or whatever, then you start exploring, and you want to go deeper and understand, but you have to have that first piece that describes at least on a very high level, what it is, and we like to, you know, we take different strategies, each time dependent upon the client in the product or service, as the what we'll call the the entry point of, you know, we can talk about, imagine a world where or something like that, or get into a different analogy, where we're describing something and relating it to it, using metaphors and things like that. But either way it gets to a point where the audience is very easy to understand, very easy to connect with. And just on a visceral level, it's like they get it, it's an aha moment. Okay, that's it. And you'd be surprised how many companies struggle with trying to find that message, I mean, that's why we're in demand. That's why we do what we do. And I love it. I mean, it's really fun.

Kerry Guard: You're so excited, I love this. I can talk about “concise” all day long, because I think it's so difficult to do, which is why you hire people to do it for you. But let's talk about unique because I also think this is really tricky, especially when you're in a really competitive field, it sounds like a lot of the brands you particularly work with, Chris, they're on the cutting edge of what they do. And we talk a lot about it in terms of imagining the world you live in, based on the things that these people do. Because you're in the valley, I think you're in a really unique position to be telling those very unique stories. So it sounds like these brands, and their unique aspects are maybe a little easier to find.

Chris Ott: Yes, and no. I think in some cases, it is easy to find the reality of it. But I think that what happens is that there's a lot of noise in the marketplace. Because I mean, you know, this as a marketer, how many times have you heard the term AI? Right? We have AI technology, right? Okay. Well, everybody has AI technology, how's that differentiated? How is that unique from anybody? And people lean into using those jargon words, just to use them to catch oh, we're an AI company? Well, what do you do? That's actually AI, you know, and so I think that some of the challenges is less about telling the unique piece that our client does, but more about cutting through the noise, to differentiate between what everybody else is saying that they actually don't do, you know, and so that's kind of a interesting perspective or interesting challenge that we have to face in that world.

And then the other piece of it, I would say, is that we do still work with companies that are in very crowded, or competitive spaces where they're not the only competitor. And so being able to find the thing that really differentiates them and makes them unique. It takes some real good strategy, creative strategy to find those nuggets. And we're able to do it with these companies, because they typically know, I mean, they typically know but they probably don't know how to articulate it. And it can be things like, hey, we've hired the most diverse team of experts across, whether it's, for example, we've got a client that's in autonomous flight. And they've got people from the military from flight from underwater, sonar technology. I mean, it's just crazy the diversity that they've accumulated throughout the team that they've assembled that no other company in the world has done that. Everybody is focused on the engineering and solving the technical problem without solving the execution problem. And so we can lean into that and say, okay, well that's, that's what makes us unique. And so I think it's finding those things. So, you know, your question, I think, is really how do you do that with a company that is in a very competitive space where there's a lot of noise out there? I think there's always a way to find that uniqueness. And the more you do it, the better you get at it, right?

Kerry Guard: Absolutely. I feel like in some cases that comes back to a brand's why. Why did you start this company? Clearly, you felt there was a need for it. So what was that need?

Chris Ott: Yeah, but not even just the need but what's being delivered, if you're in a space where there's already people, and you say, Oh, that's great. I can there's money to be made or an opportunity in this space, there's a need there. Because there's a Starbucks here, a Pete's Coffee here, and all these things, and I want to make a coffee shop. Well, how am I going to do it differently? You know, so the need within a need, if you will, like, what's gonna be what's going to be unique or different about what are you going to offer that's going to be different? Is it going to be on the service or is going to be on the flavor? Is it going to be on? Where is it going to be? What's your secret sauce? And that's how we refer to it. What is your secret sauce? Or your unfair advantage? That's kind of how we -

Kerry Guard: I like that. Yeah. I always like this coffee example because it's clear between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, right? Oh, yeah. For Starbucks, you're paying for that sit down environment sort of feel and that community in that culture, that Starbucks sort of brings along with their fancy coffee, where a Dunkin Donuts is, you know, that coffee on the go? Like, it's just that clear, like, distinction between the two.

Chris Ott: Exactly. Yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah, you hit it.

Kerry Guard: And for us, you know, I go back to us, ‘cuz we're in a very crowded space. I mean, you're the same boat, too, in terms of creative and digital marketing and where our differentiators are. And I think for us, it's that measurable, not necessarily the, measurable media of it. That's why but that's why we started right of like, but we want to make sure that we're hitting your bottom line, and it's not just as lovely impressions, and it's what you're talking about, in terms that effective, results driven piece to that kind of story like, yes, I think that's important.

Chris Ott: Yeah, marrying those two is the magic, I think. I think, getting that really tuned story that just can drive your messaging, and really, that can go across all platforms, and then having an agency like yours, where you're able to then put that to practical execution, and deliver upon the tangible results of, you know, clear metrics. I think that's the marriage of how marketing should be. I mean, that's -

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I mean, it's no longer this notion of if you build it, they will come right, unless your SEO is really solid.

Chris Ott: Yeah, that's, I think that's the utopian dream that everybody just thinks that if we build it, they will come in, it's not like that anymore.

Kerry Guard: It's really, it's really not. And I think the audience has really changed where it was a very linear talking, I'm having a lot of conversations around this. And it used to be very linear, right? Where you put a lead magnet out there and you know, to clear messaging, and somebody would see an ad and click on it and come to your website and download the asset. And there you go, you have their email address, and it's not, I mean, are you finding this, it's not that anymore, it feels very much like, you do need to figure out how to surround your audience or multimedia. And then let them come there is sort of this idea that there's sort of this notion of, not necessarily if you build it, they will come but that they, but that if you surround your audience in the right way, with the right messaging, and you are present, and capture their attention at some point, that they will come to you, but they have to make the decision to come to you.

Chris Ott: Well, I mean, let's face it, the entire landscape and how people interact with content and how people are or what they're being exposed to, and just how they operate with iPads and their phones and all the devices that are that are engaged with these days. I mean, there's a reason why Google and Facebook, you know, are multi billion dollar companies and it's because they've perfected the understanding of not only just how to reach somebody in the right demographic and interests and, and focus and that sort of thing. But it's also all about timing too and understanding the moment in time when somebody is interested in making that purchase decision. So technology that drives predictability around that. And so I think that that's important when we think about whether it's advertising or, or capturing customers is understanding that the message has to be very onpoint. But all the other pieces of that, to your point, it's not a linear process where somebody just sees a billboard, and then Oh, great, I'm gonna go buy that pack of cigarettes or whatever. I mean, that world is gone, it's more about, am I meeting a need that's very specific to you and personalizing, am I meeting that need at the right moment in time when you're thinking of actually acting on it. And I think that that's where the magic comes with being able to have a great story, a great message. And then being able to, just like what you guys do is being able to target very clearly and then deliver those in a timely manner. So I think that's the magic.

Kerry Guard: I totally agree. And, yeah, and that multimedia piece is so key. So let's finish on that note there, Chris. In terms of my multimedia piece, we talked a lot about messaging and finding your story. And then there's definitely the digital advertising piece of that. But in terms of what you do, how do you deliver that story? Is that website video, just talk me through what you offer there?

Chris Ott: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, we have really approached this holistically and look at, as I mentioned before, the footprint and so our services include certainly presentation, so all the presentations for early phase, companies, whether it's delivering them, keynote events, and those types of things. It's just a logical platform for telling a story, when you're doing partnership presentations, and other types of things. But also on the websites, that's still an important piece, certainly in the early phase companies, when people are doing research, when they're searching up your company to see what you do and how you do it, and trying to find all those pieces. Video is a tremendous platform for telling stories, it gives a great marriage of the visual aspect that prompts, along with the narrative, and then soundtrack, the voice track and all of that. So video is always going to be a component of those things. So those are really the primary platforms. But we do all kinds of other types of things, too, whether it's even applications or anything.

Kerry Guard: Very cool. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Chris, and for sharing your story. I just texted my dad I was because he's a cyclist as well, that two year degree, but he, it's just something he's done his whole life says like, “have you heard if Chris Ott?”. So I’m waiting to hear back from him. And I'm gonna definitely have him both in the store. Because I think he would just be like, ah, like -

Chris Ott: Oh, that's awesome. Tell your Dad hello.

Kerry Guard: I will, I will. So thank you for sharing your story with us and sharing with us what you and your company do in terms of storytelling, and how to help you know, those early stage brands bring their story to life. Before we close out. I have my three people-first questions that I just a good reminder, once again, that we are all humans and people before we are creatives and business owners and marketers. So you ready, Chris?

Chris Ott: I think I'm ready, shoot.

Kerry Guard: All right, let's do it. First question for you. Are there any new hobbies that you have picked up in the last year or something you've really wanted to do and been able to really dig into.

Chris Ott: You know, it's interesting, because obviously, as a cyclist I ride miles and miles on the bike. Through COVID, I was able to pick up running and I've been running a lot and I get a lot of enjoyment out of that. It just gives me a little bit of a break and mentally and physically and it's pretty economical. I can go for a 45 minute run and get a good workout. And yeah, so I'd say running is probably the hobby that I've taken up over the past probably 14 months or so.

Kerry Guard: Awesome. A second question for you. If you are in the office with your team, we're headed in that direction. It's so exciting. So when he gets back to Santana Row and you're hanging out with everybody on the floor, and everybody's brainstorming and and you know, what vibe in terms of setting the vibe, what song would you want playing on the speakers?

Chris Ott: Yeah, that's a great question, it's so funny, right? So I would say you know, I love inspirational type music. I'm a big fan of things like that to just get you pumped up and get you going. I always love that song from Imagine Dragons, Thunder. I love that saga just I don't know there's something about that song that just gets you going, so I would say that.

Kerry Guard: I will add it to our Spotify so everybody else can rock awesome perfect yeah

Chris Ott: Awesome. Perfect. We're making rock to get all motivated.

Kerry Guard: Absolutely. My son loves that song. Last question for you Chris, if you could travel anywhere in the world right now, which we're so close to doing, where would you go and why?

Chris Ott: You know it's interesting, I'd probably, I love Italy. I was there a few years ago for the World Championships and I'd love to go back to Italy, Lake Como. That's such a peaceful place. It's just super cool. So I think that's where I want to go this next summer.

Kerry Guard: Writing it down, because now that I live in the UK, it’s like, right there. Oh my gosh, Chris, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate you and your time.

Chris Ott: Yeah, Kerry, absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me and, anytime, love to connect.


That was my conversation with Chris. If you are in a growth stage and in search of branding support, check out or you can find Chris on LinkedIn. Links are in the show notes as always, along with our Spotify playlist where you could rock out to Thunder by Imagine Dragons.

In this next episode, I chat with Jeanne Hopkins, where we discussed the importance of marketing to existing customers, and how to ensure you're doing that, and well.

Thanks again for listening to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders, the podcast that helps you get found via transparent, measurable digital marketing. I'm your host Kerry Guard and until next time.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

If you'd like to be a guest please visit to apply.

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