Branden Cobb, Marketing Specialist-Episode #286

Mar 12, 2024 | 0 comments

“…try to set up meetings and appointments with people. And through those meetings and appointments, you’re going to learn different things they’re working on or dealing with, and that’s going to broaden your horizons and allow you to eventually make your mark and set your anchor in wherever you want to be.”
~Brandon Cobb

Branden Cobb is a 15-year Marketing executive at the forefront of industry evolution. In a time of heightened concern regarding Artificial Intelligence, content generation, and responsible Marketing, Branden stands out for merging innovation with market insights, by insisting that successful Marketing is a dynamic fusion of both art and science. As a pioneer in crafting courageous strategies, Branden aims to not only grab customers’ attention but also launch them into a robust, memorable journey. His passion lies in helping companies add real value to the world while aligning corporate interests with consumer needs. Branden has great insights into utilizing AI within the creative process.

Branden’s also worked in the motion picture and television industry in various capacities, including in the development and producing movies and TV shows.



Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat:

Branden Cobb: Most industries have some type of form of database, and you can find their database of contact information and you can use AI. That’s a perfect example of kind of like an automated email system or otherwise. But you reach out and you try to set up, meetings and appointments with people. And through those meetings and appointments, you’re going to learn different things they’re working on or dealing with, and that’s going to broaden your horizons and allow you to eventually make your mark and set your anchor in wherever, you want to be.

Announcer: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, Branden Cobb, is a 15 year marketing executive at the forefront of industry evolution. In a time of heightened concern regarding artificial intelligence, content generation and responsible marketing, Branden stands out for merging innovation with market insights by insisting that successful marketing is a dynamic fusion of both art and science. As a pioneer in crafting courageous strategies, Branden aims to not only grab customers’attention but launch them into a robust, memorable journey. His passion lies in helping companies add real value to the world while aligning corporate interests with consumer needs. Branden has great insights into utilizing AI within the creative process. Brandon’s also worked in the motion picture and television industry in various capacities, including in development and producing movies and tv shows. So for all those reasons and many more, it’s my great privilege to welcome to StoryBeat today the innovative marketing specialist, Branden Cobb. Branden welcome to the show.

Branden Cobb: Well, thank you, Steve. Glad to be here and also glad, to hear you’re calling in from Pittsburgh. I grew up in Ohio, neighboring state, but my brother went to school in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon so, well, a really.

Steve Cuden: Great school, that’s for sure. We much admire our Carnegie Mellon here in Pittsburgh. No doubt. so tell us a bit about your history. Where did your interest in marketing begin? How did that happen?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, well, actually you mentioned that I had worked in the film industry and, that’s really kind of what sparked my interest in marketing. So, I initially was pursuing how do I get into a creative space in the film industry? And, with that I went to undergraduate to study film. I did internships with MTV in New York City, out at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. and with that being said, some of those ended up being kind of around the marketing and branding space. So, like at MTV, it was on air promotions, promoting for their VMAS and creating commercials for the VMAS At Paramount Pictures, we were developing a new channel at the time, called Epix. It since became MGM+ But, at the time we were launching Epix and it’s all about like, who is Epix going to be? What is epics going to be about? So that was interesting. But ultimately, there was a need to make a living too, in pursuing the film industry. And so I ended up taking a variety of marketing jobs because it was kind of the closest thing to it. And I guess taking those initial entry level marketing jobs are what got me into the marketing space.

Steve Cuden: Well, so lots of people who are in the entertainment industry, have to find other kinds of work or something within the industry that’s maybe not their main focus or interest in order to just survive. It’s, one of those kinds of industries. That’s what you’re talking about, right?

Branden Cobb: Exactly, yeah.

Steve Cuden: What were your earliest influences and inspirations? Ah, both to get into the entertainment business and to be a marketer. Who influenced you?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, well, I was always influenced by the business side of the creative, fields. And there was, off the top of my head, I forget the guy’s name, but he was the producer of the movie called The Graduate. And it was, a movie from a long time ago. He had a quote. It’s funny, I can remember the quote, but not the name. The quote was taste and tenacity. They’re the two things that separate good producers from the rest. And with that being said, I think, I was a very tenacious person, a very, overcoming a variety of obstacles and just persistent and this kind of thing. But I also thought I had good taste in, a lot of the artistic space. And so I know that I studied a variety of the old time Hollywood producers who helped create the business of tv and film, basically. And, I guess that kind of inspired me because they were on the forefront of an industry which I know today we’re going to talk about AI and things like that.

Steve Cuden: Correct.

Branden Cobb: We’re at the forefront of the industry now. So there’s a lot of opportunity, of being at the edge of creating not just a new creative work, but helping develop a whole industry.

Steve Cuden: Right. So tell listeners what marketing is and what the difference is between marketing a product and advertising a product and public relations of a product.

Branden Cobb: Yeah. Well, marketing is an art and a science. I think marketing is becoming more and more explainable. We are shifting. I used to always say it’s an art and a science and you can’t, do marketing without data. But at the same time, data doesn’t tell the whole story, revenue does. and what I’ll say is that, we are moving towards being able data explaining more and more of marketing. However, the difference is really when you think of the four p’s of marketing, product, price, place and promotion. And so, with those four p’s, a lot of people think of marketing just as the fourth p of promotion. And that’s kind of where you’re talking about the advertising, side of things. but there is still the getting in touch with what the consumer wants and understanding where there’s a market gap, of no service or product fulfilling that gap, and then helping to develop that product that meets that need, setting the price. There’s all kinds of pricing strategies, of precision pricing, of you manipulate the brain to think that something’s, more affordable than it is based on how the price ends. Or place. If you place your product at Walmart, that’s going to kind of put in the mind of consumers it’s the everyday product. But if you place your product at Nordstrom or know it’s going to give a different feel and vibe to the product. So you got to know what kind of brand reputation you’re going with and then the promotion that would be all the content and the advertising it out. And I think that public relations is, that’s a unique area, there where it’s certainly part of the promotional side of things, but I think also just kind of positioning where you want to be as a company as a whole. Public relations could kind of somehow figure out where there’s a gap in the public perception of things and where you could maybe fit in.

Steve Cuden: So then what does a marketer do? What do you do during your day?

Branden Cobb: Well, I’m a fractional CMO, so what that means is the last couple of years I’ve been, fractionalizing my time over a variety of clients, helping, explain that.

Steve Cuden: Explain what that means.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, so, it could be startups, it could be companies that are well established overseas and they want to enter the United States, could be companies that are established here, but they want to launch a new product or enter a new market. So what I’m doing is I’m going in, to a situation where maybe, they don’t in a lot of cases have, for whatever reason of their initiative, they don’t have the resources to bring somebody else in full time. either they’ve got a junior person in house and that’s where they’re looking to stay, or they just need extra support for this new initiative that they’re launching. And so I’ll come in, I’ll help them set their strategy, help them get up all their infrastructure that they need to accomplish, that mission that they’re trying to go on. And then, basically, the goal is for them and for me to not have to hold hands all the way through, kind of let them go and see their success happen.

Steve Cuden: So when you say hold hands all the way through, you’re talking about through the launch of some product or the promotion of some product.

Branden Cobb: Well, I think in the fractional space there’s no two clients that are the same. So you have some that, will continue to retain and I’ve worked with some for years in that case. But what I mean is not have to be with them full time, not have to be with them. Ideally, you’re training the in house staff, you’re training the team, you’re setting up the infrastructure so they can be self sufficient. So it may be getting up to the in different scenarios, it could be setting the strategy, letting them go, launch could be through launch, and then, once they hit a stable position, then let them go. It just kind of differs based on the need. And I think that’s the way I take an approach to all of my clients, which is, no two prescriptions are the same. If you go to a doctor, you’re going to, evaluate what their unique symptoms are and give them something special that fits their needs.

Steve Cuden: So you didn’t go to school for marketing, did you? You learned by doing it in Hollywood?

Branden Cobb: Yeah. Yes and no. So I started by learning in the field as a practitioner. But I did, go back and I got an MBA, in marketing and international business. And then I’m currently also while working, it’s a program that is made for, execs that are, still retain full time work and everything like that. But at the University of Florida, I’m doing a doctorate of business administration. So I’m deep into some marketing research right now.

Steve Cuden: I see. How important is it for a business of some quality or caliber to have folks around who help them to market the product? Are there businesses where marketing is just not an essential.

Branden Cobb: There are businesses where marketing may not play as big of a role and I think that’s part of, each company’s strategy of where they put their emphasis, internally.

Steve Cuden: Would that tend to be companies that maybe don’t sell to the general public, they sell to a company within some, discipline. For instance, a company that makes a part, that they sell to an auto manufacturer or they sell to an airplane manufacturer.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, I mean, possibly, there’s possibly less marketing needed in b two B. but b to b still requires a business to business requires still quite a bit of marketing though, because you’re still having to put together the assets and the creative look that’s going to go out and the salespeople are going to be pitching to people. What I’ll say is, stepping back. I look at like, when does marketing begin? When does it end? And my comment would be, it begins at the very beginning of a company. When you’re determining what, product, what service to launch, where you’re going to launch it, how you’re going to launch it, and it goes all the way. It never ends either. Because even in that b two b setting, you’re going to look at customer loyalty and trying to retain, those same buyers to keep buying over and over again. So I don’t think, marketing is ingrained with every single department within a company. Marketing should be working seamlessly with every department in a company. Customers don’t care, that you’re in different, as companies are separated in different silos, they experience the company as one. Really, the answer to your original question is that no, there should be. Technically no, there is no company that marketing is not involved with. However, there are companies that don’t hire or work with specialized marketers in some cases, and they may be wearing multiple hats.

Steve Cuden: Is it important that the public or a target of the marketing, is it important that they understand how marketing works or is it better that it just happens without them understanding it?

Branden Cobb: Oh, no, you should, absolutely. As a consumer, everybody’s a consumer, understand what marketing does and how it works and how it’s affecting you. When you go to try to get a job, you’re marketing yourself, or you go to, I don’t know, buy a home, you’re marketing your offer over anybody else’s offer, whatever it may be. You have to market yourself in life, and you’re also being marketed too, at all times as well. So, I think a general knowledge is good. I think most people have somewhat of a general knowledge, or they think they do, but there’s the difference between knowing an inch deep, and knowing a mile deep of what, the field entails.

Steve Cuden: So someone who is on the receiving end of marketing only needs to be an inch deep, but somebody that’s actually marketing needs to be that mile deep.

Branden Cobb: Yes, that’s correct.

Steve Cuden: And so what do you mean when you say that you merge innovation and market insights? What does that mean?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, well marketing channels have always been changing, right? So social media, I remember what, 2005 to 2010, social media, kind of just really picking up and things, or iPhone, mobile phones, and now you hear so much about mobile marketing or before the Internet. So the methods, the technologies, the channels of marketing are changing and they’ll always be changing. And that goes into AI and everything else, but before Google search results. But now what do you do when people are interacting with chat, GBT or things? how do you want to present yourself in an AI and things? So what I was going to say is that the channels change at all times, but there are laws of marketing that I have found to be immutable.

Steve Cuden: Such as give us an idea what you mean.

Branden Cobb: there’s a law of friendship, it’s called law of friendship would be that there’s a reason why when you drive around town, there may be all the fast food restaurants at a certain area of town, or there’s a reason why the mall used to be the mall, or why Amazon is Amazon now. And what I mean by that is who you may find to be a competitor. And they are competitor in many ways. when consumers, there’s a simplicity of knowing where to go and where to look and where to search, and when they know where to go, where to look, where to search, all the businesses in that ecosystem or all the businesses in that near vicinity benefit, they all win, actually.

Steve Cuden: Is someone marketing to the point of where everyone benefits?

Branden Cobb: There is general, industry marketing, which is an interesting element of who that helps, either the large already known brands or the smaller brands. So there is industry marketing on commodities and things like that. However, what I mean is that, that concept of the restaurants all being together, it’s not that much different on Amazon with all the different products being together, but it’s a different technology, it’s a different channel that has came about, but the law has basically stayed the same.

Steve Cuden: And then you spoke in your bio of being able to facilitate the fusion of both art and science. Take us through that. What does that mean? What do you mean by fusing art and science in the sense of a marketer?

Branden Cobb: Yeah. So what I mean, by science is knowing the cause and effect of certain things. So I’m going to do this and it’s going to create this, we’re going to do this. It’s going to make the consumer have an intent to purchase or. I know, even, I mean, there could be things as simple as, like the color red may attract somebody’s attention more than some other color. Or there could be, that people remember a negative review more than the positive review. Some of these things are, there’s a studied science, there’s data behind it. Then there’s still the art, which. The art is the unexplainable. It’s the human emotion. Even when we’re talking AI. AI can create things, but, it doesn’t go through anxiety or depression or happiness and joy and able to connect in a human level way. So the art is the things that maybe one day will be explainable, like what elements of the art need to come together, be mixed together to create ah x emotion. But the art is also, something that today we don’t have an explanation for. It comes from human intuition.

Steve Cuden: So as an old line artist, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve been in the arts my entire career. I hope that never happens. I’m telling you that I think that it would be not good for humanity. That’s just my own particular viewpoint on AI. I hope AI is a helper and doesn’t take over and become, everything that humanity has been for thousands of years. You say that you use a courageous strategy. What does that mean?

Branden Cobb: Courageous is as far as still acceptable. so getting out there, being a little different, being a little unique, being a little weird, but still being acceptable with the majority of consumers or receivers.

Steve Cuden: So in Hollywood, the producers would say to writers, I want something completely unique and different and new, but just like some other thing. That’s what it’s kind of like. That’s what you’re talking, right?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, yeah, sure.

Steve Cuden: Something on the cutting edge, but just like the things we just did that.

Branden Cobb: Were successful, there’s a reason why that word was cutting edge, because it’s not over the edge, but it’s cutting edge.

Steve Cuden: Cutting edge, yeah. That’s a good point. I never thought of it that way. That’s very good. How detail oriented do you need to be to be successful at marketing?

Branden Cobb: I would say very detail oriented. the details are where that makes all the difference, all the intricacies. and being sensitive to details. I’ll tell you, I think I am hyper aware of human emotions. I’m a studyer of human, behaviors and, I guess, yeah, being aware and being able to spot small differences in the sound or small differences in the image and thing. I think there’s a line, for example, this just goes into a small detail example, one, of my favorite music artists, because he was a businessman, but was Jay Z. And he has a line that in one of his songs that says, and I was just in Brooklyn seeing a museum about him. So this way it made me think about it. He says, not a businessman. I’m a business comma man. So that comma, small difference between businessman all one word and business comma man. But it made all the difference and what the intention, what the purpose, what the meaning of that, line meant.

Steve Cuden: Do you think of Jay Z as.

Branden Cobb: Being an course, you know, at that time, if you study his story of what he did, kind of get a record deal and started selling his own music. Now there’s so many independent artists and different things like that. I don’t necessarily know back then whether or not independent music, existed beyond at the local bar and local houses and stuff that were going on. But what I’m getting at is he made it mainstream.

Steve Cuden: And would you say that you think of yourself as an innovator, too? Is that how that works when you’re talking about being creative and on that cutting edge? or do you think of yourself as a facilitator of innovators?

Branden Cobb: My career, up to this point, has been a facilitator of innovators. I had always said, and especially when you go to the film industry, things like this, that I didn’t know a whole lot about any one department, whether it be makeup, costume, camera, lighting, all these different elements. But I knew a little bit about everything, and I was the glue that put it together. So I was the producer in that situation. So in that case, that’s the facilitator. And I think in a marketing aspect, same thing. If you’re leading a marketing department, you may not be the graphic designer, you may not be the copywriter, you may not be the videographer, and all these things, but you still need to understand how they all go together. so I think I’ve been a facilitator. However, I believe now that, especially with this program, at Florida, that I’m doing quite a bit of research on that. I’m starting to become an innovator in the fact of creating a new, approach to marketing, I guess.

Steve Cuden: Is that partly the AI piece of this. Are you dealing with AI more and more?

Branden Cobb: well, I’m definitely dealing with AI more and more. I’m talking about AI, a, discuss, obviously discussing with you been on a variety of podcasts with AI. I’m working with the Reuters publication on a few events, around, but, and I use AI every day. What my research is is not necessarily about AI, it’s more about creating, the further explanation. So let’s say that when I said balance of science and art, let’s say that science was able to describe data and analytics were able to describe 30% of why your marketing is working or not working. I’d like to see that get to 50% or something like that. And so I’m trying to figure out ways to measure and understand, when you mix certain elements together, what happens consistently, reoccurringly, when you hold certain variables constant?

Steve Cuden: And is AI helpful in getting there?

Branden Cobb: Well, AI is helpful in overcoming, I guess, like creative blocks, like brainstorming and just chatting with it and being able to come up with new ideas. I think AI is helpful in organization of things, and I think with what I’m working on developing, it will be able to be plugged into AI to create a better prediction or a better output from AI. It’s going to help feed the food that AI needs to further some of itself. But I’m in the camp of what you said you hope AI will always be, and I believe that’s the case, which is that it’s always going to be the copilot. it’s going to be, the fact of where, it’s where our starting point is. So if your starting point in the creative process was here, maybe now your starting point is here, but you’re still the cap on top of the AI, facilitating, the creative process.

Steve Cuden: So you said that you use AI every day. What do you use it for? What do you do?

Branden Cobb: Well, I do a variety of, I don’t use Google near as much. So if I’m going to Google something, I, a lot of times go to Chad GPT, and I’ll type in, a further, much more detailed request than you could have just done a general search of something on Google. But I go with my specific situation. I think I have AI read and summarize things for me. So if there’s a long paper or things like that, I’ll have it read and summarize it for me. I’m working with AI to create better consumer insights. So it’s the same thing when you plug in certain data points. Hey, we’re going to enter Pittsburgh for this locality. We want to enter for our market, and this is our product, and we’re looking for people of this age. This. Can you come up with some messaging for me that meets that need? And it’s probably not going to be the final messaging that we’re going to use, but what it would do is, get those juices flowing and get you thinking about, ways maybe you’ll use some of it and still modify it to it.

Steve Cuden: Helps you build out a foundation of what you’re doing.

Branden Cobb: Yeah. So you’re starting higher. Exactly.

Steve Cuden: When you’re starting to work on a marketing project, when someone has hired you and they bring you in, they say, we want to market this x, y or z product. Where do you start and how long does it take you to develop that? Where do you begin, what do you do?

Branden Cobb: Well, traditionally, it’s understand the industry, understand the competitors, understand the company internally, why they’re wanting to do that. the real why of things, why they want to do it, not just what they’re trying to bring, but why. Yeah, I would say AI has always been around, and it’s been around for a long time since computers have been doing a variety of predictions or calculations and different things like that. But, the generative AI portion, being able to not just make, a suggestion or not just make a, calculation or regret to rather, create. The creative content is new. And I’ll tell you, from talking to Fortune 500 cmos, nobody’s using AI to just run free and create, let’s say, 10,000 variations of an ad. 10,000 people in pittsburgh all receive 10,000 different variations of the ad. That’s not happening right now. there’s always a human in the loop. What is happening is maybe you have a graphic designer create the initial outline of what you’re wanting, just like you always would. But then there may be five, hundred tweets to that out, 500 variations. Now, you can hyper speed that up. You don’t have to have the human create the 500 variations. You’ve laid the outline, the format, everything, but then all the variations happen. But that does not mean that you’re letting the AI run and create all these random new variations on its own. You’ve still told it exactly what to do.

Steve Cuden: And how often do you bump into people today who are either unaware of AI or not well educated in AI, don’t really know what it’s about or what it’s going to do for them is that frequent or not at all?

Branden Cobb: We’re all learning this and experiencing this together. What I will say is, for most people, and this is hopefully the opposite of fear, it’s encouragement, which is I commonly hear that AI will not replace x profession, but x profession that uses AI will replace x profession who’s not using AI. So what that’s meaning is you’ve got to use the tools, the most advanced tools that are available to you. And just like you wouldn’t write out your math on a sheet of paper, you would use a calculator. Same situation with going out with AI as well. You just need to use, the tools available to you.

Steve Cuden: So, in other words, AI is still in such an infancy with what it’s eventually going to do, that not only are people still not totally aware of all of its potential, and maybe even AI isn’t aware of its total potential yet.

Branden Cobb: Nobody is aware.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, nobody’s aware of it. And that’s kind of a little bit frightening to people because it’s so new and so unknown, and it has the potential for, creating lots, of chaos and harm too, if we’re not careful about it. I think that’s what’s frightening people right now. What you’re talking about, I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that AI should just be, as we mentioned, a copilot that helps you to do your job more efficiently, better, faster, et cetera.

Branden Cobb: Exactly. Google helped make your life easier, Doordash makes your deliveries easier, your uber makes your rides easier, everything, it’s just another tool. Right.

Steve Cuden: Well, let me just express this, which I normally would not even say, but because we’re having a conversation about AI, the Internet, et cetera. I have to say, I have been around computers now for over 40 years, and I think the technology, as it increases and gets more complex and more deep, I think it gets worse by the day. And I think that the problem with what’s going on with tech right now is it’s people that are programming tech, and the tech is a reflection of people who are flawed and are not understanding how people operate. You’re in a business where you’re actually observing people and saying to the companies you’re working with. This is how we need to get people to understand what it is we’re trying to get them to buy. And a lot of that has to do with the human inputs. It’s the old phrase of gi g o gigo, which is garbage in garbage out. So if you develop tech poorly, well, guess what’s going to happen? Tech is going to be poor. And I think we’re seeing a lot of that happening right now. Do you disagree with that?

Branden Cobb: No, I totally agree.

Steve Cuden: What kind of marketing launches have you looked at in the past that you weren’t involved in, that you admire? What’s a great marketing launch?

Branden Cobb: Great marketing launch is one that seems, organic, doesn’t seem forced a lot of times. That means, there’s some type of influencer or out in the community feel to it and vibe. It picks up a momentum and a movement on its own.

Steve Cuden: Is there a company that you’ve looked at in the past and thought, wow, they really knocked it out of the park with the way they marketed and launched their been.

Branden Cobb: when we’re talking about film and tv and stuff, I’ve been very impressed with the way Hulu has came onto the stage. Netflix had such a stronghold, and Hulu is more and more becoming, looking like a near,

Steve Cuden: It’s all, it’s partly about how great the product is, isn’t it? I mean, they’ve got the only murders in the building, they’ve got the bear, and so suddenly everybody’s watching Hulu.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, exactly. So the product, that’s a whole nother thing, which is like the promotion means you can have the best promotion in the world, but if the product’s bad, the product’s bad. So the product does have to be good, which is why that’s one of the peas of marketing. and it’s also, I’m curious why, or I mean, maybe explains partly why Amazon, Prime Video has not taken off the same way that Hulu has Amazon itself. Great, amazing. But Amazon, don’t you think that that’s.

Steve Cuden: Because Amazon is, scattered in their thinking, they’ve got a billion different things going on, they’re selling a billion different products, many of them not related to one another. But Hulu is all about content that they’re trying to sell. That’s from the entertainment part of the world. I think that that’s helpful when your focus is on one singular kind of.

Branden Cobb: I mean, I think, there’s a common marketing concept, which is if, you try to be everything to everyone, then you end up being nothing to, I mean, you’re nothing to everyone.

Steve Cuden: Not to say anything negative about Amazon, truly, because I think they’re an amazing company. They have been everything to everyone, or they’re trying to be, but they’ve been successful at a whole lot of it, which is.

Branden Cobb: And you can be really great in some things, but it is hard to be great in everything. And I think, yeah, you hit it on that. You’re probably just spread around too many areas and you get a brand, you get a perception. People may think of Amazon for a variety of reasons, but maybe the best creators, the best, film producers, which is not quite true, because all of the best still work with them in different ways.

Steve Cuden: But it’s just so there’s some evidence here that not everything is going to succeed just because you have a lot of money and you can throw money at it. Money is very helpful. And when you have a big company that has an ability to market in a large way, like an Amazon, like a Netflix, et cetera, even though you have a lot of money, that does not guarantee you success. Isn’t that true?

Branden Cobb: that is true, especially in the arts. I guess you could say you can’t.

Steve Cuden: Control what the audience is going to like or not like.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, I mean, you can do research and understand, what maybe the hunger for certain pieces are. But yeah, you still have to connect with humans, on a human level. And there may not be just simple data around that.

Steve Cuden: Can you think of something that you’ve worked on that things went sideways in some way, they just were not working well at all? And how you pulled your bacon out of the fire, has that happened for you? And it can be in marketing something, or it can be in production, anything like that, where things were just like screwed up for some reason. And here’s what you did to solve the problem.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, I mean, in production, it’s called Murphy’s law, which anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And you see that, on any production set all the time. But, you could have pre planned and prepared, for everything you thought, but you didn’t think of something. but what I’ll just say is, Covid, really, I, had a marketing for an organization in, the real estate industry in southern California during COVID and we had to adjust and just like everybody else, but you’re suddenly going all virtual. And, this was a lot of internal marketing. You’re trying to retain people, keep people positive, keep them productive, keep them motivated. The real estate agents out there and everything. and not to have them jump ship and go to another company. there was all kinds of new methods and approaches that we were having to roll out and we were learning as we go. But, it, again, I think, comes from that was kind of the artistic side, we were able to pull off where we didn’t really lose any sales, we didn’t lose any agents, and we were able to keep the ship moving forward with new processes in place.

Steve Cuden: So I have been a storyteller. That’s what I do mainly in my life and career. And this show has a great deal to do with people who tell stories. and I, believe in storytelling as the great communicating device between humans. And I’m wondering how important you came up through Hollywood. How important is the notion of storytelling as a marketer, how important is the ability to tell a story?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, I mean, storytelling is everything. perception is everything. the way you create a perception is through, in a lot of ways, story people can relate to stories, understand stories. There’s certain, I mean, the concept that a picture tells 1000 words, like a story could also tell you something that if you broke it down and you see that even written in a script, it’s much more detailed and much more laid out. But the point is that, when you tell a story, there are certain, connections and certain jumps that happen that you don’t have to tell every single detail. But people get it, they understand it. Right. And that’s why stories are a way to condense, a way to, have some type of mutual understanding.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s the way that we actually communicate all day long with one another. We tell each other’s stories all day long. Somebody says, what did you do today? And you start to tell them what you’ve done, and you must tell that story in a way that’s clear and understandable? Or people go, I don’t understand what you’re saying. And so, as a marketer, I would think that getting that story right so that it’s clear, crisp and immediately recognizable by an audience of some kind is critical.

Branden Cobb: Absolutely.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. Is there anything that you do when you’re working with a client to get them to focus their story in some way, or get them to tell a story in a more palatable way or in a way that’s, more m easily absorbed by the consumer?

Branden Cobb: Yeah, I think a couple of different tips here. One is, again, going back, and I said it earlier, but understanding why, they want to go about doing something the way they do, or why they want to achieve what they’re saying they want to achieve. and not just that they want to achieve it. Okay. That’s number one. Number two, asking, them, I guess you could say, trying to understand where you think your consumers will be six months from now, twelve months from now, in their thought process and their, perceptions of the world and things like that, because you got to be forward thinking. You got to think ahead. So if you can jump ahead of, it could be anything, it could be, a social movement, it could be what type of product, what type of good is. But if you can get there slightly, you don’t want to be there too far ahead of them because you’re going to be out of place. But kind of on that cutting edge kind of form. Again, if you can be ahead of your consumer, and your consumer is always coming after towards you instead of away from you, then I guess I dig down into that, trying to understand what their thoughts are and what story we can frame and shape around their thoughts and let the company ownership or company, c suite and executives drive that decision of where they want to be while ensuring that we’re going in the right direction that their consumers will also be.

Steve Cuden: It sounds to me like you, as the marketer, really have to understand what it is they’re trying to sell.

Branden Cobb: That’s right, yeah.

Steve Cuden: And that must take some time. In some cases, I would imagine sometimes it’s relatively easy to see, and other times it’s really hard to fathom it.

Branden Cobb: Well, it’s what are they trying to sell? But it’s also what is the consumer trying to buy? So if the consumer, you may say, I’m selling you this, but if the consumer thinks they’re buying, there’s sometimes a disconnect there of saying, this is what we want to give you, and this is what I think you’re giving me as the consumer. And you got to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s for sure. I would think you really have to think about being the consumer. Do you ever work on products that you would never use?

Branden Cobb: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: And so how do you then relate to that?

Branden Cobb: yeah, it’s interesting because I think there is a value in being passionate about what you’re marketing. I think there’s a real value in that. At the same time, I think there’s marketing principles that in the laws, the principles, these things that if you approach it, you can make judgments and decisions for a company that are in the best interest of the company, regardless if you’re passionate about the product or not.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, though that makes sense. It’s like a really good actor doesn’t have to actually be that character. They are acting in that role. And so you have to believe it. You don’t necessarily have to be it.

Branden Cobb: That’s correct.

Steve Cuden: a little similar for you. I just want to, for half a second, want to talk about where you think AI is going to impact movies and entertainment going forward.

Branden Cobb: Well, when we go back to, where’s your starting point of, your idea? Okay, you got this kind of general idea, but you haven’t went off and wrote the script about it yet. You can kind of bounce around some ideas with AI there. I definitely think that there could be some of the script writing possibly, there and then remodified by somebody. Of course, you got to watch out for copyright and a variety of other issues with that. And I mean, it’s far from saying go do that today in any way, but where I’m going is. And then you got the writers union, everything else that’s going to push back against that. But I think your starting point is going to be higher. It still does not mean, just like we’ve been saying, that the human is not the cap on top of that, that is the controller and the real thinker, the real core behind everything that’s being created with the AI. It’s just that the AI is, speeding it up, making it more efficient.

Steve Cuden: Well, do you think that AI is eventually going to replace acting?

Branden Cobb: I don’t think so, no.

Steve Cuden: So I mean, there’s a lot of conversation about they can go back and imitate or emulate Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart and so on. We have a new movie with them and Marilyn Monroe and people that are long deceased, that AI will create all that. Even the vocal performances will be recreated by AI, not by other, actors, which you would think that’s what it would be, but no, AI is going to do it all. Do you think that’s going to happen?

Branden Cobb: Well, there’s a couple of thoughts here when you’re saying this. So number one, let’s just say like cartoons or animation has not replaced real, ah, human acting as well. It’s a different style, it’s a different format. now I know that the goal of the AI, you’re talking about is to look, and feel like the human acting. right now, I think anybody who’s seen it, it doesn’t quite, humans are able to tell the difference. You’re able to kind of tell for sure.

Steve Cuden: But CG has come a long way from its beginnings.

Branden Cobb: So the AI is going to keep getting better. Yes, at creating smoother and better content. The humans are also going to keep getting better at understanding what is AI driven or what’s not AI driven. So there’s going to be a. I have a hard time thinking that, there wouldn’t be real acting. And even in that scenario, there’s going to be the rights and everything that you’re going to still have to get to these people’s name and likeness and everything.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Branden Cobb: or you’re going to go create a character that doesn’t exist in the real world. And if that’s the case, then it’s almost like a cartoon. but then what are the interactions outside of the movie? what are the press conferences? What are the paparazzis and their daily.

Steve Cuden: Well, we’ve already had that to some extent. I mean, just think of Jar Jar Binks and that controversy, because Jar Jar Binks was a completely made up character using a human voice actor, but it was a computer generated cartoon, only it looked realistic. And we have a whole bunch of that now. Jurassic park. I mean, that’s 30 years ago. We already had those kinds of characters. I’ve been having a most fascinating conversation with Branden Cobb, all about marketing and how that works and how it impacts humans, and especially about artificial intelligence. And I’m just wondering, you’ve worked with and met lots of people in your various industries, because you’ve now been at least two industries. Yes. Marketing and as well as Hollywood. I’m wondering, are you able to share with us a story that’s either weird, quirky, offbeat, odball strange, or just plain funny?

Branden Cobb: Yeah. So knowing that your audience, is really lovers, of film and tv as well, I’ll say that, on one of our movies, it was called Ice Cream in the cupboard. We were filming, at a house in Beverly Hills. And next, door, one of the neighbors was, her name is Jamie King. and, Jamie was, she’s been in quite a few different films and stuff. It was just interesting seeing her outside, going about her daily life. We ended up, connecting, and then we put her in the film. Right. was. It was a unique way of how, being in the right place at the right time, you, could get somebody that was a perfect fit for a role, but it wasn’t that you were out looking for them at that point in time. I think film and marketing, when I worked in film, it was all about marketing for film. What were the right actors that are going to make it sellable? What were the right elements that were going to make it sellable? And that kind of thing.

Steve Cuden: So, last question for you today, Branden are you able to share with us beyond all the wonderful tips and advice that you’ve given along the way here, I’m wondering, are you able to share a piece of advice or a tip that you like to give to people who are just starting out as marketers or even in Hollywood, or maybe someone who’s in a little bit and trying to get to the next, you know.

Branden Cobb: The way I found the most useful is having conversations with people. Number one, you could start off by listening to podcasts like this, watching YouTube videos, listening to a variety of things in whatever industry or specialty you need to have some type of working be. You can’t go into a conversation with an expert and have no working knowledge of, the industry or the field that you’re trying to talk about. Otherwise it’s not going to be engaging for them. But if you do have a base, of knowledge and you’re trying to, now network and connect and dive into an industry, working to set up meetings with people and just having conversations, one of the ways you can do that is most industries have some type of form of database and you can find their database of contact information and you can, use AI. That’s a perfect example of kind of like an automated email system or otherwise. But you reach out and you try to set up, meetings and appointments with people. And through those meetings and appointments, you’re going to learn of, different things they’re working on or dealing with. And that’s going to broaden your horizons and allow you to eventually make your mark and set your anchor in wherever, you want to be.

Steve Cuden: I think that’s very wise advice and I think that anybody that’s listening should pay attention to the notion, especially of doing your due diligence, your research on who it is you’re talking to before you start to talk to them. That’s always helpful.

Branden Cobb: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve Cuden: Branden Cobb, this has been an absolutely terrific conversation, and I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom and your experience and your energy and your passion for what you’re doing. And I appreciate your being on the show today.

Branden Cobb: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Steve Cuden: And so we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you like this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating or review on whatever app or platform you’re listening to? Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, tunein, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden, and may all your worries be unforgettable.


Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


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