Ep. 62 – Raoul Davis found the genuine power behind innovators, instigators, and initiators in Elon Musk, Deepak Chopra, and Christopher Columbus

Raoul Davis Show Notes

Raoul Davis is CEO of Ascendant Group Branding, which helps CEOs, retired athletes, and executive leaders increase their top line revenue.

Ascendant’s integrated model includes brand strategy, public relations, book deals, social media, and brand design. Davis has been invited to small business forums at the White House and is considered to be an expert on CEO and executive branding.

Most passionate about

  • There are two things I’m most passionate about today: the first is the work we are doing with CEO branding, helping CEOs get their messages out in the market place, because business isn’t just B2B, or C2C, it’s H2H; human to human.
  • A lot of people think of CEO or personal branding as an ego thing and it really isn’t. Branding is all about telling a good story. That’s what branding is at the end of the day, your ability to tell a good story, share it with the right audience, and emotionally connect with them.
  • The other thing that I’m excited about is the book that was released in January 2018 called, FireStarters that takes a look at the innovators, instigators, and initiators that shape our world. Everyone from Elon Musk to Deepak Chopra and Christopher Columbus.
  • We were looking at those people in terms of what was the moment for them that help trigger their passion and how were they able to find the fuel they needed to maintain that, and how did they overcome any doubt they might have had to keep their success.
  • One of the most important insights of the book was this idea of cognitive conversion, which is a person’s ability to tap into a previous success pattern and then converge that into their current circumstances.
  • These people assume success where others don’t because they had something in their past that has been successful and they hold on to that and apply it to the current moment. So, they have genuine belief that they can overcome a specific situation.
  • It’s a characteristic that many of the most successful people in the world have.

CEO Branding

  • We brand the CEOs in order to benefit the company. There are three reasons why you look at CEO branding: the first is a strategic way to increase the top line revenue for the company.
  • The second reason is to build a portable brand: a successful CEO will attract the media to a new product, although it hasn’t attracted attention yet.
  • And the last reason is legacy. You want to inspire the next generation and to make sure that your message and key points live on.

Raoul’s career

  • My journey started back in the years of my college studies, where I was involved in all the parties in the campus until a friend of mine told me I have to run for the vice president election of the campus activity board. Then I decided to develop some leadership skills.
  • Then I learned my first lesson about branding. I thought the fact I did a good job is enough to get me elected to a position in the student government. And I lost very badly. The next year I made sure everyone saw what I did, and I won. That’s the value of branding.
  • It’s great to be good at what you are doing, it’s even better to be seen… That’s the lesson that I learned.
  • Then I got an internship and started booking speakers to all the universities across the country and became the best seller of the organization. So, by the time I was about to finish grad school, two of the clients approached me and said ‘we would love to be your first clients; why don’t you open your own business?’ And that’s how I started.
  • I found my company in 2004, and I started up managing speakers, and while working with them, we realized that their brand was what affected most on how much they spoke. So we got into personal branding, focused on PR, and with time we started to work with more CEOs and built our model around CEOs branding because no-one was doing it at the time.

Raoul’s best advice about approaching customers

  • My best advice would be the importance of achieving clarity. You need to be very clear about what you are offering and why should people care about it.
  • Any entrepreneur should find a story that will differentiate them from their competitors.

Biggest failure with a customer

  • When it comes to a client I think the biggest mistakes I did in my early days were when we committed to a brand and to a certain position, and then it started to get indicators that it’s not performing well, but you stick to your plan and go for it anyway.
  • In 90% of cases, it’s going to fall. And it’s mainly an issue of pride; when you commit to an idea, the analytics tell you it’s not going the right way, and you double down on it anyway.
  • The biggest challenge I had with my company was it was growing too fast and I wasn’t able to train the staff at the same pace. Then they were under performing and I didn’t get the growth we were expecting. And then the company went backward.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach

  • One story was with a Chinese cars’ maker company that wanted us to get five media placements and 50 reporters at their press conference at the Detroit cars show.
  • We had to deal with the perception of Chinese as stealers that don’t innovate by themselves and we got stuck with the media, so we had to pivot and we focused on the company’s executive, Mr. Song, who had brought an extensive knowledge and a long reputation with innovation to the company. And the media bought that better.
  • We ended up with 200 reporters at the press conference and 75 placements in the media, including Forbes and USA Today.
  • The other story is about a company that builds home utilizing shipping containers. When we started to work with them, they didn’t have revenue. We ended up positioning them as North America leading innovators in real estate. Because we were future oriented in the messaging, we got the media’s attention. They are a multi million dollar company today and we still working together.

Recommendation of a tool for customer focus, marketing, or sales:

  • To me, if you are a CEO, an entrepreneur, or an executive, LinkedIn can really help you scale your business faster more then any other platform. Because you have access to the entire universe. If you interact with people in LinkedIn the same way you interact with them in person, it will work at the same way.
  • We developed a model around this concept and LinkedIn is responsible for 25% of our clients and I believe it will even get better.

The point when Raoul stopped chasing after customer and started to attract them

  • That’s the way it works for us in the last several years. Our clients refer a great deal; our partners refer a great deal. This is the point any B2B should get to.
  • I think for us it happened when we went through a complicity reduction and we decided to focus only on what we do best. That’s led to customer satisfaction and many successes.

Raoul’s key success factor

  • The ability to continuously be willing to negotiate. I think America, as well as most of its business owners, lost their ability to be resilient. If a customer says no, you can’t say ‘OK, I will never talk with them again.’ You have to find out how to keep the discussion going because they might close the deal with you in three months. You should understand why you got this NO, learn from it, and return to this customer with the right approach.

Raoul’s Mountain

Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain; I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?

  • I haven’t climbed a mountain, but when you think about our business’s name – Ascendant is about this journey upwards; I think life and business specific is a mountain. This whole entrepreneurial journey has been like climbing up. The better you get, the better your business gets.
  • The thing about mountains is that there are parts it’s get extremely tough, there are parts where most people quit. You have to be willing to continually climb.

Photo by Wellington Rodrigues on Unsplash

Raoul’s company:

  • Ascendant – delivers unique insights to professional investors and corporate clients to make excellent investment decisions and build sustainable wealth.

 Contact details:

Raoul’s book

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Lance Scoular believes in the concept of Care, Protection and Guidance for your clients.

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