Released on JANUARY 26, 2024
Dr. Henry Wu provides an illuminating take on the idea of perspective in 2015’s Jurassic World: “To a canary, a cat is a monster; we’re just used to being the cat.” Our perspective on just about anything is likely biased by what we’re used to.
Businesses often forget the perspective of who they’re marketing to, says Mike Verret. In fact, when it comes to marketing, Mike says your message is not about your business – it should be about how your audience perceives what you do. He joins the show to talk about how to pitch your business in a way that makes people say, “Tell me more!”
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn
Music courtesy of Big Red Horse
Rob Dwyer (00:01.865)
Mike Ferret, you are next in queue. How are you, my friend?
Mike V. (00:06.603)
I am just excited to be this far up in the line.
Rob Dwyer (00:11.653)
Oh, I like that. I like that. So I, I am fantastic. We were just talking. I am in the middle of our second snowpocalypse of the year. It feels very weird. Oh, yeah, this is this is number two. We got a we got a good. Eight inches before Christmas, and now we're getting some nice, lovely snow.
Mike V. (00:11.703)
in the queue.
Mike V. (00:16.89)
How are you Rob? Thanks for having me.
Mike V. (00:27.87)
Oh, this is the second one. Oh boy.
Rob Dwyer (00:41.601)
Mike V. (00:42.046)
I get the curse and blessing of, because I'm in Rhode Island, the Gulf Stream, right? So it's great because I'm on like a rain snow line. So when it does snow normally, we don't get much. But the nor'easters that this storm's gonna cause are an absolute nightmare here. They shift the tides, we have flooding, the wind speeds of 50 miles an hour. It's just gonna be nuts this weekend.
Rob Dwyer (01:11.049)
Yeah, it sounds like it's going to be crazy. You are close to water. The closest I get to water is a lake in my neck of the woods. No ocean water here in the Midwest.
Mike V. (01:19.486)
Yes, yes. But also my entire state could fit in the greater Topeka area. So. Yeah.
Rob Dwyer (01:28.841)
Yes, this is true. This is true. I recently learned that there are a number of countries that are roughly the size of Kansas. When you think about the United States, it's really, really big. And so there are a number of states that are larger than quite a few different countries.
Mike V. (01:40.566)
Yeah, a lot of them.
Mike V. (01:50.995)
Well, I'm intrigued as to how that happened, right? So you've got the original 13 colonies, and those are all gonna be like, they're on horses, they've got carts and stuff, but they're not gonna get too far, right? Then as you move west from the 13 colonies and south, you start to see the effect of what the railroad did. It opened up the ability to travel much further, and as a result, all the states are much better.
bigger once you move west. That's my, that is my, that is my theory and I'm sticking with it. It makes sense, nobody can really argue it right now so I'm sticking with it.
Rob Dwyer (02:20.041)
Yeah, they absolutely are.
Rob Dwyer (02:31.218)
I don't think I've ever had a conversation about the size of states on this show, but I'm glad that we could have it today.
Mike V. (02:35.106)
Hmm. Well, ironically, we're the smallest state, and we have the highest percentage of coastline of any of the states, Rhode Island. Well, there's little to no interior landmass. I'm on the water, and if I go west, north, or south 20 minutes, I'm in a different state. And then we've got the bay, the islands, the coastline, all of it adds up. That's why it's called the ocean state.
Rob Dwyer (02:45.493)
I did not know that. Fascinating.
Rob Dwyer (03:04.101)
Yeah, there you go. Well, thank you for joining me from the ocean state to my ocean-less state here in the middle of the country. Mike, you do some very interesting work. You have a very interesting history. And you've got some crazy stories out there to share.
Mike V. (03:06.326)
Your fun fact for the day, Rob.
Mike V. (03:12.834)
Mike V. (03:29.694)
Rob Dwyer (03:30.717)
You and I were introduced by a common friend, our buddy Banksy, who is across an ocean and has recently been on the show.
Mike V. (03:36.354)
Mike V. (03:42.323)
I tell him he's my brother from another mother.
Rob Dwyer (03:45.622)
I tell him we just share a hairstyle. So, which is none.
Mike V. (03:53.721)
Rob Dwyer (03:55.529)
So you are all about helping brands communicate a message. And this is kind of along the lines, Paul and I talked about tools and technologies that you can use in messaging, but you're all about the actual message. So let's start.
by finding out a little bit more about you before we start talking about messaging. How did you get to where you are today?
Mike V. (04:26.547)
That is a great question and one I've been asked many times. And the way I answer it is my career has been in three stages, but I look at it as three points of view. Okay, so over 10 years on the agency side, working directly with brands and clients, I saw the perspective of an agency and it's okay, they give us this task, we have to do it. Then my client Hasbro Toys hired me.
And I came in this side door to a world that's all masters degrees who would eat their young to climb any corporate ladder. And I didn't go up from down, right? It wasn't a world I was familiar with, but I was there for seven years. And the first thing I picked up, 5% of what we cared about, maybe 10% of what we cared about on the agency side, they're worried about 100%. So as an example, we're going to make a TV
commercial for a new Iron Man figure. That's what we know we have to do, right? They send us the toy and we make the commercial. I get in the door at Hasbro and see the two year process of bringing that figure to the market. And I'm wondering how anything gets done because it's so internally focused and everything is about what they see from the inside. Now an agency has the luxury of being on the outside.
But after I left Hasbro, I realized what perspective matters the most is the audience of anything. You think you have something of value. If your audience doesn't see it that way, you don't have anything. That's what it comes down to, right? So your audience is ultimately the number one competitor to grow in your business. Not competitor, excuse me, hurdle. If you don't understand them, if you don't talk to them the right way, it affects every...
Mike V. (06:24.438)
your homepage, a new business pitch, your advertising, all of that is affected because you got it wrong from the start. And with that perspective, I sort of compare it to, whether it's a big company or a solopreneur, right? You know 100% about your business. Every aspect of it is important. Your audience cares about 5% of it. And finding that 5% when you know everything is really-
I may have used this example earlier this week, but think about an author like Stephen King writing a new book, 400 pages next bestseller. Now it comes time to write what sells the book, the blurb. People don't read the whole book, they read the blurb to see what it's about, right? Stephen King is incapable of doing that. He can't find the words because every single word on 400 pages is important. It's been refined, it's been considered.
So for him to dissect that and get it to three paragraphs that sell the book is an impossibility. What he does is he hands the book to someone else to read. They read it. They see it through the lens, that 5% lens of the audience, and they write the three paragraphs. New book by Stephen King. Here's what it's about. Wait till you see how it ends. Stephen King can't do that. And every business suffers from that problem. They see it from the internal perspective.
but it's the external perspective that really matters. That's where their audience is sitting. So it's sort of this competing force of what matters to an audience. You have to be first, best or different. One of those three things is what resonates. First and best hard to come by, but different is much easier when you have an outside perspective. From a business perspective, there's no business without show business, right? We are not who we normally are when we're in the business world.
playing a role whether we want to or not. The words we use, the culture, the way we dress is not us in the real world, the human world. So we don't have a perspective solely because we're playing a role in the business. Sounds like a ridiculous paradox, but it's true. And as we have this internal view and as we talk about it, words like ideate and KPI and synergize.
Mike V. (08:48.47)
Like those are words that are, those are things that are manufactured on the business level. We don't say, did you acquire those headphones you're wearing via an e-commerce platform? We say, did you get them online? Right? KPI is my favorite. Like if you and I got together in Kansas to shovel the snow, and then I'm like, I gotta get home. My kids got basketball. What are your KPIs this weekend? Nobody says that. They'd say, what are you doing this weekend? What are you trying to get done?
in the business changes your perspective, let alone doing the work. Where I come in is thinking and seeing things from an audience point of view. I can get down to a lowest common denominator, simple insight on how the target audience thinks. And from there, it's like answering the question, what do you do? There's a way your audience needs to hear that. They need to be engaged first. You've got to, you know, first three seconds, grab their attention.
Then you've got to relate to them. Then you've got to solve their problem. Then you got to show them how you solve their problem. Then they're ready to hear about your services. Now, how many people do you know that don't like everybody leads with their services, right? They have a headline and here's what we do. Or when they're talking about what they do, they get bogged down in the details. All of that glazes, like just blows right past your audience. They need to hear it in order. So if you're leading with page five,
They've got no clue what you're talking about. That's the simple philosophy.
Rob Dwyer (10:23.113)
Yeah, it strikes me as often.
I, by the way, I am going to start asking people what their KPIs are this weekend, just to see what happens. I think...
Mike V. (10:33.722)
Rob Dwyer (10:38.213)
I'll report back and let you know my findings on this research project. Yeah, little project. But you're absolutely right. When you're in a business, you are thinking about the entirety of the business. And there are so many things that, quite honestly, your potential customers and your customers, they really just don't care about.
Mike V. (10:40.542)
Okay, a little kitchen table research. I like it. Yes.
Rob Dwyer (11:07.105)
They don't care about how it gets done. What they care about are the results that matter to them. And...
Mike V. (11:13.99)
100% agree. Yep.
Rob Dwyer (11:16.957)
I think it's really easy for us to forget that. It's really, you would think it would be really simple for us to be able to communicate these things to customers and potential customers. And yet, if it were, Mike, you'd be in a different line of work.
Mike V. (11:34.75)
Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Listen, it took me, it takes me an hour to solve the puzzle for somebody else. It took me months to figure out what the hell I did, you know? But I think overall, we spend a lot of time thinking internally, but the market has changed considerably, right? Amazon is singularly responsible for destroying brand power. That's my statement, my hypothesis, because before Amazon,
Walmart or whoever they advertise, we got what you need. Come on in, right? Amazon introduces ratings and reviews and it's game over because nobody is going to look at what the brand says anymore. They want to know what they are going to think about it, meaning the audience, and it's all displayed for them right there. You can sort responses by ratings, all of this stuff. So why would I pay attention to what the brand is saying?
Rob Dwyer (12:13.249)
Mike V. (12:29.742)
There was a commercial during, I think it was the Super Bowl a couple years ago, and it was for Google. And it effectively illustrated a woman purchasing like a blow dryer or a hair curling iron from a well-known brand without leaving Google.
She searches for the product, it all shows up, she makes it. So where's the brand power there other than on the box? It's astounding to me, but the audience has 100% control, 100% control. That's the bottom line. And their choices, go search something on Google and you're getting a million results in 0.3 seconds. I mean, there is a wealth of opportunity for all of the audience.
Rob Dwyer (12:48.482)
Mike V. (13:17.318)
And that was not the case 20 years ago. It was limited. You know, I mean, they would have to go to a store to get something or they could order it online at that point, but they were still controlled by the brand. Now everybody uses ratings and reviews, right? You go to target.com, Walmart.com, every single product is set up that way. But it's because they had to keep pace with the retailer who broke brand power.
Rob Dwyer (13:43.573)
Yeah, I'm curious if you if your view on how you communicate with an audience has changed as the marketplace has changed. And it's not just for goods and products, right? Services are the same way. If you were if you're aligned with a SaaS product like I am, there are services out there that provide ratings just like Amazon.
ratings so that those dynamics hold no matter what type of business that you're in so how has your mindset around communication shifted as the market has shifted
Mike V. (14:15.031)
Mike V. (14:32.63)
What I saw as the market shifted was actually a lot of complication from the business side, but the audience side doesn't care. It's the same action of search, find, click, do what you need to do. If it's not the right thing, go back. I mean, there's no person who's ever used Google that doesn't know what that is, right? But it's really over complicated things for especially smaller businesses, but certainly all the way up the ladder.
how they get found and how they get seen is a totally different ballgame. Right. But I came up with just three things that you really need to focus on when you're creating, how you communicate, how you talk about your business. This is all based on how the audience thinks, not the business. Right. Clarity, simplicity and consistency. Those are the three words. If it's clear.
they get it right away, you've got their attention. If it's simple, you certainly keep their attention. And if it's consistent, it creates stickiness. Now, the key to all that is understanding what the audience needs to hear. But once you hone in on that, you're able to reach out to them and stand out as, again, different, because you're thinking like them and everybody else is thinking from a business perspective.
Rob Dwyer (15:56.301)
Mike V. (15:56.798)
It's how an audience thinks on a real level, right? I call it lowest common denominator insight. Everybody knows what Google is. Everybody has used Google. Fine, call it 95% if you want, but you get my point. And everybody has searched for a product or service on Google. That's as far as I need to go. Anything beyond that is going to get me into technicalities and features and...
Rob Dwyer (16:19.297)
Mike V. (16:23.946)
website's got to do this and right now it's about how they go through the homepage not all the how we do it here's the details by here they're gonna read the home page first right and if the first thing they read is by now they're not connected that's just another product right but if the first thing they engage with is we have what you need at the best price
Now they're like, okay, they're filling in the blanks of what I'm looking for. Great. Like that makes more sense to an audience than buy now or here's all our products.
Rob Dwyer (17:01.709)
Yeah. I'm wondering, you've been talking a lot about Google. And I think Google still has an outsize influence, certainly when it comes to search.
Mike V. (17:13.62)
That's exactly why I use them. It's the most universal application.
Rob Dwyer (17:15.817)
Yeah, but social media is changing the landscape as well. I know you don't have a website, right? So that's not indexed with Google, but I know you're on LinkedIn a lot. Certainly TikTok has changed the way people interact with brands. What do you see with social and what's unique
about social and the ability to kind of communicate exactly what you're talking about that getting that connection.
Mike V. (17:54.746)
So from a business perspective, when they're looking at what they want to do, social is lumped in with marketing, right? You've got social, digital, website, TV, radio, whatever, promotion here and event here, and it's all around your product, your brand. Okay, so picture all these things around it. You need to be able to separate.
all the stuff that's like sales oriented and you're spending money on media and that kind of stuff, production, versus social media is about one thing, content of value, that's it. Nothing else matters. Now you go to TikTok looking for something, are you gonna watch it if it's not good content, or are you gonna look for something similar that engages you more, right? And that's how we use.
social media. We'll scroll through stuff that we look at often, right? And the ones we stop on are the ones that resonate with us. And we, like, if you're scrolling social media, your thumb stops on something for a reason, right? There's a motivation for that. So when that motivation occurs, if you're delivering the right content to them and they get the value out of it, it could be just laugh. It could be learn how to do something. It could be a new business opportunity.
doesn't matter if it's a sales message you're not gonna get anywhere if it's content of value you become sticky it's clear it's concise simple clear simple and consistent not concise consistent that's the goal of any social media campaign any you know I remember when the first by like Charlie bit my finger the early on viral videos right
Hasbro's response at the time was, we need to do a viral video. How do you do a viral video? Like it's all at the eye of the beholder and the beholder is the outside world, not your business. So engaging on a social media platform should be about building tribalism, right? It should be about building a following that ultimately you can drive to what that monetization opportunity is.
Mike V. (20:11.774)
It is not about, oh, we paid this influencer to do, you know, to sample our product, and now it's not about that. That feels completely unnatural. That's like Pepsi trying to look cool, like, hey, we've got a leather jacket on too. No, it doesn't work that way. You can't just act cool. They have to see you as cool. So when it comes to social media, content is king, and that's what creates the comeback effect. They keep coming back to see what's next.
Rob Dwyer (20:40.429)
I'm gonna switch gears a lot on you right now.
Mike V. (20:46.131)
Okay, I'm ready.
Rob Dwyer (20:47.965)
I want to hear about your logo back behind you.
Mike V. (20:53.182)
My logo, that's a great question. It's as simple as this. Any business is stuck in the grass like a caterpillar. Right? You could see what's in front of you. You're trying to find a tree to climb, where to make you nest, eat the leaves, whatever, but you can't see anything ahead of you. The butterfly is in the air and has a beautiful perspective. Right? It's after the metamorphosis. But imagine what you can see from that. You know exactly what a tree is.
Rob Dwyer (20:54.571)
Mike V. (21:21.526)
you know exactly where the best leaves are and you can see the full path to get there. It's a simple example of perspective. It's what most businesses have a hard time grasping and my job is just to show them what the outside world sees in them so that they can better communicate with them, connect with them and direct them through the right story.
Rob Dwyer (21:44.945)
I love that. I feel like.
Mike V. (21:46.759)
And obviously it looks like a butterfly clip to keep it business.
Rob Dwyer (21:50.173)
Yeah, so for those of you that are just listening, Verrett and Associates, their logo is a butterfly and it's hanging over Mike's shoulder. So that's why I asked him about that. I know a lot of you. Yes, you know, you and I have talked a few times before and I've seen the logo.
Mike V. (22:05.954)
then it's having its effect, Rob. Ha ha ha.
Rob Dwyer (22:16.745)
And I wanted to ask you about it. And so I'm glad that I got to do that because it is meaningful. And I think it's always fun to talk to people about the thought process that went into that logo and kind of what it means to them. And we don't always get that opportunity. Again, I just thought it was a nice looking butterfly, but now I've got a deeper meaning behind it.
Mike V. (22:44.182)
Well, initially what inspired it actually has to do more with public speaking and presentation, right? Everyone gets the butterflies. The trick is getting the fly in order, fly in formation, right? And as I developed my business, I, you know, presentation skills was part of it, showing you go into ad agencies and brand companies, branded companies and...
Rob Dwyer (22:58.292)
Mike V. (23:11.538)
showing them how to present what they've got the right way to engage their audience most effectively and be memorable, right? So that's what inspired it, but I immediately applied it to you know about three years ago It's about everything I do is about perspective and it's perspective that I can provide but they can't see And I use that as I've been using the butterfly and caterpillar example for a long time, but I mean it's the truth if you Recently, I used a snow globe as an example
If your business is in the snow globe, right, from the outside, it's this beautiful setting, it's snowing, you can see everything crystal clear through the glass. If your business is in the snow globe, there are constant earthquakes, every day's a snowstorm and you cannot see outside the warped glass. Perspective is everything.
Rob Dwyer (24:02.249)
Yeah, I feel like I'm in that snow globe right now. Actually, as I look outside, luckily no one's shaking me. That part's not happening, but there's definitely.
Mike V. (24:08.906)
Yes, you're literally in a snow globe. Yes.
But it can feel like that chaos when you're worried about everything. So trying to dissect everything from your perspective becomes hard and frankly, limiting. I met with someone earlier this week, I think, yeah, earlier this week, met with someone who started out the conversation about digital planners. And I sort of know what a digital planner is, but I said, stop, what's a digital planner? She goes, damn it.
Because her first point may not relate to the whole audience, right? Like everybody knows Alice in Wonderland, but if you start with the Cheshire cat, they've got to think back up to Alice in Wonderland, then back down to the cat. If you start with, hey, you ever see Alice in Wonderland? The Cheshire cat, everybody gets it. It's order of information. So that's the kind of stuff like if you start out with, in this case, digital planner, you're already alienating some.
Mike V. (25:15.538)
So I look at what the entry point is, is about their motivation, not their need state, right? Hey, what time is it? It's not just because I want to know what time it is. I have a reason for maybe I have to pick up my kid from school. But there's a reason to ask what time is it. And that's where everything should start is the motivation. Then relating to them in a physical way, right? Like constant chaos in your business. It's like, I think like,
May have said this earlier this week, but constant chaos in your business is like being on a boat in open ocean during a storm and just holding on tight. And what you really look for is the calm, serene waters of a bay, I can get you there. You see what I mean? It gives you a physical reference to what you're talking about. And that's the snow globe. I just did it with the snow globe, but tying it to a reality that anybody can understand.
everybody searched on Google, it's a good entry point, right? Then from there, it's solving it in a headline. You know, it's not going into this long description. It's still not your services yet. Solve it in a headline so they say, great, you've got a solution and they read down. Now they want to know how the solution works. Again, not services. Now it's about your process beginning to end. What do you what do I deliver? What do you experience?
Right, maybe three steps in your process. Discover, build, launch, as simple as that. Then they're ready for services, but you've aligned your services with the process, so they see the details of the process, as opposed to a Chinese food menu of here's all the services I provide. From there, you show them how they're better off, benefits. You prove it works, validation, so think case studies, testimonials, and finally call to action. What do you want them to do?
That's going to follow the sequence of how they ask questions. Like, what do you do? Oh, interesting. What do you mean by that? Well, how do you help those people? Oh, OK, the headline. How do you do it? All right, what do I get in that process? What's in it for me? How am I going to be better off if I work with you? Can you prove it works? Have you done this with anybody before? Yeah, you know what? Let's set up a meeting. Give me your card. I'd love to talk again. That's it.
Rob Dwyer (27:37.665)
So let's talk about one of those. Yeah, I wanna talk about one of those in particular and as it relates to startups. And that is, can you prove it? Have you done it before? How do I get past that if the answer is no?
Mike V. (27:38.998)
what people are actually thinking.
Mike V. (27:45.494)
Mike V. (28:02.57)
Well, if you say no, I'm assuming you have not gotten to sale one, right? Like you don't have anybody to bounce anything off. I would argue that as you're building your startup, you need to beta and you take the testimonials from the beta experience.
Rob Dwyer (28:18.997)
What if I've got a new product and I do have customers, but I got something brand new? Same process? Am I just going to my existing customers and trying to beta that just so that I can get some of that?
Mike V. (28:33.418)
without a doubt, I mean.
holding on to a customer's worth 10 new customers, right? It's a lot less expensive. If you've got something new, who are you going to tell it to? Right? You're going to tell it directly to them. At Hasbro, you know the game Magic the Gathering. Every time there was, they would eventize it, right? Every six months, there'd be a new, or every year there'd be a new theme or a new story arc to the game. And their fan base, their existing customer base.
Rob Dwyer (28:51.722)
Mike V. (29:06.942)
was just waiting for the next one. So why wouldn't you start with them? Because if they're your customer and they stay, they're going to go tell other people and there's no better effect. You should call Rob. He has exactly what you're looking for. I've been working with him for a year and a half. Like that is of immense value to a start.
Rob Dwyer (29:29.981)
Yeah, it's crazy to me. Yeah, any business is crazy to me. I recently had an experience where I had a lead come in, if you will, with someone who honestly had no clue what we did. And they had just been recommended by someone that they trusted that said, hey, you should go talk to Happy2. And...
Mike V. (29:31.83)
for any business, not just to start it, any business.
Rob Dwyer (29:59.041)
then the conversation was literally a little bit like kind of just digging in to find out like what potential problems could we help this person with because they weren't really familiar with us. Yeah.
Mike V. (30:11.978)
Yeah, sort of a discovery process. Yeah, like a discovery process, I get it.
Rob Dwyer (30:17.021)
Yeah, and that shows the power of people just being willing, literally it's NPS in action, like that willingness to recommend. That's what happened. They didn't even know what we could do for them. They just came to us because someone said, hey, you should just talk to these people. They can maybe help you with something.
Mike V. (30:42.378)
Yeah, if you're looking for a SaaS solution, I've got somebody you should talk to. That's how you want it to work, especially if you're a small business. We're not advertising in the Super Bowl. We're not spending thousands of dollars a month in media channels. We are teams of one to five to 10 who rely on networking, word of mouth, grassroots, content to drive community. All of that is what we're focused on. It's very different.
Rob Dwyer (30:46.921)
Mike V. (31:10.978)
than how a P&G brand like Colgate would handle it, right? They'll spend millions on product development and then another million on advertising campaigns just to produce them and test them. That's not even the media placement. We can't do that. I just showed you where I work. I'm in a cellar at home, right? But I still need to market what I do. I focus on LinkedIn because it's a 24 seven networking event. I...
Rob Dwyer (31:14.722)
Rob Dwyer (31:27.413)
Right? Ha ha ha.
Mike V. (31:40.738)
focus on conversations like clarity calls, I offer a complimentary call where we can review what you're doing and I can give tips and stuff, right? I market that heavily because that creates a lot of connection, right? That creates memorability. That creates all the things I wanted to create with the people when they get to that level. The last thing that I do for myself, I know I speak well.
I know I can communicate effectively and I know I can present the hell out of anything. I do things like this to amplify my business. So those are three marketing channels that I try to leverage all the time and I'm starting to branch out into things like Facebook ads. You know, things that I could spend $10 a day and it drives a handful of leads. Great. You know, that kind of stuff really works well for me. And then the other thing that I have to look at is how my product develops, my product offering develops, right?
Right now, I've got a standard, especially for startups and small businesses, a standard process of building the pitch. It takes maybe two to three weeks, because you need first before anything else, you have to answer the question, what do you do effectively for your audience? So if you get that cleared, your homepage, your LinkedIn profile, what you say in a networking event is already aligned, then your marketing from that message.
and it becomes a hell of a lot easier. It creates that consistency, it keeps it simple.
Rob Dwyer (33:10.797)
Yeah, absolutely. I hear that you've got an interesting story about a dinosaur.
Mike V. (33:22.234)
I do. I, in my time at Hasbro, I worked on Transformers, which was like a dream come true for me because when I was 12 or 13, they hit the US and I was immediately obsessed with Optimus Prime. He was like my hero and here I am working on the brand and hanging out with the voice of Optimus Prime now, who's also the voice of Eeyore. Fun fact for the listening audience. Yes, that was his first voice acting gig.
Rob Dwyer (33:46.945)
Mike V. (33:51.158)
But anyway, after Transformers, I was working on that brand for say 18 months, and then they rotate people, right? So you work on a brand 12 to 18 months, they move you to another brand. They moved me to Jurassic World. It was 14 months of hell. I didn't like it at all. And it's because it was a licensed product. It wasn't our brand. We were making the toys to put on the shelf at Walmart for Jurassic World when the franchise we launched in 2015 with Chris Pratt. So I really am not into product man.
Rob Dwyer (34:05.909)
Ha ha ha!
Mike V. (34:21.47)
I don't know how to do it. It was foreign language to me. But one day we get a call from our PR department and they said you have to look up what Universal Studios names the new dinosaur. They named it Diabolus Rex. I jump on Google, I look, quick image search, President of the Church of Satan is named Diabolus Rex. So the whole page was covered with this dude who had facial reconstructive surgery and horn implants to look like a demon.
Rob Dwyer (34:50.925)
That's good for four year olds, right?
Mike V. (34:51.19)
We're selling toys and their moms without a doubt. Mom's not going to be happy if that's what she sees. If you search it now, you'll see sketches of a dinosaur and this guy. You'll pick them out real quick, trust me. Anyway, we bring this to Universal's attention with our contact and licensing, and she says, well, if you want us to change it, you're gonna have to come up with something different. Like that was her knee-jerk reaction to it. It set me off, I'm like, okay, gotta come up with a name, I'm gonna have to sell it to them.
15 words in Latin that looked cool next to Rex, I landed on indominus. The word essentially means unconquerable and indomitable, right? And everyone's seen the movie, the bad guy gets his in the end. It's irony, it's foreshadowing. It would be the perfect name for this new DNA designed dinosaur. So I put together six slides that we're going to take them through on speakerphone. This is pre-Zoom days. And
I am ready to go. My adrenaline's pumping. I'm thinking it's just our licensing rep. It's not. VP of licensing, marketing director, and a scriptwriter are all on this call. And instead of like shying away, I leaned into it more. Like I was bubbling. They say, okay, we're all here. What do you got? And I'm ready to go. The name we recommend is Indominus Rex. Now I'm not kidding, Rob. Maybe a second went by before we hear the phone go,
Oh my God, that's so much better than any of the crap we can come up with. Thank you so much. We got to go. That was it. I like had to go for a mile run afterwards because I got so built up to sell it. But again, it's a communication issue, right? Her knee jerk reaction was, well, we're not going to do anything about that. And that set my mind for that conversation on the on the speakerphone. Then it comes out that they realized they have just as much of a problem, right?
They need to get butts in seats. They need licensing, promotion, and partnership to make money. Butts in seats, that doesn't cut it for a CGI film with that expense. That's why they rely on companies like Hasbro, fast food chains like Burger King or Subway to be promotional partners, to be licensing partners, because that's ultimately where they make their money. We pointed out that they're about to show the president of the Church of Satan
Mike V. (37:18.611)
in a marketing.
and it changed their perspective immediately. They're writing internally, right? Like from a movie story perspective, Diabolus Rex sounds freaking terrifying. But if you look at it from an outside perspective and all the things they have to do to drive the film, it becomes a different story, you know?
Rob Dwyer (37:23.382)
Yeah, how the internet changed everything.
Rob Dwyer (37:43.249)
What you just illustrated is something that was illustrated also in Spaceballs. Merchandising, merchandising, that's what it's all about. So I love that story, Mike. Thanks so much for sharing it. And.
Mike V. (37:53.767)
Mike V. (38:01.612)
It was like my 15 seconds of my two seconds of fame.
Rob Dwyer (38:05.825)
Hey, you gotta take your seconds where you can get them. So it does. Thanks so much for joining Next In Que. I really appreciate the conversation. And hey, stay safe as the weather rolls your way.
Mike V. (38:09.97)
It makes for a good story if nothing else.
Mike V. (38:25.098)
Yeah, don't send us your rubbish, dude. We don't want it. Ha ha
Rob Dwyer (38:29.564)
I don't want it either. So, um, you know, it's coming your way whether you want it or not
Rob Dwyer (38:38.252)
Rob Dwyer (38:51.273)
And as always, check the show notes. You'll see Mike's LinkedIn profile right there. You can just jump to it and send him a message. Thanks, Mike, and have a wonderful weekend.
Mike V. (39:03.81)
Thanks, Rob, you too.