Published Podcast Ep. 23 | Golden Rule Marketing with Justin Foster and Emily Soccorsy

In today's episode, we are excited to interview Justin Foster and Emily Soccorsy about how to follow the Golden Rule when marketing your book. Justin and Emily are co-founders of the branding firm Root + River.

1:45 Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about what you do and how you came to found Root + River together?

  • E: We believe every great brand is a spiritual experience. That’s what we call a root belief, and it drew Justin and I together. We met about four years ago at a conference and we began to share ideas around branding and modern marketing and the rebellious way we both looked at. It had to do with organizing brands around love and truth instead of the status quo of creating manufactured reality and selling it to the public via blunt force trauma.
  • E: I was in corporate communications and marketing and hired Justin to come in and help transform that brand. Through that collaboration with thought, “We can do this with other people.” We began to work with people who want to take an inner journey to uncover their core truth and share it with the world.
  • J: We began to attract thought leaders out of the gate. These were consultants or coaches, and many of them were in the process or had already written books. The draw was, because we work from the inside out, we’re not giving marketing advice. We will give counsel on the right kind of marketing to use, but it’s in alignment with the author’s personality, strategic goals, and the audience they’re trying to reach. It’s a non-formulaic view that every person who has something to say doesn’t need marketing advice. They need coaching and guidance to go inward and learn how to articulate their brand to the world.

6:40 You write on your blog about the concept of Golden Rule marketing. Can you explain what that means for our listeners?

  • E: Marketers are the most egregious violators of the Golden Rule, which in this context is market unto others as you would have them market to you. Marketers tend to focus on click-funnels, interruption marketing, or marketing that’s really built around manipulation and persuasion. Earlier I mentioned blunt force trauma, being everywhere trying to push your message, and often a muddy message. But when you ask a marketer how they like to be marketed to, it’s usually not through those methods.
  • We believe the era of business to business, business to consumer, is over. We are now in the human age. As people, we need to think about the people we’re trying to reach how we tailor the message to them in a way that is inspirational and educational.
  • J: If an author follows the Gold Rule of marketing, they’re reinforcing a core principle of 21st century branding: the way you market has far more influence on your brand than what you market.
  • J: If you’re using manipulation, you’re sending a statement about your brand that may not even be true. Some marketers may not even be aware that that’s how certain types of marketing are perceived.

9:25 Could you provide some examples of the Golden Rule, and the opposite?

  • E: It will vary from person to person. In this age we get 4,000-6,000 requests for our attention and action each day. Our recommendation to break through that clutter is to be heartfelt. We try to be intentional with our blog. We don’t write for the sake of having a blog. We dive deeply into the minds and hearts of the audience, as well as our hearts, to provide the information they need.
  • E: Invite people into the ideas rather than trying to convince and persuade and make a deal. You want to share who you are to form a relationship. If authors are open with their experience writing a book, talking abut the challenges they had, that’s an example of Golden Rule marketing.
  • J: Authors are artists first. If we think like an artist, Golden Rule marketing makes more sense. Show your work, show your drafts, the things that didn’t make the cut. Be original. There are so many people parroting what they hear from other people.
  • J: If you’re original, Golden Rule marketing makes sense. If you’re not, it will be a lot harder. You also have to create every day, even a small, 30-second activity to get your brain growing.

12:49 It sounds like there’s a lot of vulnerability underscoring Golden Rule marketing. Would you agree?

  • E: Yes, we often tell people that ours is not an approach for everyone. You have to be willing to be vulnerable
  • J: One of the tools we provide after each Root Session, a day-long retreat into your brand, is called an open letter. It’s a letter about who you are as a brand, carefully vetted so that it reads authentically. I think we’ve done eighty-four, and every customer would be safe to say they’ve never marketed or shared their story that way. Vulnerability is so important for your own story and personal growth. Real humor makes people laugh, real vulnerability makes people pay attention.

14:30 Can you speak a little bit to brand authenticity? How does an author know they’re there? And how does it impact their overall journey?

  • E: I think one of the difficult things when you’re launching a book is that you get caught up in the launch and get disconnected from your true self. This is why we feel like the inner work is so important. Wherever you are, take time to move inward to remember what’s truly important to you.
  • E: This may be one moment in time, but it represents your creative spark, your determination. What does it mean to you? Authors put so much effort into bringing their book into the world, but we can become disconnected from our original intentions. If you write down those intentions and return to them daily, it can help keep you centered.
  • J: When you do that inner work, you’ll have confidence in your inner voice. You may not know what to do tactically every time, but your inner voice will become the first check of whether or not you’re on the right path to authenticity. The second is affirmation from the recipients of your message. If you start to hear “I’ve never thought about that before,” you’re getting people to think. You’re a thought leader, and therefore authentic.

19:00: So, Root + River. We talked about the Root, let’s talk about the River.

  • E: Branding is a practice, and it’s something that you do every day in every conversation. We do brand discovery, but it doesn’t matter unless you take it into the world. We work at the word-of-mouth level. The only part of marketing that works over time is word-of-mouth, and there’s a lot you can do with that.
  • E: Producing consistent content is also important, and you have to choose what’s best for you. If you hate Twitter, don’t use it. Create videos if you love it. Your brand should be the most exciting thing you talk about all day.
  • J: We often refer to the river as how you show up in the world. This reinforces an idea that people aren’t buying your book, they’re buying you. When you put yourself out there on a consistent basis as an original thinker, people are buying you. A musician tours, sells downloads, sells merchandise. An author’s tour is building a brand. The downloads are the books. The merchandise is your social media interaction.

22:49: If you had to give one vital piece of advice to an author, where would you have them focus their energy?

  • E: What are you here to do that only you can do? You with your unique set of experiences, your education, your failures. How do you want to affect change? Your mission, once you find it, has a direct line of sight into what you’re working on now.
  • J: Work on your brand first. You need the discipline and the structure to get the book done, but don’t forget to get yourself out there. Think of yourself as a triple threat, writing, speaking, and engaging on social media. It takes discipline, especially if you’re overwhelmed. It’s often been said that writing a book, especially a business book, is like changing a flat on a moving car. Not many authors get to set aside a year to write. We’re cognizant of that, but you still have to work on your brand.

About Emily Soccorsy

Emily believes when emotions are translated into words, powerfully real brands are born. A former journalist, publisher and corporate marketing executive, Emily has strategically told the stories of world-renowned artists and thinkers, innovators, government officials and business leaders, engaging audiences with her incisive, emotional writing and positioning. Her experience in human behavioral research and neurological studies paired with her intuitive ease and on-the-spot artistic renderings make her an extraordinary speaker and facilitator. Co-founder of Root + River, and a world traveler, she holds a master’s degree in non-fiction writing, 20 years experience in language, strategy and communications and the hands of two children.

About Justin Foster

Based in Austin, Texas, Justin Foster believes that nothing matters until you connect to the heart. And that when you connect to the heart, it changes how you live, lead and brand. Along a journey that started on a cattle ranch in eastern Oregon to all 50 states and 6 countries, Justin has worked with leaders of every sector and industry to help them create vibrant, relevant, mission-based brands. Co-founder of the branding firm Root + River, Justin is a relentlessly optimistic advocate for unleashing the power of being human - and a vocal supporter of leaders who want to eliminate all that is average and stale in their organizations.