No matter how talented or skilled someone is, the power of teamwork always wins over individual efforts.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Felix Cao.
Felix Cao is the founder of the neuromarketing company Happy Buying Brain and a business growth strategist with over 15 years of sales and marketing experience.
Thank you for doing this! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest marketing mistake I’ve made involved making a typo in the headline of an ad. When we had noticed this mistake, the ad had already been published for people to see, so you can imagine how nervous and embarrassing it felt to come to this realization. Ironically, the typo in the headline became the talk of the ad and created tons of buzz because of the humor that the typo injected into the ad.
In this case, this marketing mistake resulted in a positive outcome. Who would have known that a typo in the headline would lead to what is called a “hippocampal headline” in marketing. Sometimes things work out better than expected even if it wasn’t initially planned to happen that way.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
In addition to approaching all relationships with the mindset of how we can add value and improve the lives of others, there were several shifts in mindset that acted as pivotal moments in gaining more clarity towards the path to success.
The first shift was understanding that everyone needs help on their path to success and that nobody can do it on their own. Real success comes when we learn the power of collaboration and teamwork, so it’s important to surround ourselves with people who we trust, can get along with, and whose talents complement our own skill sets, especially in areas where we are mediocre in but are things that the surrounding people are experts at.
The other shift was a combination of realizing the power of learning from mentors and the immense value of belonging to a community of supportive and knowledgeable people who share similar goals as yourself but have different backgrounds, which makes every person’s perspective unique and special. It’s amazing to see all the different ways to view a specific situation through the many conversations that happen between members within a community.
The most important lesson is to always be learning and open to meeting new people and listening to people’s perspectives as unbiased as possible because there is always something new to learn that may be helpful in the present or in the future.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There are so many people that have impacted my journey in life and in business, ranging from incredibly smart mentors to extremely talented colleagues, and of course, everyone else that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. However, my parents are my biggest source of inspiration and support. I truly believe that the foundations of success and happiness start at home and at an early age.
There are scientific studies that show that most of our subconscious behaviors are learned within the first few years of our lives. The world is a really complex place, so just think about the many rules and standards a child needs to learn just to operate as an efficient member within their own family to begin with.
During these early years, we are primarily observing and recording the actions and behaviors of others around us, and for most people, we are learning these behavior patterns from our parents, which we will later exhibit in our adult life whether they are present or away from us. So, what we observe during early childhood becomes recorded in our subconscious minds to form the foundation of a blueprint in terms of how to behave in society.
This is not to say that people cannot change, (if their childhood is less than ideal or missing essential parental guidance early in their lives), since other factors such as experience and culture also play major roles in molding an individual’s behavior. However, in order to have a long-lasting change in behavior, it is important to understand the potential sources of certain behavioral traits.
My parents were forced to flee for their lives when the Vietnam war started. They came over as immigrants in their teens to a foreign country with only the clothes on their backs in the middle of winter, and without any connections here in Canada. They had no comprehension of English, and they were pregnant with their first child. Despite all these challenges, they were still able to provide a loving home as well as all the necessities their growing children needed.
When I compare the challenges that my parents had to go through and conquer starting at such an early age, it’s truly inspirational to see that they were still able to accomplish so many great things, despite living in a foreign country. I am definitely grateful for their work ethic, wisdom, and sheer will to make things happen in spite of challenging times. Attributes like these are contagious and worth emulating.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
The advice that I would give to other marketers to thrive is the same piece of advice that I was given from a mentor of mine. The foundation of marketing and sales is built on trustworthy relationships and crystal-clear communication with the goal of helping your customers become the best version of themselves through the purchasing of the products and services your brand provides.
So, in order to do this, it’s absolutely crucial that brands have a crystal-clear understanding of their ideal customer avatar. Only when a brand has its ideal customer avatar crystallized will the brand be able to create core brand messaging and marketing campaigns that will attract, resonate and influence their customers to buy from them, otherwise there will be confusion in the marketing messages that a brand expresses.
The worst thing that a brand can do to devastate their marketing efforts is to create campaigns that do not align with the expectations of their customers in clearly showing them how their pains, fears and anxieties are eliminated when they buy the brand’s product or service. And for this to occur, a brand must have a crystal-clear framework of the true motivators that drives an individual to purchase your product or service, because they truly believe that your brand is the one that can solve their problems and catapult them forward to become a better version of themselves.
It’s also important to note that your ideal customer audience is fluid, constantly changing due to cultural influences. So, keeping an agile and flexible mindset is vital to ensuring that a brand’s ideal customer avatar is up-to-date and accurately reflects what they truly want in the present time.
With respect on how to avoid burnouts — TAKE BREAKS and make sure to schedule time to have fun and spend it with the people you care about. It’s so easy to get lost in time when working on the business that we often forget that there’s more to life than just being an entrepreneur.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?
The future of marketing is the intersection of neuroscience and technology. Consumer’s expectations of brands are increasing every day and neuromarketing is the key for companies to better understand their consumers buying behaviors on a scientific level so that they can create products and services and market them in ways that solve their customer’s problems and allows them to transform into the best version of themselves that can only be achieved when the consumer interacts with their favorite brands.
The technology side comes in when we look at how rapidly it’s progressing and how intertwined it is in our everyday activities. I believe we are at the cusp of another technological revolution where the age of artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality are becoming dominant in all aspects of everyday living.
The data and insights that will come from these technological advances coupled with a deep scientific understanding of the decision-making process that happens inside the brains of consumers in their buying behaviors will enable companies to gain a much clearer understanding of their ideal customer avatar and as a result, empower brands to deliver the best customer experience with products and services designed to make the primal brain of their customers happy.
What 5 things do you wish someone told you before you started?
1 — Find mentors.
The fastest way to learn something is to learn from people who have already taken the road that you want to travel. Having an insightful conversation with mentors is like traveling down an accelerated water stream with so much momentum that it bursts the floodgates of knowledge and wisdom in a fraction of a second, where it would normally take years to make this same progress.
2 — Expand your network and join communities.
Relationships are the foundation of business and life in general. When we expand our networks and contribute value to helping members of our community reach their goals, the reciprocating value that comes back is many times greater than we ever imagined.
3 — Surround yourself with people who are supportive, positive, and who not only have talents that complement your own skill sets, but are overall genuine people that you can get along with.
Entrepreneurship is a difficult journey. So, it’s important to surround ourselves with people who are supportive and encouraging of our journey in life. This doesn’t mean surrounding ourselves with people who will always agree with us, but it certainly means having a strong support system of people where you can have an honest, heart-to-heart talk when it’s needed.
4 — Teamwork can move mountains.
No matter how talented or skilled someone is, the power of teamwork always wins over individual efforts. It’s important to unleash the power of your team and provide the support needed for all members to thrive. Together, the team can go on to accomplish goals much more effectively than a single person.
5- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Often as entrepreneurs, we are expected to have the answers to everything. However, in reality, this is impossible to uphold. So, realizing that help is available can make all the difference in creating more meaningful relationships as coming to understand that we are not perfect and that there will be many failures along the way, but with support from those around us, we can build our resiliency, wisdom, and make it through the tough times together, rather than trying to do it alone.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
The foundation of marketing, sales, and business is built on strong reciprocating relationships, consistency, and daily progress of honing your skills and forging meaningful relationships where adding value to improving the lives of the people we touch is the top priority.
A great book for relationship building is Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. This is a must-read for anyone that communicates with another human being, but the lessons that Dale passes on in his book are especially valuable to people in the marketing and business world.
“The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson is another fantastic book that highlights that success is the culmination of making small daily improvements on a consistent basis where the compounding effects of these consistent actions result in massive growth and progress over time.
Podcasts on marketing are always gems to learn new things. In a 30 mins podcast episode, someone can pick up ideas or new perspectives on who to view marketing in ways that would not be readily crystallized even by reading a book. Listening to podcasts is like being in the same room with the host and their guests while given the opportunity to absorb all the geniuses of their conversation from the comfort of your seat.
Thank you for sharing your story and so many valuable insights with us today!