People Want to Know Your Story

Podcast with Lynn Davey

People Want to Know Your Story

In this episode, Lynn, Sarah and June discuss Lynn’s transition from a career as a journalist to owning a marketing & communications business. They talk about the importance of sharing your story from a marketing standpoint and the process of unlocking the captivating details.


Sarah Banowetz: Well, welcome back to the Banowetz Marketing Podcast. I am excited today to have Lynn Davey with us. Welcome Lynn.

Lynn Davey: Hey, thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Intro: The Banowetz Podcast.

Sarah Banowetz: Thanks for coming. So Lynn is the chief strategist for Lynn Anderson Davy Marketing and Communications.

Lynn Davey: You got it right.

Sarah Banowetz: Awesome, awesome. And then June’s with us today, too.

June Schmidt: Yeah. Hi guys. It’s great to be here.

Sarah Banowetz: So tell us a little bit about your business to start off with.

Lynn Davey: Okay. Well this is my first business and I’m excited about it. I recently launched and it is all about the storytelling part of marketing and branding. So I’m a big writer, I’m a former journalist. I spent about 15 years in daily journalism. So at my very roots, professional roots, baby professional roots, I’m a writer.

Sarah Banowetz: Awesome.

Lynn Davey: But since I left journalism, I’ve added a lot of things in terms of marketing and communications, had a lot of experiences with that. And so now I’m at a point in my life where I just wanted to do it the way I want to do it, and hence the business. And now I’m getting started with that.

Sarah Banowetz: So what’s your history in your journalist’s career? Where have you worked? What have you done?

Lynn Davey: I have worked in California. I spent most of my career in journalism in Baltimore, the nitty gritty city of Baltimore, which I love. I love Baltimore. For anybody who hasn’t been to Baltimore, you should definitely go.

June Schmidt: Been to Baltimore.

Lynn Davey: Did you enjoy it?

June Schmidt: I did. I’ll tell you about that later. Yes, I did. [crosstalk 00:01:41] My dad fought in World War II and he had a Navy buddy that was from Baltimore and so we went out to visit them several times.

Lynn Davey: It’s a neat place and a lot of people kind of [crosstalk 00:01:54] underestimate it. Yeah. But it’s a super underdog city and I love underdogs of all sorts, because I’m just like a cheerleader. And I guess that’s part of why I love marketing too, because I like boosting things. I like boosting people. I like boosting brands. And when I was a journalist, one of the things I loved doing was, I guess, really digging in and trying to understand what is it that makes this person who they are, what is it that makes them say the things they say. I covered politics, so really trying to understand. I think politicians are very interesting; trying to understand why they do what they do because I think it’s an incredibly difficult job and there’s not a lot of thanks for it. Right? So you’ve got to have something in you that’s really pushing you. Sometimes it’s ego, sometimes it’s truly, I think just this desire to make the world a better place.

Lynn Davey: And that’s what really got me into journalism. And like I said, that feeds in now into my marketing interest and that I really love trying to understand why somebody started their business. Why this brand? Why this target? Why are you in this market? When I have those conversations with clients, I feel like I ask the right questions because I have that journalist mindset that really has that “No, that’s not a good enough answer. Dig deeper.” “No, that’s not enough detail. Dig deeper.” Sometimes clients are kind of like,”Whoa, these are a lot of questions.”

Lynn Davey: But at the end of our time together, when we come together with that strategy and really that story about their brand, it’s usually more complete and more detailed and more in depth than they even thought they could get. I mean, it was there, but they just weren’t accessing it.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah.

Lynn Davey: And that in the end is that real differentiator, right?

June Schmidt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lynn Davey: I mean, that in the end is what’s going to help them stand out.

June Schmidt: Right.

Lynn Davey: And that’s what I really like about what I’m doing now.

June Schmidt: So Lynn I have a question for you as I now listen to you talk a little bit. A, I’m just really intrigued about your segue from politics into what you’re doing. And along with it, I think here’s my question. Do you feel like you have a standard first question that you ask every interviewee that kind of allows them to begin to unpack? I call that being an onion, it’s unpeeling an onion with all those intriguing layers.

Lynn Davey: That’s a really good question. And you know what, actually I don’t have a standard first question, but I have a standard last question.

June Schmidt: Would you be willing to share that with us at some point?

Lynn Davey: Yeah, well it’s actually really simple. I always just ask people at the end of any sort of conversation, “What have I left out?”. Because a lot of times, I think all of us assume that we’re asking the right questions, that we’re getting what we need, the right things. Whether it’s for business or for an article, or what have you, anytime you’re interacting with someone. But I think that’s why I always leave it open at the end for that person who I’m face to face with to say, “You know, you’re right, there’s something that we missed and this is what it is.”

Lynn Davey: And often that’s the nugget, the jackpot, because then we’ve already gone through all these questions and they’ve had a chance to kind of reflect on their story, and what it is that makes them different and they haven’t done that. They haven’t been through that process in the way that I do it. Right? And then when they get to the end of that process, now they’ve unearthed something and they get it. And so that question that I give at the end, they’re ready for it. They’re ready to answer it.

June Schmidt: Sure, sure.

Lynn Davey: Which they wouldn’t have been at the beginning. You can’t just go in and say, “Why am I here? Tell me what you want to do today.” That’s not going to work.

June Schmidt: No, and we really do live in an era where it really is about our clients, our consumers, whatever, telling their story. And that really is the way, at least from my experience, has been how we best allow them to unpack what they really want to share. You just shared with me too, this is really intuitive to me, the things that we didn’t even realize that we knew, or that were important and essential to share about our stories.

Lynn Davey: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:06:29]

Sarah Banowetz: So if someone’s listening to this and they want to work with you on helping share their stories. So compiling that together and you writing it and getting that out there. First they would contact you, but then next steps, how does that work? What is the process that they would need to go through to work with you on getting their story written?

Lynn Davey: Well, a lot of times it starts with me looking at their website. We have a first meeting, they tell me they want to work with me. I say okay, I need to start doing my research on my end. And so a lot of times that’s whether they already have existing brochures, whether they have an existing website whether they have already an existing “About Us” section on their website, which I often find to be bla-ba-di-bla, boring. It’s not your real story, right? And that’s only because, even though we feel like storytelling is something that’s been happening for a while now. I’m still not sure if people fully understand what it is, and how important it is, and how it can really break things loose in terms of a website, or even email marketing. Once I establish the story with a client, that story, I break it apart and I allow them then to use elements of their story everywhere.

Lynn Davey: It’s not just about the website, it’s not just about the “About Us”. It’s not just about, “this is what we put in our PowerPoint when we go and make a client pitch.” It transforms the whole outward facing face of the brand. And it’s words that I choose, but I choose with the client, and the client has to be very comfortable using those words themselves. Another thing is that sometimes I role play with a client and I’ll say “This is your tagline, this is what I think your tagline is.” And they’re, frankly, sometimes uncomfortable initially because they’ve never used those words to describe their business or what they do, but it’s exactly what they do. It’s just that they never had the right vocabulary to kind of really say, “Boom, this is what I do.”

Lynn Davey: So I tell them, okay, “This is what I think your tagline is. But use it, go out, play with it. Do you get the reaction you want to get or are you feeling like it’s not coming off your tongue right?”. And if they come back to me and they say, “Lynn, it sounded great when we met, but it’s not working.” We’ll say, “Okay, let’s tinker. Let’s go back. This is the start, but hey, we might need to tweak it a little bit”. That’s okay. The client has to be able to fully embrace it and be like, “This is my motto. This is my tagline, this is who I am, this is who we are.” Also if it’s a bigger company, it also has to be something that everybody feels good about.

Lynn Davey: And that means that I’ll tell people, I’ll say, “This isn’t just about leadership or the owner. This is about everybody.” And these words, this way of describing what we do has to be duplicated, replicated, repeated.

Sarah Banowetz: It has to be like baked into the company culture.

Lynn Davey: Yes. Yeah, yeah. And that can take time cause sometimes because people just have not been marketing themselves at a storytelling level correctly.

Sarah Banowetz: And storytelling right now is really important. And I don’t know if existing businesses who have been in business for a long time realize how important that is right now in our day and age with the culture that we have and the millennial culture that’s coming up. They want to hear the story. They want to know how your story impacts their story.

Lynn Davey: Well, how they intersect. And also people are tired of doing business with a sign.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah.

Lynn Davey: I mean they don’t want to do business with a sign.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah.

Lynn Davey: They want to do business with a person and they want to do business not only with a person, but with someone they feel like they have something in common with. So we get along, I can tell there’s a connection on a personal level.

Sarah Banowetz: Yes.

Lynn Davey: That’s what people want with their brands. That’s what they want day to day. Every day. They want to feel like, “Yeah, I grocery shop at this store because they recycle all their plastic bags. That’s what I’m about and I want to do business with people who do that too.” And that’s what they’re about.

Sarah Banowetz: They want to do business with, even if it’s a boring, let’s talk about an auto mechanic or something like that. That a story of an auto mechanic who has five employees now came from a rough and tumble situation or was an immigrant or something like that and bootstrapped it. And went on and now has five employees and is doing $2 million worth of work a year or something like that.

Sarah Banowetz: You know what I mean?

Lynn Davey: Your story doesn’t have to be necessarily where you bare your soul either. I want to make that clear too because sure, if you’ve got that kind of hard knock story and that fits for your brand, awesome. Yes, people will relate to that. But I think it can also just be, “My brand story is that,” say your mechanic example, “I guarantee that for every oil change I do, it will be done in 20 minutes or less. Boom. That’s my tagline.”

June Schmidt: That’s important. [crosstalk 00:12:04].

Lynn Davey: So it doesn’t have to be where you’re suddenly like, “I’m a former alcoholic and now I’m remaking my life.” That could be hugely embarrassing, right? I don’t want people to think that they have to like…

June Schmidt: Bare their soul? [crosstalk 00:12:16].

Lynn Davey: Be like so open about themselves personally. But I think that [crosstalk 00:12:22] There has to be something there of why people are going to come and do business with you. Whether it’s like, “All of my mechanics are veterans. Boom.”

Lynn Davey: Some people will totally relate to that.

June Schmidt: Yes, they will. And back to your comment that you made Sarah, about people understanding the impact of telling a story. My direct experience has been my husband owned and operated a Chick-fil-A restaurant. And that is really something that they adhere to is telling the story. And initially, it was telling the story of Truett Cathy. And now one of the things as they change, and this will kind of lead into my question for you, is what’s symbolically part of their story. And one of the things that they’ve been using this year, I don’t know how many of their commercials you’ve seen for example, but they’ve used a lot of the red couch and bring their guests to sit down on the red couch. And using that as the visual part of the story. But this family and why they are raving fans of Chick-fil-A.

Sarah Banowetz: So it’s the family’s story in relation to Chick-fil-A, right?

June Schmidt: Yeah but you have the red couch behind you that you don’t necessarily see as an integral part, but it definitely is. So here’s my question to you. As I listened to you talk and you’ve helped your different clients develop their stories or help them realize what their stories are, have they, in turn, come back to you and said, “Gee, I think my story has changed?”

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah. I mean, [crosstalk 00:14:06].

Lynn Davey: That’s a really good question.

Sarah Banowetz: I haven’t been in business long enough to have that happen yet, but I would love for that to happen.

June Schmidt: That would be a fun thing to do wouldn’t it?

Sarah Banowetz: Well, I frankly think that’s totally possible. And like you just said, Chick-fil-A’s story has changed, right?

June Schmidt: Yes.

Sarah Banowetz: And they’ve run with it, right? As you should. I always tell people, your marketing is changing all the time. Just the technologies, marketing technologies, marketing tools, but the way we market and what we are marketing about ourselves, yes. It should change. If you’re doing the same thing, if you’re telling the same story over and over again, people are eventually going to be like, “Oh, I think I’ve heard that story. I’m tired.”

June Schmidt: Right.

Sarah Banowetz: “It’s not resonating with me anymore. I’m kind of bored with it. So, yes, I do think people have to revisit it. But you can also say that some of the most successful brands in our history have always had the same tagline.

June Schmidt: True.

Sarah Banowetz: I mean Nike -“Just Do It”. That will never get old, right? That’s a great tagline and they can live with that. But their story and the way they tell it changes all the time.

June Schmidt: Has changed. Yes.

Sarah Banowetz: And that’s very interesting I think. And that’s something that everyone, every kind of business, not just Nike but all of us can do.

June Schmidt: That’s a great example.

Sarah Banowetz: Speaking of marketing tools and technology and everything like that, do you have any questions regarding?

Lynn Davey: Yes, yes, yes. Because I am always looking for, kind of, the digital tool side of things of marketing and that’s an area that I definitely want to explore more. So I’m wondering for you, what do you see as kind of like the big game changer in terms of digital technology coming in the next, I don’t want to say 10 years cause I feel like that’s too far out. I want to say like two years. Things change so fast, right?

Sarah Banowetz: It does. And so, so number one, marketing in Eastern Iowa is very much behind the times of the rest of the country. So I’m not an innovator. I’m a watcher. And so I watch and I listen. And so if you’re watching what’s happening on the East Coast and the West Coast in terms of people who are on the East and West Coast, like Casey Neistat and Gary Vaynerchuk. They’re on the East and West Coast. And because Casey Neistat just moved to Los Angeles, so that’s a bit, yeah. Okay, fine. [crosstalk 00:16:45]

Sarah Banowetz: Ian’s behind the camera nodding. That’s a pretty big deal. He moved from New York to Los Angeles. But watching the people who are actually doing the marketing and doing the marketing very well. To answer your question more directly, podcasting is the big thing and it’s why we are doing a podcast.

Sarah Banowetz: So answer your question, podcasting.

June Schmidt: Okay.

Sarah Banowetz: And the reason for that is because really it looks like the direction of audio is where things are going. And to give you an example of what that means; there was MySpace before there was Facebook and they’re similar platforms but Facebook took networking and personal relationships and they did it better. They made it so that it’s more face to face.

Lynn Davey: Right.

Sarah Banowetz: And they use the technology better than MySpace was. And so where we’re at right now with podcasting and with audio in terms of audio searching, with Alexa and Siri, is we are still in the MySpace environment on audio. And there is not any technology yet or any program yet that is the Facebook of podcasting. Because once Facebook came out and once Facebook changed the way we use technology, I mean first there was Apple with the tech part, the actual physical product, but then Facebook with the software, as soon as Facebook was there it changed the industry.

Sarah Banowetz: It changed the way, that’s why businesses who are not using social media are starting to feel a pinch and a pain point is because Facebook changed things. As a result now we have Instagram and Snapchat and TikTok and it’s because of Facebook setting the standard and changing things. That has not happened yet with podcasts. With audio, it hasn’t happened [crosstalk 00:18:40] with audio yet.

Lynn Davey: But you’re envisioning audio platform kind of like the same…

Sarah Banowetz: [crosstalk 00:18:50] I am not going to take credit for this. I am not personally envisioning it. I’m paying attention to what people are talking about and the way things are going. Which is why just knowing that Casey Neistat moved to LA and the reasons for that. Just the reasons. I just pay attention to what’s going on and what I tell everybody all the time is if you don’t believe the things I’m saying, go listen to Gary Vaynerchuk.

Sarah Banowetz: It’s why I went to my Ohio conference this past week, I wanted to go hear Gary Vaynerchuck’s creative teams speak. Because I’ve my own creative team and I wanted to hear and I come from the creative world. I was a professional photographer before I got into marketing. So, I listen. So, no as it me like coming up with this? The word on the street is that audio is the next best thing, not the next best thing, it’s where we’re headed. Because essentially our smart phone devices are tiny computers and computers make life easier, right? And so when we get to the point, right now Siri, Alexa and saying into your phone, “restaurants near me”, it’s still bulky. MySpace was still bulky before Facebook came along and Facebook de-bulked it. Audio, podcasting, Google searches with voice, Alexa and Siri, they’re still bulky.

Sarah Banowetz: They’re not intuitive to us yet. And as soon as someone creates the software technology and the hardware technology to make it so that it’s now intuitive, audio will probably completely take off. And the people who are in that space first will be there ahead of time. And that’s why we podcast is because it helps right now,currently, with search engine optimization because we get these transcribed, it helps with social media quality, social media content, but it’s also doing it in the space that’s up and coming space so that by the time audio takes off, then we’re there, we’re ready.

Lynn Davey: Right.

Sarah Banowetz: We already have the people who are practicing, they’re getting… I’m looking at the cameras right here, but Annalise and Ian are in this room with us that people don’t see and they’re getting ready so that when that happens that we’re here and we’re ready at that time. Because TikTok, right now, I guess is taking off.

Sarah Banowetz: Amy Landino, who’s a YouTuber, I heard her speak this week and she spoke on a handshake analogy. Which is that your digital presence is like a handshake and so you can have a floppy handshake or [crosstalk 00:21:33] and choose the claw hand handshake and this is what she talked about. And then it was a question and answer time and someone said, “Well what if you get a really solid handshake? And then when I met my future father-in-law the first time, I was getting ready to give him a really good handshake. I was stressing about it for days ahead of time and everything. And then when he went to shake my hand he did a fist bump instead.” And he was like, “So what’s the fist bump?” This was the question, “What is the fist bump of our day and age with technology?”, and Amy Landino just laughed and she goes, “That’s an excellent question.”, she goes, “The fist bump right now is TikTok.”

Lynn Davey: Okay, okay.

Sarah Banowetz: Because you go where people are at. And TikTok, it’s the hot thing right now. If you’re one of the first people on TikTok, if you were one of the first people on Instagram, first people on Facebook before it gets crowded. So TikTok is the [crosstalk 00:22:34] fist bump.

Sarah Banowetz: I would suggest pay attention to audio and just watch and listen to people. Because that what it is a lot about is just relationships. It’s building relationships both online and offline and yeah.

June Schmidt: Thank you for answering that question.

Sarah Banowetz: No problem.

June Schmidt: As life long learner, right? One of the things that I found through life, and I’m the oldest person in the room, I’m not old, but I’m the oldest person in the room, is that it’s so critical to ask questions all the time and we’re going to run into two types of people. You go to ask that question and they give you the eye roll because it’s that inference of “why don’t you know that?” And you have to dismiss that. And then there’s that person where you can ask that question and they are more than happy to share with you that information and you walk out being more informed than when you walked in the door. Those are the people we want to adhere to, don’t we?

Lynn Davey: I do.

Sarah Banowetz: And we’re really behind the times here in Eastern Iowa and I think it really is going to take a lot of people working together to… It’d be really awesome if we could put a Cedar Rapids on the map of growing businesses and doing marketing very, very well. And it’s going to take a shift. Because LA is the place that you go for, right now, it used to be the LA was the place to go for movie production and everything, but now it’s the place where people are going to do YouTube.

Lynn Davey: Okay.

Sarah Banowetz: Because you can collaborate with everybody else and you grow your channel because you’re collaborating. And what that means is if you had a YouTube channel and I had a YouTube channel and June had a YouTube channel, you need to be doing things like this because then your audience learns about me and my audience is shared and our channels grow. Our audience grows because of that.

Sarah Banowetz: And now I can just hear the business owners listening to that as, “Well why does that matter to me? I sell screwdrivers or something. Why does that matter to me?” And because it does, because that’s where your target audiences is at. And speaking of screwdrivers, it’s funny that I mentioned that cause Lowe’s does their YouTube channel very well. That was one of the examples that Amy Landino used this this week was that Lowe’s and the various types of content that they put out there. They could just be your local hardware store and not be out where their target audience is, but their target audience is on online and consuming digital media and so they’re doing it well.

Lynn Davey: Think about all the DIY videos that are on YouTube. If you’re watching those videos, you got to have a screwdriver. You might need some lumber.

Sarah Banowetz: Yep, exactly. It’s where people are at and if you want to go into the room and communicate with them, then go into the room and communicate with them. But if you don’t, then…. Companies grew. What I have heard, again, I am the, I consume, I’m a constant learner, I consume this information and then I throw out what is not relevant and I move forward with what is. And what I have heard is that companies that got really big used the new marketing techniques at the time and leverage those. It was cheap media. They were able to leverage it at the time and they also had products that people needed. You fulfill a need, right. You’re going to do well go where people are at and communicate with them.

Sarah Banowetz: Well, thanks for being on the podcast today, Lynn.

Lynn Davey: Thank you, Sarah and June. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Banowetz: Spend time with you again. It’s always great to spend time with you.

Lynn Davey: I know, because I love learning from you and. I think we’re both… We like learning.

Sarah Banowetz: We never even got into the fact that you have a connection with France. Your family was just there, right?

Lynn Davey: My kids are there now and I’m going soon.

Sarah Banowetz: Okay. Wow.

Lynn Davey: Yes, because I have family over there. [crosstalk 00:00:27:04].

Sarah Banowetz: Do you know French? A little? [crosstalk 00:27:09] You have a good accent even. That’s pretty, yes. Okay.

Lynn Davey: Merci, merci beaucoup.

Sarah Banowetz: [inaudible 00:27:17] have a little French conversation here. [crosstalk 00:27:20] That’s very nice. Okay, so people can find you at

Lynn Davey: Yep.

Sarah Banowetz: They can email you at land at [email protected] and you’re on LinkedIn?

Lynn Davey: I’m on LinkedIn.

Sarah Banowetz: And Facebook?

Lynn Davey: Facebook, yeah.

Sarah Banowetz: Okay, perfect.

Lynn Davey: And Instagram [crosstalk 00:27:36].

Sarah Banowetz: Perfect, awesome.

Lynn Davey: Not TikTok yet, [crosstalk 00:27:38] I’ll get on there.

Sarah Banowetz: I’m not on TikTok yet either so.

June Schmidt: In less than two years, right?

Lynn Davey: Exactly.

Sarah Banowetz: Well, thanks for being on the podcast.

Lynn Davey: Thank you.


Sarah Banowetz: Thanks everyone for watching and make sure you tune in like, subscribe and email us if you have any questions. Thank you very much and have a great day. Bye.