More Than a Feeling: Branding Tips from Former NAMM Marketing Guru. Meet Scott Robertson.

More Than a Feeling: Branding Tips from Former NAMM Marketing Guru. Meet Scott Robertson.

scott robinson pictureMy title at Ladenburg Thalmann, a financial services company I worked for in 2000 was Chief Internet & Marketing Officer. Fancy title for a difficult job. Back in 2000, things were a little different. The internet was slower with less technology choices. Yet the need for simple, effective marketing messages was just as important as it is today.

One advantage MI retailers have over the financial industry is you can actually show a physical product. After all, music instruments are beautiful and very cool!  There is nothing aesthetically beautiful about numbers, stocks, graphs, performance, and asset allocation – although we all want and need money in this world.

That’s where Scott Robertson comes in. An 11-year veteran at NAMM as director of marketing & communications and the marketing guru who spearheaded NAMM’s popular “believe in music…belong to NAMM” re-branding effort.

I recently caught up with Scott. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.

JB- Hi Scott. Thanks for sharing. Please tell me a little about yourself.

SR- I was the director of marketing & communications at NAMM for 11 years and loved every minute of it. One thing I’m known for is helping to change the NAMM’s brand from the International Music Products Association, or IMPA, to something a bit more emotional —  “believe in music…belong to NAMM.” It was a long process, but we ultimately were able to unite the community of members under a single flag of their shared belief in the power of music making to make a better world and how important it was to belong to that amazing community. I’m proud of the work I did at NAMM. I’ve been a musician since birth and those experiences really helped shape my life. Today, I’m a weekend warrior bass player- I play in a cover band called “Five South” in south Orange County, California. When I lived in LA working for big PR and ad agencies, I snuck into the NAMM show for years using someone else’s badge before I joined the organization. (don’t tell anyone) J

JB- Many music retailers are not using cutting edge marketing strategies for branding. For me, it’s hard to tell one website from another. What’s going on?

SR- I was privileged to get to know many retailers while working at NAMM and learn what music retailers do. They often leave some money on the table when it comes to their branding because they just talk about what they are selling, what’s on sale, surface level stuff. They don’t often take the opportunity to talk about the real stuff. Branding is always about getting to the emotion behind the purchase behavior. Branding is something that makes you feel about something that you ordinarily might not feel anything about. Retailers should start with what emotion they are trying to invoke in their customers. What do they really want to be about in this world? What do they stand for? What are their core values? Once you have that stuff mapped out, creating any type of marketing material is going to be more successful. I just don’t think that most music retailers do a deep enough dive on it.  They might be too close to it and stuck on “what do I need to sell?” instead of “what do they need to feel and how do we help them feel it?”

JB- Do you have a process that you take your clients through?

SR- I do. I developed my own 7-step process through years of trial and error. The messaging is the foundation of an effective branding campaign. In order to create the material and communicate to the press most effectively, I’m able to take any company through our process and get to a deeper message. As a result the marketing is much easier. Without those pieces, you can get stuck. Kind of like being able to paint with only one color. Your marketing will always be limited unless you keep pushing yourself and go deeper and deeper into this process to discover the emotion you are trying to evoke.

JB- Sounds very Zen like. Tell me more.

SR- The message map presents the positioning statement of the company. This is who we really are. Why we exist. Then we hit the top three (only three please) key benefits, the core emotion that we want to “own” in the consumers’ mind, sometimes tag line, sometimes not. You see, true branding takes place somewhere we can’t really go so we need the consumer to do most of the work. We just set it up correctly so they’ll do it.

JB- Competing on the Internet is a concern for many music retailers. Is there a way to break the commodity problem?

SR- Solving the branding problem will go a long way to solve having to be the cheapest one on the web. I encourage my clients to look at all your materials and make sure that their corporate identity really reflects the brand critical for driving people into store or store web site. Some e-commerce companies can put something together that may be technically cool, but don’t say anything about their unique message. Remember…people don’t just buy gear, they buy the feeling they want to have while using the gear.  Always remember that you’re ultimately selling that feeling. Sounds squishy, but that’s how the human mind actually works. We sell ourselves on feelings that we want and need to have. And the products are really just a means to an end to get to those feelings.  That is true branding.

JB- Being able to rank higher on search engines is a frequent part of the conversation. What’s your SEO philosophy?

SR-The best ways to rank well in SEO is to put out good content that people want, and always putting out good web content, with web tagging. I can help manage SEO without trickery; search engines want to serve people that are first paying them, and second is to make sure that search engines remain relevant. If you are in the business of serving up good content, then SEO is going to be strong.

JB -Who is your audience?

SR- The intersection of music and technology. I work with musical instrument and gear suppliers, tech companies, some lucky music retailers and b2b professional services in healthcare, legal, and financial services industries.

As stated on Scott’s website,;

“RobertsonComm is a 21st century Strategic Branding, Public Relations and Marketing firm based in Orange County, California that is focused on providing high-quality service and solid return on your PR and marketing/communications investment. We will do everything we can to meet your expectations and help your brand win in this highly competitive marketplace.”

Working with the right branding/PR professional like Scott to help you jump start your values messaging, might just prove to be a sound investment.

Please note: Scott Robertson is not affiliated with BH Wealth Management or First Allied Securities.

Written by Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman president of BH Wealth Management and Financial Life Planner, created Sound Financial Decisions™ powered by MoneyCapsules®, to help guide business owners through the complexities of succession planning.

Jaimie is a featured writer for Music Inc. and Canadian Music Trades magazine. He has spoken at NAMM U Idea Center, and at Yamaha’s Succession Advantage.

As a financial literacy educator he has taught at New York University and has lectured at the 92nd Street Y,
Marymount Manhattan College, and CUNY.

He is a licensed Financial Advisor, and Certified Wealth Strategist® who helps his clients implement investment and insurance solutions which are aligned to their personal values.

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