- White-Label Solutions
We achieved a 200% increase in our client’s website traffic in 16 months. Learn Morex
For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser spoke to Chris Hoke, co-founder and senior content creator at Social Media Cowboys, a full-service digital marketing agency. During the conversation, Chris explains how to utilize storytelling as a marketing tool to build rapport with your target audience and increase sales. Watch now!
Film making is similar to marketing both make you ask the same question: What is your budget? What are the resources? What can we use? What can we do?
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Well, okay. So that’s a whole story. By the way, I love your bio and your intro, and I always love bios and intros in general because they always make you sound so much more amazing than maybe that actually was,you know. But anyway, it’s like very few people live up to the resumé, you know, like, yeah, it’s, it’s of actors is that a generals might live with the resume they would always feel like you’re somewhat blurred it. But anyway, I worked a regular job out of high school. I guess all jobs are regular in a sense. But anyway, I had a regular job. A free company is a free company. My mom and dad work there. And so I went straight to that and I ended up working and getting into corporate there and I ended up being over three departments that are the corporate headquarters of this freight company in a moving freight company meeting known trucks, picking up freight at warehouses, taking other businesses, like logistics, you know. Anyway, I always wanted to be a movie maker since I was a little kid and I think you and I are the same age. Star Wars came out when I was a year old. That seminal watershed historical marker for our generation and all of us. I grew up with toys, drew planets and I played Star Wars constantly with my cousins. I always wanted to be a filmmaker and as a kid, then that evolved into a teaching itself to write screenplays as a pre-teen and then a teenager, I just sort of drew and wrote and then I had a job and then, of course, got married, had kids and all that stuff. But I always wanted to go to Hollywood. But life happened. So anyway, so long story short, a worker that central and I just couldn’t stop feeling this pull. So I started really seriously writing screenplays and tossed around like, well, I’ll just start, put them in film festivals and stuff. And then that one really wasn’t satisfying me. So I started volunteering for these video production crews around town. I even got a side job at a local TV station, and then the big thing that happened was I got a gig. Get on a reality show with Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent lives in this area or at least a summer home or something here. Ted Nugent, you know, he has a reality show film. And so I got on that crew. And so I was working three jobs at one point and what happened was my day jobs, TV station and the freight company said, Hey, you pick which career you want. So I told both of them as well. They said I’ll pick that one. And so I don’t think they fully expected that answer, but I cold turkey quit both those two jobs to work on the reality show. And of course, that was a limited gig. And when it ran out, I had no job. But I was happy. I was so happy working and free. A real job like that was pleasant. It was absolutely pleasant. Yeah. I’m sure you had a day job. You might be like me, I’m unemployable now. I don’t think I could work for a company.. Like, to get hired or to fill out forms of stuff? I don’t know that anymore.
For corporate America, does it really? Cater to that.You know, you’re in Canada, but probably in the same boat there. But it’s sort of like we have a role sticking to it. But then when you’re run out, you get somebody else to step into that role, it does not really sort of the greatest thing but so after I called it quits, I had to make a living. So I was doing a video. The idea was, well, I’ll do a video for weddings and commercials and stuff like that. Meanwhile, I’ll hustle up budgets to do indie little shorts and features. And then what I found along the way was work. So this time was 2009. But I made this transition and as fate would have it, Facebook was really starting to become a thing, it was more of a college I believe before the masses really got it. I didn’t really do the MySpace. I sort of needed it on MySpace. I was really busy raising kids and working and stuff. I thought that was all just dumb, so I totally missed it. So I always felt bad, that I missed the MySpace thing, but I’m not the only one I find to like this. Feel like everybody at the time but now found out it really wasn’t everybody. But anyway, I was using Facebook to promote what I was doing in my career and change the video stuff. So those were the clients I was working with to do the video who said, Hey, will you do my Facebook? And so as time progressed, that was kind of the start of two parallel lives at that point. There is this guy in the indie movie world and I say in the indie like micro-budget B-grade stuff that we would get put online. There’s a whole circuit of that. At least there is a Texas there’s a whole circuit of that and I’ve kind of unplugged from it now. I know a lot of people from when I did it, but whoever’s doing it now, I’m not really plugged into who’s doing it anymore. But anyway, the pay, the bills, and social media really took off. So as I was trying to work on these movies and raised budgets and I had partners over there and we had some stuff on Amazon and we had I had a movie do pretty well in England on Amazon Prime. I would hate to try to see them now. I’m so embarrassed by them in a way, but there’s really although and that’s how I love the book. Well, what paid the bills was basically what paid the bills was social media.
Yeah. it was, it was helping them do their posting and then SEO started becoming more of a thing along the way. I’m not a web designer, so if I say so that that’s not terribly accurate. Forgive me, but SEO promotion probably before say the mid 20 tens were mostly just metadata and a website and SEO spilled into other things, you know, backlinks, so I didn’t know anything about all that stuff. So in the mid-2005 give or take somewhere in there 2015 rather I needed to pursue ,SEO and I met DJ Hunter, who my partner at Cowboys and I subbed out doing SEO and web design to me to him and we started making more money off of each other than we were without each other on your own was actually his idea to start Social Media Cowboys like well, for us, money won’t just go for partners. And so I agreed and then from there, as time went on that, that indie movie world is hard. It’s hard to make a living to feed a family, it’s definitely a single person’s game.
If you live at home in the still early twenties and do you think that you could cover rent with your mom and dad? Like that’s what you should do it. That’s when you should do it. But anyway, so I just became too hard to make money there. So I stopped fighting it and I decided to just focus on the marketing company and then that creative stuff that’s inside of you for the stories you want to tell. So then I just said, Well, I’ll just focus on that and a book. And so I’m taking forever writing this first one, but I’m doing that on purpose. I have always had a tendency to say, Well, I’m so good that if I just do it, it’ll be great. And yeah, that never really worked for me on the movie side because it’s, it’s somewhat my marketing, but it’s never really worked for me at the very side. So I’ve got somebody guiding me to helping me and I’m trying. . So anyway, that is a quick overview of how the heck I got here.
Well, a lot of us are logistical, a lot of the lessons and even some of that goes back to work. It was departments and people at the center of the freight company. And it’s when you’re putting together a movie, and you have so many things to consider. What is your budget, genre, and what are the expectations of the audience? Who can you get, and what was the issue? What can you use in it? And so you’re limited by the resources, right? And so you have to book resources. So when it comes to the show, you had to plan. You have to have a plan. So when you go into marketing for a company, it’s a similar thing. What is your budget, what are the resources where we have our disposable, and what can we use? What can we do? A lot of the carryover is logistical, which is 90% of the battle is, what you could do with something. So that’s probably the biggest thing I learned. I’ve gotten very good at the big picture and if you understand the big picture, So I’m not such a detailed guy. And I’ve said this, I think I talked about this off camera, but one of my faults in the movie world was I never was in love with the camera. A lot of guys are in love with tech. I think that’s true in marketing, but it was even true in other careers. For example, with movies, you know, you get a camera, and this is the kid in Excel, one, two, three, Z, beta, blah, blah. That is all lost on me. And I don’t care. I don’t care that it’s a mirrorless versus not a mirrorless camera, I don’t care if it’s a halogen light versus tungsten, I don’t care what stop you have to be at, none of that. I have zero interest in any of that stuff. So I was always looking at the big picture. What helps there is a lot of business owners are big picture too. I would say probably, and I feel like it’s 60, 40 or 60% of our business. And I talk there, there’s this big picture, and the details are like, Yeah, yeah, whatever; I’ll hire somebody to handle that. I’m able to translate what the heck’s going on in online marketing to these guys and ladies who own these businesses because I just get the big picture and the details, whatever who we got to get the details with them. We’ll get the details later.
We don’t make money. Yeah.
If they’re good, if the phone’s ringing, they don’t care how you got there. I mean, that is a moral and an ethical or legal or whatever. Luggage you got for doing one of the ills or, you’re ordered to do something like that, they don’t care. They don’t care if Twitter is what sealed the deal, if youtube did, does matter. They all know that if you rank high on Google, you’ll make money so that’s what they care about. Just because it’s ingrained in our consciousness that aspect is the only one they care about, As long as you show good google stuff they could care less.
My first reaction to the site was everything that might be too dramatic, but in a way, everything is a story. That’s probably my gift on this planet to be a storyteller. I’m not a detail guy again. I’m not the guy that’s going to translate data for you. But I’m a storyteller. So you go into a pizza place. What is that? What is the story of that pizza place? Is it family-owned or is the franchise? If it was a franchise, was that family-owned? How did it get there? The franchise owner buys it with their last nickel to try and turn things around or is it one of 100 franchises that they have? On and on and on.
Everything in this background behind me has a story. Some are more boring than others. Everything in that background behind you has a story. You just to find out what intrigues the people and what your connect with people. And, this is kind of a question for you. This is a little on my mind, a lot for at least six months. I find I wrestle with this as part of the whole storytelling thing. A lot of brands embrace controversy or social justice or whatever. You know, to serve that liberal, you have right versus left, you have whatever. And some marketers out there want to embrace the controversy. I have been hesitant to. Because I don’t know, some people say you’re one of the people. So get all of the 50% that you can. And I never really I always have a bit bothered by that. I find that they ask a lot of marketing friends, that I get answers all over the map, and it seems like there’s a national discussion going on. I don’t have a good answer for it.
It was just funny that we’re obsessed with all three, just about you being a human on the planet. They were generally obsessed with all three.
Doctor Ivan Meisner.
I would never, ever, ever, ever do anything like that for a customer unless they directly ordered me to say, hey, I paid to do this. Unless that has never happened. Once that happened, I never would. But I market myself for the marketing business and marketing myself for my creative stuff. And I’m a very casual content creator for my stuff. I don’t put full-time energy toward it just because I’ll have full-time access to do it.
Yes, it’s always you, like the worst car in town is usually the mechanic, you know, that kind of the same thing here. And I have strong political opinions, I’m not all one way. Like a lot of people. I’m kind of in the middle of the rearing, but I fear I missed an opportunity because I do think there is merit to getting 100 of the people to get as much as, as much as half as you can get. And I’ve seen brands like Nike pretty much just said they’re going to do that.
Yeah, and I’m just chicken. And I think that to me, that is the big question of our time for marketers and I don’t see it talked about enough. I mean, on a larger scale like yours, they’re talking about a larger scale. It’s not broached. I did an on the novel writing staff, took it to the novel courses and stuff, because I’m still an amateur novelist, and I’ve now got somebody helping me who is a published author. But beyond her, I’ve watched videos and little workshops and things. That’s one of the marketing workshops for the novelist was like, Definitely do be controversial, take a stand. Don’t be afraid to piss off everybody. And I just think I can’t pull the trigger on that. I’m just a chicken man.
I want to try it just based on the dough.
Well, yeah. I mean, here, especially here in Texas, or I should say especially, I feel somewhat judgmental, but I know real, real soft heart for veterans here in Texas and I’m sure in the States in general. America, I learned a hard lesson after Vietnam about how you treat your veterans. And I’m very well aware of that because my father-in-law is a Vietnam veteran. And he was the guy, what people hear stories about their war experience and they were like, you get to talk to them. And they were like, I’m not the diminishment anybody’s role, but I was just an inventory clerk in Cleveland or Vietnam, but I was this guy was like he had like the movie Platoon that was him. He was one of those guys walking around and all on those patrols. That was him. He was in a horrifying war. And that list of watched him and listened to him and his experiences. So there’s a very soft heart to what veterans go through. And I have a business that does aftermarket auto parts and likes the spray-on deadline for pickup trucks and stuff, and they’re the owner. It’s a husband and wife team, and he’s a veteran. So we’ve used that as part of the story. It is not you’re not looking for cheap sympathy. You’re not looking for placating or anything like that. But it’s all part of the story. It’s part of the story. And he’s a veteran, I think. I can’t remember. And I apologize if he was in Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t know which one. I know he served two terms. He was over there for two tours or whichever one it was. He was a mechanic. And they would have to clean not to be trying to be graphic. I’m just trying to tell the story. Yeah, they would have to refurb the vehicles after they saw action. And you’ve got to clean out the bad. And he would see those bullet holes, and they would have to make these repairs and refit evidence and send them back out. He was one of those guys, and their firebases and things like that would come under attack. And so he saw action in a very particular way. He saw the aftermath of bad things. And so he suffers, and he suffers from PTSD. He’s very sympathetic to the plight of a veteran himself and his wife. She is a mother of five, and I’m not sure how many of those were born when he was deployed. But he’s only been retired from the service for a couple of years. They started the business before he died, so you have a veteran spouse who’s dealt with their husband being away with multiple kids. So you also have that story. The typical soldier deployment story and then you have the front line fire burning story. We don’t tell their story via graphic detail. We don’t tell their story like, “Oh, I went through this horrible thing”. We tell the story like, they support this, we’re married, and we support this organization. We’re veterans of that organization, and so that’s how they create positive spin. It’s not capitalizing on your experience.
Yes, I know what you mean.
You don’t ever want to solicit sympathy, you don’t want to be that winter flower or whatever, right? No one wants that. But they even have a special needs child that they do some work with Shriners Hospital, and so even that has been part of the story. You do these veteran’s groups because of their story, and we give to this Shriners Hospital because of our experience. So, I am doing this because of this reason, and this is what I believe in.
This is the thing I find interesting because franchises can be a challenge to the market.
Kind of reasons to be whole show ideas are franchises, and there’d be some negative carpet said there. It could be both or sometimes the other way. But this is a franchise or part of their business franchise, is not completely franchise. Per business of the franchise and we’re still able to find success by telling the story. So in general, using storytelling methodology as your marketing can cross lines, even where you have some more rigid rules or whatever because you know, because franchises and definitely like network marketing use called MLMs that are network marketers, they have rigid guidelines for how you advertise. But in general, if you tell your story, that will be universal. And even like I’m Mary Kay, I’m just assuming that was Mary Kay they’re like, “Hey I had issues with my skin, and I use this product. And now that this Mary Kay product has helped me”, that’s storytelling, its testimonials with that. Storytelling could cross boundaries that I think maybe other things couldn’t.
Well, I think a strange thing about, that is you’re telling your story. You’re in Canada. And that story of a moose, if I tell that story in Texas, is a deer. So when you said the word moose, I started laughing like, oh, that’s the deer. It definitely stands out.
Yeah. So like our bridging the storytelling idea with the whole idea about the controversy, I’m reminded of Michael Jordan and his famous line, which I somewhat doubt that he said or not. Still, it’s attributed to him that “Republicans buy sneakers, too”. And he got a lot of flack for that. Do you remember that story?
Yeah. Most likely. If you watched the last dance that I did about that whole. Watch it, It’s long, but it’s worth watching it. And I’m not a big basketball fan, but it was really good. Michael Jordan was the king of the nineties.
He’s definitely in the top ten, right? So yeah at the time in the nineties, I think you had the O.J. trial, and you had the Rodney King issue and stuff and he and different other social justice-type things with the black community and whatnot. And he never went, or was that vocal with it? And the story, if I recall correctly, forgive me if I get little points wrong, but a guy at his home area back in North Carolina was running for a Congress seat or something, and he didn’t publicly support it. And he was African-American, and he did public support. And the guy ended up losing to whoever won, which I think was a white guy or something like that. Anyway, he got a lot of flak because he didn’t support the African community. And it was the comment attributed to him was Republicans buy sneakers too, and that he was saying, I’m gonna ride the line between the two.
I won’t take a neutral position. And he was derided for it because they felt he was putting, you know, his game ahead of his community. His own pocketbook is ahead of the black community. But on the other hand, it’s not for me to answer that. It’s not for me to answer that at all. Whether he should or should not have done it, that’s his decision as any decision, not mine, but his story, if you’re connecting that controversy with the storytelling. Michael Jordan is a guy that crossed all these cultural barriers. I mean, you’re in Canada, and you know Michael Jordan, I’m sure you go to like Germany or anywhere else. You know, Michael Jordan is there. Was his story to be neutral, is that he’s just open for life, that does sell sneakers to Republicans and Democrats? Do you know what I mean? Is that he maybe or maybe not do it consciously? But is that because part of his story is that he’s just for everybody? I mean, I don’t know. I know there is an answer to this, but yeah, these are the kind of questions I always ask myself with my own branding. I don’t want to be that guy that takes a very pointed point of view. I don’t want to sell Republican sneakers, too. All these things are intertwined, but decisions have to be made. I’m sure you could find that you just go back to the couple that owns the portfolio business. They’re veterans. You might have somebody out there that was dead set against those wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and takes a personal offense that he was there. I mean, I think 99.99% of the people named as he just served his country. He didn’t make policy in front of you. But at some point, are you going to piss off somebody anyway?
I guess that’s the point I’m trying to get to. Where have I been to ask that question at some point? Because people have anyway said the hell with it.
More important than who they are.
It’s greatly effective. What I find funny is how long it has flipped online. When I think of a video for marketing, that’s the thing that I laugh at, because when I first started this and we did indie film and stuff like that, you know, online video needs to be like 30 seconds, even sometimes 30 seconds was too long. 3 minutes was an epically long Internet video. Now it’s completely acceptable to make an hour-long YouTube video and put it out there. Well, I’m not a YouTube marketer per se myself, so I don’t know of a no-deal scenario, but it’s done. Like, well, like.
But he did a four-hour show with Alex Jones. I’m not saying I’m an Alex Jones supporter or not.
He’s a riot. But if you start going down his rabbit hole, it’s problematic.
I don’t know if we’re familiar with him that maybe some of your average listeners just because he’s from Austin, and I remember him being on the radio back in the day long before he was a household name. I heard his broadcasts like in the nineties.
To me, he’s still that guy from Austin to everybody else. Big national boogie man. To me, he’s the same guy from Austin, So I have a different context for him. But anyway, he did a four-hour show with Joe Rogan, and I think I watched every last second of it because it is the craziest thing you’ve ever heard. And it’s more like bat shit. I mean, it’s like it’s listening to a car crash and there was, well he’ll drop to that you agree with but then you listen to the other nonsense, and it’s 4 hours long, and you cannot stop listening to it.
Well, Elon Musk has done nothing to numerous Rogan’s and I think they’re all about at least two and a half to three. I know one of those two or 3 hours is the same thing. I mean, the guy doesn’t think like an average. I’m not sure he’s human.
Yeah, he thinks like somebody else, that’s for sure. I am sorry I got off the rails here with all that, but I found that the content and presentation have changed.
So like, there’s a guy that I think they’re in. Wisconsin red letter media, but a huge fan of these guys. They reviewed movies, and they got famous because they did these critical breakdowns that were funny of the Star Wars prequels. And if you haven’t watched them, they’re worth watching. They’re almost like a mini film course. They’re so good. And gosh, the 3 hours long, I think each one’s an hour long. I can’t remember exactly how long. The videos are multiple hours, but they’re their average video. That’s easily an hour, 45 minutes to an hour. And they’re telling their story, which is they’re film geeks, you know, an hour a week and you listen to their film geek stuff, I remember Siskel and Ebert, and there was a half-hour show that came on every weekend. They did. Those guys have replaced Siskel and Ebert. Do you see that a lot? You see that a lot with YouTube. Going back to your story idea, a lot of things have been replaced by multiple things. We used to have them watch this, and go to Ebert on the weekends for 30 minutes at a specific time. Now there are a million Siskel and Ebert on demand, And you just have to pick the one that you like the most.
And you talk about stories like those guys on regular media about our age, and they watched movies about the age that you and I did. And so we’re the same sort of like. Cultural background. So when they refer, I get the reference. And so there is that their story is that they relate to me. Yeah. And so I listen to them anyway. I feel like I’m talking about rabbit holes made up. Sorry.
You can’t pay me to want to be life.
And what’s funny is that you and my wife could probably along watch a movie and I probably along watch Dumb and Dumber. I love those things.
If I had to say there’s one big takeaway, rule takeaway where we all call it to me is like, you have to be authentic. And I think that’s the word. I think that word that word has been overused to the point that’s been diluted and I think has lost its impact. That’s a real shame because you see the word all Disney thrown around. So there’s a whole like a world of like these marketing seminar type stuff, which some are great, and some are just crap. And authenticity is one of these words that gets thrown around among the seminar types to the point that they’re inauthentic. They’re almost inauthentic and use the word authentic. And I think that if you go back down to the real intention with real authenticity means, you can’t fake it till you make it. I think you have to bring who you are.
Bring who you are until you make it, is because people could smell a fraud. People could smell a fraud a mile away. As much as society gets accused of being stupid I mean, there’s a way we’re dummies out there that we need. I know, I might be one of them on certain days, right? I have my bad days. But, like, we could just tell. It’s almost like the cartoons where the wolf puts on the sheepskin, and all the sheep are mesmerized.
You can tell when somebody is trying to be compassionate, but they’re not. They’re trying to be empathetic, but they’re not. They’re whatever you can just smell a mile away. I mean, you see the politics, you see celebrities. You know, how many times have you heard like a news person like, hey, I was there, and such and such, you find out who they were. They weren’t there, They always get found out.
So I think that goes back to veteran people. That’s their story, they struggle, their story connects with people. And if you don’t believe them, that’s fine. You still connect with them, and you understand who they are. So like with me and my story. I just have to present to people who I am. And if they take that, great. If they don’t, that’s fine. You know what I mean. And I know there are all kinds of other methodologies to do whatever. But to me, it’s like I always start with the truth. For instance.
And don’t take on causes that everybody knows. Let’s be honest. If out of nowhere, I started wearing my hat on “Save the seals”. Well, yeah, I think you should “save the seals”, but I have never talked about that in my life. I live in the middle of Texas, where there’s no water around.
It would be completely disingenuous to say “this is the hill I’m dying on folks”, You would be like, Why? You should save the seals but it’d be like if offered to die at home. Ahead of that, I think there should be something way more athletic and realistic. I understand what I would take on saving lives here. Saving the deer would be a whole lot more authentic.
I’d say the little bit more sense than say, the African elephant. You’d be like, well, you’re Canada, you know?
That’s extreme. Those are extreme cartoonish examples. But I think you get the idea. You have to rediscover authenticity and apply not the similar version, but the real version.
socialmediacowboys.com, the website’s contact forms are always active and on our Facebook page, you can find me on LinkedIn.
One little side note about our Facebook page and the story, as I’m still seeing all this stuff. Our Social Cowboy’s Instagram and Facebook page. You’ll see just nothing but me. Years ago, I started to try and post about conversions and analytics and all the science stuff that you and I deal with, right? No one cares, No likes, No expressions. Dude, this is God’s truth. I got lucky, and I found one of those near, the Leonardo DiCaprio meme where he’s got the T from Django Unchained. He’s laughing and has got a smug face. I found one of those memes early on and shared it there, and I got 2 million plus impressions.
So I decided, well, no one’s going to care about analytics and conversions and stuff. I’m just making this a fun page. So our cowboy’s page for our marketing is just a fun meme page, and it gets way more reach and operations. People comment positively all the time. I really like watching it, that’s kind of our story. That’s authentically who we are.
Yeah, Hey, I think that’s the story. I’m sticking to it.
All right, I appreciate that.
Buy 1, Get 1 Premium Backlink FREE!