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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Stories that F*cking Matter

Hear from the CEO of Grapevine PR and co-author of Stories That F*cking Matter, Garrett McClure. In our conversation, Garrett shares the 3 pillars of the STFM model, the 2 most important steps before investing in marketing, and the secret behind the bold title of their book.

Notes from the Show

Garrett McClure is the CEO of Grapevine PR and co-author of Stories That F*cking Matter, a book with a shocking title but for a strategic reason. In our conversation, he shares how they chose this title, why, and what that means with a marketing lens.

Garrett shares the STFM model for building your brand before getting to marketing with these 3 Pillars:

Roots - The big WHO questions. Who are you? Who is your ideal client?

Stake - The WHY: why does this matter to you? Why are you invested?

Impact - The WHAT: What’s your product? What’s Your service? What do you have to offer?

Pay attention to the Roots because the steps involved in this key pillar are crucial to complete BEFORE investing in marketing. Garrett also shares some not often discussed elements in finding your ideal client, like the qualities, traits, and values of who you want to work with. Once you’ve nailed down your client, reach out to them and get feedback. A successful business is built around their client's needs and wants.

While we talk a lot about marketing from a business perspective, Garrett also gives some great advice through his PR lens that can apply to many industries. You may want to see your business on a talk show or cover of a magazine, but be clear on why. When making plans in marketing, ask yourself; Is your goal and desired outcome aligned?

Be sure to check out Stories That F*cking Matter for more tactical steps on getting media attention that cuts through the noise and clutter of today’s landscape.

What's Inside:

  • Why the title: Stories That F*cking Matter?

  • The 3 Pillars of the STFM model.

  • What important steps should you take BEFORE investing in marketing?

  • How to find your ideal client? And what does your ideal client want?

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:36

Welcome back, everybody. Today, my guest is Garrett McClure, who's the CEO at Grapevine PR, and you're an author and a publicist, and your book that you just put out is called stories that fucking matter. And there is so much going on in that title that we just have a lot to talk about. So welcome, Garrett. It's really nice to have you here today.

Garrett McClure 1:00

Thank you, Susan. It's a pleasure to be here. And I am excited to dig into this very juicy title and topic.

Susan Tatum 1:06

So why don't we start by telling us where that title of the book came from?

Garrett McClure 1:11

Great. That's a great question. So the book is about creating stories that cut to the clutter and get noticed, help you grow your business, when clients grow your business and help you reach your goals. And we really thought long and hard about this title with you having a cuss word in it and being bold about that, because there's some there's some limitations in search engines and media around some of the words we chose. We want to be bold. And so when we say stories bucking mattered, the genesis of that was having a conversation about why do some of our clients break through and get lots of placements and some don't. And we were having a casual conversation and like what because some of their stories really bugging matter. And some are important. Some could be interesting, some could be clever, but it's all about having a story. And so we wanted to be bold, and we work with we want to work with people who align with this kind of thinking, tastemakers, trend Trend, trendsetters, bold Breakers, and who are ready to you know, reveal their personality to the world?

Susan Tatum 2:17

Well, I think it does a great job of appealing to those types of folks, I think. But the other thing that it does is that it would turn off people, that would not be a good fit for you. And that's just as important.

Garrett McClure 2:31

Yeah, I think for some of your listeners, I believe a lot of them are you know, business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, etc. And you always want to be qualifying your potential potential clients. So it's work, I think we're going to talk a little bit about this in a moment of the power of knowing who you are, what are you stand for? And who are your clients? What do they look like? What are their likes and dislikes. So it becomes really important when you're even coming up with a title of a book. Because you're right Susan, the people that pick up this book are going to be aligned with our values and our personality, and we're going to probably work very well together.

Susan Tatum 3:08

Yeah. because there'll be willing to take the sorts of chances that get them coverage, puzzle recover. It's Yeah,

Garrett McClure 3:14

correct. Correct. Exactly. Exactly.

Susan Tatum 3:17

Well, okay. So let's go into the knowing who you are, and knowing who your clients are being I think you said the very first step.

Garrett McClure 3:27

Yeah, we were we were talking a little bit about, like, when do you need a publicist? As we represent a lot of great businesses and clients. And people are always asking that question, when is the right time to invest in publicist or media? And I think my answer to that is the same for anything you're doing in business. The first step you need to take as entrepreneur or business owner is to know who you are, what is your value? Who are you as a brand? What's your story? Right? What are you bringing to the world in the market? And then knowing who your clients are? So who are your clients? Who's your ideal client? What's your, what's your, what niche Are you serving? And then we could talk a little bit more about some of the steps of creating personas and wonder and really diving deep into the different aspects of the people who are gonna, you're gonna work well with?

Susan Tatum 4:17

Well, let's, let's talk a little bit more about who you are and what you mean. Because I find sometimes it's that's a conversation that, that I don't know if people don't normally think about it that way. Or they're uncomfortable thinking about it. But you have people that and consultants are very much like this. Very, very comfortable talking about their expert areas of expertise. They're the subjects that they know, there's solutions or systems or frameworks, all of that kind of stuff. And some of the smartest people, the most brilliant scientists and engineers and things that I've worked with can do that. And then if you ask them, just anything off of the, you know, what do you like to do on the weekends or what if they just fall apart.

Garrett McClure 5:00

Yeah, if for any CEO or high performing individual listening to this, you're not alone. That's, that's a very common trait, we become so ingrained in focusing on the what we do. And that maybe that how we do it, we forget to sell the or talk about the why we do it and why it's important. And so that's when we talk about the power of story. It's that emotional connection, that's really, really important. And so in, in our book, we talk about this, the STFM model is includes roots, stakes, and impact. So most people are only talking about impact. Impact is the the, it's the steak, right? It's the meal you're eating. It's the what you do. It's the it's the the work you actually perform. It's all those technical details about your job, or what happens as a result of your your skill or craft.

Susan Tatum 5:51

So it's a word, or it's the product, or the service that you that you provide. And that's certainly where we're all salespeople want to go first to talk about that, I think,

Garrett McClure 6:02

yep, your right. The product or service is great, great. Bring me back down to earth. You've impact is your product or your service. And the reason we want to expand above that is because when you focus just on your product or your service, you can easily become a commodity. And there are 1000s of other people versus a there's lots of other people that could be offering the same product or services as you

Susan Tatum 6:27

might go with 1000s

Garrett McClure 6:28

1000s okay so 1000s of people are, are out there? And would you want to compete in a sea of 1000s? Or if you add in the other two components, which are your roots and your steaks? Now you're talking about your unique value. And I can tell you exactly how many Susan Tatum are in the world one And now you become something very unique, and very special. And that's how we start to cut through the clutter. That's that's the power of story of rising above the product or service that we're talking about.

Susan Tatum 6:56

So then does it is it thinking about how did you get here? And what is it in your life, or inside of you that makes you want to serve this market or find a solution solve this problem? That kind of thing?

Garrett McClure 7:13

Yeah, exactly. So let's just take roots. And this is the great thing about breaking this down when, when Steven my partner, Steven Levine, who founded grapevine PR, and I started talking about this, like, what is it that what makes these stories so unique? And it's the roots of the stakes and impact? And so roots are includes all kinds of things is where did you come from? What's your education? What's your history? What's your family situation? What's your ethnicity? Or are you an immigrant who came over? And because of that experience, you're bringing, you have some unique take on how you're providing this product or service? Did you are you a single mother, and now you're because of that experience, you have a unique take on the service you're bringing to the world, or perhaps you're coaching other single mothers who also want to have a successful career right? Now bring that experience to your offering. And when you're now when you're not up against you have three people competing for the same client, you're now unique and special. And there's an emotional connection to your to you and your story. So roots can be all kinds of things. It can be education, maybe you're the most highly decorated PhD in this field. Maybe like me, I'm I'm a small I'm a farm boy from a small town in Kansas who grew up selling vegetables when I was seven years old on the farmers market. And that's part of my entrepreneurial story. It's part of my entrepreneurial history that makes it very unique and sets me apart from all other mindset coaches or publicists or whatever we might be talking about.

Susan Tatum 8:45

Yeah. Okay. So how, how do you get a client into the frame of mind to think that way?

Garrett McClure 8:54

Just to think beyond the immediate solution product

Susan Tatum 8:58


Garrett McClure 8:59

Yeah. And that's a whole another episode. But I think what we're talking about is, is making an investment in yourself. So first, we have to believe that we're worth it, we have to believe that our story is worth telling. And especially for individual solopreneurs CEOs of the when you're the leader of your organization, or if you are your brand, ask yourself the question is, what's your worth? What is your story? What about you is interesting, and get to that place of being radically abundant and in love with your own story and sit down and just start making lists of all the unique things about your past? Right, that would be your roots. And so it might take a little bit of work because we're it might feel like we're not focusing on selling. We're not focusing on getting revenue in the door. But I I'm very confident that the more unique and polished your story is, you will attract your ideal client, you'll have more productive conversations with with your Ideal with your ideal clients that will probably make your sales funnel a little more efficient.

Susan Tatum 10:04

Yeah, I like the idea of making a list of just thinking about through your past and the things that that you've done or, or seen or lived or sell vegetables at a farmers market or, you know, whatever. I think that's a really good, that's a really good idea. Okay. So that's, that's the first thing. And I think, you know, I was telling you earlier in the conversation about how I've changed my mind about marketing and when to invest a lot in marketing. And because I can seen so much change, when someone starts a consulting firm, they think they're going to do one thing, and rarely, are they still doing that same thing a year later, and you change really throughout the whole business cycle. But I think that that establishing who you are is not going to change, I wouldn't think

Garrett McClure 10:50

you might present it in a slightly different way to different audiences.

Susan Tatum 10:57

Well, yeah,

Garrett McClure 10:58

core story doesn't change. And I think that's why the top two things you do is what know who you are, what is your story? So if you have this listed, beautiful list of here are the 10 things I think that are interesting about my history, my past my roots, 10 things that I've invested, I've invested like, what do I have at stake? Why is this important to me? Did I invest my life savings? Have I spent the last 10 years owning my craft? Is this the mission vitally important to me? Like what's what's at stake?

Susan Tatum 11:24

So that's that third, that second part of the Venn diagram? Then a few, if you will? Yeah. Okay.

Garrett McClure 11:29

Yeah. What do you have at stake here? If you do this, or don't do this? What's at stake? And so there's so many ways you can do this? And then third is the impact. So it's the product or service, what is the thing you're actually offering? And now, you might pick one from each of those lists and come up with with the pitch or you're trying to when do you invest in marketing, you invest in marketing, after you know, who you are, what your story is, and who your ideal target client is?

Susan Tatum 11:59

Right? Right

Garrett McClure 12:00

you need to do those two steps first, then you start shouting out from the rooftops. And I can give some tips, I give some tips on how to figure out your ideal client if you if that would be helpful,

Susan Tatum 12:10

Sure. Let's do that.

Garrett McClure 12:11

Cool. This is so one, you're going to be curious about who you are, you're starting to keep a running list of roots, stakes and impact. And then who is your ideal client? I would first just start making a list of what are the qualities and traits of the clients you've worked with in the past that you've really enjoyed working with? Right? And also who are the ones that seem to pay you and, and have the right you know, the right financial situation for your service you are offering, and then here's the thing that I think could be really powerful. If there's only one thing people take away from this podcast, find, make a list of 15 people that you think are your ideal clients, and just call them with an informational, hey, it's Garrett, you know, I have this PR marketing company, I'm not here to sell you anything. We're just really, really curious about what we should offer next year for our products and services. I'm curious, blah, blah, blah, ask them a few questions, and then get it from them directly, whatever they want. And then you're gonna be like, well, was that a good fit? Is that not a good fit? Then, after you have all that research, then build a basic website

Susan Tatum 13:14

I just for the record, want to tell the listeners that I did not pay Garrett to say that, about knowing who you want to work with, and taking these steps and knowing yourself and taking these steps beforehand. I think that even even when people are they they're thinking about who they want to work with. And they do these first personas, and they do these ideal client profiles, in my experience, that tends to be very demographic focused, and what we don't dig into, and it can be the most important part of it is the values, the personality of the person, the culture of the company, that sort of thing that really, really makes it whether they're going to be fun to work with or not, which is important.

Garrett McClure 13:55

Yeah. And Susan, if you don't mind, I'll tell you, this experience. This advice is very personal to me, as well. Over the over the pandemic, I had the great gift of time. And I decided to go back and get some more certifications. And I I launched like two different coaching brands. And the approach I took was, I spent all my time I finished up the whole 52 week curriculum and I did the website and I created the I did all the things so when I was ready to open my my business, when I had the grand opening of the of the brand in the store, everything was set. And and all my coaches and everybody I talked to said don't do that. They said you start calling clients and take this advice, figure out who they are first and then build kind of build it as you get your real time feedback. I didn't do any of that. So I spent, I don't know 18 months building two different coaching brands. And once I spent all that time and all the money I got into selling clients and onboarding them, and I realized what I had is not what they wanted. More importantly, it's not what they needed. So yeah, it's it's a very it's a lesson I learned the hard way. And it's so from one entrepreneur to another. Yeah, if that's the one thing, that's the one thing we take away is

Susan Tatum 15:14

talk to people talk to people, I have to ask you, because you mentioned them that you you set up these coaching businesses, what is the path from coaching to publicist?

Garrett McClure 15:27

Great question. So when you look at publicity, people hire a publicist, a publicist, because they want to grow their, their brand or their business. As a coach, my, my job was to help you get what she wants. So in my mind, the same thing, I'm just now focused on doing it with a PR marketing lens. And at Grapevine we bring a lot more to the table than just PR services. We don't do, we don't do ad hoc things. We only do long term strategic plans with our clients. So we can really focus on growing you and growing your business and growing your brand. So to me, it wasn't natural step and as the CEO, my job is to, is to coach, nurture and grow the team. My I'm here if I miss I'm here as a servant to everybody that that works for us, with us, partners with us and our clients as well. I hope that

Susan Tatum 16:23

it does. It's, it's, I think it's somewhat unique. Well, maybe it's not, but it it certainly, I can see where the skills, a skilled coach would work very well, and helping the because there's a lot of hand holding and things like that, that go into when you're a publicist and work especially working with individuals and it's their personal brands that can be it needs a little bit of understanding of people, I think in doing that.

Garrett McClure 16:48

yeah, you know, what's interesting about this, that's competent is this combination of coach and PR earned media situation is, there's a lot of mindset work involved. You know, people come and they say, Oh, get me on people get me on fortune, get me on Oprah. And I, and the question is, for what purpose? What do you what? Why? What do you want to have on the other side of that experience? And many times that we want to be sure, we just want to be sure that the goal and the outcome are aligned, because the people might say, I want to be an Oprah so that I can make a million dollars. I'm like, Well, what are you going to talk about on Oprah? How is how is that going to equate a million dollars in your bank account? And there can be the same thing, when we talk about building a website or basic marketing? It's very, once we know who we are, who our clients are, we have all those things put together, then what is our goal? What does that what is that goal and outcome look like? We really want and let's work backwards from there to be sure that the things we're going to invest in and do are actually going to get us what we actually want

Susan Tatum 17:51

what you want. That makes sense. Well, so. So you have a structure that I and your book, I think does a really good job of it's a really interesting to read, I found it's got you know, a lot of it is because stories are really current. And it's just written in an easy to easy to read style. And I do want to say before I forget to that there's some very tactical stuff in there, too, when you get in the latter part of the book that if somebody wants to try and do this, on their own, that I think that's a good place to start is by reading that book, because there are some steps that you can take. But I also realized, and you and I talked about this before that it this, you're not when you're planning this story, it's just not just something to pitch to the press is something that is flows throughout all of your communication.

Garrett McClure 18:39

Absolutely. And Susan, thanks so much for mentioning that we wrote this book, because there are so many talented, smart, wonderful professionals solutions, ideas out there that need to be told, and those people might not have the money because PR and the services are not cheap. I'm so sure if you pick up the book, where this is exactly what we do, it's not like brain science, or it's not brain surgery, which I don't know how complicated brain surgery actually is. But this this is a step by step book. And when you do get into like the how tos of doing that, it's it is critical to know your story, right? And it is it's almost like a It's the foundation for everything in media and marketing you have earned so all the earned media that's kind of PR so I go out and I earn an article in a in a in a in a magazine I have some likes and views and I earn all my thumbs up so my heart's on social media then you have owned which is your the things you own and control your website, your LinkedIn profile, your all the all the things you publish and then you have paid media you pay. That's the story needs to be consistent, right? These things don't live in vacuums, all the way down to your business cards to your newsletter to your subject line to the free video you have to the 10 Step Guide, you're gonna give away like all that should have a through line. We're telling the same story. So yeah, it is, it's not just about getting PR it will do that, create a story and get you noticed. But it's also going to, you know, build that that brand for you and help you kind of do your is an entire communications platform foundation.

Susan Tatum 20:21

So really we're saying, figure out who you are, figure it figure out who you think your clients are going to be talk to them, develop your story, and that will drive the creative and the strategy and your all of your marketing and sales to a certain extent.

Garrett McClure 20:39

Yeah, one of the one of the wisest things a mentor ever told me is that speed comes from alignment, right? So it's that clarity, clarity of clarity and alignment of Who who are you? Who is your client? Where do they work? What do they do? What story are you telling them? Once you're clear, and everybody's aligned on that single story and that single focus on that single niche, you can move really fast, and to really be really successful and really abundant? When you're focused and not scattered? I think that's a really wise idea.

Susan Tatum 21:10

Yeah, I agree. And I think also, there's sort of a litmus test there that you could use, if you are, if you're thinking about your target audience. And if you can't tell them the same story, they're not the same market? I'm going to use that.

Garrett McClure 21:27

Yeah, for sure. And the reason here's an here's just laid out the reason that's important. PR, for example, we have a lot of authors, we then have a lot of speakers. And then we have we have we have a neuro spinal spinal neurosurgery, but all real client examples, we have to do a completely different, we have to invest 10 to 40 hours of research, just to understand the landscape for each one of those different types of clients. So I can split, it and that's not necessarily bad, but is it fast. So if you if you know, that we're gonna, we have divisions now. And we have an expert's to bidding where we're focusing on on speakers, once we figure out what works for one speaker, we can apply that to lots of speakers, right? You're gonna other clients are actually going to find it very valuable, because now you have a domain expertise in what they're trying to do. You're in that world, right. So yeah, there's a lot of value in that focus and alignment.

Susan Tatum 22:23

And I think that word expertise, I think is is really appropriate in those sort of shifting economy that we find ourselves in, because businesses and people pull back on spinning things that are just nice to have. And it's good to have to do sort of ugly, painful problems for them to spend money on in a tight economy, and they're not going to go to a general generalist for that they're gonna go for for the experts to solve the problem.

Garrett McClure 22:48

And they're gonna they're gonna stick with people they like know and trust.

Susan Tatum 22:54

Oh, well, yeah,

Garrett McClure 22:55

that's if I was just a company that got you a placement in media, you know, our clients that were a commodity, but we're your trusted source has really been crafting your personal story and brand. That's a much different value statement. Because of and when you read this book stories the fucking matter. Stephens life story is in here. We tell his story. The roots of grapevine PR is in here. Peaks of white matter is in here. And the impact of what we've done for our clients is in here. So this book is a masterclass on actual it implementing this so hopefully

Susan Tatum 23:30

Examples included. Yeah

Garrett McClure 22:32


Susan Tatum 23:32

So back real quickly to the to the know like and trust, because that's, that's, that's certainly critical, especially when you're selling services. And and I think with product, I think with anybody you're going to buy from it's it's important, but for consultants for and coaches that are charging high prices, there really, there really has to be that and so that familiarity, I guess that that comes in with the No, because that does sort of lead to trust as well. A few it's hard to trust something you've never heard of before.

Garrett McClure 24:03

Yeah. And so it's hard to trust somebody you don't know. And it's really hard to trust somebody you don't like, right? So we love those things together to be like you want them to like know and trust you and the one of the quickest ways for them to like know and trust you is to have an authentic, heartfelt, emotionally connected story. Right? So when we talk about just that example of as people come to us because they're entrepreneurs that whatever other business or media, whether it's PR or paid or whatever that marketing strategy is, and I can come and tell them Yeah, as as a kid as a kid growing up on a farm to have it to this farming family that went bankrupt I understand the value of $1 and and this economy works and the stakes for me were very high just like I imagine if you don't make a sale this month, you might not put food on the table. So the so now I'm telling this very emotionally drawn story and you can you can know like me you have an emotional connection so you know me hopefully you like me, but you At least trust me, you can trust that I've been there done that. And, and we will make these connections that are very, very powerful. My goal in life is to inspire, to coach to motivate to mentor so that more people can do more good in the world. And that would be my desire. My desire would be to have a whole army is probably the wrong word, but a whole crew of people who are telling epic stories, and we're making emotional connections, and we're getting more amazing solutions and great concepts and coaches and authors and speakers and get their stories told and noticed out there. That's that would be a dream come true for me.

Susan Tatum 25:37

So that emotional connection is something that I think, especially in business to business has been relatively recent, that we've come to understand how important that is. Because Because I know was it. Maybe a decade ago, we thought business business decisions were made logically. And now science shows us in psychology that that's not true.

Garrett McClure 26:02

Yeah, if we that's a whole another episode too happily to do that. But yeah, that we now have the science and prove that every decision, everything we do is based on our emotions, everything. Even the most logical decision we make has an emotional underpinning underpinning to it. So having a well rounded, crafted story. And again, the story is the oldest, most powerful form of technology that humans have ever discovered, I wouldn't say invented but we discovered this thing called the story. It changes hearts and minds. And it does it through emotional and through emotional connection. And, and that's that was the first wireless way to download something through a store.

Susan Tatum 26:45

That's a good, that's a good one. Okay. Well, Garrett, thanks so much for coming by. And like you said, we're going to have to do some more episodes of this because we've got a long and growing list of things to talk about.

Garrett McClure 26:52

I'd love it. I'd love it. Let me know when it's gonna happen and I am gonna be there.

Susan Tatum 26:57

Your 10 Step Guide. Is that on your website?

Garrett McClure 26:59

Yep, yep. If you just go to At the top, there's a little bar that says, you know, download our free guide and take you right to it.

Susan Tatum 27:09

So it's

Garrett McClure 27:10


Susan Tatum 27:10

Okay, we'll put that in the show notes. But for anybody that's listening. That's how to how to find this. And this was fantastic. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.

Garrett McClure 27:19

Same to you, Susan. It was a pleasure.



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