October 7

Episode 55: If You’re the Product, Why Would We Pick You Up Off the Shelf? with Glenn Rudin


In this week’s episode, Mike and Glenn Rudin talk about how your company’s first impression in appearance is just as important as your product’s packaging.  Glenn will talk about how to sell a customer your brand in the 30-second elevator pitch.

Glenn Rudin’s Biography

Glenn Rudin is a sales and marketing consultant who specializes in messaging and branding. Glenn is the founder of Always Been Creative and is commonly referred to as the Message Master.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • How a product can speak for itself from the shelf
  • How a package needs to be able to speak to the customer in just a fraction of a second
  • People are products 
  • How people view your company starts with the owner and on down to every employee
  • How to distinguish what is different about your product compared to the competition
  • What a 30-second elevator pitch is
  • How to create an elevator pitch
  • How a company’s message is conveyed first in the non-verbal form
  • How the elevator pitch is a performance
  • How you present yourself represents your company


  • “I started to get the relationship about five or six years ago. I was doing some extensive networking here in the New York City area and started to put two and two together, realizing people are products and we package ourselves depending on how good of a job we do with that packaging. People either figuratively pick us up or pass us by.”
  • “Most people fail to understand that everybody in the company is potentially a sales person for the company if, in fact, they understand the messaging from the top right on down.”
  • “An elevator pitch is a 30-second–35-second if you’re really good at it–story about what makes your business different.”
  • “Thomas Edison said, ‘If you don’t understand your topic well enough, then you can’t explain it simply enough.’”
  • “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.”
  • “Before you get too involved and hung up on all kinds of social media or marketing campaigns, really boil it down for yourself and your company so they can understand what your message is and how important that message needs to be to convey what you’re trying to accomplish. Customers need to be crystal clear about why your product or service is something that they need to look into further. It’s also important, if they’re not potential customers, who can they refer to you because they’ve heard something profound, something focused, something important from you that will enable them to help somebody else they know in their network.”

Links & Resources Mentioned…

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Read The Transcript

Episode #55

Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck & On Target Podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders and we specialize in helping growth focus entrepreneurs build the teams and the processes that they need to scale their business. Joining me today is Glenn Rudin. Glenn is a sales and marketing consultant who specializes in messaging and branding. Glenn is the founder of Always Been Creative and he's commonly referred to as the message master welcome Glenn. 

Glenn Rudin: Hey Mike, thanks so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Mike O'Neill: Glenn and I have had a chance to get to know each other prior to recording this podcast. And I have to say right up front, we've got a lot to look forward to in my conversation with Glenn. One of the things I have asked Glenn to speak on, it's something that he does when he is speaking publicly. Is this question. And this will be the topic of our podcast today. If you're the product, why would we pick you up off the shelf? That is the, topic that we're going to be covering and Glenn in terms of kind of sharing a little bit about your business. Here's my understanding. That you help clients in several ways. And I like to go through each of those, you help them develop a clear and concise message. You help them develop a unique selling proposition, and you help them really do an elevator pitch right. Those are at least three things that we might want to be talking about, in our time together. But as a starting point, Glen, what kind of got you into becoming a, a, a sales and marketing consultant? How did that unfold? 

Glenn Rudin: It's a great question, Mike. And, I come to this from the field of product development. I've been working in actually developing consumer product goods for the last 35, 40 years. From the first job that I had working as a marketing manager for Revlon cosmetics. I was just taken back by all the steps that go into, you know, even a simple little lipstick that a company like that puts out. All the componentry, all the planning, all the manufacturing, and then, last, but certainly most important how that all gets packaged so that it literally can speak for itself sitting on top of a counter in a department store, sitting on a shelf in a drug store or a mass market account, like a Walmart or a Target. And I've always been intrigued by how, if it's done well, it can actually stand there and speak for itself and literally sell itself right off of the counter. So coming from that discipline over the last 30 plus years, I've learned to understand how important all of that packaging is, and how it needs to speak in just a fraction of a second to somebody who is passing by it. And transferring that concept from products to people I started to get the relationship about five or six years ago when I was doing some extensive, networking here in the New York city area. And started to put two and two together and realize that people are products and we package ourselves, put ourselves out there and depending on how good a job we do with that packaging people either figuratively pick us up or pass us by.

Mike O'Neill: You know I love the fact that you have the background that you do. And so let's pick up on that first aspect and that is, helping clients develop a clear and concise message. Now let me set the stage. My understanding is our listeners primarily are leaders. So they may be listening to us today from the perspective of packaging themselves as leaders or packaging their business correctly. And I'll let you decide how we might go down that kind of path. But my understanding is, and you, right, when you are trying to develop a clear and concise message, it needs to define your company or product, so that potential customers know how to interact with your business. 

Glenn Rudin: Right. 

Mike O'Neill: With one thing. Yeah, 

Glenn Rudin: Yeah, no, go ahead. I didn't mean to cut you off.

Mike O'Neill: And I think the other piece, I think this is a piece that I think we overlook and that is how do you interact now that they know what they do, and this is the key and how might they refer potential clients to you? And that's powerful. So can you elaborate? 

Glenn Rudin: Right. So one of the things that, that a lot of young leaders of companies fail to understand is they have a tendency to look at their products, their services, their companies, even themselves, from the selfish standpoint of how do I, how do I want to be heard in the marketplace? But really it's not about you. It's really about how your customers perceive what that is. And so the message has got to be, has got to be conveyed in a way that somebody feels empathy or understanding for what you're trying to accomplish and feels like you've taken the time to consider them as you're developing that message. And let's say it starts in that CEO owner suite. And again, a lot of, a lot of our, leaders in small companies fail to understand that they set the tone. And they might want to show up dressed super casually because they're quote unquote, the owner or in the corner office. But that message reverberates really around the entire company. When people see what kind of messaging they're giving out. So it starts there. And then it starts to build its way out to the employees from the employees out to the world of potential consumers. And if not consumers, people who become aware of these companies and may not be, the exact, customer meme, but might know somebody who is, if the messaging is done right. And just to take that a step further, most people fail to understand that everybody in the company is potentially a sales person for the company. If in fact they understand the messaging from the top right on down. Because when those employees, regardless of what level they are, it could be the person who sweeps the floor, who does maintenance, who answers the phones, who, who does a data analysis, and really never sees a customer. But Mike, every one of those people has interactions in their world with friends, family, relatives, potential customers, people that they network with, people that they meet. When somebody casually says to them, Hey Mike, what do you do for a living? And now you've got the opportunity to bring them in to the company or completely lose the opportunity. And that goes all the way back to the owner. Who's either taking the time to work with the entire company and say, this is what we really want to talk about as far as what we do and what our message is. Or completely ignores that and says, oh, that's the person who does maintenance, what are they ever going to do to help me sell my company? And it's a big miss. 

Mike O'Neill: You know, you're making an excellent point. And that is, it seems as if, if we limit the people who are concerned about the messaging to just the sales and marketing folks or the business owner, we're missing a huge potential where anybody who's involved with the business, if they understand, and they can articulate the message, then you've, you've just deputize, anybody who touches, the product or the service to go out and, and speak to it. Excellent, excellent point. You know, I know we don't have a lot of time to do a deep dive on some of these things, but I introduced also the fact that when you're trying to help your clients craft a concise message that not just the owner, not just sales and marketing, but essentially everybody can convey. You also help, as I understand, create an understanding on how, what it is you do is unique. I think you call that a unique selling proposition. 

Glenn Rudin: Sure. And that's really, it it's the unique selling proposition, which basically is what distinguishes what your company, what your product or service has going for it, that competitors in your space don't. And again, another one of the problems that a lot of companies have Mike is they might be second or third generation, small business owners, the kinds of, of CEOs, presidents, and owners that both you and I target in terms of our audience that we're looking to appeal to as, as business people. And what often happens is they, you know, they inherit the company as it is. And maybe that company has never taken the time to really understand what's unique. Or maybe they haven't taken the time to look at two or three close competitors in their space to see what those competitors are doing and figure out a different angle for how we can appeal to customers who are looking for a similar service. But what can we do? That's unique that our close competitors don't do that will now distinguish us from them. And the reason that's so important is because once customers out there have somebody that they rely on for a product or service, we can look at accounting. We can look at the field of law. We can look at bookkeeping, any of those fields where somebody's already got that person that is already in their stable, that already does that work for them. If another person in that field comes along and wants to replace that person in your world, they have got to give you a really good reason why they're going to be better than what you're utilizing now. And so if you just come along and say, I'm an attorney, I'm a real estate agent, I'm a financial advisor, but somebody already has that discipline built into their life. They've already exchanged their confidential information. They've already given a, this person knows their background, their story. It's not something you're really motivated to share with somebody new, unless that new person really has something unique or extra or different. That's going to give you a reason to say, you know what? That sounds interesting. The person that does this for me now, doesn't do that. I'd love to hear a little bit more about how you do it. And that is what I call differentiation. Creating something about your business that is completely different than the other people who provide that service in your space and enables you to stand out for customers and potential customers. 

Mike O'Neill: We've talked a little bit about developing a clear and concise message, a message that could be carried by anybody in the organization. You said that if you cannot differentiate yourself from the competition, the people who you're trying to send that message to, they can't do that either. But then we try to take the messaging and the unique value proposition, and we try to pack it into a very short amount of time, commonly referred to as the 30 second elevator pitch. Surely that is one of the more challenging aspects if you're a business owner is taken everything we've talked about thus far and compressing it succinctly. Is that a fair characterization? Is it hard to get it down right to a 30 second elevator pitch? 

Glenn Rudin: It's a, it's a great question. And it's one, that's so many people fail to understand. An elevator pitch is a 30 second 35 seconds if you're really good at it, story about what makes your business different. And what I often realize people are trying to do is they overcomplicate it, Mike, because what they're trying to do is pack an entire story about their company into this 30 second pitch. And invariably, what they do is they, they put out a disorganized set of statements that really don't lead somebody to wanting to hear more. And what I equate this to really simply is, you know, in the, in the days when we're walking around the shopping mall and we get near the food court and invariably, there's somebody there giving out a taste of whatever their food is. They don't give you the whole sandwich. They give you a little bit. They don't give you the whole pretzel. They give you a bite. They don't give you the entire bottle of whatever it is they're selling. They give you a capful. So you get the taste. And the reason is they're trying to give you that taste so that you understand, Hey, that's good. I want to know more about that. And with that taste, I'm interested in coming back and hearing more. And what people fail to understand about that elevator pitch is that's all it's supposed to be. Just get me interested enough to approach you after a meeting face-to-face, after a networking group meeting, after a zoom group meeting to say, Mike, there was something you said in that pitch that was really interesting to me. I'd like to hear more. And now that's the open door that allows you for two or three minutes to share a story with someone and let them know a bit more about your company, a success story that you've had with a prior customer. But it's all about just that little taste and, and, Thomas Edison was the one who said it best. He said, if you don't understand your topic well enough, then you can't explain it simply enough. And you don't have to layer it with all kinds of facts and figures. We don't need to hear a dissertation about your company or about where you've been for the last 10 years. It's just that little taste that has a saying hey I like what that sounded like after the meeting, I want to hear more.

Mike O'Neill: You just kind of set up my curiosity. And you didn't know this as coming, but if I was asked you to share what your 30 second elevator pitch is, would you be able to do so with our listeners today? 

Glenn Rudin: Absolutely. And, and I've got two different strategies depending on the audience that, that I get to. With regard to my pitch. The first approach is to use a fact to really wow people, in terms of your knowledge of the subject matter. The second approach is to use a question. Which asks somebody to consider whether or not they're potentially in the target group that I'm trying to reach. So for, so for example, one of fact, Mike, did you know that 80% of the people that I come in contact with struggle with their elevator pitch and their messaging, because they don't really understand what the concept is. But if that's you, I've got great news because this is what I specialize in. Helping people create unique elevator pitches that are crystal clear. So their customers really understand how to interact with them and refer business to them. So that's interesting to you. I'd love to hear more about you after. I'm Glenn Rudin I own Always Been Creative and this is my specialty that may have been in a tad over 30 seconds. But the key to it is upfront that fact that 80% of people struggle with this. And so now, if you're one of those people, you feel like Glenn might be talking to me. The second approach is to use that same exact ending, but to start it with a question, Mike, do you struggle with your elevator pitch? Are you resonating with potential customers or do you feel that people might not understand what it is you're trying to accomplish? So by doing that and being empathetic and normally I wouldn't address it directly to you, I would address it to the crowd in general. And what I find when I do that is people are not necessarily willing to embarrass themselves and raise their hand and say, yes, that's me. Yes, that's me. I struggled with that. But they make a mental note of it. And the fact that I do a really good job delivering my pitch, and very often I'll get approached by a half a dozen people after a meeting who'll say, I think I really need to spend some time talking to you. So start with a fact or start with a question that really draws your audience in and lets them know that you really understand your subject matter well. You'll notice that I don't lead with I'm Glenn Rudin. I don't lead with, I own Always Been Creative. I don't lead with I'm from New York because all of those facts, which people normally put into the top of their elevator pitch are completely irrelevant unless they're interested in hearing more from me. And it's one of the most common mistakes that people make. 

Mike O'Neill: You know what I love about what you just shared, starting with a fact, or starting with a question, is that you, to some extent by saying upfront, did you know that 80% struggle. If you are one of those people, you at least feel like I'm not alone.

Glenn Rudin: Right.

Mike O'Neill: Then you immediately says I can help. You're not alone. We can make this work. And so that hook is set very, very early on. Excellent. 

Glenn Rudin: Yeah. And, and, and it's, it's very effective because in, in my particular case now for, for another company, that has a product or a service, it's, it's really finding that same kind of fact, if you're a cosmetic company, for instance. Did you know that and, and you do natural cosmetics, which is one of the big trends I'm seeing. Did you realize that the product that you're putting on your face may contain harmful chemicals? What, you know, that kind of a thing, or, did you know that most accountants miss these key facts when they're doing your tax return? What. Or, you know, did you realize that you could be leaving money on the table if your accountant doesn't do this, this and this with your tax return? When they're preparing it, these are questions that are eye-openers for people, and then get them to realize that maybe they are missing something that is going on in their existing world. Because the other thing that we all have to realize is that every single product or service or company that we are trying to pitch to the world exists somewhere already. And so someone is either using it already or has considered it already, or there's also the choice of I have no interest in it whatsoever. So not only is it important for us to break through where a competitor exists, but we also have the competitor of, no, this is not something I was considering before you started to speak. And let me do this. Before we even get into that engagement at the top of the elevator pitch, let's really also understand how important the nonverbal part of your pitch is as well. People miss out on this, Mike, because if you are not dressed the part, if you don't have the right posture of confidence, not cockiness, but confidence in what you're doing. And if you don't exude that and show that before you even start to speak, people will sense that they will visually see it. And before you even get the chance to start speaking, they're already having their attention diverted based on that non-verbal message you're putting out. So that's really, really important also. And that starts the minute you walk into the room. So, you know, there, there was that famous movie Chicago from, I don't know, the eighties or nineties, with Bob Fossey, the, the famous Broadway director. And, you know, he, when he got up in the morning and the first thing he said, when he looked in the mirror was showtime, you know, that's it, it's, you know, the minute you get up, you've got to be on. As soon as you know, you're going to be coming in contact with again, customers or potential customers. Because people are already reading you the moment you walk into the room is this guy, is this woman somebody that I want to have an interaction with? Or is this somebody that I'm going to completely pass over? Because they're telling me non-verbally, they're not really that interesting. 

Mike O'Neill: I'm so glad you added that because when we're talking about messaging, we're oftentimes we limit ourselves to be thinking about words. And what your reinforcing is the message if you would, is probably more conveyed in the nonverbal than the verbal. And your challenge to us as if you're in a situation by which you are conveying this message, be it a elevator pitch is you have to be on it is showtime and people are picking up on that. And if you don't convey confidence, people sense that. 

Glenn Rudin: They do. And what I liken it to just to go back, you know, again, I don't know how many people will, will even remember the name of Bob Fossey. I could really be dating myself with that one. But I, I like to frame it this way. Your elevator pitch is a performance and it's a performance in all of these different ways. Number one, you need to be dressed for the part. So you need to be in costume. Whatever that costume is for your particular business. You know what the norms are, and you don't want to dress too far below those norms and you don't want to dress too far above them. You want to look the part you're supposed to be playing. So costume is number one. That's part of your non-verbal. The second part is hopefully I would hope anybody that's hearing this would realize you do need to have a scripted pitch. That's not to say you want to read it word for word, but you certainly need to know the points that you want to convey. And you've got to rehearse that just like a broadway actor, a TV actor, or a movie actor would rehearse their lines for when they're on camera. Third, you do have an audience. People are looking, people are listening. They want to know that you are that person. And so I say, just imagine when you have your opportunity to do that, if you're sitting lean forward, look into that camera. So we know you mean business. If you're in person, I don't care. If anybody else stands up, you stand up and you project the most confident you that you can project. Because it is really a performance that might only be 30 or 35 seconds. But for those 30 or 35 seconds, the audience has its eyes on. You. Make that performance count. Take a deep breath before you stand up, put your shoulders back, give it everything you've got. It's only 30 seconds. Then take a deep breath, sit down and let everybody soak in the performance that you just gave.

Mike O'Neill: This is excellent. Glenn, you have shared some insights over your 30 plus year career. Share a little bit of maybe an example where perhaps you or a client got stuck and once stuck, what did it take to get unstuck? 

Glenn Rudin: Right. And, and I'd say it's a great question too, because I didn't come to all this stuff the minute that, that I got out of college. There's an evolution over time, right? When I first started working, you wouldn't think of not going to work in a three-piece suit, let alone a suit. Which then morphed into a sport jacket and a tie. The tie got lost. And over time we became so casual with everything that we were doing. Casual at business, casual dining, casual, everywhere. And I think that I had a tendency to drift along with the rest of the world and start getting comfortable in that polo shirt, khaki kind of look, which seemed okay to me. But I began to realize that that was affecting the way people perceive me. So I had to pull back on the reins to and say, listen, I know it's going to be 95 degrees outside, in August when I'm gonna have to go out and have this meeting. But I am going to have a button down shirt on I'm going to have a sport jacket on, and I am going to be dressed for that part as we just spoke about. So I realized now looking back about 10 years ago that I was missing the mark there, that I was not necessarily being perceived the way I needed to be. And it was really important for me to understand that if I'm going to go out there and I'm going to speak about messaging, I've got to be the one leading the charge and showing everybody else. This is how you show up. This is how you're ready for that meeting that's coming up. And so I took a spoonful of my own medicine.

Mike O'Neill: Now, right off camera. I have my, my sport jacket. I don't have client meetings today, so I'm a little more casually dressed, but I think what you just shared is spot on. And that is in the move towards virtual the degree of casualness probably has gone to a bit of an extreme. And if you're asking people to buy your products or buy your service, invest in you and your company, you do need to kind of look the part and we can't overlook that. Excellent point.

Glenn Rudin: And let me just add to that, because this is a common question that I get. People will say to me, if I'm going and I'm calling on one of these super creative appy kind of Silicon valley, businesses, Google or Facebook or, or some, young up and coming, you know, app development company. If I show up in a tie, they're going to cut my tie off. And so I have the Glenn tie guarantee. I always say, you go in that first time and if they cut your tie off, I'll be happy to replace it for you. You go in the first time and show them that you mean business. This is who you are. And if they want to cut your tie off or have you pull it off at that first meeting, that's great. But at least you've shown them the level of dedication that you have to being professional. If they want to bring you into their norms and say, we love you, but you're making us uptight with the tie for the next meeting you don't have to wear that super. But at least you started off making an impression about who you are and not a terrible assumption about how you're allowed to come dressed, because this might be an avant garde or up and coming company that is in a creative space. And those are just one of the lessons that I try to give people out there. And, and I think it does resonate with people. I haven't had to replace a tie yet. 

Mike O'Neill: But I love the guarantee that you have extended. You know, Glenn, as you'd kind of think about the conversation we've had thus far, what do you want our listeners to have as closing thoughts or takeaways?

Glenn Rudin: Well, what I want people, most of all to realize is that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. And so with the seminar that I do, Would you do business with you? I urge people to realize that if you only get that one chance to do it, then make sure you're dressed for the part. Make sure you understand what your pitch is, who your audience is that you're pitching to. Be practiced and rehearsed and be proud of the effort that you made. Not regretful after the fact, because you didn't take the time to adequately prepare. Because all of these things that I'm speaking about are not really rocket science, they're all about basic football term, blocking and tackling. Just understanding the basics of what really needs to go into you, being your own product and making a great first impression on people. And that's really what I urge people to do. Before you get too involved or hung up on all kinds of social media on all kinds of marketing campaigns and everything else really boil it down for yourself and for your company to understand what your message is and how important that message needs to convey what you're trying to accomplish. So that again, customers are crystal clear about why your product or service is something that they need to look into further. And also as important if they're not potential customers. Who can they refer to you? Because they've heard something profound, something focused, something important from you that will enable them to help somebody else they know in their network.

Mike O'Neill: Glenn, you have packed so much in our time together, but I'm confident that our listeners and viewers have heard things and they want to learn a little bit more. What's the best way for them to connect with you? 

Glenn Rudin: Best way for them to connect with me. My, my direct email is Glenn@alwaysbeencreative.com. My email, that's my email address. My website is alwaysbeencreative.com and I respond to everybody that, that writes to me with, without issue. And I take great pride in getting back to everybody individually. There's no canned responses or automatic responses that go out there. I'm generally interested in hearing about and seeing, that I can actually help the people who do take the time to get in touch with me. And so those are probably the best ways for anybody to reach out to me. 

Mike O'Neill: We will include those in the show notes as well. Glenn, thank you. 

Glenn Rudin: Thank you, Mike. I really, really enjoyed your insightful interview questions and spending the time with, with you and getting a chance to share some of the things that I am so, so passionate about. So I'll leave you with this. You get one chance to get that message, right? Take the time to really think it through, make it crystal clear and make sure everybody in your company understands what that is. You won't be sorry. 

Mike O'Neill: Excellent. I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode, and I hope you've picked up on some tips during my conversation with Glenn, that will help you Get Unstuck & On Target. Every Thursday, we upload the latest episode to all the major platforms. So if you haven't already please subscribe. So if you're an entrepreneur with big dreams, but you're tired of letting your business keep you up at night, it's time to take action. Head to bench-builders.com to schedule a quick call, to see if our growth coaching program can help. So I want to thank you for joining us. And I hope to see you next time.

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