An Interview With Drew Gerber
Honest marketing can be fun, alluring and draw attention, create sales.
From an objective standpoint, we are living in an unprecedented era of abundance. Yet so many of us are feeling unsatisfied. Why are we seemingly so insatiable? Do you feel that marketing has led to people feeling unsatisfied and not having enough in life? If so, what actions can marketers take to create a world where people feel that they have enough, and they are enough? Can we re-imagine what marketing looks like and how it makes people feel?
In this interview series, we are talking to experts in marketing and branding to discuss how we might re-imagine marketing to make it more authentic, sustainable, and promote more satisfaction. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Devon Blaine.
Devon Blaine is the founder, president and CEO of The Blaine Group, Inc., and was named by the Los Angeles Business Journal recently as “one of the most influential marketers in Southern California.” Formerly an actress and model, Blaine established The Blaine Group, Inc., a Beverly Hills based full service communications agency specializing in public relations, crisis management, marketing and advertising. One of Blaine’s highlights was being elected as a delegate to the first White House Conference on Small Business, then appointed to the second Conference by then U.S. Senator Pete Wilson. Then Devon was elected by her peers to co-chair the California delegation.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
I would urge that I be more collaborative and less competitive with those perceived as competitors. There is much to be learned from everyone. Even how not to be.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful for that support to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for him or her?
There are so many people I am grateful for and learned from. To name a few:
My high school journalism teacher, Charles Garvin, instilled my appreciation for proper grammar, correct punctuation and accurate spelling. It makes me better and drives those around me crazy!
My dear mentor, Joe Dolphin, who never criticized or talked down to me but supportively asked, “How are you going to deal with that?” whenever I shared a business problem. He also introduced me to Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich, now extremely dog eared. I learned much about business from Joe who was the first person to take the paramedic ambulance business national.
Terry Galanoy, an award-winning advertising creative director, author and self-proclaimed “typewriter tramp” taught me much about creativity.
What day-to-day structures do you have in place for you to experience a fulfilled life?
There are certain “musts” for me every daily: meditation, exercise, supplements, gratitude, doing all that I possibly can each day, not putting things off, if at all possible (challenging with competing priorities), enjoying life, friends, good food. How can I not be fulfilled with all of that?
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
Polk Institute Foundation is a nonprofit, created to train social entrepreneurs to help make the world a better place with the goal of exposing social entrepreneurship as a viable career option and method to find financial freedom for their targeted students-members of underrepresented minorities (Black and Brown people)-who probably did not grow up in households where business ownership was considered a viable career option, It started its first classes on February 1, 2021, with 26 entrepreneurs nationally, from Atlanta to Boston, from Chicago to Denver to Los Angeles. Industries ranged from apparel to autism to automotive, from bald heads to construction, from recidivism to automotive, from bald heads to construction, from recidivism to solar energy to tele-vet. There were 17 women-led companies, nine with men at the helm. Ethically-diverse, 11 are Black, six are Brown, seven are White, and two are Asian.
The Polk Institute Foundation launched its second cohort workshop module on February 3, early in Black History Month. Nineteen entrepreneurs internationally, from Altadena to Zimbabwe, from Long Beach to Oakland, and in Oklahoma City, are participating in this innovative online tuition-free Master Practitioner-driven training & technical assistance program which includes the Pi-Academy, a 40-Week Training Program; the Pi-Accelerator, which is a 26-Week Mentor-Driven Program designed to launch the business ventures that were planned during Phase 1. Finally, Phase 3 is Polk Institute’s Access-To-Capital Phase where Cohort Clients seek financing after Polk Institute’s 66-Week vetting during Phases 1 & 2.
Industries range from affordable housing to moms to fashion accessories, from credit repair to mental health services, from an ice cream parlor to apps. Fourteen businesses are Black owned, two are Caucasian. Two are Hispanic and one is Asian. Three are veteran owned. Six companies are owned by men, 13 by women.
Carole Sumner Krechman has been a repeat client through the years. She recently was awarded a technology patent, at 80-years-of-age! How many women can say that? I suspect none! The patent is the foundation of her technology company, Logos-E, and has been used by her non-profit, Peacemaker Corps Association, in producing the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival the past seven years. It was also the proof of concept.
In addition, Carole’s first book, About Face, is available for prelaunch orders now at Amazon. It’s her story of doing business in China in the 1980s and building the first 5-star modern hotel and conference facility in Beijing. It’s a must read for anyone thinking about doing business in China.
We also represent David Hay, a portfolio manger for more than 40 years who managed $300 million to $2.5 billion. He publishes a free weekly newsletter on Substack, https://www.haymaker.substack.com that pulls no punches, directing bare knuckle blows at the worst financial political behavior imaginable, including enough unfiltered straight talk to have even a heavy weight pleading for the ref to mercifully call the fight.
Earlier this year, he digitally published Bubble 3.0: History’s Biggest Financial Bubble: Who Blew It and How To Protect Yourself When It Blows Apart, also on Substack. Many of his predictions have already proven out. Hay will definitely guide his followers about how best to make Hay!
Our newest client, WonderMouse Studios. has the distinction of being led by two Native American filmmakers who focus on making films about Native Americans.
“The Runner,” a short proof of concept based on a feature film written and directed by Simon Balderas, Apache Nation, has been accepted by the 16th Annual LA SKINS FEST, https://laskinsfest.com.
WonderMouse is partnered with b. Light Productions and American Indian Executive Producer Buffy Castillo, a Los Angeles native belonging to the Luiseno tribe that inhabited the coastal region of Southern California.
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Now let’s discuss marketing. To begin, can you share our readers a bit about why you are an authority on marketing?
Am I an authority on marketing? The Los Angeles Business Journal called me “one of the most influential marketers in Southern California.” The Blaine Group has represented four New York Times best sellers and numerous Amazon bestsellers. We’ve won many peer organization awards, best ongoing campaign of the year, etc. So that seems to be the consensus. In reality, we are as good as our last campaign. Just ask our clients!
Throughout history, marketing has driven trade for humans. What role do you see that marketing played to get human societies where we are today?
Marketing has definitely driven awareness for humans. Human societies chose to react as they did. So, while marketing may have led people to making decisions, the people had the ultimate vote.
I work in marketing so I’m very cognizant of this question. What role does marketing play in creating the human experience of “I don’t have enough” even when basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are met?
While some people are subject to more “I don’t have enough” feelings that others, who, ultimately is really responsible for their feelings? Some external force? Or do they own responsibility for how they choose to feel?
What responsibility do marketers have when it comes to people feeling that they aren’t enough?
This question is a follow on the question above. Whatever happened to people being responsible for their feelings and actions? Why blame it on something external?
I am huge on people accepting personal responsibility although I realize that it is not a popular point of view.
Different culture’s view trade/marketing differently. While some may focus on “pain-points” others may focus on “purpose-points.” How do other cultures differ in how they approach marketing? Please give examples or studies you may know about.
I am not knowledgeable enough about other countries to adequately address this intriguing question. I wish I were.
Many 21st-century marketing professionals in a capitalistic society will discuss solving human “pain points” as a way to sell products, services, and other wares successfully. In your opinion or experience, has aggravating points led to more pain?
Addressing pain points has to do with solving issues, problems. How can that create more pain?
Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: It seems as if we have never stopped to question marketing. In your opinion, how can marketing professionals be more responsible for how their advertising shapes our human experience of feeling safe, secure and knowing that we matter? Based on your experience or research, can you please share “Five Ways We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction?
It may be overly simplistic, but I believe the answer to this heady question is to be honest, to tell the truth.
Honest marketing can be fun, alluring and draw attention, create sales.
Do we need to Re-Imagine Marketing? Or simply eliminate some bad characters? Or those who lack good character?
In reality, this will happen of its own volition when the public reacts honestly to dishonest campaigns. And not a day too soon from where I stand.
Who’s ready to accept personal responsibility?
For you personally, if you have all your basic needs met, do you feel you have enough in life?
While I am content when my basic needs are met, in all honesty, I always want more. Isn’t that a basic human reaction? I mean, who wants less? Really?
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
I mentioned Think and Grow Rich earlier. That’s a favorite.
And quotes. I collect positive quotes. And people! Love both them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊
A movement already seems to be underway to return to kindness in our society. I’m 1000% behind that. There is no need to be any other way.
A former long-time assistant described me as being “tough but fair.”
And as time goes on, I value collaboration even more than ever.
Kindness. Fairness. Collaboration.
That’s a movement I’d join.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
I’m not one to spend much time on social media. Keep an eye on me and The Blaine Group at https://www.blainegroupinc.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world.