What I learned about Marketing from a 7-figure Influencer

How to work with brands and how to sell your value is not as easy as it looks. Here are some key takeaways from a conversation I had with a man who has built a multi-million dollar life and business through telling his story and being himself.


I don’t know how I got to be so lucky. But yesterday, I found myself on a Zoom call with a man who I admire and respect to the utmost degree. 

Tony Chapman is, in every sense of the word, self-made Canadian millionaire and totally brilliant. 

He is the kind of millionaire that I know I will be – (except obviously I will be a woman!) 

Tony has built an incredible business and career, by being himself. In fact, one could say that he’s a next level capital-I Influencer. 

He’s the host of a successful and booming podcast called Chatter That Matters. He was also one of the original Dragon’s on CBC’s pilot season of Dragon’s Den. He’s run multiple marketing agencies and he’s just a really nice, down to earth person – who, frankly, gives a shit. 

I know this because he takes the time to remember details. 

Like he remembers names, kids names, things about the people in his life that matter. 

He’s rolling in the Benjamins, but there’s zero sense that that matters to him at all when it comes to offering a helping hand or being in his zone of brilliance – which is marketing, positioning and partnerships

This isn’t the first time he has made time for little old me. Tony bought me lunch back in 2018 when I was flailing around, attempting to get Storyhouse Co. off the ground. (My first, valiant effort at an influencer marketing agency that never quite hit the mark). 

His message to me then was be relevant

That the name of the game in influencing and marketing is to never be old news. That really what both brands and the people who represent them want is to be memorable… and to be memorable on a consistent basis, is all about remaining relevant. 

It’s advice I remember and use to this day. It’s likely one of the reasons I have no problem shifting my business to suit the needs of my clients and the world. 

Remaining relevant means being willing to adapt to what’s around you. 

But Tony does more than adapt. He has learned to effortlessly respond.

He always has something to say. He is always perched from his market position looking for what’s coming down the pike – whether it’s political, economic or social and cultural. 

So when he offered to hop on another Zoom call yesterday and effectively give me 30 minutes of his time to talk about Story Studio Network – I was thrilled. 

(I mean, this is the man who charges six-figures to host a talk at an event. I don’t want to even do the math on what 30 minutes of consulting with him costs!) 

What advice did he give me about Story Studio Network? Tons – I took copious notes. As a preface, our whole conversation was centred around how we can position the network to attract corporate sponsors who are aligned with VALUES over all else. 

Here are the nuggets from our conversation that stood out: 

Find where your (our personal) narrative weave into that of the brand or sponsor we approach

Huh. I mean, this is exactly what I tell my clients to do with their OWN Stories. Find where you shine and then attract clients or sponsors who want to bask in that glow. (And if you want to start edging towards YOUR Story so you can do that? I suggest you check out Stories for a Year to build up that personal Story muscle).

Pick a lane and build a bridge

And by this, he meant know your ONE transformative value to anyone and everyone.

In the case of my network, it’s what is the one thing a listener to any of our shows will get by listening? What is the one thing that a corporate sponsor will get out of being aligned with the network’s content. 

That is the lane we play in. 

Then? We use that lane to build a bridge to other relationships and projects. 

So for example – at the Network, our ‘lane’ is that all of the shows and content we have planned offer listeners an opportunity to thrive and survive in a post-pandemic world. 

The Next Normal, which launched officially yesterday, is an arterial piece of content on the path to building that bridge. 

The bridge to thriving and surviving. 

But the next show might be a spin-off of a topic that comes up in The Next Normal – something nuanced and more niche. 

But Tony’s point was ALL ROADS (or lanes) need to come back to that original path. You need to pick your lane and build a bridge from there. 

Selling ‘data points’ is still a sticking point 

One challenge ALL digital marketers have – and especially those who live in this world of influencer and branded content – is that the dinosaurs in the board rooms are still obsessed with old style metrics like page views, click throughs, downloads and so on. 

But the technology to measure metrics in this new media age has not caught up to what should actually be measured. 

Which means the pitch for the project is harder. 

You can’t guarantee a sponsor that you’ll get x number of views or listeners. You just can’t make that guarantee. 

And that will result in some sponsors walking away or being disappointed with results. 

So how do you overcome this when it comes to attracting sponsors or clients who are super focused on the old-school ROI and the numbers? 

Well, as Tony put it – you learned to communicate and project to them a desired future state that is very hard to measure. 

You learn to articulate your brand (and your project’s) value beyond the numbers. 

This is where Story comes in. Because the effectiveness of story can’t actually be measured, it has to be felt. 

Learning how to communicate that feeling to a brand or client is crucial to having success in new media. 

Further to that, it’s also about showing clients and sponsors that storytelling content – whether it’s blogs, videos or podcasts is about long-tail growth. It’s not a quick flash in the pan. 

The results won’t be clear, in some cases, until months or years after the original content is put into the world – and only then if there’s been adequate commitment to actually leveraging it strategically and effectively. 


The Rest of the Story is a project of love and commitment to showing up on this site every day for 90 days; sharing honest opinions, thoughts and observations. Comments are welcome.

Erin Trafford Incorporated is located on sacred land that has been the site of human activity for over 12,000 years. We are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People, and we acknowledge them as the past, present, and future caretakers of this  land.

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