There are few Marketers out there that can match the energy and expertise of today’s guest. 😤

One of my personal fav interviews TO DATE, meet Jake Karls. Co-Founder of Mid-Day Squares (a chocolate company on it’s way to $100M in revenue), a modern day Willy Wonka, and master of storytelling, Jake laid it all on the line in our episode. 🍫🍫🍫

Here’s what he had to say about leaning into storytelling in your Marketing in his own liiightly edited words.

1. How Can My Brand Stand Out?:

“When we launched Mid-Day Squares at the end of 2018, I was looking at TV ratings and seeing reality shows like Shark Tank were killing it. I was curious, why??

(New life goal: pitch an idea on Shark Tank.🦈👀)

Do consumers like that it’s about business or is it the story component?

When I looked at all the data, I saw that people loved drama, scandals behind the scenes, everything that we all live every day, but don’t often get to see on TV.

I took this lesson to CPG (consumer packaged goods industry).

There’s 40,000 products on a typical supermarket shelf, so I said if we want to win in CPG (consumer packaged goods), just having a good product is not enough. 

We didn’t have the money to buy up shelf space, we needed to get consumers to become fans before even buying the product.

Our idea was to use social media as the vehicle for a reality show on building this business, showing the good, the bad, the ugly of how Mid-Day squares is going to be built from 0 to failure or 0 to success.

The goal was to show this aspirational and real lens into the company as a way to play on the emotionality of human nature.

We became this underdog and resembled the Canadian dream of working really hard and making you feel like a friend of the brand rather than a customer. And it worked

Our Marketing evokes an emotion in the consumer, we talk about our Midday squares 5 to 10 percent of the time, 90 to 95 percent of the time is storylines regarding what goes on behind the scenes of the business. 

2. The Future Currency of Marketing:

Accountability and authenticity are the future currencies of Marketing (YES, love this). 

The reason being because today humans more than ever want to be attached, they want transparency and vulnerability. They want to feel part of the situation. 

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Authenticity is what builds trust (retweet) and a friendship with our customers where our customers know us, they want to support and help however they can.

When you raise prices in a company, which most people had to do over the last year and a half, if you just swept it under the rug and raised prices, consumers get mad. To avoid this, we shared a video of why we’re raising prices 27%, and how if we don’t do it we’ll go bankrupt. 

We let out customers know in a very informational, but entertaining way. 90 percent of the comments were, “I want to buy more now. I love that you guys are real. You’re transparent. You’re sharing the authenticity.”


If you’re a CMO or you’re working in Marketing what makes you great is you being you, not you following the herd. (Nobody can beat you at being you.)

What makes you different is your authenticity, EMBRACE IT.

3. How Do I Compete With Big Brands?:

How do you stand out when you don’t have the money to compete with the big brands?

We couldn’t afford buying shelf space at supermarkets, especially because we’re in the refrigerator. There is LIMITED space.

The only way we could compete was to have people want to find the product before entering the grocery store.

Our iPhones were our best friends, we filmed ourselves nonstop, and hit post. Our first hire after a food scientist was a videographer (every company is a media company – but that doesn’t mean every company is a GOOD media company). 

We realized we needed someone just capturing 24/7. That way we have the content and we share it with the customer, whether it’s good or bad, this will create that sense of community. Slowly our consumers feel like they’re on the journey with us. 

We never optimized for views, we optimized for how the content made us feel when we watched the content we created. Did it cause us an emotional reaction or not? (THIS.)

If it didn’t, we wouldn’t post it. Most of the time when it would cause an emotional reaction it ended up getting some sort of virality.

Today the process is a little different because we’re not at the startup level anymore, we’re looking to scale. Our goal now is how do we capture stories that are meaningful, we look for moments. Do we have a huge milestone that’s coming up? Or do we have a potential recall? 

I recommend anyone, no matter what business you’re in, get your phone out, start documenting and putting content in a Google drive. 

It could be the most boring thing, a zoom call, a moment when you know you’re traveling for work. 

The reason being is you never know when you’re going to need that piece of content, that real piece of content. For us we have 36 terabytes (36?!!?!?!) of content from day one of Mid-Day squares, we can create a documentary down the line.  

(I absolutely LOVE this idea from Jake *takes phone out and starts recording*.)

4. As a Business, Lean Into This:

It’s easier to be yourself every day than to be somebody else, but it’s not easy to capture and then tell your true story online to the point where it impacts your business’ bottom line. It takes time and nothing’s going to happen overnight.

We still have videos that don’t hit any virality, but we keep them up because we love how they make the people that do watch it feel. (This is reassuring to hear!!)

Humanization is the future, people want connectivity, in a world full of digital interactions and zoom calls any type of realness breaks that attention barrier. 

In Marketing all you’re trying to do is grab and earn attention. It’s a privilege to grab consumer’s attention and then have the ability to captivate their ears and eyes to hopefully get them to sign up for your service or product. 

Storytelling is something that Marketers should study, it’s been around for as long as we’ve been human. Every business has a story, a why, a vision. You just need to find your authenticity in that story and then tell that every day (MHMMM).

Be proud to tell that story and don’t focus on views. Focus on making more depth with your customer base. Are you actually building a relationship with them? 

That’s more of a long game rather than a short game (we love long term games here Marketing Bestie). 

5. Politics -> Marketing:

The truth about Five Hour Energy is they crush because it’s very simple. They’re telling you their product use case, they’re making it easier to make decisions in your head. 

For Mid-Day Squares, we wanted people to have it Mid-Day. Everyone has 2pm cravings for something, so we want to be the brand that solves that problem and gets you through the afternoon. 

We don’t talk about the product in our Marketing, because our name does all the talking for us. When someone hears Mid-Day Squares they immediately have an idea of what we offer.  

We’re bullish on brand names being explicitly what their product is, like Five Hour Energy. 

Another thing that we are doing is leaning into in-person events. We get a lot of speaking gigs, whether it be to 20 people or 1,000, and we build case studies around Mid-Day Squares in the presentation, and we give electric energy.

We treat it as if we’re running for the presidency, like an election and we focus on how do we get the vote? If you study politics, not the policies, but the way that they use storytelling to build their bases, we’re applying that same type of theory to CPG to sell more product. (This is a GENIUS idea.) 

We’re using a ground game to touch people when we have their undivided attention at in-person events. 🤯”

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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