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Passion Before Profits


 

This post was inspired watching the Grammy Awards, when Bob Marley’s sons Damian and Ziggy joined Rihanna, Sting, and Bruno Mars in a tribute to their late father Bob. Itis based on an earlier post, so forgive me if you’ve read elements of this before.

When you put passions ahead of profits, amazing things happen.

Passion is the reason you started doing what you do. Just as Bob Marley started making reggae music because it was part of his heart, soul, religion, and national identity.

Passion is what your fans galvanize around. They join the tribe. Just as Bob Marley fans attached themselves to his message of hope, peace, racial harmony, and gentle spirit.

When your business grasps for the dollar, passions are quickly compromised.

Values are thrown aside. Ideals no longer drive you. Your fans scatter.

Bob Marley fans never had to scatter. Marley remained true to his reggae passion, and as a result he became a massive worldwide superstar.

Put your passion first. Profits will follow.

 With a few clicks you could be reading the Kindle version of Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich And Famous. It is also available in paperback delivered right to your home. Order now and start rockin’ your business.

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Choose To Rock


I spent two weeks in the Caribbean over the holidays, listening to a lot of reggae music. My personal favorite is Bob Marley.

Bob Marley came from nothing.

He was born in total poverty in the village called Nine Mile up in the hills of Jamaica, and raised in the Trench Town district of Kingston.

In the 1970s, as Marley’s popularity soared, Trench Town became an all-out war zone sparked by divisive politics, drugs, and corruption.

Yet despite violence and poverty, Trench Town produced some of the greatest music Jamaica has ever known. Not only did Bob Marley emerge from the famous “government yards in Trench Town”, but so did many of his “Wailers”, including Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. To this day Trench Town is famous as the birthplace of rocksteady and reggae music.

Despite coming from absolutely nothing, Bob Marley became a music legend, cultural icon, and modern-day philosopher.

So many great rock stars came from poverty-striken and broken homes, includingElvis, Springsteen, Jay-Z, and Hendrix.

You don’t need power, money, political pull, job security, or corporate influence to be a rock star.

Being a rock star is a choice.

You can chose to create something truly memorable, something game changing, something meaningful… or you can chose to be average and watch the world go by.

Bob Marley chose to speak from his heart and make music that reflected his personal feelings, his religious beliefs, and his cultural heritage. He chose to change the lives of people around him in a positive and powerful way.

If you decide to sit and wait for the right time, circumstance, financial situation, and political climate to “rock”, you’ll be waiting a long, long time.

I think you should choose to rock instead.

Forget about your circumstances and forget about your excuses. Wake up and start rockin’.

With one click right here you can order Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich and Famous. It is a step by step guide to creating a powerful brand that rocks using the core marketing strategies of the bands and singers you love.

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The Rock Star Start-Up Guide


 

Launching a new business from the ground up is a daunting task, one that eats many people alive before a business ever takes off. It is no wonder that most small businesses never get off the ground, let alone shed the “small” and become huge successes.

The start-up process has a lot in common with the struggles that a musician goes through as they begin the quest to achieve “rock star” status, and there are some great lessons that start-up businesses can take away from the careers of legendary rock stars. Here are three cool examples of the rock star/start up connection:

1. Get Noticed First.

The Sex Pistols were the creation of producer Malcolm McLaren, and McLaren need to get his new band talked about. So to launch their song “God Save The Queen”, McLaren had the band play live on a barge sailing down the River Thames in London, right past the House of Parlaiment. The stunt got tremendous press coverage in England! Millions of people were thrilled with the band’s anti-royal stance, and millions more were put off by their antics. Things got so crazy that the company contracted to press the band’s vinyl album had to turn down the contract because their own employees refused to be involved in the Sex Pistols album. The PR paid off in a major way, and “God Save The Queen” became a huge hit. The Sex Pistols, despite only having one album to their credit, made it all the way to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

In the start-up world, one of the first challenges is getting noticed. There are countless other businesses trying to get people’s attention, and most of them have more money and resources than you do. Take a lesson from the Sex Pistols and capture people’s attention in a way that they can’t ignore.

2. What Makes You Special?

Wicked Lester was a struggling rock band in New York in the early 70s. Like thousands of other bands, they thought they had what it takes to be the next big thing. They had good musicians and songwriters, and a great lead singer. Yet nothing was happening for the band.  Before breaking up, Wicked Lester gave it one more shot. They changed their name, changed their look, and took to the stage in full comic book make-up as KISS. In less than two years, the band was embarking on their first world tour. They had their struggles as KISS for sure, but the path from obscurity to stardom was paved by the band’s unique difference. They wore make-up. They took on comic book personas. They blew stuff up on stage. KISS was a band that gave the world something it had never seen before.

When starting a new business, one of the first goals needs to be to establish a unique position relative to your competition. What makes you so special? Why should anyone remember you, let alone chose you over their existing options? Don’t be afraid or apologetic for what makes you different. Instead, celebrate and flaunt what makes you special. Rock it.

3. Find Your Passion!

You can’t fake it. At least not for long. When you are passionate about what you are singing about, the game changes. Bob Marley is a great example. He made reggae music because it was a part of his culture and his religion. Because Marley was so deeply connected to his music, he never wavered. He didn’t sing a disco song because disco was popular. He didn’t sing a duet with the top female pop singer of the day. Bob Marley did nothing to be rich and famous, aside from being true to the music he loved.

Are you that passionate about your start-up idea? Or will you be distracted by the lure of quick profits and easy money by compromising your core values? If you aren’t passionate enough to stay true to your values when it is inconvenient and costs you money, then you probably aren’t passionate enough to win.

The book Brand Like A Rock Star has 20 chapters filled with tips on how to build a stronger brand and better business by using the core marketing strategies of rock and roll legends. You can download the Kindle version instantly for $5.99 or have the paperback delivered straight to your door.

 

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Passion Over Profits


 

It doesn’t so much matter what you do in business and life, as much as how you do it.

If your business is founded on a passion, you might just have a shot.

If your business is founded on getting rich, good luck to you.

Bob Marley didn’t make music with the end goal of getting rich, becoming famous, and turning into one of the rock era’s best-selling artists. If that was his mission, he would have stopped making quirky island music and started making pop music. After all, that’s what was selling in the 1970s… not reggae.

Bob Marley made music that came from his heart. It was part of his lifestyle. It was embedded in his religion. That intense passion was a cornerstone to his success. It was that passion that helped make him rich, famous, and one of the rock era’s best-selling artists.

Steve Jobs was passionate about design. He was passionate about making technology smaller, more intimate, and more human. That’s what drove him, not the urge to create the most profitable brand on earth.

Start with your passion, and your profits will come.

Enjoy this Bob Marley video. In it you can see, hear, and feel how the music wasn’t something he made… it was something he lived and breathed.

And after that, just for fun, groove to some “Passion” from Rod Stewart.

While you watch, click here to instantly order Brand Like A Rock Star for home delivery or digital download.

 

 

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Five Small Business Branding Myths


 
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I am fortunate to speak with plenty of business owners, many of them running small and emerging businesses. Yet some of them still believe that the concept of branding doesn’t really apply to small business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are five common myths surrounding small business and branding.

Myth #1 – Branding is something that big companies do, not small businesses.

Reality – Building a strong brand is about creating an expectation within your customer’s mind. It has nothing to do with the size of the business. In fact, since great brands are all about satisfying emotional needs, it could be argued that branding is best done by smaller businesses who exist close to their customers. Strong small local brands can compete against, and even take down, the big boys.

Myth #2 – Branding is expensive and requires a lot of costly TV advertising that I can’t afford.

Reality – Building a strong brand isn’t about advertising or money. Branding is essentially storytelling. Stories are told through a variety of means, not just through advertising. Telling your brand’s special story doesn’t have to be expensive. What is expensive is not building a strong brand. Weak brands fail to grow, collapse in the face of competition, and quickly fall victim to recessions. Failure is expensive.

Myth #3 – I don’t need to worry about branding because my business is already different from everyone else out there.

Reality – You might think so, but your customers (and potential customers) probably don’t see it that way. Because business owners and operators are so close to their products, they are unqualified to see their business the way real people do. Real people don’t see that big a difference between most businesses. Only businesses with well-developed brands are able to demonstrate to customers what makes them so different.

Myth #4 – Branding is just a passing fad.

Reality – You’re probably right. So is the internet. While you wait for it to fade away, be sure to watch as small businesses around you build strong brands, develop powerful identities, and grow beyond their founder’s wildest dreams.

Myth #5 – If my brand is strong, I will become too pigeonholed to grow my business.

Reality – The ill-fated concept of being “everything to everyone” permeates small business. Long term, it doesn’t work.  Businesses that establish a specific area of expertise are the ones that win. Successful businesses specialize and become famous for something! Yes, that means some people won’t like you. And that’s okay, even for a small business. Once you reach the point where you can accept that you need to lose some customers to gain hundreds of others, you’ll be ready to grow.

Small businesses with solid brands absolutely rock. They are fun to work with because they exist very close to their customers and can react quickly to changing conditions. They can make great things happen nearly overnight. Some of the coolest branding success stories out there are small businesses.

Remember, almost all rock stars start out small too.

Bob Marley started his career playing a style of island music that didn’t even have a name.  Someone called it “reggae”, and within a decade Bob Marley was a worldwide star. 

U2 began as a bunch of high school students who could barely play their instruments. This week they wrapped up the most profitable tour in music history.

When John met Paul at a church picnic, The Beatles were formed. They went on to change the face of music in a short decade.

Where will your small business take you? Learn more about branding your small business in the new book Brand Like a Rock Star, now available here. If you’re hesitant to order, read Chapter One for free before you buy. You can download it here absolutely free.

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Branding The Cayman Islands, Rock Star Style


This week we’ve looked at techniques for branding real estate agents, restaurants, and personalities. Today, we examine the branding of an entire country.

The winter of 2006-2007 was my favorite winter of all time. That was the winter I spent living in the Cayman Islands, and took all of the photos in this post. But the Cayman Islands has faced some interesting branding challenges lately, and they aren’t easy to solve. Along with financial services, tourism is their main industry, and attracting those tourists is tough these days. Most come for the day on cruise ships, but far fewer stay for days at a time. Tourists that stay only a few hours don’t spend nearly as much money as those who stay a week.

Despite rampant gang violence, tourism in much of Mexico is healthy, fueled by massive all-inclusive hotels, spring breakers, and endless white sand beaches. Jamaica, despite plenty of negative press because of drug violence, continues to promote it’s beaches, culture, and people to tourists. With Bob Marley’s music and “no problem, mon” on their side, building their brand is easier.

The Cayman Islands doesn’t have Bob Marley. It doesn’t have many all-inclusive hotels. There are only a few beaches on the island, albeit spectacular ones. Spring breakers can’t afford to vacation there, and bars close relatively early. There are no mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, or similar natural wonders unless you scuba dive. Only one public golf course exists. There is no nationally-known drink like tequila or Appleton rum to brand the country with. What’s a tiny island to do?

Well, I like what they came up with. Instead of attempting to compete against the point of strength of Jamaica or Mexico or other vacation spots, they are positioning against their point of weakness. With their “Cayman-kind” branding, the Cayman Islands is all about comfort and luxury. There isn’t much on the site about beaches and resorts. The underlying message of Caymankind is “if you come to the Cayman Islands, you won’t see all of the poverty you see elsewhere”. And that claim is largely true.

There’s just one problem: it doesn’t go far enough.

To be truely effective, it needs to go one step further, and promote the islands as the kind of place where you can walk down the street after dark and feel totally safe. They need to promote that there are no all-inclusives because leaving the resort is so safe, and there are too many world-class restaurants to sample to force you to eat at one hotel. Their marketing should encourage people to walk around, take a bus, rent a car, explore on their own, and never feel lost or worried about their well-being. You can’t do that in Mexico, Jamaica, or most Caribbean destinations.

Take it one step further. Become ”The Cayman Islands… The Kinder Islands”.

If they went that extra step, every advertisement would not just promote their island, but it would subtly reposition nearly every Caribbean island as crime-ridden, poverty-stricken, and confining.

That is how smart branding works. You position yourself relative to your competitors, and by promoting your position you inherently flaunt your competitor’s weaknesses. With every ad, you drive home the competition’s negative perceptions that ultimately benefit your brand.

It would alienate some tourists. They would think the Cayman Islands are snobby and stuck-up and overpriced. Fine. They don’t need to win the hearts and minds of every vacationer, they only need to win the hearts and minds of those wealthy enough to vacation in a paradise they can feel safe in.

What do you think of the Cayman Islands branding job? The only issue I have with it is that while it sells me on visiting Cayman, it stops short of convincing me that it is dangerous and unwise to go anywhere else.

(All photographs taken by Steve Jones)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Paul McCartney and the Multisensory Brand


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Despite being nearly a hometown boy, he had never once played the venue.  Lesser names had done it.  He had played other places in town, both on his own and with his bands, but this would be the first time he had ever performed in this famous place.

Paul McCartney’s Sunday night headlining performance at Hyde Park in London was a spectacular multisensory experience.

You can see U2 play almost anywhere, but seeing them play in Dublin, Ireland, would be incredible.  Bob Marley music sounds fantastic anytime, but hearing it while doing next-to-nothing on a beach in the Caribbean makes the music sound so much better.  Springsteen concerts always leave me wanting more, but seeing him play at Meadowlands in Jersey – or even Madison Square Garden – now that would be truly wild!

The air was as thick as Guinness for the McCartney show.  Far behind the massive stage, dusk twinkled with jets lined up on approach to runway 27 at Heathrow.  The conflicting yet enticing smells of Jamaican jerk chicken, sushi, fish and chips, and Chinese food filled the air from the food vendors.

We found a place on the grass to savor our food, sitting on a lawn that was planted 474 years ago when Henry VIII turned the area into a deer park and private hunting ground.  It would be 101 years later when the park became public property.

Then the music started.  The band rocked.  Paul was his playful self, goofy at times, serious at others, and always humbled by the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction.  When fireworks exploded in synch to “Live and Let Die”, the hauntingly low London clouds only served to enhance the show.

Talk about a multisensory experience!  Sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

So many brands stop at sound and sight, and think no further.

What does your brand smell like?  What does it taste like, even if it isn’t food?  What is it like to experience our brand in a 360 degree environment?

Some brands get it.  Starbucks has worked hard to make the mundane chore of getting a coffee into a multisensory experience.

Great brands are 360 degree experience, even in their marketing.  They can send their unique smell directly into your brain through an ad.  That’s magic.

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The Importance of Being First


If you’re passionate about great bands and great brands, please click here to subscribe to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. You can also join the discussion on Facebook.

 

Tonight I became someone I never thought I would be.  I was the old guy at the back of the stadium watching my kids groove to a band that has it’s greatest appeal to a generation younger than me.

I took my two boys and a friend of theirs to see Canadian punk act Billy Talent.  No question - this band rocks.  They are tight and powerful and sound great.  You can hear shades of The Sex Pistols and Ramones and Nirvana all mixed in with a fresh approach.

As we were leaving the show, my son’s friend thanked me for bringing him and said “that was so cool… my first concert.”

Remember your first time?

The first time the lights dimmed, the crowd roared, and a power chord shook the rafters?

The feeling of uncertainty and excitment and nervousness over what was about to happen?

The awe-inspiring sense that you were in the same room as your idol?

No matter how legendary or how much of passing fad your first concert was, you always hold a special place in your heart for the band.  I have a friend who sheepishly admits that she loves The Bay City Rollers because that was her first show.  Another friend always inspires jealousy in me when he brags about seeing a little-known reggae singer named Bob Marley at his first concert.

Mine?  It was a Canadian band from the 80′s called Platinum Blonde. A few weeks ago I saw them perform a reunion show and it was like that magical first concert all over again.

There’s something special about being first.

Brands that are first often win the long-term battles.  Ries & Trout spent a lot of time discussing the idea of being first in a product category as key to a brand’s chances of success.

Coke may be the #1 cola overall, but Pepsi dominates many regions where it was first, such as the Caribbean and Canada’s east coast provinces.

Sony created the first Walkman, and for the better part of two decades they owned the market for portable personal audio players… until Apple came along.

When you are launching a new brand, the fastest road to success is to find a new product category – one where there is nobody to compete with you – and claim the territory.

Being first is pretty powerful.

What was your first concert?  Does the band hold a special place in your heart to this day?

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Life After Death


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When I heard that Sony Music was paying $250 million to the estate of Michael Jackson for the rights to his past music and 10 projects to be released over the next 7 years, my first thought was that they are completely nuts.  I mean, they just signed a dead artist who hasn’t had a legitimate hit song since 1995 to the biggest record deal in history!  He was nearly bankrupt prior to his death and his last album struggled to reach the break even point.  What were they thinking?!?

But when you stop and think about,  there are two reason that Sony might actually be quite shrewd paying this much for Jackson’s music past and future.

1. It is no longer about CD’s and downloads.  It is about movie soundtracks, TV shows, commercials, computer games, and platforms we haven’t even considered yet.  In the old world of CD sales this deal would be nuts, but maybe not so much anymore.

2. Michael Jackson is now a rarity.  Like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Bob Marley, we sadly won’t be blessed with any new music from him.  That makes his brand infinitely more valuable.  In death, Elvis made $55 million last year.  John Lennon’s estate claimed over $15 million in 2009.  Bob Marley’s estate still earns close to $10 million annually… that’s $892,500,000 in Jamaican dollars.

Michael was already far more wealthy in death than he was in life.  His estate earned $90 million in the seven months following his death.  And the years to come with obviously be much more profitable.

 

What can your business learn from this morbid story?

1. The law of supply and demand is impossible to refute.  If demand is high and supply is low, the value goes sky high.  Examples?  Nintendo’s Wii machine was impossible to find two years ago at Christmas.  The supply was low, but everybody wanted one.  That’s why they fetched over $1000 on e-bay.  Michael Jackson is in demand (because he’s dead) and he’s in low supply (also thanks to death), so once again his value is very high.   How does your brand control supply and demand?  Remember that “supply” could easily be “exposure”.  Are you controlling your brand from overexposure?

2. If you have something cool (like, say, unreleased Michael Jackson material) it pays off to tell people that it is coming.  Create some advance interest.  By telling us that there are 10 Michael Jackson projects coming in the next 7 years, Sony has teased us with what could come.  Rumor is that there are three albums worth of new and unreleased MJ material in the vaults.  Another rumor is that Michael was planning to re-release a new version of  “Off The Wall”.   Apple has done this brilliantly… things like the iPad were the topic of much discussion and anticipation long before they came out.  What does your brand do to generate interest in what you are about to do?

Now Sony couldbe crazy.  But if Elvis Presley is any example, Michael Jackson’s music will endure for years to come in any number of forms and platforms, and Sony will more than recoup their $250 million.

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Top 5 Brand Like A Rock Star Posts of 2009


The idea for “Brand Like a Rock Star” had been kicking around in my head for a few months.  The initial concept was a book about how Jimmy Buffett turned a simple three-chord beach tune into the Margaritaville mega-brand.  One night in February I sat under the stars in Austin, Texas jotting down notes about the idea when it occured to me that the music industry is full of great stories that show how brands should, and shouldn’t, be built.

The first post went up March 13, and since then almost 3000 readers in 65 countries have visited to the site.  I’m quite honored and flattered that so many people have enjoyed the blog and contributed to it.  Since March, 87 posts have been created and the blog has served as my notes for the development of the book.  2010 will be the year that “Brand Like a Rock Star” grows from a blog into a book, and I will keep you updated on the progress.  In the meantime, here are the top 5 most read posts from the blog this year.

5. September 2 – Bob Marley: The Million Dollar Niche Market

Bob Marley is the best example of someone who didn’t compromise their style, beliefs, and music in the name of success.  Marley did his thing, and brought the world to him… instead of the other way around.  Sadly, that sense of conviction ended up killing him.  Bob Marley refused to have his cancerous toe amputated because of his Rastafarian beliefs.  The cancer spread, and took his life.

4. December 3 – Tiger Needs To Attack!

Every branding blogger had to give their two cents on how the team handling Tiger Woods dealt with the controversy of 2009.  This was my take, and looking back at it a month later I think I was right.

3. September 14 – Partnerships: Currencies of Credibility

This post was one that kind of got forgotten after I wrote it, and only now – looking back at the year – did I notice how popular it was.  It makes sense, and rings true when you look at the Tiger Woods scandal from a sponsorship point of view.

2. October 7 – Jerry Garcia: Master Marketer

Deadheads made this post one of the most viewed postings in 2009.  I’m not certain Jerry Garcia always consciously knew he was making groundbreaking marketing decisions, but he sure made a lot of smart ones.

1. December 11 – Forty Years Ahead of Their Time

Again the Deadheads spread the word on Twitter and made this posting easily the most viewed on the Brand Like a Rock Star blog in 2009.  The essence of the post is that Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead were really the first social media and file-sharing experts, forty years ahead of their time.  When you look at amazing brands in rock and roll, the Grateful Dead comes up a lot.

Apple, best of 2009, Bob Marley, Grateful Dead, Harley Davidson, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Buffett, Tiger Woods No Comments