Generic Is Moronic (And Deadly)


I heard a commercial on the radio today. It went something like this:

If you’d like to see your child in a movie or TV show, call us now. A world-famous agent will be in your area this weekend for auditions.

Really? There are companies out there using this kind of generic crap and expecting it to work.

That’s like going to see your favorite rock star in concert in your hometown, and having them shout out things like “It’s great to be here” instead of “It’s great to be here in (your hometown).”

If your favorite rock star fails to mention the city he is playing in, it is for one of two reasons:

a) He doesn’t know.

b) He doesn’t care.

Not knowing is pretty bad, but not caring is even worse.

Pearl Jam played in Halifax, Nova Scotia back in 2005. In a now-legendary local moment, Eddie Vedder asked the audience if someone could pass him a Keith’s beer. That’s like being in Boston and asking for a Sam Adams. Eddie didn’t just say “How are you doing Halifax!” like most rock stars would. He went the extra distance and grabbed onto a powerful local touchstone. His fans ate it up. And he drank it up. You can watch the audience go crazy as Eddie opens his bottle of local brew here.

Meanwhile, this moronic talent agency can’t be bothered to customize their radio commercials for each city in which they air.

Would it be so difficult to cut versions for each city? Even if they were stopping in every major city in North America, it wouldn’t take a tremendous amount of work?

Couldn’t they mention who this “world famous” talent agent is? By being generic, they alert our bullshit detectors and make us doubt that this agent really is world-famous.

It doesn’t take that much work to understand who you are speaking to, and speak to them in a way that matters.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. As Roy H. Williams said about branding, “talk to the dog in the language of the dog about something that matters to the dog.”

Don’t talk to anyone in generic language about something that may or may not matter to anyone.

Order Brand Like A Rock Star now and start learning how to build a better business and make more money using the marketing strategies of rock and roll legends like U2, AC/DC, Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, and Jimmy Buffett.

The price of the Kindle edition has just come down to $5.99. Hard to resisit at that price, isn’t it? You could be reading it in less than five minutes.

Eddie Vedder, Keith's, Pearl Jam, Roy Williams 422 Comments

What Your Personal Brand Can Learn From Howard Stern


Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Howard Stern is a rock star brand.

The so-called “shock jock” from SiriusXM is now prominent on mainstream network TV as one of the judges of America’s Got Talent. He’s replacing Piers Morgan, who moved over to replace Larry King at CNN last year. And I have no doubt that in a few years Howard Stern will be beating Piers Morgan in ratings as the host of an interview program of his own. Howard’s fans know from experience what a brilliant interviewer he is.

Even if you think Howard Stern is abhorent (and many people do!), there are still some valuable lessons you can learn from him that can make your business more successful.

1. Be larger than life. Getting noticed isn’t a secondary priority. Getting noticed is job #1. Howard has always been larger-than-life, holding rallies and press conferences to launch his radio show in new cities. Howard takes credit for many of the advances in radio, boasting that he broke down barriers for so many other radio hosts who have emulated his style. Howard’s jump to network TV with America’s Got Talent is another example of his larger than life persona.

2. Have more than one dimension. A lot of detractors hear Howard Stern and are immediately put off by his controversial content. But underneath the sex jokes and rude comments is a character who is remarkably interesting. He is a vocal supporter of gay rights. He is a home-body and comes across as hen-pecked. He watches trashy reality TV.  Howard, while incredibly boastful and egotistical on the air, is also often quite insecure and talks at great length about his ugly face and small penis (his words, not mine!).

3. Be honest. Howard puts it all out there on the air. He is so brutally honest about himself that you are often left wondering if he’s making some of his faults up. How could one person be so normal and flawed like the rest of us, and be so willing to bare it all in public? Howard’s frank honesty gets him noticed and endears him to his fans. That honesty makes Howard, a ridiculously wealthy media celebrity, seem normal and down to earth.

4. Be consistent, but throw a few curveballs. Showing up on family-friendly network TV was not something people expected Howard Stern to do. But it was a brilliant move on his part. Although his network TV act is toned down from his raunchy satellite radio show, he is still the unpredictable wise-ass that people have come to expect him to be. Just because he is on family-friendly TV doesn’t mean he can’t be himself.

You can order your copy of Brand Like A Rock Star right now and be reading the digital download in minutes. Or you can have the paperback delivered right to your door. If you’re not sure if you want to order, start by reading chapter one for free at

If you didn’t think this post was total rubbish, please comment, share, and “like” so that those in your circle can benefit from the knowledge and discussion!

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Accelerating Your Rock Star Personal Brand

Being a rock star is hard work. But the rewards are huge.

James Brown was the hardest working man in show biz. You didn’t want front row seats at a James Brown show, unless you enjoyed being covered in the man’s sweat. He was relentless on stage, always striving to give his fans more than they paid for. When James Brown was done one of legendary marathon shows, the audience was as tired as the performer was.

That’s hard work.

Bruce Springsteen is famous for leaving every ounce of energy he has on stage for his fans, walking off the stage physically exhausted to an audience grateful for the chance to spend their money on a show like that.

That’s hard work.

The Beatles may have appeared as overnight sensations in America in 1964, but they had spent several years playing the seedy bars of Hamburg, Germany, perfecting their craft night after night.

That’s hard work.

We live in a world of instant gratification and perpetual short cuts… lottery tickets, miracle weight loss pills, and automated spam that can grab you a million Twitter followers overnight. They are false hopes.

Do not be fooled. Building your personal brand is hard work.

In his fantastic book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell speculated that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at nearly anything. That’s 417 days.

Fortunately, our hyper-connected world offers you more opportunity than ever to learn, network, grow, and put in your 10,000 hours.

Five Ways To Accelerate Your Personal Brand

1. Never stop reading. Books, blogs, tweets, posts, articles, and even newspapers. Read. Be a life-long student of what you do.

2. Network. Always be connecting and talking, sharing and collaborating.

3. Listen. We love to talk, but the best talkers are the ones who spend even more time listening. When you’re listening to others, work hard to really hear what they are communicating.

4. Eliminate wasted time. I wrote a book over the course of a year simply by eliminating time wasted watching TV. I spent nearly every down moment I had working on the book. It was amazing how fast things came together.

5. Always Over-deliver. Forget about hype. Instead of building expecatations, focus on over-delivering and leaving people in awe. Under-promising and over-delivering is awlays smarter than creating false expectations. Make it your mission to over-deliver at every opportunity.

6. And one bonus… Think a lot. It sounds really simple, but it is extremely powerful. Always be thinking. Analyse what you see. Contemplate what you hear. Examine truths. Fill your brain with crazy thoughts and ideas, and then get a good night’s rest. You’ll be amazed how the mind sorts it all out while you’re snoring.

Order Brand Like A Rock Star today and begin your brand building journey using the marketing strategies of rock and roll legends like U2, AC/DC, Bob Dylan, Guns N Roses, Bob Marley, The Grateful Dead, and many others. The digital version can be instantly download for under $10, or the paperback can be home delivered.

Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, The Beatles 2,243 Comments

Three Business Lessons From A Number One Hit Song


I’m really happy for young Carly Rae Jepsen. The nice kid from Canada (Mission, British Columbia to be specific) now has the #2 song on the legendary Billboard “Hot 100″ chart with “Call Me Maybe“. And on the digital download chart, the song is already #1.

The story behind her success is pretty cool, and embedded within the story are several powerful business lessons.

“Call Me Maybe” might be a light, catchy pop song, but it actually began it’s life as a folk song. Her producer felt that one particular lyric from the original folk song could be the anchor for a new song altogether, so they started from scratch and built a new song around the single line “call me maybe”.

Lesson #1: Your next great idea might come from an unexpected place. Plenty of great things came out of other ideas, like Viagra, the microwave oven, and Post-It Notes. Oh, and penecillin… which probaby trumps Viagra. Never throw away an idea.

The song came out last year in Canada, and became a hit on the Canadian pop charts. But despite the song’s success in her home country, it went pretty much unnoticed everywhere else in the world. “Call Me Maybe” was destined to be a nice regional hit for Carly Rae… until fellow Canadian Justin Bieber came home for the holidays and heard it on the radio. Biebs was so impressed with the song that he tweeted about the song, and made sure that Jepsen was signed to his record label. Within a few weeks, Carly Rae went from local success story to massive worldwide superstar.

Lesson #2: Who can help you catapult your great idea into the stratosphere? Network, connect, and interact. The next person who hears about you could be the person who makes magic happen. But magic will never happen in a vacuum. Almost every business success story includes a mentor or a heartfelt “hand up” along the way.

So with her debut song peaking at #1 in numerous countries around the world, what comes next for Carly Rae Jepsen? Can she possibly repeat the runaway success of “Call Me Maybe”?

Lesson #3: Once you’ve established expectations, the pressure is on to live up to them. If your customers expect something – and you don’t supply it – the consequences can be fatal to your business. The moment Chipotle is no longer “food with integrity” is the moment the brand dies.

For a deeper look at how the lessons of rock ‘n’ roll can be applied to business, order Brand Like A Rock Star now for immediate digital download or home delivery of the paper edition.

Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber 104 Comments

Is Van Halen Done?


The most anticipated rock reunion of the year came to an abrupt end this week when Van Halen postponed more than 30 tour dates. They’ll play 14 more shows through July 26, and then… well, nothing. Shows in Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Salt Lake City are all on hold.


As soon as the dates were postponed, rumors began to circulate that the band was once again in turmoil due to infighting.

Then David Lee Roth released a video explaining that the dates were on hold because the band was fatigued from biting off more than they could chew in terms of workload.

The truth?

Who knows.

Van Halen played 79 shows with David Lee Roth in 2007-2008 with no cancellations. Prior to that they managed to get 80 shows in on their 2004 “Best of Both Worlds” tour, while cancelling only 6 dates with then-lead singer Sammy Hagar.

In fact, the only time Van Halen has cancelled a significant number of concerts was during their ill-fated III tour in 1998. That time around, Gary Cherone was their singer, and they were touring in support of a poor-selling album. To make matters worse, Alex Van Halen injured his arm, causing several European dates to be scrapped. Later in the tour they had to reschedule a Puerto Rico date because of a hurricane, and then eventually cancelled that show because of Cherone’s tonsillitis. Even on that mess of a tour they only cancelled 19 shows and played 76.

So what’s the deal this time?

Van Halen is a brand in trouble.

They’ve screwed over their fans too many times. Until now, they’ve been forgiven by many of them. This tour has been well-received with most shows being sold out or close to it.

But something tells me they won’t be easily forgiven if infighting has caused another collapse.

If that is the case, the band is done.

How many times can a brand screw over their fans before the love affair ends?

The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a championship since 1967, yet they still have loyal fans and sell out game after game.

Facebook pisses off millions of people with every unwelcome change (Timeline, anyone?), and they continue to grow.

BP killed 11 people and did massive damage to the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, but they’re still making millions.

David Lee Roth promises that the band will reschedule those concerts, and the band will be back on the road for what he assures us will be a two year tour. We’ll see.

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The Psychic Power of Brand Consistency


A new AC/DC album is on the way. Depending on who you talk to, the album could be out as soon as 2013 (according to Brian Johnson, the lead singer of the band) or 2014 (so says guitarist Malcolm Young). Either way, a new AC/DC album is coming.

I haven’t heard it yet, but I can already tell you plenty about it.

How Will It Look?

The album cover will include the band’s name, written in their iconic “Squealor” font.  It album graphic will look something like this.

In addition, you’ll see guitarist Angus Young wearing a school boy outfit. Lead singer Brian Johnson will very likely be wearing a newsboy cap, rolled up sleeves, and black jeans. Do not anticipate any hair gel or make-up.


How Will It Sound?

Somewhere on the album there will be a song that includes the word “rock” in the song title. Quite possibly, there will be multiple songs with this trait. After all, in their 16 previous studio albums they’ve included 20 different songs with the word “rock” in the title, from “Rock and Roll Train” to “For Those About To Rock” to “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”.

Getting into the musical nuances, there will be a wealth of songs with simple three-chord progressions. The guitar riffs will be so simple and catchy that you’ll wonder how nobody came up with them before.

In terms of song structure, expect to hear most songs begin with a simple guitar riff. Drums and bass guitar will likely join in after four bars, followed shortly thereafter by screaming vocals.

From a lyrical perspective, you won’t hear any songs about starving children in the third world. There will not be a song about the pain of watching a relationship end sour. There will be no power ballad on the new AC/DC album. Most songs will be about drinkin’, rockin’, partyin’, women, drivin’, and sex.

How do I know all of this?

Because AC/DC is the epitome of brand consistency.

They know exactly what their fans expect from them, and they deliver precisely that album after album, song after song, concert after concert.

Even those who hate AC/DC know exactly what AC/DC is all about.


Why Does This Matter To You?

Do your customers know exactly what to expect from your brand?

Do they know exactly what makes you different from all of your competitors?

Do those who dislike your brand still get it? Remember, the opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference.

Read Chapter One of Brand Like A Rock Star For Free.

Download the book for immediate reading, or order it for home delivery from Amazon.

AC/DC 1,071 Comments

Five Reasons Groupon Sucks


I feel dirty.

Today, against my better judgement, I purchased something using Groupon.

I feel bad for the local business who just got completely and utterly ripped off by Groupon, and subsequently by me. As a marketing and branding writer and speaker, I am paid to help businesses succeed. So buying something from a service I ethically despise made me feel terrible.

Here are five reasons Groupon sucks:


1. They force your business to put a value on your product or service that is far below it’s actual value.  Once you’ve established that your $100 product is actually worth $25, you’ve screwed yourself out of any chance to charge $100 again with any credibility. In my case, I just bought a$1000 product for $199.  You can be damned sure that I’ll never pay $1000 for it again.

2. They reward bargain-hungry customers who have no loyalty to the business. Instead of giving your biggest discounts and best deals to your loyal customers, Groupon forces you to give your biggest discounts to those who have zero loyalty to you. How do you think that makes your long-term loyal customers feel?

3. They give you the perception of increased business thanks to a rush of transactional customers who are only concerned about finding the best price. The moment you stop offering the very best price, these customers will go elsewhere and never come back… until you drop your prices again. Every time you try attract a customer like that, your profit margins go down. Never has a great business been built on the back of low profit margins.

4.They create a rush of artificial business that, quite often, overruns your ability to care for customers in the manner you are accustomed. Because of the inevitable drop in customer service, you piss off your regular customers who give you the bulk of your business.

5. They are crack cocaine; highly-addictive with a short-lived bump. Once you’ve experienced the high, you want it again. And again. And the only way to get it is to keep going back to your dealer to hand over your profits to them. Pretty soon, you’re broke. And there’s no rehab for bankrupt businesses.

Rock Star brands would never work with corrupt concepts like Groupon.

Can you imagine Apple offering a Groupon discount on the iPad?

Can you even dream of Harley-Davidson offering a Groupon discount on a Fat Boy?

Can you fathom Starbucks going to Groupon to sell more Vanilla Bean Frappacinos?

Instead of the short-lived rush of a hundred new bargain-hungry discount shoppers, start building a rock star brand.

Rock Star brands don’t compete on price.

Rock Star brands provide value to the customer, regardless of price.

Learn how to build a Rock Star brand by reading Brand Like A Rock Star, available now for digital download or home delivery.


Apple, Groupon, Harley Davidson, Starbucks 1,976 Comments

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.



Bob Marley, Steve Jobs 200 Comments