Rehearsal Is For Cowards

rock star dark

Jackson Browne is famously quoted as saying “rehearsal is for cowards”.

He’s right.

Overly rehearsed performances are stilted, awkward, and inhuman.

Rock stars rehearse until they are damn good, but when they hit the stage they just let it flow.

The great ones change the set list on a moment’s notice to take advantage of the crowd’s vibe.

The great ones screw up along the way, laugh out loud, and keep on rockin’.

They savor the moment, smile until it hurts, give their fans everything they’ve got, and leave the stage a sweaty, tired mess.

Aren’t great brands just the same?

More than perfect, great brands are human.

One of the iconic moments in Steve Jobs’ leadership of Apple was during the messy iPhone 4 antenna controversy, when it was discovered that the phone’s antenna was ineffective if you held the phone a certain way. It dropped calls. It was far from perfect.

Steve Jobs flew home from vacation in Hawaii to address it head on.

“We aren’t perfect,” he told the world. “And phones aren’t perfect.”

Jobs didn’t stop there. “We love our users,” he said. “We love to to surprise and delight them, and we work our asses off to make that happen. When we fall short, which we do sometimes, we try harder, we pick ourselves up, we figure out what’s wrong, and we try harder, and when we succeed they reward us by staying with us.”

Despite the issues, iPhone 4 sales increased in the days after his press conference. Returns actually dropped to levels well below the industry average.

Be real. Be human.

Yes, rehearse. To a point. Then stop and just do it.

You cannot afford to be mediocre.

But you also cannot afford to be to be robotic, awkward, and inhuman.



Apple, Jackson Browne, Steve Jobs, Uncategorized 1,478 Comments

Changing Minds Is An Impossible Business Strategy

steve and book

When people don’t like us – or our businesses – our immediate universal reaction is to try and convince them to change their minds.

What can I change to make you love me?

How can I compromise to bring in more customers like you?

You can’t.

Attempting to convince people who don’t like you to change their minds is never a winning strategy.

Instead, put all of your effort into pleasing the people who already do love you. Not most, all.

Two things will happen.

First, the people who love you will love you more. They will be more loyal to you and buy more from you.

Second, they will tell other people about you. They will rave about you to their friends. Word of mouth will run wild.

Attempting to win over the haters never works.

Your desire to win their hearts makes you compromise the very values that your existing fans love.

Ozzy Osbourne was accused of being a Satanist, even though he has been a member of the Church of England for years. At no point did he ever bother to try and convince anyone that he wasn’t a devil worshipper. You can’t change closed minds.

Don’t waste your time trying.

Ignore those who hate you, and make those who love you even happier. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

You can (and should) order the paperback or digital download of Brand Like a Rock Star by clicking here.


Ozzy Osbourne 514 Comments

Customer Service Is Dead

The famous Rolling Stones logo (C) The Rolling Stones

The famous Rolling Stones logo (C) The Rolling Stones



We used to offer our customers “service”.

That’s over. If you’re still offering “service”, you’re just treading water.

Today’s customer demands and deserves more.

Winning brands today offer their customers an experience.

The Rolling Stones are on tour this summer, their 50th anniversary.  A friend who saw them two weeks ago in Chicago told me it was the best Stones show he had ever seen, and he’s been to thirteen of them!

Just going out on stage and playing the hits is customer service for The Rolling Stones.

But having fans leave the concert feeling like they have been a part of something unique and special is a true experience. That’s why 69 year-old Mick Jagger owns the stage like a 29 year-old. It’s why the band plays a set list full of hits, but strategically work in forgotten gems like “All Down The Line” from Exile on Main Street and “You Got The Silver” from Let It Bleed. Fans who left the United Center after that Stones show left an experience.

Service is for everyone. Experiences are uniquely mine.

Service is basic. Experiences are heightened.

Service is expected. Experiences are delightful.

Service is fine. Experiences are exceptional.

Service is accepted. Experiences are shared, tweeted, and discussed.

Customer service, as we have known it, is dead.

Long live the customer experience.




Rolling Stones, Uncategorized 1,961 Comments

Trick Questions and Your Brand

rock star image hugh mcleod compressed

1. Name an AC/DC song about political strife in the third world.

2. Name a U2 song about getting drunk and getting laid.

Trick questions, both of them.

U2 consistently sings about politics, social justice, relationships, and emotions.

AC/DC consistently sings about loud music, fast cars, and hot women.

Relating that to business, people who are shopping for politically-charged rock ‘n’ roll don’t shop at the AC/DC store, and AC/DC is okay with that. Those people shop at the U2 store. AC/DC has a different set of customers, shopping for an entirely different product.

Your business cannot possibly please everyone. Stop trying.

If you sell expensive luxury furniture, don’t offer a discount price point loss-leading offer to draw low-budget customers to your store.

If you serve high-fat comfort food, don’t try lure health-conscious people in with salads.

Do the special thing you do. Do it very, very well. And do it over and over again.

Click here to instantly download or order your copy of Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll to Make Your Business Rich and Famous. The book will help you define your brand, tell your story, and turn your customers into raving fans.


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Social Marketing Is Like Dating

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


I liked the song “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons the moment I heard it.

But I didn’t download the entire album right away.

I went to iTunes, previewed a few tracks, and bought two more songs.

Over the course of a few weeks I listened to those songs and got to know the band a bit. I saw them one night on Austin City Limits and they rocked it.

Then I bought the rest of the album.

When their new album Babel came out last year, I downloaded the whole thing on day one.

Next, I’m hoping to catch them live.

My relationship with Mumford & Sons has progressed over the course of three years. It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t hear “Little Lion Man” and immediately decide to own every song the band ever recorded.

That’s how social marketing works.

This weekend I experienced exactly the opposite. I went to the grocery store – a major national supermarket chain – and as I walked in I was handed a card by a gentleman at the front of the store. He explained that I could go to the kiosk, input the number on my card, and see if I won a prize… up to $500.

It seemed easy enough. I went to the kiosk and entered my number. The machine then prompted me for my birthdate. Ok… maybe they need that to validate the prize. So I gave them my birthdate.

Then it asked me for my address.

At that point I quit. I could see where this was going.

As I walked away, a store employee approached me and asked why I didn’t complete the process. I explained that their “process” violated the trust that existed in our relationship. I wasn’t prepared to give up that much personal information (yet) for the “chance” to win a prize.

But I stuck around to watch as others took part. Many walked away, like me, frustrated by the amount of information they were asking for.

The machine asked for your email address (okay), home address (really?), monthly grocery budget (c’mon!?!?), average monthly credit card balance (you’re joking, right?), followed by a survey about satisfaction with local grocery stores and banks (I’m not joking, sadly).


Or, as Seth and Amy would say… Really? Really supermarket? You think I’m going to tell you my outstanding Visa balance on our first date?

You think I’m some kind of social slut? Really?

And here’s the kicker. Once you filled out all of the information, they directed you to speak to an associate to find out if you had won a prize. That “associate” was a sales person, and it was his job to sell you on the benefits of signing up for the grocery store’s branded Mastercard.


It is amazing that in 2013 a major supermarket chain could fail so miserably at the whole social engagement process.

Ask your customer for as little information as possible on the first encounter. Be gentle, honest, and transparent.

As you build trust, and they see value in their relationship with you, you can ask for a little more.

As you gain more information about your customer, the need to ask these kinds of  (stupid) questions diminishes, because my behavior should give you everything you need to know… and I’ve already given you enough information you need to monitor my behavior within our brand-to-customer relationship.

Social engagement takes time, like a relationship.

You need to get to first base before you have a hope in hell of eventually crossing home plate.

Hopefully our relationship is strong enough that I can ask you to click here to purchase a copy of Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll to Make Your Business Rich and Famous. You won’t regret it.

And if you’ve already read it, I would be extremely grateful for a review on Amazon… even if it isn’t a perfect five-star review. I appreciate the feedback regardless.


Uncategorized 218 Comments