Justin Bieber is No Michael Jackson

He’s simply Justin Bieber.

I caught this Hollywood Reporter story announcing that, “Justin Bieber Tops Michael Jackson for U.S. Box Office Crown.”

Now, I like Justin Bieber and certainly this story is newsworthy, but stories like this lead people to think that he’s on his way to being a better performer than Michael Jackson.

Justin Bieber is NO Michael Jackson and I confidently doubt he ever will come even close to achieving the success of MJ.

In late 2010, Forbes reported in its article, The Rich Afterlife of Michael Jackson, that Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Madonna each raked in over $50 million, but the late, great Michael Jackson made over $275 million – more than all four artists combined! WOW!

Michael Jackson is the Richest Dead Celebrity

In addition, Forbes ranked Michael Jackson the richest dead celebrity in 2010 because Brand MJ earned more money than all of the artists on the list combined and more than any living artist or group.

Again, not to take anything away from the “Biebs,” but when he makes that kind of loot when he’s dead and buried, then maybe you’ll have an argument.

Similarly, before and throughout the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, comparisons between BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and LSU’s Pistol Pete Maravich were constantly being discussed. And, similar to my statement above, Jimmer  Fredette is no Pistol Pete Maravich.

Don’t take my word for it, read ESPN’s Rick Reilly’s story here.

The point of my Blog post is not to slam or hate on Justin or Jimmer – I like and respect them both a ton – my rant is more about people and brands being obsessed with comparisons to each other and to competitors.

You need to enjoy your own success and respect others too. And, to achieve long lasting success you can’t rest on your laurels and you should simply work hard at being better than YOU used to be – not how someone ELSE is/or used to be!

Focus your BRAND YOU efforts on improving YOU and maybe read this book too.

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Five Marketing Lessons from Tornado Boy

Earlier this week on March 23, a devastating tornado swept through Hempfield Township (Greensburg), PA – a community about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Young 15-year-old Tyler Tubbs’ first person account is now sweeping the internet with remixes and parodies. His video of the tornado has nearly 200K YouTube views and has earned national acclaim and coverage via media channels such as CNN. And today, Pittsburgh’s “Tornado Boy” is now being compared to “Double Rainbow Guy” with over 1 million views!

The tornado left in its wake widespread destruction. And, while several families lost their homes, thankfully no one died and injuries were minor.

It’s easy to laugh now at Tyler’s hysterics because no one died or was seriously injured.  And, it’s especially funny to me as a Pittsburgher because his “Pittsburghese” comes shining through loud and clear! You got to love it!

OK, since this is a Marketing Blog and not the Weather Channel, what can marketer’s learn from Tyler’s ordeal? Well, here are five marketing lessons you can take away from Tyler’s experience to more effectively tell your brand’s story.

  1. Communicate with authenticity, transparent honesty and enthusiasm – Tyler was ‘in the moment!’ You feel his amazement, excitement, fear and heartfelt storytelling.  His repetitive “tornado” announcements and varying pitch of his voice reinforced his message.
  2. Always show and tell – Adding video to a story always adds more drama than simply reading a story in print with no visuals and adds to the experience.
  3. Publish now – Don’t hesitate with new news. Tyler didn’t wait to add music, supers, slick transitions or even edit the film to make it a mini movie of the week.  He immediately published and reaped the rewards of viewership. How many of us wait until something is perfect before we launch only to find that others have caught up to us and the parade passed us by?
  4. Always be prepared – Tyler had his camera with him and immediately acted. I’m sure 95% of all the folks in Hempfield had a cell phone camera of some sort, but they did not act – if they did, they certainly did not move as fast as Tyler.
  5. Get key influentials/networks to spread your viral effort – This isn’t quite true for Tyler – yet – but when Jimmy Kimmel tweeted Double Rainbow Guy’s video, his views took off!

We can’t expect to have a key influential like Jimmy Kimmel spread our good word, but today – with social media dominating  just about everyone’s lives these days and tools such as Facebook and Twitter making it so easy to spread news via our own networks of a few hundred friends and family – nearly everyone is more influential than we were 5-10 years ago making good news travel amazingly fast!

Remember that you are an influential and to publish NOW!

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You Need a Marketing Invention Factory

A little over a year ago, I toured the Fort Myers, FL winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford two of my favorite business heroes.

Edison and Ford’s fascinating friendship is a story of mutual admiration and a story of curiosity, experimentation, persistence, inventions, failures, achievements and brand legacies.

Both had little formal education – Edison left school at age 8 and Ford had about 3 years – however, both achieved great success through radical life improving innovations that we continue to enjoy to this day.

In my business engagements, regardless of brand size, I’m discouraged by the lack of courage and innovation by most brand leaders.  And, it’s sad.

It’s sad, because innovation can be achieved when you desire, demand and plan for it.

Both Edison and Ford believed in dreaming big and visualizing the impossible and making it possible.  The had invention factories and labs (at work and at their vacation homes) and they believed in open collaboration and getting things done – acting on things – and fast failing.

So, my question is, “Where’s your invention factory?”

“What’s your process and how do you plan for it?

Are you a trailblazer, an industry leader or a simple follower?

For some time, I’ve felt that Americans have lost their innovation edge and others do agree, but brands such as Apple and Starbucks offer hope and guideposts (just wish I saw more American manufacturing innovators).

Much like Edison and Ford who believed in collaborative innovation work, Starbucks’ modern spin is its highly successful “My Starbucks Idea” which is an online crowdsourcing initiative that enables its raving fans to offer new ideas for products, brand experiences and involvement improvements.

My Starbucks Idea is celebrating its 3rd anniversary this month – and it’s Starbucks 40th anniversary too (read about their four new products)!

MSI is an awesome crowdsourced innovation tool.  To date, it has generated (as of a few minutes ago) 107,450 ideas and launched 130 new ideas.  In addition, people get to view ideas in action and see which ones are under review have been reviewed are in the works, and have been launched and demonstrates that Starbucks is a listening and caring brand.

In fact, customer input on My Starbucks Idea led to the development of the Starbucks Card Mobile App for select BlackBerry smartphones last September and the “Give a Gift” feature – the 100th MSI.

I love the MSI concept and I’ll bet there is an crowdsourcing idea here worth exploring for you.

Think about ways to create your own invention or innovation factory be it online (Starbucks uses Salesforce.Com) or offline or a combination of both.

For example, you could simply start with having bi-weekly meetings with your staff to brainstorm innovative cost saving or revenue producing ideas.

However, if you don’t plan for ‘it,’ I guarantee you ‘it’ won’t happen for you!

P.S.: For more about Edison, check out Time Magazine’s feature, The Making of America: Thomas Edison. I found it ironic that there was a Starbucks banner ad when I first clicked on the link.

P.P.S: A great source of innovative companies to research and model is provided by Fast Company Magazine every year. Check out Fast Company’s 2011 Most Innovative Companies.

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Speak for Yourself

I’ve always been amazed (OK and maybe a little bit jealous) at the amount of money that brands dish out to celebrities to be their spokesperson/s. I’ve yet to see a demonstrative ROI case proving that a celebrity spokesperson contributed to a brand’s success.

Don’t get me wrong, if a celebrity truly uses the product and is successful, a brand can reap huge awards (e.g., Michael Jordan and Air Jordans). However, if a celebrity is not a visible user and is used as mere off the shelf talent, why bother with the added expense? Instead, use someone far less expensive – and just as effective – and make your product the hero.

I bring this up because the Aflac duck lost its voice yesterday after it fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried – the voice of the quacking duck (not in Japan though) for tweeting jokes about the earthquake and tsunami that has rocked Japan and its poor people. God bless them.

Here’s a brief statement from Aflac’s news release. “Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zunda, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

What a jerk – Gottfried that is!

I feel for Zunda, but he should know better. There are thousands of voiceover talents that could nail that Aflac quack for far less dough.

How would you like to have a ‘spokesduck’ voice like Gottfried making jokes about a cataclysmic event that killed nearly 2,500 people to date and projections are that possibly 10,000 are feared dead.  And, tens of thousands are homeless.

Again, what a jerk!

And, how about this fact? Aflac, does 75% of its business in Japan!!

Gottfried (the coward) hasn’t apologized or responded yet for his classless tweeted jokes such as:
  1. “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’”
  2. “Japan called me. They said ‘maybe those jokes are a hit in the U.S., but over here, they’re all sinking.'”
  3. “I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said ‘is there a school in this area.’ She said ‘not now, but just wait.'”

I’m sure Aflac is a class act company.  In fact, they’re giving the International Red Cross 100 million yen (U.S. $1.2 million) to aid in disaster relief. However, this ‘brand stain’ could have/should have been avoided because Gottfried has a history of classless behavior.

For example (per the New York Times), three weeks after 9/11 at a Friars Club roast for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Gottfried said that he had tried to catch a plane but couldn’t get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop off at the Empire State Building.”

Again, what a jerk!

Any parent will tell you that no one can babysit their kids like them. No matter how terrific their parents or neighbors are to their kids, parents do it better.

Similarly, no one can babysit your brand like you can – remember that.

For me, when it comes to spokespeople, give me a Frank Perdue of Perdue Chicken – or someone like him – any old day! Silent mascots like Mickey Mouse work wonders too!

P.S.: Hey, if you’re looking for a job and can quack like the Aflac duck, there is nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic spokesbird! True.
P.S.S.: See interesting slideshow of top Celebrity Spokesperson Fiascos.

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A WOW Marketing Procedure

Throughout my days as a professional marketer, I could never understand why doctors write with such poor penmanship when giving prescriptions. In fact, the sloppy practice has always annoyed me.

When I’d get a prescription and attempt to decipher it myself, a flurry of questions would race through my mind such as:

Would the pharmacist get my prescription right?
Doesn’t it slow things down and add to unnecessary increases in human errors.
For a profession in which errors can lead to death, shouldn’t processes be handled with more care?
And, who do these elitist doctors think they are?

Well, after struggling with a bronchitis condition for the past 3 months, I finally decided to see my doctor and was amazed, excited, happy and extremely pleased to get my prescription via a computer printout – WOW!

Such a simple procedure, easily taken to the next level and is now REMARKABLE to me. And, I’m sure it’s remarkable to others too.

‘Remark’able I say because I’ve told over 10 people in 2 days about this seemingly small, but most gratifying experience.

With this simple procedural improvement, I’m more jacked about my doctor than ever before. They’re more professional, state-of-the-art etc.

Are there simple practices that you can review and through a few easy steps surprise and delight your customers?

Can you improve your invoices, meeting minutes and more to make them WOW documents and procedures.

I’ll bet you can.  And, if you spruce things up a bit I promise you that your customers will bet on you in the future!

P.S.: Now, I’m sure my doctor isn’t the only one with computerized prescriptions. Which begs the question, “Why didn’t they do this 10 years ago?” Be first, be daring, be different! Why wait for others? Do the right things…right now.

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SMBs Shun Websites – Big Mistake

In a Zoomerang survey of more than 750 small to medium sized businesses with marketing budgets less than $1,000, over a third said they use social media as part of their marketing strategy.

Here’s the breakdown of SMB social media channel usage :

Facebook – 80%
LinkedIn – 37%
Twitter – 27%

Sure, it’s smart business to explore social media channels, but neglecting to build a solid Website presence is being penny wise and pound foolish. Only about 50% of SMBs have a Website and those that do only provide a basic overview and contact information. Big mistake.

I’m sure many SMBs are running Facebook Pages for their web presence, but to be found online, you want to spread your good word on as many channels as possible. And, because of some of the search engine limitations of social media,  having a Website is a must.

With free WordPress templates and platforms such as Posterous, you can easily customize a Website and Blog so there’s no valid reason not to have one. And, the cool thing is that they easily interconnect with social media channels.

For example, all of my Website blog posts via my WordPress Website/Blog platform are reported in my Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile automatically.  And, I can connect Facebook as well.

As important, a Website is far more powerful than a Facebook page because:

  1. Not everyone is on Facebook – more people are online
  2. Facebook owns YOU and can change things anytime
  3. Facebook has SEO limitations within its 4 walls – most activity stays there not all over the Web

SMBs, if you don’t have a Website, get one…soon. You and your customers will be happy to have one.

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30 Ways to Wow Now

When was the last time you were truly ‘WOWED?”

I bet you remember the moment because it probably doesn’t happen to you often. And, I’ll bet you’ll agree with me that there’s a depressing lack of “WOW” in the world today!

Merely doing satisfactory things for satisfied customers, friends or family is a ‘greens fee’ today.

However, to make a long lasting impact in your relationships – personal or professional – you have to really ‘bring it” these days. It’s the best way to get others to remember you and to spread your good word to others.

And sadly, the majority of us do not.

We do the least required to get along and wake up wondering why our relationships ended. I suggest that a lot of relationships break up because of a lack of wow and mutual appreciation.

How do you wow?

I find that it’s best for me to practice and plan to wow. What works best for me, is to bake a little wow into my marketing processes so I don’t forget about how to wow.  That is, I work hard to review my tasks in front of and behind me, to see if I have any wow opportunities and then take steps to take advantage of them.

Here are 30 ways to you can wow people now and get ahead in your life.
  1. Say “yes” often
  2. Guarantee results
  3. Be quick to respond
  4. Inspire others to action
  5. Be kind, nice and courteous
  6. Add value to someone’s life
  7. Smile and maintain eye contact
  8. Find ways to surprise and delight
  9. Send handwritten thank you cards
  10. Offer options instead of mandatories
  11. Anticipate others needs and satisfy them
  12. Provide individualized customer service
  13. Be in the moment, focused and actively listen
  14. Write notes when taking input and directions
  15. Have manners – say ‘’please” and “thank you’
  16. Be enthusiastic, optimistic, happy and pleasant
  17. Be sincerely grateful and humble with your successes
  18. Prove your concern with an exacting attention to detail
  19. Be welcoming, approachable, reachable and hospitable
  20. Follow-up regularly to build relationships – reach out first
  21. Be organized, clean and stress free – a welcome, caring refuge
  22. Reward friendship and loyalty with unexpected acts of added value
  23. Get feedback after your actions and provide service “after the sale”
  24. Find out what’s been bothering someone and customize your solution
  25. Be calm, understanding and accept responsibility when you fail or lose
  26. Do ‘remark’able signature work with the basics and in any encounter
  27. Be trustworthy – keep your promises and respect others in their absence
  28. Keep your promises – in fact, underpromise and overdeliver
  29. Freely share insight and knowledge
  30. Always follow the “Golden Rule

Do you have any to add?

I’m far from perfect, that’s why lists like these help me.  Try just 2 or 3 this week and I’ll bet you’ll see an immediate positive impact in your relationships.

Sure, these wow tips might be common, but like most common things they work and they’re easily overlooked, forgotten and opportunities become lost.

Remember…“To do a common thing, uncommonly well, brings success.” – Henry John Heinz – yeah…that Heinz!

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