Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sticks and Stones…….

Two weeks ago either bravery or some unidentified ingredient in my eggnog let me throw caution to the wind and I actually took a definitive ‘personal’ stance in my weekly MarketingSmack blog.  I don’t typically write about public figures nor do I usually disclose such personal criticism of others. Given I believe the majority of my readers are close friends that share similar beliefs, I thought it safe – a couple of more sips of that eggnog and I posted these thoughts on a few discussion groups in LinkedIn.

Hornets’ nest.

The first email notification of: “New comment on “Can You Camouflage a Tiger? – I am insulted that Tiger thinks it is ok to ask for privacy….” brought an instant sense of exhilaration.  I had written something worthy of discussion – something timely and relevant.  I clicked on ‘go to full discussion’ believing I would see adulation, sycophancy – my eyes devouring the wisdom and insight from fellow LinkedIn Group members – the likes of: LinkingRaleighNC, RTPconnect and Triangle Networking Group.

Ouch.

Dozens of people began to add comments; at first directed at me – most of them not in agreement, to put it mildly and then; at each other.  What I found interesting here is that I KNOW that it is critical to the world of branding – both company/product/service and individual – to take a stance; have an opinion; define clearly who you are and who you are not and confidently broadcast it to your audience with polite relentlessness.  I was somewhat surprised when upon reading the first “I don’t agree with Jack” comment – my initial reaction was defensive somewhat akin to the way a Junior high school student feels when discovering he’s the one with bad breath via a Slam Book.

On the one hand – people were talking about me….on the other hand – people weren’t seeing it my way…… What I learned from this experience is that there is a key component to the branding process that I have been leaving out. 

Bravery.

I spend a great deal of time helping companies and individuals brand themselves.  Countless hours spent on key executive interviews, customer focus groups, competitor reviews, market research etc… Helping them to create a unique position and message that states who and what they are – but in that same instant it states who and what they are NOT.  You have to be brave to take a stance – a stance that you know will resonate with some (and you hope that the some is large enough for you to be successful) but in this day of transparency you’ll hear from those that DON’T too.

Suffice it to say that as the conversations over my Tiger Woods’ blog continued over the last two weeks I watched the score board fluctuate ala basketball style….Jack 0  Nay Sayers 2……. Jack 4 Nay Sayers 2….. And so on and so on.  Not sure how the final tally looked and what I realize is that it doesn’t matter – I won.  I took a position, made it public, generated a healthy debate and made my personal/professional brand that much clearer.

The brave world of MarketingSmack can be found on: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Can You Camouflage a Tiger?

Tiger Woods requests privacy, twice to be exact, in his public ‘apology’ posted on his website on Friday.  Do you get to do that when you’ve spent a good portion of your life vying for public attention?  Having built one of the most, if not the most, visible brands in the world of sports – definitely the world of golf – Tiger Woods has broken his ‘brand promise’ to us and now wants ‘privacy’.

Did Tylenol request ‘privacy’ in 1982 when their household trusted pain reliever killed seven people in Chicago?  

Did Magic ask for us to ‘look the other’ way in 1991 when he admitted to having the HIV virus?

History is very clear as to how each of those entities handled their breach of their brand promise to the world.  What is Tiger going to do?  At the end of the day, the issue isn’t whether or not he was ‘unfaithful’ – we are so used to infidelity it doesn’t really shock us any longer – much less surprise.  What we aren’t ok with is being actively lied to, manipulated or made to feel foolish. 

Tiger Woods and those in his employment have spent countless days and dollars to create an image. Back in 2003, Steinberg, Wood’s agent, told a Wharton audience that representing a star in an individual sport is much like managing a consumer brand. “Coca-Cola, Kodak, Nike – those are three of the largest international brands. Tiger Woods is on a par with them. You can’t walk down a street in Kuala Lumpur or New Zealand and say, ‘Tiger Woods,’ and not get a response.

If that’s so – you can’t have it both ways.

Earlier this year there was fear that Wood’s knee injury would negatively impact the recall factor for his brand empire: Nike, General Motors, American Express, Accenture et al. – laughable today in light of the parade of mistresses.  There is brand fallout.  Late night TV is notorious for wreaking havoc on the weak – exhibited public frailty no matter how insignificant is fodder for the one-liners.  BrandWeek discloses that; “On average, about 6% of viewers recalling a brand mention in a late night show report a negative opinion. In the case of Tiger Woods’ sponsors, the negative shift was 11%.”

I am insulted that Tiger thinks it is ok to ask for privacy.  He doesn’t get to – in my opinion.  Those bright stripes and glossy coat are smeared with …., well this is a g-rated blog, the only way to regain any of that luster is to re-build his personal brand with integrity – not just for his wife and children – but for the millions he betrayed. 

In the meantime, I’ll continue my quest for flamboyant visibility of the MarketingSmack.  Read it at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Seller Beware

This past Sunday I participated in a “Go See” Cub Scout requirement with my son and god son.  The event was the local university’s women’s basketball game – the idea being that watching/learning/understanding an ‘organized’ sport is useful or has merit – somehow. 

As we sat there amidst all the ‘team-spirit’ pre-game hype, I consoled myself and accepted the fact that I was stuck there for the duration.  Next to me, two seven year olds played relentlessly with their arm chair and begged for popcorn.  It was going to be a long two hours.The national anthem sung, popcorn in hand, the game clock set to that ‘big lie’ 20 minutes, and we were off.  I am not sure we made it to 19 minutes on that clock when the first; “Can we go?” hit me from the right. 

Fighting my own personal desire to stand-up and run out of the building; I began a feeble attempt to sell a ‘brand’ I didn’t believe in.  You can just imagine how well that worked for me and for my trapped customers who could smell my lack of sincerity and knowledge, for that matter.  We ended up playing ‘watch the game clock and see it go to zero’ – with loud protests every time it stopped and a non-stop barrage of questions as to why and when it would start again. We made it through the first half.

What is important here?   

Selling is a process by which we transfer beliefs – getting others to believe the way you do about the product or service.  (While I failed to ‘sell-in’ the basketball game; I sure succeeded in this transfer.)  How well we transfer those beliefs boils down to how well we do the following two things:

A confident approach is a critical key to success. How many of us check out online reviews of products or services to see just ‘how confident’ the raves are before we commit to being a consumer?

Knowledge is useful too.  Maybe if I had known more about the game I could have captured more of their mindshare – away from the moving arm rest and popcorn.  No such luck.

And beware, when you try to sell something you don’t believe in, you risk your reputation.  Afterwards, I had to confess to my son that I too found the game boring for fear that I would lose credibility with him and my ability to convince him to “buy” future products from me.

Confidently, I encourage you to read my MarketingSmack.  It can be found at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Winning Lottery Slightly Better Than Breaking Neck

A few weeks ago NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a show highlighting that those who survive rounds of layoffs at companies suffer more long-term anxiety and depression and fare worse from a career advancement perspective if finally laid-off late in the game. Really? Going to work every day, collecting a pay check and keeping the creditors at bay is WORSE than unemployment? 

The theory has merit.  

I poked around a little and discovered back in March, Time ran an article espousing the same theory – that staying in an environment of uncertainty for long periods of time is what really causes us to downward spiral. 

Of course, not all of us. 

Somehow entrepreneurs (whack-jobs) and women (be careful) tend to fare better.  Each somehow handles the additional levels of uncertainty in a more graceful manner.  Apparently, women are just grateful to be employed – secure or not.  Sad statement, isn’t it?

So, whether you are one of the currently un- or under-employed or waiting around nervously wondering if ‘You’re Next,’ there is another theory that aligns with one of my life mantras: “It’s not what happens to you; it’s what you do about what happens to you that matters.” 

Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, discusses the opposing case studies of winning the lottery and becoming paralyzed.  “It’s better to win the lottery than to break your neck, but not by as much as you’d think” he states in his book The Happiness Hypothesis.  Turns out long-term both sets of people show that whether or not they were millionaires or paraplegics they eventually regressed to their baseline of happiness – once the period of change has ended.

What in the world could I be talking about? 

In the midst of all of this economic turmoil – what is it that we need to glean and be ok with? If you’re one of the luck/unlucky – you pick – to be still employed; relax, be grateful, stop with the guilt and keep it up.  If you’re the other kind……well, the advice isn’t any different, is it?

I am still hoping to cope with the tumultuous crazy changes that come with lottery winning versus the other not-so-pleasant option; but I get that at the end of it all lies – choice. 

Choose some MarketingSmack.  It can be found at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

NOTE ABOUT NPR STORY: I wanted to link to this story for my readers, but for the life of me can’t find it.  Maybe I imagined the story….but I’m using it anyway.