I love to read a good juicy book. My favorites are autobiographies & biographies of people I admire or want to learn more about. What I’ve realized from the past few I’ve read is that whether they’re a business icon (Cathie Black, for example), or a celebrity (Oprah) each story has had some marketing relevance.
Even though these books were written with a completely different spin, I’m going to share with you here some of the marketing & promotional lessons I’ve learned from these famous people.
Celebrity Reads With a Twist
Lesson #1: Extend Your Brand – There’s just no one better at this than Oprah. What began with a local talk show is now a communications empire. Her brand expansion is into areas for which she had no previous experience including publishing, radio broadcasting, Broadway producer, and now of course, the premium cable channel, the OWN Network. How can a small business apply this lesson? A salon can brand its own hair care products; a consultant can expand by writing a book, a printer can expand by offering direct mail services. Just be open-minded & see the bigger picture.
Lesson #2: Never Say No – The late Joan Rivers (rest in peace, we miss you) is quoted as having said that early in her career as the token female comedienne of her time, she took on every gig offered to her. This got her in front of audiences & helped her hone her skills. She never thought anything was beneath her & was as professional on a free gig as she was on a high paid one. A small business owner can do the same by being creative & figuring out ways to make a customer happy even if that’s not going to make the owner a lot of money. I have gone out of my way to do small things (sometimes for no charge) & it has always been appreciated & has usually resulted in a referral down the road.
Lesson #3: Take Risks – Cathie Black the former CEO of Hearst Magazines tells a story in her autobiography Basic Black, when she worked for Si Newhouse at USA Today. During the paper’s infancy, she was hired as President & was unhappy with their advertising agency. Without telling anyone she brought in a new upstart agency to pitch the account, loved their innovative approach, then got buy-in from others. Once she had that buy-in she recommended the change to Si himself (a very difficult taskmaster) who agreed. Cathie risked having egg on her face & upsetting the apple cart but in the end, became a hero. You too should take risks now & again. Go full force after something you believe in even when others don’t. A good visionary leader will see things others can’t & these visions will often produce far greater results than safe ones.
Lesson #4: Treat Your Suppliers Like You Treat Your Customers – In Jack Mitchell’s book, Hug Your Customers, he talks about how he makes annual trips to the designers overseas whose lines of clothing he carries. He swears this makes for a far better relationship than simply ordering from them via standard channels like all the other department stores do. Nurturing these relationships has allowed his small upscale chain of stores to offer special trunk shows, first run designs & other unique benefits because he goes out of his way & treats them well.
Apply this in your own business by showing your appreciation for those who support your business. If you’re a retail location, treat your landlord well; offer to credit your suppliers online or in an ad, etc. Find a way to give credit & show respect & it will come back to you. (In this spirit, I’d like to thank Tim of Night & Day Media for his recent work on my book’s website!)
Lesson #5: Shameless Promotion – Ava Gardner, once dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world, began her acting career in the days when movie studios practically owned their stars. This means you did whatever they told you to & didn’t ask questions. Because she was so beautiful they promoted her like crazy. In her biography, there are numerous accounts of her being promoted using posters, newspaper ads, trade ads, even being cast in movies for her looks only to have her voice looped over by a better speaker. All this, however, helped to make her the biggest movie star of her time.
Small business owners now have more access than ever before to promotional opportunities, most of which are free easy to do yourself such as online press releases, YouTube uploads & other online social media. As a business owner it is your responsibility to get out there & make the most of any opportunity that will get you positive press.
Lesson #6: Be Your Own Brand Ambassador – One of my favorite biographies is American Son, about the life of JFK, Jr. The book is written by the former editor of George magazine. George was the brainchild of JFK, Jr. & he was it’s spokesperson. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to be the son of a former President, but in some ways that could have worked against him. JFK, Jr. attended all important meetings, made himself available to the press for PR, & worked around the clock to make the magazine a success. Someone of his stature may not have had to work that hard, but he felt a heavy burden to ensure its success & thought he owed it to his loyal employees – in fact, he worked harder than anyone on his staff. The rest of us who don’t have the fame & fortune he did still have to be our company’s best Brand Ambassador & make sure we set the tone for what we want our businesses to be.
If you’re looking for a good small business marketing read, this will help you market like a pro! Visit http://www.myaffordablemarketinghandbooks.com.
Copyright 2014 Affordable Marketing Solutions LLC
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