Posts Tagged ‘branding


Do your customers trust you?

I’m reading a very good book that hits the nail on the head when it comes to the sea change that is happening in marketing. “Trust Agents” is a NY Times Best Seller written by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith that lays it out clearly and if you plan on being in business five years from now you better pay attention.

If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you already know that I advocate building credibility and trust as a core principle of marketing strategy. Brogan and Smith’s book not only agrees but it takes the concept to a more focused level (I’ve never been accused of being focused…). What I really like about this book is that it doesn’t just tell you WHY it shows you HOW to leverage social media and other digital tools to achieve the holy grail of marketing – trust.

If you’ve been wondering why your marketing and advertising just doesn’t seem to work anymore (and it doesn’t matter if you are Proctor and Gamble or Joe’s Fish Shanty) it’s because of a  perfect storm of factors including:

  • people are tired of you shouting how good you are or your widgets and interrupting them
  • people don’t believe you anymore and they know you are just trying to sell them something
  • media fragmentation and info overload overwhelms them
  • the very nature of a “market” has changed since the Internet came along
  • buyers have scads of information at their fingertips and are better educated and more informed than ever
  • basic human behavior drives interaction and community building

I’m sure there are more but I hope you are seeing where this is going.  Buyers seek information. They buy from those individuals and brands they trust. No longer will a clever ad on TV do the trick. No longer can you hide behind a carefully crafted brand – there is no hiding on the web. No longer can you trick people into buying. The new era of marketing is about truth, reciprocity and value. It’s about being a good human. It’s about relationships.

The problem is that what works (relationships and building trust) is at odds from what company shareholders want (fast results). Creating trust takes time and dedication.

The good news is that the web is awash in tools and communities where you can shine like a benevolent diamond of value and helpfulness. I haven’t read the whole book yet but from what I have read, the deal is not technology or social media or computers. It’s about people – sharing, connecting, conversing. Take part in this conversation, do the right thing always and you’ll be awarded with trust and business will follow.

Oh, I also had lunch with Chris. He lives by his principles. We had salad.

I’ll be blogging more about this in the coming weeks. Why not leave a comment so we can have a conversation?


What Music taught me about Business. Part 2

Click here for Part One

The Power of Publicity

One of the most useful skills I acquired in the music business is how to work with editors and reporters. I learned that you cannot trick or fool these folks. They are smarter than you and me. They’ve heard it all before. I learned to bring them good stories that fit their mission and publications. When they called me I always made time to talk to them. We also made sure all of the appropriate reporters and editors were on our comp list and had a tab at the bar. I wanted them to have a great experience at my show and I delivered on this promise. The result was a series of mentions and features about the band and our recordings. Each time an article was published, we instantly saw a surge in the audience and more importantly, merchandise and CD sales.
When I first started performing in bands I had no idea what a “brand” was. In my defense, I was only fifteen. However, I was lucky enough to perform with a number of great blues artists and it was their sincerity that gave me my first inkling of the importance of an authentic brand. I wasn’t a good enough musician to play every kind of music and everything I played came out sounding similar – a mix of honky-tonk, blues and New Orleans juke joint, good time dance music. As soon as I embraced my sound and stopped trying to emulate my heroes, my unique brand was formed. Over the years, I honed this brand so that everything the public saw and heard supported this concept – from clothing and song choices to posters and CD art.

I was baptized by fire as a young man when I walked into a local club and attempted to sell my band to the grizzled curmudgeon behind the bar. We played for free that night. The club, on the other hand, made out quite well. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there was a game at play. At first my goals was to get as much money out of the club as possible with zero concern about its bottom line. As my education progressed, I realized the clubs and talent agents wanted the same thing I did – to make money. I learned to craft win-win deals that shared risk among all parties. As long as everyone did what they promised, everybody came out with a pocket full of cash. Many clubs even awarded us unexpected bonuses at the end of the night because they were so pleased with the show and the attendance levels. We, in turn, handsomely tipped the bar staff. Now that’s a win-win scenario!

Handshake deals are fine for friendship, but not for business. When deals are hashed out over a number of beers, details tend to drift. If there are strippers involved, all hope is lost. Enter the contract. I used to think contracts kept people honest. I’ve learned that a contract means nothing to dishonest people. One of the most important lessons the music business taught me is to only do business with people you trust. The contract simply records the details of the deal (acceptable colors of m&m’s, quantity of cold cuts, etc.) so all parties don’t forget or get confused. As my group became more popular, many deals were struck a year in advance so the contract was a critical part of the exchange and ensured mutual benefit and understanding.

I’m sure there are other things the music business taught me (like hippie chics are great dancers and the darkest, smelliest clubs always have the best food…) however, my most valuable lesson is that knowledge often comes from the least expected places and people. I owe a debt of gratitude to my music mentors – some famous, some not. They taught me the blues but their lessons and advice have allowed me to build several successful businesses, support my family and help others do the same.

I don’t play much anymore but I still miss the feeling of fronting a super tight band in a hot, sweaty dive packed with a couple hundred music affectionados all existing in the same zone at the same moment. I would have never thought that the lessons I learned in these dark, hallowed dance halls would serve me so well, so many years later. But I guess that’s what life is about – you learn as you go.


Value Perception – secret weapon of the world’s most successful companies

In the marketing industry, perhaps more than any other industry, buzz words have become as common as black, collar-less shirts and funny-looking, yellow-tinted glasses. This trend of overusing certain terms is unfortunate because it corrupts perfectly good words, turning them into meaningless jargon. Like the word “synergy” and the term “paradigm,” the concept of “value” has been misused and hammered into a meaningless pulp of broken promises and worthless schemes. The real trouble is that the concept of VALUE is the only thing that matters when it comes to winning in a competitive sales and marketing situation.

Why do customers buy one product over another?

The answer is simple. People choose one product or service over another because they perceive a higher level of value. It doesn’t matter whether the purchase is a bottle of cough syrup at the drug store or a multi-million-dollar industrial deal, the perception of value is ultimately what drives the decision. Making this happen, of course, is not so simple.

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Who is Pete Monfre

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I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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