Monday, March 22, 2010

Five Steps to Build a Personal Brand Like Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini died in 1926. Yet he is still remembered as the greatest escape artist of all time. Even David Copperfield doesn’t come close in terms of brand and name recognition. That is the power of personal branding. Build a solid personal brand and it catapults you to success. Build a really good personal brand and it survives your death. Will your brand survive 80years or more after your death? More importantly, will your personal brand help you while you are alive?

Just imagine how difficult it was to build a personal brand at the beginning of the 1900’s. There was no Internet. Houdini didn’t have a webpage or videos on YouTube. And he didn’t have the money to buy expensive newspaper or radio advertisements. So how did Harry Houdini create and publicize his personal brand? What can you learn from his rags-to-riches story?

Be the First
Houdini created a new niche – the escape artist. When you are first in your niche you are the standard. He started with card tricks but there were already lots of magicians. So Eric Weiss (real name) created a new type of entertainer – the escape artist.

Be Bold
Houdini was bold. He issued challenges to prisons around the world challenging them to try to restrain him. He then visited the prisons that accepted his challenge and escaped from them. He was a showman. He dangled upside down from a crane over New York City while escaping from a strait jacket and chains. He looked for unique ways to be the news.

Be Provocative
Houdini was provocative. The publicity photo of him that was most often used shows his muscular body almost nude - draped in chains and locks. That photograph must have attracted women and interested men.

Be Creative
Houdini was creative. He started as a magician but differentiated himself as an escape artist. He invented new stunts and escapes. He made enemies. He challenged spiritualists that claimed they spoke to the dead.

Die Mysteriously
You can’t plan this one but it does contribute to the brand - but not always. Harry Houdini died under mysterious circumstances. He was an extremely fit man who died after a punch to the stomach. He had issued a challenge that he could take any punch to his stomach. Something went wrong and he died after an over-eager challenger punched him.

This method also worked to promote the personal brands of Elvis Presley and Bruce Lee. This is an effective way of enhancing the brand. But you don’t need to do this to build your brand.

Harry Houdini did all this and he died in 1926 – long before anyone thought about the concept of personal branding. If you asked Houdini about branding he probably wouldn’t have understood your question. But Houdini sure knew how to build his personal brand. What’s important for you to know is that Houdini did not strive to build a brand. He worked to generate paying customers. All the publicity stunts he did were for the purpose of getting paying customers. Branding was a byproduct.

What can you learn from Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest escape artist, about creating and sustaining your own personal brand?

Don’t focus on building a brand. Instead develop relationships and get more customers. If you build a brand along the way – that’s a nice byproduct.

© George Torok is the coauthor of the bestselling “Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You” the first guide to personal marketing for the non-marketer. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at http://www.PowerMarketing Arrange for Torok to speak to your conference or business meeting at For media interviews call 905-335-1997


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Inexpensive Tactics to Build Brand and Customer Loyalty

Marketing Sherpa reports

How To: Build Brand and Customer Loyalty Through One-to-One Communication: 7 Tactics

SUMMARY: A corporate-style branding effort requires a corporate-sized budget. But if fancy logos and mass advertising aren’t in your budget, you can try building your brand one customer at a time.

Read one marketer’s recommendations for using personal communications to connect with your best customers. Through simple, low-cost tactics, you can build stronger relationships and establish a brand identity that’s more than just an image.

Too many small- and medium-sized businesses get hung up on corporate-style branding because that’s what bigger companies are doing, says George Torok, President, Power Marketing.

"Small and medium businesses would be far better [off] spending the time and money on relationship building, and the brand thing will come out of it by itself," says Torok. "A brand is not about colors or logos or fonts -- a true brand is about a feeling that people have about you."

Torok’s firm helps owners and marketers at small- and medium-sized businesses develop a more personal touch with customers. Below, we highlight seven tactics Torok uses to establish and maintain those relationships. These efforts require time and diligence, but they are very inexpensive.

Tactic #1. Make company leaders available to customers

Smaller companies have an advantage over large corporations -- there are fewer bureaucratic layers between the top and the bottom. Take advantage of the situation and give customers access to top-level management.

Access can be granted in several ways, including:
o Having executives visit sales floors
o Attending industry conferences
o Having an open-door policy for phone calls
o Attending or hosting live chat sessions, forums, or other industry-related social media events

"That doesn’t mean you spend all your time on the showroom floor or going to networking events, but you need to be seen," Torok says. "You put a human face on the business for your clients, which makes them feel better about doing business with you."

- The door is not always open

Maintaining an open-door policy does not mean customers can reach you at will. But it could mean establishing times for customer calls, such as between 9-10 a.m. on Thursdays.

Tactic #2. Reach out and be heard

Customers feel special when you reach out to touch base. This can be done through:
o Direct calls
o Emails
o Social media sites
o Handwritten notes and postcards

Postcards can be particularly valuable as a quick, personal way to reach out. A two sentence handwritten message is much more personal than a typed email. You can send 20 or 30 postcards while waiting for a plane. Postcards are waiting for you in the gift shop.

- Not every customer is equal

There is not enough time in the day to call or write postcards to every customer, just to ask how they’re doing. Prioritize efforts around your most valuable accounts and prospects.

Read the rest of How to Build Brand and Customer Loyalty

© 2000-2010 MarketingSherpa, LLC., ISSN 1559-5137
Editorial HQ: MarketingSherpa LLC 499 Main St., Warren, RI 02885


Monday, March 15, 2010

Parison Love video from Google

Why is this Google video ad so effective and what can you learn from it for your marketing? See below...

The setting and images are familiar. Most of us have searched on Google so we recognize the setting. No explanation is needed.

It instantly grabs our attention and holds our attention. It moves fast.

It tells a story. Good marketing tells a story.

The words create images in our mind, (Paris, love, chocolate). That is captivating and engaging.

We can see ourselves or some one we know in this story. It's personal and believable.

The last line makes you smile because it is a feel-good story.

Watch it again. Now compare that to your advertising.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker


Sunday, March 14, 2010

What do your best customers smell like?

7 critical things you should know about your customers

Smart marketing starts with asking the right questions and uncovering the answers that will help you build your business.

If information is power, how much do you know about your customers? Try this quiz.
1 Who are your three best customers?
2 Why do they do business with you?
3 What is their competitive edge?
4 What are their greatest challenges?
5 Who are their chief competitors?
6 What significant trends are impacting their industries?
7 What do your best customers have in common?

Marketing intelligence doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be as simple as asking your customers these questions and listening carefully to their responses.

1 Who are your best customers?
How do you define 'best'? Is it the one who paid you the most money this year, the one who has paid you the most over the last few years or the one who provides steady business, pays promptly and is easy to service? You decide.

You might need to create a few categories of best and deal with each differently. However you define best, establish your criteria then measure it regularly. Know who your best are and what they're doing. Treat them special. Stay informed and keep them informed. Stay in contact with them more often.

2 Why do they do business with you?
Stop patting yourself on the back and claiming that they are smart enough to pick you. Maybe that's true. But don't assume.

Forget surveys; ask them directly, over coffee or lunch, "Tell me why you selected my company as your supplier?" Follow up with, "I am always trying to improve my service, and I want to ensure I don't make the wrong changes. So if there is one thing that I should not change what is that?" You might be surprised by their answer.

3 What is their competitive edge?
Would you do business with your best customers? After you ask them why they do business with you, ask "Why do your best customers do business with you?" Watch their reaction at your interest in them. If you know their competitive edge then you can demonstrate how your company can help them with that important edge. You can also offer them ideas to help achieve and promote that edge. They will love you for it.

4 What are their greatest challenges?
Is it competition, staff, or finding time to relax? If they don't want to tell you then back off. Likely they will be only too happy to share their concerns with a trusted colleague. Listen and don't try to solve their problem unless that is your area of specialty.

Ask them how they are approaching this challenge. You will learn more about them in understanding how they think. You may be able to recommend a book, seminar, or associate who specializes in that challenge. Or you may be able to help them directly by adapting your service to help.

If you can help your customers with the ghosts that keep them awake at night, you will become invaluable.

5 Who are their chief competitors?
If you know whom they see as their chief competition you gain insight in to how they position themselves. Are they the market dominator or the underdog? Each will have entirely different corporate cultures, styles and needs. You will market to them differently.

You also need to decide if and how you will deal with the key competitors to your best customers. It will depend on the nature of your business and the level of trust and confidentiality needed to maintain good customer relationships. If you are tempted to sell to their competition remember that the surest way to create allies is to have a common enemy.

6 What significant trends are impacting their industries?
Be aware of threats to your customers' viability and discover new opportunities for your business. How is their industry changing? How will they do business in one, three and five years? And how will you fit into that?

If you are aware of these trends then more news about them will tend to grab your attention when you read the news or talk to others. You might clip and send your customer an article that talks about the trends. Your customer will appreciate your interest. When you market your product you might explain how it protects them from a negative trend or takes advantage of a positive trend.

7 What do your best customers have in common?
If you want more 'best customers' then know how to find them. Describe your best customers and post it on your office wall. It's like a wanted poster for good customers. If you know what you are looking for you are more likely to find it.

Think about how a hunter tracks their prey. They learn the habits, smells, likes and dislikes. You can do the same to find your big game. Here is a sampling of the information you might collect about your best customers; clubs and associations of which they are members, where they live, what they read, their education, special interests, sports and hobbies, recreation, demographics & ethno graphics, etc.

You can do two things with this information. Direct your marketing to these groups or places. It is like fishing. Discover where to catch the best fish and concentrate your efforts in those places. Find where you will catch the best customers and concentrate your marketing there.

Secondly, ask your best customers to refer you to others like them in their groups. We prefer to do business with others who are like us. These referrals have greater weight and it helps you catch the customers you want.

Sharpen your nose and happy hunting.

© George Torok is co-author of the national bestseller, "Secrets of Power Marketing", the first guide to personal marketing for the non-marketer. To receive your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” visit To arrange for George Torok to speak at your conference visit To arrange for a media interview call 905-335-1997


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Do you feel guilty?

If so, you are ripe to buy. Guilty people buy and spend more.

Dinner time and a knock on the door. I answer. First I see a little girl – about seven years old. It’s freezing so she is dressed warmly in her winter coat. She’s presenting a box to me and smiling. Asks, if I want to buy a chocolate bar. Her mother is standing nearby.

I don’t want to buy a chocolate bar.

I’m a marketing guy so I figure that my job is to challenge these door-to-door sales people – even if they are only seven years old.

I ask, “Who’s selling these chocolate bars?” She answers, “Me.”

So she isn’t rattled by my first question and I’m already losing this discussion. So I add, “Who is the money for?”

“Frontenac School”.

She passed that test.

“We live across the street.” Neighbors.

“How much are the chocolate bars?”

“Three dollars.”

“Ouch!” It’s been a long time since I bought a chocolate bar.

The mother said, “You don’t have to buy.”

What? Does she think that I can’t afford three dollars for a chocolate bar that I don’t want?

Do I want to disappoint this little girl? Do I want to look unneighborly in front of these new neighbors?

Three dollars bought me a reprieve from guilt. The chocolate bar was free.


George Torok
Marketing Speaker