Tips from Tom Peters’ Brand Manager

September 11, 2006  

I am the Vice President of Programming and the President Elect for the New England National Speakers Association. I held my first meeting in this role the other day, with Erik Hansen, Tom Peters’ Brand Manager, as our guest speaker for the day. Erik had lots of fantastic ideas that he shared with the group. Here is my list of his top tips.

Business Basics and Branding
1. People Love Lists – Use numbered lists as a way of sharing ideas. That’s why I am creating his tips as a list.

2. “Screw Around Vigorously” (SAV) – Have a bias for action and “just do stuff.”

3. Use Rapid Prototyping – Rather than analyze everything to death, take action and learn from your failures. Fail often and fail quickly.

4. Building the Brand Creates the Brand – He quoted John Moore, author of Tribal Knowledge, “Contrary to what you may have heard or thought, Starbucks never sought to create a brand. Instead, the company passionately sought to create appreciation for a better tasting cup of coffee.”

5. Your Brand is “What People Say It Is” – Someone from the audience asked Erik to define a brand in 5 words. The brand is not your logo or marketing materials. It is what the public says it is.

6. Brand You, Not Your Business – There was much discussion on what was more important to brand – you or your business. In the case of speakers, Erik felt that since you are the product, you are the brand. Based on this recommendation, I am going to rework all of my websites (goalfree.com, 24-7innovation.com, and others) into a steveshapiro.com website. Goal-Free Living, 24/7 Innovation, and my other work are just projects. I am working on an umbrella theme, such as, “Steve Shapiro, the Guy Who Helps You Get Out of Your Own Way.” Or something like that.

7. When Branding You, Find a Common Anchor – Erik talked about how the “!” on Tom Peters’ materials has become his icon that everyone remembers. This did not create the brand, but rather reflected the brand. Find a similar mark and use it on all of your websites, books, presentations, etc.

8. It’s All About Connections and Conversations – Your brand is the conversation that people are having about you and your products/services. And the more you can stimulate these conversation on the internet, the more buzz that gets created.

Content, Conversations, and Connections
9. Blog – Erik said that the five most important steps are, “1) Do good work and lots of it, 2) Blog, 3) Blog, 4) Blog, and 5) Blog” Do you think he likes blogging? He believes this is a great way of generating buzz, links and connections.

10. You Can’t Write Too Much – Tom Peters is known for writing volumes of content on his blog. To date, he has roughly 400,000 words. Given that the average book is 50,000 words, his blog contains as much content as 8 books.

11. Give People a Reason to Visit Your Website – If you don’t have compelling content, no one will visit. And no one will link to your site.

12. Promote Other People – On Tom’s website, he has his “Cool Friends.” This promotes other people in addition to Tom. Of course if you include content other than your own, this gives people more reasons to visit your site. And it gives more people reasons to link to your site. In fact, I am one of Tom Peters’ “Cool Friends.” Here’s the link.

13. Use Guest Bloggers – If you write a blog, get others to also write blog entries. This serves multiple purposes. It creates more content and more reasons for people to visit and to link. And, if you are like most people, you will want to take vacations from your blogging. If people see your blog is not updated regularly, they will stop coming back. Guest bloggers can create content when you don’t want to.

14. Share Everything – Instead of hording your intellectual property, give it away. This attracts more people, more buzz, and convinces buyers that you really know your stuff.

15. Place Comments on Other Blogs – Search http://blogsearch.google.com/ for other blogs that might have similar topics. If you write about leadership, search for leadership. Comment on blog entries on other sites and include links back to your site. HINT: Leave comments on my blog; it’s a start.

16. Seek Out People With Similar Interests – Did you read a book on a topic that is related to yours, or maybe just of interest? If so, call them and start a real conversation. These people may become advocates, business partners, or idea generators.

17. Use Link Websites and External Websites – Look into sites such as technorati, del.icio.us, changethis.com and others that can help bring more links to your site. Also take advantage of YouTube, Flickr, and others places where you can post pictures and videos, with links back to your site.

Other Ideas
18. Google Search Yourself – Go into Google and search for yourself every week. This gives you an idea of what others are saying. It also helps you determine if your marketing efforts are working.

19. People Love Cards – Tom created a number of “flash cards” that he sells and uses in his workshops. One set of cards were designed by IDEO.

20. Try New Things – Go for things you don’t normally go for. Read magazines you don’t normally read. These will give you new and different insights/perspectives.

21. “Aspire to be The Dumbest Person in the Room” – Quoted from Cool Friend Sally Hogshead’s book Radical Careering. Surround yourself with bright people. And, always look for the nuggets in what everyone is saying. There is gold everywhere.

22. Be Controversial – Tom’s book, Re-Imagine, gets 5 star ratings and 1 star ratings. Not much in the middle (personally, I love it). If you try to please everyone, you will please no one. In your speeches, say something provocative as a way of engaging the audience.

23. Minimize Friction – Make it easy as possible for people to get to you and your content.

24. Be Real - Before posting, I asked Erik to review the list. There were 23 tips on the list I sent him. So I suggested that if there were two more tips, it would round to 25. He wrote back, ” I like 23. 23 is a real number, unlike 25, which is a number that everyone would use. If I see that someone has 25 tips, I know that they worked it to come out to 25, meaning that there are some repetitive ideas in there. Whereas 23 is 23. You don’t try to come up with 23 tips. It just so happens that you extracted 23 tips from what I said. Therefore 23 is a lot more real than 25. So, I’d prefer to stay with 23.” And with that last tip, we have 24. Another real number.

Thanks Erik!

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7 Responses to “Tips from Tom Peters’ Brand Manager”

  1. Michelle Neujahr on September 11th, 2006 4:36 pm

    Steve – Excellent recap! Thanks for taking the time to sum it all up. I am already implementing many of the things I learned from Erik. My biggest “aha” was that my brand is what others say about me – it made it so simple. And Erik inspired me to write, write, write and then blog, blog, blog. u-r-awesome! Michelle

  2. David Zinger on September 12th, 2006 10:32 am

    I really appreciated the 23, I mean 24 tips. Good material on branding. It was a wonderful mix of brand new and brand knew. I will share the post with my speaker’s meeting on Saturday

  3. Erik Hansen on September 16th, 2006 10:35 am

    steve, you are da man! thanks for the “tips extraction.” you’ve in effect transcribed my talk for me. thank you!

  4. John Wren on September 23rd, 2006 4:35 pm

    Seems to me that more people are writing blogs than reading blogs. I’ve been writing a blog for about 2 years, just asked people on my email list what they thought would make it more helpful to them. My friends said they encouraged me to keep doing it if it helped me clarify my own thinking, and they would look at it from time to time.

    I love the what you are doing whith your blog, Stephen, but this is the first time I’ve looked at it and because I read so much every day it is hard to imagine coming back very often.

  5. JeffreyScott! on September 27th, 2006 8:05 am

    Thank you Stephen for consolidating the good bits from this talk–very helpful; I iwll come back to this page often. And thank you for leading us last night thru our goal free planning at Fast Track–I have finally feel good about how I change my goals once a week (I am an avid goal planner and do a lot of goal planning and an equal amount of goal re-planning. Now I know it is “OK!” to replan, rethink, and retodo). Cheers!

  6. kevin on November 16th, 2006 7:04 am

    sorry,i know it’s not relater to the comment,but what’s URI

  7. Stephen Shapiro on November 16th, 2006 12:33 pm

    Kevin, URI is your website address. For example, the URI for this website is http://www.goalfree.com.