Monday, June 28, 2010

What you can learn from Tom Cruise about managing your brand

This post is dedicated to my good friend Jackson Wightman, blogger, retail entrepreneur, master of all things PR and known the world over for his lists posts.

It is also dedicated to my love of celebrity gossip, but that's something you can ask me about if we ever meet.

I came across this article about Tom Cruise's "comeback" in The Ottawa Citizen recently and couldn't help but think of a great list post about we could all learn from TC about managing a brand, whether it be your personal brand or your corporate brand.

  1. Avoid Nepotism: Back in 2005, Tom fired his longtime publicist and hired his sister.  His previous PR rep kept a firm grip on his image and wouldn't allow questions about his religious beliefs.  The big lesson here is that you should always hire the right person for the job, because investing in people is the single most important investment you can make.  Your employees are your brand and they represent you every single day.
  2. Hire People Who Challenge You: As a follow-up to the point about nepotism, I also think that Tom Cruise didn't hire people who challenged him.  I bet that he said to himself "I'd like to talk about my beliefs more" and hired somebody who was going to let him do exactly that - and look how it all turned out.  If you're hiring people who simply nod and agree when you propose something then you're not getting any value out of having them around.  Innovation is often the result of conflict and is the result of overcoming conflict.  If you don't have anyone challenging you, then you're never going to innovate and move things forward.  
  3. It Doesn't Take Much: Tom Cruise's image was destroyed by a few key events but the most popular one was the jumping on the couch incident from Oprah.  A lifetime of goodwill can vanish pretty quickly so it is important to remember that it really doesn't take much to ruin your brand.  A few bad days or even one bad moment everything people perceive you to be is forever changed.  If you're company doesn't have a social media policy then maybe it's time to think about drafting one.  I am completely in favour of trusting and freeing employees to be who they are but as you can see from the issues with Tom Cruise...  one jump and you're done.
  4. You Gotta Know When to Shut It: Just like knowing when to fold'em, you have to know when to shut your mouth.  This is an important skill and one that can be very difficult to learn (trust me) but knowing when to shut your mouth will save your behind time and time again.  In Tom's case, he should have backed off getting involved in the private lives of other people (Brooke Shields). 
  5. Go to the Box, Feel Shame:  This is a classic line from the hockey movie Slapshot, and it means that there will be times when you need to give yourself a timeout.  In Tom's case, this was a two year break from the intense glare of the public spotlight.  For corporate brands, this might not be possible and may require a re-branding exercise but I think that more and more, brands should be asking themselves if they need to take a break instead of constantly thinking that everything they do is magic.
Tom Cruise is still a fantastic actor who makes entertaining movies.  I have also heard that he is a genuinely nice guy but I think the the rough path he has taken in the last few years is paved with lessons for all of us.  The question is whether or not we both to listen to them...

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    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Book Review: The Sales Bible by Jeffery Gitomer

    For the past few months, I have been looking for a good book on sales.  After listening to a podcast recently that had Jeffrey Gitomer on it, I realized that he had written what I believed would be the perfect book for me - The Sales Bible.

    Sales is as much about personal motivation as it is about tactical sales knowledge and this book does a great job of helping you understand this and, more importantly, assessing whether or not you should even be in sales in the first place.

    It's obvious from the first page that this book is written by a true salesman.  It reads "I just made a sale!".

    Gitomer writes using highly impactful (sales-y) language and doesn't go on and on about particular ideal.  He tells you why it is important, shares some stories then lists some steps or ideas that you can use.  Topics range from motivation to techniques.  You learn how to meet people and generate leads and then how to turn those leads into sales.  Cold calling is covered in great detail, as is the sales presentation.

    In the end, I think this book really has a broader audience than just salespeople... I think it is a book for EVERYONE.  I believe this because at some point, everyone will have to sell the most important thing in the world.. themselves.  So there are many applications for the material in the book and I highly recommend you pick it up ASAP.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Book Review: Buy-ology

    For months I had been waiting to read "Buy-ology", a book by Martin Lindstrom about the science behind consumer behavior.  I first heard about the book on Duct Tape Marketing's podcast, but had to wait for it to be delivered to my library branch before I could check it out.

    Martin Lindstrom is a well respected branding expert.  The book is an exploration of what Lindstrom and his researchers learn when they use brain scanning technology to test consumers' reactions to marketing messages... so it's not hard to see how this book is interesting...

    What Lindstrom finds is rather shocking.  We learn that most of the traditional anti-smoking ads are ineffective because they actually trigger cigarette cravings in the brains of smokers.  We also learn what I suspect most marketers have always had a hunch about, that consumers buy products for different reasons than they say.  For example, a consumer might say they purchased a product because it had all the features they were looking for when in reality, they bought the product because they thought it would make them cool.  I won't spoil all of the great nuggets in this book for you, but trust me, you'll have a hard time putting it down.

    The book is very well written.  Each chapter flows into the next and the research questions are laid out like a mystery that the reader is working through with Lindstrom as he receives the results for each of the studies that are conducted.  It was for this reason that I found myself reading upwards of 50 to 75 pages each time I would pick it up.

    Worth a read for anyone interested in what REALLY happens when we shop.  You can learn more about the book and Martin Lindstrom on his site.