Tuesday, February 20, 2007

3 Lessons Gangsta Rappers Can Teach You About Marketing

OK…let me start this by saying I do not enjoy rap music. In fact, the closest to rap I ever get is Kid Rock and he turned himself into a country singer!

This is important for a couple of reasons:

#1 You don’t accuse me of liking rap

#2 Even though I don’t like rap, it doesn’t mean I don’t listen to it or look for lessons in what rappers do. I could probably write a book about the business acumen of Jay-Z (a marketing genius if I’ve ever seen one...I'd love just to tag along with him for just one day to learn from him). It just means that you too need to be looking beyond what you like or your industry for marketing and business models.

Now, let’s get on with the show…

#1 Keepin’ it real

If this is not the slogan for a new advertising age, then I don’t know what is. Authenticity, in my opinion, is the MOST important aspect of any marketing or advertising campaign. For gangsta rappers, not "keepin' it real" can murder an aspiring or top (think Vanilla Ice) rapper.

If you want to be successful in your marketing, you had better keep it real. Keep it honest. And you will be rewarded for it. If you don’t, your customers will desert you until you end up on the Surreal Life for broke businesspeople (it’s coming…I can feel it).

#2 Showing Love for your homies

Whenever I do happen to listen to rap, there is always some guy giving a shout out to his homie. In other words, he’s mentioning his friend’s name. The effect? That rappers fans start looking for that friend’s album.

I recently wrote about Paris Hilton being a walking billboard for other people’s products. Well, rappers do this all the time. And the best part is that it’s authentic. Or at least it appears that way. Fans of rap know better than me that rappers tend to be affiliated with each other through their record companies and that these “shout outs” are great for helping each other.

But that’s the point, isn't it? By helping others, you help yourself. Rappers get it. And so should you. Make sure to praise your friends, vendors, or whoever else you work with. In the Web 2.0 era, selflessness is profitable.

* I’d like to give a shout out to my buddy Steve Harper. If you haven't read his book "The Ripple Effect" you're missing out.

* I’ll give another shout out to Thom Singer. Pick up his book too.

#3 Famous rapper (feat. some guy you’ve never heard of)


Who-the-hell-are-you rapper (feat. Famous rapper)

This is the mack daddy of “rapper marketing”. What’s better for an up-and-coming rapper than to be featured on an album by a guy everyone likes. This works great for rappers. And even conversely. Get a famous rapper to rap on your album and you are nearly guaranteed your first single will sell.

It’s love (and money) by association. And this works in pretty much all business. Get someone famous or well-known to endorse you, and you are well on your way.

Speaking of which, any famous (or not-so-famous) people out there want to give me a shout out? Or how about endorsing my next marketing product (coming out soon). Comment on this blog to let me know (Paris Hilton already did!)

To Your Continued Success,

Carlon Haas


Monday, February 12, 2007

What Fashion Models Can Teach You About Marketing!

I just saw a video about how air brushed models are in the magazines.

Of course, I already knew that, but many people do not (or at least they try not to think about it too much).

The video shows an average-looking woman who after being made up and “touched up” turns into this gorgeous fashion model on a billboard.

The video definitely appeals to the emotions (like great sales copy should), but to me it says more about the age we are living in.

With the influx of information on a thing called the internet that lets anyone say whatever they want, more and more people are getting bombarded with—for lack of a better word--crap. Truth and authenticity are getting harder and harder to discern.

And I believe that we are entering an age where truth and authenticity are valued higher than ever.

What was the crime in the video? It wasn’t the model. Watch the video and you will see the message "no wonder our perception of beauty is so distorted”.

The crime is in the deception.

If the model had been very pretty and just put on a little make-up, the video would have had no effect because putting on make-up is not considered a deception. But to think that all those women we thought we so pretty actually look like a lot of us out there! That is not something people are going to be tolerating much longer.

I believe that in marketing and advertising the audiences are becoming less and less inclined to suspend their disbelief. They will want more proof. A lot of what is now called Web 2.0 has to do with this. The interactivity you have with someone the more you can trust them.

But in plain marketing terms: just tell the truth and take the time to establish a relationship with your clients.

When I tell my story, I will freely admit that I was a very reluctant entrepreneur who had to fly by the seat of his pants till I discovered how to use direct response marketing (both on and off the web). It’s no secret.

Truth leads to trust.

And people buy from people they trust.

To your continued success,

Carlon Haas


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Your Business Card Sucks!"

OK…here’s what happened.

As some of my loyal readers know, I moved from copywriting and marketing into another business venture.

But my good friend Steve Harper coaxed me into not retiring from it completely.

And I was happy to oblige him.

One problem though…

…all my “marketing strategist” business cards were gone. All I had left were these cheesy cards I had created for a special seminar. The “cheesiness factor” worked in my favor there (just gotta know that market).

However, outside of that niche, everyone else HATES it.

In fact, I’ve only handed the things out at a couple of meetings and I’ve been bombarded with "your business card sucks" e-mails.

OK…OK…I can take a hint.

So, to all of you, I am getting a new card PRONTO. (My card for my other business is pretty, but I don’t think you are looking for consultants on doing business in Korea).

But, as always, I try to turn my mistakes into a lesson for all of you. I think the lesson is two-fold:

#1 Message to market mismatch. The cheesy card worked like gangbusters in one market, but flopped in another. A lot of advertising and marketing works the same way. I have made good business deals with a “cheesy” one-page sales letter site that a lot of people said would never work. But it did work well for my target market. But the same site would fail miserable if my target market was large corporations.

#2 Admit mistakes and move on. Now, I split test a lot of the web sites and ads I do (if I can). And when one wins, I ditch the loser and test some more. But sometimes a campaign just doesn't work. Rather than feel bad and guilty about it, it's best to admit when it's not working and move on to something else.

I actually knew better than to take that card to those types of meetings. But sometimes we do things against our better judgment. We just gotta know when to stop.

So, I’m holding a memorial service for my cheesy business card this evening. If you hear the sound of taps being played tonight, you know where it's coming from.

To Your Continued Success,

Carlon Haas

P.S. I wanted to thank all of you who were on the teleseminar I did with Steve Harper.
I appreciate you giving up an hour of your time for the call.