I'll make you famous!

According to the ‘classic’ 80’s western, ‘Young Guns’ Emilio Estevez’s character William H Bonney, aka ‘Billy the Kid’, would utter the ironic words ‘I’ll make you famous!’ just before shooting some unfortunate soul. Doing so he added them to his famous, or more properly infamous list of victims.

For various reasons this film has always stuck in my head, and I’ve always liked the line. But over the years its connotations have changed somewhat as I have sought to make my own clients famous in their own spaces.

It’s all about focus

The number one issue for most of the businesses I deal with is focus. There is too much going on. Too much going on in their planning, too much going on in the stores, and certainly too much going on in their communications. Mixed messages aren’t ever a good idea. And coupled with different styles and different approaches, can even lead to the situation where a business ends up competing with itself.

Lets say you have a press ad (I think some people still use them?) and a radio ad running concurrently, and each one focussed on a different element of your business, or worse, ended with a ‘strap line’ that was different. Or the ultimate problem in visual advertising, say the website had different fonts and colours to what went into your on-line display campaign. Effectively the recipient of the messages has to stretch to put the messages together as having come from the same place.

In other words, as far as the customer is concerned, there may as well be two or even three (if you are multi media) companies competing in the same space, while in reality all the communications are coming from just you.

The one line brief take

Thats why I started to use ‘I’ll make you famous’ as a brief taking line. You can only be famous for one thing. And clients get that. There is so much clutter out there, so many people competing for attention, and generally so much shouting, that it’s really hard to deliver any message other than the most simple. Asking ‘what do you want to be famous for?’ is a great way to get at the heart of what the client has to offer. They have to strip away all the superfluous nonsense that normally accompanies their marketing efforts, and concentrate on something that will bring results.

People and things are usually famous for a single simple reason. Sports cars are fast. Luxury cars are expensive. Apple products are ‘designful’. People too, are usually memorable for an image or a phrase or even a thought. One of the reasons I like to use Twitter so much is because you have to be so concise and clear in what you say, limited as you are to 140 characters. What would Twitter say about Katy Price? Or Tony Blair? Or The Queen? You can be sure a few well-chosen words would be all it would take to communicate who these people are, to communicate what they are famous for.

The power of your brand is inversely proportional to its scope

So said the brilliant Al Ries in the seminal ‘22 immutable laws of branding‘. But how many businesses flaunt this law everyday? Every time they communicate to their public. They expect their customers to piece together the jigsaw of different messages, varying strap lines, and even non concurrent strategies (social media for one type of product, and a magazine feature for a different one perhaps?)

The tighter, more straight forward the message the easier it is to remember. Then the trick is to either find your market and pursue them with a subtle highly targeted approach (narrowcast), or more traditionally, flood the advertising space with frequency (broadcast). Be everywhere, with the same message or look or flavour or approach or whatever. Multiply your own messages through consistency.

And if its niche targeting your require, ensure each surgically precise strike has the same elements too. At the very least the same positioning statement for your business

Think of the position for your business as the thing you want to be famous for.

At all costs, claim leadership

The other mistake commonly made in this area of your marketing, is trying to deliver some sort of wishy-washy sentiment about your brand. A feeling or even something clever designed to make your prospective client think, and ultimately, think you are clever. Positioning statements don’t work that way. The more obtuse they are, the less memorable they are. Make the recipient think for more than a few milliseconds, and they’ll give up. Thats how brutal it is out there.

Claim a leadership. Tell people who you are. The best or cheapest or fastest or most reliable or biggest or whatever. There is no room for modesty in marketing. Blast the competition and be famous for something that no one else can claim to be famous for.

And if you can’t claim a leadership? Best find something that you can be best at quickly, before your business fails.

There are only two types of winners in business. Those that are cheapest, and those that are different. If you are neither, your number one priority is to become one or the other. But be warned. Being the price leader means being the cost leader too. If you’re not, find somewhere else where you can win.

A meatball Sundae

In his excellent book Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin talks at length about this topic. About transforming your business particularly using modern techniques such as social media, and standing for things that no other business does. He talks about the long tail, understanding that with the power of the web at their finger tips, people have the ability to buy whatever they want from whomever they want. The trick is to be the business to provide that, to be famous for selling the ‘purple cows‘.

The good news is, you may not have to go this far. There are so many businesses getting it wrong, that even the basic marketer in the most fundamental markets can clean up. Selling cars? Become famous for being the most trustworthy (if you can’t be the cheapest). Selling windows? Be the fastest to install? Selling Business services of any kind? Be the only one to offer full money back guarantees?

If its such a good idea, why is no one else doing it?

Fear! Fear holds us back. We need to feel we are covering all the bases, talking to all the potential customers we can. When in fact, marketing science (if I can call it that) tells us to do exactly the opposite.

What do you want to be famous for? What can you claim leadership in? Decide and stick to it. Don’t change it every time a new season comes to pass. Theres an old saying to do with corporate logos for instance, that just as you’re getting bored with it, it’s just starting to work!

Once you have decided on your position of leadership, shout about it. Or whisper it. Just talk about it when ever you can. Online, in your email signatures, on your press ads, your radio commercials, your Facebook page. Every type of communication you produce should look the same and sound the same. And say the same thing.

‘Completely Free Sales Advice’ is famous for one thing isn’t it? Providing free sales and marketing advice. What do you want to be famous for? Follow the ideas in this article and indeed in some of the books featured and guess what? It’ll make you famous! Its not that tough to do, but it does take commitment and focus. But you can do it. Loads of business do. Take a look around at positioning statements for the business you like or admire. Or even those that are new to you but clearly offer a winning proposition.

Which ones inspire you? There’s no such thing as a new idea, so take direction from someone else that has already done the hard part. Put in a bit of research and create a new position in the market for your business. And enjoy your new found fame.

Let me know what you think below in the comment section, or post your feedback on the Facebook page.

  1. ET
    ET says:

    ‘Purple prose’ came to mind, or more appropriately, ‘Purple prose branding’ issues in the thread, Tony. Then a purple cow charged in. . . Seriously though, I’ll certainly take on board the advice relating to focus and consistency. They make a great deal of sense.