Two years ago, I was having dinner at the Grand Ole Opry hotel in Nashville, getting ready to attend the Dan Kennedy Superconference.
Just up to my right I saw someone come out of a discretely placed side door, and start walking down the hall towards me.
“Hey. There’s Gene Simmons!”
Gene was booked to speak at the seminar the next morning, but here he was wandering down the hallway all by himself. No one had even really noticed who this living legend was that was casually strutting his stuff, all by his lonesome.
So my buddy Owen and I jumped up and went to say hi.
He was incredibly friendly, offering us signatures or photos if we wanted. As we were snapping a couple pictures, people around us started to figure out who this was… and the crowd soon surrounded him.
What impressed me was watching him with the crowd.
There’s a guy that knowswhopays his bills!
He was patient and friendly with everyone.
Sign this? Sure.
He made sure every single person who wanted it, either got a picture with him or went home with something signed by Gene (the girls usually went away with some very strategically written ink on their bodies).
No rush – he was there to be with his fans.
One fascinating thing about his fans was the multiple generations that consider him the best in the world.
Grandmothers there with their grandkids – each of them as giddy at meeting Gene as the other.
The next morning he gave a fantastic talk about thinking big and success in business.
Many people judge Gene by the image he portrays in his old KISS costume, with makeup, platform boots and tongue sticking out.
If that is all you know about Gene, you will be astounded to learn how successful he has become marketing himself, his brand, and his many companies.
Seriously, Gene is a marketing genius and his Sex, Money, Kiss book gives you some incredible insights into the way he thinks, acts and grows his businesses (a warning though:If you are easily offended and unable to see past some of the points he makes, you will not enjoy this book. If you have thick skin, this is packed solid with marketing lessons).
If you watch his Family Jewels show, you catch a glimpse of how he runs some of the business and makes tens of millions of dollars a year, when most Rock-and-Roll old times have dried up and blown away.
Did you know Gene has never used drugs or been drunk?
Most have no clue. Most don’t want to believe it.
But that’s how he stayed sober when all the rest of the band fell victim to drugs and booze.
Gene took control of the main assets and has continued to leverage his success for decades now.
He is one of the BEST at being a showman. He knows when to put on his game face, and does it incredibly well.
Some of the lessons I have picked up from Gene that are ideal for small business marketing:
- Make it a cool and catchy name.Many of the major successes in business are centered around products and businesses whose names are memorable (or they paid huge bucks to make it memorable).
- Think through each and every area that you can generate revenuesfrom your business and offerings.
- Your main product or service offering –price it at the high end(trying to win the low price game is not something I ever recommend). Prices at the high end may attract fewer buyers (sometimes it attracts more buyers), but the profits are higher, and the effort required to close a high end sale is typically as easy as selling the cheapest on the market.
- Find ways toincorporate a membership programinto your business. This is a BIG money maker if done properly (the KISS members club has a massive client base that will buy anything that is promoted). You can price your membership program monthly or yearly, definitely worthy of testing both options. With a membership, they should get some form of discount of future purchases, they should have special member-only days, they should be eligible for contests, points for purchases – redeemable for additional goods, or impressed clothing or hats.[Side note: I have been watching closely all the different places that use memberships lately, and they are, typically, one of the leaders in their market, usually VERY busy with paying customers, and usually very unique, in that their competitors are too scared to implement membership programs.]
- What is your conversation piece?When someone talks about you and your business, what one thing are they likely to bring up in the conversation? If you don’t have that, yet, start thinking it through.It could be the bizarre things you do in your ‘off-time’ (think Richard Branson) – it could be who you regularly write about in your newsletters (I used to write about my twin daughters extensively in my newsletters, as they taught me much about life and business).
Find something, anything that can position you as highly unique.
- Haveannual customer appreciation events(more frequent is even better). People LOVE a good party – give them one. Make it free for all customers – you can combine the free event with an extra paid event, but do it at a separate time and make the paid event highly valuable.
- Is there any way you canlicense your brand, your products, your services, even your marketing process or ads?Create something unique in your business and how it is perceived by others, then approach others in unrelated markets (even competitors in non-competitive areas). Sell rights to use your licensed goods in their business. For them, it gives them more to sell to their clients, for you it provides additional income streams to further grow your business and bank account.Donald Trump recently discussed the fact that15% of his revenues come from the licensing of the Trump name.People pay him significant fees to use his name, fees are payable in advance before they do anything with his name.
- Cross promote everything that you sell, or want to sell. Each and every part of your business needs to be selling the other parts. You can do this through inserts in your product shipments, in your electronic newsletters, in your customer follow-up pieces, you can even create catchy cartoon or graphic logos that make for great stickers – include a bunch of stickers with each shipment (this has worked great for me and the Wild West Wealth Summit and the cowboy cartoons I have used).
- Createsystematic 1-2-3 launchesfor every new initiative you are undertaking this year. As you lay it out on your marketing calendar you will start seeing where the majority of your time will be allocated throughout the year- and where the overlaps are on your launches, which can be powerful in the eyes of you customers – or confusing, if not explained properly.Make sure you cross promote your different businesses as well. Gene Simmons is very good at making sure each and every one of his businesses or clients is mentioned when he is in front of a crowd.
You just never know who is in the market for one of your other offerings!
- Always be asking yourself how you can make more money from your existing products or services, and how you can repackage them for bigger boosts in sales. Trysurveying your clientsto find out what they like most, and least, about the products and services you offer now.
You and I may not have a name
like Trump or Simmons to license,
but we definitely have assets we can
and should be licensing.
- Brand yourself as the personality of your business.Many of the world’s great business success stories (and turnaround stories) are the result of the business leader becoming the front person and personality in all their marketing. Lee Iacocca WAS Chrysler when he turned them around. He was front and center on the television, the voice you heard on radio, and the person people connected with when they wanted to buy a new vehicle (versus all the other ‘faceless’ corporations they had to choose from).Use cartoons, if appropriate. They have worked well for me … and are working well for others. There is a major resurgence of interest in cartoons right now among adults. I don’t recall where I saw the article, but the growth in comic book sales to adults is experiencing a major spike right now – tap into it!
How would you sell you and your company if you were a rock star?You may not want to wear makeup and stick your tongue out (or maybe you would?) – but there is something you would do to stand out from the thousands of other rock stars out there re:What is your personality you want to cartooning?
Use that personality in your blog posts, in your newsletters, in your marketing and on your website – that is one of your greatest assets if you leverage it right.
- Work harder (and smarter) than anyone else in your industry.Despite the premise behindThe 4-Hour Work Week, hard work will be the key to your success. Yes, outsourcing and systemization is critical, but if you are working half the hours as your biggest competitor –theywill become the leader. Look at Clayton, he doesn’t claim to work the fewest hours to have created the level of success that he has – he works hard, damn hard – and the results from his promotions speak for themselves.
Also, Gene is big into the designs and packaging of the name you use. You cannot deny the success he has achieved with this strategy. Make the name into a catchy logo, and, the real key, make the logo attractive enough that you would wear it on a t-shirt, or baseball cap, or on a poster, etc.
Gene has created a multi-million dollar empire out of merchandisable clothing, posters, stickers, electronic gear, etc…. all with a very catchy logo and designs.
I highly encourage you to pick up Gene’s book. It gives you a powerful look into the life of one of today’s greatest showmen.
Few people in any business can make ten, twenty, fifty million a year consistently… for decades. Those that do, leave some serious clues on how you can do the same.
Even if success and wealth is not one of your ambitions, learning how a guy like that has been able toTurn a flame-breathing devil into a multi-generational icon is a fun ride in itself!
To your success, Troy White
PS: This article was originally written for the weekly article I write on Clayton Makepeace’s blog at http://www.smallbusinessmastery.com