So last week’s video was called “Rock and Roll Branding vs Direct Marketing” and it was about branding vs. direct marketing and how those two very distinct styles of marketing are coming together and how the really big brands are starting to figure out that direct marketing is awesome… and for those of us little guys that have been using direct marketing online for so long that branding is becoming more and more important. So got a lot of great comments on that video and questions as well. So I thought I’d just do a little quick “Part 2” revisit branding vs direct marketing, especially with regards to our type of businesses. So, first of all, I got a comment from Stu McClaren. Stu’s been a great friend of mine for a long time and many of you know him as the creator of the Tribe course. So, first of all, I gotta say it’s just awesome that I have amazing people stopping by and leaving comments on my blog. Like a few weeks ago , it was Steven Pressfield, the the author of many books, including “The War of Art,” which is a great book. In any any case, Stu stopped by and he said, “For me, this is what makes it now so exciting. The brand marketing helps us reach the masses; the direct response marketing helps us make it profitable.” And that’s exactly right. Direct marketing is becoming more and more mainstream. Everyone’s getting used to it. Everyone’s using it. The stakes are going up. You have to be better at it. It’s not as easy as it was. There’s a lot of things that are easier in this business, but people are getting used to really good direct marketing and so that means you have to keep on stepping up your game. You know, welcome to life. That’s the way life is. But Stu’s absolutely right. We’re now able to reach the mainstream like we weren’t a few years ago. I look at my business and how it’s become so much more mainstream. Like I go by my friends and especially neighbors and when I see them starting to know who I am and get on my list, it’s a little bit weird. But it also tells me we’re hitting the mainstream. Ten years ago, none of my friends or neighbors had a clue what I was doing or the type of business I was in or even awareness that this thing existed… and now it seems like almost everyone has got a friend that’s got an online business – and they’re pretty much always online direct marketing-style businesses. So getting your branding right and having a site that looks good and just your entire brand that is something that the mainstream can feel comfortable with is absolutely important. And the direct marketing is the thing that allows us to close the sale. So that’s what awesome about direct marketing. Then there was another comment just below that from Tim. He said, “Stu’s summary above is spot-on.” So he was responding to Stu McClaren’s comment. He said, “My add… beyond great content, over delivery and professionalism lies a whole other level of connection. People are also looking for and hoping to see the real you, something Jeff and Stu are both masters at, which is why so many people are drawn to you guys. It’s a huge part of your brand. Funny thing, the more we’re just ourselves in any communication, the greater the connection – and impact always always goes up.” So Tim… well, first of all, he said some very nice things, so thank you, Tim, I appreciate that. It said very nice things about me… thank you. That’s what I want to speak to. It’s this idea, in our kind of business, especially the personality-based brand, a personality- based business, which mine is and most of us are. Because for smaller, micro kind of online businesses, it’s easier to sell if there’s a personality behind the sale. And your personally can be any number of different things. You know, you could be angry. You could be happy. You could be whatever your brand is. I mean, like somebody who gets this really well is Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferris – both those guys, they get this really well. And they have a specific brand that they put out. I have a different style. I have a different personality. I have a different brand. The thing I stumbled on really really early…very, very early, this was like 1996 or 1997… was that I could only be the best me. And so the way I’ve always communicated… like when you get an email from me, it’s written in the same style that I send an email to a friend. And when I record a video for you, my intent is that I’m on camera just as I am with my friends or with my family. And I know the closer I can get between the video Jeff and the friend Jeff or the dad Jeff or the husband Jeff, the more the authenticity comes through… and authenticity really, really, really sells. It really, really, really builds your business. Because what you’re doing is you’re building a connection with your future clients or customers. And these days online, when you’re inauthentic, when you’re not congruent, it really shows through. Ten years ago, when it was all just text-based and it was a sales letter online, you could get away with all kinds of stuff. But nowadays there’s so much coming through on social that it really gets hard to fake being someone you’re not. So my advice is to get comfortable with who you are and get comfortable with sharing that. And like I said, this is something I just stumbled upon, I think because I didn’t know any better in 1996. I didn’t know I was supposed to act like a big, important brand, so I just acted like myself… and it worked and it kept on working and that’s just who I am. And so this leads to another comment that is very very interesting. It sort of ties into Tim’s comment. This is from Chris Miller. Chris said, “This post has me wondering… because your sites are very nicely designed, but the emails aren’t polished at all. I thought part of the gimmick was to make them look like they were typed personally to make them seem more personable. But shouldn’t polished, well-designed emails that are mobile-friendly be part of that overall branding? I feel like I’m missing something here.” And Chris was missing a little something. So, yeah, my sites are hopefully nicely designed. They’re not super high concept, you know, crazy amazing design… but I hope they’re nicely designed. I hope they’re at least at a minimum level of professional-ness. And, you know, to tell you the truth, seven or eight years ago they weren’t. Because it wasn’t that important. But now there’s sort of this minimum level where you got to have… I mean, if someone just stumbles upon your site, it has to look fairly professional, at least fairly modern, fairly well done. The great news is these days it’s so easy to do that. Five to ten years ago it was hard. Now, for landing pages, there’s tools like LeadPages and things like that that just allow you to create great-looking landing pages. And then if you’re creating a website, 99% of us should probably be using WordPress. But then there’s so many great WordPress themes that it’s just easy to create a great-looking page. And everyone else in the world is doing it, so you have to look at least passably professional there. Now in terms of my emails, I want my emails to come out like I had just typed an email to a friend. So I just look at the emails that I send back and forth to my friends. Like if they’re pinging me to see if I want to go skiing or something like that, or they’re sending me like a link to a cool guitar they like, I look at the emails I sent back and forth with friends… and that’s how I want my emails to look like when I’m sending them out. So Chris said the emails aren’t polished at all… I thought part of the gimmick… I never want to use gimmick, so that sort of threw a red flag for a bit, but let’s leave that aside because Chris wasn’t trying to be demeaning or anything here. “The emails aren’t polished at all. I thought part of the gimmick was to make them look like they were typed personally to make them seem more personal.” Uh, not so much typed personally, but they feel like they’re coming from me as a friend. Because when I think of what hopefully my brand represents out in the world is just a very friendly brand, a very friendly me that you can connect with, that even though I’m reaching hundreds of thousands and even millions of people, I think of the people on my list as they’re just an extended family. And I want them to feel that way. And I want them to feel a connection to me and I want them — and I’m speaking to you now. Entrepreneurs are the future of the world. We’re the ones changing the world. The people that are publishing wisdom- based products, information products, training products are the people I’d really love to help out. I think they’re the ones that are the future of education, which again is the future of the world. And I want to empower them. I want to empower you. I want you to understand that if you haven’t started your business, this is a doable business. It’s very, very doable. I started with nothing. I started as a stay-at-home dad and I built this amazing business that has touched millions and millions and millions of people either through me or through the clients I’ve helped. And so I know it’s possible and I want people to understand that. And for those of you that already have great businesses going, I want to push you to think bigge, to think that your reach and your impact and your lifestyle and your income can all be ten times bigger. So that’s what my brand is about – and it’s about just having fun, it’s about being relaxed and it’s about sharing your message with the world. So for me, I don’t want a super highly designed email going out that’s all fancy, because it’s not the email that I send my friends. When I send an email to my friends, it doesn’t have a big graphic header or something on there. It’s just plain text… and I love text. And then it sends people to videos like this, which might or might not be highly produced or highly professional. This one was just like basically a sort of fancy selfie. Sometimes my videos are super awesomely polished and fancy… and that’s usually when my son’s involved, when he’s shooting my videos. But again, everything around my brand, it’s not about sending fancy emails. So there’s a little bit more insight into brand and it’s something you need to be thinking about. But really the easiest way to get your brand right, if you’re in this type of business, is just to be as authentic as you can. Think about the video “you” or the email “you” and then the friend “you” or the father or the son or the whatever “you” – and how close can you get those. My wish is for for me… basically I’m the same person on camera as I am if you run into me at the grocery store or that my kids see. And if you can nail that, the closer you can be in your video “you” or your professional “you” and who you are with your family and friends, I think that shines through… and that wins in today’s market. Because people are looking for that, people want that, people hunger for that. I’m Jeff Walker. Wherever you’re watching this, scroll down, leave a comment for me, tell me what you think. Tell me what you think my brand is, what my brand represents. And let’s go get ’em this week.