Jen McCown (the wife part of the husband-and-wife MidnightDBA team) declared yesterday to be the first Un-SQL Friday – a day where bloggers talk about anything other than SQL Server. The topic of the day was branding, and Jen’s post declared me a branding superstar. (Awk-ward.)
I couldn’t participate right away because I already had a post scheduled for Friday, and I try not to overwhelm you guys with blog posts. I read the responses unfold, and I’m not going to name names, but I saw a heck of a lot of really, really bad advice – and nobody referenced a book.
Hello, people. Here comes the tough love.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of SQL Server, the guy who’s only read a couple of books about it is considered a “branding superstar.” I’ll be the first to tell you that I suck at branding and marketing, and I’ll tell you that because when it comes to marketing, I don’t consider my competitors to be the SQL Server community. I consider my competitors to be the marketing community, because my real competitors are big consulting companies that can afford to hire full-time marketing departments.
When I quit my job in July and joined SQLskills, I stopped getting a paycheck. Period. I’m a consulting partner – I have to find clients, do work, and get the clients to pay us. I thought for sure that I’d be eating ramen noodles for six months while I got my pipeline together, but a funny thing happened on the way to the microwave. I got email after email that all started with the same few words: “I loved your blog/presentation/webcast on ___, and I was wondering if you could help us with…”
That’s the kind of customer that consulting companies love. The customer already knows who I am, they know what I do, and they choose to work with me. No cold calls, no taking the executives out to the golf course, no expensive dinners at steak houses – just instant relationships. I can only do this because I’ve built a brand over the last few years that companies know they can trust, and that they want to work with by choice. I could only do that because I learned from people who really understood branding and marketing, because I sure as heck don’t.
There are millions of people out there who do marketing for a living. There are thousands of people who are amazing marketers, and there are dozens of books about it at your local bookstore. Stop learning by trial and error and error and error – go pick up one of these books:
- Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands – David Vinjamuri
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding – Al Ries and Laura Ries – you can break some of these laws and still become successful, but you’ll get a big head start if you play by the rules.
- The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business – Tara Hunt
- Permission Marketing – Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers – Seth Godin
- All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories – Seth Godin
You wouldn’t take your car to the dry cleaners to find out what that rattling noise is. You wouldn’t go to your favorite restaurant to ask how to implement accounting software. Likewise, don’t take branding advice from people who don’t make a successful living doing branding. ‘Nuff said.