Those little devils are everywhere. Drone fever has swept the country and it has me hopping mad. In the last week my office has been buzzed every workday and the Accountant farm had its privacy disrupted three times.
The animals hate it! Drones buzzing overhead send the chickens running for cover while the steers run the length of the pasture trying to get away. Privacy is the main concern at the office. If somebody wants to invade my privacy on the farm while I water the horse out back there isn’t much to see. (Ah, that didn’t come out right.)
Therefore, I hereby announce The Wealthy Accountant will start selling anti-drone guns for $500 a pop with the beautiful logo of The Wealthy Accountant emblazoned on the side. This is a limited offer! Only 10,000 will be manufactured. When they are gone they’re gone.
To recoup my costs fast I’ll be announcing the anti-drone guns all over social media, especially Twitter.
There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend. Those who love to annoy people with their drone and those who love to shoot’em down. I’m betting you are like me and fall into the latter camp.
One problem still needs to be resolved before shipping starts. It seems UPS doesn’t allow shipping of a package with ANTI-DRONE GUN printed on the side. My solution is to changes the package to read NOT AN ANTI-DRONE GUN.
Branding is one of the most important tasks a company undertakes. This blog also needs to brand or it will fall into irrelevance as cobwebs start gracing the corners of the site.
My tax office has built a brand over the previous three decades locally and finds its footprint spreading far and wide as of late.
Many readers here are in the accounting profession looking for ideas to save their clients more money and get ideas on how to grow their business. Other readers have a side gig. In either case you still need at least a bit of branding to turn a profit.
Branding is where the real money is. Most goods and services are commodities. Everybody can sell what you’re selling and everybody does. There is always some schmuck willing to cut corners and offer a discounted price to yours.
President Trump is a master at branding. Whether you like the guy or not you still have to sit back and watch how he has done so well financially. Even if his net worth numbers are inflated he still can teach us a lot. Trump has turned his name into a worldwide brand generating hundreds of millions of dollars.
Trump doesn’t really build anything. He licenses his name so the real builder can slap Trump’s name on the side of the building. Yeah, I know. He does build some stuff. But the big money, the money his fortune is built on, is his brand.
By now you probably realize the opening of this post was a gag. Anti-drone guns exist and the military and police can buy them, but you and I are probably not allowed.
The opening is a play on Elon Musk’s latest attention-getting behavior. Musk is playing a flamethrower stunt for all its worth. In the end he will probably never ship a one, returning all deposits while he keeps all the press.
Musk has flooded Twitter with the sensationalism of his flamethrower sale. To give the stunt some legitimacy he found a loophole in the law allowing flamethrowers that shoot flame less than ten feet. Of course when you make a splash like Elon with a sale of 10,000 flamethrowers, lawmakers get nervous. What could possibly go wrong?
Even with the flamethrowers sold out Musk has played the publicity stunt for all its worth. First he had the sale. Then they sold out. (Lot of pyromaniacs out there, I guess.) Then UPS said “no” so Musk tweets boxes will say NOT A FLAMETHROWER. Then he tweets about the law probably killing the whole idea. Don’t worry, Musk assured. If the law is changed and the idea flames out, all monies will be returned. I think Elon keeps any interest that accrued on the nine mil and all the free PR.
Wait for It
I stand in awe of the skills Musk has at marketing and generating free publicity. The value of the attention (branding value) he gets is immeasurable. I can’t get CNBC, Business Insider or MarketWatch to even mumble my name.
Warren Buffett has a way of catching headlines without the drama. Ryan Holiday went to extremes at times during his career to generate buzz. Musk and Trump are legends.
Then we have respectable family men like Richard Branson. Once upon a time Virgin Atlantic (the Virgin brands belong to Branson) added shiatsu messages to their on-board Upper Class service. Branson is from the UK and British Airways (BA) thought Virgin Atlantic’s shiatsu messages were a joke. When BA didn’t follow suit Virgin bought ad space in a few select locations at Heathrow Airport stating: British Airways doesn’t Give a Shiatsu.
Funny, Richard. Real funny.
Sometimes a branding opportunity falls into your lap. British Airways once again took a thinly veiled jab at Virgin with two-page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers with the message: More people choose British Airways to London than any other airline. Duh!
BA is the largest airline in the UK so they do carry more passengers than any other airline. But the Duh! at the end was an unnecessary jab.
Branson’s team went to work producing a fitting response. Within hours they were ready to go. (It shows their sense of humor is as sick as your favorite accountant’s.) The next day the New York Times had another two-page ad, this time reading: More people switch to Virgin Atlantic from British Airways than from any other airline. Hah!
According to Branson it got heated quickly. My understanding is a lawsuit was threatened. Oh, well!
Branding with Integrity
Branson has written on leadership and building a company from scratch and fighting against the big boys. Branding is absolutely necessary to survive! The cost of building a brand is prohibitive if you use traditional advertising venues. Even social media is expense for a micro-sized firm.
Social media makes it easier to find an audience than ever before. My earlier writing from the 80s and 90s found it hard to find a home. My brand was nonexistent so my work sold for peanuts or worse, tear sheets.
I adopted Amazon and social media relatively early in promoting my brand, but was never real good at it. I’m getting better. Unfortunately, I fell into the sinkhole of time social media demands when you don’t automate and do it wrong. It’s impossible for me to communicate with every reader individually even on social media. With 100,000 page views per month and growing the task would be daunting moving toward impossible.
Branson said it best in his book The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun It’s Not Worth Doing when he wrote:
We have always relied on smart, cutting-edge creativity and scads of often quite self-deprecating humour to get ourselves noticed — it’s called getting a bigger bang for a much smaller buck.
Every blogger looking to grow their viewership must read Branson’s book!
The first thing that jumps out of Branson’s quote in my prime problem. He said smart. My challenge just got more, ah, shall we say, challenging.
Humor and self-deprecation are powerful tools when communicating. To the best of my ability I use these tools when writing posts. Growing traffic and an award might be the result of such behavior.
Shootout at the OK Coral
How far do we have to push to be noticed? Branson was lowered from the top of a building on a rope while wearing a dress and did that hot air balloon thing.
If I thought it would work I’d wear a mini skirt and high heels, too, but I’m worried I’d lose the remaining three clients I have left. (To the ladies in the office. NO!)
Ryan Holiday took the extreme measure of vandalizing his own posters and your favorite accountant begged people to steal his stuff.
Warren Buffett uses whimsical country humor.
Musk builds fast electric cars, rockets, and solar panels, plans to go to Mars, and has a Boring Company selling $700,000 of hats and $9 million of flamethrowers.
Will it require even crazier ideas to be noticed? Artists do it. Musicians especially. Getting noticed in a crowded room takes effort and talent.
There is a point where it goes too far. How would Musk feel if he did manage to get the flamethrowers built and delivered and some psycho burned a daycare to the ground killing dozens of children? He’d get more publicity, but this time the kind he wouldn’t want.
Consistent quality work speaks volumes. Getting noticed doesn’t require a massive budget. A well placed Facebook ad for under $100 could generate quality buzz. A free tweet could do the same.
Mild self-deprecation is the best branding you can do. Shouting the loudest or craziest as our current President does isn’t always a good idea. Trump mastered that shtick, but most will fare poorly attempting the same.
I like some of Musk’s ideas and think Branson has hired a team of geniuses when it comes to branding and PR.
My original idea was to claim I was selling nukes stolen from North Korea. After some thought I came to the conclusion a couple percent of my readers might think it was unbelievable or even clickbait.
So I’m left stealing an idea from Branson. If I thought for a second I would triple my page views permanently by wearing a dress all weekend at FinCon, I would.
Ugh! Just had a visual.
Maybe we should stick with flamethrowers.
Thursday 15th of February 2018
May I ask why Drones are flying near you? I cant imagine WHY they are flying out in the country much less over your particular property.
Thursday 15th of February 2018
I was joking, Jason! Humor is hard to deliver from the written page. Always assume my sick humor is involved when something seems out of place.
Tuesday 6th of February 2018
If you ever do have a problem with drones, the the best device I saw in a review of drone-fighting device was a special shotgun shell. The shot inside are attached to a small net, which wind around the propellers and force the drone to earth. The guy they chose to "dmonstrate" the shells took 4 shots before he downed the drone. At $10.00 per shell that gets expensive fast.
Monday 5th of February 2018
It’s not what you know it’s whom applies both ways. There’s no such thing as bad publicity in the world of business because being unknown usually leads to failure.
Monday 5th of February 2018
The problem with publicity/fame, like you describe, is that it's one in a million (or higher) that are able to get it for free. It's like winning the lottery. For every person that gets it for some new idea, there were a million other people who had just as good of an idea that you never heard about. Once you're famous, you can generally maintain it, because the press will keep showing your stunts, but getting there is hard.
The good news is you don't have to be famous to make money. As you've shown, you can become quite wealthy by not being known at all. You've found some FI fame later in life, but you were already a multi-millionaire.
You mentioned not being able to get get CNBC, Business Insider, or Marketwatch to mumble your name. Trust me, with your wealth, for less than 100K, you could get all three of those to mention you consistently. It can definitely be bought once you have enough money to pay the right people. It's all in "who you know", and if you don't know enough people, money can get you in front of key people. I paid a law firm in LA 50K 3 years ago to meet some key industry folks, and it was AMAZING the people they got me meetings with.