Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's always better to have other people say good stuff about you than it is for you to say good stuff about yourself.

Come and Go Vietnam, Brioni, Armani, Tamas Varga, Saigon Digital Marketing, Ana Mandara, Tonight I went to an event that Tim planned for the travel industry and hosted by his company Come and Go Vietnam. It was such a success that all the free liquor was gone by the time I arrived. But Tim, ever the vigilant organizer, managed to coerce one of the sponsors to pony up a few more bottles of wine and the Sangria flowed through the Lucky Draw. I didn't win a damn thing. Not even a cheesy t-shirt. Damn. Two nights at Ana Mandara in Dalat went to some other travel geek who probably gets more free stay vouchers that he can shake a City Pass at.

But I met Tamas Varga, a photographer who does these really cool 360 panoramic images and virtual tours for hotels and properties. He gave away a $1000 photo shoot. I didn't win that either, but it was really nice to meet him.

Towards the end of the evening I was able to spend a few minutes with Simon. Simon and I met a few years ago at the Saigon Digital Marketing conference. He was a guy with a successful Internet business and I was a smart-assed blogger. Today Simon is a guy with another successful online business, and I am still a smart-assed blogger, but now with a successful business in digital marketing and branding as well. And I have one thing to thank for that.

This blog.

Through our discourse Simon relayed a few things I have heard often over the last two years. The statements below don't come from him verbatim, but are more an amalgamation of things I continue to hear and how I continue to learn how blogs build business. Blogs build trust. And blogs build credibility - so long as you don't shovel a load of complete and utter horseshit every time you post. Here's what I have heard from Simon and many others. If you can use any of this please do. I have no stranglehold on the market. But I will stand on this: If you can write as fluidly as I do, as often as I do, about things people actually care about, and then syndicate it so that it bombs the papers in New York, Washington, L.A. and San Francisco to put Vietnam on the global ideas map - have at it. Competition is good. But I'm driving this bus from Vietnam and you're going to have one hell of a time being better at it or more dedicated to it than I am.

Here's what I've heard:

1) You say the things that everyone would like to say but can't

Oh, this political correctness dragon. What a bitch. But you can take your paycheck, mow your lawn and suffer in corporate suburbia - so don't complain that I'm having too much fun. At least in building my business model, I'm setting my ground rules early. No bullshit. I don't have time for it and I don't make any money from it. Period. I know two other guys who do well at this also. Tim and Mads. Read their blogs. Know that they care so much about their respective qualities - and those who complain they can't do it? Give up.

2) You have attained a level of credibility

Will someone give me a million dollars and I can go back to shoveling corporate shit like I used to do for a whole lot less? No, that's not the point. At Leo Burnett, with Sony and Nintendo, at Bozell with American Airlines, and on to Miller Beer, McDonald's, Kellogg's, Marriott, Procter and Gamble and too many more, I have never had a problem sitting in a boardroom and giving a straight opinion. My dad taught me that. And there's a ton of rubbish out there. Much better to call it when you see it in a meeting 6 months ahead of launch than see it swat your ass on Twitter later after you've spent a ton of money. So I call things pretty straight - but I also have the marketing resume to back that up. My clients haven't spend hundreds of millions to run my stuff because I'm an idiot. I've earned credibility.

3) You get the word out there dude!

I syndicate like a banshee. That's how I get picked up by the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post and Technorati. Go ahead. You do it. It's not easy - and I've got 420 posts and 2 1/2 years to prove it. Simon said this, "You're hitting busy people where they live". I am totally in a lot of faces with the Wild Wild East Dailies - and that's the point. Anybody with a corporate website or a blog who's not publicizing it is sort of an idiot. Just because you 've punched the keys and pulled the paper out of the old Selectric doesn't mean the job is finished. Opposite. Your job has just begun.

4) People like you but they're also scared of you

I like that. But when I write this blog, I'm not sitting in a meeting with an Armani suit am I? And yes, I do own the suits. Brioni actually. At where I am right now, I'm way fair with scaring some people - by being more than frank and honest with the writing here. They're my clients and I want them on their toes - so they do better work. And until I see a water cooler, insurance policy, 401k plan, profit sharing, stock options, unlimited mini-bar privileges on trips, driver, free car, faux mahogany desk, a lovely lake house, and a bevy of secretaries wondering if that was a Decaf-Double-Latte-Grande or a standard Café Sua Da every morning, I think I'll stick to just plain 'the best job we can do'. And if that scares a potential client, he/she's probably not going to be my client anyway.

This week is shaping up just fine.
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