This past weekend was the running of the Kentucky Derby. I really didn’t give much thought to it until I ran into another mom who told me she was going to attend a Derby party that night. At first I had no idea what she was talking about, but once she explained it was a Kentucky Derby party I was really fascinated. I started peppering her with questions. Will you wear a hat? Will there be betting? Will there be a signature drink? “Well, of course!” she replied. Hats, wagers and mint juleps were all on the menu.
In recent years it seems like more and more people are throwing these kinds of home spectator parties. No longer do people just gather for the annual Superbowl. Theme parties spread the gamut from erudite election parties to glitzy Oscar parties complete with red carpet. All this partying has me thinking. Fun and frivolity aside, what is the deeper appeal of the spectator party and what does it have to do with branding?
Many theme parties involve watching pinnacle events in a given field where a victor is declared. People love to celebrate winners and they love to associate with winners, even if that association is vicariously through the television. When our local sports team wins, we feel like we win. When our favorite actor wins the Oscar we feel like a winner because our preferences and opinions are validated.
What does this mean for your brand? If people perceive you as a winner they will be more excited about their association with you, about working with you and they will become raving fans. If the Patriots win the Superbowl you better believe there will be a rush on Tom Brady jerseys the next day. If you want to develop that kind of brand fanaticism there are some things you must do.
1. Throw your hat in the ring. You are never going to win anything if you don’t get in the game. However, getting in the game means making a commitment which is scary for many of us. You don’t have to shout it from the roof tops, but you do have to admit to yourself that you want to win.
2. Let everyone know your name. I’ll have another. If you didn’t know that name before this weekend, you probably do now. I’ll have another just won the Kentucky Derby. You want people to know and remember YOUR NAME. My belief is you should put your name out there as much as possible. Some people are uncomfortable with self-promotion, however, most of us don’t come anywhere near the point of over-saturation with this one. Just think of how often you need to hear someone’s name before you remember it. For me, it’s about 100 times!
3. Let people know your story. In our culture we love rags to riches stories. Your story doens’t have to be one of going from object poverty to a life of extreme wealth, although I certainly hope the latter is true! Your story simply needs to share the challenges you have faced and overcome on your path to success. This makes you more accessible and likeable. No one cheers for a pompous know-it-all. Telling your story also helps your audience feel like they can overcome their own obstacles.
4. Be a leader. How many of you have heard of Brad Whitford? How about Steven Tyler? No-brainer, right? Steven Tyler is the lead singer of Aerosmith. Brad Whitford is also a member of Aerosmith, but he is not the leader. To be a leader you must make your voice known. You must take a stand, give direction and be willing to take the heat when things don’t go well. When you do, people will line up to hear what you have to say. Speaking of Steven Tyler…
5. Make a spectacle of yourself. You have to give people something to watch, something to get excited about, something unique or bold. We watch the Oscars to see the beautiful dresses and the Kentucky Derby for the thrill of the race. The other day my husband was watching the Top 10 Most Disrespectful Dunks in basketball where a player actually jumped over another player’s head to dunk the ball! Do you think I will forget that any time soon? No way! I’m even blogging about it.
You don’t have to wear a meat dress or throw flyers out of a helicopter, but if you want people to sit up and pay attention to your brand you are going to have to make some bold moves. Give people something to talk about and celebrate. Better yet, give them something in which they can participate. For example, a fellow brand strategist, Peter Sterlacci, has created a blogathon where he has invited 30 thought leaders to each write a blog for the month of June. I’m excited to let you know I will be participating. Peter is a winner and I feel like a winner because he asked me to join him.
If you want to win clients, act like a winner. If you want to win the respect of the people in your industry, act like a winner. If you want to feel like a winner, ACT like a winner. Now is the time to lace up your shoes and step into the arena. Be a leader and put yourself on the line. As scary as it sometimes feels, it is only when you commit fully to your success that you start to fill up your stadium with roaring fans. I can already hear them screaming your name!
“I would say that the quality of each man’s life is the full measure of that man’s commitment of excellence and victory – whether it be football, whether it be business, whether it be politics or government or what have you.”–Vince Lombardi