Posts Tagged personal branding

Personal Branding gets Impersonal

By now the world knows about “The Decision“… On a personal note I love seeing all the folks jumping on the LeBron Hater bandwagon. I have been there for some time. That said, there’s an incredibly valuable marketing case study here… Here are the top 5 LeBron screw-ups on managing his brand.

1) Letting one of his bumbling entourage take the reigns of a “marketing” firm (and I use marketing loosely) to manage his career. Some might recall how James fired his agent a while ago and decided he could manage his career better than anyone with a little help from his friends. And it showed… He was clearly not his own man in his decision to publicly humiliate his hometown. I’ll give James this much – he was definitely loyal in standing by Maverick Carter as he flushed LeBron’s legacy down the toilet.

2) He showed the world his true colors via a bachelor style rejection. Without any thought or consideration for Cleveland, the Cavaliers or Dan Gilbert, he dumped them on national television.

3) He made this about LeBron. Not about the game of basketball, not about the teams that supported him. This isn’t rocket science – you proposed an hour special about nothing other than yourself, veiled under the guise of charity.

4) He sold out his legacy. Picking Miami was the easy way out with another superstar there to pick up the slack, along with another all-star who’s no slouch himself. Maybe he doesn’t want the pressure of being the go-to-guy, but then why all the hullaballoo?

5) He’s made it clear to everyone that he’s just an unlikeable ass who’s only real concern is his insatiable appetite for attention and adoration. All I can do is laugh… the inevitable implosion of Camp LeBron all due to his massive ego.

The begging and pleading by fans across the nation is exactly what he wanted.

The courting, the jockeying, all for his amusement.

…And now those fans and those teams have nothing to show for.

He made last night into his personal draft day. But at least in the real draft, every team has the chance to come out ahead. Last night there were only losers, with LeBron being the biggest of them all. Don’t get me wrong, if he had walked away from Cleveland with some class, without all the glitz and glamour, people would have forgiven him (over time), his legacy intact.

But his talents demanded more. Too bad. So Sad.

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The Social Media Cold Call

Cold Call

The title in and of itself is ironic. Cold calling, hard core outbound marketing should be all but obsolete thanks to the wonders of social media…but I’m here to report that cold calling lives on, for better or worse.

Social media was supposed to spawn a new generation of “inbound marketing”. Of on demand and user-generated content. People were supposed to find information on anything they needed, at any time, on a variety of platforms. We were supposed to be brought closer together as parts of communities. All these things are happening to some degree, but there are others that look at Social Media as just another method to prospect people they’ve never met.

At least once / week I get the obligatory LinkedIn request from someone I’ve never met…”hey we both used to work at so-and-so inc. Let’s link”. What? Do I know you? For what possible reason would I vouch for you over cyberspace? Did you make any attempt to get to know me at all or did you just see that I have a bunch of contacts in an industry or company that served your purpose?

My other favorite is when someone from my alma mater will email me their resume saying they’re looking for a job. “Saw you worked for so-and-so in the alumni directory. I’m interested in this job…”  What has the world come to that people think because we happened to graduate from the same institution, we suddenly have a bond and that I’m going to go out of my way to help them find a job?

I’ve been married for a long time, someone tell me this is not what dating has come to…forget getting to know you, let’s get straight to it and elope.

Maybe I’m showing my age but if I don’t know who you are, maybe you need to start working your personal brand before coming to me for a favor. Asking me to be your contact is not a great place to start. There’s a ton of information on the net so next time, try getting to know a person first. Figure out interests, commonalities, etc. All these things SHOULD be common sense.  “Enjoyed your blog on this…” or “I see we both have a passion for this…”

Most importantly, don’t forget about reciprocity. If you want something, offer something first. A most basic marketing tactic and one I might add that I see alive and well in social media. Companies across the globe have figured out that by putting helpful information out there people will eventually seek them out when the time is right. The same should go with our personal pursuits. And it doesn’t have to be a huge concession. Simple flattery is always a good place to start.

Now let’s all stop with the digital cold calling… if you have a personal brand that resonates with me, I’ll take the time to get to know you, and then maybe I’ll take the time to help you. But let’s not skip to the third date before I even give you my phone number.

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LeBron's Brand part II

Below is a response I posted to another blogger on Brand LeBron. Thought I may as well share it here as well.

I should say that since I first criticized LeBron’s behavior, he has since come forward and apologized. The NBA also fined him $25,000 for his actions (a pittance in LeBron currency though sizable to us normal people). Nonetheless credit him and the NBA for making the right decision.

I think LeBron has surrounded himself with some of the brightest minds in marketing. He also has the benefit of two predecessors, Michael Jordan, who really didn’t fully capitalize on his marketability until the second half of his career and Kobe Bryant, who we all know lost out on millions in endorsement money by making poor life decisions.

That said, at 24 years old, LeBron is still just a child who I think tries to take on too much. Yes he’s an “adult”, but that doesn’t equate to maturity, especially when your formative years are spent being celebrated like his. As such he made a poor choice after Cleveland’s elimination. Forget talking to the press, I’m referring to not shaking the hands of his opponents. Some players have said it wasn’t a big deal but I think that’s the brotherhood sticking up for one another. At the end of the day, if someone doesn’t shake my hand (win or lose) I question their love of the game and I question their values. Where does fair play and integrity place on their priorities?

LeBron has never shied away from the spotlight, making clear his intentions to be the first “Billion” dollar athlete… well there’s a catch. To succeed in that measure the public really needs to embrace you. But the very notion that greed is his ultimate motivator, coupled with his lack of sportsmanship is bristling and in my eyes makes it that much harder to embrace him as an American icon.

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LeBron's personal brand

He’s a multi-multi-multi-million dollar athlete. Perhaps someday he’ll be worth more than a billion. Brands like Nike, Coca Cola, and State Farm pay him ridiculous sums to endorse their product and history has shown great athletes deliver huge dividends for the companies that endorse them (think Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan). But today I think LeBron James is completely overpaid as an endorsed professional athlete. Not because his on the court performance doesn’t warrant it. Watching him play is often times breath taking. It’s what he does off the court that makes me question his million dollar worthiness.

After the Cleveland Caveliers were ousted in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic,  the media reported that Lebron James left the arena without speaking to the press or so much as shaking hands with his opponent.

Exhibit 1:

“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” he said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”

In an environment where integrity and goodwill are key factors in managing a company’s reputation, one has to wonder if this is the sort of behavior you want your spokesman exhibiting. OK, I get it – no body likes losing. But even the greatest competitors recognize their opponents for a great effort and team play. I’m not going to commentate on  the play of the two teams but I’m thoroughly disgusted as a sports fan at LeBron’s juvenile response to losing. His actions (or lack thereof) were disrespectful to his teammates, his opponents, the league and its fans (who incidently are the ones make his endorsement deals possible).

And as for the marketer in me, while its unlikely any of his sponsors will drop him over this or any of his other childish actions, one must wonder what Lebron was thinking in terms of managing his personal brand. The man “owns” his own marketing firm, and refuses to employ an outside agent. For a man who supposedly knows how to manage his own image and all its marketability, it sounds to me like he could use some coaching on personal branding.

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