Recently I’ve noted a number of B2B companies successfully aligning themselves with celebrity names–gurus. What I found interesting was the alliance improved that company’s reputation as an expert, a leader, a celebrity.
In fact, I’ve seen gurus aligning themselves with other gurus. For example, Seth Godin reviewing Tom Peters’ book. Peters has written all those great “Excellence” and “Passion” books that have propelled more than a couple decades of corporate change; Godin has a brilliant blog and a library of books including Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.
These alliances are showing up in search results.
Here’s how it works: someone types in “Tom Peters business tips” and the first natural Google result is Tom’s website. And listed in the SERP copy is Seth Godin’s name. Why? Because Seth has done a review of Tom’s latest book and has a text mention on Tom’s site.
One of my favorite gurus, Tom Kelley, co-founder of leading design and invention firm IDEO and author of The Art of Innovation asked Tom Peters to write the forward of his book. Searching Google for “Tom Kelley innovation tips” turns up an Amazon listing where Tom Peters name is part of the SERP copy. And so on and so forth.
I just read a ClickZ recap of a publishing marketing seminar telling that the average book sale volume is 500 per year. Yikes! I’m sure that 20 percent of the business-book-reading public buys 80 percent of the books. So the smart author is cross-marketing to increase reach and book sales to find all those volume buyers. Incidentally Seth Godin was on that panel.
Now I should mention a pet peeve of mine in the implementation of this practice of alignment: drive-by connections.
I’ve had the chance to meet Tom Peters in person. Actually had dinner with him. Nice guy, great speaker, inspirational lifestyle. I spent a day with Tom Kelley. Another great guy. A little different delivery style, but the same level of poignancy. Gave me some of the best personal career advice of my life. I also had the pleasure of spending a couple days with Steve Zades, co-founder of the Odyssey Network and author of Mad Dogs Dreamers and Sages: Growth in the Age of Ideas. He’s one of those courageous voices in my head that drives me outside my comfort zone. And of course I get to work every day with our own Oneupweb visionary, Lisa Wehr, who continues to re-invent online marketing even as I write. I’ve seen her inspire corporate-wide change in a single phone call. Of course, she’s a motivating force in my world forever.
I mention these people because being aligned with them would be an honor for me. And even a small amount of interaction with them, anchors my connection.
Therefore, I personally find it cold, parasitical and self-serving to leverage the reputations of strangers. That’s not to say that it can’t work. I’ve never met Godin, for example. (Can you tell just by reading this post?) One can get a sense of his personality through his blog and I can effectively use his tactics as examples. But the reference still lacks something, doesn’t it?
And so I challenge you. Add “get connected and aligned with B2B celebrities” to your list of New Year’s resolutions. Meet someone great and use that meeting to be greater.