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Third Tribe Marketing

Chris Brogan: 5 Lessons from a Tank

by Bryan on October 17, 2010

Last week Linked Orange County hosted bestselling Massachusetts author Chris Brogan in Orange County at Oakley headquarters in Foothill Ranch. Instead of doing the basic interview, I decided to show Chris how we do it in OC (with a little help from my friends at Oakley). It was part informative interview, part episode of Punk’d. My goal was to both draw out some important words of wisdom from one of the smartest guys in this space and leave Chris with a memory of his visit to Orange County he wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Watch the video below as I set Chris up by ignoring the loud engine sound of the tank as if nothing is happening. It was really fun watching his expression as things played out and we finally boarded the tank for a ride. Special thanks to Tom Wozney (video credit) and Brian Carter photos.

5 Important Lessons from a tank…

So what did I learn?

1. It always has been and always will be about people. There has been a lot written about Chris Brogan’s book “Trust Agents,” and with good cause. It’s a good book grounded on the principle that businesses and brands should be focused on people and can use the social web to build influence and trust to accomplish their business goals. But I was more curious this time around about some of Chris’ more recent projects like Third Tribe and Human Business Works . Third Tribe is a community where you pay to get access to Chris (he’s there about an hour per day) and his other equally smart partners. For a very reasonable monthly subscription, you can get business advice, hash out ideas with the experts and the tribe. It’s a think tank and incubator at the same time.  Human Business Works is one of Chris’ latest ventures and is focused like Linked Orange County is on helping small businesses. It turns out that it’s still about people. With due respect to some of the more recent guest speakers we’ve hosted, none is more human and personable than Chris. He’s the touchy feely-type, and genuinely cares about  people-sometimes to a fault.  One example of this personal touch was his amazing ability to remember several (not just a couple) names from the audience whom he called by name during the Q&A session. He also recommended that websites have photos of (real) people because psychologically we identify with human faces-and use them to establish trust. Actually a very good point. [Note to self: omit monkey photos immediately from website.] Chris is a free thinker and I like that. What I mean is that he constantly seems to be testing ideas in the lab of his brain. The result is often spontaneous, unstructured and uncensored pieces of brilliance (if you heard his keynote in person you know what I mean) mingled with humor and self-deprecation.

2. “Do or Do not, there is no try.” [borrowing from Yoda of Sci-Fi fame]. This was something Chris said in his presentation about actually doing something, instead of just chatting on Twitter and other social networks-or worse, wasting time playing games like Farmville. I think Chris’ message is about going for it and pursuing your passion. But don’t quit your day job just yet. Build something that you own, not that Mark Zuckerberg owns…he also added, “you live and die by your list. Be at the elbow of every deal and be there before the sale.”

3. “There are people in this room who can solve your business problems, and none of them are me.” With bias to my own opinion, I think Chris is spot on here. I recently wrote in one of our weekly newsletters, “Who’s On Your Must-Meet List? Here’s an excerpt: If you haven’t started, this is an invitation to get more actively involved. Do you have a must-meet for biz list? Who’s on it? These are people that if you met them and things went well you would accomplish your goal. Maybe it’s a couple of key executives, an entire company, or a larger segment of new customers. How do you make this list? It’s true we’ve got some pretty incredible talent in our ranks. But my suggestion is to spend less time chasing C-Level folks-CEO’s, CMO’s, CFO’s, and COO’s…In my experience, it’s usually the person you least expect that can do the most for you. That’s the magic. YOU could be the person that makes the difference for someone else and not even know it! You are an important link in the chain.

How To Find Good People…
I use Linked In. It’s free and easy to navigate, do searches and make a list. Did you know that you can send free messages to group members?  You can make your list and use our monthly events to meet good people in person. Developing these personal business relationships builds trust that gives us confidence to start working together.

1 x 1 vs. 1 x 5,000
What would happen if we re-framed the way we approached attending meet ups? What if we came trying to find one person we could help, even in the smallest way, without expecting anything in return? Now multiply that by 5,000+ people…It is about getting personal.The secret to success is us.

4. Customer loyalty matters (a lot more than you might think). Chris recommended giving preferential treatment to the most loyal customers. Notice he didn’t say the wealthiest or best looking…Whatever your industry definition of “preferential” is, Chris says to take care of them. Make them feel special. Keep them coming back-and leverage their reach to spread a positive message about your product or service far beyond the reach of your marketing. And with more power and less bias. VIPs who attended the Oct 12th event came an hour early for a special behind the scenes tour of Oakley, treated to some (simple food & bev) and got some face time with Chris personally and the other VIPs. I wonder if this is what Chris is talking about? It also makes me think of the sponsors who stepped up to help out. As you may know, Linked Orange County is a self-funded labor of love. I couldn’t afford to continue to put on events like this without the generous support of sponsors. I think these sponsors not only deserve our attention and appreciation, but our business. Yes, they sponsor to get access to our members but they are also supporting the community and ensuring we can continue to have quality events. Here are a few folks to thank:  Blue C Advertising, BoardWalk Ice Cream Co., Digg, OC Ad Fed, Toyota , the student volunteers from Chapman University and of course Oakley.

5. The Tools may change but the goals are still the same.

Tanks (and big battleships) used to be the tools of battle. They are intimidating machines and back in the day people probably couldn’t conceive of things changing. But things do change.  Now there are new tools-un-manned drones, heat-seeking missiles and a lot of stuff I know nothing about. One possible object lesson here is that we cannot become dependent or focus on the tools. Many people are flocking to start a business page on Facebook, or finally get on Twitter. That’s great, if that’s where your customers are. But it’s not about the tool or platform. It’s about using the latest and greatest to engage people and build relationships of trust-so that you can do more business or better business (think customer service-Zappos). I would really like to hear from you. What do you think and what did I leave out?

PS. Here are some more pics from the event…