Category Archives: Branding

The Magic of the Taylor Swift Brand – Episode 113


The Magic of the Taylor Swift Brand – Episode 113

Taylor Swift

Are you looking to make your brand stand out from the rest?

It is possible. However, it takes a lot of work.

Famous college basketball coach Bobby Knight once said, “Everyone wants to be a champion, but few want to do the work it takes to be a champion.”

Taylor Swift is one of those people willing to do the work. I think you can learn a lot from the Taylor Swift brand when creating your own.

She has done amazing work over the past 10 years. Regardless of your musical preferences, it is hard not to admire the empire she has created.

Taylor Swift was recently in town for a pair of concerts. This was the fourth time I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her. She never fails to amaze me with her networking abilities.

There are four things you can learn by studying the brand Taylor has created.


Now 25 years old, Taylor moved to Nashville when she was 14. She was determined to get a record deal when most 8th graders are just figuring out middle school. She knocked on doors until someone opened.

Even though she got a record deal at 14, she didn’t experience immediate success. Taylor wrote, recorded and learned the business for two years before her first album was even released.

Taylor Swift took her time to learn what she needed to know. When her record label felt the time was right, they launched her.

Lesson: Learning is important, but at some point you have to launch.


Taylor Swift broke the mold. Kids simply didn’t have hits on country radio. She dared to do the unthinkable. By not giving up, she eventually found a record label willing to give it a try.

The accomplishments Taylor has achieved are impressive. She is the youngest songwriter to ever sign with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, one of the largest in the world. She is the youngest person to have ever write and perform a #1 song by themselves. Her 2nd album “Fearless” made her the youngest Album of the Year Grammy winner.

Taylor Swift has only released 5 albums. Even so, she is the only artist to have 3 albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. That mark is even more impressive in today’s music world on digital downloads when people are buying single songs over albums.

With her latest album “1989”, Taylor left the world of country music to release a pop album. People thought she was crazy. She took the daring leap and sold over a million copies in the first week of release. It was also named one of the best albums of the year by magazines Rolling Stone, Time and others.

By daring to be different, people take notice.

Lesson: Do what others are scared to attempt.


Taylor Swift has many, many other awards. One of her attributes that make her so successful is the fact that she is willing to do things few others are willing to do. She goes above and beyond.

When was the last time you sent a hand-written thank you note?

I’ve had the great fortune of meeting many big names in the music business. Justin Timberlake, George Strait, Ozzy Osborne, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Metallica. It is one of the perks of the business.

The Program Director of a radio station decides which songs make it on the radio station. Artists usually want to take time to meet the person who holds the keys. They understand a handshake can go a long way.

Most stop there.

A typical meet & greet at a concert is in a converted locker room and resembles a cattle call. People wait in line making their way around the room until they reach the artist.

“Thanks for being here. Let’s get a photo. Enjoy the show.”

Taylor is different.

Instead of a locker room, Taylor sets up a “tea party” or a “loft” party backstage, complete with soda machines, photo booths, high top tables, boas, other party accessories and a professional photographer. VIP guests hang out, eat munchies and get ready for the show.

Instead of the handshake and photo op, Taylor makes her way around the room coming to each VIP for a photo and minute to chat.
It is obviously different from every other experiences.

It is what happens a week later that really sets Taylor apart.

About a week after the concert, I received a hand-written note from Taylor thanking me for taking the time to bring my family to the show and for the support. Nobody does that, especially the biggest stars in music.

Inside of my note was another hand-written note. This one was for my daughter. That note thanked my daughter for coming to the show. Taylor encouraged my daughter to stick with her piano lessons. She went on to tell my daughter to tell her friend Ellory (who was also with us) “hi”.

The details Taylor included were amazing. I’m not sure if she has a photographic memory, if she video tapes the event to review later, if someone close by takes notes, or if there is some other magic involved. It really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the fact that Taylor takes the time to ensure it all happens. That attention to details makes her stand out from every other artist. She is willing to do the extra work.

Lesson: Do the things that others are not willing to do that will make you stand out.


After a typical meet & greet, the artist typically sends you on your way.

Instead of sending you to your seat, Taylor sent us on a backstage tour led by her mom, Andrea.

Mama Swift led out around the backstage area telling us all about the stage and production. We saw the hydraulics under the stage. We saw the cases and trucks that transport the gear. We saw the costumes Taylor wore. She took us to the tour busses Taylor uses for the band and dancers.

At the end of the tour, Taylor’s mom took us directly to our seats. It was the kind of customer service you don’t typically receive from average businesses.

As Taylor’s mom is leading us around backstage, Taylor is freed up to handle the other pre-show duties on her list. She needs to meet those in her fan club. She needs to warm up her voice. I’m sure there are a few other things in her routine before the show begins. The amazing team Taylor has assembled helps her be the best she can be.
Lesson: Find great people that can help you.


As you create your brand, be willing to do the work it takes to be a champion.

Know when to launch. Be daring and different. Put in the work. Surround yourself with others who will help you reach your goals.

Do you need help with your podcast? E-mail me any time at Let’s see what we can do.

You can find my podcast and other tools to help you create great content at

Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

What Is Your File? …


What is your file?

(photo by Kreego)

There is one file in your listener’s mind that you occupy. You can not occupy multiple files. You must pick one. Define that file and do all you can to support that image. That is the essence of your brand.

Where does McDonald’s fit in your brain file? McDonald’s is probably the “Fast Hamburgers” file. Does it also fill the “Milkshake File”? Probably not. Sure, they serve milkshakes. However, that file is probably occupied by your favorite ice cream shop.

Where would Cheetos fit in your brain file? It would go in the “Lip Balm” file, right? Of course not. However, Frito-Lay launched Cheetos Lip Balm in 2005. It failed miserably, because Cheetos occupies the “Cheesy Puffed Snack” file in your brain.

Your podcast brand can only occupy one file. You need to decided the one image you can own. Define your brand.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Do not try to be all things to all people. Pick one thing for which your brand will be known. What is your file?

Everyone will get you nowhere …



Everyone will get you nowhere.

(photo by sergge)

Don’t worry about pleasing everyone with your podcast. As the saying goes, you’ll end up pleasing no one. You will never be able to satisfy everyone. There will always be someone who doesn’t like, need or want whatever it is that you’re selling.

Instead, develop meaningful relationships with your biggest fans. Deliver great content to those who love what you do. If you keep your fans happy and coming back for more, you can leverage those relationships to create additional fans.

Apple doesn’t worry about pleasing every computer user. The company is focused on converting their users into super-fans by delivering great products. Their efforts are creating a cult brand.

In the past, Apple was a niche player in the desktop market. Their market share was small. As the company super-served its audience by expanding into music players and tablets, fans become more engaged and evangelical. Apple now#3 and owns 17% of the total PC market.

The success of Apple wasn’t achieved by selling more desktops to more people. It was achieved by creating wonderful products for their fans. Those carrying iPhones, iPads and iPods became promoters of the brand. This evangelism is the key to the success of Apple. The company didn’t worry about pleasing everyone. Apple focused on their fans.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

If you want to truly engage your audience, and create an effective call to action, don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Focus on creating relationships with your fans. Everyone will get you nowhere.

Are You Important Yet? …

Are you important yet?

(photo by tofi)

The most important marketer in a person’s life is someone they know, like and trust.

This is the primary reason word-of-mouth is so powerful. The recommendation that comes from word-of-mouth usually only comes from a friend. A friend is someone you know, like and trust.

If the recommendation comes from someone you don’t know, the message is no longer word-of-mouth. The suggestion is now called “marketing”, or “sales” or “a pitch”.

If you want the call-to-action within your podcast to be effective, you need to build that trusting relationship with your listener. From your stories will come self-revelation. This will allow your listener to get to know you. By being yourself and sincere, you will become likable. Finally, if you continually help your listener get what they want by putting their interests first, you will build trust.

On The Dave Ramsey Show, Dave helps people with every call he receives. Out of six or eight calls and e-mails he answers in an hour, he may mention his books, websites or seminars once. He will always mention his “baby steps” philosophy. However, he will rarely suggest people buy his products.

Dave reveals many personal things about his past and his family. The listener gets to know him. He is often blunt and honest. Dave’s tough love makes him likable. The help he provides his callers builds trust. These steps make Dave’s manta become a true following. His listeners spread the word to the point where The Dave Ramsey Show has around 5 million listeners.

If you have built a true friendship with your listener, where they know, like and trust you, your call-to-action will be powerful. Spend time creating that relationship between your brand and your listener. Then and only then can you effectively use word-of-mouth.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Are you important yet?

Is That You Calling? …

Is that you calling?

(photo by erwinova)

To create a successful podcast, you need to create an effective call-to-action within your show. So, how do we measure success? If we are trying to get our audience to do something by using a call-to-action (listen again, buy our product, visit our website, support our cause), our call-to-action should be our determining factor of success.

When you create your podcast, you should measure your success not by the number of listeners or downloads, but by conversions to whatever you want them to be or do.

Let’s say your goal is to get people to visit the store on your website. If you have 1,000 people listening to your show, but you only get 2 of them to act and actually visit the site, you really haven’t been successful.

However, if you only have 200 listeners, but 100 love everything you do and visit your site regularly, I would consider that a success. Having 1,000 listeners may sound better than 200. By closer evaluation, I would much rather have 100 fans than 2.

Don’t get fooled by measuring the incorrect statistic. Measure what counts. Measure your call to action.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Create an effective call-to-action, and measure it. Is that you calling?

Selling Is Easy, Right? …

Selling is easy, right?

(photo by friday)

I was listening to the latest interview CD that accompanies each issue of Success magazine. Publisher Darren Hardy was talking with Founder and President of Piranha Marketing, Inc. Joe Polish. During that interview, Mr. Polish proclaimed great marketing makes selling easy and unnecessary.

You may not be selling in the traditional sense of products or services in exchange for money. However, you are making a call-to-action within your podcast. It may be selling for money. It may also be inviting your listener to come again, asking him to visit your website, requesting that she join your mailing list, inspire him to get involved with a cause or any other action. It all involves selling yourself.

Polish’s statement was bold. As he went on to explain himself, Polish made perfect sense. In fact, his comments were very similar to the marketing and branding information we’ve been discussing with regard to your podcast.

In summary, Polish said great marketing gets people properly positioned, so they are pre-interested, pre-motivated, pre-qualified, and predisposed to do business with you (or act on your call-to-action). Great marketing therefore makes selling easy and unnecessarily.

If you have truly engaged your listener and created that strong relationship we’ve been discussing, the selling should take care of itself. Selling becomes difficult when you are trying to get your listener interested. Selling before your listener is motivated is a challenge. Trying to sell to a listener that isn’t qualified is hard work. If your listener isn’t predisposed to taking action, you will need to sell hard.

When you have taken the time to build the relationship, your listener will be pre-interested, pre-motivated, pre-qualified, and predisposed to do business with you. They will be ready to buy. Selling, in terms of convincing your listener to buy, will be unnecessary. The marketing and engaging relationship created with your podcast will have your audience ready to act upon your call-to-action.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Selling is easy, right?

Do They Remember? …

Do they remember?

(photo by lesscholz)

When you consider the options podcast listeners have, the importance of creating a powerful brand really becomes apparent.

I searched iTunes for podcasts about hockey. There are hundreds of hockey podcasts available. Thousands and thousands of episodes exist that deal with hockey. You can find various topics, including drills, NHL teams, coaching, fantasy hockey and many more.

How do you stand out? How do you get noticed?

Your listener needs to remember your podcast, so they can return and listen again. That is the way to build a following. It really doesn’t matter how many people listen today. What builds a strong podcast is the number of listeners that come back the next time, and the next time, and the time after that. You build your audience slowly by getting more people to listen to this episode than listened to the last episode. Get your listener to remember to return.

Using your brand to create strong relationships with your listeners is critical to the health of your podcast. If you are bland, you will get lost in the sea of average. There are over 100,000 podcasts available for consumption. Most of them are average or worse. If you refine your content, turn your information into entertainment, and transform your podcast into powerful relationships, you will easily stand out from the crowd. It is a must not only for your success, but your mere survival. Begin your brand today.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

When it comes time for your audience listening again, do they remember?

Emotionally Powerful? …

Emotionally Powerful?

(photo by hvf)

A successful podcast is built on a strong relationship with the listener. It could be called a tribe as defined by Seth Godin in his book of the same name. The strong relationships with your listeners begin to develop your brand. You can then monetize your brand and associated relationships with an effective call-to-action. But it starts with the brand.

Powerful brands are more than just recognizable names. Powerful brands are full of emotion. A brand is a collection of perceptions, creating emotional connections, while consistently delivering on a promise. The more powerful the emotional connection, the more powerful the brand.

Take a moment to think of some very powerful brands and the associated emotions of the rabid fans of those brands. Nike. Volkswagen. Star Trek. Starbucks. Apple. Harley Davidson. Fans will go out of their way to interact with their favorite brand. These brands are unique, because they create powerful emotions within their fans that are not found in ordinary brands.

Ordinary brands lack emotion. Keds. Buick. Battlestar Galactica (either one). Dunkin’ Donuts. Hewlett-Packard. Honda. The powerful emotions are not present for most people in these brands.  Even the websites of these brands lack the emotion of the powerful brands.

An amazing book entitled “The Power of Cult Branding” by Matthew W. Ragas and B. J. Bueno describes the Seven Golden Rules to cult branding. Emotion is the key to all seven. Social Groups, Courage, Fun, Human Needs, Contribution, Openness, and Freedom. All emotional, not functional. It’s not the best, biggest, brightest, loudest, or #1 product. Cult brands are focused on emotion, not hype.

If you want to turn your podcast into a powerful brand that you can monetize with a strong call-to-action, stir emotion every time.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Is your podcast emotionally powerful?

Out Of Self-Revelation Comes Trust …

Out of self-revelation comes trust.

(photo by Vatikaki)

If you wish to have your audience/listener/customer act on your call-to-action (sales pitch, invitation, read your blog again), you must first create trust. People buy things from people they trust.

A person will only trust you if 1.) they believe you have their best interest at heart and 2.) they believe you trust them.

A relationship moves beyond acquaintance to friendship when trust is developed.

People will believe you trust them when you reveal things about yourself to them. Your revelations show you trust the other person to hear you without judgement.

If you give first, your counterpart will be more likely to give in return. If you show trust, they will eventually show trust in return.

When you tell great stories in your podcast, you begin to develop strong relationships with your listeners by revealing details about yourself and trusting your audience with those details.

Howard Stern reveals his inadequacies often on his show. Domino’s Pizza revealed their missteps in their latest ad campaign. When Oprah Winfrey revealed her personal issues and troubles, people loved her even more.

Create a trustworthy, solid, effective brand by telling great stories. Out of self-revelation comes trust.

Don’t Just Fill Time …

Don’t just fill time.

(photo by Hornpipe)

When you fill time, you waste time. Your listeners have come to your podcast, because you have made them a promise with your brand. They believe they will receive some sort of information and entertainment from your show. Your listener will only give you a few minutes to begin delivering, or they will be headed to the next podcast.

Consistently add value for your listener at every opportunity. Either make the show shorter, or prepare better. It is usually a solid rule of thumb to prepare more content than you will need. This will allow you to always deliver valuable information.

Seth Godin does a fantastic job delivering brief bits of valuable information with his blog. He even carries this through to the manifestos published by his Domino Project. Seth wastes very little time. Once he has made his point, he wraps it up.

Your listener is expecting something from your podcast. Deliver continuously on the promise of your brand. Don’t just fill time.

You’re Damaging Your Brand …

You’re damaging your brand.

(photo by Lastdays1)

Three comments doesn’t equal success.

I really wanted to scream. It is frustrating to see people blindly damage their brand. Today, I read a blog post by a gentleman who is willingly doing just that.

Recently, I wrote a blog post entitled “I think we’re lost”. I described how the two hosts spent the first 10 minutes of a 30-minute business podcast discussing the weather instead of their podcast topic. Wasting time like this damages the credibility of their show. The hosts are not delivering what any new listener would expect to receive from a business podcast.

As of today, they have received three comments on that particular show. The host has written a blog post proclaiming success with his show, because his tangent received three comments. In the past, he would typically jump right into pertinent content and receive no comments.

Lately, he has been opening the show with these tangents. He received one negative message from a listener who felt these musings before the true content were a waste of time. He feels his “new” approach is justified, because he received three positive comments on the show.

The host stated that since the prior method wasn’t receiving any comments, good or bad, this new strategy must be better. This thinking is flawed. Three comments only means three people thought it was amusing enough to comment. That’s it. It means nothing more. The fact that nobody commented on the previous shows with the direct content method also does not mean no listener found the shows entertaining or valuable. It simply means the content wasn’t special enough to elicit a comment.

This host should judge the success of his podcast by the growth and overall listenership of the show. I think if he continues with this tangent strategy, he will surely see his growth stagnate. He will also probably see the size of his audience shrink, because he is no longer living up to his brand’s promise.

If you want more comments, deliver better content that stirs emotions. Comments for the sake of getting comments really proves nothing. Sure, I love comments. However, I’ll take a growing, engaged audience over comments every time. Audience growth and engagement will move you forward.

Three comments doesn’t equal success. You’re damaging your brand.

Develop A Goal …

Develop a goal for your show.

(photo by Epixx)

As you develop your podcast, you need to determine what you hope to accomplish with the show. What will the show be about? What do you hope to make your audience feel? Is there some call to action you wish to make your listener take?

After you have developed the goal for your show, stick to it. All content on your show should support your goal.

If your goal is to help consumers get out of debt, don’t spend a lot of time discussing your favorite, new CD. Your listener has come to your show expecting you to deliver on your promise. If you tell her you help people get out of debt, deliver that content to her. When you start discussing anything other than that, your brand promise is tarnished. She will be headed elsewhere.

In Correy Webb’s “My Disney Podcast”, Correy discusses all things Disney. He discusses cruise adventures, visits to the parks and other traveling tips. If Correy suddenly began discussing the poker game he had with his buddies last weekend, you would be disappointed. Poker isn’t the reason you’re listening. His Disney promise would be broken.  You are now unsure what you will receive next time you listen.

A great brand is built slowly with strong consistency. Deliver on your brand’s promise. However, before you can deliver, you need to develop a goal for your show.

Creating Theater Of The Mind …


Create theater of the mind.

The use of active language will stir the imagination of your listener and help you connect to your audience. Put the listener in the moment. Make the listener see the action you are describing.

“I’m walking into the bustling restaurant and shaking off the evening cold without even watching where I’m shuffling.” That is active language. In your mind, you can see me walking in.

Sure, your restaurant may be different from my restaurant. That difference is what makes theater of the mind great. You see it the way you think it fits best for you. Your scene doesn’t need to match my scene in order for the story to make sense. It is your theater.

Active language connects each listener to the story in his or her own way. It will create strong audience engagement.  Active language during storytelling is a powerful tool you can use while you’re building your podcast.

Create a great podcast brand. Create theater of the mind.

I would love to stay connected with you.  Follow my blog by clicking the “follow” button on this page.

Be Consistent …

Be consistent

To create a solid brand, you need to be consistent. Consistent with your message. Consistent with your promise. Consistent with your image.

When you think of great brands like McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Nike, you can see the evidence of solid consistency. When you walk into McDonald’s, you know exactly what you will get. You’ll get inexpensive hamburgers fast. It doesn’t matter if it is a McDonald’s in Missoula, Montana or Mexico City, Mexico. The brand will be the same. You may experience some small differences in the menu. For the most part, you’ll still get hamburgers, french fries and a Coke. And of course the Big Mac. If you head into a McDonald’s and suddenly find fish n chips or bratwurst as the main entrée, your trust in the brand will be destroyed. You won’t be sure what you’ll get next time you visit.

Your podcast must be just as consistent in order to create a great brand. Your listener must know exactly what they will get each time they listen. They come to your show to receive your promise. Deliver every time. Deliver consistently.

Consistency doesn’t mean lack of variety. It simply means that you always deliver your promise, on your mission statement. McDonald’s offers different sizes. They offer chicken and fish sandwiches. You can get McNuggets. Whichever way, it is always inexpensive food fast when you want it. And the burgers are always there.

You are creating a brand when you are creating your podcast. You need to deliver consistently each time your listener tunes into the show. Foster that strong relationship with your audience. Be consistent.

You vs. Me …

You vs. Me

Great marketing is like a mirror. It is a reflection of the customer, not of the company. Great products that use great marketing are focused on the needs, wants and desires of their customers. To turn your podcast into a great brand, focus on your listener and not on yourself.

Scheels had a great commercial for their snowboarding gear. The commercial was completely focused on the lifestyle of the snowboarder. It didn’t feature all of the great salespeople or wide aisles in the store or sales. The commercial was a mirror reflecting the customer.

To turn your information into engaging entertainment with your podcast, focus on the listener. Use words like “you” instead of “I”, “me” or “we”. Convey your content from the point of view of your listener. They will feel appreciated. They will be engaged. Your podcast will become a relationship. Success will follow. When it is You vs. Me, always pick you.

Own Your Category

Great brands own their category by consistently communicating one focused message.  Think of some of the best known brands in America.  The best-known soda in the world is defined by “the real thing”.  Who serves more hamburgers than anyone in the world?  Save 15% on your car insurance.  You’re a great athlete … just do it!  Coca Cola, McDonalds, Geico, and Nike all deliver focused and consistent messages and thereby become solid brands.

If you study the great brands, you will notice they stand for one specific thing. McDonald’s isn’t simply “food”. It isn’t even “fast food”. McDonalds is hamburgers. Sure, they have other items on their menu. However, they are not known for their apple pies or chocolate milk. McDonald’s is known as a hamburger joint.

When you begin to define your brand and strategy, be specific. What is the one thing for which you will be known? What is the one thing that will make you stand out and be remembered? You can ask yourself, “When people think of my brand, they think of _____.” It will be very difficult to become a memorable brand if you fill in that blank with some generic term like computers or cars or health.

Be specific, be focused, be consistent and own your brand.