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Brand it Like Bogie

4 Simple-as-Dirt Branding Lessons from Casablanca

How to Become Irresistible to Customers & Impervious to Competitors

Bogie & Bacall

So, you wanna learn how to make your brand both irresistible to customers and impervious to competitors? Casablanca is a great place to start.

Aside from being The Greatest Movie Ever Made, (oh, you disagree? Fight me!), Casablanca bubbles over with bountiful branding lessons. (For those of you who live under a rock, “Bogie” was the nickname of Humphrey Bogart, the actor who played Rick Blaine in Casablanca.)

For this article, you don’t have to know the plot to grasp the lessons. All you need to know is this:

  • The story takes place during World War 2 in the North African city of Casablanca
  • The main characters are Rick Blaine, Louie Renault and Ilsa Lund

Lesson 1: “Only More So” is Doomed

Our first lesson is a negative one: what not to do.

Rick Blaine: (responding to a question about Louie Renault) Oh, he’s just like any other man, only more so.

If I asked you, “why should people choose to do business with you rather than your competition,” what would you say? Would it be something like…

  • Best prices?
  • Best service?
  • Best quality?
  • Best warranty?
  • Best location?
  • Best hours?
  • Best whatever…?

If your answer is similar to any of these, then face it:

You’re just like any other company, only more so.

Only more so won’t get the job done.

If your edge can be copied, it will be copied. When that happens, you’re doomed. Your customers will abandon you faster than the French fled Paris when Nazi tanks rolled in.

There’s one way – just one – to become irresistible to customers and impervious to competitors: you must offer something utterly unique, something that cannot be copied by your competition.

The next 3 lessons explain how to do that.

Lesson 2: Fly Your Freak Flag

Louie Renault: I’ve often speculated on why you don’t return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with a Senator’s wife? I like to think that you killed a man. It’s the romantic in me.

Rick Blaine: It’s a combination of all three.

Is Rick Blaine a freedom fighter? Is he a scoundrel or a hero? Is he a thief,  an adulterer, a murderer?

We don’t know for sure. He admits to nothing and to everything.

All we can say for certain is this: he’s one of a kind.

He’s a blend of qualities we aren’t used to seeing in one person. And that’s what makes him the magnetic center of the story. That’s why “everyone comes to Rick’s.”

You have only one quality in all the universe so unique it is uncopiable.

Here’s a hint:

It’s the same quality that keeps married couples delighted and devoted for decades on end.

What is it?

Each partner knows about the other, “in all the world, there is no one else like you.”

We humans all share the same basic operating system software. We tend to react the same way to the same types of stimuli. We cannot help ourselves. We are attracted to the unusual, the unique, the unexpected. Present us with something unexpected and we’re hooked. We can’t look away.

Is your business one-of-a-kind, or is it like all the other businesses, only more so?

You won’t find your uncopiable qualities in your Policies and Procedures Handbook. You won’t find them in your Corporate Vision or your Mission Statement.

You will find them in the bathroom mirror, at the water cooler in the breakroom, and in your staff when nothing is working right and the chips are down.

The chances are high that you’ve chosen to keep your unique qualities hidden. That’s a mistake.

It’s your contradictions that make you intriguing. Embrace them.

Lesson 3: Beguile with Humility

Ever made a dumb mistake, something that made you look bad?

Louie Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?

Rick Blaine: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.

Louie Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.

Rick Blaine: I was misinformed.

Rick has a reputation as a man of the world. Yet his response makes him appear naïve and foolish. If he was an “only more so” type of man, he’d spin a tale that made him look heroic, wise, strong and noble.

But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he’s admits his mistake. And this makes us love him all the more.

What’s your normal reaction when you or your people do something dumb? If it isn’t humility, then you’ve missed a golden opportunity to capture the hearts of your customers.

When we humans encounter true humility, it triggers something deep within our bodies, something we cannot resist. It beguiles us, often against our intention.

At the end of the day, it’s not your strengths that will make people love you; it’s your humanity. That means your failings, your fears and your flaws.

Every failure is an opportunity to show your humanity.

Lesson 4: Invest in Virtue

Rick Blaine: We’ll always have Paris. We lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

Ilsa Lund: When I said I would never leave you…

Rick Blaine: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.

Rick Blaine cultivates the image of a self-absorbed narcissist who only looks out for Number One. Yet, at the climax of the movie, when Rick has the opportunity to save his own skin and get away with the girl of his dreams, he makes a different choice, a choice we never saw coming…

When people experience virtuous behavior from you and the people in your company, something irrational and unpredictable happens inside their brains: they feel a deep attraction.

Virtue – so the saying goes – is its own reward.

As true as that may be for individuals, it’s doubly true for organizations.


Ilsa: I wish I didn’t love you so much.

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.

Have you identified the qualities that make your business uncopiable? If not, this outline is a good place to start.

And if you need a little coaching or guidance, you can contact me or any other Wizard of Ads partner. We’ll be happy to help you become irresistible to your audience and impervious to your competition.

Dissatisfied Yet Happy: The Weird Brain Science of Customer Loyalty

Dissatisfied Yet Happy: The Weird Brain Science of Customer Loyalty

The happiest people are the least satisfied • The most satisfied are not happy.

That makes no sense, does it? Yet brain science tells us that being dissatisfied is not the same as being unhappy. People who are dissatisfied yet also see themselves making progress towards a goal are more happy than merely satisfied people. Smart marketers make use of dissatisfaction to create powerful emotional connections with their customers.

Negative Emotion Drives Desire

It’s good for your business when you allow your customers suffer. Why? I’ll explain in just a moment. First, let’s set the stage.

We all know that emotion drives buying decisions. And we know that facts kill emotion. Savvy marketers have known that’s true for a long time.

Now, thanks to neuroscience, we better understand why people are like that.

For decades, the gurus of marketing have told us to avoid negative emotions. Turns out, they’re wrong.

Negative emotion is not just the absence of positive emotion. It is its own separate thing. Positive emotion and negative emotion use two entirely different circuits in our brains.

That means it’s possible for humans to experience both positive and negative emotions at the same time.

In fact, if your target audience is experiencing negative emotion, you have a great opportunity to leverage that emotion for your own good. Push the right buttons, slide the right levers and you can increase desire.

And then – when you offer a solution to those negative emotions, you’ll create powerful positive emotions. And – if you do it right – you can turn those positive emotions into powerful, long-lasting emotional connections.

However, you gotta know how to leverage that negative emotion.

“Neurophysiologically we are constructed in such a way that we do not experience positive emotion unless we have an aim and we perceive ourselves progressing towards that aim and attaining that aim.” – Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Negative Emotions Are Almost Always At Work

As I argue elsewhere, we 21st century people walk around with a gaping hole in our psyches. It’s there because our culture has fractured.

Strong cultures keep our deep existential questions at bay. But when culture fractures – as ours has – it no longer gives us answers to our deep questions. And that’s precisely where we find ourselves.

Almost all of us suffer from existential discontent. That’s an emotion that maps onto the negative emotional system. Unless those deep existential questions are answered, that negative emotional system is always going to be working.

The Brain Chemistry of Positive Emotion

We have two different “systems” of brain chemicals that make us feel positive emotions.

One is  dopamine. The other is serotonin.

When we perceive ourselves as making progress towards a goal, then our brains squirt dopamine. That’s a really awesome feeling. When you offer your prospect the chance to solve a nasty problem, it’s dopamine that makes them feel excited about it.

When we actually reach our goal, the dopamine turns off and our brain squirts serotonin instead. Serotonin is a nice feeling, but it’t not as intense as dopamine and it doesn’t last as long.

Dopamine makes us feel good about heading in the right direction to reach our goal. Serotonin makes us feel good about having reached our goal.

So your prospects can feel negative feelings and positive feelings at the same time. You want them to feel dopamine-feelings though. Don’t give them serotonin feelings too soon.

Amplify the Suffering First, THEN Offer the Solution

The old marketing acronym PAS is built on this reality: Pain-Amplification-Solution.

Isn’t it interesting that the old guys knew what worked, even if they didn’t know why it worked? Now we know.

Tell me what you think. Can you see how to amplify customer dissatisfaction in a way that makes them feel more love and loyalty to you? This is where Loyalty Triggers can help. I recommend you get the guide if you don’t already have it.

Learn to Use the Loyalty Triggers

Free Quick Reference Guide eBook

19 Free Tools to make your #DigitalMarketing Easier

19 Free Tools to make your #DigitalMarketing Easier

I have used or still use every one of these tools and can recommend them.

Graphics & Photo Editing Creation

  • Canva – There’s no reason on earth why you shouldn’t be using this. I use the paid version because I get more options I need, like multiple team members and brand colors.
  • PicLab – This little tool is good for photo editing and graphics – and works on your phone. ( Apple Store & Google Store )
  • BeFunky – I like to modify existing photos using cool filters and effects. This one makes it ridiculously easy.

Video Recording

  • Screencast-o-matic – I’ve been using this since 2012. I keep coming back to it because it hits the sweet spot between “Simple” and “Powerful.”
  • Loom – My top choice for Quick & Dirty videos. Does a good job of capturing screens and webcam at the same time.

Slideshow Videos

  • Animoto – Quick & easy slide-show video creator. I used it till I found this next one.
  • Automagical – this one is my preferred tool right now. I can make slide-based presentation videos up to 2 minutes. And they charge by the video rather than by the month. I really like this one. (I made this video with it.)

Automatic Social Media Posting

  • Buffer – If you need to schedule posts to social media, especially across multiple channels, you need a scheduler. I’ve used Tweetdeck and Hootesuite as well, but I prefer Buffer.
  • Quuu – Quuu will automatically create up to 6 posts for up to 3 social media accounts. The best part is that the posts are curated by Real Live Humans. I like it so much, I signed up for their advanced service Quuu Promote to get my own articles into that mix.

Video Conferencing

  • Zoom – These guys are the Big Dogs in video conferencing. For small businesses, the free version is more than enough.

Event Scheduling

  • FaceBook Events – I don’t think I need to say anything about this. You know how to find it.
  • EventBrite – I really like the additional options EventBrite provides. The free stuff is great, and the paid is even better.

Live Video Marketing

  • Facebook Live – More facebook stuff. No additional comment needed.
  • Periscope – This is twitter’s live video marketing tool. It’s not easy to start using, but it is totally worth it.

Automatic Appointment Scheduling

  • Calendly – I like to offer people the opportunity to schedule with me without me having to do any of the work. (Who doesn’t like getting other people to do the work for them?) Calendly is my favorite choice, but there are plenty of others out there.


  • Mailchimp – The free version supports up to 2000 names and 12 outbound campaigns a month. (I think that’s accurate; I’m doing this from memory now.) I pay for it because (a) it’s worth it and (b) I need it. But I started with the free version and it did fine for me for a long time.

Get Organized

  • Workflowy – This is another tool I have been using for years. It’s an outliner that works the way the old ThinkTank outliner worked. (Yes, that is a reference to The Time Before Windows.) I use it to help me organize my thoughts, take notes on meetings, track activities. If you don’t love it, I’ll give you double your money back.
  • I Done This – This is basically a souped-up task list. I like it because I can just quickly jot down what I just did, then look back and see, “oh yeah, I got stuff done.” Of course, it also lets you jot down your “To Do” list, and anything undone rolls forward to the next day. I keep this one permanently opened on my browser.
  • Trello – I really like the KanBan style of project management. Easy to see at a glance how a project is coming along. I’ve never needed more features than the free version provides.

What free tools do you depend on? Let me know.

Get Laid • Get Paid • Save Western Civilization

Get Laid • Get Paid • Save Western Civilization

Thanks to Sean at Western Mastery for inspiring this article. 

If you think the world is going to hell and Someone Should Do Something, then this message is for you.

How to Save Western Civilization

A Recipe for Recovery in 4 Words

I’m not kidding.

You can save society by learning to Get Laid and learning to Get Paid.

Let me explain.

We’ll start with Sex and then go to Money.


Why does a man get laid?

Because a woman agrees to mate with him.

And what is it that makes you an attractive potential mate to a woman?

She perceives you as confident, competent and dominant.

What happens when you mate with a woman? She gets pregnant. You become a father.

Defy the Decline

A truly confident, competent and dominant man who wants to save Western Civilization will then make sure that those babies grow up to become confident, competent, dominant men. Or grow up to be capable, creative, supportive women.

By helping to populate the world with those kind of men and women, you become a bulwark against the decline.

So how do you become that kind of man?

Step 1: Fix Yourself

This is where it all begins.

Sure, you might know exactly what needs to be done to fix the economy, the political system, healthcare, fitness, food and education.

But you have zero control over any of those systems and institutions, do you?

What DO you have control over? YOU.

You and you alone have the power to fix you.

(And frankly, if you can’t be bothered to fix yourself, why should anyone listen to you about anything else?)

  • You know you have bad habits. Fix them.
  • You know you don’t take care of your body. Fix that.
  • You know you waste time. Fix that.
  • You know you fill your mind with useless shit. Fix that.
  • You know you don’t live up to your own financial potential. Fix that.

That leads us to:


Step 2: Fix Your Wallet

Money is a proxy for time. The less money you have, the more time you must devote to basic subsistence.

If you have more money, you can buy the time of other people. Pay someone to take care of the low-value things: lawn service, pool service, house-cleaning, oil changes.

You get the idea.

Things you can’t pay someone else to do for you:

  • Exercise
  • Learn
  • Parent
  • Love
  • Feel

Free your wife from the need to depend on an outside income instead of caring for home and children.

Free your parents from the need to depend on government handouts for mere survival.

Free your children from the need to depend on government schooling for an education.

Free your friends from short-term needs that can be fixed with a quick infusion of cash.

In other words, when you are making more than enough money, you can multiply your influence – with both money AND time.

Get Started

So, do you really want to help save Western Civilization?

Then start learning to Get Laid & Get Paid.

There are plenty of men on Twitter who can help you with the specifics.

Here’s the ones I suggest you start following.

Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

How did Donald Trump get $2.6 billion dollars of free advertising from the media during his 2016 presidential campaign?
Did the media want him to win?
Of course not.
Trump mastered an unusual skill: creating haters. He got free publicity from the people who hated him most.
He’s been using this technique for decades, long before he ran for president.
And you can use the exact same technique to create 100% free advertising as well.

The Donald’s Been Doing It Forever

In 1986, Trump’s company won a contract from the city of New York to repair and refurbish the Wollman Skating Rink. The city had tried – and failed – to repair the rink for years. Trump decided he wanted the contract. So he started talking.

No, let me correct that.  He started mocking.

He didn’t mock people though; he mocked the system that allowed all previous rebuilding projects to be massive failures.

He intentionally inflamed the passions of both supporters and detractors.

These tactics generated tons of free publicity. Pressure mounted on the city. He won the contract.

And once the project was done, (he completed the project 30% early and 25% under budget), he credited his success to “good management.”

Free publicity combined with a quality product is a powerful combination.

You Can Fight Human Nature, But You Can’t Win

Trump never paid for advertising. He just created some haters and let them talk about him as much as they wished. In fact, he fed them new subjects just to keep them talking.

His haters believed their words discredited him. They were wrong.

He knows his target audience. Haters are a central part of his marketing  strategy.

If Trump didn’t upset people, then they wouldn’t have been so eager to discredit him. In their eagerness to debunk him, they had to talk about him.

This strategy worked in the city of New York in the 80s. It worked in the campaign of 2016. And it works today.

Like some weird outer space creature from a bad Star Trek episode, Trump would absorb negative energy from his enemies and use it to grow stronger. And even though their efforts failed, his haters wouldn’t stop giving him free advertising.

In fact, they couldn’t stop themselves from talking about him. Why wouldn’t they just stop?

If you’ve followed me for any time at all, you know why they couldn’t stop: human beings are not rational.

Method in the Madness

The reason some people can’t stop talking about The Donald is because they can’t stand him.

It’s almost as if he makes outlandish statements on purpose.

We’re taught from an early age to play nice and not make waves. We’re taught to not make people dislike us. It sounds smart, and it’s wrong.

If you want people to talk about you, then you need haters. You need some people who dislike you so much that they can’t help but tell the world how awful you are.

I call this special class of people anti-customers.

One anti-customer is worth a hundred loyal-yet-silent customers.

Why is that true?

Because anti-customers careAnti-customers feel compelled to talk about you. Their passion drives them to speak out against you. And what happens when anti-customers rail against you?

Ah, that’s when you seize the moment and make the magic happen. Here’s how.

How to Leverage the Passion of Your Haters

Isaac Newton explained how it works:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The passionate intensity passion of your anti-customers compells an equally intense reaction from your existing customers.

Anti-customers increase the passion of Customers.

The more some people talk smack about you, the more your loyalists speak out to protect you.

“Average” customers get irritated with the antics of anti-customers. They feel compelled to speak out on your behalf and try to drown out the negative voices.

And your truly loyal customers charge to your defense like Mel Gibson attacking the English swine in Braveheart.

It’s just human nature.

You’ll reap the benefits. Customers are talking about you. Anti-customers are talking about you. Prospects are hearing about you. Interest in you is building.

At that point, all you gotta do is deliver a decent product or service at a fair price.

The Care and Feeding of Anti-Customers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to create and provoke your anti-customers. This is where business diverges a little from politics.

In politics, you can successfully create anti-customers by attacking people as well as ideas.

That’s not true in business.

Only attack ideas, systems, programs and products. Never attack people.

Your attack begins with your manifesto.  (You do have a manifesto, don’t you?)

“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”

This is no bloodless corporate Vision Statement. This is your line in the sand. It is an intentional provocation. In fact, the word “manifesto” is from the latin phrase manu festus which means “struck by hand.” It implies action, passion, and impatience.

Your manifesto should be hot-blooded, full of fire and fury. You don’t have time to lay out a reasonable argument. You’re in a hurry to change the world, and you won’t concern yourself with insignificant details.

In your urgency, you “strike by hand” your thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams for the future.

Your manifesto is the verbal equivalent of a molotov cocktail tossed through the open window of the status quo. It is intended to explode, burn and leave a mark. It is not intended to be nuanced, reasonable or even possible.

In fact, any manifesto worth reading will be entirely unreasonable.

Build Your Manifesto and Buckle Up

A good manifesto has three parts:

  1. Denounce the Problem(s) with the Status Quo
  2. Pronounce the Glorious Future, (once the problems of the status quo are fixed)
  3. Announce the Actions you are taking to make that future vision a reality.

You must demonize the enemy, (whatever that may be). You must turn molehills into mountains. You must not worry about the details of execution. What matters is the passion and urgency of your mission. You must issue a call to all right-minded folk to join you in your glorious mission.

Do that with your manifesto. Publish it far and wide, and you will create loyal fans. Even better, you will create loyal anti-customers.


One final word: make sure you publicize all the nasty things anti-customers say about you. Send an email to your fans saying “look what they said about me”, and then copy and paste their mean words. This will galvanize your supporters to ride to your defense.

Remember to thank them – publicly and humbly – for their support. And when you are counting the additional profits, remember to credit it all to “good management.” Just like The Donald.