Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

Why did the media gave Donald Trump $2.6 billion dollars of free advertising during his presidential campaign. Because they wanted to promote him? Of course not.

Because he’s mastered an unusual skill: creating haters.

Trump got free publicity from the people who hated him most. And it wasn’t luck, it was intentional. Donald Trump knows how to stand out, how attract attention and leverage it.

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.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

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 of New York had been trying – and failing – to repair the rink for years. Trump decided he wanted the contract. So he started talking.

No, actually – 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 an unbeatable combination.

You Can Fight Human Nature, (But You Won’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.

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. Ot worked in the campaign of 2016. And it still works today.

His haters really believe their words discredit him. They are wrong.

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

Like some weird outer space creature from a bad Star Trek episode, Trump swallows energy from his adversaries and grows stronger. And even though their efforts keep failing, his haters won’t stop giving him free advertising.

In fact, they can’t stop themselves from talking about him.

It isn’t very smart of them to keep giving him so much free air time. Why won’t they just stop?

Method in the Madness

If you’ve been one of my followers for any time at all, you know why: human beings are not rational.

The reason 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.

To create free advertising, you need to make some people dislike you. You need some people to dislike you so much that they can’t help telling the world how awful you are.

I call this special class of people anti-customers.

One anti-customer is worth a hundred loyal-but-silent customers. Why?

Because anti-customers care.

They feel compelled to talk about you. Their passion drives them to speak out against you. And when anti-customers speak out against you? Ah, that’s the moment you seize to make the magic happen.

Here’s how.

How to Leverage the Passion of Your Haters

Isaac Newton explained it: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction The intensity of passion from an anti-customer will provoke 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 will speak out to protect you and try to drown out the negative voices. It’s just human nature. Your “average” customers will get irritated with the antics of the anti-customer. They will feel compelled to speak out on your behalf. And your truly loyal customers will charge to your defense like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. 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 keep delivering a decent product or service at a fair price. Oh, and one other thing: keep inflaming the anti-customers.

The Care and Feeding of Anti-Customers

You might be saying to yourself, “ok, how do I create the right kind 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.

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

What exactly is a manifesto? According to Wikipedia:

“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 passionless 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.

Logos vs. Faces • Science Tells Us Which is Best

So you want to create an identity for your business? Science tells us which type of images work best.

HINT: It’s not the ones most people use.


Let’s talk about how we – how our brains perceive images, words, messages.

And how that affects us when it’s time to set up our marketing, our advertising and our branding.

Neuro-scientists have established pretty conclusively – beyond any doubt – that the human brain / mind / psychology reacts to faces much more positively than to things.

Babies as early as two-weeks old show a marked preferences for faces over things.

Now, before you guys jump in and say, “awww, that’s only true for females rather than males…” No, that’s true for all – both genders – from the beginning.

It is true that males prefer “Things Over People” more than females do.

But across the board, the human brain reacts – even if it’s at a subconscious level – to images of faces much more positively, much more strongly, and much more predictably than the human brain responds to abstract ideas.

So how does that affect us?

I was looking at a potential client today that needs to update their branding. (Now I’m not going to go into what branding is and is not.) Let’s just talk about the kind of thing that they currently have.

Currently, their brand is this very abstract, geometrical, obviously very-high-tech – I don’t know – series of embedded letter “L’s”, it looks like.

Nice colors. I mean, the colors are not terribly interesting. But that’s kinda of tertiary significance.

The primary significant that you want with your imaging is something that is arresting to the eye and utterly unforgettable and completely identifiable and unique.

And they’re nowhere close to that.

Secondarily is what the image actually contains. And tertiary is the colors itself.

These folks have an extremely abstract logo. And what their brand is – is anybody’s guess. So they clearly do need help.

Were I advising them – if they hired me – I was gonna say, “Look, the first thing you’ve gotta do is, you want your image to be something that people instantly relate to. And the human brain instantly relates to faces.”

And in addition to faces – layered on top of the face itself – is a personality.

What we’ve gotta do primarily – number 1 thing – is we’ve got to connect the idea of a personality with a face and character – connect it in the minds of your target audience – with you.

So when they think about YOU – Mr. Company – what they think about is – they think about a person.

And it doesn’t have to be You the CEO or You the Founder, or You even The Spokesperson.

But they’ve got to have an image – a facial image – and a personality that they feel good about, that they can connect with your offering. Whether it’s a service or a product or a company or a club.

People will remember a person with a personality – with a distinctive look and distinctive, relatable personality – long after they’ll remember some sort of abstract image with – you know – well-designed fonts and colors and geometric logo. Those things just don’t have the same kind of cognitive power that faces and personalities have.

When it’s time to create that image for your offering – whether it’s a company, a product a service, whatever it is – rather than going first to the people who design abstract images and they worry about color, think about giving a face and a personality to your offering.

That can be someone who stands for the offering like Colonel Sanders stands for KFC. Like Jack the Clown stands for Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Like the Geico Gecko stands for Geico Insurance.

But it’s got to be something with a recognizable face. (There’s sound neurological reasons for that.) And a personality that we both relate to and admire.

Remember, if your audience doesn’t feel it, they aren’t gonna love it.

See you tomorrow.

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws


Hey there YouTube. It’s Jack Heald with Cult Your Brand. When I had originally planned tonight’s episode, I was going to be doing a critique of various social media influencers, looking at how well or how poorly they use the loyalty triggers to create the types of emotional connections in their audience that powerful loyalty triggers will create.

But I do something else besides just write about loyalty and psychology. I occasionally like to fix my own car. In fact, four years ago I stumbled onto a guy who calls himself “Eric the Car Guy.”

And he did such a great job of explaining to me how to change the timing belt on my 2007 Honda Ridgeline, that I became a subscriber to his channel, and have been a supporter and a follower ever since.

So when I looked at his January newsletter today – I think he sent it out two or three days ago, but I just got into it today – he does something in here that I felt like I had to share with you. And that’s what we’re gonna look at today: Eric the Car Guy and how incredibly well he uses one of the most powerful loyalty reflex triggers: The Persona.


So this is Eric the Car Guy’s January 2019 newsletter. This only goes to people who are actually his subscribers. He gets really personal in here. It’s kind of amazing. I’d like to just highlight some things in here.

Eric says “I don’t feel the same way I did when I started 10 years ago. I don’t feel the same hunger, (or maybe “desperation” is a better word.) I think that’s what attracted people to my channel in the first place: the desperation and the way I overcame it.”

“I think they saw the same desperation in themselves and my videos helped them overcome it. Let’s face it: if you’ve got a broken vehicle and you can’t get it to work, you might be feeling pretty desperate.”

Eric’s right about all of that. But what he’s telling us here in this newsletter is that his youtube views over the last couple of years are lower than he wanted them to be. And he thinks the reason is because he’s no longer as relatable as he used to be.

Eric is one of the most I suspect one of the most successful guys on YouTube and he says he’s not relatable. Now he rightly diagnoses that part of the reason for his success was that he was extremely relatable, What he fails to recognize is that as he shares what’s going on with himself, he continues to be relatable.

So let’s take a moment real quick and review the the elements of a powerful emotionally compelling persona.

Now a powerful persona – in fact this comes from my training course How to Craft an Irresistible Persona – a powerful persona does something to us as individuals. It creates in us a desire to follow that person.

A well-crafted persona will inevitably provoke emotions in the follower and give the followers confidence that the person that they’re relating to is worth following and is trustworthy.

When we see Hollywood create powerful movies – movies that really connect with their audience – they’re doing a couple of things.

They’re creating positive emotions in their audience. And they’re doing it by creating heroes who are actually believable.

We see the important components of creating a powerful, emotionally resonant persona in the person of Steve Jobs.

Now Steve Jobs had a reputation as being a narcissistic asshole. And a lot of folks think that that narcissism – that assholery that he was so famous for – actually weakened him in terms of his ability to lead Apple and in his terms of his ability to persuade people.

But in fact it was his well-kn own asshole or his well-known narcissism that made him human.

One of the things that human beings love to do is put someone up on a pedestal. But when we put someone up on a pedestal, one of the things that happens is we stop relating to them because we know ourselves. We know we are not perfect.

One of the things that Steve Jobs narcissism did was it brought him off of his pedestal. As brilliant as he was, as visionary as he was, as charismatic as he was, we all knew he was also an asshole, And we also knew that he was he was very much like us.

And in a strange way that humanity – that Steve Jobs exhibited for decades in front of the entire world – is what is a great part of what made him so compelling and so persuasive.

He had flaws and he didn’t hide those flaws.

If we have a modern Steve Jobs, it’s probably Elon Musk. He’s every bit as visionary – in fact possibly even more visionary – than Steve Jobs.

Where Steve Jobs was fundamentally an artist who was concerned about the style and aesthetics of things, Elon Musk is fundamentally an engineer. And there are some of those very common engineering quirks that we see in Elon Musk. But those don’t make him relatable.

It is his flaws that make him relatable. And he’s got a couple of doozies. We’ve seen them exhibited here in the last several months.

He tends to be a little bit morose sometimes. In fact I think it is his deep fear and concern about the future of the human race that drives his creativity. But it also sucks him down into a black hole of depression sometimes. And because he displays that for the world, it humanizes him for us.

Yes, he’s on a pedestal in many ways, (to us – the normal humans around the world.) But he’s also human. And because we see those flaws in him. it makes us feel like, “oh he’s one of us!”

It makes him relatable. And because he’s relatable to us, it makes us much more willing to listen to and believe and most importantly follow him.

He’s got flaws that he doesn’t hide.

I’m gonna go back to Eric the Car Guy’s videos now. He says this, “Just about every one of my dreams in life has come true, thanks to the success of Eric the Car Guy. So why am I not happy? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately.”

I want to pause here folks. Do you realize this is one of the most successful youtubers on the planet sending out a newsletter to his subscribers saying “I don’t feel happy. I’m struggling with depression “?

Eric, I’m going to talk directly to you now, man.

You could not have done anything more powerful to improve the strength of your brand, to increase the emotional resonance that you have with your audience, than by sharing this fear, this flaw, this weakness that you have.

One of the most powerful things that any brand persona can do is prove that they are human. I talked about Steve Jobs. I talked about Elon Musk, And we see the same thing here now with Eric the Car Guy.

These people who have great success, we look up to them. But we also want to relate to them.

Why do we want to relate to our heroes?

Well, because if we see that someone who is just like us has achieved great success, then that means that someone just like me can achieve great success. That creates the type of emotion that creates in us is hope. And there is almost no emotion in the world stronger than hope.

So, as you create your brand’s persona, if you want to create that kind of incredibly powerful emotional connection with your audience, then you’ve got to share with them that you’re human. And the way you do that is the way Eric the Car Guy did it: by sharing a fear or a flaw that everyone can relate to.

This is Jack Heald for Cult Your Brand. Thanks for watching.

Over-Simplify: A Branding Strategy for Savvy Marketers

Over-Simplify: A Branding Strategy for Savvy Marketers

Strategic over-simplification is a way to differentiate your brand identity and communicate your personality to your target audience. When you are building a brand, it lets you define your own business as well as your competitors’ according to your own rules. It’s one of the most compelling branding tactics available to the savvy marketer.

A good place to start learning about the awesome power of oversimplification is Roger Dooley’s interview with Andy Cunningham. (Dooley is the brains behind the brilliant website Neuro Science Marketing. I’m a huge admirer of his work.)

Cunningham made her bones as part of Regis McKenna’s marketing agency. They were the team behind Apple’s famous “1984” commercial. That’s the ad that introduced the Macintosh to the world. And it’s probably the most famous commercial in TV history.

Cunningham’s new book is called “Get to Aha!” Her book was the excuse for this interview. Really though, listening to these two brilliant people discuss influence and persuasion is a reward in itself. And they offer unique insights into the power of strategic over-simplification.

If You Can’t Find an Enemy, Make One

One of the most compelling corporate branding campaigns in history was Apple’s I’m a PC / I’m a Mac campaign. Here’s how Roger described it:

“(Steve Jobs) created a social identity for Mac owners, and employed an “us and them” strategy in a lot of his marketing. The Mac person was young, cool, creative, and the people who used competing technology were, at best, boring and nerdy, and at worst, mindless lemmings walking off a cliff. That theme continued with the “I’m a Mac” campaign that was really a brilliant campaign too. …that tribal grouping caused people to make Mac part of their personal identity, and they became really quite religious in their defense of the brand.”

As Cunningham notes during the interview, Steve Jobs did not set out to make the Mac “the computer for the rest of us.” His original intent was that Mac become the business machine of choice. However, when the creatives of the world glommed onto the Mac, the smart folks at Apple, (or maybe Andy), realized they had stumbled into something extraordinary: the power of enemies.

To their credit, the Apple marketing team seized on that Us vs. Them mentality. They cranked it up to 11 and propelled the Apple brand into the stratosphere.

black spy vs white spyWas that Us vs. Them dichotomy strictly accurate?

Of course not. But strict accuracy holds no appeal to the monkey brain. Strict accuracy requires concentration, focus, analysis and – most of all – hard work.

Those things the monkey brain avoids. Those things require energy.

Plausible-sounding over-simplifications are better perceived.  And offer the benefit of being fast, consistent and “accurate enough.”

You can use the same strategies to boost your online identity and reputation in your target market.


You gotta make some enemies. (Or at least invent some.)

Draw your “line in the sand.” Declare that anyone who isn’t with you is against you. Identify your “enemy” and then conduct a single-minded and unrelenting attack.

(As a rule, you should target a thought leader you consider a competitor. Does this take big brass cajones to succeed? Of course it does!)

This is the tactic Saul Alinsky advocated in Rules for Radicals. And – as the last 50 years of American political history has shown us – it works.

Plausible-sounding over-simplifications are better perceived.  And offer the benefit of being fast, consistent and “accurate enough.

Black & White Choices: The Evolutionary Advantage

The human brain is a pattern-recognition machine. Any simple black/white dichotomy is a pattern. It’s the kind of pattern our brains are very good at recognizing.

Human brains prefer simple choices. This bias gives us an evolutionary advantage: it allows for lightning-fast decision making.

black & white chess pieces

Is that new person a friend or an enemy? Is that a poisonous snake in the path, or just a crooked stick?

The speed of such decisions often meant the difference between survival or death. Those who made fast decisions tended to be the ones who survived. Those who stopped to think carefully?

Well, they’re not around to tell us what happened.

This simple black/white pattern-recognition heuristic allowed our ancestors to survive. Speedy decisions were better than accurate decisions when survival was on the line. So our brains evolved to make quick decisions rather than accurate decisions..

And that’s why the Us vs. Them approach works. It might be inaccurate,but it’s fast and simple.

When you clearly identify an “enemy” for your customer, you appeal to your customer’s biological biases.

PRO TIP: When you identify a human tendency that has its roots in thousands of generations of evolution, it’s better not to fight it.

Apple saved its customers the effort of thinking by creating an over-simplification that worked: Us vs Them..

That’s why the market responded so positively to Apple’s oversimplified 1984 ad, the lemmings over a cliff ad and the I’m a Mac / I’m a PC ads.

Apple gave us over-simplified black-and-white choices that appealed to our built-in pattern recognition biases. They made us feel safe. They made us feel like buying a Mac was the “right” choice.

At its root, buying a Mac was the choice for survival vs extinction.

Powerful stuff.


When you identify “the enemy” for them, you save your customer effort and energy. (That’s good.)

If you do your job right and do it well, then your customer will accept your definitions for “friend” and “enemy” without being conscious of having done so.

They will almost automatically put themselves either “with you” or “against you.”

The one thing they won’t do is remain neutral.

And that’s kinda the whole point of designing a brand and defining the essence of your brand image, isn’t it?


Five Steps to Creating an Awesome Business-from “Who Are You?” to “I Love You!”

Five Steps to Creating an Awesome Business-from “Who Are You?” to “I Love You!”

Five Steps to Creating an Awesome Business-from “Who Are You?” to “I Love You!”

You gotta bring work, guts, persistence — and customers to create a business from scratch. You’ve already done that, right? So how do convert that plain ole’ business into an “awesome business”? You gotta keep those customers coming back again and again. Or, to put it another way, you can help those lukewarm customers turn into white-hot fans.

Here’s a breakdown of the entire process. Here’s how you move a person from the “Who are you?” phase to “I love you!” phase.

Step 1: Recognize

Nobody knows who you are. You are a lone beast in a single worldwide herd of beasts. To the casual observer, you look exactly like everyone else. How will you stand out from the crowd?

Your first challenge is to achieve Recognition. And recognition is the first job of marketing. Most marketing is horrendous. Some of it is sublime.

This marketing campaign from Subaru is sublime.

(Pro tip: “sublime” is way better than “horrendous.”)

Step 2: Remember

Okay, your sublime marketing has finally created some recognition. Now you gotta keep their attention until that moment when they are ready to buy from you, rather than a competitor.

They have to not merely recognize you; they must remember you. This is the first job of branding. Like marketing, most of it is bad. Some of it is so good that it can make up for epic quality disasters.

Step 3: Respect

Great, people recognize you and even remember you. But they haven’t bought anything from you yet. Why?

Well, if they are a legitimate, qualified prospect and yet are not pulling the trigger, maybe it’s because they don’t trust you yet. That means you haven’t earned their respect.

Respect is stage 3 in the process. Earning respect before they buy anything from you requires a special kind of influence.

This is the realm where Robert Cialdini made his bones. Reciprocity. Consistency. Social Proof. Liking.

Step 4: Revere

They’ve finally pulled the trigger and made that initial purchase. All your hard work has finally paid off.

Now you have to fan those flames of respect and turn them into outright reverence. That’s when a customer is not merely “someone who buys from you.” Reverence is when they become “someone who loves you.”

That’s how you retain those customers through thick and thin.

You create reverence using both direct and indirect methods, conscious and subconscious influence.

The direct and conscious path is the job of your customer service team. Deliver quality product, quality service and a quality guarantee.

The most powerful method – the indirect, subconscious approach – is Culting.

The Cult Your Brand methods: Five ways to create raving fans.

Step 5: Repeat

  1. Marketing creates the initial Recognition.
  2. Branding makes people Remember you.
  3. Influencing converts memory into Respect.
  4. Servicing (direct) and Culting (indirect) makes you Revered.

The final phase in building an awesome business is to “dance with the one who brung ya.” Keep doing what works. Continue to refine your marketing and branding messages, improve your customer experience, increase quality.

And most of all, keep deploying those powerful, indirect, subconscious tools that turn lukewarm customers into white-hot fans: Cult Your Brand.

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How Do You Create Brand Loyalty? Step 1 is…

How Do You Create Brand Loyalty? Step 1 is…

How Do You Create Brand Loyalty? Step 1 is…

How do you make sure your message gets out into the world? Well, it starts by being memorable.


Do you guys remember when Donald Trump was running for president and he said “We’re gonna build a wall.”

Now why did he do that? Was he really gonna build a wall?

Well, maybe. Maybe not. We don’t really know.

But what he was doing in that precise moment was this: he was putting in people’s minds an image – a concrete image – of what?

Of a wall.

And why did he put that image there?

Well, because first of all, this particular group of people was very, very interested in what they perceived as the problem of illegal immigration.

Now, if Donald Trump had said, “I see that illegal immigration is a problem,” that might have resonated with them. But it wouldn’t create an image in their minds.

Human brains run a particular way. And one of the things that’s very effective when you’re trying to communicate an idea to somebody is to attach that idea to an image.

And that’s what Donald Trump did with this “I’m gonna build a wall” image. It put this very concrete idea of a wall and connected it with the idea of “we’ve got to stop illegal immigration.”

It’s not enough to just have the idea, he created the image.

You’re gonna be completely forgotten without concrete images attached to your idea.

Now, has does that relate to you in becoming someone of influence in your marketplace?

Whatever product or service or offering that you have for your marketplace — It may be awesome. It may be world-changing. It may be the best thing since sliced bread. But unless it’s one of the handful of ideas that people are instantly going to grasp – like “cure for cancer” – unless it’s one of those, then you’re gonna be completely forgotten without concrete images attached to your idea, your offering, your product or your service.

Now by far, the very best image that you can ever attach to your business is a face.

We are drawn to faces much more strongly and powerfully than we are drawn to any other kind of object.

Faces particularly.

The very first step you’ve gotta take to make yourself, your brand, your offering, your service, your product – whatever it is that you’re trying to get out into the marketplace – the very first step you’ve gotta take is to connect that thing to a face.

That’s step number 1. We’ll talk about step number 2 next time.

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