The Tim Ferriss Show: The 3 Critical Rules of Branding

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“Forget about branding, focus on what f*cking matters, the rest will take care of itself”
  • “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all” – Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive
    • Tim considers the vast majority of anything associated with branding to be in the bucket of useless activities
  • Check out the book – Obsessive Branding Disorder
  • Conflict is created when you have nebulous terms
    • For example, when you’re debating if someone is successful, what does successful even mean?
Own a Category
  • Discard the term “brand,” instead think how you can own or create a category
  • Check out 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
  • “If you are able to design a product or service, that creates or owns a category for 1,000 die-hard fans, they will become your strongest marketing force”
  • If you don’t own a category, create a new one
  • This can also be considered “category of customer”
  • “Don’t fall in love with your product or service, fall in love with your customer” – Tony Robbins
  • Have a small, specific, and precise target audience – “Your target is not the market”
  • In podcasting, there is a lot of competition, so Tim sticks to long form interviews, with technical content , instead of well-produced episodes (like Freakonomics, NPR Radio)
    • He chooses his subject matter to match niche audiences with high education levels and high household income
    • In the upcoming months, his podcast sponsors will be companies/businesses who would typically look to advertise in Esquire or Robb Report
Don’t Make a Product for Everyone and When in Doubt, Go High End
  • It’s better to have 1,000 people that love you, than 100,000 people who think you’re just okay
  • If you’re trying to target everyone, you’ll run out of money
  • “Cultivate the intense few, instead of the luke warm many”
  • If you are launching a product, it makes sense to sell a high priced product to the affluent in the beginning
    • It gives you a larger margin for error (you have better product margins)
    • This is then a safe path to develop lower priced models/products/services to a broader audience
Forget Branding
  • Personal branding is just a side effect, not a causal factor
  • Instead of focusing on branding, focus on consistently over delivering 1 or 2 benefits to your customers/fans
  • Put good business first, brand will follow
  • How do you put good business first?
    • All about value to your user
    • Remove pain points and friction 
      • Great book – Blue Ocean Strategy
      • Also the sequel – Blue Ocean Shift (good for larger companies, all of the below is from this book)
      • Make sure the purchase, delivery, use, maintenance, and disposable of your product/service is flawless
        • For a “disposable” example – Amazon uses those big air bags instead of packing peanuts
      • Can either of the above be more efficient, simplistic, convenient, risk reduced (maybe you can have an assume return policy – Tim offered a 110% money back guarantee with The 4-Hour Body)?
      • Can the fun/image of your product be improved?
      • Is your offering environmentally friendly? Do people prefer it because it’s environmentally friendly?
    • Key Performance Indicators 
      • For example, focus on 10% growth per month, (Tim focuses on hitting a certain number of podcast downloads per month)
  • Instead of asking “What does my company stand for?”ask “What unique benefits does my company deliver and who are my 1,000 true fans?” or “What pain points does my company remove?”
  • Next ask – “How can I turn casual fans into diehard fans”
    • When Tim writes blog posts, he hopes only 10% will love it
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