I Got Fooledis a great blues song by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee about a man who offers to clean a beautiful neighbor’s house in return for intimate favors.
You know that she promised me
When the work was through,
That I could have my way
And do anything I wanted to.
Unfortunately for our hopeful protagonist, things don’t work out quite the way he expects. As he reveals in the chorus:
But I got fooled buddy,
Yeah, I got fooled.
Don’t you know I got fooled?
She was jivin’ me all the time.
The song sets a good tone for this post because I got fooled too.
More times that I can remember, I’ve posted this quote – a philosophy of business, really – as an example of how to build a brand.
People Don’t Buy What You Do.
They Buy Who You Are.
Not only have I written about this idea extensively, I’ve also talked about it to my audiences and even built a TEDx presentation around it.
But having spent time working with our clients and incorporating this idea I realize I got fooled as well. I realize there’s a subtle shift that today’s brand building methods demand.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every solution looks like a nail. And if your area of practice is branding and advertising then every goal used to look like a sale. But as I’ve learned, the rigid concept of selling leading to buying belongs to an earlier era, replete with controlled distribution, limited inventory, and centrally protected information.
Today, the Internet (and the access we all have to it) distributes information that is both free and accessible. Today we can buy things based on price, accessibility, specifications or virtually any other metric that we control. And we can do this with little or no cooperation from yesterday’s retailers. Because Google knows everything and it puts all that information right in our pockets.
This insight explains why I got fooled. Based on what I’ve learned about brand building methods I realize that consumers no longer buy who you are. Today they choose who you are. This simple but profound distinction has altered the whole relationship between the provider of goods and services and their consumers as well as the brand building methods we need to use in order to bridge this gap.
The old school way to build a brand was to work on sales pitches. The better you pitch, the more you sell. But today it’s essential to uncover the essential truths that will help you construct an offer that consumers will be compelled to choose. Because as I’ve talked about so many times before, the key to building a powerful brand is to discover your authentic truth and express it to your audiences by showing them how your brand resonates in their lives.
Miss this simple shift in thinking and you risk getting fooled with your brand building methods, just like I did. If you want to hear how Michael Pickett got fooled, click HERE.