Is Your Brand as Approachable as a Fake Celebrity?

“My friend says if you were any more handsome it would be a crime. It’s a shame you’re such an asshole.”

-Betty Sizemore (Nurse Betty)

I’ve recently started reading The Referral Engine by John Jantsch and besides from being an amazing book, I took something away from the first chapter (which is what you want to happen).  John talks about a guy named Scott Ginsburg who wears a name tag at all times and has built a very lucrative business coaching people on approachability.

Also this weekend, my wife and I received Nurse Betty from our Blockbuster queue, a movie I hadn’t seen in probably 6 years.  In it, a woman suffering from post-traumatic stress (from watching her douchy husband played by Aaron Eckhart brutally murdered) travels to California to meet her favorite soap opera character (not the actor, the character).  She is unknowingly being followed by a father-son hit-man team (played wonderfully by Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock).  Much ensues.

I won’t ruin the movie, but she eventually meets the actor and falls in with him because of her “commitment to character,” but I couldn’t help thinking one thing that brought me back to Scott Ginsburg:

It was WAY TOO EASY to meet her favorite actor and then become buddy-buddy with him, right?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s how we need to be in our brands and organizations.


I know the movie would have been a flop had the story just been her going to California, failing, then returning to Kansas, but we need to work that kind of movie-magic into our brands and with social media, it has never been easier.  Through avenues like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc, etc, etc, it should be incredibly easy for every brand to connect personally with their customers.

Where’s Your Name-Tag?

If you were to walk up to Scott Ginsburg and pull off the name-tag on his blazer, he’s got another one handy to stick right back on.  Let’s say that makes you angry, so you steal his blazer and toss it in the trash; well, he’s got a name-tag on his shirt and one permanently tattooed on his chest.  Scott wins, you lose.

”]How many name-tags do you wear?  Are you fine with saying, “I’m/we’re on Facebook and that’s good enough.”

That may be good enough, but are you sure?  If Facebook crashed tomorrow (or the Great Facebook Privacy Walkout of 2010 had worked) where would you be in connection to your audience?  Would you still have a visible name-tag for them to be able to approach you?

Are You an Asshole?

It’s a simple question, but one every brand needs to ask itself.  When Betty met her man, he wasn’t anything like she expected and her experience ruined her image of not only the actor, but the entire soap opera (hence, the quote above).

You can have the best digital marketing strategy in the world and bring in 100,000 fans a day to your company, but make sure what they find when they get there isn’t a disappointment.

Sometimes we spend all our energy on the highways/roads to get people to visit, we forget to make the destination worth the trip.

  • Does your company website look professional with a well-laid-out landing page?
  • Do you have opportunities in place for people to contact you where you WILL ACTUALLY ANSWER?
  • Do you actually sell/offer what you say you do?

You can be as pretty as you want to be,  but if you’re an asshole, not many people will stick around to deal with your crap.

Celebrity is as Celebrity Does

I’ve met many celebrities throughout my life (I won’t namedrop because that’s not the point of this, but you can ask if you really care).  The interesting thing about meeting a celebrity is that you remember it no matter what, but you remember it more if they were mean.

The old marketing saying of “A happy customer will tell 3 people about it while an unhappy customer will tell 30” applies to social media too, but the dynamics are a little different  (Try multiplying those numbers by a few hundred), but the interesting thing about first-impressions is that they can be changed if there is a future relationship.

“I’m sure Martin Sheen is a pleasant human being, I’ll bet he was just having a bad day,” is heard much less than, “Martin Sheen is a jerk.”

One thing I really like about Twitter is the ability to actually have the ability to hold conversations with celebrities.  Whether those be celebrities in the social media world (@chrisbrogan, @julien, @dmscott, etc.) or pop culture celebrities (@actuallyNPH, @aplusk, @ConanOBrien, etc.), they are having conversations online and you can build relationships with those folks and build better impressions other than first impressions.

Keep a close eye on how you come across online, because eventually people will see that as the “real you” and that can be dangerous.

Betty Sizemore eventually gets her man, then let’s him go because he didn’t live up to her expectations.  It’s important to be approachable, but it it even more important to be “worth approaching.”

Are you?  Tell me some of you favorite approachability stories (or celebrity encounters) in the comments.  I always love seeing how other people are doing it right (or wrong).


About Joey Strawn

Digital marketing sociologist and public relations specialist with experience on national and local campaigns with a love for film and the things it says about our culture and business. Joey is the Senior Social Media Strategist at ISM in Nashville, TN and is in the business of helping people and companies deal with the new universe of social media in their marketing and PR endeavors.
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