You Have a Serious Image Problem!

by Ernest O’Dell – Guerrilla Internet Marketing

How many times have you received a business card that had more than one phone number on it? Hmmm… yep, sounds like those that you get from real estate and insurance agents.

How about employment agencies who don’t answer their phones and when you leave a voice mail — they don’t return your calls. Hmmm… yep, makes you wonder if they’re really in business, huh?

And, what about (just about) any other company or agency you call, you leave a message and nobody returns your calls? Hey! You think I’m making this up as I go along? I’m serious! There are tons of people who THINK they’re in business, but actually have no business being in business.

Did that sound right? Am I kvetching? Or just talking to hear the sound of my own voice?

No… seriously. There are, literally, thousands, if not millions of businesses and individuals who have a serious image problem in their branding. And… what makes it worse is when they use a free web based email address… or worse, A O L.

You know who I’m talking about. Always Off Line. (Another subject, another article.)

Suffice it to say that there’s a lot of wannabe “businesses” who are no more in business than a homeless person. They have a serious “brand” problem.

It’s called PERCEPTION. It’s all about how people perceive you… AND your business.

And forget about trying to call them up and sell them anything. No, no! Just try getting some information from them! Ha!

Are you kidding me?

Look, this day and age, lots of people are more informed than they were during the days of the Brand Wars. Remember those days? When big corporations could throw millions into their ad budgets and just hope something would stick to the wall?

Well, you can’t get away with that nowadays. You better have your message “on point” and your brand better be unique.


…you’re toast!

I swear! Some people will go out and spend four and five bucks on a cup of coffee, and seven bucks on a burger with fries. While they’re killing themselves with a high fat and cholesterol diet, they put their businesses on a diet… when it should be THE OTHER WAY AROUND!


Or, are you just glowing in the dark?

If you are in business… and I don’t care what kind of business you’re in… but if you’re in business, you probably have a serious image problem and you need some serious help to improve it.

Hey… I’m not here to bust your chops. I’m just here to tell you what everybody else has been telling me about YOUR image: it… well, it sucks… to put it simply.

Want to change that? Then you know how to get in touch with me.

Ernest O’Dell is the CEO of The Guerrilla Internet Marketing Institute and an internationally acclaimed author and writer in the marketing, advertising and sales industries. He has consulted with real estate groups, insurance groups, and businesses of all sizes and sectors.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ernest ODell, Ernest ODell. Ernest ODell said: You Have a Serious Image Problem!: […]

  2. Good call Ernest!

    When I was fighting the good fight to get Minnesota investors to understand the importance of going online I had a delicate balance to maintain. The way I had to go about it was that I had to make going online sound easy, just for the sake of non-tech savvy people not giving up from the go.

    Fortunately when I was working with Mike we developed sites to facilitate the move online with free websites, and default premium sites. But truthfully, it’s thin ice from start to finish… if you reveal the whole task (beyond setting up a site) it would send 9 out of 10 running from the very notion.

    So the first task was to just get them online, but I fear the approach it would take to get a non-tech savvy, “I’ve been doing this for years w/o the internet for x many years,” type of group. But we managed to get some online and they’re better off for it, however that’s just the beginning…

    The real problem is that once their site is up and running, they stick with the default which is automatic duplicate content b/c, well… it’s default!

    Any way, I bring this up because I think this stems heavily from the “HELLO? LIGHT’S?” Where people make no attempt at all at a USP, think just having something for marketing purposes is enough, and there’s no competitive nature in their brainstorming!

    Where’s SWOT? Where’s spying on competition? The A/B testing, analytics, pan charts, obsession for conversion optimization… You would think any small business would make sure these bases were always evolving, but as your article states “ARE YOUR LIGHTS ON!?”

    Only thing I can distill is that for some reason competition isn’t in the equation… I’m all for win-win-win-x however many you’d like to think through, but positioning yourself online isn’t some kind of novelty!

    There are autoresponders, visitor tracking software, and oh so many Mozilla plug-ins that can give you an almost creepy view into your competitors’ strengths online. But non of this is spoon fed to investors because Guru’s outsource all this and hire a manger to manage.


    A system is written, packaged, and sold on the road. YMMV! But nowhere does the guru have hands nearly dirty enough to point a finger and explain the technical aspects of marketing and advantage. Damn shame, but fine it’s a niche I’m working to fill b.c. everyone else out there seems to be a poser that’s never even written an ezine article themselves for syndication.

    ::sigh:: When will they learn?

  3. Sometimes I feel like I know what LBJ was going through when he was trying to get a point through to his people. I wonder sometimes when these guys are going to “get it.”

    You know, I had a friend of mine (a hot-shot real estate broker) tell me one time that R/E types weren’t the brightest bulb in “the Value Pack.” I disagreed with him and told him so. I even went to bat for their reputation. I thought they had to at least have some moxey just to maneuver in all the morass of legalese of R/E regulations.

    Now, I’m beginning to see that too many of them are doing as you say, falling back on their defaults, and not developing their own USP. Hell! They don’t even know the right questions to ask!

    Sigh… is right.

    I came out in a meeting with about 200 realtors one day at an association meeting and told them flat out: “If you DON’T ‘get it’ — your competion WILL. And they’ll kick your ass out of business!”

    Times are changing and they better start learning some new paradigms or their competition is going to eat them alive and leave them in a trail of dust… and I’m going to help them. I’m going to be there to give their competition the ammunition to take them out!

    I’ve gotten their attention. Now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my next speaking gig.

    Do you think I came across a little too strong?

    I don’t know…

    I don’t think they can stomach the truth anymore.

  4. I don’t think you came out too strong at all given the seriousness of getting their asses kicked out of business. As a matter of fact I took that quote and put it on my profile because that is the truth through and through!

    You’re absolutely on point too about them not being able to stomach the truth anymore. The truth is that the gap is widening and if they don’t do something to start reeling in the disparity they’ll have a better shot stepping foot on the moon than competing online.

    With some folks I get it, like construction companies do construction and are willing to just pay an SEO $1k per month to give them all the online business they want. But real estate investors have to do it themselves because it’s an extremely esoteric business to most (just survey the opinions of the real estate market) and investors are the only ones giddy.

    Fortunately I dream in SEO and REI, but unfortunately I also see clear as day the extent to which investors just don’t ‘get it!’ I love speaking to groups too because I hold out hope to hit a grand slam and have 4 people out of 50 get it, rather than 1 out of 2.

    Now the more I think about it, I rather prefer the consulting gig because if there’s 5 people for one business willing to give me good money to make them competitive then I know I can get 4 out of 5 (always -1 for the boss who will have the others worry about it for him). If I can get them to listen, they’re in motion but that’s the bitch of it… it’s like unless they’re coming up to a crossroads like a student whose skipped class and has finals next week, they drop money on a last ditch effort to get a copy of the notes for the test, i.e. consultant.

    I think this puts them in an always behind rut instead of subscribing to a couple RSS feeds from good sources like yours that supply what they need to develop in small chunks.

    Short of kidnapping and ransom I don’t think you could ever be too strong on the topic because letting something as important as being a unique business I believe is a slippery slope.

    As their disadvantage grows and more leads head online the wedge grows further deepening their decent into getting their asses kicked out of business.

    It astounds me that it’s like pulling teeth to get investors to spark any interest in learning how to use auto-responders, copy writing, joint venture techniques. You would think that with the frequency they’re marketed to that they would see what the pros do on a monthly basis to pull cash and think ‘hmmm.’

    It’s a heavy boulder up a steep hill alright, but if this generation doesn’t pick up on it the next one will… and there’s nothing funny about that, just a damn shame.

    • I don’t think a lot of business people, real estate
      types included, really put a lot of stock into their
      “image” building process. It’s not a “do all – end
      all” or a “one size fits all” process. I tell them
      that developing their USP and following up with a good
      UC&M solution is not like going to the drug store and
      buying condoms. Even there, they have different sizes.

      They just look at me with that “deer in the headlights”

      My gig has always to find out as much as possible about
      the target market, to learn how to think like they do,
      and understand their daily process. Once I have a
      handle on that, I can present them a comprehensive
      solution. But, even when I couch it in non aggressive
      terms, they act like they don’t get the message. Then
      when I present it in a little more forceful manner, the
      truth scares the hell out of them.

      What gets me is that people will spend thousands of
      dollars per month on something they don’t understand,
      and they get no real, tangible results for their money,
      but they’ll continue to shell out this money to someone
      who claims to be an “ad agency.” It’s unethical.

      All I want to do is give them a comprehensive proposal
      (which, by the way is free) and then follow up on them.
      I don’t think they really take the time to read it
      through. I mean… I know they’re busy, and that’s why
      I try to make it as short as possible: one or two

      Many of my proposals are a heck of a lot shorter than
      my newsletters, comments, replies and articles. Yet,
      they will spend time to read those. So, I guess I’ll
      keep plugging them with the newsletter medium, instead
      of the proposal.

      I had a friend of mine tell me that R/E types weren’t
      the brightest folks on the planet. I disagreed with
      him… then.

      Now, I’m beginning to think he was right. 😉


      I know that “educating” them is an important factor,
      and I’ve made it about as easy as possible. One of the
      things I thought I would do is put together a course
      for the Guerrilla Real Estate Marketing Institute like
      I’m doing for the regular institute. But the
      development time is long and tedious.

      As more business goes online, and leads come more from
      online sources, they will need to “get with the
      program” or find something else to do. Which is
      exactly what some of them have been forced to do. They
      either adjust or they get out of the business and go
      back to selling insurance or something…

      I’ve got some ideas that I’ll share with you in the
      next few days. Maybe we can get together and chat on
      the phone. I’ll put a synopsis together and email it
      to you soon so you’ll know what I’m doing. You might
      find time to “dove-tail” this into your daily routine.
      It’s not a recruitment schema, but it will pay a
      residual if you decide to.

      • I’m reminded of stereotype that creative people are unorganized, and organized people aren’t creatives typically. Maybe that’s the case seeing as the prerequisite to starting a business is organization. But whether one is creative or organized, both want to escape the rat race so everyone wants to make the leap, however organized individuals hit meet the prereq to form a business. The unorganized creatives are more prone to falling short of the organizational efforts the prereq requires to reach the stage of being an organized business that is in need of our advice and strengths.

        I believe we’re both, fortunately, well grounded in both camps because competition doesn’t give us a choice.

        Knowing everything about your target market is huge! Really the only way to go because there is too much focused competition to try to play to endless possibilities… rather it’s best to immerse yourself into a community and recognize the endless possibilities in one arena.

        I think I’ve come up with a way to get people to recognize their USP through the development of a marketing campaign, because you really can’t have an MC w/o a USP lol. But it’s grueling as hell and like the bane we face, they need to be in step with the essence of the “why.”

        It’s amazing, and a bit startling that we can whip through someone else’s comprehensive solution like it’s Sudoku in the airport because we ‘get it.’ But to those who don’t get it, it’s feared and procrastinated into a small safe in their brain and the combination was long forgetten…

        Maybe you could say we’re like safe crackers with stethoscopes listening to everything noise that’s made. It’s funny we have pretty similar models when it comes to giving away tons of value for free and acting as the facilitator/consultant for troubled crossings for a price on a priceless option for most mired small business owners. I think that’s pretty cool we both managed this model independently because I think it pays tribute to it being a critically claimed method that people who don’t ‘get it’ would kill for.

        But I’m thinking about revamping my approach since I have this window of redevelopment in the works already…

        At this point we’ve bitched enough about heavy task of getting others to ‘get it’ lol We both know the score, let’s get back to what we do best… planning, education, marketing, and execution! But it was a swell stress reliever. 

        So anyways, what I’m thinking about for an approach is going back to square one. Learn to think like someone who has no creative ambition, finger waving I think is too much of a soft sell. In SEO one of the ways I can generate business is by talking to a local businesses about marketing online, that gives me the segway to offer my SEO services at no risk or initial cost. Frankly, if they’re ranked then they’ll be able to happily afford the SEO advantage.

        Usually, it’s a soft sell that sells itself. Which usually rakes in a soft agreement, then results appear and business changes and they see a real change in their business. That’s when I have their attention! If they say they don’t want it and I turn out the lights and they go back to before, click! The safe is cracked.

        There’s actually a pretty mean hook as well, because if they’re not interested and I already have the SEO position I can lay it out to them like this:

        “Look, the ROI you’ll be getting for $X makes the decision for you… the numbers are proof that this pays for itself. If you’re not interested, that’s perfectly alright, but with the results that we have here I’m sure your competition will see the value in this.”

        It drastically goes from warm and fluffy to stone cold, but that switch scares the pants off them and forces them to reevaluate. I don’t see it as manipulative, but as tough love to get them to make the right decision.

        I bring this up because I think it illustrates a lot of psychological arrangements that sharpen our safe cracking approach. Picking it apart some, I would say it leads in with an offering of a result that takes very little effort on their part. Since on the whole they’re more organizers than creatives we need to illustrate benefits that are comprehendible, there we have the hook like a headline of a landing page.

        Then we spare some slack on the sub headline, transition into speaking their language. Basically using the tried and truth methods of copywriting to formulate our approach. Us it to lead them from leap to leap and sell them on the idea that the education free or product is needed, because it damn well is!

        Looking forward to the synopsis, give me a run down on the residual arrangement and then I can really start shuffling schedule around to contribute a get a prudent dove-tail balance and start slugging away in the name of education and commercial progress (nObama)!

        Let me know what areas of GREMI that are sucking up more time than planned and I can pull and organize some things from my swipe files, it’s always fun to rummage through the “stack.”

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