We first met Guy Kawasaki at the Empowered Women’s conference in Miami soon after he published his 2011 book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.
In it, he explains: “Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal.”
An enchanting premise, for sure.
Indeed, “Enchantment” charmed millions and hit three bestseller lists: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly. So we were keen to share his insights with our readers, and thrilled when Kawasaki agreed to be our Entrepreneur of the Month in the August 2011 issue of our national business magazine for entrepreneurs, Be Inkandescent.
Since then, we have reviewed another one of his fascinating books, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, which was our Book of the Month in July 2012.
This tome, which was originally published in 2008, hits the mark on what Kawasaki said was the book’s mission—to provide “hardcore information to hardcore people who want to kick ass.”
Amen to that.
- Scroll down to read our Q&A with Kawasaki.
- And click here to listen to our podcast interview on The Inkandescent Radio Network.
Welcome to the Inkandescent Entrepreneur Show, Guy!
Guy Kawasaki: Thank you, thank you very much for having me as your guest.
Inkandescent Radio: It’s our pleasure. One of our goals on this show, and especially in our upcoming book, “PR Rules: The Playbook,” is to help readers and listeners understand the PR Playing Field. We do that by identifying the difference between PR, marketing, advertising, and sales. While these areas are certainly interconnected when it comes to launching a strong PR and marketing campaign, each has unique qualities. So tell us—how do you define marketing?
Guy Kawasaki: Marketing is the creation or fulfillment of demand for product or service that people usually are not aware of. So in other words, it is about anticipating or creating a need.
Inkandescent Radio: You worked for Apple in the early days. Clearly, they have launched some of the best marketing campaigns in decades. What do you think is the secret of their marketing success?
Guy Kawasaki: The key to Apple’s marketing success is not marketing, per se, as much as they make great things. So Apple’s path is, “If we make great things we do well and the marketing works, if you make crappy things, it doesn’t work.” It’s kind of simple that way.
Inkandescent Radio: Absolutely! Let’s talk about your book. “Reality Check” is an encyclopedia of essential marketing information and also business tactics—it’s a must-read for every entrepreneur. It is packed with so much information that each one of the chapters could have been a book in itself. And I love that in the book you admit no one can implement all the recommendations in the book.
So you provide a useful 10-step checklist that includes important questions for business owners to ask themselves, including:
- Are you making meaning?
- Does your project jump to, or create, the next curve?
- Is your product Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant, and Emotive?
- Do you have a mantra for what you do?
Tell us a little bit about that advice and how that applies to your marketing campaign.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, I think that many companies create something that is much too complex. They create a mission, they create these documents and all that, and my recommendation is that you limit yourself to about two, three, maybe four words to describe why your product or service should exist, and I call this a mantra.
So the mantra for Nike could be “authentic athletic performance,” the mantra for FedEx is “peace of mind,” my personal mantra is “to empower people.” That’s what I try to do, and I think if companies had something as simple as that, it would really make their lives much better because employees can remember what they are doing, consumers can understand what they’re doing. It leads to a certain clarity when you are limited to such a small number of words.
Inkandescent Radio: So, your mantra is to empower people. Talk a little bit more about what that means.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, in my case I hope I can empower people with my writing and my speaking. My latest book is called, “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur,” and I’m trying to empower people who want to write a book. So with my investments and my writing and speaking, I try to empower entrepreneurs and now I am trying to empower writers.
Inkandescent Radio: And that’s a bit of a game-changer. This current book is a little controversial in certain circles.
Guy Kawasaki: Arguably those people should be pissed off because they’re the traditional publishers that are trying to maintain the status quo, where only a few companies pick the winners and losers, and if you have that kind of power you don’t want to see your power being eclipsed.
I understand that, but life goes on, so this book is about how people interested in writing a book can do it. There are three stages: authoring, which is writing; publishing, which is producing; and entrepreneuring, which is marketing.
For those of you who are not thinking of writing a book, you should at least read the last third of this book, because it explains how to create a guerrilla marketing and social media platform. It specifically applies to authors, but you don’t have to be an author to use it, that’s for sure.
Inkandescent Radio: What’s the biggest tip from that specific portion of the book?
Guy Kawasaki: Well the biggest tip is to get off your butt and start building your social media platform the moment you decide you’re going to be shipping something, whether it is a book or a piece of software or a website or a service, because you’re going to need a social media platform. Don’t start the platform once your product or service or book is done.
Inkandescent Radio: When it comes to marketing, do you prefer guerrilla marketing or organic marketing? Which approach is more powerful?
Guy Kawasaki: I can’t tell you that organic marketing is more powerful than spending $100 million on Super Bowl commercials—at some point money does buy marketing—but for the reasonable range that we are probably discussing, yes, I believe that is true.
Inkandescent Radio: For smaller entrepreneurs or self-published authors, or authors who are published by a big publishing house and need to do their own PR and marketing, it gets complicated.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, and for those people, you don’t have the option of spending $100 million dollars. So it doesn’t matter, right?
Inkandescent Radio: Absolutely right. Let’s talk about your book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.” What is the best way that entrepreneurs can make their marketing enchanting?
Guy Kawasaki: This is a side answer to that question, but truly, the best way to make your marketing great is to have a great product. It sounds like an evasive answer, but I’ve tried to enchant people with great stuff and I’ve tried to enchant people with crap, and it is a lot easier to enchant people with great stuff.
That’s step number one. Step number two, I think, is to basically keep an empathetic perspective, that you are not asking people to do, buy, say, register, anything that you wouldn’t do, and assuming you’re not a psychopath, that will keep you straight and narrow in what you ask people to do in marketing.
Inkandescent Radio: When it comes to marketing, what do you advise them to avoid?
Guy Kawasaki: I advise people to avoid things that insult people’s intelligence, things that are too “in your face.” I like marketing that assumes that the person is intelligent, and is providing information, and then is enabling a person to make a free-will decision. I don’t like marketing that insults people.
Inkandescent Radio: Fair enough, and I think that circle’s back to “Reality Check,” where you give them really consistent, concise ideas, such as:
- Do you have a 10-slide pitch with no font smaller than 30 points that you can give in 20 minutes?
- Have you figured out a way to take your product to market with no budget?
- Are you helping people who cannot help you?
Can you share some advice?
Guy Kawasaki: I think it’s good for ethics and karma that you maintain those kinds of principles. I’m a big believer in karma, and those are some of the principles that guide me. At the end of the day, yes, you would of course like to close a sale, but the real question for a marketer is: Will the person you’ve just closed the sale with tell other people to buy the same thing?
That’s the test. It’s hard to close a sale, but once you do, if you are doing things right—great product, great marketing—then that person will become your evangelist.
Inkandescent Radio: That’s great advice; it talks about viral marketing and guerrilla marketing. What guerrilla marketing tactics have you’ve used that aren’t “in your face,” that aren’t offensive? Guerrilla marketing sounds aggressive, but that’s not your approach?
Guy Kawasaki: No, not at all. One of my favorite examples of guerrilla marketing was a pizza chain that was coming to Denver for the first time. It ran a promotion where if you brought in the Yellow Pages ad of its competitor, you would get two pizzas for the price of one. They effectively removed their competitor from the Yellow Pages for a year.
Another example is a Costco / Price Club kind of store opened right next to a small independent, and the independent didn’t know what to do, you know—bigger store, bigger selection, cheaper prices. What it did was rename its store “Main Entrance.” That’s a good example of using your brains instead of your wallet.
Inkandescent Radio: And that goes back to what you offer in “Reality Check.” Have you figured out a way to take your product to market with no budget?
Guy Kawasaki: I think the key to taking your product to market with no or low budget is social media. With the book, for example, I had about 1,500 people read the book before it was shipped, and that yielded dozens of great reviews on Amazon.
First of all, you have to get over your paranoia that people are going to get your book electronically and then give it away to everybody so then no one will buy your book. You need to trust people. And secondly, you need to be willing to take that kind of risk. I think it pays off. I really have never been screwed by doing something like that.
Inkandescent Radio: Coming from your heart, doing the right thing. That’s the key?
Guy Kawasaki: And thinking like a guerrilla as opposed to a gorilla.
Inkandescent Radio: Another big idea from “Reality Check” was hiring perfect job candidates who love what they do, as well as people who are better than you, which is not exactly a marketing concept but an entrepreneurial management concept.
Guy Kawasaki: Yes, I think one of the keys to hiring is that you hire people who are better than you in any given skill area. If you are better than they are, why do you need them at all? So if you are the engineering person, you should hire a better finance person, a better marketing person, a better PR person, a better ops person. And if you’re the ops person, you sure as hell should hire a better marketing person and a better finance person, and a better engineering person.
If everybody hires people who are better than they, the level of quality of employee just keeps rising. I think losers higher people who are worse than they so that they can feel superior.
Inkandescent Radio: The last tip I wanted you to chat about is that you only ask people to do things that you would do, too.
Guy Kawasaki: My theory here is that, again, unless you’re a sociopath, if you are not willing to do something, why would you ask a customer or employee to do it? A very good example is that many websites have a really extensive registration process with CAPTCHA and all these kinds of things, asking for credit card info even though they’re not going to charge your credit card. So ask yourself: Would you register for a free website doing all those things? And if you wouldn’t, why would you ask anyone else to? That’s a very good test.
Inkandescent Radio: What’s on the horizon for you?
Guy Kawasaki: That I do not know. I never really planned to write, “What The Plus!” which was the book before this, or “APE.” All of a sudden I just got it in my brain to do this. It’s literally that random and that simple.
Inkandescent Radio: And is that your advice to others—to just follow their gut and let life take them?
Guy Kawasaki: That happens to be my style. I don’t think it’s the only style, or necessarily the best style; it’s just my style. And I’m at this stage in life where I am not so poor that I am desperate to make a buck, or need to get any kind of positioning and branding and visibility. On the other hand, I am not so rich that I don’t care any more. I’m kind of in the middle.
This manifests itself when people ask me to do free speeches. If it’s a company that is for-profit, they’re making money, then I often tell them that if I was filthy, filthy rich, it wouldn’t matter, I would do it for free. And if I was dirt poor and I would do anything for visibility, I would do it for free, but I’m in the middle, and I’m not doing it for free. I’ve passed up many a speech because of that.
Inkandescent Radio: Before we let you go, give us one last marketing tip that our readers can take to the bank.
Guy Kawasaki: To the extent possible, enable people to test drive your product or service—if it’s a book give them excerpts, if it’s a website let them use much of the service until some time period expires or they go over a certain storage limit or number of records. By doing this you’re basically saying, “I think you’re smart. I’m going to give you the experience, then you decide.”
Inkandescent Radio: So give to get. Thank you so much for your time, Guy. As always, we are impressed with your thoughtfulness and meaningful insights. We look forward to talking to you again soon.
Guy Kawasaki: My pleasure, thank you very much, and I hope your readers change the world.
Inkandescent Radio: You said it!
This is Hope Katz Gibbs, your host for the Inkandescent Entrepreneur Show. Thank you for spending your time listening to the Inkandescent Radio Network: The Voice of Entrepreneurs. Here’s to your incredible, indelible, Inkandescent success. We’ll talk to you soon!