In the very early 90s, when I was first in Prague, the few expatriates working here were a very close knit community and as we all spent so much time together outside of work, we felt that we knew each other very well. Imagine our surprise, therefore, when one of our group suddenly disappeared and nothing more was heard from him until I received a letter from him from one of Her Majesty’s Prisons in the UK, and it transpired that he was someone else completely and had been on the run for several years….!!
In those days, we used to say that anyone could come to this part of the world and completely reinvent themselves, as it was a bit of a lawless society at that time. If asked today, though, I would have said that things were very different then and now it is much more like a normal western world. Except that in the past year or so, I have heard about two more people that, to all intents and purposes, are clearly not who they say they are!!
Now I would have thought that if someone wanted to reinvent themselves, they would do it pretty discreetly – the world being a pretty small place - but neither of these two people have done that; in fact both of them have gone out of their way to become ‘out there’ figures amongst the business community (completely independent of each other... I am not sure if they know each other, but they have followed a similar route). And, in a funny sort of way, I quite admire the way that they have fooled everyone, as of course, it has all been done by very clever marketing.
First of all, they have taken a name and decided what that name stands for, who they want to sell it to and how. And then they have single-mindedly built their brand by following a set course – meeting with the right people, being seen in the right places, doing their own advertising and publicity and so on - to the point where they probably believe what they are saying themselves. And to be a successful salesman, which they clearly are, you really have to believe in what you are selling, as then it is much easier to persuade someone else to buy.
The moral of this story is (well, maybe moral is not the right word…!) – that with any marketing campaign, whatever the product or service, you need to really know what your product/service stands for, work out who you want to sell it to, believe in it yourself, and go about your promotion in a well-executed and single-minded manner, and you wont go far wrong…
Just remember, though, shoddy products/services/people get found out sooner or later… and to build a good brand on a long-term basis, it needs to really stand the test of time.