These days the Super Bowl is one of the most hyped sporting events in the world, but it didn’t start out that way. For the first two Super Bowls, they had trouble filling the stadium. That was back when there were actually two separate leagues, and the National League, which was the much older league, was considered superior because the Green Bay Packers won the first two, and it wasn’t even close. When Joe Namath vaulted the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs the next year, the leagues merged and the game started to take on a bit more prestige and charm. Look at the behemoth it’s become.
When the Super Bowl, and football itself, was starting to grow, it was still second fiddle to baseball, which had a bigger presence in at least the Americas and in Japan. It had a major appeal because all baseball took was for each kid to have his own glove, one ball, and one bat, and you could have as many players as you wanted.
Football was a different game at the time, kind of lawless and way more brutal compared to today. Players weren’t easily recognized, not only because they wore helmets, but because there were fewer personalities… and no social media. Players didn’t have the same workout regimen they do today, the money wasn’t as good, and there wasn’t really much marketing. When the NFL finally decided to start licensing their image and promoting more of the prominent players, things took off and they’ve never looked back.
What else became popular worldwide? Basketball! Soccer is a very popular sport in the world, probably the most played sport in the world, but professional basketball players are just as revered, way more in the United States. The talent around the world jumped drastically once basketball learned how football did it and started hyping their best players everywhere. The Dream Team was the most brilliant advertising ploy ever conceived, and look at how it’s raised the standards of basketball in every other country.
Hype is what it takes for anyone or anything to get really big. Most of the time we have no idea where it’s going to come from. Who’d have ever thought things such as pet rocks, Furbee, Tickle Me Elmo, and Snuggie’s, would be such big hits? Who’d have thought the IHoB campaign would have actually worked? How did Apple start selling so many phones?
Those things were hyped, all went viral, and suddenly everyone, or so it seems, had to have one. Those that didn’t have to have it knew about it and possibly talked about it; now that’s power. Indirectly, hype is power.
Let’s look at internet marketers.. Almost anyone who’s really trying to do internet marketing knows the name John Chow. He’s one of the best known names in the field, even if he’s not considered the best internet marketer in the world (not my words). How did he get there if he’s not considered great by his peers? Hype.
John Chow was able to create a viral campaign about himself by getting people to write about him and link to him; tens of thousands of people. Off the top of your head that doesn’t sound so bad, but it was at the time. He told (asked) people to do it so that he’d rank high on Google, basically flaunting Google’s natural search requirements.
What happened? Two things. One, he got his site totally de-listed from Google, which had never happened to an individual. You could pop his name into Google and you wouldn’t find him anywhere except on Twitter, or articles others had written about him. How scary is that?
Two, he achieved exactly what he wanted because even though Google de-listed him, none of the other search engines did, and as people kept writing about him, especially after what Google did to him, he became an even bigger name. Without Google his traffic actually grew and he made a heck of a lot more money. Eventually he & Google came to an understanding, they listed him again and things “kind of” went back to normal. He was now big news because of great hype. It was phenomenal; who else could have done that, other than “that man” in Washington?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post asking how far are were willing to go for promotion. John Chow showed how far he was willing to go, and he ended up winning. But what he did can only be done once. Could anyone else get away with that? Would anyone else try? Do you think they’d succeed like he did if they tried?
Actually, lots of people have tried, but few have succeeded on John Chow’s level. These days it’s more likely to occur on either Instagram or YouTube. We can think of people like Kylie Jenner and Psy, the first almost a billionaire and the other… well, I’m not sure where his money lies these days. We also recently had some 9-year old girl who became a big online hit for some reason who was way over the top and controversial, so much so that many YouTube personalities and even news media covered her story… mainly with disgust. She’s kind of petered out at this point; once again, I’m not sure whether she’s benefited long term from it.
In any case, there’s the thing to think about; trying to find out what it takes to get people to write about you, to link to you, to help build your name up so that people want to keep coming by to see what you have to say, or what you’re doing, and possibly generate both income and prestige. What is it that can be done, other than, well, the art of the fluke? Are you up to doing what it takes to hype yourself?
Take me for example. I know what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m willing to write. I’m willing to speak in public. I’m willing to travel as much as I can. I’m willing to offer my opinion on topics that are important to me. I’m willing to tell some hard truths that the masses aren’t ready for.
But that’s not hype; that’s consistency as well as branding. Hype would be putting myself out there without worrying about my dignity, or potential hate I could generate without trying to. Hype would take away my ability to control my message long term. Hype would drag my family into it. Hype is scary, although I understand how it could benefit me… and hurt me… all at the same time.
Yet, it’s also about publicity, about getting more people to write about you or talk about you some way, or about marketing yourself by now-traditional methods such as Adwords or Facebook Ads or advertising on LinkedIn or Twitter or local offline mailers. It’s about being willing to do anything to get noticed… hopefully without killing yourself (or severely injuring yourself like this guy did.
Or you could be Crazy Eddie:
What are you willing to do willing to do to make money? What are you willing to risk? Are you up for the hype? Let me know your thoughts.