Marc Ecko’s 10 Rules for Getting "Influencer" Attention

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marc_ecko_-_Google_Search

The dream is simple: get your product in the hands of celebrities or “influencers,” and they create a ripple effect that skyrockets you to fame and fortune.

What if Kim Kardashian tweets about you?
What if Hugh Jackman wears your custom shirts on the red carpet?
What if a top blogger includes you in a top-10 list?
What if you got a mention on The Office or another primetime show?

Sadly, sampling to “stars” seldom works out.

People who move the needle get a TON of stuff sent to them. The pic below is just part of my mail, and I’m not even a real celeb! Blurb and blog promotion requests received in one day, with the exception of one book:

One day's blurb and blog requests

So…how do YOU break through the noise?

This guest post will teach you. It’s written by Marc Ecko, founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises, a global fashion and lifestyle company. I wanted Marc to write this post because — in my opinion — he’s an expert at selling yourself without selling out. As CNBC put it, “Marc is living proof that you can be a marketing and business whiz and still be a true artist.”

Once a graffiti artist with no connections, Marc left the safety net of pharmacy school to start his own clothing company. Using hustle and creativity, he turned a $5,000 bag of cash into a global corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He created a lot of this success by repeatedly getting his products to impossible-to-reach icons (e.g. Spike Lee, Chuck D) and planning elaborate PR stunts (e.g. Air Force One graffiti hoax; buying Barry Bonds’ homerun record baseball and letting online votes determine its fate).

This post will explain his 10 rules — the do’s and don’ts — of his unique “swag bomb” approach to getting influencer attention. I agree with all of them.

Enjoy, replicate, and prosper…

ALSO: Marc will be answering questions in the comments, so leave your thoughts after the end of this post!

Enter Marc Ecko

Before Ecko was Ecko, it was just me, a suburban kid in New Jersey airbrushing stuff in my parents garage. In terms of hip hop, I was the quintessential outsider. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have any connections. All I knew was that I was passionate about my art, and that I wanted to make a business out of it.

In other words, I was in the exact position that basically every entrepreneur, author, and creative person in the world starts in. I had to make a name for myself–I had to crack in. I could only think of one way: giving stuff away for free to people who would like it. Taking action.

Over the years I perfected this strategy, using it to launch and build countless brands from Ecko Unltd to G Unit to Cut & Sew, Complex and Zoo York. Ecko, alone, has done billions of dollars in revenue since those days in the garage twenty years ago. Our collaboration with George Lucas and the iconic Star Wars brand was a direct result of this strategy. I’ll go to my grave proud of the fact that George Lucas actually said–and this is a quote–“No one has made STAR WARS cooler than ECKO.”

ecko_unltd_-_Google_Search

A lot of people think that mailing samples is just that–throwing some crap in the mail and hope it works. Well, that couldn’t be more wrong. A Swag Bomb, properly executed, is a work of art. When done right can generate massive amounts of PR, connections and access.

When done improperly, it ends up here…in the pile of orphan books at the New York Times. Or worse, it ends up in the trash can or lays their unopened. You’ve worked too hard to let that happen, to throw that work away because you made some simple mistakes.

So let’s go back to that garage. I’ll show you how swag bombs were instrumental in building the Ecko brand and then the lessons I’ve learned–trust me, I made a lot of mistakes–along the way.

The first person I ever tried to send one to was Kool DJ Red Alert.  Back then he was one of, if not the, most dominant DJs in hip-hop, and Rolling Stone magazine would name him as one of the fifty most influential people in music. Every weekend night, in an era before iTunes and Spotify, everyone listened to Red Alert on the New York radio station 98.7 Kiss-FM, the audio bible of hip-hop.

I couldn’t wait until his Friday-night show. Red was famous for doing shout- outs. I had no patience for waiting on hold and doing the dial-up thing, so I went to my strong suit of communication: my art. During his radio show, I camped out at the Kinko’s and straight-up spammed his fax machine with “Echo Airbrushing” promos. Black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations of MCs standing encircled in a rap cypher. Or images shot from the floor to the sky, showing MCs jumping across the stage. All the images were unapologetically self-promotion- al—self-referential—and clearly branded and signed “Echo.” (I actually have a photo of one of the hats still–check it out)

And then one Friday night I’m listening to 98.7 like always, drawing in my black book, and I hear something on the radio.

“I gotta shout out my man Echo for blessing me with this fly gear! Yo, he got the fresh airbrushed gear, the craze snapback hats! My man Echo Airbrushing, yeah, yeah, Big Up Lakewood, New Jersey, and my man Echo, artwork is crazy.”

Whoa, what!?

The shout-out tasted good. I wanted more. I didn’t get complacent and didn’t let it fizzle as a one-shot thing; I had an instinctive grasp of the power of inertia, so I doubled down and sent him more.

I knew that I was on the verge of something. I knew because it felt authentic. I could sense that the timing was right and that I needed to take it to the next level.

I hope these rules–many of which I learned the hard way–will help you do the same with your own efforts.

===

TEN RULES FOR BUILDING A SWAG BOMB 

1. Never Send Directly to Someone’s Home

I’ve had that happen. It’s fucking creepy. Everyone has a business address, and in this day and age, they’re sufficiently accessible. No one likes to feel like you’ve violated their personal space–and if you do that, that negative feeling is associated with your product, thus defeating the purpose.

Even creepier? Sending actual bombs. Look, I know it is a “swag bomb”, but there is no swag in sending unsolicited items to a personal address, particularly when the items are disguised to look like explosives.

For example, if you’re sending out a book (as I did; more on this shortly), don’t send them to reporter’s homes. That would be creepy. I sent mine to their office address, through my publisher, like normal people would do.

The same goes for email addresses. Don’t find every single email address the person has ever listed and blast them all at once. Don’t scour for the “private” or “personal” email because you think they don’t check the main one listed on their contact form. It makes you seem desperate–and weird. Find their public email and make your pitch. If you do it well, it will work. If it doesn’t, the problem is your pitch…not where you’re pitching it.

2. Never Expect Your Intended Audience to Even See It

So make it good enough that even if it gets to only his or her lieutenant—which will often be the case—you still make a material impact. In other words, if you’re in the t-shirt business, don’t send one shirt. Send an enormous box fill. Make the delivery a big event.

My friend Ryan Holiday did the marketing for American Apparel and instead of sending some small package, he sent a crate. One of the bloggers uploaded a video on YouTube and it did 125,000 views. That’s crazy. Look at Pepperidge Farms, which overnighted a box of “Milano” cookies to a blogger who wrote about the cookie. The act was memorable enough that the resulting post on reddit scored Pepperidge Farms over 500,000 new views and fans. But even if that had never gone public, it was still a cool way to hook a fan up–and all they would have been out was a couple bucks.

Me, I seeded my brand with the bona fide artists and instigators of pop culture. The motivation wasn’t as simple as “I hope they wear this”; it came from a desire to educate them, to land on their aesthetic radar, and to build a literacy of who I was and what I was trying to accomplish. So even if the package doesn’t go all the way to the top, it’s still making waves where it matters.

3. Never Send Just the Stock Shit

Think deeply about what you will send them, and work hard at customizing the content so that the end user will recognize this as an amazing, highly personalized gift. And it’s just that—a gift—so…never have expectations beyond giving a gift.

Back in the day, I could quote Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues backward and forward, so I sent Spike Lee some gear too. I heard he had a new movie out—a biopic of Malcolm X—so I sent him a sweatshirt with a meticulously painted portrait of Malcolm X on it. Personalization is crucial. I must have spent two days on that one.

Spike Lee graciously sent me a thank-you note—an actual signed letter from Spike! Fucking! Lee!—and that felt good. “Ya-dig? Sho-nuff.”

Take HBO sending custom bags to promote premiere of “Liberace”. They featured items tying into the biopic of excess living and luxury to relevant journalists. Custom Moet & Chandon bottle, engraved necklaces, the works. They went crazy over the top because that’s Liberace. Something stock wouldn’t have made any sense.

Another fun bit of inspiration. Remember Woot.com’s “bag of crap” deal? The reason it was so fun? Every once in awhile somebody’s bag would be full of cash. You can bet the internet blew up every time that happened. You can create that reaction with your own products too. You can blow people’s minds with a surprise every now and then.

4. Never Have Expectations, as It’s Just a Gift

The joy and purpose has to come from the confidence that you did it; you took action. Not everyone will acknowledge receipt. That’s okay. The point is the send out a lot of these–eventually you’ll get one or two big connections that subsidize all the misses. After all, I didn’t just send to Red Alert, but also Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Q-Tip. KRS-ONE. Essentially, I sent packages to all the cultural pioneers who inspired me.

For my book Unlabel, I hand-packed 15 Ecko-branded white shopping bags with red paper inside. Inside each was a big white Ecko branded watch, an Ecko fragrance, the super sweet wireless speaker that looks like a black spray paint can, plus Ecko earbuds. The reporters I sent them to were likely expecting a t-shirt (or just a book in a plain envelope and instead got a Swag Bomb that said Ecko was much more than that. Even though we invested a couple hundred dollars in the package, I’m not going to be upset if they don’t write about it.

A swag bomb is not a contract, there are no guarantees. Even when it is a $50,000 swag bag at the Oscars. It’s all about the hope that if you send the right stuff and hit the right chord, magic will happen.

5. Never Handwrite Your Marketing Materials

It’s one thing to send a handwritten cover note (preferably a 6” x 4.5” stock postcard) that’s less than twenty words. Fine. But it’s something else to send an all-handwritten business proposal that looks like it came from Son of Sam. I don’t care how legible your writing is. Type.

Don’t think of this as sending “fan mail.” This is a professionally produced, hyper-customized presentation. When you send me (or anyone) a solicitation of your idea, or your product, or the marketing materials of who you are and what you’re trying to sell, work backward from the experience of cracking open the box from its taped seal.

6. Never Use Second-Hand Packaging Materials

A used Trapper Keeper folder— with maybe a sticker over the dents so that you pass it off as new—ain’t cutting it. Why should I take your idea seriously if you’re not even willing to make a quick trip to Staples? Presentation is everything.

For example, early on I helped my best friend Cale (an aspiring R&B singer) get a meeting with Michael Bivins (Biv) with one of my jackets. Biv, a member of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe, was the Simon Cowell of early-1990s R&B; he had a knack for discovering young talent, taking chances, and making stars out of nobodies like three Philly kids who became Boyz II Men.

We went all out. I made the jacket in the Blue Room of my garage, using a canvas of Swarovski crystals I had copped from a rummage store. Black, pewter, red, and clear. I bedazzled the hell out of that thing, one crystal at a time. Then, I tucked the cassette of my best friend Cale, along with a note, in the left chest pocket. That’s what we really wanted him to see.

Same goes if you’re more established–don’t just have the warehouse or your manufacturer (or Amazon.com) send some package on your behalf. Be legit, handle it like it’s a work of art. Someone complained to Old Spice recently, so they unsolicitedly hooked the guy up. But look how professional it looks–it wasn’t a couple sticks of deodorant in a box. It looks legit–like they actually care.

7. Never Stalk

If you have a phone number or email of an executive assistant, fine, it’s okay to call once in advance and then again once in confirmation of receipt. (You can also send it with a certified receipt, so you know who signed for it, and when.) But don’t call repeatedly like some psycho. Not cool.

Look at all the gift bags they give out at SXSW each year. Can you imagine if taking one was an implicit contract with the companies to follow you on social media or beg you for favors? It’d be a nightmare. People would be afraid that taking a t-shirt was akin to signing your life away.

Treat handlers (assistant, publicist, manager, associate) with respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but this could be the hand of the king—and they’ll later whisper into the king’s ear.

In fact, after you confirm the receipt, consider the ball to be in their court. Don’t do anything until they make the next move. Got it?

8. Never Forget to Include Your Name, Email, and Phone Number

 Don’t presume that anyone is going to read a long letter. If the visual impact and the overall wraparound isn’t there, you’re dead. So make sure it looks good, feels good, and that it emotes your goals. And make it as clear as the sun who sent it. God-forbid you make a connection and then they don’t know what to do about it.

After we gave the jacket to Biv, we sat on pins and needles waiting. At three o’clock in the morning, the phone rang.

“Yo, is this Marc? This is Biv.” Biv’s signature gravelly voice.

“Hi, um, yeah, this is . . .” I tried to remember my name.

“I want to hook up with your man Cale. Tell him to be at the Sheraton in Red Bank in thirty minutes.”

Three thirty am. Cale didn’t chicken out. Cale jumped on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cale took action. Two weeks later, Biv signed Cale to his newly formed imprint on Motown Records called Biv 10 Records.

When you get, The Call, be ready to go. No matter the time of day.

9. Never Send a Picture of Yourself Fan-Boying Out

Again, creepy. Let the content and the high concept speak for you. Don’t send some weird headshot.

Don’t be the guys and girls in these photos. Don’t! Look how miserable (but patient) the celebs are. But that would immediately stop if the people followed up with “Now let me tell you about my awesome business idea.” That chance was blown.

If there ever was someone to fanboy over in my personal life, it was George Lucas. However, instead of sending strange photos of my star wars collection, I waited until I was near Lucas, and casually showed him my geeked-out Yoda BlackBerry case I had personally made, and we instantly had a good vibe. There is a time and place for fanboy-dom, and pre-pitch isn’t it. (Here I am with George–see how calm I am being? It was hard but I made it.)

10. Never Gush

Notable figures don’t like being fawned over. Be careful to whom you say—and how often you say— “I love you.” (Good rule for life in general.) Don’t tell them, “You are my idol.” Speak matter-of-factly, and acknowledge the traits or practices that you respect and admire.

When Barry Sanders scored a touchdown, he would casually toss the football back to the ref, shrugging, and living by the credo “Act like you’ve been there before.” That should be you.

 Leave the gushing to them. After all, if you do it right, they’ll be so grateful or impressed by the gift that they’ll give you the treatment.

 CONCLUSION

There is one reality every entrepreneur has to face. You’re always pitching. You never stop auditioning. Even for Spike, even Mark Zuckerberg, even for the president.

The Swag Bomb is part of that. Get your stuff–because it’s great–in the hands of as many important people as you can. Sweat and bleed and innovate to make that happen.

 An authentic personal brand is more than just an idea. It’s not static. It’s not enough to say I have a brilliant idea and then lock it in your laptop. And it’s not enough to just talk about it, tweet about it, blog about it. Talk is cheap. An authentic, unique voice is a doer.

You will always keep pitching, and you will always have to deal with rejections. This doesn’t mean you should give up; it means you’re human and you have a pulse.

It’s tough to find famous examples of companies, artists, or individuals who didn’t get there in some way with excellent presentation and artistry in bringing in important early influencers and adopts.

The more telling example is the thousands of companies and millions of people you haven’t heard of: the artists, entrepreneurs, creators, and would-be instigators who talked a good game but never put themselves or there or did the work to get noticed.

Afterword by Tim

The “Swag Bomb” approach has many applications. Instead of customization, you can choose a unique venue, as I did when I gave away 500+ copies of The 4-Hour Chef at a TechCrunch Disrupt event, knowing that bloggers and other media would be there. It was unexpected, and the copies disappeared within hours, leading to tons of social media chatter when it mattered (during launch).

Last but not least, it often pays to NOT go for the most popular celebs, Twitter accounts, or otherwise. Remember the bar scene in A Beautiful Mind? On a 1-10 scale, 10 being the most trafficked, three or four 7 bloggers featuring you is far better — and easier/faster to achieve — than you obsessing over landing one 10 blogger.

For more tips and tricks for how to jump from niche to mega-mainstream, I highly recommend you check out Marc’s first book, Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out.

Marc will also be answering questions in the comments, so please share your questions below! If you have any sample-sending success stories of your own, I’d love to hear them.

Posted on: September 29, 2013.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

251 comments on “Marc Ecko’s 10 Rules for Getting "Influencer" Attention

  1. I run into many visual artists who are sick and tired of their gallery relationships (one of the biggest downsides being the artists have little or no contact with the people who buy their art). However, some of the biggest (art) influencers are galleries. What’s your 80/20 for artists who want to go directly to their audience/buyers?

    Like

  2. Hi Tim,

    I remember you highlighting in 4HWW that the “blonde in the bar” strategy was actually the right way to go, as competition is fiercest when we consider goals that seem unreasonable, and you encouraged students of your “High-Tech Entrepreneurship” class to be audacious and try to get the attention of CEOs and celebrities. Do you find that this isn’t the case any longer, or is the case with landing media / PR / attention? Not trying to be hyper-critical, just want to learn and see if there’s any reconciliation or nuance that I’m missing out on.

    Thanks – would love to know your thoughts!

    Jay

    Like

  3. Hey Tim,
    I was wondering in your book you talk about getting old pants remade in Bangalore. Do you have any more info about this? Exact places? Thanks, Gabby

    Like

  4. Hi Marc and Tim!
    Thank you so much for the great post. I loved reading through the comments here and I hope that you are still answering them as I have come a bit late.
    What advice would you have with getting your product into the hands of an influencer, but not necessarily wanting to “blow up”?
    I think that if I “blew up” with the general public, because of a celeb/influencer, it would devastate my business and I. Ha! I know most businesses would love it, but I would rather stay low key and sell a higher end art to celebs/influencers.
    I love putting my heart into my product and making it personal to those who wear it.
    Thank you again for the post! I am off to buy your book Unlabel!

    Jonathan

    Like

  5. Impressive list of actionable items Marc. Thanks for sharing! And as for Tim, I learned as much from the QA thanks to your huge list of inquisitive followers. Great read!

    Like

  6. Thank you for a great post!

    I came across it while I was looking for a blog post for self-promotion/media image and ended up with great new ideas to promote my business. But I still need some advice on redirecting the media and creating a positive image on media. Tim or Marc, or whoever like to help would be much appreciated.

    Long story short, I opened a Pole Dance Studio mainly focusing on female empowerment in ?stnabul/Turkey. A Muslim country currently run by a conservative government. Everything is going great, we ended up even getting head scarf wearing women attending our pole dance classes!! BUT, that much attention and acceptance lead me to false security feeling and I entered a “Talent Show” on National TV. Just for the sake of getting pole Dance out there as an Art Form. I performed what I thought would look artistic, an acrobatic contemporary pole dance piece, and got accused by most media (and a looot of tweeters) for performing striptease on tv and being morally very nasty! Followed by a lot of unwanted attention I had to even change my name on the social media that I use and had to deal with a lot of fake accounts.

    ANYWAY, I admire Tim giving just a hint of what he does as an entrepreneur and a business man even when interviewed about how to get a girlfriend, and leaves you with the underlying idea that you want to read his books if you want to be better at what you do! That is just amazing.

    What I want to achieve is, to take that unwanted/unexpected attention and twist it around so it will be positive and working for me. And be better at expressing myself when interviewed. I think it is a skill and every skill can be practiced and learned. Any helpful push in the right direction is much appreciated.

    Thank you very much
    Sevinc

    Like

  7. Hi Marc and Tim!

    Great points. I made a swag bomb in the form of a website to meet Rob Dyrdek which basically just shows a bunch of my invention ideas and why I want to work for him.
    http://www.robhirerob.com
    (5 minutes of video showing light up energy drinks, shirt designs, and other cool stuff)

    It has already lead me to a lot of great unexpected connections, but my question for you Marc is how do I get Rob Dyrdek’s specific attention when I’ve tried reaching him by email, twitter, facebook, and a mail address I got from Contact Any Celebrity? At what point does reaching out to someone come off as being spam no matter how creative the products or ideas being pitched?

    Like

  8. Hi There~
    I was so inspired by this post. I recently read the four hour work week book, THREE TIMES! I was so excited as I work as a freelance fashion designer as well as a part time fashion instructor at a college. I’ve been working on a business idea that I’ve had to help so many students/people (guys especially) to sew, make patterns etc for their fashion ideas.
    The four hour work week book, blog and Mark Ecko’s post has inspired me to keep going when I get overwhelmed.
    Thank you again for posting this. It really helps. 🙂

    Like

  9. Excellent post on where to go direct and indirect with marketing (or influencing). Also, liked Tim’s imaginary situations in the opening para 🙂

    Like

  10. There’s a contest for Appsumo: http://www.appsumo.com/ceo-sumo-jerky/
    I made this site as a way of looking different from the crowd: http://noahjerkme.com/
    Do you think this was a wise choice? I put a lot of work into it and I feel like I might’ve done something wrong. Maybe its a bit too “in your face”?
    What’s the best way to make sure you stand out of the crowd say if you’re trying to get someone’s attention on Twitter?

    Like

  11. Hello,

    First i want to say Thanks Tim and thanks Marc for this GREAT POST, its full of great tips.

    Here is a little back story of where i’m coming from, I’m a starting entrepreneur and an artist(painter/photographer), i have only been painting for a 1/5 yr, and already had 4 small gallery showings and a published book called “NYC FUZZ”.

    but i have a couple quick questions that i have not found the answers to.
    what would be the best way to have the “Swag Bomb” for a artist like myself.?

    i usually paint abstract work, who will be the best people to reach out to, and how to get their attention?

    in terms of exposure what would be the best way to “Make Noise” in a more professional manor?

    and what would be the best way to market besides social networks and word of mouth, for a starting artist.?

    Thank you so much in advance for taking the time to read this.

    Jose De Olio

    Like

  12. Hi Mark! hello again from Spain. We are a lot of people waiting for your answers! you did not feedback from September the 30th!

    Please read our messages we need your comments,

    Thanks a lot 😉

    María

    Like

    • Its not illegal to send reporters gifts. Nor is it illegal for government employees to ask reporters or editors to hold off on a story.

      Like

  13. Man, this is awesome. I really like how approachable and light the matter it, if you are looking to be an entrepeneur, there’s more than enough anxiety stress around. The positive and enjoyable style of his writing is really great as it motivates me to get up and started. I also I love how inexpensive, clear and systematic the advice is, it makes much less intimidating to pick up and try out, stumble, refine ect. I also love how replicable his advice is, I think it’s so important to have more than one idea and be confident in your ability to replicate success, I think having a system when you can really refine your approach to a systematic science is so important

    thanks, this is a great article, I don’t know why it took me so long to get round to reading it.

    Like

  14. Tim, thanks for publishing.

    Mark, thanks for writing this post. The ideas you shared are going to be extremely helpful to me when promoting my first book.

    Trent

    Like

  15. I saw Marc speak at Big Omaha and he was one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen. I need to pick up his book– it wasn’t out when I saw him!

    Like

  16. A lot of these are just another way of saying… don’t be NEEDY.

    Believe in your product and share it. Don’t be desperate trying to chase people around.

    Like

  17. Hi Mark, and Tim, of course,

    I have a specific question:
    Is your tactics will change. if I wants to become with a medical product in a closed society, not drawing the attention to health, even if the product is designed especially for this group and is effective?

    Salute
    Jaroslaw

    Like

  18. Marc

    You have enlightened me to keep going with my cultured butter business going. Even though I am without manufacturing plant at the moment I have kept my butter business alive by going to the city and giving the chefs gifts of butter until I can get a plant going on the farm. I have given away hundreds of pounds of handmade cultured butter as gifts and thank you gifts to those who wanted to try it. At times I think I’m crazy to be working for nothing but it has led me from one potential client to the next. Your post has validated what I thought I should be doing at a down time. Ive decided to use this time to keep the relationships alive until we can build a plant. Thank you Tim always for such great posts. It helps so much!

    Like

  19. I love how you always bring it back to gifting and authenticity. I am not growing a business at the moment but you have inspired me to gift something this week, just to build relationships … and show the influencers in my life that I appreciate them.

    Like

  20. I am young Nigerian, entrepreneur living in the UK. I have read loads of books on businesses, entrepreneurship etc.

    I lost value for Tim’s four hour week book.
    l believe each country has different problem attributes but I don’t share the sense of naming any country.
    what if you(Tim) were offered to speak to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria? What will be your response.

    I thought you had a large mind and don’t criticize but I was wrong. I wouldn’t even go pass page 214 and dash it out to charity as you think genuine business are never done in Nigeria.

    Like

    • It’s not entirely unfounded though. Of course, there are legitimate businessmen in Nigeria, but of all the African businessmen I know, one was a drug importer, and the other one was doing credit card fraud.

      So even if there are legitimate businessmen from and in Nigeria, just compare the prospects of doing a well paid talk in Europe, where everyone in the room is planning on starting a legal business, to doing one in Nigeria, where you might get robbed on the way to the Conference center, don’t know whether you’ll get paid, and half of the people are just there to get their drug operation running more efficiently (It might be an overstatement, but you get the picture, right?).

      So yeah, Pg. 214.

      Like

  21. If you art was your inspiration, who was your ideal customer early on? (and had that changed over the years?)

    Sometimes the best art is the art we create for ourselves that we share with the world.
    Other times, it’s the art we create to impress our people.
    So my question is really about who your favorite person to impress is.

    I find it’s tough to get specific on who to serve, although I definitely prefer to help smart people, underdogs, and people with a passion for more from life.
    And, I especially enjoy it when I can help somebody rekindle their lust for life, they may have lost long ago.

    It sounds like you used the Jersey advantage well, by keeping it real.
    Way to go.

    Like

  22. I love the term “swag bomb!” It’s great to see someone who is comfortable in their work, and just doing what they like to do. Great post and great advice.

    Like

  23. Marc,
    Amazingly, you did what Steve Jobs did.. You ensured that their was an art to the approach, an art to be delivered and an art to “Waiting”. I am hopeful that the readers realize that the key take away is Execution.

    Tim,
    I can’t thank you enough for the investment you make in the success of others!

    Marc & Tim,
    Would you advise practicing the art of execution with lower hanging fruit ie, using your network and 3 degrees of separation?

    Thank you and thanks to all the great questions posted!

    Like

  24. Ok..so I’m posting this to get some ideas for like minded creative folks. I just developed a new sports supplement with the help of one of the top pharmaceutical labs in the country. I’m a fitness guy and have been taking sups for years and thought it would be a great opportunity to actually do something I enjoy. I’ve formulated a 3 phase delivery system that just isn’t found in the marketplace today. I’m about to go into production on this thing with my Lab, but needed some advice on getting this marketed correctly. There currently isn’t a system like this in the supplement world. Mostly a bunch of stacks….but I’ve made it an all in one system. Really excited about this. I either need an angel investor who can back this project or some real cool ways to get this product out into the marketplace to generate buzz and orders. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas? Thanks so much!

    One Ambitious Dude

    Like

  25. Glad to learn the rules to “swag bombs.” I have a couple of celebs in mind to send some to. My son and I co-authored and self published a MG UF entitled Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers. After reading your post, we’ll start to thing of items to include aside from just the book. Thanks.

    Like

  26. Love this post Tim! Lot of great points, thanks! I could use this for my marketing class in the new year. Don’t worry, will give credit if I use it! Ha!

    Cheers!

    Like

  27. Marc:

    Great guest post. I would only add that the old saying “It takes money to make money” rains true when dropping loads of your branded items or what you do with a Swag Bomb.

    For small businesses or early start-ups, I like the idea of giving away FREE items to maybe a small amount of major influencers or better yet, giving away, especially in a service oriented business, TIME or SERVICES like free classes, or free tickets to a seminar, etc….

    This way you can, if done right, generate leads. Also, in the above example, if you give away Swag or services to your clients who bring in referrals, this is a great incentive to your clients.

    A term I have heard years ago is called WOMO (word of mouth opportunity) means ever time we come in contact with a potential consumer, client, etc… we need to be able to convey to that person or group why our product or service satifies their “needs or wants”, but how much value or company gives them either tangibly or non-tangibly. If we miss out on this WOMO, then we risk losing that ability to send that Swag like in your case to reach the masses and create a WOW moement for our brand to be learned by many.

    Although I believe timing is everything and I agree with being ready whent that time comes, I believe you need to have the financial backing or at least figure out a way to inexspensively give out those freebies or swag when first starting out….then as time goes on, your Swag Bombs can become legendary and the amount money you put into those give aways are not a financial hinderance to your company.

    Once again, thanks for the great post and tips and keep up the great work.

    Regards,

    Tom

    Like

  28. Hey Marc,

    This whole article is dope and very informative. I represent a rap duo out of Toronto named OSIYM and we will soon be getting to the point where swag bombs need to be dropped on labels, blogs and radio. A big part of their brand is #cupinhandgang which includes them and any of their supporters. It represents the party lifestyle for those who want to get drunk, forget their troubles and maybe everything else that happened that night lol.

    Any suggestions on things to include in a swag bomb to draw attention to their music and brand?

    Like

  29. Hi, Mark!

    Thanks for that insightful post. I learned a lot and, more humiliatingly, I figured out that I was making some terrible mistakes, so thank you again.

    I do have one question: I am an aspiring writer with no credits to my name ( i do have a lot of interesting ideas, however) and I am trying to get an article I wrote into GQ magazine. I know I have to write a query letter, but how can i be sure that they’ll read it? Any words of wisdome?

    Like

  30. Great post! This is exactly the post I’ve been looking for!
    Thanks very much for putting this together and providing very practical tips. Kudos!

    Like

  31. Awesome blog, man. I really want to implement something like this for the app we’re promoting. Even though it’s free right now, getting people to stand up and take notice is hard. Maybe someone has an idea of a cool, cheap, tangible object we could send out that isn’t lame like a keychain or a coozie?

    Like

  32. Tim and Mark,

    Thanks for passing along your insights. One thing I can take from this post and from my experience is that in order to be heard in a noisy world you have to communicate differently.

    If your influencer has never received a phone call then a simple call to his office would be a pretty exciting thing, but that scenario isn’t likely. If you’re going to mail something it better be something that will immediately get their attention. If you’re going to send an invite to an event it should at least be something your audience wouldn’t have access to otherwise. If they receive letters all day then send the biggest fedex box you can….if they get packages all the time go on task rabbit and hire a limo driver and courier to hand deliver your swag bomb like its the Cullinan Diamond. Go over the top (while staying professional). If you think it’ll cost too much or take too much time then don’t expect your audience to notice you. Putting a book in a box and dropping it off at fedex is easy, and lazy, you aren’t standing out.

    Tim, you could run an entire course on why we need to update our communication tactics and how….maybe even do a segment on upwave.

    All the best,

    Andrew

    Like

  33. Hello there Marc, great post.

    How might one apply this approach in the fashion and design business? The thing is, i have a friend who is into the fashion business, she’s quite good at what she does but she is really having a hard time making that desired break. But now I’m thinking how do we try the swag bomb on someone we don’t know what size she wears?

    Like

  34. Tim,
    This is Steve in Taichung from US. I’m in Chinese full time. The characters are killing me. Do u have any faster ways to memorize characters? Whatever advice would be great.

    Like

  35. Mark Echo,
    Its an honor to be sending this to you. I appreciate people who nevergive up on their goals and bring creativity to the table well all else fails. We need more like you.
    I am writing you this comment because I just got done reading this segment and its not enough information for me. Ha. I am the owner of a clothing line called “Fallen-Not-Forgotten (FNF)” and to receive advice or to get your opinion on my line would mean so much. Once I returned home from Iraq I took all my savings and started FNF. It was very hard for me to make the change and finding something that I could put this energy and motivation into. FNF sells a quality product, designed by me, and donates to special causes we find. I’ve donated hundreds of care packages and am currently donating business licenses to veterans so they can start their own businesses once they return home. Is there any way we can speak? I would love to pick your brain.8ve done this all by myself and I’m so close to receiving the bigger contracts and I don’t want to mess anything up. Please contact me if possible brotha and thank you for your time.
    “Together we can, together we will”
    [Moderator: Phone # removed]

    Like

    • Brian, I’m totally sympathetic to your cause (after all, entrepreneurs solve problems), but your site is downright horrible. I mean that with as much respect as possible, but clicking through the store, I found no products, clicking on the donate button put me back on homepage, the news section was scrappy at best, and clicking on the top image led nowhere.

      Your appeal is great, but it isn’t expressed on the site in a way someone who has never been in the army would understand. I’d reccomend you look over resources on web-design, graphics design, copywriting, general marketing, and facebook marketing especially. You have a cause to rally behind, and that bodes really well on Facebook. Then, tone down the military speak a little (I have similar problems), so average Joe can understand what you’re talking about.

      Right now you’re trying to move from the recruiting table directly into a Tank rolling down the Streets of Baghdad, without as much as reading even a field manual on armored vehicles. You’ll get butchered by the first guy with a couple of pounds of explosives.

      Like

  36. Hi Marc/Tim,

    Great article. It’s motivated to purchase Marc’s books. I started a 100% recycled clothing brand focuses on simplicity and targets sustainability and active enthusiasts. So my question is do you still recommend the swag bomb method for being on a limited budget? What other methods would you recommend with a limited budget?

    Like

    • The beauty of the swag bomb is that it’s extremely targeted. That means you need to use 80/20 to reduce the number of people you send swag bombs too. You’re looking for:
      x People famous in your field.
      x People that your prospective customers look up to
      x People who are easy to reach.
      x People who will use the items in you swag bomb.
      which is really just aspects of:
      x Who will get everyone else interested?

      If you only have the funds for sending 2-3 Swag bombs, hit the people who will have the most positive impact on your bottom line (due to your limited sending ability, you’ll have to infer who that is).

      Like

  37. Marc and other Artists,

    Thanks to all the voices and comments on this stream, it was very helpful. I thought this post was very good and will be looking into using some of these opportunities that are very real with what our company is trying to do. In regards to the post, it seems as though the good feedback about your brand or company idea gives you momentum but the “no’s” that some people give you become the fuel for getting you more focused.

    Although sometimes the let downs or closed doors can challenge your determination, its about taking action and doing like Marc mentions that leaves those moments behind and you moving forward. When your vision and purpose are about a greater cause than yourself for something great and innovative, I don’t see any “no’s” or closed doors as challenges, they start becoming guide posts of where you need to be heading with needed learning experiences along the journey.

    There were some great tips in here and I’m looking forward to getting the book. Maybe someday we can capture these stories on one of our 3DARTwear items for others to connect with on a personal level.

    Best,

    Kevin

    Like

  38. Marc, how do you handle the “no” wall? So many people are stuck in what is considered “realistic” and “normal” they are scared to take that leap of faith into pursuing there dreams. When you finally decide to follow your dreams and you are ready to take chances and make mistakes how do you get people to follow you and believe in you? How did you get past the “no” wall?

    Like

  39. Thank you Tim Ferris for opening a world I never thought was possible to achieve and thank you Marc Ecko for this inspiring advice !!! I had one question for you Marc and that is how did you go about getting funded ? Did you consistently contact investors or did you work for the money ? Thanks in advance 🙂

    Like

  40. Really nice ideas. I was simply inspired. It always helps to go another mile from the typical things that people are doing. It can make you some sales and may even get your brand established.

    Like

  41. Mark, Tim

    I recently launched a healthy, organic, gourmet coffee, tea and hot chocolate through Organo Gold. May I send you all a few boxes of your favorite flavors as a gift( black, latte, mocha, green tea, red tea, black(ice)tea, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Café Supreme, King of Coffee

    Like

  42. Marc – thank you for taking the time to write such a concise, inspiring article about your time tested and valuable strategy. You are an inspiration as a designer and an entrepreneur.

    What would you suggest for a start-up clothing company with limited finances? (by limited I meaning my closet is the warehouse) Is it more important to stock my shelves and market before reaching out to influencers or should that be the foundation? I don’t want to half-ass it and send one or two shirts and miss an opportunity but don’t want to blow a limited bankroll chasing influencers down.

    Like

  43. Marc ,
    I am a Glass Blower Living in the Tampa Bay area . While Coming up on the torch in the Philly area I put in my dues , dabbeling in Jewelry , Sculpture and my Main income Tobacco Pipes . The Pipe Industry in America has changed Greatly since individual states have started legailziing .
    The reason I am writing you is because after reading this , I am Influenced by you , once again .
    Years ago I was given the opportunity to work in Your Home for a year , meet your family and Create Hand Painted Artwork in Northern N.J.
    I will Never forget the day that I asked You about a particular section that I was working on , Your Response was ” Chad , Your the Artist ” .
    That changed the way I looked at Everything as an Artist .
    Another instance was when a Gentleman was in your home talking about Hand Made Metal Door Hinges , with Female figures on them ( it sounded like he was going for the Sex Appeal of your Cut & Sew Stores ) . Your response was ” Not in My House ! My Wife & Children Live Here ! ” .
    These were Some of the things that I needed to hear in my life to bring me to where I am today , with a Home Based Rep & the Skills to Soar , I am Prepared to Swag Bomb You , Marc Ecko .
    I appreciate Your Time ,

    Chad Piece.

    You Have to Remember that God Awful Tan & Brown VW Bus in Your Driveway 😉

    Like

  44. Is it just me…. does this sound just a little sad. What happened to exploring great ideas/product based an quality and creativity?

    Doesn’t this amount to bribery? It makes me distrust any comments or exposure given by an influence. I mean, if one can be bought for a package of bad cookies……what’s an endorsement worth?

    I’d rather be sought out because I’m fuck’n good, not because I sent a box of cheep T’s.

    Just say’n –

    Like

  45. Hey Mark, my name is Berniel and the artical is very helpful. My question is how can I contact you about a ideal that could change the face of your company.

    Like

  46. Totally blown my mind on this one, until reading this article I really knew nothing about Swag Bombs. I get what is impressed upon me most is the insatiable desire to succeed and think outside the box. Something I will be considering more for my own business.

    Like

  47. Nice of you guys posting this kind of simple and very useful knowledge for all of us, the curious, ambitious and inexperienced.

    I’m currently trying to get funds from the European Union to start my own Bee farm. Since the Bee populations are decreasing at an alarming rate (world wide), they are promoting and funding Beekeepers to combat deflorestation. My question would be, in these kind of “partnership” where most of the situations you only have a project, the space or realstate and the will to produce (but don’t have the actual product), is a “Swag Bomb” still effective or even feasible? I mean, by the looks of it, the “Swag Bomb” seems to me more of mid-game strategy, not to be used to lure potential investors. Or am i wrong?

    Thank you in advance for your time, and thanks again for the very useful information and advice.

    Daniel Lourenço

    Like

  48. Hey Mark,
    I was wondering about the beginning stages. I work a 9-5 and am currently trying to find my niche as an entrepreneur. I love real estate investing but honestly am looking to find something that i can pursue that will eventually allow me to quit my 9-5 and be my own boss. Any suggestions on how to find the business idea, product or service that i could do part-time to supplement my income.

    Like

  49. Hello Tim! I was amazed reading your books and saw a similarity in myself I would like to address: I have thousands of skills and inventions, also a serial entrenpreneur on small levels. I am too creative for my own good, and not as good at basic things, in fact I don’t think I will make it at a job. I can compress most books into 3 pages for one. I am making a website based on this. I have not gone very far in life and maybe at a serious dead end. If you would like to say anything or anyone else would like to, great! [Moderator: email address removed]
    Thanks, Joel.

    Like

  50. Hi Marc! This is Absolutely Fantastic! I am impressed by how you embrace people with disabilities and get them more exposed rather than staying home bound. Are you still doing the models with disabilities photo shooting? I would love to take part of your venture projects. I do have a great creativity mindset and would like to be in the know, “how to” in spite of my own disability. Perhaps, networking or meet-up events. Since the disabled communities are so small and I would be more than happy to show my creativity skills. All I know what I need is to find a manufacturer(s) who can produce my ideas into reality and go from there. Let me know how you can help and what I can contribute my creativity assets on your behalf. Thanks for all your great steps to success!!

    Like

  51. Great post. The very first rule makes a lot of sense, though I never done it, I never thought of it that way. Thank you.

    Like

  52. Great post. The first rule didn’t come to mind as something not to do, though it’s not something I tried, i’m glad I ran across this post thank you.

    Like

  53. Hey Marc. I came across this blog today and it’s pretty interesting. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and advice to many readers out there. Continue to do so. You’ll never know there’d be one soul out there who’ll get touched or enlightened with your piece.

    Like

  54. FANTASTIC information! I’ve been in the music business. have watched, and/or have been personally associated with every phase of “pitch” since 1952! Current time is the hardest/easiest time ever! Hard in the sense, that it’s a whole new type of “wow” because of the changes internet has provided; and,easy because of the same. Thank you so much for the post! I plan to buy the book a.s.a.p.

    Like

  55. I was always amazed how companies like apple or BeatsByDre could see that it is crucial to use influencers in their campaigns and companies like Samsung were totally blind to this.

    Like

  56. Hello Marc,
    I am a freshman in high school and I am currently doing a project about you. I would just like to know a little bit more about what you are aiming for in 2016 and what you might be doing in the near future, either artwork wise or business wise. Thank you for your time and please email me back as soon as you can. [ Moderator: email address removed.]

    Like

  57. Really sound mindset advice i’ll be using in my own business and a great accomplishment by Marc. I have lots of ECKO clothes myself and there big in the urban market in the UK so hope to see lots more in the future.

    Like

  58. How about food? Would sending Steven Colbert a Scone Swag Bomb be cool? He mentioned on his show awhile back that he thought scones tasted like “sawdust with raisins” and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get him to try one of mine ever since!

    I’m thinking of overnighting a very large box of assorted scones!

    Like

  59. Haha! I can’t believe a company actually sent a “real” fake bomb promotion to people. Crazy shit, good way to get A LOT of attention very quickly though.

    Nice article by the way, Cheers.

    David

    Like

  60. It’s always a challenge trying to manipulate these examples into models for the film industry. But this gave me some great ideas. We got a waiver for our feature film into SXSW 2017, where we’re planning our simultaneous streaming launch and now that’ll be coupled with some swag bombs!

    Like

  61. I’m just listening to your podcast and its brilliant!. Thanks for the sharing your ideas and thoughts Tim. The ten steps have really pushed me to make my magic business bigger and stronger in an already extremely competitive world. I’d been on here before to check out your 4 hour work week calculator, so am really enjoying exploring the other elements too……

    Like

  62. Thanks for a great reach out strategy. I’ve taken a fair bit from the article for future influencer influencing. To try and keep it memorable I’ve paraphrased it a little since my memory is awful.
    Keep it public
    Make it special
    Keep it humble
    I guess this may seem like a watering down of your own brand’s strength but doing things right is not necessarily a cheap option so has anyone had any experience of a joint reach out with another complimentary product or service?

    Like

  63. Wow, what a great write-up. It was worth the effort. Truly, influencers have become a gold mine to marketers irrespective of whether they are on social media or not, the fact remains true that influencers and well-known individuals out there with a lot of connections have become game changers. Excellent and succinctly well-presented write-up. Thanks

    Like

  64. Is Marc Ecko (or Tim) still commenting on the reaching influencers post? I’m building my organic chia beverage brand – looking for all the creative inspiration I can get.

    Like