Fast Track to the Top - The Eddie Hearn Guide to Building Your Brand

Greatness recognises greatness. Manchester’s number one copywriter recognises Britain’s number one boxing promoter. Eddie and I, we’re birds of a feather. And not just because we’ve been booed and jeered by huge crowds in South Wales.

No, we both fast-tracked ourselves to prominence in our industries using a foolproof method. Finding the quickest route to success, and then playing up our reputations as self-aggrandising self-promoters.

That’s why Eddie Hearn’s worth the best part of a hundred million pounds, and why I’m worth the best part of a hundred million Burundian Francs.

So how did we do it? What is the fast track to building your brand?

Find Your Industry’s IBF Belt

In Edinburgh, Karen Marston rules supreme. She did it with hard work, good SEO, and was lovely enough to write about it here.

The DMA’s book about miserable copywriters says that as an industry we put Dave Trott at the top. He did it with hard work, longevity, and by having the most recognisable tone in the business.

In Manchester, I’m number one. Because I did it the Eddie Hearn way. I found the equivalent of the IBF belt.

In boxing, every weight class has an alphabet soup of belts. The IBF belts are usually held by less impressive fighters than the WBO or WBC belts, but winning one lets you market a fighter as a world champion.

It’s how Anthony Joshua got to be champ without fighting the lineal (real) champ. It’s how Kell Brook got to be champion in a division containing Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao without sharing so much as a continent with either of them, let alone a ring.

When I set up 603 Copywriting, I hunted through review websites to find somewhere with a decent reputation and beatable competition. Ten FreeIndex reviews later, and I was number one in Manchester and number 15 in the UK. (I’m now 5th in the UK). For you, that achievable ranking could be on TripAdvisor, or Google Local, or Thomson Local, or any review site you care to mention. What matters is getting those honest, unbiased reviews in a place where you can quickly gain a high rating or ranking.

But you still have to earn it. I still had to do a great job for clients, and keep my relationships with them strong enough for them to go and leave reviews. But doing a great job, forming those bonds, and gently prodding them towards a review site gave me the proof to say “I’m number one.”

And believe me, when you’ve found and won your IBF belt, you’ll be saying that a lot.

Relentlessly Self-Promote

“I don’t like that slimy bastard. He’s done nothing, and he’s still right in front of the camera.”

My wife’s words about Eddie Hearn demonstrate a view many people hold.

A fight finishes, the winner is being interviewed and then lurching into the spotlight like some sort of reverse Nosferatu comes Eddie Hearn. Why? Because he’s got to pump the tyres of his fighter for a few seconds before explaining just what spectacle he has to sell you next. He’ll reference all the tickets or PPTV buys from this fight, and explain just how much bigger the next one will be. It takes six, maybe seven seconds, and Eddie’s explained exactly what he’s promoting next.

Now you shouldn’t follow up every successful project with an interview on Sky Box Office, but you need to be prepared to sell yourself at a moment’s notice. Ten seconds is enough to introduce yourself and hand over a business card. A minute is perfect to summarise your service and pitch your business.

And don’t be afraid to hold that belt above your head. Mention your position on your website, stick it on your quotes, drop it casually into conversations. Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in any marketer’s arsenal, and if you’re able to say that your clients all give you five star ratings on the review site of your choice, well that’s just magic.

Just don’t go overboard. Business cards? Brilliant. Podcast interviews? Go get ’em. Chasing your competitors in a speedboat screaming “I’M A CHAMP, YOU A CHUMP?” Best not. Because even though a bit of friendly rivalry goes a long way to building a brand, you don’t want to be punched in the head.

And don’t be afraid of being up-front about your number one credentials. Because even if your peers start taking notice and taking the piss, you can always turn it to your advantage…

Build a Rivalry

Fury vs Joshua. Khan vs Brook. Whyte vs Chisora.

Eddie knows that rivalries sell. It’s true in boxing, and if you’ve ever been exposed to a tedious Apple/PC or iPhone/Android conversation, you’ll know it’s true in brand-building too. So a bit of good-natured ribbing when it comes to your peers will certainly help to build your profile. Especially when they get in on the joke and start to use your new-found status as a way to give you some needle:

One of your competitors telling the world you’re number one? What could be better than that? Apart from, say, an industry heavyweight telling the world you’re number one off the back of a post one of your peers wrote?

There is a risk with rivalries, and it’s that if you pitch it wrong you can very easily come across either as a dickhead nobody wants to work with, or someone who’s famous for snark instead of your actual products and services.

Over in the USA, fast food also-rans Wendy’s have a social account that’s getting attention from all sorts of clickbait sites. “Wendy’s Roasts” are guaranteed to generate Buzzfeed and the like huge amounts of shares and likes. A quick Google search brings up “Wendy’s Twitter” and “Wendy’s roast” as auto-suggested terms.

And the actual restaurant has seen drops in quarterly income over the past year, despite all this attention. Because they’ve built the reputation for being good at Tweets, not for being good at making cheap food.

So what’s the solution to all this snark?

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

When a stadium full of his customers boos him, Eddie laughs. Because he knows it’s all part of the fun. When other promoters disparage him, he laughs because he knows it’s all part of the theatre around signing a deal that’ll make everyone rich.

Because even though he’s the best, and he’s successful, Eddie Hearn knows that taking yourself too seriously is poison. Especially when you’re holding the IBF belt in one hand and an invoice in the other. Other, more well-established promoters are quick to stick the boot in. And then they sign deals for one of their fighters to take on one of Eddie’s in a match that’ll generate millions of pounds.

The same thing is true for your competition. They might notice you because you’re the upstart, but by showing them that you know your stuff and that you’re not afraid to put yourself out there, you’ll also be earning respect. And that respect translates into recommendations, collaborations, or at the very least a great conversation over a beer at a conference.

So if your rapid brand building generates attention that you don’t like, don’t sweat it. Have a laugh with your peers and your competitors, because sometimes when the shit hits the fan, they’re the people that can help you clean up. Be generous with your time and your knowledge. Be humble, and never take it personally.

Because after all’s said and done, it’s all just business. And unlike in Eddie’s business, nobody in your sector is getting paid to be punched in the face.

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