Gene Simmons is a brilliant marketing machine.
Do you know where his ‘rock on’ hand gesture (seen above) came from? He started doing this in 1973 as a homage to Ditko, a comic book creator of Dr. Strange and Spiderman.
Do you know the first entrepreneurial business Gene Simmons started? He picked cactus fruit to sell to people coming home from work, he was only 7.
Do you know when the band ‘Wicked Lester’ rechristened (aka re-branded) themselves KISS? Christmas 1972.
I do. Remember, I’m a closet rocker chic.
Today, I wanted to share an excerpt from Gene Simmons latest book Me, Inc. to entice you to not only buy the book for yourself (or another entrepreneur on your Christmas shopping list), but to learn a few brilliant marketing lessons at the same time.
Here you go… excerpt taken directly from the book Me, Inc. by Gene Simmons.
Paul thought up the name. Ace drew up the first logo, but Paul later refined the logo, and that’s the version they use on everything today.
I hit the phones and got us a few small clubs to play at and Paul had to go out and rent some milk trucks so we could haul the equipment to and from our shows.
By early 1973, it was time to put together a press package to proclaim KISS’s birth and to invite the music industry to our coming-out concert at the Diplomat Hotel’s Crystal Room. We were second on the bill. The Brats, a popular local band, were the headliners. Third on the bill was a band called Luger.
I wrote up a contract for all the bands to sign. The contract said that each band would go on at a certain time and be off the stage by a certain time. Luger would go on at 8:30 PM and be off by 9:15 PM. KISS would go on at 9:30 and be off by 10:30. The Brats, who were headlining, wouldn’t hit the stage until 11 PM.
I was still working at the Puerto Rican Interagency Council offices, and had the run of all the office equipment after hours. So when it was time to assemble our press package, I commandeered the typewriters, manila envelopes, and stamps and put together a big mailing to all the record labels, managers, music magazines, and music professionals whose addresses I could find in the year-end issues of Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World.
We made sure that none of the other bands’ names were on the invites that I sent to music industry people. The press release only mentioned Heavy Metal Masters “KISS” and our set time, 930-10:30. The media music managers who showed up were undoubtedly impressed when they saw the large room filled with fans. Most of them are probably there to see the Brats, but that fact would never be known to the industry people who attended the show.
A friend of Peter’s who worked at a printing shop did us a favor and allowed us to reproduce posters advertising our show, which Paul and I posted on the sides of buildings around Manhattan to help build word-of-mouth. And Paul and Peter arranged to create black T-shirts with the KISS logo in glitter, and Peter’s sisters wore them at the front of the stage, screaming for us.
Then, KISS hit the stage and tore it up. Afterward we were left with a half hour to meet and greet the music industry people and then get them out of there before the actual headliner hit the stage and our little ruse was exposed.
The point: create your own hype. Whether you’re in a band, or you’re a mere salesman – make them believe in you. Make them believe they are the last to the party and it started without them. You don’t have to lie, but you do have to craft an image that makes people want what you have.
I met with Bill Aucoin right after our show at the Diplomat Hotel, and he and I sat down to quickly chat. I arranged for a girl I had been “seeing” to sit on my lap as we spoke, to give the illusion of rock star grandeur I so admired in my heroes. And the die was cast. It worked like a charm.
*end of book excerpt*
Now you can see why I call Gene Simmons a brilliant marketing machine! And why you should add Gene Simmons new book ME, Inc to your Christmas wish list!
I love the frugal-ness, the HUSTLE, the research, the planning, setting the stage and execution. A marketing plan that was executed in 1973 and is still going strong today!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading ME, Inc. The book is organized around thirteen specific, easy-to-understand principles for success, drawn from Simmons’s own triumphs and failures. From finding the confidence necessary to get started, to surrounding yourself with the right people, to knowing when to pull the plug and when to double-down.
I’d highly recommend buying this book for yourself or another entrepreneur in your life, you won’t be sorry. You can purchase ME, Inc. via Amazon below.
Clearly a new add to my 5 favorite business books.