Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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The Most Powerful Technology is Phil

As I jaunt around from here to there, doing my speaking thing, I always end up taking questions from the audience. Since most of the time the audience is fairly web-savvy, I often find the questions slowly sliding from strategic issues into the more tactical variety. And the numero uno topic to rear its digital head is this:

"Which technology do you think is most effective in marketing on the web?"

Then we get into a whole nasty melee about banner ads and sponsorships and java scripts and God only knows what else, with each techno-geek thumping his -- or just as often her -- own chest, using the opportunity to announce to the world the latest and greatest techno-device that's going to bring it all home once and for all. Eventually, the smoke clears, and I get to answer the question.

"You really wanna know the technology that's been most effective for me?", I ask. Then the room falls silent. You can hear a pin drop. And that's when i let them have it:

"The most productive technology I have ever used is.....Phil."

It only takes a minute before someone in the back of the room figures out that Phil is not an acronym for some new dynamically streaming cross-platform code. Because Phil isn't a thing. Phil's a guy. That's his name.

I first met Phil years ago. As it happens, he turns out to be a schoolmate's father, but he's every bit what you'd expect a guy in his late sixties named Phil to be: Graying, a little paunchy and wearing a pinky ring that usually can only be found on the tackiest beaches near Miami. Phil is an old school guy. An operator. One of those wiseguys who still uses phrases like, well, "wiseguy." No matter what you ask him, he answers with a story -- usually one you've heard from him before, I might add.

Phil practically invented consumer electronics. Years ago, when most web-goers were little more than zygotes, Phil was one of the smart money boys who introduced Atari to America. That was 30 years ago. And as Phil will tell you, "All those little pishers who were my account guys in those days are running some of the biggest retail operations in the country today."

And he's not kidding. They run everything from warehouse stores to major chains and manufacturing. Which is why Phil is my most powerful technology.

I call Phil "The Man With The Golden Rolodex," because he can -- and has -- put me in touch with the real heavyweight players with just one phone call. One time, a start-up needed value-added investors to make it to the next stage of life. It took Phil exactly twenty seconds to figure out who to call; another three minutes to get through two outer secretaries and one private assistant and have the guy asking if we could meet for lunch the next day. one week later, I was holding a check for $160,000.

Another time, Phil introduced me to a friend he thought could use my help. And I helped. And then the friend introduced me to $200,000 worth of business.

THAT'S power.

The point is, everyone's so obsessed with the twenty-something, java-fueled knucklehead that holes up to write code until three in the morning. But guess what? That's not the guy who has the business. That's just a guy hoping he can get the business. The real power in business are guys who can get you to where the money is. Like Phil.

You want powerful technology? Try talking to the semi-retired guy who has nothing else to do but connect you to success because it makes him feel good. The rest of them? As my good friend Phil says, "They're just pishers."

Rob Frankel

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