If you know anything about modern pop culture, you’re very familiar with Cardi B.

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Her genuine rags to riches story is an inspiration to nearly anyone who hears it, but how did Cardi get where she is today? Like many other successful people, her path was far from straight-forward.

If we look at her history in fast forward, Cardi went from an NYC stripper to an Instagram sensation, to being a reality television star, and finally, a hit rapper.

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Cardi’s path is rare.

In fact, her path is so rare that there is no way in hell that this all happened thanks to luck and being funny. I wholeheartedly believe that she would not be where she is today without purposely being Cardi B, the “personal brand” that everyone loves.

The way she talks, cracks jokes, and her overall approach to life is something most people aspire to be more like every day. But what makes her so alluring, there must be something that makes people want to be like Cardi…

She’s aspirational by design…

I’ve been watching a new Netflix show called Rhythm & Flow.

Rhythm & Flow is a series about Chance The Rapper, TI & Cardi B herself searching the nation for the world’s next hit rap artist.

While watching episode 1, Cardi made a simple yet powerful point. Although I’m paraphrasing here, she said that one of the main factors she was looking for was someone who others aspire to be like, someone who people want to be like in some specific and special way.

Although still a heavily debated topic, I’ve always thought that Cardi is much more calculated than most people tend to give her credit for. However, I’ve never seen many pieces of proof of a larger thought/strategy to what she’s doing until I heard her make this point about being someone who others want to be like.

DJ Sparkx met Cardi B at Perfections Gentlemen’s Club in 2013 and was quoted saying “She knew what she wanted, as far as branding herself,” “She knew that she had to stop dancing to grow her brand.”

Although one quote isn’t solid proof of the truth, I think it’s safe to say that she had some sort of plan and forward motion that kept her progressively moving forward

I wanna be like Mike (or like Cardi) !!

Whatever they do, they have millions of eyes watching.

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MEMPHIS !!!! Ok I’m On my way home now

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Sure, music artists almost have to make people want to be like them. What’s a music artist with no fans? Better yet, what’s a music artist with no STANS. It’s a requirement to keep drawing people into the overall brand of the artist.

I know, I know, I can hear you now: But ‘rouk, we’re not all music artists…

You’re right, we’re not all music artists, but does that mean that we can’t aim to connect with people in an authentic way? In a way that they don’t want to completely be like us, but a piece of us?

We all have more to give than we think.

Our upbringing, the places we grew up, the places we’ve visited, our family, the friends we’ve chosen, etc. We all have such drastically different lives, that you must be able to bring something to the table, even if you’re overlooking it.

The main personal branding lesson that everyone should learn from Cardi B is to be authentic in some way that means authenticity to you. You don’t have to share your entire life, you don’t have to be the music artist, but how are you connecting with the people you want to in an authentic way?

But of course, being authentic isn’t the only thing that got Cardi B where she is today. There are plenty of people who are labeled authentic but don’t make as much of a “splash”.

Cardi B wouldn’t be anywhere if she stopped

It’s a popular movie theme to see someone rise up through the ranks and finally accomplish their goal.

  • We saw Tony Montana become Scarface
  • We saw Arya kill the Night King (!!)
  • We saw Ace Boogie & Money Makin’ Mitch run Harlem

We’ve seen this story play out in movies thousands of times, and I’m sure you’ve noticed the pattern by now. The character starts with absolutely nothing but manages to fight through the ranks and end up on top, or finally acquiring that goal they set out to do.

But what do these movies have in common? Perseverance.

To go from stripping, to Instagram fame, to TV and finally being a grammy-winning music artist? Yeah, you can bet Cardi had her eyes on the prize for years.

In fact, Patientce Foster who is the founder of Cream PR and Cardi B’s former publicist said that it wasn’t easy to sell Cardi B at first. She was quoted saying “It was hard to get brands to work with her in the beginning.”

But that stopped nothing.

Cardi B is someone who’s from New York City, the city of big money and big dreams, so it’s safe to assume that she had to know what to turn down along the way in order to get to the final stop on her journey.

Next time you’re trying to think of fresh ways to grow your brand, ask yourself (with caution), what would Cardi B do?


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Written by ‘rouk

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Marketing is always changing.

Advertisements used to be right next to our favorite columns in the newspaper.

As we got a little more sophisticated, advertisements moved to the radio and we would listen to them in-between hearing our favorite music.

We took a large step forward technologically with TV commercials, even though there weren’t many tv channels in the early days.

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The way marketing messages reached us was by a company deciding to air our message on a certain channel in exchange for money but that changed with the internet. Suddenly, everyone’s attention was wherever they decided to put it at any moment.

Gone were the days when everyone had to watch TV and see advertisements exclusively through the television.

Fast forward roughly 25 years, and we get to about where we are now with video content. Whether you’re on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitch and probably even Myspace, video content is omnipresent and we consume it nonstop.

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But why hasn’t the way we use videos to promote ourselves caught up with the times?

Sure, you can make 1-commercial and blast it to the masses. Depending on exactly what you’re trying to achieve and how your business operates, that might work for you. However, for most modern-day brands, that’s probably not the best way to get the most out of video content.

If you’re interested in a better and more modern way to grow your brand or business through video content, this piece will help you understand a simple but powerful concept that will help you separate your business from the competition.

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People are f*****g busy

Most people spend hours a day on social media.

Bouncing back and forth from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook within a 5-minute time span is a normal thing to do nowadays, but have you thought about what that means for your brand and getting people to notice it?

According to Forbes, we see anywhere from 4,000 – 10,000 marketing messages per day.

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So sure, that video you posted on Instagram was great, but did it REALLY stand out? Is it something people will remember within the sea of messages they receive every day?

After doing a ton of observation and having conversations with friends and family, it’s clear that there’s less appreciation for every single piece of media that is shared on social networks.

We see so many good videos, photos, podcasts, blog posts, and high-quality media in general, that the appreciation for every single piece can sometimes get lost. I don’t say this to sound completely negative, because there’s actually a huge positive side to this influx of quality media.

If people are always on their phones, why not reach them more?

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Let me explain…

Touch it, no Missy Elliot

When creating a marketing plan, outside of your goal and audience, one of the many things to consider is your brand touchpoints.

According to marketingstudyguide.com, brand touchpoints are:

“The interactions and exposures that a consumer can have with a brand. Brand touchpoints are very broadly defined and include both deliberate communications from a firm/brand and communications and interactions that the consumer will have with the brand as part of their everyday life.”

To explain in my own words outside of marketing babble, brand touchpoints are the interactions that your business or brand has with people. If they open your email on their desktop, see your post on Instagram, retweet your viral tweet and pick up your product in-store, you’ve just had 4 brand touchpoints with someone (which is great).

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The more people see you, the more familiar they get.

In some cases, using things like retargeting advertisements, those advertisements that “follow you around the internet” can be powerful because they only appear if you looked at them somewhere else in the past.

Knowing that you should establish multiple touchpoints so that you can recapture people’s attention is step one, but you don’t have the secret sauce yet, friend. (Don’t get “lost in the sauce” after I give it to you either).

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You get a video, you get a video, & you get a video!!

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As I mentioned earlier, video content is omnipresent within every single online platform. Pick one, anyone.

In fact, video is basically running the internet right now and doesn’t seem like it will stop anytime soon.

It’s the best medium to get our attention.

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Knowing this is key because it sets you up to think about your business or brand in a unique way. You go from thinking short-term, to making a longer yet more effective strategy.

For example, When you’re scrolling through Instagram, you can have a story video or post one to your actual feed. When you’re on Twitter, you can post to your timeline. When you’re on Facebook, you can post them to your personal page, fan page, or within an intimate (or not so intimate) group.

The point is, the ball is in your court.

You can use this combination of channels to make different types of interactions with your brand. It’s kind of like how graphic designers make different sized designs that are the same, but one is for an Instagram story while the other was designed more to size for Twitter.

Why make 1 video when you can plan a series for the week? Why make a video for Instagram when you can extend the experience to YouTube?

Get creative with creating and managing your touchpoints.

I often get asked questions like, “what’s the point of a 6-second YouTube ad?” (which I wrote about here). Well, the point of a 6-second advertisement or Instagram story is fairly simple when it’s all summed up.

People are busy.

The best way to get people’s attention today is video. It’s important to try and help people see you multiple times through video, and this will all be even more powerful if you plan out the pieces, plan out your touchpoints.

Speaking of using video…

I’m a marketing strategist/videographer who writes about marketing, productivity & wellness. That basically means you’re sure to learn a thing or two if you sign up for updates here.

Pssst… It would give me one more touchpoint with you.

written by ‘rouk

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Get the bonus content: 4 Lessons From Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich PDF

Have you seen it yet?

It’s been ALL OVER social media, how could you miss it?

Do you live under a ROCK?!

No, I’m not talking about Popeye’s chicken sandwich (yet). I’m talking about whatever hot topic there is on social media today. Yes today, the day you are reading this.

Every single day, we wake up and have a fresh topic that everyone seems to be talking about as a collective on social media. Whether everyone is shocked, happy, mad or sad, every day you can bet that there is a conversation about something happening.

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Most of the time, this conversation starts online where you see your best friend, mom & 3rd-grade teacher who still uses Facebook everyday comment on the hot topic.

Sometimes this conversation moves offline and a piece of it enters our physical reality. This is exactly what happened with Popeyes chicken sandwich when it dropped in August of 2019. This sandwich was inescapable in both our physical and virtual spaces (and for good reason).

In fact, Apex Marketing Group released a report estimating Popeyes received $23.25 million in equivalent advertising value, across digital, print, social, TV, and radio in just 11 days.

But how did it happen?

Recently, Numerator released numbers around the chicken sandwich hype, going into detail about who ate it, why and if they’ll be back for more when the sandwich is back.

I have to be honest. These numbers painted such a beautiful picture of who showed up to buy this sandwich, making it a marketer’s dream. I couldn’t resist writing about this as soon as I saw the numbers. I’ll be using these numbers and other facts around the Popeye’s chicken sandwich hype to highlight 4 things that you can learn about marketing from this huge moment in culture.

You can’t speak about culture in 2019 without mentioning black Twitter, which brings me to my first point…

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Aye black Twitter… Y’all good?

As someone who describes himself as “living on the outskirts of black Twitter”, I don’t think black Twitter was acknowledged enough in making this sandwich a must-have.

In most reports around the internet, you will read that black Twitter jumped on some battle between Chick-Fil-A and Popeye’s after Chick-Fil-A sent the tweet below and Popeye’s responded.

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As someone who watched Popeye’s chicken sandwich hype grow over the course of a few days, the Chick-Fil-A tweet is simply what added fuel to the fire, but I digress.

The first thing you can learn about marketing from this is that black Twitter is one of the most influential communities in culture today, if not the most influential. Brands like Wendy’s can thank black Twitter for driving the online conversation that usually exists around them and creating the vernacular that they’ve published multiple “viral” tweets with.

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From the Popeye’s vs Chick-Fil-A example alone, it’s clear to see how much of an influence black Twitter can have on a larger cultural conversation. This cultural conversation also spreads to other groups, which can have HUGE implications for a brand.

This brings me to my next point…

When the culture shifts because of a trend, there are huge implications

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Not only did Popeye’s win big, but they created wins & losses for their competition in the process.

According to Numerator Chick-Fil-A’s market share of chicken sandwiches and wraps rose to 54.9% during the first two weeks the Popeyes sandwich was on sale. Normally, it has 53.2% of the market.

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However, Burger King, Subway, KFC & Mcdonalds all saw their market share fall percentage points during this same time period. Outside of the reigning home for chicken sandwiches (which is chick-fil-a), the only other fast food restaurant that saw an increase was Wendy’s, whose share rose to 4.8% from 4.3%

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I’m sure you see it. Looking at this through the lens of a marketer, these numbers can tell you an interesting story.

Culture has a huge influence on the decisions we all make in everyday life. I spoke to a few friends who were surprised to find that while Popeye’s rose during this time, there was a huge negative impact that happened to other fast food establishments.

This should be a lesson that culture & trends are driving while many other things that contribute to marketing take a back seat. A brand like Mcdonald’s losing 2 or 3 percent market share is a huge deal because they serve millions of people per day.

But Popeye’s could have taken it further

Knowing this cultural shift was happening, although it was happening fast, Popeye’s could have further capitalized on this by attempting to stir up even more conversation around the fact that some people are even leaving other restaurants to try their chicken sandwich, which would have solidified its cultural relevance.

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When it comes to marketing, always remember that large shifts in culture always create opportunities. Popeye’s chicken sandwich is in, making other fast food restaurant’s “out”.

Going from .mp3 players to streaming opened up a lane for music streaming services to exist. Meditation being “cooler” now has created the space for meditation apps like Headspace and Calm to reach millions of downloads.

Toss your marketing plan in the trash

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Ok, you might not have to toss your marketing plan.

It’s beautiful, I love it.

But are you ready to pivot? Every marketer loves reliable demographic information about their audience. Where they live, what they look like, what time they wake up, etc. Even if it’s not all exactly spot on, it can help guide the direction for making a marketing plan.

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But there is something that most great marketers have accepted. The fact that psychographics are better than demographics.

Sometimes, even if you know your customer base in and out, the runaway success of something or the fact that it is different from what you usually do can attract a completely different base of people.

These statistics caught me by surprise.

46% of people who purchased the chicken sandwich made $80,000 or more per year, but they usually account for just 38% of the total audience. Additionally, people who earn $40,000 or less per year accounted for 27% of buyers, when they usually account for 32%.

What you can learn from these numbers is that the hype around this sandwich transcended the fact that it’s a fast-food chain, attracting a slightly more affluent consumer than they’re used to.

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It’s easy to understand why people who don’t usually gravitate towards any fast-food items made an exception for the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. When you think about the cultural pressure to try it, mixed with the fact that people are saying the sandwich is addictive as a drug, why wouldn’t you try it?

Which brings me to my next point

Selling good stuff is easier than selling crap because people are happy to talk about it

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While doing some research around this article, I found out that chef’s in Popeye’s Miami kitchens spent TWO years perfecting the recipe for the hit sandwich.

“They tracked down special flour to create its crunchy texture, The same buttery topping used for biscuits was applied to its bun. The company had barrel-cured pickles cut thicker than those in many other chicken sandwiches, Popeyes said.”

These are details that you might not have considered for a second while enjoying your sandwich, but they make all the difference in generating a quality product that people want to tell their friends about.

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Word of mouth marketing is arguably the most powerful form of marketing today, so you want to keep that in mind when making products, services or anything you want to sell to humans. Many marketers call it the “stickiness” factor, the thing that makes their brand sticky and nearly inescapable, so what’s yours?

I recently read this amazing piece by Felicia Sullivan that goes into detail around how to use word of mouth marketing to your advantage.

Most of marketing is about gaining attention, but attention is already and quickly becoming more of a finite resource that we split amongst 1 million things. Having a solid product or service can help you gain this attention because good services and product experiences win.

How could you not tell your friend you get all of your packages in 2-days thanks to Amazon prime while they still wait for 7-days to get their own?

How could you not tell your friend to call an Uber when you’ve been driving them around town for 3 hours a day?

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Quality spreads.

Let’s be real, life isn’t all about chicken sandwiches and marketing

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That’s why I also write about topics like wellness & productivity. Between marketing, wellness & productivity, you’re bound to learn a helpful thing or two from me. If you would like to subscribe to my updates, click here to sign up to get updates from me.

written by ‘rouk