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Here are some marketing lessons from the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego… and branding for direct marketers (like you and me).

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Some marketing lessons from the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego… (Click to tweet.)

In your business, every single thing you do is part of your brand. (Click to tweet.)

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42 Replies to “Rock and Roll Branding vs Direct Marketing”

  1. For me, this is what makes NOW so exciting. The “brand marketing” helps us reach the masses. The “direct response marketing” helps us make it profitable.

  2. How great to have a guitar menu – my kind of hotel! But does that mean there’s also an amp in every room? – cos I also like to sleep at night!

  3. Nice one, Jeff, very true. I’m busy doing exactly that and it’s a slow game for me. Man, I thought you were cool when I saw you canoeing (my biggest love) but when you mentioned Joe Strummer (one of my second biggest), that was when I really considered YOU to be the rockstar!!! Cheers

  4. hi jeff – thanks so much for your video – love the hotel, gotta put that one on the bucket list to visit! I also go lots out of your video and message. thanks for sharing your insights on marketing and business!

  5. Food for thought! Very true… we live in very design and brand conscious times. Looking too amateurish kills.

  6. Hey Jeff, great video and awesome insights. I am managing my own hotel and you just inspired me again to go one step further. I like the idea of the “Guitar Menu” – that makes the “Check-In” unique for sure! thank you for sharing!

  7. Thanks for the very practical reminder Jeff. Enter the conversation the customer is already having in their head. 🙂

  8. I agree Jeff, each Hard Rock Cafe is a museum. I’ve always thought that each aspect of a business compliments the other, thus marketing begets branding. Great point❗!

  9. Nancy Christenson


    I am always amazed at how effortless you make this process look. No doubt, like with anything, it will get easier with more experience but the thing that is most impactful to me is when I watch your videos, I usually start out feeling like I’m chatting with a friend. Then all of a sudden, before I even realize it’s happening, I get a huge value bomb & am DIRECTly impacted by your MARKETING! :o)
    One of the main reasons I bought your program in 2015 & it’s what I tell others when talking about you is that you lead with generosity. But your generosity in sharing the wisdom you have accumulated, is over the top! When I grow up, I want to be just like you! Ha!
    I continue to learn so much from you, Jeff!

  10. Jeff, I’m more of a Gibson hollow body guy, Les Paul and ES335. (BB King and Eric Clapton are my guitar heros).
    Lean Six Sigma Blues:

  11. Stu’s summary spot on. My add – Beyond great content, over-delivery, and professionalism lies a whole other level of connection… people are also looking for and hoping to see the real you, something Jeff and Stu are both masters at, which is why so many people are drawn to you guys. It’s a huge part of your brand. Funny thing, the more we’re just ourselves in any communication, the greater the connection and the impact always, always goes way up.

  12. Great thought Jeff. Branding and marketing are just different strings on the same guitar ! We get better at both with practice and listening to the ‘feedback’. lol

  13. Jeff – you always have an interesting take on marketing – and the convergence of direct marketing with brand marketing is another one of these. I’d say that unless you nurture your brand, direct marketing is less likely to be successful. Thanks for this!

  14. Everything we do is part of our branding – whether or not we put work into it. And really, the more authentic we are, the more we attract our ideal clients.

    “All I have to do is, act naturally.” Johnny Russell (How many knew the Beatles didn’t write that one?!)
    “If I tell the truth, I don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

    Maybe those smart folks were talking about branding 🙂

    I think your example of the Hard Rock is spot on. They are SO authentic in their branding – top to bottom and in between. But damn, a guitar menu? That’s really over-delivering.

  15. Thanks Jeff! This is definitely a good reminder. We all need to be aware of what we say, do, and how what we do appears to others when we are online. It’s all out there for everyone to see.

  16. A quick guitar comment. A friend of mine bought a brand new Fender Stratocaster in 1953. After many years of use, he sent it back to Fender for some minor parts replacement, like tuning hardware. When he got it back, they had totally destroyed the value if it. They totally stripped the original finish off and refinished in today’s “modern”, loud colors. Suffice it to say, they destroyed a 60 year beauty and reduced its value to less than today’s market price.

    I tell you this to help other vintage owners to be careful of this issue.

    I own PLF-3, and always enjoy your valuable videos.

  17. Hi – first time I’ve clicked on one of your emails – tbh can’t remember signing up to them so maybe you’ve sneaked in via a tick box I forgot to click. But – found your thoughts interesting. I’ve been in marketing for more years than I like to remember now. I still find all these years later that the concept of branding is the hardest for non marketers to get to grips with.
    A friend was job hunting a couple of years ago, and one interview she had was with a chain of Tyre fitters – nothing as sexy as Rock and Roll! And I’d gone through her presentation with her before hand so make sure it was slick and hadn’t missed anything.
    So here was a marketer of 30 years plus being told in the interview ‘What the F!*K does does the choice of chairs in the waiting room have to do with Branding! Needless to say – she didn’t get the job.

    I’m in the process of rebranding and repositioning my own freelance business. It grew organically after a serious accident and now needs knocking into shape.

    Good old fashioned print direct mail is making something of a come back here in the UK – seen as a ‘new’ media. But as in all thing when choosing marketing communications mix – it all depends on the audience. Research is showing that integrating off line with online is seeing uplift in conversion rates.

  18. Chris Miller


    This post has me wondering, because your sites are very nicely designed, but the emails aren’t polished at all. I thought part of the gimmick was to make them look like they we’re typed personally, to make them seem more personable. But shouldn’t polished, well designed emails that are mobile friendly be part of that overall branding? I feel like I am missing something here…

  19. This is your best video yet (biased as I run a drumming website). Love how you said that direct vs. brand marketing are starting to come closer together. Very personable and on point video. Thank you so much!

  20. Awesome info, Jeff. Thanks for the stellar example and the points on using both brand marketing and direct marketing well. (Fellow rocker here so your Hard Rock example really drove the point home for me!) 🙂

  21. The nuts-&-bolts how-to stuff Jeff shares so freely is so rare these days–not all just self-serving “bait.” But what I admire just as much is the heart of the man. All his success has not got him puffed up with “look at me” Me-Me’s Cafe pride or arrogance, but a humble and generous spirit. No wonder he “rocks” with so much success. A genuine concern to help others break the chains of mediocrity and aim a lot higher. Hats off, Jeff, for WHO YOU ARE, not just all the wisdom you share.

  22. Jeff,

    Great video! As a person who has made a career in Brand strategy, branding is not about whether or not you should create a brand. Everything we do can value from “branding”. All branding is is creating a consistent product or service that stands for something (that something is up to you) in the hearts and minds of your customers. And you consistently delivering that consistently.

    Jeff’s example of Hard Rock hotel is perfect. Everything in the hotel is geared toward music & hard rock at that. It’s not just “music played in the hotel” and a slick name on the hotel tied to rock music – it’s infused in everything within the hotel stay experience.

    With help, and by following solid branding principles – anything today can be branded – a person, a product, a service…and Jeff HAS built an amazing brand – JEFF WALKER IS the brand – his brand is imparting knowledge on how to direct sell, and how to be AUTHENTIC. Good branding builds a shortcut to the purchase decision. Jeff’s done that perfectly. We know and trust his products are great. We trust him. We want everything he sells because we know what he sells us works, because he’s DELIVERED on his BRAND PROMISE time and time again!!!

    Way to go Jeff! – Michelle Selders, Brand Verbalist

  23. Right on,

    I was trying to choose images for my idea strategy series of books and found myself drawn to collages of happy people and settings. It’s because ideas are for everybody and success of course. So I made a book cover with free stock images, it’s now my design, and it looks awesome. So my branding is lots of happy people and that translates well to any business that serves a huge market. Who doesn’t use ideas?

    You ROCK JEFF!
    Pat Waldron

  24. Donald Theiss


    Thanks Jeff I am learning so much from you and I know at some point I am going to launch and when I do I will send you some money just for ythe enormous coontribution you are making to my growth.

    Don Theiss

  25. Hey Jeff, as a Direct Response marketer for the last 25 years producing infomercials and direct response commercials for entrepereurs to Fortune 500 businesses I concur with you 100%. Every bit of content you produce has to reflect your mission and position. You NEVER know when when or how you will connect with your next customer so you have to be consistent. Your potential customer makes a decision very fast on how or if they ill do business with you, so you have be in control of that communication. Love your content and how you share your expertise! Sometime we just have to be quiet and listen and knowledge will be dropped in our lap. THANKS!!!

    • @Ken: It’s always great to hear from industry pros with real-world been-there done-that experience… thanks for stopping by!

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