Beacon or booby trap? Which one are you?

I read the latest post from Geek Dad over at Wired today (Can Geek Culture Exist Without Brands?) and it has many thought-provoking topics packed in there. But to take one of the topics and run with it, in this brave new world of brands attempting to be relevant and even engage and participate in their customers’ lives, you, as a brand, can go in one of two ways:

1) You’re a beacon. You’re a gathering place for like-minded people. They follow your light and gather together where you provide a safe place for them to share their passions and enthusiasm about how you fit in their lives. When you’re beacon, you’re there because you’re goal is to DO THE RIGHT THING. You realize that increased sales is a byproduct of being transparent and honest and doing the best job you can to make your customers lives better by connecting to them and connecting them to one another.

From the Goonies...

2) You’re a booby trap. You have a lot of same elements of the beacon, but your bottom line drives everything. And when those curious people come near to you, you spring your trap, which can come in the form of you attacking them with empty shells of Twitter offers and Facebook fan pages. It’s trying to get them to talk about you instead of you talking about them. It’s putting yourself as number one and sure – you’re inviting people to the party – but it’s your party and you want everyone there to know it and talk about it.

Everyday you have a choice. Every internal strategy meeting and every chat with your agency is an opportunity to choose which path you will take. Will it be a beacon that people come to again and again, or will it be a booby trap that lures people in under false pretenses, springs a trap on them and watches them walk away, never to return?


  • February 28, 2010

    Joe O'Keefe


    I have been following your BLOG posts for years and I think this is my all time favorite. This describes what I have been trying to create with my brand for the 1.5 years we have been open. I own a wine shop, WINE 101, in Wake Forest, NC. At a time when many have struggled, we have created a foothold in our market. The reason? The store has been taken over by the inmates. They hang out, sip, share insights, and pretty much sell each other the wine. I hired a manager that knows buckets more than me about wine and I am not intimidated by that at all. Our customers deserve the best. They have many choices where they buy their wine and beer, but they come and hang out in our “joint” because they feel comfortable, have had some peak experiences, and we have tried to earn their loyalty one at a time. Thanks for the inspiration and thanks for creating place that I can return to for more on a regular basis.



  • February 28, 2010

    Spike Jones


    Thanks so much for the comment and congrats on creating a brand that is owned by the people who love it. That’s no small feat, my friend. Keep up the great work and thanks for stopping by the new digs.

  • March 1, 2010


    What does it say that I had to read this post twice because I thought you were talking about BACON vs. Booby traps. Which are one in the same for me ;) Yeah. I’m gonna go eat now.

  • March 1, 2010

    Spike Jones


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