Growth, Leadership, Sales and marketing, Startup Advice

Prominent US entrepreneur Tony Robbins on the secret to startup marketing without a budget

Dinushi Dias /

“What the hell was that?” prominent US entrepreneur and author Tony Robbins said after showing a large audience at Dreamforce an ad for Kobe Bryant’s Nike shoes.

In the ad, Bryant speaks ambiguously about a “Kobe system” for successful people as he takes questions from Robbins and other powerful peers like Kanye West and Richard Branson.

Robbins said the ad would have cost a fortune to produce but it raises an important lesson for any entrepreneur trying to market a product.

“There was nothing about shoes in that,” he said.

“They got the return because people don’t buy products, they buy emotions, they buy identities.”

Getting marketing right is not about big budgets, it’s about creativity and innovation, he said.

“Stay in the head, you’re dead, it’s the heart where you’ll find your breakthrough,” Robbins said.

“Think like no one else does and you have a gigantic advantage.”

This is what gave Apple its rise to global domination, Robbins said.

Even its simple colour switch in creating pink computers instead of the traditional “throw up beige” computers on the market was a massive innovation, he said, and it came at barely any change in production cost.

“Sometimes, the littlest thing is the biggest thing when we talk about innovation,” he said.

“What was the dominant computer company in 1999? At that time, Bill Gates had a brilliant vision. He had a budget that was virtually unlimited and some of the smartest people. That’s called unlimited resources.”

But a small team of people unified by a mission with the power to be creative and think outside the box can undo the seams of the largest market players any day, Robbins said.

“Engagement is where everything grows,” he said.

“Our job is to engage people.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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