Hey Memory Masters,
Reminder: The Official 2015 Canadian Memory Tournament is happening in Toronto, Canada on Oct. 17th – it’s part seminar and part brain training competition and a lot of fun. If you haven’t registered yet, you must experience this event:
It’s Andrea, Dave’s wife again. I’m so excited to share a Forbes Magazine interview featuring my amazing husband Dave and our growing business.
Most of you know Dave Farrow as the Guinness Record Holder for memory – the fun memory guy who wears an Egyptian hat to help you remember his name.
Some of you also know from our emails that we started a public relations company. FarrowPR specializes in mnemonic branding and combines the science of memory and brain training with the art of marketing and branding – we make you and your company memorable to your clients. FarrowPR has grown from one person to eight employees and a nice office in Williamsville, NY. We have clients that range from restaurants to App Developers. This company has also given Farrow Memory a boost and the Farrow Method is in more schools and companies than ever before.
What you may not know is that Dave set out to break the Guinness Record for more than just fame and prestige. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to have “15 minutes of fame” and have such a unique title. Dave is very modest and when people don’t know who he is, it’s usually me bragging about him as a proud wife. But his real reason for breaking two Guinness Records (1996, 52 decks and 2007, 59 decks), was very practical. He did it to gain credibility in his field and start his business.
Memory Experts and Brain Trainers do not typically belong to credited institutions like colleges or universities. You can’t just take a college course to get a PhD in memory and brain training. It just doesn’t exist yet.
However, the instant global recognition and credibility associated with the Guinness Book of Records is well-known. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records as an institution holds such high standards that only the best of the best are ever approved.
The application and approval process alone to become a record holder is so intensely scrutinized and only recognized individual record holders can use the Guinness logos. For such a major record like memorizing 59 decks of playing cards it’s comparable to earning a degree. First, you have to memorize such a large amount of information and secondly, you have to prove without a doubt that you broke the record. If you don’t pay around $8000.00 in expenses to bring a Guinness Record Official to your record-breaking event, then numerous witnesses, documents, videos and news media is required to even be approved. And don’t forget, you have to actually succeed at the record breaking attempt.
There is no doubt in my mind that a Guinness Record is comparable to a college degree in terms of credibility – it connects your name to a larger, more recognizable institution.
Dave broke two highly regarded memory records to essentially prove his worth in his field, but he isn’t the first. Other recognizable companies and brands have broken records, to achieve wider fame or make the news with publicity stunts. The Forbes article highlights beautifully the creative nature of record breakers in general and the pure drive and ambition of my husband Dave.
Forbes Magazine Article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2015/09/14/he-set-a-guinness-world-record-for-pr-should-you/
And here is text from the article, reprinted from Forbes:
He Set A Guinness World Record For PR–Should You?
Cheryl Conner – Contributor
Many marketers looking to launch their companies onto the “radar” of customers adore the idea of setting a world record in…anything. But here’s the story of an executive who actually did, and how it worked out for his business.
Dave Farrow, a PR professional and entrepreneur, runs a boutique PR agency in upstate New York. Among his other ventures he owns a company that specializes in memory management. That company has an interesting genesis. Farrow developed his product to address his own severe battle with ADHD. He had refused to address his challenge with medication and chose to work with his tendencies instead. He mastered his focus and memory challenges and formulated his strategy into a product, The Farrow Memory Program. To promote the program Farrow set a Guinness World Record for memory twice, memorizing the exact order of 52 decks of cards to set his first record in 1996, and then broke the record again in 2007 by memorizing 59 decks of cards in one sighting—a total of 3,068 cards.
In 2008 he used his memory in a PR campaign for Sony that readers may remember, to promote their PRS-700 Sony Reader. As part of Sony’s Reader Revolution campaign, Farrow lived in a DataVision store window on Fifth Avenue, New York City for 30 days. In an effort to increase the awareness and engagement of consumers with digital reading. Sony promised that for each page Farrow read, the company would give 100 EBook classics to an education institution. During the campaign, Farrow read a total of 44,097 pages, equating to 102 books.
Sounds like a great route to global attention, yes? Jamie Antoniou, B2B Product Managing leader for Guinness World Records, as interviewed by MaccaPR, can tell you about the record-breaking attempts of numerous companies including the mother of all record setting events enacted on October 14, 2012 for Red Bull Stratos that broke multiple records (including largest audience for a live stream advertisement) when it spent $20 million to sponsor daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s free-fall from a helium balloon at 128,000 feet.
Other world records set for marketing purposes include the following:
- Tang (largest donation of toys in 24 hours),
- Coca-Cola KO -0.06% (longest drink pouring relay)
- Virgin Mobile (most people crammed into a Mini Cooper),
- POM Wonderful juice (longest airborne inflatable beach ball relay)
- Nissan (largest indoor illuminated advertising billboard)
- Priceline Pharmacy (world’s longest chain of selfies)
- Italy’s Piazzagrande (world’s largest tiramisu)
- Domino’s (most pizzas – 7,539 pies – made in 24 hours)
- British Airways (highest performance of the Harlem Shake)
- Weetabix Breakfast Drinks (world’s fastest milk float)
- De’Longhi (largest cup of coffee)
- Smirnoff vodka (largest anamorphic painting)
- Big League Chew (most people – 721 of them – blowing a bubble gum bubble simultaneously)
Record setting is open to everyone. In Salt Lake City, for example, Salt Lake Comic Con (disclosure: they have been a client of my agency in the past, but we are not involved in this event) is currently aiming to break a record for the world’s largest gathering of people dressed up as comic book characters this month. (Apparently 1,530 is the number to beat.)
Was it worth it? Here’s what Farrow said: “Going for the Guinness Record was one of the smartest things I ever did. But not because it immediately starts a business–it doesn’t. What my Guinness Record did do was connect my name to something much larger than me. It gave me credibility the same way someone can walk into a room and say ‘I’m a Harvard grad,’ I can walk into a room and say ‘I’m a Guinness World Record holder.’” It is important to note that a Guinness Record is not the only way to achieve this. There are other ways as well, such as charity work, or to become a YouTube video star. But for Farrow, the Guinness Record was an ideal fit.
“In my company I try to find something equivalent to that achievement for every client, that can make them unique or connect them to an organization or credential that is much bigger than them,” Farrow adds. “In a way, PR is like a Guinness Record. It is doing something that links your name to something that is much bigger (like doing an interview on a pervasive news story or them on a radio show or on a major news station.)”
I note that in Farrow’s case he often does a visual pun on the word “Pharoah” (which equates to great knowledge and brilliance as part of his marketing around his memory program.) So in photos and keynote speeches he’s often pictured wearing a Pharoah headdress, and running an “Ask the Pharoah” routine. (He’s even done this on television, as he did, for example, when he appeared on Dr. Oz).
As to Farrow’s additional wisdom on the ways entrepreneurs can best achieve great PR, he had the following wisdom to share:
Cheryl Connor: What are the greatest PR feats you’ve accomplished that might pose some ideas entrepreneurs could try and could be successful with?
Dave Farrow: The greatest PR feat I’ve personally accomplished is selling more than $170k product in a single radio interview and $250k in a single TV spot,” Farrow says. “Interviewing is an art. It is about story telling. Entrepreneurs often think they will get the most outcome from being interviewed on huge shows. This is not always true. It’s about how you tell your story. For example, a memory competitor of mine (also a personal friend) went on the Martha Stewart Show at the exact same time I went on Regis and Kelly. These shows have exactly same viewership. I did $28k in sales and he did $350 in sales. He sent me an email afterwards saying ‘I’m going back to speaking. Sales is not for me. How did you do this?’ The lesson to take away: It matter’s how you tell your story. Live interview skills are an art.
Connor: Do you think entrepreneurs can succeed without an agency?
Farrow: There is a huge learning curve in doing your own PR. I learned from a series of mentors that did it before. They weren’t an agency but these people are experts in PR and they took me under their wing. Unless you work with someone who is on the inside and who has done it before, you have very little chance of figuring it out through trial and error in one lifetime. Actually, I would consider it impossible to ‘accidentally’ figure out PR. It has to be something that you learn from someone who has done it. Nothing that can replace that experience.
Connor: What about setting a world record? Worth it? If you had it to do again would you do your own PR differently in any way (relative to the award)?
Farrow: I definitely made mistakes with my own PR. I read every self-publicity, marketing and PR book I could get my hands on. But some things I did right. (Part of it is the nature of my niche. I was able to make my name and my brand memorable.) I stumbled my way through, as anyone would the first time around. If I could go back and do things differently I definitely would. But I can be satisfied now in doing my very best for my clients.
Do you have additional questions for Dave? If so, feel free to “ask the Pharoah” via the comment section below.
Until next time,