We are currently living through a ridiculously interesting period in small business and entrepreneurship: The rise of entrepreneurial niche celebrity.
If the word “celebrity” makes you cringe or cry, let me clarify a bit. This isn’t about pouring champagne up in the club, bling bling, red carpets, PR people speaking for you and being a jackass. It also isn’t about being a household name in every household in the world with paparazzi chasing you around town.
Instead, entrepreneurial celebrity is all about being viewed as an approachable, trusted resource to a specific niche of people or around a topic of interest. The go-to person and company. A leader.
A better term is a trusted resource.
A trusted resource brings a specific subset of people together and leads them. A trusted resource also:
- Educates, entertains and inspires.
- Makes a lot of money because people know, like and trust him or her.
- Is often a person as opposed to a faceless company.
- Is accessible and transparent on social media sites, via e-mail, etc.
- Is not all-knowing and stuffy, but instead friendly and helpful.
Contrast that with the “old school” concept of the expert or “celebrity” which was focused on a public persona deemed interesting to mainstream media, based on the illusion of perfection, and heavily hidden behind gatekeepers (agents, publicists, etc.). These people were unattainable (good luck getting an e-mail back) and often took the “I’m better than you!” stance.
But here is the interesting thing. If you want it, you can become the next trusted resource. Here are three things to consider so you can become the next Chris Brogan, Anita Campbell, Ali Brown or Gary Vaynerchuk in your niche in your way:
#1: Show Your Face & Personality
Yes, you. Young or old. Male or female. Whatever. The social Web and new media have completely changed the entrepreneurial world. Today, if you think about it, it is a return to the way business used to be in small towns. We do business with people we know, like and trust. Just like the butcher on the corner who knew the names of his customers’ kids in 1943, there is a craving for personal connection with the people we do business with.
Here is the secret: People rally around people. That is why wine lovers love Gary Vaynerchuk. It is why boxing lovers love the White Collar Brawlers. It is why female entrepreneurs love Ali Brown.
What are some simple ways you can jump on this?
Show your face on your website. It doesn’t have to take up the entire screen, but I bet we would all love to see the man/woman behind the company.
Show your face on social media sites. Yes, you. Not just the logo. For example, my Twitter handle is @therisetothetop but I use my name and also my photo. People know it is me and not Intern Izzy or whatever (I don’t actually have an intern named Izzy…you know what I mean).
Inject your personality in everything you do. Your website copy. Your videos. Your blog. Your content. Can you eliminate jargon and replace it with with key traits of your personality? For me, I strive for:
- High-energy and personality-filled
What about you?
#2: Consistent, Free, Public, Interesting Content
There is no way around it. After interviewing over 100 of the Web’s top influencers and personalities, they all have something in common (drum roll, please): consistent, free, interesting content. Period.
Are there “rules” to this? A few, but they are more “guidelines” such as:
The content has to be entertaining, educational and or inspiring…and injected with personality. Otherwise nobody watches, reads, links to it or takes any kind of action. If it is just about products, nobody will care. If it reads like a textbook, nobody will care.
What is the bigger picture?
Consistency trumps frequency. You might post a new video one day a week. Or a new blog post three days a week. Or a new funny drawing twice a week. The frequency is less important than the consistency.
- Gary Vaynerchuk posts a new episode of Wine Library TV 5 days a week.
- Chris Gueillebeau blogs about world travel twice a week.
- The White Collar Brawlers release a new episode of their Web series every Tuesday and Friday.
No walls or rules: Public content wins if you are looking to grow a fan base and community. It doesn’t mean everything you do is free (that would be a not-so-good business model), but the top trusted resources do offer something valuable for free. It might be a blog filled with tips and stories. Or an online show. Or….the list goes on. Why? Because people and bloggers link to free and public. People share free and public on social media sites.
#3: Interaction, Caring & Building Relationships
This is the secret sauce and something that genuinely can’t be (and shouldn’t be even if it could be) faked. The people online with the fascinating personalities get in the trenches and interact. It might be replying to every single tweet on Twitter. It might be replying to every single e-mail (like Seth Godin). It might be commenting on every comment that comes across your website.
Back in the day, this was not part of the formula. If you wanted to be a “quoted expert,” you would have to beg for media attention and media had the platform and controlled the one-way conversation.
Those rules are out the window now. It isn’t just about showing your face and personality. It isn’t just about creating awesome content. It is both of those mixed with a healthy dose of building one-on-one relationships online and off. At events in your niche. On social networking sites. In forums. On other blogs.
Without the secret sauce, the meat and potatoes end up pretty dry.
Bottom line: As a small business owner or entrepreneur, now is the opportunity to stake your ground as a trusted resource. It isn’t rocket science, but it takes dedication, caring and drive. But, I bet if you own your own business…you already know that.
What is your take?
This is a great post on becoming a trusted resource in your niche. One thing I would like to add is that it takes time to become a trusted resource in your niche but the investment is worth the time and effort. Those who are working towards becoming a trusted resource and niche celebrity, don’t give up to soon.
Great job. I think that this is your best post ever. (Really.)
You have struck a nerve with me, for sure.
As I continue to read your great new book, I may be finally getting some of the answers I need for my business.
Injecting our own personalities is the way to go. Not everyone is going to like us. But…the people that do, will stick around and become our fans…and our evangelists!
Again, thanks, D!
The Franchise King
Thanks Joel. That means a lot! I was excited about this one too 🙂
Jennifer – Absolutely! It takes blood, sweat and tears…and time. But it is worth it in the end.
Being accessible is the key. People love to be able to say “I know that guy” or “I talked with her at XYZ last year”.
This is an excellent article. Thank you. By sharing this information you are giving us an excellent example of what being a “trusted resource” is all about. Too may writers take the attitude of “do as I say” instead of “do as I do”.
Thanks Jennifer. So glad you enjoyed it!
Rachel Rodgers, Esq.
I wrote about this same topic today on my blog! I am calling celebrity entrepreneurs (of which you are clearly a member) “The Incarati” (Inc. as in incorporated).
A little play on words but the point is that as a business owner you can be not only be an “expert” but a celebrity/trusted resource for your constituents to look up to. And, as you state here, the key way to make that happen is giving away free valuable content. And the best part is, all you need is time! Not money.
Kudos to you, David, on the book and the article!
This is exactly where things are at right now!!!!
Great explanation and On-point tips on what to do 🙂
Rachel: Absolutely. Well put. And thank you!
Rob: Thanks man!
David, great insight. We have been doing this for quite some time now and it definitely works to be a personable figure no matter what niche you are part of.
I’ve been following these rules all my life and we are the “celebrity” in the eyes of our niche. (We own The Terra Cotta Inn clothing optional resort, Palm Springs, CA).
This year we were on CNN, CNN International, WGN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS TV’s and much more.
As Jennifer wrote in a comment, it takes time. I would agree. We’ve been open 16 years and it took 5 years for us to gain international recognition in our niche which is clothing optional sunbathing.
Also it takes long hours of work. What Thomas Jefferson said is true, “I
This is far more difficult than what is described, and I know bcos I’ve been in the media and it just takes years to build a niche up.
For success, to sell yourself as an entrepreneur, the idea must be white hot, or it wont work. The personal sacrifices are much more than the average person can give, and the mindset needed for this, is one of sheer driven lust for ‘doing the right thing’ and a lot of luck with the idea itself. But mostly, web ideas wont make you money either, so being prepared for long periods of nothing and failure is a requirement, as 99% of your ideas will fail.
Most give up after 12 months!
I can tell you that life as a website owner is damn hard work, with many downsides, and compared with what you get media-wise, wont be worth it for most people.
Fabulous summary of what it means to be a Business Celebrity. I have to explain this all the time, that its enough to be ‘famous’ to 10 or 100 or 1000 people, just the ‘fans’ that you are there to serve and its not about being on the front cover of every magazine.
For me Being a business celebrity is also about finding your authentic marketing voice and media and using that to your advantage so its easy and effortless – there’s a lot of pressure to do ‘everything’ when if you just do a few things well, and from you, they work just fine!
Super! Love the use your picture & name on Twitter.