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 isjust 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.