Would You Rather Be Popular or Successful?

Would You Rather Be Popular or Successful?

7 Irrefutable Laws to Becoming Successfully Popular

Entrepreneurs, authors and marketers often ask should they focus on being popular or being successful? Most often quip the answer, “both” to that question. However, when considering the integration of advertising-PR-marketing-branding, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

AYB PR vs Ad

Maybe a better question would be, “Which comes first…being popular or successful?”

If you are unfortunate enough to be on a reality show, you may be popular first and leverage your 15 minutes of PR and fame into some version of success later (unlikely, but possible). For the majority of entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and speakers, success comes before public relations, PR or branding.

Popularity is when others talk about you. On a basic level, this is as simple as a referral. For the enlightened entrepreneur, it’s a PR campaign of social media, broadcast media mentions and referral-based conversations. The reason a person becomes popular is because of their story…a story of success or overcoming adversity. Without a compelling story, why should anyone care? Why should I take my valuable time to read about your uninteresting life or business?

“Oh, you were bankrupt and homeless, then became a millionaire?”

Good for you…it’s an old story being told by much better well known figures.

“Wow…you were divorced, depressed and out of work, then found your passion?”

Yawn…heard that one a thousand times.

There is a clear path to positioning your PR and message so you can actually stand out. There is a formula that, when followed well, can make even make a day-to-day existence into an compelling message one can use to motivate people to action (translation=buy your stuff).

Like all rules, there is an exception. Some of the most wildly successful people have made millions of dollars and impacted millions of people before accomplishing anything significant on a personal level. Their success was based on “reporting” on the success of others. Nearly all journalists establish their credibility and authority through their position. Using them and their PR to your advantage is as old as the Sun.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think & Grow Rich, was a reporter and wasn’t even paid to create his masterpiece book. His success was due to his compilation of success principles he learned while researching and publishing his book. He leveraged the book and his foundation continues to flourish to this day.

Oprah Winfrey, TV host, took over a low-rated morning show in Chicago. Within a few years, her syndicated show would transform her brand into an international empire of movies, magazines, books and media. The “Oprah effect” is a term coined by many publishers today including Inc. magazine.

If you take the route of reporting on success, embrace it. If you are not a reporter, get to know a few.

If you have a compelling story, a product that can transform lives or a “triumph over tragedy” message, it’ll be up to you to craft it intelligently for the media and PR machine.

Regardless if you are positioning yourself as the reporter or the story, be sure to follow these following foundational principles in order to go from obscurity to notoriety. When you keep these factors in mind and apply them consistently, your marketing and PR becomes effortless and you can transform your outbound efforts (email, social media, advertising, speaking, trade shows, etc.) into inbound order processing where people contact you.

  1. Conversations vs. monologues. Position your product or service as a conversation. Ask questions. Take surveys. Don’t assume your product or service is the best. What if it’s not? What if your competitors really do make a better mousetrap? If you aren’t vulnerable enough to poll your audience, the only person you are fooling is yourself.
  2. Nanocast vs. broadcast. Most entrepreneurs dream big. While that is admirable, marketing to the world is impossible and targeting women 35-55 is a marketing death sentence. (Do you really think you can compete with Good Housekeeping?) Your press release can target any size audience and make a difference. Seth Godin once commented that entrepreneur can make a six-figure income with a list of 1,000 people.
  3. Storytelling vs. story selling. Nobody likes to be sold…ever. We all love stories, however. While going to the movies is a great form of entertainment, most major cultural shifts, political upheavals and disruptive new products or trends are told through a story. Mastering your PR story is vital to communicating and garnering a loyal following. I encourage my non-fiction authors to study fiction and visa versa. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.
  4. Advertising vs. PR. As the photo included in this article clearly demonstrates, advertising isn’t the same as public relations. No successful business flourishes without both, but rarely does a start-up have the budget for a proper advertising, marketing, PR, public relations and a branding program. Companies with shoestring budgets are well known for leveraging viral or referral-based programs. One of my all time favorites is Dollar Shave Club. In a hilarious, near-stream-of-consciousness-style monologue, founder Michael Dublin extolled the virtues of Dollar Shave Club and it was an instant hit. DSC is a private company and hasn’t released any revenue numbers, but it does have over 200,000 customers due in no small part to this brilliant video, with over 17 million views.[youtube id=”ZUG9qYTJMsI” height=”353″ width=”574″ marginbottom=”15″]
  5. Leverage vs. linear. When marketers hear, “You must be on Facebook.” or “If you aren’t doing video, you are missing the boat.” We all nod our heads in agreement. However, smart marketers integrate their message and media to maximize the output. Does your tweet need to be on Facebook? Maybe. Should your blog post be featured on Linkedin? Possibly. Whatever channels you use in your messaging, be sure to leverage them across as many modalities as possible. Tweet your blog, transcribe your podcast and post your videos on Youtube and Facebook. Use well-written press releases to increase your expert status. The more times you are seen, the better.
  6. Integrate vs. interrupt. With so many choices of channels, many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed. Instead of selecting your channels and integrating them based on what you like, consider where your customers are going and start conversations on their turf. You many not understand Instagram, but if your audience is there, you need to be there, also. When you do select your channels, be sure to refer to #1…converse, don’t pontificate.
  7. Quality of your referrals. As the photo illustrates, who is talking about you is critical. When a neighbor refers you business, that’s a good thing. When your Pinterest image is shared to a new group of 1,000 people, that’s great. When your story is published in the Wall Street Journal, that’s akin to the lottery for many entrepreneurs. Many people hope or “try” to garner high-quality PR and referrals, but as Chris Bloor, Bob Burg or any other integrity-based marketers will tell you, the best way to get referrals is to give them out first….selflessly. Do that enough and to the right people and your marketing will become effortless.

There are more than 7 laws, of course. I outlined these 7 because without these as the foundation, all the advertising, marketing, branding and PR in the world will continue to keep you stalled, ineffective and relatively unknown.

When you consistently apply the 7 laws above you’ll become popular and successful. This combination will tip your outbound marketing efforts into effortless, inbound order taking before you know it.

-Doug Crowe

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