Thursday, December 20, 2012

Step 11 – Nurture Your Celebrity/Authority

This morning I was advising a Angela Bradshaw in England about her website. She was wondering how it could be improved, and as we dialogued I discovered that her clients included: “…Mums, pregnant ladies, therapists in many forms, business people, medical professionals, athletic types, musicians…” I thought: who would want to niche down with such an interesting variety of students? The answer is - Angela is already niched. The “niche” is Alexander Technique, which in England these days is a viable niche, probably one of the few countries in the world in which you can. Alexander Technique is more of a household name in England.

Added to that, Angela is an empathetic woman, with a para-medical background. All of this is on clear show at her website. She is using an early stage version of the Celebrity/Authority strategy: it relies on being a sparkling person capable of generating word of mouth and referrals. This can either substitute for, or enrich your online strategy. It is possible to build just one system, much stronger to build both. In the end, they will both grow and complement each other.

In BodyChance we charge for all our Introductory Sessions, but if members bring a friend, both can come for free. Our analysis shows that friend referrals account for a large number of new members. Perhaps that’s what you need to be doing? Start by asking this question…

What are you now – a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? Which is better for you to follow?

As long as your pond (niche, location, product, blog and/or backend) can supply sustenance, go for the small pond every time. Why? It’s easier! Your long term aim is to become a “name” in your market, someone people will talk about: that’s easier to do when there’s less people to reach. And it creates a base from which to spring into new markets, gradually widening your appeal.

The advantage of becoming a celebrity is that you become an appeal all of your own, beyond the niche that you have blossomed from. People want to connect with you, no-one else, and they are willing to pay for the privilege. You get a bump in both potential clients, and the fees they feel comfortable to pay you. They can even object if you are too cheap! It diminishes their sense of having a "special" teacher.

In terms of building a life-time career for your work - this has to be your end game. If you follow my advice and start blogging, in a year you will have already produced enough material for several books. Basil Kritzer, a full-time member of BodyChance, has been blogging almost daily now for four years, and just last Monday he published his first book: basically an edited compilation from previous blogs, organized in a clear way. Notice how I am doing the same with this blog?

However in Japan, I can't yet pay another person full-time to be my voice - although I do have significant support - so it is not possible for me to get to the top without Japanese language skills. I do what I can, while coaching the team around me to do this. It hasn’t been easy - I am creating a new culture against significant resistance - but Basil was the first person to embrace this approach, and go for it 100%. After four years of sustained effort, and only 8 months as a teacher, he is already surpassing all of my other graduates in terms of visibility, revenue generation, effectiveness and celebrity status. He loves what he does, it comes from his heart, but we treat it like a business too, because that’s what it is. There’s a culture in Alexander Technique world that thinks this is somehow “dirty” - but truth be told we all need to earn a living. That is as real as you can get.

People also credit Basil as a “special” person, a “special case” and while that is true, it is also a convenient way to lesson their own sense of responsibility for success. The part they don’t credit, or even recognize, is how consistently Basil ticks all the boxes in this 12 Step plan, including the emotional undoing work. As the saying goes: “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

Analyze any enduring celebrity and you will recognize the same thing. Justin Bieber, talented as he is, still hit the big time by spending years travelling from one local radio station to another, playing his songs, talking to the DJ’s and twittering where he would be going to next. This is full-time, intelligent work - not just happenstance, luck or talent. I say all this so you know it is possible for you - but go back and read my first Step to understand the need for a success diver based on love, not neurosis.

I understand that the idea of “celebrity” does not appeal to everyone - instead think of your Self becoming an “authority”. In Japan, almost every website concerned with any kind of bodywork, has a picture of a man in a white coat endorsing what is being done. Doctors still mesmerize many people. However, your authority is conferred upon you by you. It is as simple as writing a book, displaying a degree, or being the person who knows other “authorities”. If you associate with influential people, people begin to assume you must be one too.

Authority gets you referrals, it generates invitations, it puts into place a self-perpetuating marketing system that starts to do itself. Eventually, all those years of hard work pay off: now it’s pick and choose. You get to decide when you work, for how much and who with.

This is a long game, so don’t start until you are irrevocably sure you are on the path you want to be on? As you succeed, you will be both honored and maligned, so take time with this, and make sure you can stand the heat…

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