Are you acting like a celebrity sheep with your marketing plans?

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The business model for the young and glamorous has gotten very clear to me:

1.  Go somewhere to “be discovered” for your good looks and fabulous abs
2.  Become a famous model or dancer
3.  Start acting
4.  Have some really public, screwed up relationships and get married and divorced a few times
5.  Record a CD
6.  Start a clothing line
7.  Create a signature perfume

If your career is long enough, you can probably add:

8.  Get addicted to drugs
9.  Go to rehab
10.  Pitch beauty products on QVC

Can you say JLo, Usher, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears?

Each day, the list of celebrities launching perfume lines gets longer.

Frankly, it is boring.

Because it has become the “thing to do,” it doesn’t stand out anymore. As I was doing a bit of poking around about this subject, I learned that I am not alone in my observations, since the perfume sector thinks there is celebrity overkill too.

Here is how this phenomenon relates to the rest of us non-glamorous mortals (maybe I should speak for myself – some of you may be busy launching perfume lines without me knowing it):

If you are new to business marketing, you will find that for many areas of specialty, especially in the services business, there is a prescribed path:

  1. Identify your target market
  2. Start an ezine so you can build a mailing list
  3. Create a free report to entice people on your list
  4. Write articles and submit them to directories
  5. Start a blog
  6. Create infoproducts
  7. Write really long sales letters
  8. Conduct teleclasses and group workshops
  9. Connect up with important people for joint ventures
  10. Implement SEO techniques on your website
  11. Write a book
  12. Hit the speaking circuit
  13. Charge $5,000 a day for the same thing you used to charge $200 for
  14. Create an exclusive weekend workshop where you hobnob with your starstruck clients at exotic locations

You’ve seen all this, right?

There is a good reason why these prescribed marketing techniques are so popular:  they work.

But here is the important caveat:  They work for the right people in the right situations.

Two perfectly capable coaches could implement all these steps and come out with wildly different results.  The reason?

  • For Coach #1, this process fits with her natural interests and abilities, she enjoys doing it, she has something unique and important to share and her enthusiasm is genuine. My friend Philippa Kennealy is a good example of this with her business The Entrepreneurial MD.  A former MD-turned-coach, she has built her business step by step, doing all the “right things” from a marketing perspective.  As she puts in each new piece of infrastructure, she learns from expert mentors and is disciplined and rigorous in her testing, implementation and delivery. The right clients find her, and love her, because she does excellent work.  Frankly, she makes me sick she is so productive, but that is just jealousy talking. 🙂
  • For Coach #2, this process feels awkward, uncomfortable and disingenuous.  She does it because she thinks she “has to,” and hates every minute of it.  I have certainly seen examples of this, but I don’t think it would be kind to call them out to all my readers (Can you imagine being the person who gets an incoming link based on your site sucking so bad?). Let me just say you know who you are. And I want to help put you out of your misery, because doing a bunch of stuff that you hate because it is what you think you should do is worse than being an opressed cube dweller.

So what is the alternative if you are repelled by the thought of doing the “right things?”

  1. Before rejecting any model, you must learn it.  Do not mix up discomfort at doing something new with aversion to doing it at all.  Remember the conscious competence learning model,and how you have to “stumble the mumble” before you “walk the talk.” I will put my list of recommended marketing reading at the end of this post.It is like someone inviting you to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. You have never had the food before, but you know you have to eat with your hands, and that kind of freaks you out.  Instead of just refusing to go, try it once.  Then try it again, at a different restaurant with a different friend.  You may find that Ethiopian food cooked by anyone anywhere isn’t for you. Or, you could be like Sam I Am’s friend and find that once you finally try it, you actually like Green Eggs and Ham.
  2. Choose a couple of marketing methods and really work them. Your criteria for selection should be A) has the greatest likelihood of getting you the results you want and B) is the most fun and energizing to do.A great example is Hello, My Name is Scott, known as “That Nametag Guy.”  He took a simple marketing technique, wearing a nametag, and worked and worked and worked it into a mini-marketing empire.  The mainstream press ate it up, and now he has a much broader platform as a personal branding expert with books and big-time speaking engagements.My one-trick pony is blogging, and I have found that it is a perfect way to stay energized when marketing my business while sharing information with the people I care most about.  Sure I need to do some more marketing activities, and I will.  But for now, blogging works for me.
  3. Don’t be afraid to do something different. If every coach or software developer or financial adviser on your block is utilizing the same marketing technique and it is bland and boring, cook up something new.Angelina Jolie, although checking off a few points on the celebrity business model list (multiple screwed up relationships, anyone?), took a left turn when instead of launching a perfume line, became an honorary U.N.Ambassador.  I get the feeling that she did this not as a buzz-building technique, but because she really cares.In the same vein, goth rocker Marilyn Manson is launching a perfume and cosmetics line.  I know, I know, it is a perfume and cosmetics  line.  But it is kind of interesting because Marilyn Manson is doing it.  Aren’t you simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by what he will come up with?  (As an example, I was going to link to his site, but it is so totally horrifying that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  View at your own risk)

Just remember, there is nothing wrong with following a well-established formula if it feels genuine and works for you.  If it doesn’t, go with your gut and choose a way of getting the word out about yourself that is real, exciting and sustaining.  By doing so, you just may find yourself miles ahead of the herd.

Finally, here are the marketing books and resources I have gotten great value from.  Read them, take what you like and toss the rest.

Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Multiple Streams of Coaching Income by Andrea Lee
Robert Middleton’s Infoguru Marketing Manual

There are more, but this is a good start.  (I used affiliate links)

41 Responses to “Are you acting like a celebrity sheep with your marketing plans?”

  1. says:

    Hola! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Tx!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

  2. […] {Click here to read the rest of Pam’s post and find out why your marketing efforts might benefit from NOT following the crowd} […]

  3. Kelly says:

    Yes, doing it differently from the usual can really work pretty well.

  4. Dwayne says:

    Awesome Post…a good reminder to not always follow the crowd

  5. weller says:

    Great post, I was laughing very hard about fact that Marilyn Manson started his own cosmetics line =)

  6. Fantastic article, Pam. This esp. rang a bell:

    > because doing a bunch of stuff that you hate because it is what you think you should do is worse than being an oppressed cube dweller

    Joy is, for me at least, easy to overlook when focusing on building a self-employed practice. The urgency that results from the man unknowns we face can easily offset the big pluses (control, for example).

  7. Hi Pam,

    It’s so refreshing to hear someone else say “formulas work, but only if they are the right formula for you”!

    I’d say given all the good news in your camp, your courage to follow your own path has really paid off!

    Now if only more people could follow that lead… but I suppose it’s equally important to make a move to break free from fear in your own time.

    Linda M. Lopeke

  8. You nailed it Pam.

    Most successful people say to do what you love and the money will follow.

    I spent the last 2 years blogging and messing around with web 2.0 gadgets. Why? Because I loved it, and ended up getting a full time job where I research and implement that stuff for a living. Pretty cool.

    Formulas are for suckers.

    And you are right about Scott Ginsberg, he’s a friend of mine and he LOVES what he does. That translates when he gets in front of people. You can’t fake his enthusiasm, or his talent.

    Blog on!

  9. John Trosko says:

    Hi Pam,

    What a well thought out and touching post. Might make a great outline for a book. Hmmmmmmmm.

    – John

  10. Thanks for the great advice and encouragement.

    I’m one of those who is following the “traditional” Internet marketing path kicking and screaming. Some of it I love, like blogging, and some of it I hate, like those massive sales letters.

    I don’t like the feeling of HAVING to do something, yet I fear that if I go my own way too much I won’t succeed. That’s a sucky feeling.

  11. jgrichards says:

    Excellent post. So true. “Know it before you knock it,” essentially.

  12. David Zinger says:

    A very fine article that ended with some helpful other sites.

  13. Perfectly said (the part about not doing something you don’t really like).

  14. Another great post, Pam, but that’s no surprise!

    Creating a perfume may be old – though I like the suggestion of “eau du spitup”! – but I think the key here is creating multiple income streams, and, ideally, a few passive streams – if that truly possible [I’m still sceptical that “passive” income exists].

    From all that I’ve read and seen about marketing and from watching successful people [at various levels], it seems to come down to creating your owm media empire and then using cross media promotion to market. To use a well-known person as an example, in my opinion, Oprah has done an excellent job at building her own media empire with her talk show, magazine, movie production, website etc etc and using one to promote the other. Of course, we aren’t all in her league, but the strategy is the same. Nowadays, there are so many ways to marketing inexpensively – without writing those slimy long one-page sales websites – from blogs, ezines, podcasts, internet radio shows, social media, etc.

    If solopreneurs and entrepreneurs focus on a few of these mediums that really inspired and energized them, and find a way to create their own mini, well-humming media empire so that they can then focus on what their actual business is [rather than on marketing], I strongly believe great successes would be seen.

    Sorry if this comment became a post! Just an idea I wanted to share here.

  15. Paul Acosta says:

    Thank you for a great post! You couldn’t say it more perfectly: if you like it, you’ll thrive with it. I’d like to share a personal story:

    5 years ago my wife and I started two businesses, one re-selling home furniture from a wholesale dealer overseas and the other one, an online cafe for pet lovers.

    She’s currently pursuing her DMV degree and studied animal industry back when we were both in college. I went for an MBA in Marketing.

    Even though we were both doing pretty good with both businesses, guess which one really took off? The online cafe. My wife wouldn’t stop thinking about it day and night; going to bed at crazy hours in the morning; coming with new ideas almost every single day. When it was time to talk about the other one (furniture) she’d fall asleep while looking at the bank statements.

    Definitely your post brings back extremely fond memories from our early stages in the entrepreneurial world… Thanks and I wish you great things in 2008!

  16. Guess not. Maybe now.

  17. I should have put my blog url for my post. Sorry for the faux pas. This one links to my blog.

  18. Pam,
    Great awareness of the power of choice. Do what works for you. Check something out before you make up your mind. And you don’t necessarily have to do everything to know if it’s for you. You can use your intuition. I know that can be a tricky thing and we can deceive ourselves. However, if you ask the question “Does this feel light and expansive to me? Will it create greater future potential for me?” And be with the question, You can gain a greater awareness of what will work for you without having to necessarily go through it step by step. Be with the question and don’t try to figure it out with your mind. If you tap into your knowing, you have much greater power to choose.

  19. audall says:

    After about 2 years in business for myself, I’ve started to make some connections between some of the cut-and-dried stock material that business and marketing books offer. Many businesses out there fail because they simply run out of money, right? People underestimate the amount of time it takes to get a business going to the point they’ll be able to live off of it, let alone profit. I think you’ve hit on two major things, which you mention in your post, that are often (I believe) major causes of why it takes so long, but are rarely implicated directly. The reason it takes so much time is because you are “mumbling and stumbling” and will likely have to go through the “M&S” stage with little $$ to show for it. When getting into a new business, the M&S stage can be painfully longer than anticipated. Also, as we learn and try marketing approaches and models, before rejecting them, we eat time. A successful marketing exec once told me that marketing is more about experimentation rather than planning, because you just never know what is and isn’t going to work. Of course, you try to experiment in a logical, prioritized fashion. But you eat up time as you try things out and work to hit upon the right combination. So really, a lot of being successful and making it through the start-up stage is about making sure you have enough cash (and perseverance), or runway, to try things, learn, and finally hit upon the right combo that catapults your business into the stratosphere.

  20. John Jantsch says:

    So, I’m thinking as of now my line of Duct Tape perfume is a no go?

    Great idea as always Pam – here’s my favorite: Choose a couple of marketing methods and really work them.

    I’ll take wildly consistent of mildly creative any day.

  21. Star Borner says:

    Like you, I am proud to say that I broke free from the dismal cubicle walls of the corporate world to follow my dream. Last summer I decided to put my passion for writing to work and I started a marketing communications company. As a young entrepreneur, stepping out of my comfort zone is something that I struggle with often. Each time I try something new there is definitely some stumbling and mumbling but I am finally learning that there is no shame in a little awkwardness. The payout when you succeed far outweighs the cost of the initial “Bambi on ice” feeling.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

    And check out my post on the value of genuine compassion for your clients, here:

  22. General Patton’s Marketing Secret

    A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.-General George S. Patton. Great post today from Pamela Slim, authoress of Escape from Cubicle Nation. I have never read her blog before, but it’s terrific, and

  23. Shama Hyder says:


    You are so right on! One of your best pieces ever.

    You can’t knock something until you try it, but if you hate it-try something that fits better!


  24. Pam:
    Thanks for this great post. It’s up there, next to your open letter to CXOs. Congratulations on the well deserved exposure!

  25. Ryan says:

    I think you need to add Meatball Sundae to your list of resources.

    It really is the underlying theme of your post.

    Great post by the way!

  26. Chris Lyons says:

    Pam, two lesser known marketing books worth checking out is “Hot Button Marketing” and “Neuromarketing”. Thank you for the informative post.

  27. Pam, this was your best yet. Informative, funny and so very genuine. Thank you for giving me permission to do what works for me I absolutely hate long sales letters. Anyone else find them more horrifying than Marilyn Manson’s site? I don’t care if they work. I’ll never use one.

    Every method does not work for everyone in spite of what some gurus might say. It has to fit who you are or it’s not a truthful message and potential clients can smell a rat. Thanks again.

    PS JLo has a very big heart. Even though she’s very savvy I wouldn’t put her with those other celebrities.

  28. Hey Pamela! Great post. Love your reading list – I would add on Small is the New Big and Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin.

    Here’s to (not) having a real job.


  29. Jay Thompson says:

    Congrats on the linkage from Seth!

    And I can say, “I met her when we were standing in the book signing line at Seth’s Tempe stop on The Dip tour”.

    The irony is incredible 😉

    Jay, that is truly one of my most memorable moments ever. Since I didn’t know Seth much at all at that time (we had exchanged emails a couple of times, and he had linked to one of my posts), to hear him say “You are famous!” put a grin on my face all the way from Tempe to East Mesa. 🙂

    To have someone to share that moment with is great.

    Hope to see you soon — I am speaking at a Scottsdale Club E event on Feb. 28, so I’ll be sure to blog about it and hope to see you there!


  30. Josephine says:


    I also followed the link from Seth’s so this is the first time I’m here. And I’m hooked, great post, great blog! Actually I feel like Coach #2 right now. I think I have to do the project because it would look good in my CV.. but now I’m even more sure that I should drop out and do the project I like instead. Thanks.

  31. thinks says:

    Small business link digest – February 8, 2008

    Learn from the best minds in marketing every week by enjoying the best of the Web. This week includes Mike Moran, Escape from Cubicle Nation and Grok Dot Com.

  32. Great post!

    I found it from Seth Godin’s blog. That is a great endorsement and now I see why!

    Interesting title though, I didn’t get it at first. And it is still a little fuzzy for me. I think Seth’s link title would have been an excellent title choice.

    Either way I really enjoyed it 🙂 And I look forward to more.


    Hey Mike!

    Glad to have you here and thanks for the comment.

    OK, maybe I got too many metaphors in the title.

    The gist is don’t be a mindless sheep and follow what the rest of the herd is doing. I heard Tim Ferriss call it “sheople” the other day (rhymes with “people,” get it?)

    Tomorrow’s another day, and a chance at another headline. 🙂

    Hope to see you back soon.

    All the best,


  33. Pam what can I say — you have got it going on and it’s real, genuine — no meatballs on you. Besides right now would not be the time for PS Blogger perfume “eau de spitup” right LOL!

    Pam I have been reading your blog for over a year and I think you are getting more insightful — I know you’re a fan of U2 — I just finished a great read Bono In Conversation…
    Bono at one point says, “I remember feeling sick, or playing to eleven people in Bristol. It was just wonderful. We always tried to play our best, whoever turns up.”
    …”stumbling the mumbling” & “walking the talking” don’t ya think? I guess success is doing the hard stuff even if nobody’s listening….yet! Hey KUDOS on the KUDOS from SG Resolved. Deserved. makehope, michael

  34. Bob Walton says:

    Nice post. It keys in on several good points; being married and divorced as a means towards success was not one of them. ;-D

    Entrepreneurship is no simple task, and definitely not for the faint hearted. Like playing the market, you need to have clearly defined entry and exit strategies.

    I’m new to blogging, but it’s beginning to grow on me, especially when the comments and comebacks pile on. It’s not a bad way to get your name out there and gain a little recognition along the way.

  35. career help says:

    Hi!I got the most reliable information about Most of us have found ourselves stuck in some domain in our lives—in a career, in a relationship, or in a negative cycle or pattern of behavior that keeps us from achieving, from growing, and from going after what would really make us happy.Thanks!

  36. ideapreneur says:

    Boy, am I glad that Seth posted your site today; great post! I do agree that something different needs to take place especially for Real Estate Investing Gurus. I’m working on spicing things up as a Business Coach to the Teachers myself.

  37. Great post. Passion is something you cannot fake – it comes through and you can feel it. It is palpable. When passion is not there and the effort feels forced, you can feel that/sense that too. Often it is just pathetic.

  38. Great post. Thank you. I think fear is what keeps most of us from trying something different. Man, we’re just like cattle sometimes. Or maybe it’s just me… maybe I’m just like a cow sometimes. Thanks. Jonathan at

  39. Dan Perry says:

    Wow. Found via a Twitter link. Glad I followed it.

  40. Ria Ludy says:

    Formulaic following is always overrated and underpaying.

    It’s good to hear you suggest being “genuine and [finding] what works for you”. That’s why I keep reading.

    Thank you!

  41. Joe says:

    Nicely done.