Do you remember the first time you felt like you fit in somewhere? I promise this is very relevant to finding what your business stands for.
For me, that first time was in Boulder, Colorado when I was 16 years old. It was midnight. I was standing in line for a movie prepared with toast, playing cards, newspaper, and a squirt gun. When the lights went down for the late night double feature picture show, I knew by the time I took a jump to the left and a step to the right, I found my people to do the time warp again with it was the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
So what does this memory, this feeling, have to do with my business, marketing, and messaging? Well, the answer is a lot of different things.
Overall, it taught me that I feel more at home with a cult following type of business. I wold rather have a business that attracts a very specific audience, rather than a business that's for everyone.
So how do you find who and what your business stands for? Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of thought leadership are you building? Is your business for more of a cult following, or more for the masses?
- Who is your business for right now? I'm not a big believer in an ideal avatar because the perfect person doesn't exist. I believe in finding what I call your group of people.
- Is your business modeled after what you've been told OR what your really want? We're often told that celebrity business ownership is what we need to aim for, but I promise there are other options!
Tune into the full show to dig a little deeper into each of these questions. It's time to get clear on your business so you can attract the right audience and leave a bigger impact on the world.
Tune in or read through the transcript below
Resources mentioned in this episode
When was the first time you felt like you fit in?
For me I was 16 years old in Boulder, Colorado. It was midnight. I was standing in line for a movie prepared with toast, playing cards, newspaper, and a squirt gun. When the lights went down for the late night double feature picture show, I knew by the time I took a jump to the left and a step to the right, I found my people to do the time warp again with it was the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Now you might be wondering why my mother let a 16 year old go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that would be a very good question and definitely out of the scope for this podcast. A better question is what the hell does the Rocky Horror Picture Show have to do with your business or your marketing or your message? The answer is a lot. Your bills, your business, it’s a lot like Rocky Horror.
It's not for everyone and it's time for you and I to decide who our business stands for.
So grab your fishnets and get ready to time warp, and by time warp, I mean make a decision about who your business is for and what that means for your visibility and your marketing on this episode of the Rebel Uprising pod.
Recently I had an epiphany about my visibility and my marketing. I've always been kind of a cult following business and brand, and by cult I don't mean the Jim Jones type of cult. I mean more of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Back when I was a professor, I always had this small group of core students who would follow me from class to class. It didn't matter what I was teaching. They would want to take that class. In fact, one semester I was teaching a graduate school class and here was this group of undergraduate students, petitioning to get into a graduate statistics class.
Now, these students hadn't even taken undergrad research methods and they wanted to take graduate statistics because I was teaching it and that was bananas. Now for years and my business I realized that I was trying to build a mass appeal business because that's what these business influencers are teaching you in their courses. That's what they were teaching me.
But my style is more of a cult following. I'm more of an indie band, an indie movie than a mass appeal major blockbuster. So you and I have to make a decision about who we stand for and what kind of business it is that we're building.
Here's a caveat that I want to make: You can be incredibly well known and incredibly successful by building your business as more of a cult following than as a mass appeal brand. In fact, I would argue, and I think even Seth Godin might agree with me that it can be easier and even more successful and fun for you to think about building your brand in more of the style of a cult following.
So this is more about a preference than about your level of success and fame and impact that you want to make. I'm sure for some of you, this is a huge sigh of relief, like, oh, I don't have to be like Amy Porterfield or Marie Forleo or James Wedmore to be successful. No, you can build your business to stand for a very specific group of people.
So let's get into it. I have some very specific questions that I want to ask you and want you to think about today.
So the first is what kind of thought leadership business are you building?
Do you want to build a business that's more of a cult following or one that is more for the masses? When I think of a cult following business, I do think of something that is more like a Rocky Horror Picture Show.
If you think about it, that movie came out in the seventies, it started as an off Broadway play, but it still plays on television and in theaters today. New generations keep being introduced to it and that is a movie that is very specific on who it's for and who it's not for. It's a movie that you've got to be in the know for. Like, you've got to have someone tell you about it. So you've got to know that, right? You have to bring toast and playing cards and a newspaper to cover your head because people are going to be using squirt guns. Or at least they used to be able to use squirt guns. Probably some of the new movie theaters might not want you to do that anymore.
So it's exclusive in some ways, but once you know, it's inclusive, right? It's welcoming to people once they know about it, but it's very specific. Seth Godin in his book, This is Marketing, talks about a minimal viable audience and something like Rocky Horror Picture Show is a minimal viable audience. So this is the kind of business that I am building. I think about other people like my friend, Maggie Patterson at Small Business Boss, she is building that type of cult following or Tara McMullin over at the What Works Network, same type of thing. Very specific to a certain group of people.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can have a business that is for the masses. So is your business a Fast and Furious or Independence Day? A Marvel movie? Are you an Iron Man? Is it for everyone? So, which is always the opposite of what these people tell us to do, but it's actually the kind of business that they've built.
Right now I'm seeing Amy Porterfield launch her Digital Course Academy and literally she's basically saying it's for everyone, for every type of business owner who wants to have an online course. So it's big, it's for big lists of all types of business. It is more generalized.
So yeah, that's definitely a way to build a business, but you are just going for the numbers right? More is better. Same with like a Fast and Furious movie or a Marvel movie. It's big, it's bold. It's like lots of special effects, lots of bro marketing, because you have to use those kinds of tactics to get those numbers. Of course you might want to have a business that's somewhere in between, maybe it's like you know, back in the day, like a Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy.
Right? So I think of someone like Rachel Rogers, who is building a business that has a substantial audience, but she's still taking a stance in her business for anti-racism. She's building it for a very large but specific audience. She's building her business for Black and Brown women business owners, but she still opens it to other types of women who want, and, and men who want to be in a diverse and inclusive state.
Hey, if you're like Michelle, I hate this movie metaphor. Don't worry. If you don't like movies, feel free to use music. Is your business more like a Grateful Dead concert or more than like Taylor Swift? Is it more like Phish or more like Katy Perry or the Backstreet Boys?
If you like TV, are you going for more Mad Men and Breaking Bad or is it Friends and The Voice? So thinking about that mass appeal, and once you kind of have that metaphor in mind, you can ask this next client, this next question.
Who is your business for now?
I am not a believer in ideal clients like the ideal client avatar. Like that person doesn't actually exist when you write it up like Lulu who's 27 and wears yoga pants and eats granola all day and reads Oprah magazine. She's made up of fictional things. I believe in finding, what I call your right people, which is a group of people.
So I know when I have my cult following type of business, my right people tend to be super smart and sophisticated. They don't fit in with how most online businesses are built. Some of them don't even have online businesses. Most of the stuff they see in the online business world kind of pisses them off. They feel like it’s unethical. It's not for them. In fact, they have a very strong sense of right and wrong. They have longed to be seen and heard and recognized for their amazing work for too long. When they walk in the room, they want to be the ones that are known in that room. They just don't want to be lucky to be there any more. They're just doing things differently. They're combining their ideas. They're innovative, they're creative. They're multi-passionate or they have super deep expertise.
Those are my people. I think about the creatives, the multi-passionate though, those are my people. And when you have a business that is for the masses, it's going to be more general, like for all online business owners who are struggling to create a digital course. It's not as rich or specific. That's kind of why I love creating for her a more cult following because we get to be super rich and detailed about who we want to call in and who we want to serve. You can see where my biases are. And of course, once again, you can be somewhere in between.
Then once we know this, we can start shooting using the appropriate mentors. I feel like for so long, we've been caught up in the cult of celebrity business ownership, that when we see it we think that's the kind of business that we want.
You have to ask yourself your question, is it really, is that the kind of business you want or is that the kind of business that's been modeled for you?
If that's the kind of business, like if you sit with yourself and you're like, yes, Michelle, that is that kind of business that I want. Then I am 100% there for you. I get the mass appeal businesses. On the other hand, if you’re thinking, yes, for a long time, that's what I thought I wanted and then when I get quiet, I was like, no, I want this cult following. So for a long time, I was choosing the wrong mentors. So you have to make sure you're choosing the appropriate mentors to work with to help you build that business that you want.
So I want to recap with some of these reflection questions, because they've been peppered throughout this episode today.
So question number one. What type of business do you want to be building? What's your philosophy? Do you want more of that cult following? That indie following that can be successful, but very niche like Rocky Horror Picture Show and Breaking Bad, or is it something for the masses Fast and Furious and Taylor Swift? Or is it something in between?
Question number two. What's the best metaphor to describe your business? I honestly think when you figure out what your metaphor is, then you actually can kind of sink your teeth into what you're building because knowing that I am building a Rocky Horror Picture, Show style business has given me so much clarity and what I'm creating over here at Communication Rebel. So find a metaphor and go with it cause it'll help you visualize.
Number three. Who does your business stand for? Who's showing up for you, your movie or your TV show or your concert?
And finally, who should your mentors be?
And one last thing, once you decide who your business is and have that vision for what kind of thought leadership business or your building, one thing for sure, you're going to need a message to attract and draw in the right people to your business. That is why the Rebel Uprising Podcast is brought to you by the 3 Word Rebellion messaging intensive. If you're ready to package up your big ideas, the skills, expertise and your vision into a one of a kind message that attracts the right people to your business, grows your audience and helps you make money while making more impact. I'd love to help you create that messaging. The first step is to go grab the 3 Word Rebellion Pricing and Services Guide.
Remember, get clear on who your business is for. What is that metaphor? What are you building towards? And then maybe just, maybe we can all do the time warp again.
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