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Why Being Your Own Influencer Is the Key to Success For Entrepreneurs Are you showing up as a face in your business? If not, here is why you are missing a major opportunity for brand impact and loyalty and what you can do about it.

By Sunny Dublick Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Being visible in your brand as an entrepreneur does not mean you become the entirety of your marketing strategy.
  • It means you are seen as someone your customers can associate with your brand, understand/emphasize with and ultimately trust.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I want to tell the tale of two talented sisters: Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson. Jessica started as a singer, and her first two albums earned $4M and $2M worldwide, respectively. Her third album, released on the same day as her MTV reality TV show debut, Newlyweds, grossed a total of $7M worldwide — her highest-selling album to this day.

We then look at her sister, Ashlee. Other than her family connection, the general public knew nothing about her. On June 16, 2004, her reality show debuted on MTV. A month later, her debut album releases, and it winds up being 2004's biggest debut by a female artist, selling over $5M copies worldwide.

Why am I talking to you about the story of the Simpson sisters in the early 2000s? Because it is a textbook example of the power of people in marketing. Both TV shows allowed the Simpson sisters to show their personalities to a wide audience. We got to laugh with them, go behind the scenes of their lives, and, in the case of Ashlee, see their creative process in making their music. It catapulted sales of their products (albums) because we resonated with the people behind them. We wanted to hear what they had to say because we felt like we were a part of it.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg Is Becoming Meta's Ultimate Influencer

This principle doesn't just apply to the music industry. Think about some of the biggest people we think about in today's business environment. Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs. Our perception of them as people has influenced how we perceive and buy their products.

The legacy of Steve Jobs is that of the rebel risk-taker who started out of his garage and went on to build the biggest brand in the world. Etched in our minds is the image of his black turtleneck and glasses as he presented the latest Apple products on stage. His legacy had us believing in innovation and risk and that, by proxy, as Apple consumers, we could be those things too.

Oprah's stamp of approval means we'll trust her opinions on books, political figures, gifts for our families — you name it — because we believe her to be one of the most credible people alive today. We trust her, and as such, her influence is massive.

Related: 11 Oprah-Approved Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Why you should be your own brand influencer

In marketing, we talk a lot about influencers — creators. People you pay to make your brand stand out because they amass such large followings. While that can benefit brand growth, I want to advocate for Entrepreneurs to consider themselves the ultimate influencers for their brands. Why?

Because people buy from people — ones they know, like and trust.

What better person to tell that story than you when creating a new offering and bringing your dream alive in this world? To be a great brand, you need your customers to trust you and truly believe in what you are selling. How can we cultivate trust when we're not creating a two-way street? When they're just associating your brand with a pretty logo instead of a person on an amazing mission?

When we fail to show ourselves as people in our brand and business, we become commodities. For example, Uber and Lyft use these interchangeably based on price because we have no loyalty. Toothpaste is notoriously the least brand-loyal category in Consumer Packaged Goods. For Legal Services, if you don't know anyone or have a reference, you're likely to go with whoever has the best online presence and reviews. You'll go somewhere else if you don't like your initial interaction.

People will betray brands but have a harder time betraying humans with whom they feel connected.

The downside of influencers

When you pay an influencer to promote your brand, you are paying for them to expose your brand to their audience. The problem is that followers are loyal to them and not you.

For example, Kelly Clarkson is a spokesmodel for Wayfair. When that contract ends, her followers are going with her. The draw is associating Kelly as a highly likable person with the brand — which they hope to make highly likable by proxy. While there is efficacy, people recognize that this person is getting paid to say positive things about the brand. It doesn't always feel 100% genuine. So, while your brand is getting more attention, is it getting more loyal customers?

Related: A Face Behind the Brand: How to Humanize Your Business for Maximum Growth

Influence + creation

One of the most powerful mergers we have seen in the business world is the creation of brands by people with massive influence. I'll use the example of the beauty industry, which has been completely shaken up in the past few years by two key trends:

  • The rise of low-cost/quality "dupes" (e.l.f.)
  • The rise of the influencer/creator brands (Rare Beauty, Fenty Beauty, Haus Labs)

The first category is based on commodities — getting 'the look' for less. The second is a powerful look at the results that happen when a person of influence creates their own brand. Rare Beauty was projected to do over $300M in sales last year alone. Fenty Beauty is estimated to be worth $2.8B. This is the compound effect of what happens when a person of influence creates a brand of their own.

How to become your own brand influencer

We know influence works and why it's important, but we also know we'll never have as many followers as Selena Gomez. That's OK and, actually, preferable. When we talk about influence, we want to think less about width and more about depth. We want to get close to your audience. Focus your 'influence' on making a presence with and impacting the community you have created for your brand.

Examples of how to harness that:

  1. Talk to your audience. Be curious about your customers and potential customers. Ask them questions about what they like/don't like. Introduce yourself as someone making waves in this space and get their perspectives on the problems they're facing.
  2. Find out where your clients are, and meet them there. Are they on TikTok or LinkedIn? How do they like to hear from you? What do they want to hear? If you don't know, ask. See the point above.
  3. Share your story and journey. Human beings are hardwired to connect with other human stories. It makes us relate, empathize and ultimately desire what you are selling. This doesn't mean you need to livestream your whole life. Do what feels comfortable to you. Share what feels authentic and good, and take your audience along for the ride. They want to see you win.
  4. Make your audience part of your brand. Have a new product drop? Why not invite 30 of your top-selling customers to an event where you get up Steve Jobs-style and present it? Ask them to beta-test your newest offerings before they drop. Find what matters to them most and be part of the solution, whether through your offerings or giving back in a way that impacts your community.

Related: 6 Ways Your Company Will Benefit From Better Community Involvement

Bringing it all together

Being visible in your brand as an entrepreneur does not mean you become the entirety of your marketing strategy. It means you are seen as someone your customers can associate with your brand, understand/emphasize with and ultimately trust. As entrepreneurs, this is crucial as you grow your brand, especially as so many of us are multi-passionate and create other businesses. People loving your offer is one thing; connecting with your story and trusting your brand is a whole new level of success.

Sunny Dublick

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Brand Strategist | Chief Opportunity Creator

Sunny Dublick is an award-winning marketing specialist and founder of Sunny Dublick Marketing. A self-proclaimed marketing revolutionary, her strategies are designed to inspire creativity and divergence in the way you approach your marketing.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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