OK- I’ve really flipped out now. What the hell can you learn from the Kardashians?
While arguably one of the most egregious examples of media excess and our infatuation with the cult of personality, the Kardashians are also a model of purposeful, albeit exploitive branding and marketing in the age of social media.
I’m not saying that the best way to achieve success is to produce a sex tape, distribute naked photos or manufacture scandal. Let’s be honest, most of us must live with the reality that our naked photos would simply not hold the same mass market appeal as do Kim’s. Having said that, the Kardashians continually exploit several of the most fundamental and essential tactics every business person should master.
Lesson One: Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
I know the Kardshians didn’t come up with that one, but they’ve certainly made a fortune living that philosophy.
The only purpose of humility in business is to remind you that your fortune relies on your ability to be first a servant. This is the Black Belt lesson of the Samurai- your station is elevated through your dedication to service.
To earn a living through service, you must advertise. That is, you must let your potential customers know that you’re willing to serve.
Every time we pronounce the Kardashian phenomenon dead, they somehow find another way to insinuate themselves into our consciousness. They use every possible media opportunity to keep their brand in the public spotlight.
What are you doing to shine your light? Are you willing to blow your own horn?
Hopefully you provide more value in the world than do the Kardashians. We can certainly live without another tabloid story or discount knock-off fashion accessory. If you bring authentic value to the world- make sure you’re telling people about it.
Lesson Two: Full Contact Engagement
The Kardashians wage an unrelenting promotional war on several fronts. What they have absolutely mastered is the ability to create demand for whatever it is they seem to be selling through continual access to the core of their brand- themselves.
No matter what you produce and sell, your brand is the human expression of the value you bring to the consumer. In the age of instant messaging and global interpersonal communication, there is no hiding behind a logo. You can’t retreat to your imposing corporate headquarters. You can hire a spokesperson to appear on TV to promote your brand, but to the customer the face of your business is the human being he or she will talk to on your phone, interact with on your sales floor and complain to when something isn’t right.
Are you using every available means to engage with your customers and prospects? Full contact engagement has never been easier, more economical or more accessible.
Do you “have a website;” or are you participating in a live, interactive discussion with your prospects and customers?
Kim Kardashian recently passed President Obama with over 14 million Twitter followers. I hate to dash your expectations by telling you that she probably won’t answer your personal Tweet, but she is fully exploiting the Twitter platform that magically sends her most intimate and spontaneous thoughts to 14 million individuals who each feel as if she’s talking directly to them.
You can also rest assured that while Kim does not likely read any of the Tweets on her public profile, there is a well-staffed office of assistants who are constantly mining her Twitter feed for trends and opportunities to capitalize on the deepest needs and desires of her followers.
New media is an active forum. It provides instant feedback and gives you the ability to test new ideas and communicate with your public in real time- all for the price of an internet connection and a little attention. Whether your brand is local or global it gives you the same access.
Lesson Three: Give the market what it wants.
I’ll admit it- I don’t “get” the Kardashians. As my dear friend John Tantillo, America’s “Marketing Doctor” likes to say, I’m not their target market.
I believe what they successfully deliver to their target market is a unique blend of access to glamour from the trenches. Robert Kardashian wasn’t American royalty- he made his bones in business and law and like many nouveau riche in pre-recession America, he seemed intent on giving his young family everything…and at least in material terms it seems he was quite successful.
An entire generation of spoiled entitlement-generation tweens and teens turned on to the Kardashians. Their reality program gave American kids and many of their parents a look at an affluent, semi-celebrity family who was dealing with all the normal strains and stresses of daily life- well at least some of them. Are they some kind of new age Ricardo family?
Whatever it is they give their audience, they give them plenty of it. They didn’t manufacture a need or desire in their target audience- they simply fill it. Sadly, I’m afraid what they fulfill is a destructive impulse in the American psyche that aspires to a life of wealth without work and celebrity without talent…but who am I to tell the market what it wants?
I certainly hope you bring more substance to the market than do the Kardashians! What unique market need or desire to you satisfy through your talents and abilities?
Ultimately what any of each of us is selling is an answer. If you can answer a need, a desire or a hope for enough people, you can make a living at it. If you can answer a need, a desire or hope for a million people and preserve a margin of at least a dollar doing it- you can be a millionaire!
It’s very difficult to educate or transform a market. Very few if any of the world’s most recognized innovations created an entirely new market need.
Edison didn’t invent the need for light; he simply found a more efficient way to produce it.
Ford didn’t invent the desire for freedom of mobility; he just found a way to satisfy that desire at an affordable price.
Steve Jobs didn’t invent the hope that we could communicate instantly with anyone on earth; he just had the audacity to make technology accessible to everyone so we could.
Kim Kardashian didn’t invent the desire for young girls to be spoiled- or for young boys to want to hook-up with spoiled, hot young girls; she just one of the latest in a long line of ingenues willing to satisfy that market.
So- don’t feel compelled to spray on the tan and ruin your life to such a magnificent degree that TMZ deems you worthy of notoriety. Just pay attention to the questions the market is asking, pick one and answer it.
Once you do that, sound the trumpets, get out in the world and commit yourself fully to providing excellence and exemplary service.
That’s the best way to achieve sustainable and enjoyable success.
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