Business cult celebrities are really pedalling the “be like me and you too can be awesome” Instagram lifestyle crapola. It’s so cool to be in business for yourself right now, you need a coat just to protect yourself from the internet’s wind chill factor. And being in marketing as a solopreneur is the new hip.
The marketing of the latte appreciation society is a term I coined to describe people who spend an awful lot of time selling workshops on how to do marketing while spending a lot of time on their social media taking photos of their lattes in exotic locations. Their other name is the business cult celebrities.
And here’s me at the airport taking a quiet moment to <insert random cute business phrase about living the high life while sharing knowledge everywhere>. Totes love my life right now! xx
I’m old. And I’ve been doing marketing for twenty years. But these texts never cease to make me gag up a fur ball.
Here’s why you should stop appreciating your latte so much and give the business cult celebrities a wide berth
Marketing latte appreciation versus actual marketing
The latte appreciation society members and business cult celebrities are great at marketing themselves.
And that’s usually where the marketing expertise ends.
This is problematic. The latte appreciation society is about bringing women people together to enjoy lessons in self marketing. It’s about placing yourself at the centre of your brand and making the idea of your ability to gain a following act as proof you know what you are doing.
It’s product marketing without the actual product. Nobody really knows what the product is.
It’s marketing the idea of marketing without the marketing experience
The closest approximation to the business cult celebrities would be multi-level marketing, some versions of self help, and some parts of the B-School movement.
(Please put down your pitch fork and keep reading. If you still feel strongly by the end of the article, I welcome your comments.)
I’ll use MLM as the example of how this works.
In multi-level marketing, the premise is that someone is at the top of the pyramid and holds the ideas. They teach you what they know.
As you spend more money learn, you can level-up. You complete the courses they offer until you in turn can sell them to someone else.
This is how you make their your fortune.
There is no product outside the idea of buying into another person’s success. Participants don’t learn how to market their own business. They acquire basic marketing principles to learn how to sell the original idea to others.
Its quick fix, “trust me, I’m a friend/mini-celebrity” marketing.
And it doesn’t solve a problem.
Why isn’t the fame of the marketer what you need?
In the fame based model, the brand is centred on the person without any regard for the customer. And people buy it because they too want to be famous.
Think of it as the Pop Idol contest of the business world. Everyone knows your name for a season, but unless you can make a career out of warbling high notes in poll position, forget about gaining any lasting recognition.
Unless you can sell yourself to a loyal little army of devotees, your outlay will only feather the nest of your helpful marketing teacher.
If you put all the right advice in a blender, give it a hipster font with a catchy title, you too could be booking out the local co-working joint or swish interior designed warehouse to a bunch of eager fans.
That doesn’t make the product or the business you are selling useful. It simply means it’s easy to sell. And it only sells because the always alluring dream of independence, fame and fortune is captured so succinctly in the original marketing message.
Business cult celebrities know there are people out there looking for an easy route and a quick fix. So they capitalise on it.
The problem with that is a) just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you and b) it’s about them, not you, prospering in future.
When the marketing message moves down the line, it becomes brittle and it breaks
The problem with business ideas we haven’t created ourselves and haven’t discovered through hard work and hard lessons is they lack depth. When the taxing questions are asked, the wheels fall off. We’re advocating a message that doesn’t belong to us in the true sense so cracks appear. Our own doubts shine through.
Even if the message remains intact, as more and more latte appreciation society marketers roll off the assembly line, the market becomes flooded.
Before too long, everyone is offering the same person “I give myself permission to do this” cheery persona with stylised photo.
Everyone is pinning their Maya Angelou quote to their carefully crafted Pinterest board.
“Go get ‘em girl” and the sweat associated with hard work lose all meaning.
Everyone is marketing the same damn thing the same damn way and realising there’s nobody left to buy it. Business cult celebrities want you to remain attached to them so they can keep selling.
There’s discarded paper coffee cups everywhere!
When the marketing message levy breaks…
Disappointment breeds with the voracious, unceasing and seemingly uninhibited nature of spring-time rabbits. Poor word of mouth leads to conversational decay.
Cynics vocally disprove the appeal. Merit dissolves in a hail of “what if” questioning.
Meanwhile, things rarely change because the root cause of the problem hasn’t been addressed.
The desire for the freedom and the fame remains while the platform it was so precariously perched upon disintegrates.
Why am I doing this? I don’t know, but they can sure fill a room so something must be working! But is it really?
Why marketing the latte appreciation society and business cult celebrities should not be for you (or me)
There are a million problems that need solving. There are thousands of ideas that give you the satisfaction of creating something. You as an individual have a unique make-up of skills and attitude the people around you do not have. Use that to your advantage.
You don’t need someone else’s idea. You need to discover your own.
Find something that really irritates you and try to fix it.
Work out a solution, think about who would want that solution, and see if you can make money from it.
Remember, freedom and fame comes at a price.
Not the kind that maxes out your credit card. Freedom is not forgetting to pay your own wage while your business coach holiday’s in Tahiti.
It comes with a price tag of time, effort and critical thinking.
Put down the latte. Abandon that Instagram. Walk away from the business cult celebrities. Shut that damn paint-by-numbers career blog you have in the other window down.
Now ask yourself- what is it that you can offer the world that no one else can? And is it worth sharing with other people to solve a problem?
Do you see what I mean?
Business cult celebrities sell you the idea of dependence. They have to in order to sell products and stay famous.
Don’t get sucked into their orbit. Instead, build a business you can be proud of and that stands on its product, not personality.