Top 10 Ways to Get Famous & Increase Your Worth as an Expert

Marketing Strategies to Make You a Celebrity

Bodyguard opening limousine for celebrity arriving at red carpet event
••• Ways to get famous can really pay off. Caiaimage/Robert Daly / Getty Images

Picasso was a great artist. But art was not his only talent. Picasso also thoroughly understood the cult of celebrity and how to get known.

And as small business people, we need to understand it, too, and learn how to get famous in our own right.

Why? Because as consumers, we view some people as “worthier” or “more expert” than others, just because they’re better known. In fact, these people may not be any more talented or do a job better than someone completely unknown, but we assume that they are more skilled or talented just because they’re more famous. And because they’re famous, their names become currency in themselves. We like to point out that we have a garment or a window treatment designed by a famous name.

Now as small business people, very very few of us will ever become as well known as Picasso. But it’s still important for us to do what we can to add some sparkle of celebrity to our own names. The payoff is literal; the more famous we become, the more customers or clients we’ll draw and the higher the fees we’ll be able to command.

If you’re just starting out, here’s a cheat sheet of what you should or could be doing to get known, ranked from most to less common. And if you’re already established, read through the list and see if there's anything you’ve missed that could do even more to spread your fame. The less commonly employed ways to get famous tend to take more effort.

Ways to get Famous

1. Get on TV.

The beauty of TV is that viewers see you in action, they start to think they know you.

The most effective version of this marketing strategy is to have your own TV show. Think of Mike Holmes and Chip and Joanna Gaines, for instance, and what having their own shows on the Home and Garden Network has done for their careers. Think they have any trouble getting all the business they can handle?

However, even if you can’t manage to get your own show, you can still be on TV. Many programs, such as news programs, are looking for guests for expert segments. You can also buy your own TV time, creating ads and/or infomercials about your products or services.

How to get started: Search for TV programs that regularly feature guests and might see you as a suitable candidate. Then find out who the right contact person would be and make your pitch for a guest appearance.

2. Get on the radio.

Radio is far from dead and being a guest on radio is another great way to become known that relatively few are using.

The key to making it on radio, as Kimberly Henrie, radio personality, says, is to be an entertaining guest. Be over-friendly, over-excited, wildly outrageous, flirtatious, funny, morbid, something that the audience won't expect. And do it in a big way. You have to overdo in radio for the emotion to get across the airwaves. You also want to  give the producer/show host something to offer their listeners, something exciting enough to give away on the air. As Ms. Henrie puts it, a copy of your book about "Relationships" is probably not going to cut it.

But a copy of your book about relationships and a pair of heart -covered boxer shorts (or something else unusual) may.

How to get started: Seek out radio programs where you would be a good fit as a guest and contact the producer/show host with your pitch.

3. Write a book.

Being an author tends to confer instant expertise and a certain amount of instant celebrity, too. And the great thing is that literally anyone can produce a book now, thanks to the variety of self-publishing tools available.

There is absolutely nothing to stop you from producing a book except time. All you actually have to come up with is the concept; there are always plenty of underemployed writers around who will be glad to ghostwrite your book for you for a fee.

And you don’t have to write a full-length novel, either. Shorter books and ebooks are becoming increasingly popular, opening whole new vistas for showing off your expertise. A restaurateur might put together a booklet of favorite recipes, for instance, while a realtor might create a booklet of showcasing tips for people wanting to sell their home.

How to get started: Focus on your expertise and come up with ideas for possible titles. Then choose one or more of these titles and write a chapter by chapter outline. (This will give you a sense of whether or not the project would work and how long the finished book would be.) For more information, see Getting Your Book Published - How to Get Started.

4. Create /sponsor an event.

Publicly supporting charitable causes isn’t just fashionable anymore but de rigueur for savvy businesses. Charity events are always great PR but they're also a great opportunity to sway influencers to prefer one company’s products or services over another.

While large corporations can afford to sponsor many different events, one of the best ways for a small business to employ this marketing strategy to get known is to select one charitable cause and connect their charitable giving to an annual event. You could be one of the main sponsors of a walk or drive, or even start such an event of your own.

How to get started: Choose a cause that you believe is important and see if any annual fundraising events for that cause already exist in your community. If they do, find out how you and your company can become a sponsor. If not, start brainstorming what kind of fundraising event for that cause might be successful and how you could get other interested parties on board.

5. Give lessons.

A masseuse giving workshops on aromatherapy. A retailer who sells kitchenware giving cooking lessons. Giving lessons is an extremely powerful marketing strategy for small businesses.

Offering lessons to the public related to your product gives you the opportunity to form a relationship with potential customers and introduce them to/kindle their interest in your products. Giving lessons can be a great way to get famous; if you're good at what you're doing, you'll quickly become a local celebrity. The next time your “student” wants to know something about your topic, you’re the one he or she will contact - or refer to friends. 

How to get started: Put your thinking cap on and brainstorm what kinds of lessons or workshops you could present that are related to your products or services. Then choose the idea you are most comfortable with and plan a lesson or short series of lessons.

6. Work for your community.

Nothing will seed and grow goodwill for you better than to be seen working regularly to make your community a better place. Regular donations to your Food Bank or other local charity, serving on town committees, doing volunteer work – all the positive things you do transform into others' positive thoughts about you and by extension, your business.

Do as much to help your community as you can - and remember that there's nothing wrong with letting people know about the work you do. 

How to get started: Choose a cause or causes and get in touch with the organization or charity involved to see what they need and what you can do for them.

7. Create and send out a newsletter.

The newsletter is the workhorse of self-promotion. Sending a newsletter to your customers or clients, either through the mail or via email, lets you contact them on a regular basis, and, if done well, lets them form a connection with you and your company.

The kind of newsletter you send out should not be a product pitch but more a sharing of information that should be useful to the customer or client. You might include information on a special offer or product, but the bulk of the newsletter should be articles or tip lists. The keys to a successful newsletter are readability, usefulness and publishing on a regular schedule. For more about creating your own newsletter, see Newsletters Are Smart Marketing by Janice Byer.

How to get started: Collect the email and/or mailing addresses of customers (and potential customers if possible). Design and write a sample newsletter and decide on a publishing/sending schedule.

8. Write articles.

If you can write well and are prolific, writing articles can be a great way to get famous - or at least establish you as an expert in your field and draw more business your way.

The tricks to getting known this way is to get your articles published in the right places and to be sure that your articles give the interested reader somewhere to go to learn more about/get in touch with you – such as your own website. (See Way to Get Famous # 9.)

What are the right places? Websites, blogs, magazines, ezines that your ideal customers or clients have a good chance of using. 

How to get started: Research to find “the right places” to send your articles. Examine these sites, magazines or blogs and brainstorm suitable article topics that would interest their audience and relate directly to your business. Writing the article(s) is next...

9. Create a website and/or use social media.

Most of the people who try to use this marketing strategy to get known fail. They make the mistake of creating a website, blog, or Facebook page about the wrong thing – themselves. Sure, your potential clients want to know the basic information about you, such as your name and contact information. But frankly, they don’t care about your vital statistics or your personal life.

What they care about is your expertise, and that’s what your web presence has to showcase if this marketing strategy is going to work for you. So make sure that your web or social media sites display your expertise and gives your web visitors a way to sample it. You can do this by providing articles, tips or videos about subjects related to what you do, by having a visual portfolio, testimonials from satisfied clients, or even take and post questions and answers from site visitors.

How to get started: Design a website focused on your expertise yourself or hire a professional to do it. Buy a domain name, get a web host and publish your site on the internet. Market your website. Establish a social media presence; the first step is creating a social media plan.

10. Join the “right” organizations.

Some people make the mistake of separating businesses and consumers in their minds. They seem to think because they’re marketing to consumers, they don’t need to bother with other businesses, except for supplies. Wrong! Other business people are consumers, too – as are their families, their friends, their suppliers and their customers – all people who might be interested in what you have to sell if they got to know you.

That's why joining organizations specific to your industry or field and other business organization, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Association and/or networking group is so popular a way to become known. And by participating in these organizations, you also contribute to the well-being of your business community. In addition, some even offer financial benefits to members, such as discounts on insurance.

How to get started: Pick the organizations that interest you and find out how to join. Note: join only one or two networking groups at a time as you want to be able to participate as fully as possible.

The More You Get Famous, the More Money You'll Make

Yes, it’s going to take some effort and obviously getting known is not something that can be accomplished overnight, but this is one marketing strategy where you’ll be amply rewarded for your efforts. And don’t forget, you can shortcut the process by hiring a publicist if you wish.