What Content Marketers Can Learn from Celebrity Branding

What do Jay-Z and content marketing have in common? More than you realize.

If you’re skeptical, check out his blog Life+Times — a self-described digital experience and collection of inspiration. Like many celebrity entertainers, his personal brand is one that transcends the stage  he’s established himself as a key influencer in all-things music, sports, fashion, lifestyle.

His secret weapons for remaining a powerful voice? Marketing, content, and storytelling.

Jay-Z likely consulted the world’s best celebrity marketers to launch his personal brand. So who should the thought leaders of the marketing world consult? You guessed it — Jay-Z.

The paradox of the limelight

KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg co-founder Neil Patel may not strike most people as a household name, but among marketers he certainly is.  Time and time again, he’s been recognized as a distinguished entrepreneur — President Obama has named him a top entrepreneur under the age of 30, and he’s even caught the eye of Entrepreneur Magazine.

He makes celeb-status look so darn easy — you would think that he’s backed by an entourage of PR professionals, makeup artists, and camera crews. In actuality, his larger-than-life image can be traced to a set of very simple tools — the Internet, a blog, hustle, relentless determination, an amazing professional reputation, success in his field, and wicked smarts.

The marketing world is full of incredibly talented folks like Patel, but surprisingly — when it comes to the power of the limelight — these leaders’ self-promotion efforts tend to fall flat. “As the saying goes, ‘Doctors make the worst patients,'” said Jane Boland, founder at GetPublicized, a platform that helps early stage startups tell their stories and build relationships with storytellers in the media.

The brand of you

Not a fan of the spotlight? Tough. As you’ve probably told your celebrity and Fortune 500 clients, a larger-than-life personal brand is one of the most important professional investments you can make.

Take a lesson from Jay-Z. At the end of the day, he’s just a man — without the spotlight, he’d be living in obscurity. Celebs will fight to shine. They jump on stage without hesitation, stay relentlessly strong, fake it ’til they make it, and all that.

That’s how you build your brand.

“Marketers have so much to gain when positioned as leaders in the industry,” said entrepreneur and marketing consultant Chris Kilbourn.

“New clients, new job offers, speaking engagement, higher sales, more traffic — the opportunities are almost limitless. In Kilbourn’s mind, silence has no excuses.”Some marketers don’t have time, but that can be fixed,” Kilbourn said. “Some marketers don’t have the dedication to write frequently, which is fine — anyone can write a blog post once a week.”

The puzzle of your persona

As a content strategy director in Los Angeles, Suzanne Baran has seen the full spectrum of media production — from directing brand strategies for B2B companies like AT&T, DirecTV, Cisco, Toyota, POM Juice, and Scottrade to managing Kim Kardashian’s blog at BuzzMedia.

“The best thought leaders don’t consider the present landscape, they help predict future trends. I consider myself an aspiring thought leader who lives in this category,” she said.

What matters is having an audience that is robust, not vast. There’s no need to jump into aggressive tactics like buying fans and followers. Just keep it real.

“What works for me is to keep it authentic and start small,” said Boland. “Many executives are new to social media, blogging, etc. and starting for the first time can be overwhelming. I like to find out what they are passionate about and start there — be it personal or professional.”

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