The beginning may seem like a difficult place to start, but it’s the easiest…and the most fun!
The beginning is where you get to experiment and create. It’s the place where there’s freedom to fail. It’s the place where you get to know yourself and your brand without any scrutiny or rejections. It’s the calm before the storm.
Everyone’s career has a unique trajectory, but all have a place in time where their purpose met their talents in such a way to create an authentic and compelling brand. This is where they began their journey from a micro to a macro.
Oprah was fired from a news anchor position. They claimed she was boring. She needed topics she cared about and an audience to feed off of before the world wanted to listen.
JK Rowling was a divorced and destitute single mother before we met her. Armed with a degree in classics, work experience at Amnesty International, and a passion for writing, she developed a story about a boy…an orphaned boy who found his strength and his confidence while discovering his one purpose: to save the world. Notice the commonalities between herself and her protagonist?
Reese Witherspoon’s movie career began at age 14. She spent the next 15 years developing her craft and her brand, winning the elusive and career-defining Oscar in 2006. She expanded her empire to production and then to lifestyle brand Draper James, both avenues in which are highly lucrative to her brand equity. She married her passion for acting with her purpose to tell stories and to entertain (both on screen and at home) creating a 30-year career with no signs of slowing down.
Whether your entrepreneurial life begins with the jolt of a train like Rowling or with a slow and steady ascent like Witherspoon, you don’t get to where you are going overnight. After all, a perceived quick shot to fame only follows years and years of developing ideas behind the scenes. Rowling spent 5 years writing Potter before a small children’s publisher picked her up.
No one can go from micro-influencer to macro-influencer without putting in the work: both on branding and audience building. So, although each trajectory may be unique, the ladder rungs are the same:
A micro-influencer is the beginning. This is someone who has a small network but a close-knit one. This person is usually localized – a local politician or news anchor or PTA mom – and they may know many of their audience members in real life. This person develops their audience one by one, shaking hands and kissing babies.
A micro-influencer will eventually grow into a subject-matter expert. This is someone who is an industry leader. They begin to gain power, and an audience, based on their specific skill set and passions. In essence, this person is competitive on a larger playing field with an expanded network. The more powerful the subject-matter expert becomes, the easier it is to influence their audience on many subjects. This is when the expert becomes the macro.
A macro-influencer wields influence over a large, brand loyal audience on many topics. It is Kim Kardashian promoting makeup, burgers, and energy drinks. It is Witherspoon selling book clubs, “Totes y’all” totes, dinnerware, movies, and women unity and equality. This person has made their way through micro and expert to arrive at macro….and there is no glass ceiling for how many people they may reach in today’s Digital Age.
Now although these ladder rungs seem to be somewhat commonplace, these specifically mentioned in a book by professor and author John Lincoln, the terminology surrounding influencers is like the wild wild west. Most narrowly look at these terms in reference to online outlets only and apply a follower count to suggest a specific threshold.
So, George Clooney isn’t a macro-influencer because he doesn’t have social media? He’s literally out there changing the world because he is so influential.
So, no one buys fake followers with bots? The number of followers is a very unreliable way to measure the value of influence and it doesn’t factor in any offline business like TV ratings or store customers.
Understanding these three major steps will not only help you quantify your business at different stages of your career, but it will also break down the long climb into palatable phases. Starting your career today and looking up the ladder towards the macro destination far in the distance will overwhelm, especially if you are afraid of heights. Instead, concentrate on each rung.
Accept the learning, the failures, and the pros and cons that each step offers. Fully experience the excitement and amazing opportunities at each stage. Become the best you can be at whichever rung you are on, practice your skills, learn who you are, and treat each customer like they are your last.
And, at the risk of sounding redundant, the foundation is the most important part. If you jump the gun early and try to skip all the foundational steps, you risk a weak and wavering brand. This heightens the probability of a future rebrand…or brand failure altogether.
Besides, why would anyone want to miss all these stages have to offer? I bet you couldn’t find one macro who wishes they could go back in time and omit all the hard parts, because that is where they became great. And, they know it.
Which stage are you at? What’s your marketing strategy to get to the next stage? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on my socials. I’d love to hear about your business.