How to Spot a Celebrity Entrepreneur
By Maggie Patterson
Listen Now To This Essay On The BS-Free Service Business Show
Maybe you wouldn’t trust, let alone buy from the person lying on a Ferrari, but would you follow or buy from someone who’s like your BFF? Or someone who seems super smart or edgy? Sure you would. I know I sure have, and that’s why in this episode, we’re diving into the world of celebrity entrepreneurship with fresh updates for 2021.
Over the last year, online business has been shaken up as more of the dark side of the industry has been exposed. From my perspective, this is just the start, and part of the problem we’re now dealing with is that the people with power and influence in this industry are amazing marketers.
They’ve built powerhouse brands that convince us that we can trust them and the result is that we keep giving them our time, attention and money. It’s not just the big brands, it’s also the would-be celebs who’ve learned these tactics and simply think this is the way business is done.
The result? We can’t just look for something sleazy or sketchy as a sign that we should skip doing business with someone. It’s much more complex and nuanced than looking at the FB ad with a guy on a yacht and thinking, “Next.” Because what you find next is much more subtle, and the job of their marketing and sales is to get you to know, like, trust, and ultimately buy from them.
Celebrity entrepreneurs come in many different packages, and my goal with this podcast episode and essay is to give you the need-to-know so you can spot celebrity entrepreneurs and their wannabes in the wild.
How to Spot a Celebrity Entrepreneur
I’ve talked about Celebrity Entrepreneurs before, but I wanted to give it a fresh new spin with some updates for 2021. Things have changed since I first introduced this concept in the summer of 2020, and one of the biggest moves I’ve seen is how people are trying to distance themselves from bro marketing.
Bro marketing is getting a lot of attention as more and more people realize there are other ways to do their marketing and sales. The challenge is that much of what we’re seeing is simply a rebrand where people are trying to distance themselves from the worst of these tactics.
There’s been an increasing number of celebrity entrepreneurs who are moving towards a more ethical, humane way of running their businesses, but the harsh reality is that much of it is a performance.
The underlying tactics haven’t changed. It’s the same problematic marketing and sales tactics in a fresh new package labeled “ethical” for 2021.
That’s why we can’t simply look at the outer package of these celeb entrepreneur brands and figure out if they’re someone we want to engage with or not.
Before we dive into the archetypes, I wanted to share what we should look for at a high level to figure out if someone is a celebrity entrepreneur or not. I cover these in much more detail on each of these in my essay and episode on the Dark Side of Online Business, but this is a good primer.
- Using titles to signal power
- Worthless certifications
- Signalling affluence with images
- Results not typical social proof
- The “as seen on” hack
- Inflated and creative revenue claims
Weaponized Stories and Sales Tactics
- Dramatic and traumatic stories
- Invest at all costs message
- High pressure sales strategies
- Forcing a decision with scarcity
- Limiting access to the leader
- Playing up prestige and belonging
- They have the ONLY solution
- Challenges to authority aren’t tolerated
- Toxic positivity
- Constantly blaming the customer
- Deflecting feedback
- Gaslighting customers
If you’re following or doing business with anyone using these tactics, you’re likely in the celebrity entrepreneur zone. And if they’re not a full-fledged one, keep in mind that they’ve likely been heavily influenced by these methods.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but I want to equip you with the tools you need to see celebrity entrepreneurs and their wannabes for what they are. My goal is always to give you the ability to decide for yourself so you can make better business decisions.
Now, let’s dive into the celebrity entrepreneur archetypes.
The Celebrity Entrepreneur Archetypes:
Updated for 2021
For us to do business in a way that’s truly aligned with our values and in integrity, we need to know exactly how celebrity entrepreneurs may show up.
I created these archetypes last summer as a way to help people see that we need to look past the brands and understand how we were being played. The truth is that while we may look at a “bro” marketer and never do business with them, we could be sucked in easily by one of these other archetypes.
Back in 2020, I started with six archetypes, and after some learning and consideration on my part, I wanted to update them to make them gender-neutral. Plus, I wanted to add a new one that’s emerged in 2021 that shouldn’t be ignored.
Here are the Celebrity Entrepreneur Archetypes for 2021.
The BFF Next Door
The BFF Next Door archetype builds their brand and business based on their relatability. They connect with us in a way that makes us like them, and most of all trust them based on their familiar vibe.
To disarm you with their “I did it and you can too” promises so you buy into their dream they’re selling. To turn you into a loyal fan or follower who will buy anything and everything.
Curated vulnerability. They share stories that are designed to play on their relatability and BFF vibe.
This is one of the hardest archetypes to spot as they're so damn nice and likable. Remember, their marketing machine is working 24/7 and they’re warming you up for their next launch.
The Woo Crew
Over the last year the Woo Crew group of celeb entrepreneurs has gone from being a bit out there, to down right problematic. Many of these individuals have gone deep into the cult of Q, which has been well-documented on the podcast Conspirituality.
To convince that your real problem is your mindset because your mindset is everything and nothing else matters. The Woo Crew celeb entrepreneurs are really into all things abundance and manifestation.
Mindset manipulation in the form of gaslighting and toxic positivity.
Practices designed to help you with your mindset executed by people who have no business being in your head. Watch for the use of practices like NLP and hypnosis by unqualified individuals.
The Luxury Lifestylers
The Luxury Lifestylers are new for 2021, and they’re a combination of the two archetypes that I used to call the Fancy AF Lady Bosses and the Hard Core Dude Bros. In an effort to de-gender the archetypes, meet the Luxury Lifestylers who are selling you the dream of their fancy AF life at every turn.
To sell you their fancy AF lifestyle and make you feel like if you’re not making 7 or 8 figures you’re failing.
Using a glamorous or luxury brand image to convince you they’re the expert. This group relies on using invented authority, including inflated revenue claims and results, not typical social proof. Plus, they love to share good old fashion rags to riches story (even if it’s completely untrue).
The lifestyle they’re selling is a scam. They’re gaining your trust by virtue of their attractiveness and the material trappings of their so-called lifestyle. The only problem is that when you buy from them, the only one getting “richer” is them, as what they’re selling is complete crap.
The Rebel Creative
If you’re here, you’re likely a rebel and/or a creative, but don’t worry, you’re probably not this type of celebrity entrepreneur. This archetype is very much rooted in the idea of being a badass in name only, with very little actual backup on the badassery.
To sell you the same old crap but dressed up in a leather jacket with purple hair. Their rebellion is more of the “look at me I'm a badass” variety than actually breaking away from the status quo.
Claiming to do things “differently” while doing the same old, same old things in an edgy package. Using stories about how they don’t fit in to seem relatable.
Being sucked in by the facade of their rebellion or creativity. If they’re using the same tactics and strategies (even if they pretend they're not), they’re still a celebrity entrepreneur. Being a real creative rebel isn’t about an attitude, but true innovation with action to back it up.
The Intellectual Superior
They're smart, and they want you to know they’re so much smarter than you’ll ever be, so you better buy their 88 step framework.
To suck you in by making you think they’re super smart and they have all the answers.
Using loaded language and complex ideas in an effort to elevate themselves and convince you that they have all the answers. Confusing the shit out of you so you believe their ideas are new and novel when really, they’re not.
They may seem more like a high-paid consultant or expert than a celebrity entrepreneur by virtue of how intellectual everything is. Watch for how they’re marketing and selling the same tired strategies around things like productivity or growth but dressed up in academic, conceptual language.
This celebrity entrepreneur is a new addition to the lineup, but here in 2021, it’s needed now more than ever. From people running on conspiracy theories to people who will say anything to make a buck, this archetype is less prevalent, but I’m seeing more of it in action.
To use a polarizing point of view to get attention, and living by the motto that “all publicity is good publicity”.
Go To Move:
Presenting contrary points of view regularly to spark discussion and get your attention at all costs –– even if they’re completely wrong, toxic or downright damaging to your business.
Polarizing points of view that don’t offer up tangible alternatives or solutions. The Contrarian creates chaos with their ever-changing viewpoints and they shape shift constantly to use the latest and greatest tactics. Watch for constant reinvention of their businesses and brands, as well as business “advice” that runs counter to common sense.