How to Turn Yourself Into a Commodity


“$75.00″ for a hoodie?” a friend of mine asked.

She was looking at products that one of our clients sells. And sure, if you normally shop at big box stores like Kohl’s or Target, $75.00 is a lot of money for a hoodie.

But our client is not just selling a hoodie. She’s selling herself.

And in a relatively short amount of time, she’s managed to build a following of loyal fans who can’t wait for her next products and status updates.

For one, she has her own artistic talent. But moreover, she also has a magnetic, vibrancy that captivates others. Better yet, she resonates with moms because she built a unique community of mothers who follow her to local shows, watch her videos, and interact on her Facebook group.

Even though she’s just a person like anyone else, she’s managed to create demand. People enjoy seeing her and interacting with her.

As for the $75.00 hoodie she sells, think of it as fan merchandise. It’s like how Star Wars fans buy Chewbacca figurines, or how Harley-Davidson owners buy their t-shirts. You’re willing to spend extra cash on stuff because you’re a fan of the brand.

So now that you know there’s a market demand for brand loyalties, how do you turn “yourself” into a commodity that people get excited about?

1. Understand that there is a market for everything. So, don’t try to invent something that you are not. There’s already a demographic of people out there who will find you intriguing and relatable.

2. Be their champion. All it takes to get started is to say to yourself, “I’m going to be their champion”, and then stand up for them.

3. Stand up for them by becoming visible. The easy stuff is creating social media channels, writing a blog, sending out newsletters. The more involved efforts are producing consistent YouTube videos and podcasts. But if you want to reach your demographic quickly, you’re going to have to become visible on other people’s outlets. Get featured on other YouTuber’s videos. Be a speaker at other shows. Have an editorial published in a magazine.

4. You have to chase a dream. That is, it’s not enough to have a mission statement, or a set of principles to stand by. Those are still necessary, but they’re static. Instead, you need a goal to struggle towards. And, it should be that, a struggle. Star Wars had a struggle to defeat the Dark Side. Martin Luther King Jr. had a struggle for equality. Democrats and Republicans have a struggle to defeat each other. And they’ve all built passionate supporters and followers, and as long as the struggle continues, the fans keep tuning in for the latest developments.

5. The dream has to be big. That’s why it’s a dream and not a goal. It has to be something your fans can relate to, and take an interest in achieving. Maybe they’ll want to join the effort. Also, the dream cannot be self-serving. That is, your dream can’t be to make lots of money, or to achieve personal peace. It has to be altruistic, benefit your fans, or contribute to society.

6. Each chapter in the dream should have some amount of drama to keep your fans on their edge of their seats. For example: you’re going to visit the CEO of the evil company to appeal to his last shred of humanity before they replace cane sugar with HFCS. You’ve just developed a new product, and it far exceeds anything you’ve done before. You’re applying for a permit to demonstrate your snake chant in the public park, but the clerk at City Hall hates snakes. Be creative.

7. Write a book. Strange yet true, even in an age where digital media reigns king, having a book published in print still separates the men from the boys. People will take you seriously if you’re a published author. A hard copy book is tangible and we still live in a world where holding something in your hands lends credibility. If you don’t have a book, you should be collecting material for it right now.

8. All successful commodities limit their quantities. Don’t produce a video everyday, produce once or twice a week. Keep your fans hungry for more. If you’re going to host a live appearance, turn it into something so unique that there will never be another one like it. If you’ve produced a new beanie with your logo on it, limit the quantity to less than 100, and create a sense of urgency to buy one. Likewise, don’t give yourself away. Don’t do videos that show every detail about you. Maintain some mystery about your day to day life, your opinions, your physical appearance.

9. Recognize you have two organizations. Your primary is the community of fans. The secondary is the store that sells stuff. It’s easy to see these two as one organism with you at the center. But you will be more effective if you treat each organization individually. Some of your fans may never want to buy anything, but are still willing to help you achieve the dream, or at least share your content with their friends. Others may want your products but don’t want to hear about your dream. It’s perfectly fine that each organization refers fans to the other, you still need to recognize that each has its own dynamics and needs.

10. A commodity has to deliver consistent results. A can of Bud Light has to always taste the same, have the same calories, and be as refreshing as the last can, otherwise it’s loses its fan base. With you as a commodity, you have to deliver media at regularly scheduled intervals, stay on track with your dream, and always offer a satisfying level of drama.

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