Why a Personal Media Brand Beats “Marketing” Every Time

Fame. Celebrity. Stardom.

There are many words to describe this thing that so many are after … and many reasons they are after it. But is there any real value in celebrity for celebrity’s sake?

If you’re famous for being famous — that phenomena of modern western culture — what does that actually get you?

And is it worth it?

In this quick 19-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • Why just “being known” means being known for nothing
  • The fallacy of the train wreck approach: The poverty of attention
  • How to give away what you’re selling for fun and profit
  • The evil psychological trick that people love
  • Why to never expect anything in return (for the win)
  • How keeping it real lets you “sell out”
  • Why leadership is the key to lead generation
  • The religious concept that makes it rain

Listen to New Rainmaker Episode No. 2 below …

Why a Personal Media Brand Beats “Marketing” Every TimeBrian Clark
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Why a Personal Media Brand Beats Marketing Every Time

Robert Bruce: Fame. Celebrity. Stardom.

There are many words to describe this thing that so many are after … and many reasons they are after it.

But is there any real value in celebrity for celebrity’s sake?

If you’re famous for being famous — that phenomena of modern western culture — what does that actually get you?

And is it worth it?

This is New Rainmaker, from rainmakerplatform.com, I’m Robert Bruce and today Brian Clark analyzes the pursuit of this ancient human desire to be known in the context of business … and makes a case for a better — and saner — way to achieve your business goals.

Stay tuned …

Brian Clark: Picture this.

A rich young lady from a well-known family pouts in dissatisfaction. Despite fantastic wealth, this young lady feels she’s not getting enough attention.

Suddenly, scandal emerges.

An illicit recording has leaked to the public. The sex tape presents our princess in several compromising positions, and the corresponding scorn, ridicule, and most importantly, attention of the world is the result.

But the young lady does not retreat in shame, oh no. To the contrary, she’s suddenly everywhere, starring in reality television shows, appearing in films, and landing lucrative endorsement deals.

Now ask yourself — am I talking about Kim Kardashian here, or is it Paris Hilton?

Next question … do you actually care which one I’m talking about?

Welcome to the world of being famous for being famous … a term for someone who attains celebrity status for no real reason, as opposed to being talented or — I don’t know … maybe creating some value for the world.

This crowd simply self-generates their own fame by exploiting their existing privilege. And they do indeed have an audience, but let’s face it … calling someone famous for being famous is an insult, and rightly so.

It’s the separation of fame from greatness, from quality … from value itself.

Hey … good for Kim and Paris. Unfortunately, there are plenty of misguided people who think this is the path they should follow to promote their business online. Maybe not the sex tape part, but the misguided notion that all you have to do is become known via the Internet.

In other words, they’ve got the media part down, but their efforts are not functioning as good marketing. They’re known for being known, and it doesn’t translate into economic success.

Let’s talk about personal branding, a term I’ve never liked. It’s all about presenting an image, not necessarily value. And in line with the example set by Kim and Paris, it promotes the idea that being known for being known is enough, and it’s not.

Any fool can become known. And they often do.

After all, we’ll all watch the online train wreck — and we get plenty of opportunities right? But do you want to do business with a train wreck? I didn’t think so.

You need to be known for something more. And that’s why the new rainmaker develops a personal media brand with a solid content foundation. This is what beats simple personal branding and traditional concepts of marketing any day.

A New Rainmaker is Known for Being a Valuable Resource

Robert Bruce: It’s a common problem, human beings generally default — in any given situation — to talking about themselves over others.

And besides being a not-to-attractive character trait, it’s also bad for business.

Is there an alternative?

Here’s Brian again …

Brian Clark: Since 2006, I’ve been preaching one simply mantra: what’s in it for them.

It’s Marketing 101, right? So why do so many businesses completely ignore it?

And even when they remember, why do they resist communicating what’s in it for them in the way they want to hear?

Rule number one for the new rainmaker is you must be a valuable information resource through your own media platform, with a key emphasis on providing value. And in the course of that, you’ll communicate the value of your paid solution is revealed as well.

What does that mean? Well, it means you must demonstrate that you understand your prospective customer or client’s problems and desires. And you have to begin to satisfy those problems or desires before you stick out your hand for payment.

Here’s a great example:

A really nice Australian guy named Darren Rowse created an online resource called Digital Photography School, which provides an immense amount of free information. He makes his money selling ebooks on the very same topics.

Isn’t he shooting himself in the foot by giving away his “product” for free? No, because people happily pay for a well-organized, comprehensive treatment of the topic they need help with, even after they’ve had a free “taste.”

If not for the free information, Digital Photography School would be a lot less well known in the first place. But it’s more than that … because you sell a lot more books when you demonstrate value upfront, instead of simply claiming it like everyone who takes a marketing approach does.

Book-selling entrepreneurs since at least the 1960s have known that giving away the best part of a “how to” book leads to much higher sales. The Internet has simply intensified the effectiveness of the approach.

You sell more, not less … that’s the goal, right?

Now imagine if you’re selling something other than information … like a service. Wouldn’t demonstrating that you know what you’re doing work better than claiming to be “The number one whatever?”

A New Rainmaker is Known for Being an Expert

Robert Bruce: The Internet presents a moveable feast of information on just about any topic you might be interested in studying.

That’s a good thing … but it can be also be incredibly difficult to find good information and media on that topic.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity for the New Rainmaker who is willing to become an expert in her field, generously demonstrate that expertise for all to see, and execute it in an authentic way …

Brian Clark: In addition to being a valuable resource, the New Rainmaker is known for being and expert.

We want to do business with someone who knows what they’re doing and talking about it … common sense, right? The power of expertise, though, goes much deeper than that.

People have problems and desires, and they want solutions. They want you to be the person to help them with those problems and desires, so they can stop searching and begin the process. If you’re demonstrating via a media platform that your expertise can help, something very powerful happens.

It’s just like David Visinten in our example of the show Love It or List It. Every episode allows David to demonstrate that he knows what he’s doing and knows what he’s talking about … which allows a powerful psychological influencer to kick in a very non-creepy, non-marketing way:

It’s called authority, and as we’ll examine later — its effectiveness cannot be overstated. It’s even the central concept that Google uses to rank web pages!

All you need to take away for now is this — a personal media brand makes you into a likable expert, and sets the stage for the rain to fall. That’s because media allows authority to be demonstrated and earned, rather than just claimed.

A New Rainmaker is Known for Being Generous

Brian Clark: The New Rainmaker is also known for being generous.

Business success through generosity predates the Internet by far. Giving first to get later is a timeless reciprocity strategy, which we’ll talk about more later on.

The thing about generosity, though, is you have to give without expectation of getting in return — that’s the definition of the word. In my experience, I’ve always been rewarded for being generous, even though what comes back to me often ends up being unexpected.

The upside of that is that often what comes in return is way bigger than my original generosity! It never ceases to amaze me.

Back when I was giving away valuable information to sell legal and then real estate services, I made a killing — even though I was far from the most experienced or traditionally-connected choice. And the thing that amazed me was all the resistance from those who did have more experience when I suggested they be generous with what they knew online like I was.

Think about it … these two professions require a license from the state and specialized training, but somehow there was this silly fear that if they gave away information, people wouldn’t need them! Others simply hated the idea of giving something to people who might not ultimately hire them.

This is what’s known as scarcity mindset at its ugliest … and it’s completely limiting.

Here’s the thing: when you freely share your expertise, perspective, and experience, you’re not giving anything away. You still have it. Rather than losing something, the sharing leads to more people knowing you and hiring you than would have otherwise.

Again, that’s the goal, right?

A New Rainmaker is Known for Being Authentic

Brian Clark: In addition to generous, the New Rainmaker is known for being authentic.

Countless studies show that human beings instantly judge others based on two primary types of social perception — competence and warmth. We talked about competence already in the context of expertise and authority.

And we touched on warmth with generosity, but it’s more than that. People want an authentic, relatable human being involved when they buy.

What does that mean?

According to the book The Human Brand, countless social psychology studies show that warmth is characterized by people who are helpful, honest, trustworthy, generous, fair, and understanding. All of this is accomplished by an online media platform which creates your personal media brand.

Understanding (also known as empathy) is key. Your prospects have problems and desires. You are a resource that demonstrates you understand those problems and desires. You are a resource that demonstrates you understand those problems and desires, and you’re here to help.

Is that marketing? Or is that something stronger that accomplishes what marketing is supposed to, except better … and a whole lot more in the process.

Authority without warmth makes people envious and suspicious. But add in your relatable nature as an authentic human being, and the people you’re looking to reach are magnetically attracted to you.

Let’s revisit each of our media examples:

Spider-man is a superhero, that’s pretty much the epitome of authority. But his endearing success is based more on Peter Parker’s relatability — he was the first alter-ego in comics with problems. From acne, not money issues, to trouble with Mary Jane — not to mention that the police and the Daily Bugle branded him a vigilante criminal. But he always showed up to selflessly save the day.

David Visentin’s prickly demeanor isn’t for everyone on Love It or List It — and that’s okay. He’s real, and the people who do like him are fans, not casual followers. Most importantly, David is passionate about getting people into a better situation, and he works tirelessly as an advocate when the “list it” option is the one selected.

Gary Vaynerchuck’s DIY wine show caught on because he smartly went against the grain of the entire wine industry. His regular guy, no nonsense, proud-to-be-from-Jersey approach was exactly how you were not supposed to approach the topic of wine — and that’s a big par of why it worked. The reason it sold a lot of wine is because he made wine more accessible … pretty smart “marketing,” huh?

Leadership for Lead Generation

Robert Bruce: “It’s too late.”

“The field is too crowded.”

“I’ve got too much catching up to do.”

These are just a few of the reasons given when someone is approached with the opportunity of starting something … of creating and distributing media openly on the Internet.

You’ve heard them. You may have thought or said them yourself. But are they legitimate concerns? Or are they merely excuses we concoct to avoid doing the hard work ahead of us?

Here’s Brian …

Brian Clark: Let’s talk for a bit about how this all translates into generating new business. One way to think about it is “leadership for lead generation.”

Another buzz phrase I’ve never much cared for is “thought leader.” Maybe you’ve heard it bounced around lately, and felt this was something unreachable for you.

That’s the problem. The term signifies some exalted guru status, and my 15 years of online content marketing suggest something much less exclusive.

Anyone can achieve business authority with a media-first approach, if they truly want to. I’ve done it in several industries, starting as a complete unknown in each.

Turns out the term “thought leadership” was coined back in 1994 by a guy named Joel Kurtzman. He was editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine Strategy & Business (that’s a “media-first” example in itself). Kurtzman used the term to refer to people “who had business ideas which merited attention.”

We’re right back to attention. That’s always the starting point, isn’t it?

  • If you build a media platform that provides value that matters to prospective customers and clients, you can gain initial attention.
  • If you focus on building that platform continuously (just like a magazine, or other kind of media production), you gain permission-based continual attention.
  • And if you provide relevant solutions, you can convert those prospects into new customers and clients from that attention.

Rather than “thought” leader, why don’t we just focus on “leadership.” If people follow you and invest their valuable attention with you, you are indeed a leader.

Building an audience that relates to your business is a powerful form of lead generation. It’s just that your audience members don’t feel like “leads” or “prospects” that need to be sold to.

And that’s why it’s so powerful for generating new business. That’s why media leadership is the key strategy for new rainmakers.

Know + Like + Trust = Belief

Brian Clark: You’ve likely heard it said that selling just about anything comes down to you and your solution being known, liked, and trusted. And it’s true, but what’s really happening here?

We know that being known alone is not enough. But once you are, and you add in a couple more powerful ingredients, you’re well beyond being known for being known.

The first extra ingredient is liking. We simply prefer to business with people and brands we Like.

And then we get to Trust … we have to trust the integrity of the provider as much as we trust that our problem will be solved.

At that point, the result is something magical … it’s the special something that makes it rain, even for the Native American Shaman:


It’s like a religious concept. We hear of product evangelists, we refer to people taking the actions we want online as conversion … it truly is a process of transformation … from a non-believer to a member of your audience.

Know + Like + Trust = Belief … now you’re ready to make it rain at will.

Robert Bruce: Thanks for listening to New Rainmaker … if you like what you’re hearing, please let us know by dropping by iTunes and giving us a rating there.

And, more importantly, sign up to get free email updates of future episodes, transcripts, free reports, videos, and upcoming webinars at rainmakerplatform.com


  1. says

    Read your transcript and really enjoyed it. Especially the story of Gary Vaynerchuck and on why his wine business stood out. It’s making me think about how I am approaching my business.

    “Am I creating work with invisible stereotypical constraints (because that’s how businesses like mine have always been done)? How can I do this better and provide better value?” – first ah-ha moment of today.


  2. says

    Hi guys, this is one of the most mind bending approaches to doing business online. Whatever business you are involved in, this truly is the only path to take if you want to sustain a business, lifetime business, and what is a lifetime business without people “not customers” involved. Truly caring about each other and the path they are taking, you can’t make this approach happen without first and foremost (with sharp focus) caring about the people you want to help and to do business with. Business is a seed that you sow through caring and being passionate for people first, business, money, wealth do not knock on your door people do…

    Brian, Robert
    Thank you very much for sharing this, probably the most important concept that online entrepreneurs and anyone dealing in business of any kind, should consider not only that it should be a prerequisite “a licence if you like” for dealing in business. Business, marketing and whatever the gurus are calling it… It’s a human being punching in credit card numbers….. Guys, you are extraordinary human beings you really have struck a most resonant chord with this one, and thank you for sharing, simply put “The Bible for business.”

  3. says

    I love the part about being a valuable resource and being generous. In my own experience, I’ve seen this to be the case every time. Add authenticity and transparency to the mix and it’s a winning combination every time!

  4. says

    Practical, common sense advice that resonates with us because we instinctively know that it’s right. As customers we all want to do business with people who are authentic and whom we can trust – so it makes sense that we should do the same as business owners. Thank you Brian Clark for breaking it down for us in such an interesting and insightful way.

  5. James R. Halloran says

    Know + Like + Trust = Belief

    You could never be more right! That’s honestly a great formula. In the creative writing world, we’re taught to show, not tell. That’s why saying you’re the “number one” person in your industry falls flat. You must show us why and how you’re the best.

    And there’s no better way to do that than to demonstrate what you’re claiming. That’s true personal branding! It’s all about showing your potential clients that you know what you’re talking about. When people challenge your knowledge and you can back it up, that’s even better.

    Thanks for this podcast, guys! I’m extremely happy you started the Rainmaker.

  6. says

    I have always found that when I serve my clients with integrity and overfufilling what they have paid for, I wind up with even more clients who want to do business with me. Its almost like magic, as if there is some secret signal going out into the world telling people “Here is someone you can trust to treat you well”

    I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen this happen. And the internet makes it even easier for the word to spread around. Thank you Brian and Robert, this is a great series.

  7. Lyn Bowker says

    It’s give me such PLEASURE every time you share your knowledge Brian Clark. What you say, teach and espouse about building an authentic online business rings so true in my heart – I wish I’d come across you 5 years ago when I first dreamed of being online in a way that raised the bar.

    I wanted so badly to find the courage to be online in a way that felt authentic and yet all I kept seeing and “learning” from the “gurus” who we’re making the most “noise” (& as I discovered were all promoting each other so you got caught up in a vicious circle of their never ending LISTS) was inauthenticity.

    It put me off for YEARS! Meantime I continued with my studies and personal development and passions and NOW (with your help and my CopyBlogger Authority membership I am FULLY PREPARED and my time has finally come.

    I can’t thank you enough for BEING A STAND FOR ONLUNE AUTHENTICITY & AUTHORITY. I found my courage through your LEADERSHIP.

    With love from my heart to yours
    Lyn Bowker

    PS coming soon in 2014
    www. LynBowker.Com (personal brand site for building authority with awesome GIVING
    http://www.AuthenticBusinessBuildingAcademy (programs built entirely on my knowledge & expertise)

    • Chris says

      Hello Lyn,
      I think maybe you need to read Brian’s lessons again.
      I think there may have been something that escaped your attention.
      I am a little surprised that you would use the opportunity
      provided in this comment section to promote your own business.

      Sorry if you find this in any way offensive.
      That isn’t my intention.

  8. says

    Trying to execute this “give it away” concept in real life. At first I thought I might be nuts. But after listening today I feel sane again. (Great background music effects)

  9. Alfonso says


    These descriptions is what I get from your insightful Podcast. Because, they speak at the heart of integral marketing truths. Be yourself….Tell the consumer what you know without being slick or pretentious. Bold with equilibrium in presenting your message. Damn Cool!

  10. says

    I love it. Let’s go back to the beginning and change the way we’re ‘marketing’ so we can return to the authentic human beings we are.

    Of course the next step would be working out how to turn our believers, our audience members, into customers with a non-salesy sales funnel I suppose… cos a girl’s gotta eat! :)

    P.S. Love the relaxed way you’re presenting too, very zen.

  11. Andrew says

    I really love the approach you guys take and it’s obvious that that you practice what you teach too. I have kind of suspected for a while that the approach you guys are talking about was the way to go, but it is great to get confirmation form someone that has made it work over and over again.

  12. says

    I believe this New Rainmaker concept is actually a return to the ways of old. The cozy little general store where friends gathered to sip malts at the soda counter. The men standing out front, swapping stories while puffing on their stogies. Women gossiping over bolts of cloth. The genteel shop owner always ready with a smile, and a piece of penny candy for the kiddies.

    Know + Like +Trust = Cultivating Human Relationships

  13. says

    Really enjoying this New Rainmaker series. Like Lyn, I’m very wary now of signing up for yet another guru’s promise. Two podcasts in, I’m very impressed. Yes I’ve heard ‘know, like and trust’ before – yet ironically from people who didn’t deserve the trust!

    Great real-life examples
    Sound thinking – especially ‘media – not marketing’
    & cool music!

    Thanks for your generosity guys
    Dawn x

  14. says

    Well, first of all my respect and warm greetings to Brian, Robert and the entire community as a whole.

    Actually, I must admit I’m really pleased and very happy to attend from the very beginning to what promises to be and already shows NewRainMaker soon to become your very exclusive, smart and enjoyable community without a doubt.

    In fact, I instantly felt a strong hunch and I understood immediately that NewRainMaker offered me the opportunity to meet, share and mingling with like a ton of souls alike under one same roof pointing to similar goals and objectives with singular inspiration & wisdom.

    So, today I’m glad to confirm I was not wrong, meaning; I gotta trust a lil bit more in my hunches from now on. Since I was not used to do it lately very often. 😉

    As for today’s post, perhaps the best I can say is that I agree on so many points, but particularly on those which refer to belief, believers, knowledge, awareness, experience, common sense, like & trust… I’m afraid my fledgling and nascent blog, same as RainMaker, (Twin Brothers Of Different Mother), probably will speak louder than me in this moment, on this reduced and restricted space.
    So I will dare to share the link hoping it’s not against the rules or TOS of the website and really aspiring it can also nurture into something Robert’s splendid poetry, inspire new topics for Brian and maybe, just maybe steal a smile or two for the rest of you.

    So, here it is: http://keepbelieving.blog.com
    After all, it’s simply another “thought for food” approach and what prolly will make it so complementary to NewRainMaker is the potentially different and abject optics from the “other side” and beyond.

    I’ll try my best to keep alert and coming here to inspire me with all of you & share on a frequent basis. Can’t promise much by the moment, but yeah, besides that bizarre tiny blog, I also have some serious bizniss going on online too. Therefore, next time I’m around here, you can bet I could come over with a handful of more serious jewels for you.

    As I read; ‘Know + Like + Trust = Belief’…
    Well, I couldn’t help it but post this weird stuff above. So, my apologies for that.
    But the true inspiration snatching me off my two cents over here really came from Penelope Silvers when paraphrasing it, she wrote: ‘Know + Like + Trust = Cultivating Human Relationships’


    • Chris says

      Hello Jack,
      I think maybe you need to read Brian’s lessons again.
      I think there may have been something that escaped your attention.
      I am a little surprised that you would use the opportunity
      provided in this comment section to promote your own business.

      Sorry if you find this in any way offensive.
      That isn’t my intention.

    • Brian Clark says

      Yes, Tom Peters is credited with coining the term “personal branding.” The difference here is the mechanism (media by “regular” people) and the fact that people have tended to divorce personal branding from value, which was not Mr. Peters’ intention.

  15. says

    Hi Brian! I am really enjoying these audios, even the chosen music is adding a fabulous element to the words. I appreciate the presented formula, and admittedly, it was the very word “rainmaker” that had me sign on for this series. Being a metis woman, (half native american), I have struggled with how to balance things between my new ‘blogging’ lifestyle and my work as a medicine woman. All of these courses and workshops that tell one they need to begin ‘charging what they’re worth’ have nauseated me to the core. There are a whole host of issues that will arise for anyone that attaches their self-worth to the amount of income they generate. If fact, that is a huge part of what has the world in the mess it is in right now. So, I have been seeking more balanced ‘entrepreneurs’ to heed advice from. I believe you are on to something here. My medicine teachings have been from elders that live entirely in harmony with the land, and do not offer services for money. Not that it is frowned upon, but humility and reverence for the earth and environment will be hard earned if we are not generous first. So, I have worked for donation and it has served me well. My ‘income’ is sourced through a proper weekend j-o-b. I have been approached to do some sponsored postings, and have been pleased to see it generate some income also. But it is still so, so important to be sure that it never becomes about money for the sake of making money. When a shaman would make it rain, it would be so that the entire community could benefit and thrive. Thank you again :)

    • Chris says

      Hello Danielle,

      Thank you so much for your comments above.

      It is a great opportunity for those of us who are not Native American
      to learn from someone who has first hand knowledge of the traditions
      and culture of the Native American peoples.

      Thank you for sharing with all of us,
      some of your insights into Native traditions

    • Brian Clark says

      When a shaman would make it rain, it would be so that the entire community could benefit and thrive.

      I agree with that 100%!

  16. Jordan says

    I admit that I only listened to the first 6 minutes. I think the message is a good one. My question is concerning the use of the same idea to generate interest. I’m guessing that many elements to this message are repeated a number of times on the Copyblogger site. It comes across like a bit of a gimmick. I think – “Say it once and help your readers to be efficient” needs to be a priority as well.

    • Brian Clark says

      Hey Jordan, thanks for the comment. One one hand, that’s not the way people work. Repeating the same message in different ways is necessary for retention and comprehension, which is why it’s heavily relied on in education, advertising, public service announcements, etc. On the other hand, we’re also reaching a new and different audience with NR (in addition to folks like you who have been around for awhile). Many people are being presented with these ideas for the first time. There’s no gimmick involved, and this is an important take away for you as a content creator.

      • says

        The NR contents I’ve listened to and read were not new to me as I’ve been following CopyBlogger for quite sometime. I would describe the contents presented here as an experience. It had a storytelling feel to it and the music background and intros help provide some emotion to the learning experience. Very Cool ! Thanks.

  17. says

    Lately I have been wondering about this quote from Robert Bruce, for my own business life:

    “It’s too late.” “The field is too crowded.” “I’ve got too much catching up to do.”

    Since I have been into internet marketing since 1999 and have seen the industry get so saturated the question was “now what”?

    At 62 years young, I am developing a whole new strategy. The answer was to focus on my strengths which is research and writing. Mucho kudos to you both – Brian and Robert, Copyblogger staff, Authority, Certification, and this post.

    With over 2000 readers of my monthly blog, I am on the right track. Thank you for your shared knowledge and great content !

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