How To Use The Pyramid of Influence To Beat The Recession

Last week I was listening to a talk by marketing and PR guru Paul Hartunian. In his talk he reminded me of the Pyramid of Influence described by Dan Kennedy and others for decades. There are four levels to the pyramid:

1. The Generalist - My Business is a Commodity

The generalist is known for knowing a little bit about alot of things. Or, probably better stated, is not known for anything in particular. The generalist is the lowest level of the pyramid.

Here lives your family dentist, the local insurance agent or your business attorney. Most businesses large and small sit at this level.

They sit there, not because of some market force, but because they have not chosen to be "special." You can identify a generalist business anytime you here the owner bemoan the fact that what they sell is a commodity.

2. The Specialist - See me if you need the right answer

Moving up the pyramid, with much more influence than the generalists are the specialists. The obvious example of this is your doctor. If you break your leg, you don't want your general practice want an orthopedic specialist.

If you have a termite problem at your house, you don't want any old bug man, you want the Termidor certified specialist.

By specializing in the solution of one specific problem for a specific type of client you reduce the number of people who are prospects for you. And, you increase the magnetism of your solution to that smaller group.

Because you're speaking right at them and their specific problem, you have greater influence. You're the expert after all.

3. The Celebrity - I don't know much, but I've got your attention

In our modern world of 12,617 TV channels, YouTube, blogs and Twitter, you don't have to look far to see the influence that celebrities enjoy in our society. They shape our decisions on fashion, hair styles, cell phones, music...the list goes on.

Celebrities have more influence than specialists. Our last election is a great education on that point. Regardless of your politics, recognize that Barack Obama, the celebrity, beat two of the most powerful political specialists of the last decade in John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

4. The Celebrity Specialist - I know my stuff and the media thinks I'm cool

At the top, the people with the most influence in our world are those people and companies who become celebrity specialists. This group combines the specialized knowledge of the specialist and the public presence of the celebrity.


  • Dr. Phil (specialist - relationships, added celebrity with Oprah appearances)
  • Suze Orman (specialist - personal finance, appears on Today Show, CNBC, bestselling author)
  • Dr. Oz (specialist - all things health and medical, on Oprah, Larry King, best selling books)

So you're probably thinking...great, how am I going to get on Oprah so I get to the top of the pyramid. My answer: if you can get it.

But you don't need to.

Let me tell you about my friend John Curry. John is a financial planner. Not very remarkable, right? But John specializes in helping state employees here in Florida plan for there retirement in the Florida Retirement System's pension program.

John wrote some articles on how to have a secure retirement if you're in the Florida Retirement System. He got the articles published which led to an appearance on a local Sunday morning news talk show.

The talk show appearance has now positioned him as the celebrity specialist for the Florida Retirement System. Lots of financial planners can help you, but only John is on TV talking to all of the soon to retire state employees in the state capital.

How can you become the celebrity specialist in your market? Do it and you won't have to worry about the economy.