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Last-Minute Tips to Promote Your Book During the Holidays

December 8, 2011

 

In case all of the Christmas music, blinking lights, gingerbread-spiced coffee, and secret Santa exchanges didn’t alert you, the holiday season is upon us. Marketing your book might sound like just an additional stressor in an already stressful season, but December can be a great time to build sales if you use the holidays to your advantage. Though the market can be crowded this time of year, the easy holiday marketing tips below will help you jingle all the way to the bank.

 

Focus on ebooks.

Sales of Kindle products on Black Friday increased by a whopping 400 percent from last year, reports the Financial Post, and Amazon is predicted to sell twelve million Kindle Fires by the end of the year. If you haven’t converted your book to a digital format yet, now is the time to do so (check out our blog post on digital conversion). Not only will an ebook be easier to market, they also offer more flexibility in terms of pricing and content tweaks.

 

Offer limited-time sales.

Although many believe that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best times to drop prices to encourage sales, people will be buying books as gifts throughout December. Market your sale as a “last-minute deal,” and offer special coupons to followers of your Twitter, Facebook, newsletter, and blog. Marking down prices on December 26 is also a good idea, as people around the world will be logging on to populate their new ereaders.

 

Make nice with Amazon.

Booksellers and self-published authors (understandably) spend a lot of time thinking of ways to drive consumers to their personal websites to purchase books, but now may not be the time to completely boycott the Internet’s biggest “etailer.” Carolyn McCray at Digital Book World makes the point that many customers will be buying other gifts on Amazon, and buyers will be more likely to add your book to their already stuffed cart than to buy directly from your site. “This is a sales platform they’re familiar with,” says McCray. “It’s just one click for them to buy your book.” Link your ads to your book’s Amazon page for the next few weeks, and make sure to optimize your account for the best search ranking possible.

 

Offer freebies to build trust and drive sales.

It may seem counterintuitive to offer your highly valuable content for free, but ’tis the season of giving! Plus, free content can be an excellent way to build backlist sales and name recognition. If you’re a nonfiction author, offer a shortened, teaser version of your ebook for free. Fiction authors can offer a free short story or a preview of their latest novel. Not willing to give away part of your book free of charge? Ramp up your blog posting and seek blog swaps over the next few weeks. Writing articles for online magazines can also be a good way to get your name and your holiday sale out there. All these tactics will familiarize consumers with your name, your message, and your expertise—and ultimately prove to them why they should buy your book.

 

Engage with consumers.

Showing others that you’ve got the holiday spirit is a great way to differentiate yourself from other sellers hoping that their products will make the gift list. Be sure to tweet, Facebook post, and blog about the holiday season with occasional links to your sale. Ask your fans questions, and respond to any comments quickly. Community-driven engagement is also a fun way to gain some sales. Author Miranda Parker suggests reaching out to local businesses to be included in their gift baskets, hosting a holiday children’s book drive at your local library, or sponsoring a float in your community parade.

 

Book marketing is a time-consuming and detailed task the whole year round, but it can be made especially tricky in the cluttered holiday market. Differentiating yourself with discounted prices, free content, superior engagement, and a personalized experience can help put your book under the tree. If all else fails, you can always bake amazing Christmas cookies and give them away to customers.

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The Key Factor for Your Presentation's Success

December 6, 2011

DeFinis

Angela DeFinis is an industry expert in professional public speaking. As an author, executive speech coach, and founder of DeFinis Communications, she has spent over twenty years helping business professionals communicate with greater poise, power, and passion. Using her signature Line by Line Coaching™ process, Angela and her talented staff have trained business leaders and other professionals to speak with increased skill and confidence in engaging any audience.

 

When you’re preparing a presentation, who is the most important person you need to consider? The answer: Your audience.

 

You’ve likely experienced, at least once in your career, what happens when you forget about your audience. Here’s the scenario: You create the perfect presentation complete with solid transitions, compelling visuals, and stellar numbers. You have great jokes planned and practice every element of your speech. Yet, as you stand in front of your listeners and talk, your message isn’t garnering any interest. You know you’re crashing fast. While you may have prepared incessantly before you went to the front of the room, you forgot about the one critical element to your presentation—your audience.

 

If you forget your audience, your presentation can backfire. That’s why knowing the details about them is critical for your success.

 

For example, Andrew Winston is a well-known consultant who is dedicated to helping companies grow and flourish by utilizing green environmental strategies. He speaks across the globe to varied audiences. As such, Winston is a master at crafting his presentation to match the needs of his diverse audience. 

 

Winston speaks to audiences of adoring fans, sustainability conference attendees, and even lumberjacks and loggers. Do you think he takes the risk of delivering the same speech to each unique audience? Of course not! The brilliance of Winston is his ability to deliver a compelling presentation every time he speaks because he caters to the specific needs of each audience. When he is in front of his fans, he is bold, controversial, and risk taking. However, when he is in front of an audience of skeptics, he eliminates the controversial pieces and engages with the audience on a personal level.

 

As a presenter, you must get your audience on your side. If the people in front of you want numbers, give them numbers; if they want jokes, give them jokes. However, if you don’t take the time to analyze what would best suit your audience, your presentation will fall flat no matter how much you prepare. 

 

Therefore, before you begin crafting your speech, know who you are going to be standing in front of. Will you be amongst your cheering, loving fans? Or a caustic, skeptical group of dissenters? Make sure you are prepared to speak to the hearts and minds of the crowd in front of you!

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The End of PowerPoint?

November 28, 2011

DeFinisAngela DeFinis is an industry expert in professional public speaking. As an author, executive speech coach, and founder of DeFinis Communications, she has spent over twenty years helping business professionals communicate with greater poise, power, and passion. Using her signature Line by Line Coaching™ process, Angela and her talented staff have trained business leaders and other professionals to speak with increased skill and confidence in engaging any audience.


I recently read a Fast Company blog about a new political party in Switzerland that wants to make PowerPoint illegal. The Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP) is a new movement formed by Matthias Poehm, a professional public speaker in Switzerland. His goal is to “influence the public to put a stop to the phenomenon of idle time in the economy, industry, research and educational institutions.” To do that, he’s focusing on eliminating PowerPoint entirely.

 

While this sounds like a bad skit from Saturday Night Live, apparently the APPP is gaining momentum. And while Poehm is making the assault on PowerPoint the focus of his platform, he states that he’s really targeting all presentation software.

 

So what does Poehm have against PowerPoint? His party has done studies on presentation effectiveness, and they’ve found that 85 percent of participants in meetings think software-based presentations are “killing motivation.” That’s why he wants to get enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in Switzerland to outlaw the tool.

 

I admit that I’ve seen my share of bad PowerPoint presentations. I’m sure you’ve seen them too—slides filled with wordy sentences in teeny font, no design elements, mixed templates, mutli-layered and complex graphs and charts . . . it’s enough to make anyone hate PowerPoint.

 

But if PowerPoint is banned, what’s a speaker to use? Poehm’s suggestion: Flipcharts! While I agree that flipcharts have their place in presentations, to have flipcharts as a presenter’s sole tool may be just as bad as using poorly constructed PowerPoint slides. So rather than outlaw PowerPoint, maybe we should first focus on educating people on how to use it effectively. After all, the tool itself isn’t bad; it’s just the poor application of the tool that gives it a bad name.

 

Knowing this, here are a few top PowerPoint tips.

 

1. Prepare your material before you design your slides: Content development should always come before slide design. Therefore, brainstorm, create, organize and structure your message, and then develop your slides. This simple change of behavior will put PowerPoint where it should be—as a visual aid.

 

2. Create three separate documents: PowerPoint can’t be all things to all people. That’s why your speaker notes, handouts and PowerPoint slide deck should be three separate entities. Yes, this takes extra time, more organization and a bit more work, but no one said that preparing to give a great presentation was easy!

 

3. Design a slide deck geared for knowledge transfer: Add pictures, charts, graphs, learning models, audio and video clips and other rich images to keep your audience stimulated and engaged. Visuals are vital to knowledge transfer.

 

4. Consider the power of staging: Your audience relishes design, symmetry, and powerful and pleasing images. And they also need you to be as polished as your PowerPoint. Therefore, a few simple staging techniques, like making sure that your body shadows don’t block the screen, facing front and using pointers effectively, will help you feel and be more professional and more engaging.

 

5. Memorize your transitions: Develop, refine and memorize your transitions so that you move from slide to slide with grace and ease. Avoid the distracting behavior of constantly looking over your shoulder to see what slide is coming next.

 

6. Don’t read your slides: The slide is there to enhance your message and to give the audience a visual stimulus that keeps them engaged so you can pour your knowledge into their heads. You are the message and the messenger. Take heed.

 

The sooner everyone masters these points, the better our chances of preventing the Anti-PowerPoint Party from establishing roots here. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but . . . long live PowerPoint!

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Attention Entrepreneurs: A Maverick Mindset is Brand Candy

November 15, 2011

Mary van de WielBest known for her individualistic expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real emotional power in brands to spike the bottom line, Mary van de Wiel [alias: Van] is CEO and Brand Anthropologist of Zing Your Brand & Co., a New York-based creative brand consultancy, laboratory and workspace. Dubbed Master Provocateur by clients and media alike, Van brings a highly-eclectic perspective to branding whether as weekly host of NY Brand Lab Radio, leading the quarterly NY Brand Lab Workshops, speaking, consulting, blogging or producing the Brand Reinvention Summit. For 15 years, Van ran her own global branding shop with offices in New York and Sydney, Australia with Fortune 500 clients across four continents. She’s written for Entrepreneur.com, Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog,and been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, Reuters, VOGUE and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking. Follow Van on Twitter @maryvandewiel or download her free audio, 7 Creative Secrets to a Wickedly Bolder Brand as well as two free ebooks (How to Score your Business Brand and Raise the Pulse of your Brand).

 


We all know what an oxygen-starved brand looks like, right? You can spot one a mile away. The lights are out, so to speak. Well, if you have a hunch your personal brand might need even a bit of resuscitation today, adopt a maverick mindset. After all, in this economy, brands thrive on a sweet cocktail of eclectic thinking, a provocative point of view and the desire to stake out your territory like no other. To shift your mindset so your brand can revive itself—and flourish—I’m putting three ideas on the table to get you started:

 

 

#1: Start wearing the hat of brand maverick OK. What’s a brand maverick? Here’s my pocket version definition: (i) a nonconformist who prefers taking an independent stand; (ii) a master of making a mark on the world; (iii) an innovator with a desire to do things their way; (iv) an individual who challenges the status quo; (v) a risk taker who pushes harder than most.

 

Take Richard Branson, for example, the quintessential Brand Maverick. Overseeing his Virgin brand of 360+ companies, Branson’s willingness to pay attention to building his high-energy brand is pretty clear. What’s more, he’s having a blast along the way. (Just look at that twinkle in his eye!) Apple’s Steve Jobs is another Brand Maverick – although less flamboyant than Branson. An innovator who is changing the world, Jobs has that behind-the-scenes maverick personality. FYI Brand Mavericks are not required to parachute jump out of planes or live out loud on a regular basis. It just depends on what your particular personality craves.

 

Ask Yourself: Are you willing to put on the hat of Brand Maverick? It involves a conscious decision to look at your brand through a fresh, new lens. It’s about taking a more provocative approach. Ditch those traditional methods of doing things that don’t work for you anymore. What’s going to take you out of your comfort zone? Do it. Make it a conscious habit for five days. Then watch what happens.

 

 

#2: Think of your brand as a dynamic, living organism Consumer psychologist and brand strategist Mark Rodgers talks about brands as dynamic, living organisms, and the importance of creating healthy and highly-functioning brands. You need to create the conditions for growth, and that requires being nurturing, congruent, empathetic and having integrity. Paying close attention to your brand as it grows and evolves is key, and you have to evolve, too—right along with it.

 

Ask Yourself: When’s the last time you nurtured your brand? Are you paying particular attention to the dialog your brand is having everyday—whether it’s with your raving fans, employer or clients? Are you aware of the hidden messages that your brand is expressing on a daily basis? Brands are a bit like puppies, you know. They need constant attention, affection and pats. They also need a firm hand, too. How are you nurturing and nourishing your brand today?

 

 

#3 Have more fun with your brand I can always spot a brand with low energy levels or a dark cloud hanging over it. It’s a clue that tells me that the “guardian” behind the brand is not engaged, motivated or inspired. Let’s face it—not a great strategy. I’d say most people like to work/play with others who are open, energized, have a relaxed sense of humor, and enjoy life and living to the max. You? Let’s look at Pentagram, for example, a global brand that loves having fun. Pentagram is a 2D-3D design firm with offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Austin and Berlin. They’ve created this microsite where you can check out what kind of font your personality is. While you’re on the site, think about the kind of fun you could be having with your brand. (My personality type? Cooper Black Gothic.) Note: There is only four simple personality questions, and make sure you keep the sound on!

 

Ask Yourself: How much fun are you having with your brand right now? If you’re not, go back to the drawing board and remember what inspired you to create your brand in the first place. Probe deep. Be honest. Because the more fun you’re having, the more others will turn their heads in your direction and follow you. Be the real master of serious play. It’s magnetic and powerful stuff, and just part of the joy of wearing the hat of the Brand Maverick.

 

Now, will all Brand Mavericks please stand!

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How to Build a Potent Brand (Six Clues)

October 27, 2011

Mary van de Wiel

Best known for her individualistic expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real emotional power in brands to spike the bottom line, Mary van de Wiel [alias: Van] is CEO and Brand Anthropologist of Zing Your Brand & Co., a New York-based creative brand consultancy, laboratory and workspace. Dubbed Master Provocateur by clients and media alike, Van brings a highly-eclectic perspective to branding whether as weekly host of NY Brand Lab Radio, leading the quarterly NY Brand Lab Workshops, speaking, consulting, blogging or producing the Brand Reinvention Summit. For 15 years, Van ran her own global branding shop with offices in New York and Sydney, Australia with Fortune 500 clients across four continents. She’s written for Entrepreneur.com, Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog,and been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, Reuters, VOGUE and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking. Follow Van on Twitter @maryvandewiel or download her free audio, 7 Creative Secrets to a Wickedly Bolder Brand as well as two free ebooks (How to Score your Business Brand and Raise the Pulse of your Brand) www.zingyourbrand.com.

 

 

It’s just not enough to be brilliant. People must know and remember that you are. Let’s face it, walking around feeling complacent and entitled because you know you’re brilliant is not a viable strategy, right?  So if you want to be known, remembered and recognized, it’s critical you build a brand that not only positions you as brilliant – but as irresistible and indispensable, too. How do you do that? You create a potent brand.

 

Potency defined OK. Let’s start with a definition of potency here just to get us all on the same page. The word ‘potent’ means (i) power; authority, (ii) efficacy; effectiveness; strength; and (iii) the capacity to be, become, or develop one’s potentiality; and  (iv) a person or thing exerting power or influence.

 

In other words, the more potent your brand, the more powerful, authoritative, effective, strong and influential you are. The best part? A potent brand makes it easier for your world to find you, get to know you and then, want to engage with you (work with you, employ you, salute you, etc.) You get the idea.

 

So how do you start building a potent brand? The world is moving at a staggeringly fast pace. It’s never been more important to get a grip on your brand’s core values, what it stands for and why it’s meaningful.

It starts with asking questions. Take a look at the six clues below plus questions. See how willing you are to give your brand a leg up, as they say. It’s likely to turbo charge your thinking. It’ll then, hopefully, get you moving forward­—and building a brand with potency.

 

1. Be Chief Influential Officer of Your Brand

• Are you poised to become the Go-To-Resource within your area of expertise Y/N?

• How willing are you when it comes to getting out of your comfort zone Y/N?

• Are you ready to stake out your territory in a more authoritative way Y/N?

• Is your Brand Pulse showing strong, pumping and vital signs? (the last time you checked?) Y/N?

• Would you describe your brand as robust and hardy Y/N?

• Is the world around you noticing you’re becoming a center of influence Y/N?

 

2. Set the Right Tone for Your Brand

• Are you clear about the intention behind your brand Y/N?

• Are you really communicating you are who you say you are Y/N?

• Is your brand’s voice clear, authentic and aligned Y/N?

• Are you regularly minding your brand’s behavior Y/N?

• Is your brand’s attitude welcoming, empathetic and transparent Y/N?

 

3. Start Seeing your Brand as Your Platform

• How committed are you to showing up in your brand Y/N?

• Would you give yourself a high score when it comes to inspiring your world Y/N?

• Do you actually think about changing the world Y/N?

• Are you at ease speaking confidently from your brand platform Y/N?

 

4. Pay Close Attention to Your Brand’s Emotional IQ

• Would you say your brand lands a high score when it comes to empathy Y/N?

• Are you aware the world around you has feelings about you and your brand Y/N?

• Do you think you might be keeping your world at arm’s length Y/N?

• Do you focus on actually creating strong emotional connections in your communication Y/N?

 

5. Focus on Being 120% Authentic

• Are you spending much effort on creating a consistent brand Y/N?

• Do you know exactly what a congruent brand looks like (let alone feels like?) Y/N?

• Would the world around you give you a high score as an authentic brand builder Y/N?

• Do you know that feeling when your brand is out of alignment Y/N? (You always know when the wheels of your car are out of alignment, right?)

 

6. Face Facts: The Money’s in the Brand

Note:  Potent brands are profitable. The definition of business, after all, is about profit, purchases, commerce and volume of trade.

• So are you paying enough attention to what your world really needs the most Y/N?

• Does your brand consistently deliver what your world is craving Y/N?

• Are you willing to let your brand go to work for you Y/N?

 

OK. How potent is your brand feeling right now? P.S. Don’t ever forget that building your brand is always a work in progress. (That’s the good news Y/N?)

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How Endorsements Can Raise Your Credibility and Help Grow Your Author Platform

October 25, 2011

A while back we provided some tips on how to go about securing endorsements for your book.

 

Endorsements can make a big difference when it comes to influencing behavior. If you’re a first-time author, you have a major hurdle to overcome in establishing credibility. This is a challenge you will face not only with readers, but with retail buyers—the employees who decide what stock to bring into their bookstores—as well.

 

Consumers are undoubtedly swayed by endorsements of all kinds. There are celebrities of every kind connected to products of every sort. Celebrity endorsements are a multibillion-dollar industry in our country. Though it’s impossible to track exact sales results back to specific endorsements, investors seem to think they work: stock prices are often positively impacted when a company secures a super-high-profile endorser. Companies also see an increase in sales when the right endorsement hits the airwaves. It’s true that not all endorsements have this effect, but it happens often enough for huge companies to spend huge budgets continuing the practice.

 

No one knows for sure what goes through the consumer’s mind when she sees an endorsement (except the consumer herself, of course), but the theory goes that the association of a particular product with a famous person influences the consumer to act. Maybe she thinks that the product must be the best in its category or else the celebrity wouldn’t be associated with it. Maybe she thinks that if she uses the same product the celebrity uses, she will somehow be like the celebrity. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the endorsement influenced a purchase.

 

Relating this concept to your credibility as a first-time author is pretty straight- forward. Consumers don’t know who you are (yet), so you influence their buying behavior by being associated with someone they do know. That’s not to say that all your endorsements need to be from world-famous celebrities, though of course the bigger the name, the bigger the influence. Your endorsers do need to be recognizable and influential in terms of what they do, who they work for, or books they have written. Basically, they have to have serious credentials—credentials that will give your work credibility.

 

Strong endorsements work wonders with retail buyers for the same reason. Retail buyers know that those endorsements are going to sway their customers, so they take them into account when deciding whether to stock your book on their crowded shelves.

 

You can leverage endorsements in other ways that will help build your author platform as well. Below are some suggestions that will continue growing your reach and your audience.

 

  • Leverage the relationship with your endorser to reach their platform through a plug in their newsletter or as a guest contributor to their blog
  • Use your biggest endorsements as a lead-in when approaching media and bloggers about featuring your book
  • Share your endorsements with your social networking connections and ask them to share the good news with new readers
  • Connect with your endorsers through any social networks they’re on and ask  if they will share their endorsement of your book with their fans and connections
  • Ask your newsletter subscribers to respond to a survey about which endorsement is the most influential, letting them know that the winning endorsement will go on the front cover of the book (and of course, they can pass along that survey to friends and peers)

 

Always remember to give something of value to the people you are enlisting to help, whether they are the endorsers themselves or your already-loyal readers and subscribers. If you can find a way to benefit everyone involved—even if it’s in an intangible way, like connectivity to the final product—you will get less resistance and better results.

 

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Platform Development Series: Income

September 30, 2011

Got Platform?

The term “platform” is ubiquitous these days. We see it in the business world, we hear it bandied about among authors, experts, and speakers, and we experience it in the social media landscape. This phenomenon isn’t accidental. Platform is a powerful concept that reflects the content, brand, positioning, credibility, audience, and intellectual property you develop. Your platform lives at the intersection of ideas, influence, and income—and your book’s success depends on it.

In this three-part series, we’ll share valuable information and resources to help you create, maintain and boost your platform. To learn more about Greenleaf Book Group’s platform development program, visit greenleafbookgroup.com/platformdevelopment.


 

Platform  Dev DiagramPlatform, Part 3: Income

Income. It’s the last piece in the platform development puzzle and the final brick on your path to success. It’s an absolutely essential function of your business and brand. It’s where your audience shows you the money, and it’s where all your idea-generating and influence-building pays off—literally.

 

Income is the ultimate product of great ideas, great content, and strong influence in the form of interaction and conversation among your audience. Income means monetizing your ideas and converting customers into closed leads. Great ideas combined with a powerful interaction strategy can lead to great business if handled correctly, as Bethenny Frankel of The Real Housewives of New York City fame has showed us over the past few years.

 

We usually think of The Real Housewives cast members as, well, housewives. And with a few exceptions, that’s mostly what they are—women who have the financial luxury to spend most of their days throwing catered dinner parties and gossiping with pricey cocktails in hand. Not many reality TV stars have made   the leap from “personality” to true entrepreneur, but Frankel was able to use the show to build and promote her now-infamous Skinnygirl brand.

 

When Frankel first appeared on the show, she was the relatively “broke” housewife, a natural foods chef living in a 700 square-foot closet of an apartment and struggling to make rent. But she had an idea—a low-calorie margarita—and she used the exposure she received from the show to cultivate her influence and create a strong brand. Two years later, and she’s sold her Skinnygirl cocktail line to Beam Global for a price rumored to be around $120 million—an unheard-of number in the spirits marketplace for a single celebrity. Even though reality TV is often seen as a joke, Frankel is dead serious in her income-building. And now uber-rich.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA5XEHP4BRs

 

You, too, can make income happen when you’ve built enough influence and interaction around your content and found your audience’s pain points, or points of interest. Check out our suggestions below to seamlessly and successfully make income a part of your platform-building experience.

 

 

1. Diversify your offerings. You’re going to want a diversified set of product offerings, or assets, to generate multiple streams of income—content, products, services, and programs. You can customize these for audience segments and areas of expertise. Below are a few specific examples of great income-generators:

  • Speaking and presenting—keynotes, breakouts, or workshops
  • Book sales
  • Training sessions and facilitation
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Custom downloads from your website

 

Income sphere

 

Don’t be a one-hit wonder when it comes to generating salable content. Be dynamic. Not only does Frankel continue to market and support her claim to fame—her Skinnygirl margarita—she also offers health DVDs, several bestselling books, online personal training, shapewear, and dieting and cleansing products. All of this is, of course, in addition to her countless paid media and event appearances.

 

 

 2. Keep an open mind.

A successful income strategy also means building partnerships and welcoming the right sponsorships, spokesperson opportunities, affiliate marketing, and anything else you can think of. Don’t be afraid to dive into new territory.

 

When Frankel was first approached by Bravo to join The Real Housewives cast, she refused for two months. However, she considered the influence-building potential of the show, and cites business exposure as the only reason she finally said yes, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Keeping an open mind not only allowed Frankel to launch her Skinnygirl line; it also earned her a spin-off show, Bethenny Ever After, which garners over a million viewers per episode.

 

 

3. Facilitate the process.

Make sure that your content is easily found and easily bought. Invest in a user-friendly and well-designed website to help facilitate and automate ecommerce. Don’t settle for a second-rate one, either—your online presence is going to be where your audience turns to learn about you, buy from you, and stay engaged with you.

 

Remember that income is ultimately about selling more of less. It’s about the long tail. Sometimes it’s best to start by giving away valuable content. You’ll build trust and get people engaged. They’ll want more.

 

 

4. Repurpose.

Ideas are valuable. Keep a list of your ideas for income-generating content and revisit it often. Just because someone might not be willing to pay for your product now doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to sell it. As your influence grows, you’ll be able to leverage more of your ideas into income-making opportunities.

A list is also a good idea because it will help you figure out ways to divide and repurpose your content assets. For example, you could turn your book or blog into a workbook or webinar series. Keep in mind that services and programs like speaking, training, and coaching have a higher perceived value and require higher pricing. You should focus on breaking into these worlds if you haven’t already.

 

 

Frankel was able to negotiate the astronomical purchase price of Skinnygirl because of her unique idea and powerful influence. Still, it took some time and some great opportunities for her to get there. The lesson for anyone who aspires to grow is that building a platform happens one “I” at a time—with ideas, interaction, and income. The more time you spend on each component, the better your platform will be and the stronger your income-generating opportunity.

 

The other idea to keep in mind is that in the end, you will be as successful as the quality of your platform. And the quality of your platform will determine your opportunities and income over time. As you focus on building your platform, think about Gary Vaynerchuk, Suze Orman, Bethenny Frankel, and other creative entrepreneurs that have transformed great ideas into influence and income. Each has mastered the three “I’s” and this mastery has resulted in a powerful platform.

 

 

For more information on the ins and outs of what a platform is and how to get started on developing one, check out parts 1 and 2 of Greenleaf’s platform development series, in which we discuss the necessities of great ideas and strategic influence. Want help expanding your influence and developing your expertise? Greenleaf offers a broad range of platform development services, including integrated brand strategy; keynote and presentation design; print and online product development; speaker reel and video production; social media strategy; and more. For a full list of what Greenleaf can do for you, visit www.greenleafbookgroup.com/platformdevelopment.

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Platform Development Series: Influence

September 29, 2011

Got Platform?

The term “platform” is ubiquitous these days. We see it in the business world, hear it bandied about among authors, experts, and speakers, and we experience it in the social media landscape. This phenomenon isn’t accidental. Platform is a powerful concept that reflects the content, brand, positioning, credibility, audience, and intellectual property you develop. Your platform lives at the intersection of ideas, influence, and income—and your book’s success depends on it.

In this three-part series, we’ll share valuable information and resources to help you create, maintain and boost your platform. To learn more about Greenleaf Book Group’s platform development program, visit greenleafbookgroup.com/platformdevelopment.

 

Platform, Part 2: Influence

Money is personal. Spilling your economic guts to anyone other than your spouse, partner, or family members is unheard of to most people. But not to Suze Orman. Orman, a financial advisor-turned-television host and bestselling author, listens to personal financial pain on a daily basis and gives empowering solutions for people in tough situations. It’s especially helpful in today’s economic climate. Her advice is often abrasive. She challenges her fans to make immediate proactive changes in their financial lives. And as creatures of habit, it’s never easy for us to make changes like these.

 

With her loud, in-your-face approach and established expertise, Orman’s reach extends to millions of people. They love her, and her Twitter community alone shows it, topping 1,100,000 followers. Her TV program, The Suze Orman Show, has been on the air for ten years and continues to be one of the most highly rated programs on CNBC. She’s also penned nine consecutive bestsellers and hosted the most successful fundraiser in the history of PBS. That’s powerful.

 

Everyone wants Suze’s advice. And when Suze talks, not only do people listen—they share what they’ve heard with others. She gets people talking, which helps drive word of mouth. It’s hard not to admire Suze’s ability to wield widespread influence and connect. And her path to platform success is worthy of study. It didn’t happen overnight. But she tapped into a deep need (personal financial advice) and transformed that into a brand—one that allows her to continue to capture people’s attention.

 

Interaction sphere

 

If ideas are your foundation when it comes to building a successful platform, influence is your most important tool. Without meaningful influence, great ideas can die. So you want to be sure to find your audience, cultivate your relationships through offline and online channels, and build a following.

 

Remember, influence is about capturing people’s imagination and emotion, their hearts and minds, and engaging them to share your ideas. It’s essential for your platform. Influence also allows you to amplify your message as it moves from person to person to group to larger networks. Here are four driving points behind building influence:

 

 

1. Provide great content. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: You need to begin with a solid content strategy. You need content designed around a problem or pain point for your target audience, content that exists in different formats to help different types of learners. Orman’s audience needs financial advice. She provides it across several media: her website, TV, radio, social media. And Orman not only makes sure that her financial recommendations are top-notch, she also makes them in a way that’s unique and personable.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUhx66ANiqY

 

 

When you create consistently great content in different formats, you provide value and benefit to your audience and win mindshare. You get them talking. Eureka! That’s influence.

 

You can read about how to get started on creating content that people care about in Part 1 of Greenleaf’s platform development series.

 

 

2. Help your audience share your content, online and offline. People want to share. Sharing information is not only entertaining, it’s educational and gratifying, too. Use our natural tendency to share—your job is to connect with people and give them tools to share your message.

 

Your content should be designed to resonate and get people sharing. If it’s not worth their time, they won’t share it. And it’s not worth your time to create. So make it shareable, fun, different, or controversial.

 

It’s essential to have a diversified web presence. A clean, professional, well-designed, and easily navigated website experience is a necessity—but don’t stop there. Start blogging regularly and reach out to other bloggers in your arena. Consider doing a blog swap to build your readers. Maintain your social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and make an effort to regularly post relevant information and interact with your followers. Making a webinar, podcast, or video series is a great way to share your content—and those media are usually the most viral.

 

According to a HubSpot survey, U.S. Internet users spend three times as many minutes on blogs and social networks than on email. Forty-six percent of people read blogs more than once a day. Is your content part of their conversation? Track your online influence by comments received, feedback given, number of likes, and the frequency of sharing among your readers, fans, and followers.

 

Face-to-face sharing is also a part of your influence. Offline, conversations happen following a presentation you give or an appearance you make. Always give them a (branded!) handout with your most valuable content—something that people will leave on their desks and discuss with their coworkers.

 

 

3. Do some sharing yourself. Linking to videos and sharing links to notable content, even if it’s not your own, is low-hanging fruit you can do every day to create interaction and build up your influence. Show your followers that you care enough about them to share content that others create—use your influence for more than just a personal advertising tool, and it will, ironically, become one. Note that your brand and image alignment matter. So if you’re a health expert, make sure you look like the embodiment of health and that you’re sharing information about well-being.

 

Your fans will want to know a little about you, too. In return to her fans, who share very private information with her on a daily basis, Orman makes sure that she puts herself out there as well. On Suze’s “About Me” page of her website, viewers find a video—not the usual paragraph upon paragraph of description. The video not only gives viewers a sense of Suze’s expertise—it gives them a sense of her personality. She also has a highlighted section of her website devoted to “scrapbooks.” You’ll find her fans calling her “girlfriend” left and right.

 

Sharing notable content from others—in addition to the content you create on your own—will help you build influence and trust. You’re adding value, including people in your conversation, and building your credibility. You’re promoting great content. And you’re coming from a place of contribution. Your fans know that they can trust you to give them valuable information, and they’ll tell other people to use you as a resource.

 

 

4. Quantify. Regularly quantify where you are in terms of influence. Analyze the number of online connections and offline contacts you have. It’s a good rule of thumb to measure where you are monthly or quarterly. Track the number of fans, followers, and page hits you have. This is especially important if you’re spending any money on ad campaigns. Make sure your ad spend is converting into influence.

 

A quick tool for measuring your influence is Klout Score. Klout Score gives you a ranking based on a few different components, including the number of people who see your social media posts; the number of people who re-share your posts; and the relative influence of other people in your network. Our bet? Orman has a great Klout Score.

 

 

As you move forward to build influence, focus on setting goals and growing your networks exponentially. Your platform grows with each “like” and each mention you receive. Facilitate the process by providing great content, interacting with your audience, sharing relevant links, and measuring your status. Pay attention to those—like Vaynerchuk, Orman, and others—who have mastered the art of influence. And most importantly: have fun with your influence-building. What’s more exciting than sharing your ideas and making new friends?

 

Platform  Dev Diagram

Check in with us tomorrow for part 3 of this series, where we’ll uncover how you can use the combination of great ideas and high influence to generate income.

Interested in getting a read on where you are in the development of your platform? Find out how you rank at MyExpertScore.com. It’s a free tool we’ve created to help you measure your current status by giving you a personal expert score. One you finish the test, we’ll give you additional strategies to take you to the next level. Give the test a try, and feel free to get back to us with any feedback!

 

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Platform Development Series: Ideas

September 28, 2011

 Got Platform?

The term “platform” is ubiquitous these days. We see it in the business world, hear it bandied about among authors, experts, and speakers, and experience it in the social media landscape. This phenomenon isn’t accidental. Platform is a powerful concept that reflects the content, brand, positioning, credibility, audience, and intellectual property you develop. Your platform lives at the intersection of ideas, influence, and incomeand your book’s success depends on it. 

In this three-part series, we’ll share valuable information and resources to help you create, maintain, and boost your platform. To learn more about Greenleaf Book Group’s platform development program, visit www.greenleafbookgroup.com/platformdevelopment.

 

Platform  Dev Diagram

Platform, Part 1: Ideas

 

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has appeared on everything from Ellen and CNN to NPR. He’s written two New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. And he has amassed almost one million Twitter followers. One million! He grew his family wine business from $3 million in annual revenue to more than $45 million in eight short years. At age thirty-five, Vaynerchuk operates a slew of businesses and even boasts a gaggle of fans that refer to themselves as “Vayniacks.” In short, he’s a walking billboard for what a concentrated platform can do for you.

 

Becoming a mega-expert like Vaynerchuk sounds incredibly appealing and, for those just getting started, equally daunting. So let’s break down where you should begin. A strong platform starts with strong ideas. Ideas—the content you create—are your foundation; they’re a major reason people will talk about you. Ideas are a form of currency that translates into value for your audience, and the beauty is that that value can translate into money for you.

 

Building valuable content that an audience will care about enough to use, share with others and, ideally, purchase, depends on four components: (1) finding your passion; (2) knowing your audience; (3) choosing an effective content strategy; and (4) creating solid, new content on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at these to help kick-start your content conquest.

 

 

1.    Find your passion. It‘s essential that you care about your topic. If you’re not engaged, your audience certainly won’t be. So choose a meaningful topic that keeps you curious, one you spend a lot of time thinking, writing, and talking about.

 

Ideally, you’ll be passionate in an area where you’re already credentialed. If you’re a fashion designer or marketer who loves fashion, there’s a golden opportunity to create content on the subject of fashion. If you’re a professional magician who wants to create a platform in the world of deep sea diving, you’ll have to work a lot harder than the Jacques Cousteau types who are already in the water. Take your passion and create content around it. Keep it simple, fun, and engaging, and always look for ways to make it remarkable.

 

 

2. Know your audience. The content you create must match your audience’s needs and interests. Be sure to conduct a thorough audience analysis before you begin developing content and interacting. Create demographic and psychographic profiles. You need to know the answers to these questions:

  • Who are they?

    Ideas circle

  • What do they do?
  • What do they struggle with?
  • What do they care about?
  • Who else do they admire?

Knowing what your competitors bring to the table is essential, too. Remember, you must differentiate yourself, and you should focus on filling a hole in the field.

 

 For example, Vaynerchuk had the foresight to realize that e-commerce would grow exponentially, and he started winelibrary.com in 1997. He also quickly identified an empty spot in the wine-tasting world—non-fluffy, honest feedback. He started making video wine reviews and spoke to his audience on their level, using terms like “sniffy sniff” and “oakmonster.” His reviews were soon reaching over 100,000 viewers per day. He filled a need in the lofty world of wine collecting with excellent, informed content in a guy-next-door voice.

 

 

3. Decide on a content strategy. With your passion and audience in your pocket, now you need to decide how you will present your content. Will you do it through blogging, infographics, videos, podcasts, presentations, webinars, articles, a book, or something else entirely? A mix of these is likely the most effective way to present your content, and as you craft that mix it’s important to track what your audience responds to. How do they learn best? And what works especially well for your content? You can also look at your competitors—what content strategies are they using effectively?

 

You also want to figure out your short- and long-term goals and pin down who will create your content. Do you want a blog with one weekly post, or do you want multiple posts per week? What about videos? Are you planning to create your own content? Or do you have a reliable assistant or support team that is in tune with your message and can do much of the heavy lifting for you? Your answer to these questions might depend on whether you’re creating a platform for yourself or your business (or whether your “self” is your business). If you are developing your personal platform, it’s important that fans feel like they’re interacting with the real you—not your personal assistant. As literary agent Rachelle Gardner writes on her blog, “It’s harder than ever to attract people to books. The way to do it is increasingly through personal connection, and that means YOU, the author, making connections with your readers.”

 

Vaynerchuk took the time each week to record himself on camera for his (recently-retired) video blog, “The Daily Grape.” He was being himself for his fans. And if you look at his Twitter feed, it’s a stream of responses to his followers. No wonder people feel connected to him—they are.

 

 

4. Create solid, new content on a regular basis. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. An editorial calendar is not just for newspaper editors. It helps keeps you focused and productive, and can help you envision and manage your workload. The sooner you get started, the better. The Content Marketing Institute provides a guide to starting an editorial calendar, pointing out that the calendar not only keeps you on track—it helps you think of ways to repurpose your content as well. Finally, be sure to keep up with new developments in your field. Once you’re perceived as an expert, you need to remain one. The members of your audience need to know they can depend on you, first and foremost, for new information and ideas. Make it happen through consistently great content.

 

When passion and good ideas connect with an audience need through a well-thought-out content strategy, great things can happen. Think of Vaynerchuk. He took what he knew and loved—wine—and spoke to his audience in a unique and casual way, through a medium they responded to—vlogging. 

 

Vaynerchuk’s success all started with his content, and yours will too. The more content you create over time, the more your ideas become the fuel that powers your brand platform.

 

 

Check in with us tomorrow for Part 2 of this series, in which we’ll take a look at influence—that is, how to spread your ideas through interaction with your audience.

Interested in getting a read on where you are in the development of your platform? Find out how you rank at MyExpertScore.com. It’s a free tool we’ve created to help you measure your current status by giving you a personal expert score. Once you finish the test, we’ll give you additional strategies to take you to the next level.

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Market with a Shout-out! Widen your Network with Social Media Swapping

August 23, 2011

Twitter accounts with four followers. Stagnant Facebook fan pages. Blogs that languish in the wilderness of cyberspace, never to be viewed by human eyes. We’ve all seen them (in fact, we’ve even owned some of them). Does this sound eerily close to your own situation? Don’t give up yet.

 

One of the best ways to kick-start your social media strategy is to participate in a content swap. Content swaps can range from exchanging Tweets to hosting reader giveaways to sharing guest posts with another blogger. All these strategies can increase your exposure and help you widen your social media reach.

 

Intrigued? Here are seven simple steps to running your own content swap:

 

  1. Figure out whether content swapping will work for you. Social media exchange would work well for someone trying to build his or her online platform. If you’ve had a Twitter account for a while but feel underwhelmed by the 147 friends you worked tirelessly to acquire, try content swapping. Exchanging social media is probably a good idea for everyone, though. Whether you’re a social media celebrity wanting to offer something new to your followers or a complete blogger noob looking to establish a following, you can benefit from content swapping.
  2. Decide what it is you want to exchange. Do you want to swap posts? Tweets? Or do you want to offer a free giveaway per Tweet mentioning you? The possibilities are as wide as you are creative. A simple swapping of blog posts is probably the easiest, but if you’re targeting your Twitter account, getting bloggers to mention your free giveaway for followers might be a better strategy.
  3. Determine whether you will offer any add-ons for readers. Will you give a free guide or download to the readers of the blog you are guest posting on? This would be a good way to get people to listen to you and actually read your guest post—an especially good option if you aren’t established in the market yet. People love free stuff, and if you’re offering a complimentary ebook download with your post, it might make the difference between being ignored and being read.
  4. Identify a relevant blogger. You want to look for a blogger in the same niche as yourself. Spend some time researching your audience: Who are they? What do they care about? What do they do online? Who do they read? Once you identify a few bloggers in your space, be strategic in who you choose to reach out to. You want someone who’s similar without being in direct competition with you. Also be sure to target someone that’s popular but also accessible (i.e., don’t try to hit up Perez Hilton on your first try).
  5. Contact the blogger and outline the plan. Make sure to be clear about what, exactly, the mutual benefit is in your swap. Will this blogger’s readers get a freebie? Will he or she gain more followers by being on your blog? After all, a blogger sharing content with you will want to get something out of the deal as well.
  6. Execute the swap. Write the post, making sure it is specific, actionable and relevant. Include your contact information in the post. You can even note that the post is open for syndication on other blogs, as long as you grant permission. Before the post goes up, try reaching out to other people in your blogging arena, asking them to make a quick one-line mention about the giveaway or guest post. Keep up with any inquiries you receive and be sure to check the post often. Respond to comments as they come in, and interact with the readers or Tweeters.
  7. Evaluate. Was the swap worth the effort you put into it? Did it result in more “likes,” more followers, and more page views? Even if it didn’t translate into an explosive increase in followers, check your page analytics to see if more people visited your site. If you run a business, exposure for your company will be more important in the long run than an extra Twitter follower.

 

If you don’t have the time or energy to go through the research and coordination it takes to participate in a social media swap, have no fear. In the last few years, several companies have popped up that specialize in facilitating content swapping.

 

Pay With a Tweet allows users to “sell their products for the price of a Tweet.” According to the Pay With a Tweet website, French electropop band The Teenagers is swapping its new single for mentions on Twitter. AppStorm has a great guide to setting up a “Pay With a Tweet” button on your website.

 

Social Media Swap is a free, member-based portal meant to connect users with other people interested in exchanging everything from Tweets to “Stumbles” to Facebook page likes. The site allows you to pay, buy, and swap. Similarly, Smorty, a blog advertising company, coordinates blog post exchanges by connecting active users with each other.

 

Whether you go DIY with your content swapping or take advantage of one of the companies offering swap services, a strategic swap can give you targeted readers, more page views, and an increased page ranking—all great benefits for a one-time deal. Looks like your involvement in bartering and trading didn’t end when you got rid of your copy of The Oregon Trail after all. Happy swapping!

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