Tag Archives: social media

How To Launch A Platform In Five Minutes Or Less—Really.

Spotlight II

HOW TO LAUNCH A PLATFORM IN FIVE MINUTES OR LESS—REALLY.

   One day shortly before the 2016 election, I was listening to a radio talk show when a young woman called to comment on something the host was saying. I’d tell you who it was but it really doesn’t matter; pick a host with a live, syndicated, nationwide talk show with tens of millions of listeners and you get the idea. But here’s what happened: In the course of the discussion, the young woman mentioned that she had a blog, although she didn’t presume to plug it (it would’ve been deleted on the 7-second delay) and so the host sort of sighed and then asked whether she’d like to mention the name of her blog. Well, who wouldn’t? So she did. (Although it took four mentions before listeners could really catch the domain name because she had “blogspot” or some silly thing in the name. Don’t do that.) At any rate, she finally gets the site name out, makes her comment and hangs up. The host sighs again and says, “Of course, her site will crash because right now millions of people are trying to get on there, but give it a little time and she’ll be up and running again.”

   Platform launched!!

   The iconic “platform”—it goes by many names: your “soapbox,” your “arena,” your “spotlight.” Shakespeare said it best. “’All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…’” (As You Like It).  But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is it good or bad that, according to Will, we’re all on a “stage” trying to “make it”? What stage? And make what?

  No doubt Will was being sarcastic but maybe he was just a writer who saw the reality of the theatre market of his time: Write something the public will like—and pretend to like it. Maybe he was railing against the “platform” requirements of his day. Granted, he didn’t have much in the way of social media to work with but still, early on, even he was required to grow a following in order for his plays to be enacted on stage. He felt the burn. And it’s a Catch 22, is it not? Unless you have “name recognition” or a “social following” or a “platform,” you can’t get a record deal or get published or find a business investor. In other words, unless you’ve already achieved some sort of recognition, you can’t do the thing that would get you the recognition. And why?

   Money.

   Annoying? Maybe, but it’s not about the money; who doesn’t want some? I can’t blame the producers or the publishers or the investors. But I guess what started me thinking about this whole “platform” thing was a blog post I recently read (by a guy whose name I can’t remember) about the essential futility of even trying to build a platform. Evidently he’s a writer who’s achieved some sort of success, but he said that in spite of all the years he’s spent blogging and tweeting and making Youtube videos, it really doesn’t much work. And since that’s the case (he said), we should really only do those platform-building things we enjoy because in the end, it’s all just a waste of time anyway.

   Don’t get me wrong—I really don’t have any problem with the concept of building a platform so you can sell that CD or book or business. What I have a problem with is how you’re supposed to do it. Spending days and weeks and months tweeting and commenting and posting video bites is not my idea of tons of fun. Or any fun. Instead, being a former advertising/promotions’ person, I happen to believe there are easier and more effective ways to build name recognition and platform. Just plain advertising, for example, works. That’s why it’s been around since the dawn of time. (What do you think those cave drawings were for?)

Let’s be honest: The care and feeding of a platform is going to cost you either time or money. Which do you value more?

   Will advertising take some cash? Absolutely, but you know what they say: “You have to spend money to make money.” And that’s true. But face it—you’re spending it anyway, aren’t you? Buying your own books or CD’s to pass out, or giving away a free product or service so people know you exist? Of course, that’s how the game is played. But what if, instead of spending $ that way, you spent it on a publicist who would get you on radio or TV?

   I once heard a publisher talk about how a writer invested in a publicist who got a very famous TV commentator (think ten million viewers) to do a five-minute plug of the author’s book; the very next day, it sold 18,000 copies. And how much did it cost the writer? Only three thousand dollars! (If you’re not aware, that’s an incredible deal.) Throw in a couple more grand for the publicist and the writer essentially bought an instant platform and name recognition for under 5K. Think that’s too much? Every day in this country, thousands of people spend ten times that much starting up businesses. Promotion is simply part of the cost of doing business and your book or CD or work-from-home “cottage industry” is a business.

   Next question: “Just how am I supposed to get the money to do this, Missy? I ain’t rich, you know!” I know. Neither am I. But how many weeks or months would you have a work a part-time job to bank a few thousand dollars? Not too many. Not as many years as you’ll spend tweeting and commenting and posting quotes on Instagram. Or, just do what the girl did: Call a famous show and plug your site. Just make certain before you do it that you have a web or blog and a Twitter account and a FB page because those are the tools you’ll need to take that five minutes of instant stardom and turn it into a permanent platform. But however you get the world’s attention, just make darn sure that when folks come looking for you, they find something—content or product-wise—that makes them want to come back for more. Like the girl did.

   She’s my hero.

 

 

 

Correction vs. Rejection

Correction - Hand Crop   Jack stared at the paper in his hand, crumpled it up, and slam-dunked it into the trash can. There might have been a profanity or two involved as well. His boss’s words reverberated through his mind like a swarm of hornets dive bombing his head.

   “Jack, I’d like you to spend some time shadowing Bill and watching how he communicates with potential clients. I think that will help you to land some new accounts. Your quotas haven’t been quite up to par since you began, but I believe you do have the potential to be a good salesman…”

   Jack was humiliated. He’d had good sales numbers in his last position and excellent evaluations. Granted, quotas were higher with this company but they acted like he’d never even sold a glass of lemonade. And now they wanted him shadowing Bill. He could just imagine the behind-his-back smirks around the water cooler. Jack kicked the wastebasket. He didn’t need this. He should just walk.

   Carly fought back tears. She read the email again. The publishing editor complimented her writing; the plotline was engaging – “gripping” even and her characters “intriguing”, but the editor regretted that he would have to pass. Her social media following was not quite what it should be. But he invited her to resubmit when she reached the particular number of followers he’d mentioned. She glanced again at the number.

   “Hemmingway didn’t have that many followers,” she muttered. Maybe her mother had been right. Maybe she should just forget writing and take up knitting.

   Both Jack and Carly had the same reaction to the course corrections offered by those in charge of their advancement: frustration, followed by discouragement, followed by a strong inclination to quit. Neither had anticipated the critiques nor did they see them as even remotely fair. Neither felt that their talents or abilities were at all valued and just barely even acknowledged. And after the anger came the self-condemnation. Neither Jack nor Carly felt that they had the chops to be successful. They were failures. They’d never make it. They should just face the facts and call it a day. Permanently.      

   What neither Jack nor Carly understood is that correction is not rejection.

   In our success-driven culture, we often feel that “making it” should, if we have what it takes, come easily and certainly quickly. Television, magazines, and all forms of social media gush with images and tales of the rich, the talented, the successful – and they make it look so easy. So that means that if it’s not easy for us, then we’re simply not good enough. Period.

   Not so much.

   Here’s what we don’t realize – with few exceptions, successful people didn’t become that way overnight. Most of them spent years – even decades – preparing themselves, pitching their games, and then failing, only to begin again – and sometimes again and again. We rarely hear of all the rejections experienced by the successful before they achieved their goals: sports tryouts, performance auditions, manuscript submissions, business endeavors, and dozens of job interviews. And meanwhile, folks working two or three jobs or waiting tables at midnight or juggling family, work and school – all while receiving critiques, readjusting, learning, practicing, readjusting some more and trying again.

   Just never quitting.

   But regardless of the industry or field, the goals or dreams, what do all successful people have in common?

   Thing #1: They know that, in order to accomplish their goals and fulfill their destinies, they need to sharpen their skills and become, if not experts, at least very, very good at what they do. Moreover, they know that that doesn’t happen overnight so they understand that correction will come – and it needs to. And because they know to expect correction, they’re not devastated when it happens.

   Thing #2: The ability to accept correction, even if you know it’s coming, requires a tad bit of humility to swallow it and even a touch of gratitude for those willing to take the time to give it because they generally don’t have to. Successful people know that attitude matters.

   Have you ever seen the cooking show “Chopped”? If not, the show features four experienced chefs competing to win a $10,000 prize. There are three courses – appetizer, entrée, and dessert – and after each course, one chef is eliminated. The last one standing wins. The point is that whenever chefs are “chopped,” the judges give them feedback on why they didn’t make the cut so that they can improve. Most of the chefs thank the judges and move on but sometimes, there are those who didn’t get the attitude memo and stomp off, insisting that the judges were wrong and they should’ve won. Bad move. In fact, really bad move. If those people had considered, even for a moment, that they weren’t perfect, they would not have received the judges’ critiques as rejection.

   Thing #3: Not everyone who gives correction does it the right way. We’ve all experienced those who nuke us with their corrections, more with the intent to punish or condemn than to help us to improve. In that case, it’s best not to take the manner of correction to heart while still examining the content of it to see whether there’s any validity to it. Of course, I recognize that that’s sometimes very difficult, especially should the correction be accompanied with yelling, with the word “stupid,” or by ending with “What’s wrong with you??” If that’s the case, realize that there’s nothing wrong with you; it’s the person having the meltdown who needs to consider that question seriously.

   Last Thing: Correction is not rejection. It is an opportunity to improve, to master, and then to ace your game. Correction is not about who you are, it’s about what you do.

   It’s not personal.