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What’s a Platform?

KristenBrownPlatformWhen I started writing after my husband died a few years ago, I had no idea I would end up writing a bestselling book about it. Back then, I didn’t know anything about the publishing market. I didn’t know anything about the world of experts and online marketing. And I most definitely did not know what a platform was let alone how to create one.

Sure – I had 15 years of experience with marketing, branding and research in corporate America. I’m no dummy. But I had zero clue how to penetrate the publishing world, build an audience and sell books. I thought if you wrote a book, readers would appear just dying to read my genius writing. I thought that getting an agent and a publisher was just a given and they would launch the book up the bestseller list and get it on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. And when I decided to help people manage their stress as a Life Coach I thought clients would be pounding my door down to book a session.

Boy was I wrong.

Fast forward six years later and I now have two bestselling books under my belt, more media appearances than I can even count including BIG national TV shows, several online and live events/classes, products and I speak and coach individuals and groups on how to minimize stress, maximize life and grow their businesses. In five short years I transformed my platform from just a name, Bachelors degree and a crazy personal experience into a full-on power platform that makes me credible, engaging, unique and marketable in today’s super-competitive world of publishing and entrepreneurship.

It didn’t happen overnight. I failed over and over again trying to figure out the right combination of factors that would make my books and message memorable. It wasn’t until I moved away from positioning my books and products and moved onto positioning ME that things really started rolling.

It was uncomfortable, scary and just plain awkward talking about and promoting myself. But when I looked at the most successful authors, business owners and experts out there in the world, one thing became very clear. Their products and services, while quality and valuable, weren’t all that unique or special. Sure, the iPhone, Facebook, Spanx and training from Tony Robbins are revolutionary products – but there are hundreds if not thousands of competing products that are also pretty cool and often cheaper. What really makes these products stand apart and capture the attention (and money) of customers is the person and story behind the product.

The fact is people buy from people. We want to know the backstory, what makes a person qualified to do what they do, why they are credible before we are willing to invest time and money into something they are selling whether it’s books, products or services.

Think about it. Mary Kay is an amazing brand that has high quality and valuable products that can boost women’s confidence levels and help our natural beauty shine through. But there are tens of thousands of Mary Kay consultants out there. Why does someone choose one consultant over another? The PERSON behind the product. That’s right – you choose to buy a Mary Kay product from a specific consultant because they have done the best job at capturing your attention and giving you the service you require to open your wallet.

A platform is the way you position yourself as the person behind your product. A platform elevates you above the noise in the marketplace to make you memorable and credible.

Platforms aren’t built in a day, but they can be built quickly and easily with a little planning, positioning and digging deep into your story so that people want to buy from YOU. I do it visually with my Platform Mapping process that makes it easy to see where your gaps are and where you need to focus your action. You can see an example of one of my old Platform Maps how I break out out and get my arms around what I do. Then I integrate my platform elements into my overall marketing plans.

What goes into a platform? Sure – education, professional expertise, awards – the stuff that is easy to list in a resume are elements of a platform. But rarely do those things really elevate your X-factor. You need to highlight your personal experiences, personality, voice and special skills to differentiate yourself from the millions of other authors, business owners and entrepreneurs out there.

You do that by publicly showcasing yourself through speaking, writing, networking, events, philanthropy and so much more. But just doing those things so you can check it off a list isn’t enough. You MUST position the elements of your platform in a way that captures your potential customers and clients where they work and play everyday. You must be where your people are because remember – people buy from people.

It’s up to you to put yourself out there so you are unforgettable!

What are you doing to build your platform? Do you have any proven techniques that help you draw in prospects, clients and lifelong customers?

Share it in the comments and thanks for playing!

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