This post was originally published on Live to Write – Write to Live where I blog about writing and publishing with a diverse group of literary friends.
You’ve been convinced that a platform is a good thing and you’ve got a sense of the building blocks that make a strong one. But how does all this work together to create a stunning author presence that will have publisher’s duly impressed?
Though we are writers here, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This is an example of a “360 degree marketing plan.” This lovely little diagram provides a quick overview of your platform – what it is, where it lives, and how all the pieces work together in beautiful harmony.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Web site/Blog: At the center of your world is your “hub” or “home base.” In almost all cases, that will be your personal Web site and/or blog. Best practice is to maintain both. Your Web site houses static content like your “about” bio, links to existing work, press clippings, testimonials, portfolio, etc. Your blog is your primary content engine where you publish insight and commentary. This hub should provide visitors with three things:
1. A comprehensive sense of who you are and what you do
2. A chance to engage with you (comments, links to social accounts)
3. An easy way to stay in touch (RSS reader or via email)
Inbound/Outbound Channels: Surrounding your hub is a series of spokes that lead to and from various online and offline channels. Each of these channels drives to, is accessed from, or allows two-way traffic between your hub and an outside “post .” For instance, social networks like Facebook and Twitter can drive traffic to your hub, but people may also begin at your site and then decide to “like” you on Facebook or “follow” you on twitter. On the other hand, a Real World speaking event is a purely inbound channel where you would direct your live audience to your site to continue the conversation.
It’s not shown in the diagram, but there are an almost infinite number of potential connections between the various channels. Someone might find your blog as the result of a word-of-mouth referral and then link off to your Twitter feed where they link off to your latest YouTube video which then leads them back to your static Web site where they subscribe to your newsletter.
Branding: The layer between the hub and the channels is your branding cycle. Although it’s important to clearly define your brand, it’s also important to be flexible so that you can adapt based on your audience’s feedback. The social Web provides both direct (in the case of audience polls, surveys, blog comments, etc) and indirect (in the case of traffic statistics, etc) feedback. Based on what you hear, you optimize your branding:
1. Brand: Define your brand, establish positioning, and build your platform
2. Engage: Create a dialog with your audience
3. Measure: Listen to feedback, monitor stats (both in your personal network and in the marketplace as a whole)
4. Optimize: Adapt your positioning, content strategy, etc to make it more appealing to your audience
So, that’s a snapshot of what your platform might look like and how the various building blocks work together to create a strong and saleable presence. The channels might change based on your specific opportunities, but if you can replicate the hub/spoke model and get the pieces working together, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful and enviable writer’s platform.
Next time we’ll tackle integration, list building and more fun stuff. Stay tuned!
Meantime – what questions do you have about building out a 360 plan?
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps small businesses, start-ups, artists, and authors with branding, platform development, content marketing and social media. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.