Using Publicity to Promote Your Author Platform

In previous articles, I explored using the Pyramid approach to building your Author Platform. To recap the Author Platform Pyramid consists of three frameworks:

  1. Foundations
  2. Systems
  3. Media

In this episode, I’ll be diving into the power of publicity which forms part of the Media framework

Earlier I advised that it’s best to have control of the platforms you use. Your own is much better than borrowed. In this episode I’ll be diving into borrowed platforms and why they can be an important part of your media mix.

Influencers Fan Bases are Gold

Leveraging other people’s fan bases can give you access to a large audience that is receptive to your offer due to what’s known as “referred” trust. The reality is, people prefer to buy from somebody that they know, like and trust but this can take time to build, typically it takes 5-7 interactions for enough trust to be built. Accessing an audience via somebody who has already built that trust can fast track the purchase decision. There are a few rules you need to follow to make this really work:

  1. The person who gives you access to their audience must know like and trust you. Ideally you need to understand their overall objectives with their audience and your offer should support that approach,
  2. Your offer has to deliver value to their audience in a trustworthy way. It’s vital that the audience fits within your target market, aligns with your avatar and that you don’t appear “spammy”,
  3. Using a value ascension model works best. In other words start with a small transaction such as a book, which is a low risk transaction that immediately moves them off the “borrowed” platform into your own marketing and sales process. You can then begin moving them up the value chain to a big ticket item such as a membership or coaching program.

There are three publicity media clusters available to you, each with their own plusses and minuses. The four key variables you need to understand are:

  1. Speed

This relates to the time and effort taken from starting the process through to you seeing results. With results I always look to revenue generated. There are many marketers out there that try to convince you to look at “soft” results such as brand reach, brand awareness etc. These are measures used by Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and are of no relevance to self-published authors.

  1. Cost

All marketing has a cost. Some will be hard dollars you have to pay out but the other cost you need to account for is your time. There is an opportunity cost attached to your time and you should always apply this to your marketing efforts. The best way to do that is to nominate a value for an hour of your time. If you’re a coach or consultant you could start with the hourly rate you charge your clients. If your income is derived from your writing efforts only, you should allocate an hourly rate that equates to your projected annual income, for example if your projected income is $100,000 your hourly rate will be $60.

  1. Reach

This is a measure of the audience that will hear or be exposed to your message. Bear in mind that a large audience may not necessarily be better than a small audience. Small audiences that match your target market and are filled with people that match your avatar are more likely to respond to your offer.

  1. Responsiveness

No two audiences are alike when it comes to responsiveness. I like to look at audiences using a red, orange and green colour system. Red signifies an audience that’s not interested in what you have to offer. They may have already solved the problem that you help with and no longer have a need for your solution or they may simply not have the funds to buy. Green audiences on the other hand are very receptive to your offer, have a burning need and have the money to buy. Orange audiences fall in the middle and may take a little more convincing to come on board.

The Three Publicity Channels You Need to Master

  1. Paid Publicity – The Fastest Channel

There are many forms of paid publicity that cover the online and offline World’s. Nowadays most paid publicity still happens offline using traditional media channels such as magazine ads, outdoor media (billboards) along with television and radio advertising. Online channels are quickly catching up and are more in line with the needs of authors. The options are many and include Google Pay Per Click, which is the largest in terms of dollar spend followed by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Facebook Ads.

The biggest difference between offline and online advertising is that online is much more targeted and highly accountable as measuring results is nearly immediate, accurate and easy to perform. It’s the ability to target and measure that’s the major reason for the shift away from offline advertising.

When correctly set up, paid publicity on platforms such as Google and Facebook is highly targeted however they tend to display vastly different levels of responsiveness. Generally speaking, people are searching on Google for a solution to a problem they want to resolve which means they are already in buying mode. On the other hand, people are on Facebook primarily for social interaction and any ad you display will be seen (or not seen) in a similar way to an advertisement in a magazine.

The biggest down side to paid publicity is the expense. You need to consider it very carefully if all you are selling is a book. The profit margin per book may make it an unviable communication channel. On the other hand it is well worth trialing if your book is a pathway product to a higher value program.

  1. Your Content – The Lowest Cost Channel

In terms of actual expenditure, your content is the lowest cost method of getting your marketing communications out to the World. You need to be careful however, as on the  other hand it will consume more of your time than any other channel.

You’re a writer so producing content should be easy I hear you say. When it’s comes to marketing content that delivers results you will probably need to take a completely different approach as it’s not just about the content. You also need to consider the vehicle you use to get your content “published” and distributed, and that your content will be slow to be distributed, be poorly targeted and have a low response rate. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Because it’s low cost and relatively easy, it should figure in your media mix.

Nowadays, social media properties make it super easy to publish your content and they have tools that make it easy for people to share. The key things to remember is to select social platforms that are used by your target market and that your content is “on brand”, illustrates who you are as a person and above all else do not be constantly selling in your posts. Success comes from engagement and encouraging prospects to move away from the platform and into your marketing and sales process, which is where the real money is made.

  1. Public Relations – The Widest Reach

Saving the best to last. In terms of low cost, wide reach and reasonably good targeting, you can’t go past public relations.  Television shows, newspapers, magazines, radio shows, podcasts etc are all looking for fresh content, especially content that they don’t have to pay expensive journalists to research and then produce.

As an author you have already produced a swag of content (your book) that can be readily adapted to the media outlet bypassing or greatly reducing the effort they require to research an article or segment. It’s a symbiotic relationship that media outlets actively tap into and if they find you easy to work with, they will feature you regularly over a long period of time.

You need to be mindful that their number one priority is to feed their target audience not yours . Fortunately most media outlets have a well-defined audience and it’s easy to access that information by requesting a copy of the media kit they supply to paying advertisers. Armed with this information you can avoid the time wasting trap of trying to feature in media outlets that don’t reasonably match your target audience.

Key Takeaways for using publicity are:

  1. Factor in the personal time you need to make publicity work,
  2. Measure results and adjust,
  3. It’s about building trust so don’t always be selling,
  4. Ensure the publicity channel you use aligns with your target market,
  5. Accept the fact that some channels can take time before results become apparent.

I know, building your Author Platform can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In coming episodes, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and low cost approach to building a solid platform that you can leverage for many years to come.

Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:

Each of the publicity channels requires effort and expertise to work effectively. A lack of expertise will lead to enormous wasted time and money. Properly exploring each of these channels would fill a number of books and training programs which is why I recommend accessing expert advice before embarking on any of them. But as always, be careful of who you work with, the Marketing World is full of 2 min gurus that are more adept at snake oil selling than the actual area of expertise they promote. Rather, do your research, get your strategy right, do the basics well and you will succeed.