If you’re an author or a Fortune 500 executive, you’ve got your work cut out for you in terms of besting the competition. The requirements to run a successful marketing campaign are fairly specific, and you’ve got to have an edge, or what I call a super power. Many speakers I work with have a super power to success. When you find your super power, it’s like stomping down the pedal of a 12-cylinder twin turbo Mercedes.
It’s a bit like the difference between playing a friendly game of tennis at the public courts of Coronado Island near San Diego, and playing at the $88M world class tennis stadium in Indian Wells built by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
There’s nothing wrong with the tennis courts at Coronado – they’re wonderful. In fact, there’s nothing like swinging a racket beneath the shade of an emperor palm harborside, watching yachts bob up and down as you serve, and heading to the Coronado Beach Resort around the corner to cool down with a cold beverage after your match.
In fact, on a sunny Tuesday morning in February – as I recently found out – there’s little competition for a tennis court on Coronado Island, near San Diego. Just drive up, park curbside, and swing away in the fresh morning air. While the rest of the world is jockeying for position to order a latte at the espresso bar, there’s little to compare with the feeling of breezing over the bridge to Coronado for a match before lunch.
But this is a very different scene from the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens in Palm Springs. While I can’t boast of having the skill to play tennis at that desert mecca, I can say I had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with travelers from all over the world to watch international tennis stars up-close and personal. In fact I sat fifteen feet away from Roger Federer, one of the top athletes in the world.
Competition for seats was keen. Competition to be on the court was all but insurmountable. Those rare tennis players who make it to this level have an edge. They have found a super power to success, like hitting a rocket-like forehand down the line for a winner while running at a full sprint.
Just Like Superman
If you are releasing any product, from a book release to an incredibly cool mobile app, a super power is a skill you must hone to amplify your message in an incredibly competitive space. The moment you publish your work and begin to promote it, you are competing with big international money for the same spotlight.
I used to work in Sales & Marketing roles at some of the world’s largest companies whose Brands were in the top 10 most valuable Brands in the world. After a few decades of this work, I decided to step out on my own and start a dot.com in the Roaring 90’s. At our prime, we were growing exponentially when we were suddenly offered a buyout by a big publicly traded company New York. At the time, our marketing approach was working exclusively with a highly select clientele, and it allowed us to compete with much larger, less nimble opponents.
I remember one day leaning against the company water cooler in the company headquarters in Manhattan on 29th & Broadway, complaining about the incredible competition we faced. The question was how to compete on a national landscape with a measly $2 million launch budget when my big brand competitors were spending $100 million per year. I felt like Jack who climbed the magic beanstalk, only to find he had to slay a giant before he could go home to his wife and kids at 6:00.
Now as a publisher, I work with authors who are typically working with a marketing budget far less than $2 million for their book release. For keynote speakers (who are typically also authors), the story is the same. It’s also true for executives who want to distinguish themselves by creating a personal brand as an expert. Competing in a global landscape for consumers’ attention is increasingly a task for the ambitious.
So how does an author amplify their message on a national or international stage without a 7-digit marketing budget?
The book industry is likely one of the most competitive industries on the planet. In non-fiction, there are 300,000 new releases annually in the US. Large superstores only stock 75,000 total titles each season, with a fraction of their shelf space dedicated to non-fiction book titles.
With statistics like these, getting the word out and rising above the competition can seem nearly impossible. But, from a marketing perspective, authors have a hidden super power. Very few authors take full advantage of this lack of parity, and that means it can amount to a back door to success for those who choose to hone their marketing prowess.
Winning the Big Match
Big media companies love to interview authors. If you are Lexus or Disney, you typically need to buy massive exposure from media companies to get the message out. Insightful authors can often obtain massive media exposure for pennies on the dollar, simply because of their status as thought leader.
The trick to leveling the competitive playing field is to build your marketing tool belt. Here are 5 tips to create your super power:
Tip 1: Create an inventory of content to post on your blog and social media accounts. Take note of the unique guidelines required for writing copy appropriate for LinkedIn (short articles), Facebook (25-50 words with a meme or video), and Twitter (144 characters with strategic use of hash tags). Get in motion, and stay in motion, consistently pushing your message forward.
Tip 2: Write a series of articles on your area of expertise that can be posted to article directories, submitted to magazines, and posted to LinkedIn as well. Make sure your content includes your best keyword research, and incorporate these keywords in everything you post.
Tip 3: Social media posts and articles must always include images, so start collecting licensed images that are compelling and relate to your material. Try getting 10-20 images that are a good fit by doing keyword research on your area of expertise, whether it be making an awesome pie crust or agile software development.
Tip 4: Work with a publisher who has a sales team calling on bookstores. To maneuver around your competition, getting your book into bookstores requires sales calls on both chain buyers and people who coordinate bookstore signing events. Hundreds of thousands of new books are released each year, and a publisher’s track record on producing winners makes a huge difference in getting retail shelf space on a national level. With ebook sales on the decline (12% decrease in the US in 2015) and new indie bookstores opening at a rapid clip (300 new bookstores in 2015), getting physical bookstore distribution is essential in today’s climate for books.
Tip 5: Leverage your super power as an author and get media appearances. This is the magic ingredient in penetrating national consciousness with your book. If you are able to breakthrough in 3 markets in the US, your chances of success increase exponentially.
The question is, are you happy with the results you’ve achieved so far? Or are you ready to slip through the back door to success by leveraging your super power as an author? The competition is keen, but the choice is yours. And the rewards are rich indeed!
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.