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How To Make Your Author Website the “In” Place To Be


Once upon a time, when books were only printed on the static page, the conversation was more like a monolog. This meant the author’s career was a bit like a college lecture on, say, frog dissection. It was a lonely, dusty, echoey place to be. I mean, who wants to wake up and smell the formaldehyde? Not fun. Not fun at all.

Even as recently as ten years ago, there was little chance for a reader to get involved in an author’s work except by writing to the author, or maybe showing up at a lecture or book signing. Thankfully, all that has changed.

In the age of digits and downloads, the author’s website is, well… electric, and even electrifying. Now it’s more like a hip coffeehouse, or a dinner of nouvelle cuisine at 10:00 pm. It’s become a busy hub for a wide array of content and media – interactive and highly actionable.

This shift in dynamic may seem obvious, but it’s overlooked more often than it should be – much to the detriment of the author. If you’re not sure where your own author website falls on the scale between humdrum and howling – between frog dissection and sautéed frogs’ legs – these tips may lend you just the clue you’re looking for.

Whisper – You Don’t Have To Shout

Does your website shout at readers with a dozen or more calls to action? You want to involve them, not confuse them. The adage from the advertising world is to direct a Visitor’s attention to just one thing, with one “Call to Action” message. Make sure your website is easy to use, with just the right balance between form and function.

Focus on content over design. You want a crisp, clean look with one clear call to action. Still, the substance of your message is more important than the look and feel, so keep the bells and whistles to a minimum. Don’t use Flash if you can help it (due to mobile phone limitations), and trim your images to a manageable size before adding them to your posts. Let the site load time be fast and light.

The intent of your website should focus on the reader, not on you. Yes, this is your website, but you’re not the one using it. It’s all about your readers and what you can do for them.

Use your About page for boasts, toasts, testimonials and kudos. Keep the rest of the site focused on your reader. Have a tab for book news and reviews, offer a newsletter, and make sure you’re easy to contact – things that show you’re not only aware of their presence, but you’re glad they came.

Think of your role as something like being the gracious host of a great party. If you just talk about yourself, you’ll only inspire a lot of yawns, and folks may decide to turn in early or head to the shindig down the block. Instead, present your guests with a scintillating array of topics to nibble on. Also introduce them to other personalities they may enjoy, and get the conversation going.

When someone shows up at your site, offer them exclusive unpublished content that they can’t get anywhere else. Give them juicy morsels they would gladly pay for, like a short video, podcast episodes, short fiction, white papers, explainers and sample chapters.

Create content worth sharing, something your readers might pick apart over coffee or happy hour with their incredibly interesting friends.

How To Keep Readers Coming Back For More

  • Be generous. Whose work do you read or recommend? Why is it worth anyone’s precious free time? Support your peers and your fans at the same time. Shine a spotlight on people and topics that might not otherwise cross your reader’s path.

  • Be human. Talk about your works in progress, and share the biggest triumphs and trials you have in the writing process. Are you stuck on one idea? Did you just shift the gender of your lead character and now you have to rewrite half your book? Did you suddenly realize that your magnum opus on finding happiness is really more about finding faith? Are you simply bored with the sound of your own voice and can’t wait to finish your manuscript? Let your readers peek behind the curtain.

  • Be social. Encourage your readers to promote your fresh content on social media, and make it easy to do. For example, you can use the free service at ClickToTweet.com to socialize your blog content. Summarize the topic of your blog post into about 100 characters, and include your ClickToTweet link. This will automatically post your headline, witty comment or quip to Twitter. For added link juice, use a hashtag.

Encourage comments on your blog and get involved with the conversation. In fact, why not encourage comments on the comments to build a real sense of community?

With a slight shift in focus, you can transform your author website from a dusty lecture hall into a roaring success. The career you wake up may be your own!




Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

  
 

icon1December 29th, 2015
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Tell the World with a Book Trailer Video – Author Training Series


by Bryan Heathman

Get out the popcorn and dim the lights! As an up and coming bestselling author, it’s time to promote your book the old fashioned way: with a promotional trailer.

Whether your book is a fictional story or it’s the true story of a brand, passion or success philosophy, your book ought to be in pictures. Posting book trailer videos online is a solid step on your path to publishing success.

Seriously, take a look at the way a single movie can bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in a single weekend. How did you first hear about the movie? Was it social media, a movie critic or word of mouth?

The same dynamic of movie awareness works equally for books. So it is important for you, the author, to get the ball of momentum rolling with a book trailer to tease interest in your book.

To get people to spend a week or two reading your book, they are going to have to want it… bad! So your promotional activity will need a hook, which often starts with your book trailer video.

From the Big Screen to the Screen In Your Hand

Video promotion on the internet is far less expensive than traditional advertising, and after a few preliminaries, many authors can do it. As an author with a book to promote, this includes you. About 1-2 minutes of video is all you need to get your message across to smartphones and tablets everywhere. With the right planning and a little push, these mobile devices are where you book may be read as well.

You can use inexpensive tools to make your book trailer if you know which ones to shop for, such as EasySketch Pro or VideoMaker FX. Because they’re user friendly and widely available, using these tools may mean that your video ends up looking the same as everyone else’s. The difference is how you use the tools. Creativity is key. If you can hire someone to create a quality book trailer for you, so much the better.

Making and sharing your own videos does seem exciting to a lot of authors, and I admit it can be fun. But before you cast yourself as the next John Huston or Cecil B. DeMille, take time out to do some planning.

Think about your process and map it from start to finish. The video production process includes only a handful of steps, but each one is key to your book trailer’s success.

First, start with your book trailer’s concept. Decide ahead of time what the viewer’s key take-away will be. Create a clear call to action that is the natural conclusion for the message they’ve just seen.

Next, decide how much of your story you want to reveal in your book trailer. What’s the heart of your video? Where do you want the viewer to begin and end? Script it, and have a clear idea of the visuals you plan to use. Video production professionals call this step storyboarding.

Record the audio first, then use it as the anchor for your video. It’s much easier to sync the video to the audio, instead of the other way around, and the results are more professional. Whatever approach you use, there’s almost always a creative solution for any production obstacles you find.

Online Traffic = A Packed House For Your Book Trailer

Now that you have a finished video, it’s time to get the word out. Though it’s not the only game in town, YouTube is the obvious distribution channel of choice. It’s where the viewers are, and viewers are what you want most for your new book trailer.

YouTube has so many astounding statistics, it would be a waste of space to try to name them here. If you want to research it, here’s a link to the source itself.

I will add, though, that YouTube.com boasts more than 1 billion unique users, or one-third of all people who use the Internet. That’s nearly as many people as inhabited the planet 100 years ago, when the movie industry was new. It’s 1/7 of the world population today. You don’t have to convince people to go to YouTube. You just have to get their attention.

To get your share of viewers for your trailer, start with a keyword rich title. It should include your book title or central character, as well as any other descriptive information or keywords you’d like to capitalize on.

Next, your description should also be keyword rich. Begin the first line with a link. This should coincide with your call to action, either to the page where viewers can join your mailing list, or where they can buy your book directly. Your description should be as long as a full article for best keyword optimization and Google juice.

Finally, give a clear compelling call to action, such as subscribing to your YouTube channel, joining your mailing list, or simply buying your book. It may seem obvious to you, but your “call to action” won’t be to your viewers. They’ll be too mesmerized by your masterful storytelling prowess!

If optimizing your videos is too slow a process for you, advertising opportunities abound on YouTube and Facebook as well. Find videos on the site that have an audience similar to yours, and buy inexpensive ads that attract a crowd to your own video. You’ll find hordes of people showing up on your channel, hungry for more.

After posting your book trailer video to YouTube.com, be sure to upload the video to your Amazon Author Central Account and Goodreads account.

After that, what more can you say – except, “Pass the popcorn.”



You Tube Marketing: Social Marketing Media for Your Business

YouTube and other video networks started with a social intent, but their use in online business promotion has exploded as social marketing media has become part of the everyday. Google gives high marks for inbound links to a site from YouTube, and no SEO campaign is complete without including YouTube. Creating video content to market your business is a breeze with this entertaining program. Liv Montgomery, the eCommerce Gal teaches you how to leverage social marketing with video and YouTube. Put your online business promotion on the fast track now.







Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1December 16th, 2015
icon2admin

Book Marketing with Facebook Ads – Who Says You Can’t Buy Happiness?


by Bryan Heathman

The tale is almost as ancient as writing itself. Picture the author in an ancient Italian city, scribbling away into the night by the dim amber light of a candle. He eeks out his living in a garret above the crowded street below—one teeming with readers he hopes to entertain, influence, convince or transform.

His livelihood depends on it. Somehow he must overcome obscurity and get his book into the hands of as many readers as possible. As an author, he must reach them to survive.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and—BLAM!—a burst of light explodes onto the scene in the form of technology. It spreads like wildfire to the far corners of the world in the span of a decade.

The garret is now a home office in outer suburbia, and the crowded street is replaced with a finely edged lawn. Ink spilled from a quill becomes the glow from a tablet, spread at the touch of a button to a prospective audience of billions through Audible and Kindle. Friends and followers who were once as far away as the moon are now near through social networks, video and Skype.

In the history of the world, authors have never had it so good. Yet with so much opportunity available to everyone, the ancient question remains unchanged: how do you stand out? As an author, how do you keep your family (and your banker) happy, and reach those teeming masses of readers? The answer may surprise you and is not a closely held “secret” as some would have you to believe.

Reaching a Massive Audience

Twenty years ago, social networks had more than their fair share of social misfits. As AOL was supplanted by MySpace, the color and candor of the scene started to change. It became mainstream. In the era of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, social media gradually has become reason enough for late adopters to join the world online.

Social media networks keep your message in front of the consumer. But how do you do this if you don’t’ have an established list of followers? Reaching out to like-minded people one-by-one on social networks isn’t the way to reach large numbers of people. If you join a Facebook group and post something that says “Buy now and save!” you’ll get no response and may even get banned from the group.

Paid advertising on these networks is an efficient way to reach the people who want and need your book. It puts the power into the hands of the author. This spells opportunity to connect with far more than your immediate social circles as well, and that makes everyone happy: your friends, your family, your banker –and especially you, the author!

Over the years, marketing tools come and go. Smartphones and social media have changed the landscape of marketing in ways no one could have predicted. The next disruption is right around the corner. Regardless of the latest marketing technologies, there are three principles that hold true for decades.

1) Audience Targeting: Segment your audiences, and cater your efforts just to the buyers. Clearly identify what makes them tick (emotionally). Consider going beyond old-fashioned demographic segmentation and look for patterns in personality types. Take, for example, two 45-year-old women that live in the same city—one is a successful real estate professional and one is the CEO of a software company. Would the same advertising appeal to one woman who is motivated by building a massive network versus another woman who is focused on leading software development?

Paid social media advertising offers some of the best audience targeting opportunities ever afforded by the marketing community. No longer do we target large blocks of unsegmented people via network television buys. Now, authors can easily target readers based on where they live, age, gender, books they have read and movies they watch.

2) Multiple Campaigns: If you’re launching one marketing campaign at a time, you won’t get very far. In today’s climate your offer will need to cater to multiple audiences simultaneously. This may require launching multiple marketing campaigns with highly specific targeting. Taking the example of targeting the two women – perhaps one campaign targeting the real estate professional is themed around entertaining while another campaign is geared towards leadership education.

3) Specialized Messaging: Your promotional messaging can’t be a catch-all for multiple audiences. Using a catch-all philosophy only “catches” a few. Profile your target audiences to increase conversion rates from your offers.

Take a look at your ideal audience and identify their greatest pain and their biggest pleasure. Then apply these pressure points when designing your social media campaigns for higher conversions.

You may think that paying for advertising isn’t necessary for your business, but in the final analysis, when do you want to succeed—now, or someday? Are you enjoying the warm amber glow of that dim candle, or would you like to explode your book awareness from the comfort of your suburban office?

Opportunity doesn’t wait. With sound advertising practices, you can apply leverage to your book marketing campaigns and invest your time wisely somewhere else—say, edging that finely manicured lawn.


Marketing for Millions: Proven Marketing Strategies for Million Dollar Success

Marketing for Millions: Proven Marketing Strategies for Million Dollar Success by Jack Canfield, Bob Proctor, et al. is presented by Made for Success Publishing. This standalone audiobook app combines a 15 hours of marketing audio training and inspiration, with supplemental features for download-once and listening anywhere.

Learn successful marketing techniques, attract new opportunities, and create a “millionaire mindset” with advice from Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Bob Proctor, and others who have created and marketed successful enterprises and changed their own lives and the lives of millions.





Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1December 7th, 2015
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Building Social Proof in Social Media Circles – Personal Branding Tips


by Bryan Heathamn

Since the taming of fire, people have aligned themselves with various clubs, clans, groups, movements, organizations and sports franchises. The obvious illustration of this is rooting for your home team. Where were you last Super Bowl Sunday? The odds are high that you remember where you were, and that you weren’t watching the big game alone.

This fact about association presents a great chance for anyone promoting anything, not just advertisers with over the top TV ads, but individuals too. In your case, this collective behavior offers a ripe opportunity to promote your book.

I live in Seattle, a city where football team spirit is high. No, wait – high is an understatement. Football here is a mania, after the local team took a couple trips to the Super Bowl. Walk down any street on a Sunday afternoon, and you may feel like Charlton Heston in a scene from The Omega Man or Will Smith in I Am Legend. It’s that quiet; everyone is inside, watching the game.

Fans don’t cheer feverishly only on game day here. Head out some Friday night to any pub, tavern or bistro. You’ll find that nearly 50% of the folks are dressed up in team jerseys and logoed sports caps. They’ve joined the tribe, and they live it. These fans give new meaning to the term “die-hard fan”.

Imagine if just one-tenth of them were wearing the logo from your book cover too. What would your career as an author look like then? What if your book could revolutionize the culture and galvanize people together the way a sports team unites beer drinkers, even on a team’s night off? Using social media, this idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

Social Proof Can “Show You The Money”

Social proof is a concept that plays to the deep-seated human need to be socially accepted. We assume that if other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. We don’t take into account what they know – just borrow their actions, believing the research has already been done for us. We don’t do it because we’re mentally lazy. We do it because we want to fit in and be accepted.

This desire is so deep-rooted that we will even do things that are contrary to our best interests – financial or otherwise – in order to stay consistent with what we assume about other people’s decisions. Most people leaving a theater will go through the same door everyone else is using, even if there is an unused door right next to it. We subconsciously assume it’s the right thing to do. We do it on autopilot.

The principle of social proof means we will convince ourselves of the correctness of other people’s decisions and make choices that conform to them. To speed up the decision-making process, we choose the path more traveled in the blink of an eye. Flying on autopilot is a fundamental aspect of human nature, and it helps us process the bombardment of messages we get all day long.

Leading the Pack

According to a 2014 study by Edison Research, 67% of Americans are active on some kind of social media. More than 75 million Americans check their social media accounts several times a day. About 58% of us use Facebook.

With two-thirds of the country checking in with their friends, family and neighbors at breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s a whole lot of opportunity for you to promote your book – just by showing up.

5 Tips to Build Reputation on Social Media

  1. Testimonials & Reviews: Using testimonials on social media are a great way to access the phenomenon of social proof. Using social media, you can publish testimonials and reviews from people who fit the demographic or psychographic profile of your target audience. The idea is to show that there’s support for your book from people who look “just like me”.

    To do this, ask your biggest fans for real testimonials (yes, this can include your mother). You will be surprised by what people have to say, and you just may learn a thing or two about your book. The more you can demonstrate that many people support your work, the more others will perceive your book as something worth reading.

  2. Join Groups: Another tactic you can use is to join groups within your social network. Find congregations of people who most closely match your book’s natural demographic. Groups make for a ready-made audience, and often they are hungry to associate with published authors. You can find groups that are indirectly related to your topic as well, populated by your ideal audience. The key is to become a regular and active voice in the groups. LinkedIn is a great place to get started.

  3. Start a Group: Consider creating your own group, either within your social network or on your own membership site. You can promote your group to your network of like-minded friends of colleagues, and watch your engagement numbers skyrocket.

  4. Solve a Problem: Communicate a compelling promise or purpose that speaks to an intense pain or pleasure for your group. Offer a newsletter or ecourse so you can stay in touch with them, and show them how to overcome the pain or increase the pleasure.

  5. Street Team: Finally, you can create a tribe with the groups you affiliate with. Use these contacts to build a street team, a small collective of three to twenty people who are avid fans of yours. If you put them to work to promote your books in social media channels, you could well find yourself at the hub of a jersey-wearing crowd – one with your number on it.

When it comes to measuring your influence in social media, many professionals turn to services like Klout.com to measure their effectiveness. Setting up a profile takes a few minutes, and the ongoing reports will help keep you on-track with your effectiveness in social media channels.




Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.



 

icon1November 25th, 2015
icon2admin

Social Media, Book Promotion and the Sweet Smell of Success


by Bryan Heathman

Ah, the sweet smell of success: your book is finally a household name, the topic of conversation in coffee houses and the subject of toasts in fine dining establishments. Just yesterday, you turned down a media interview due to your busy schedule. Tomorrow you’re off to Barbados for a quick dip in the salty surf, then a date with a rum-laced umbrella drink under a palm tree. Lucky you!

Or was it luck? Maybe it was all that time you put in on social media, carefully cultivating relationships with your fans and followers. You lost track of how many late nights you spent loading up your Buffer account, cheese popcorn crumbs littering the front of your PJ’s like so much dandruff.

“Oh, if they could see me now,” you mutter, catching a sideways glimpse in the mirror. Whatever happened to that polished look you cultivated so carefully for your book jacket? Gone is the mohair suit and the carefully waxed hairstyle. “Uff, it’s a good thing I’m not on my web cam…” you say under your breath.

But in reality, checking in with your fans doesn’t have to mean looking polished all the time. Unlike days gone by, you don’t necessarily have to show your face to sell a lot of books.

The thing about promoting yourself (and your book) on social media is that you can literally do the work anywhere you choose to be. The magic combination of a solid manuscript, the right book cover and a good social media promotion campaign can put your readership over the top. It just takes a little planning and a couple of good tools, then you’re off to the races! Or the sands of the Caribbean. Whatever.

Social media sites are the most efficient and cost effective way to get your message in front of potentially millions of people. Google’s $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube and Facebook’s multi-billion dollar IPO shouted a wake-up call to anyone who’d been hitting that marketing snooze button. There’s good reason for these high price tags; social networks offer a pool teaming with commercial opportunity for major players and individuals alike. As a published author, this opportunity now includes you. The playing field is about as level as it gets.

As an author you can leverage the ready-made audiences on social media. This means you can get involved with groups that either are tailored to your audience or dovetail nicely with your topic. Take a look at how big publishing companies are using social media to promote their top authors, then borrow a page from their playbook.

Using Social Media to Generate Social Proof

Social media helps you generate what marketers call “social proof”. Publishing your carefully cultivated testimonials from your readers can build the bond of trust for your would-be fans and their immediate social circles. The psychology of word-of-mouth testimonials is a powerful ally for authors who don’t yet have huge brand awareness. According to a survey by eMarketer, an overwhelming 99% of people surveyed believe that testimonials are credible and influence their buying decisions.

To leverage social proof online, follow these 3 steps:

1. Clearly understand your target audience – both their demographics and psychographics. Who are they? Get clear about their age, income, location, family life, interests and peeves. Find out what makes them hurt and what gives them pleasure.

2. Create messaging and imagery that is consistent with your target audience. For instance, if you are targeting empty nesters who are between 50 and 63 years old, you would use inspirational messages and images consistent with their outlook. In this case, you might use imagery of happy grandchildren, RV travel to national parks, beach vacations, spas or wine tasting.

3. Pick your “call to action” campaign strategies from options that are consistent with your target audience’s lifestyle. Then consider which techniques will influence their buying behavior. Do you want them to take a survey? Tell their friends? Watch a video and comment on it? Get creative, and keep your audience involved.

Keep Your Message In Front of Your Fans with a Book Marketing Timeline

You can increase your sales and your free time by creating a social media campaign timeline. Timelines are essential, and all successful authors use them to organize social media campaigns. Some authors even use their timelines to set and track their campaign goals.

Come up with your present and future goals, along with action plans for today, tomorrow and next month. Have a method for tracking sales so you can see what’s working for you. Pick a few social media networks to focus your activity, and post to them 2 to 3 times a day. Increase this frequency for the 3 weeks on either side of your book launch, and stay interested in how people are responding to you and your message.

It may seem like a bit of work to pack in, but there are plenty of automation tools such as Buffer.com or HootSuite that can help you manage the workload. You can pre-write an inventory of Facebook posts or Twitter tweets in advance and load-up your free Buffer account to stimulate engagement with your readers.



Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.



Online Business Promotion

Join serial author Liv Montgomery for a fun and fanciful look at the world of Online Business Promotion including “how to” tips for social media and YouTube videos.

 

icon1November 16th, 2015
icon2admin

Get Swept Up In the Adventure – It Was a Dark and Stormy Night In November…


In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, take an escape into the unknown as you explore the art of writing…

He passed a well-manicured hand across his balding pate. It was an absent minded gesture, an insecure idiosyncrasy that had evolved over the course of many years, despite his elevated rank. Renard gladly would have traded some of his hard-won wisdom for the boundless vigor of his youth – along with a few traces of that glorious head of hair he once had. Now his retirement was staring him square in the face. Yet somehow he wasn’t quite ready to be “mothballed”.

What occupied his full attention at the moment was the glossy tablet in his hand. He’d found it on his desk when he arrived in his ready room. He pressed the screen, and an image came to life – his assistant’s daily video briefing with his proven “6-up daily priority” system. “Captain, here is the piece you wanted to look at. I still have a few bugs to work out, but with luck it will transport you to another time and place. I hope you’ll go easy on me, since I had only a short amount of time to…”

As the bland female voice droned on, Renard opened the file she referenced. It only took a moment for his assistant’s voice to fade into the background as a strange glow filled his peripheral vision. He looked up to see lush green tropical vines now taking the place of furniture in his ready room and the humid scent of jungle loam clung to his nose and mouth. “What the…?”

Startled, Renard stood up so briskly he was sure he’d knocked over his chair. But when he turned around to look, the chair was gone. In its place was a small rowboat, its oars still dripping from the mighty river behind it. A creature yowled in the trees above him, an unearthly sound that penetrated his spine. Suddenly he heard footsteps in the bushes beyond the boat. He heard a pair of muffled voices speak, too low to be discernible. “Is someone there?” Renard called, but there was only silence.

What happened next he never could have imagined, even if he lived to be three hundred. A buccaneer came crashing out of the brush, flying through the air backward and landing prostrate on the sand next to the rowboat! A moment later, a black jaguar came bounding after him with a scathing shriek and leapt upon his chest. “Get off me, you she-devil!” he shouted, flinging the creature back into the brush. “You’ve crossed me for the last time!”

The pirate scrambled to his feet and hurried for the boat, sweeping up Renard en route. “Come on, we’ve got to get out of here. I tell you, she’ll tear us to pieces.” Renard stood dumbly for a moment, the words sounding like a foreign language to his addled brain. But the sight of the jaguar running at full speed directly toward him shook him back to his senses. “Dammit, man, get in and get down!” Renard obeyed just as the boat left the shore and caught the swift current of the river.

Stealing himself to peek over the side, Renard watched in amazement as the jaguar stood upon her hind legs and transformed into a buxom raven-haired beauty. She shook her fist and called after the sinewy rowboat, “I hope you found what you were looking for!”

Suddenly there was a rapping sound, and Renard shook off the trance. He was back in his office, standing behind his desk. The jungle, the buccaneer and the jaguar woman had all gone. There was only his mild assistant, standing in the doorway, looking expectantly. She tucked a raven lock behind her ear. “Captain Renard? I said I hope you found what you were looking for. Have you had a chance to read the draft of my novel yet? I appreciate your taking the time to indulge in my hobby with me, and I hope I haven’t…”

Renard stared for a moment, taking in the scene, shaken but unscathed by the encounter. “Hm? Oh… yes. Yes, it was quite engaging. You could say it really swept me away. I all but felt that I was really there. You say this is your first attempt at writing…? Yes, there’s something to this.”

Where Will NaNoWriMo Take You In November?

November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. All around the world, more than 300,000 people are boldly attempting the impossible – to pound out a 50,000-word book manuscript in a single month. NaNoWriMo lends a spirit of community and support to what is normally a solitary effort.

People from all walks of life are throwing off the bonds of self-consciousness, casting aside the conventions of quality and grammar, and launching the books they’ve always dreamed of writing. Waitresses and mechanics, executives and ship captains alike have all taken the challenge. Not all will finish, but many will – enough. Some books will go on to be published, and a few will even be best sellers. Will yours be among them?

December 1st will come and go, whether or not you participate in this worldwide writing event with the kooky name. Will you be counted among the adventurous who leave the sandy shores of complacency and sail the uncharted waters of a world of your own making? There’s only one person who knows for sure, and that is the writer within you.

To learn more about National Novel Writing Month, trek on over to their website at NaNoWriMo.org. And to find out what you can do with your manuscript, check out the publishing tools and book marketing services at MadeForSuccessPublishing.com. I promise, you won’t get eaten – and you’ll be in good company!



Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1November 11th, 2015
icon2admin

No Way….Write a Book in a Month?


by Bryan Heathman

November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. Around the world, more than 300,000 authors will attempt the impossible: to write an entire book in a single month.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a little background.

NaNoWriMo is not really a writing contest, but an event. You might say it’s a contest… with yourself. The object is to write a fresh 50,000-word book in the month of November and have a completed first draft by 11:59 p.m. on November 30th.

Most people think this is impossible; and for most people, it is impossible, purely because they defeat themselves. In reality, there are two obstacles that confront every author:

1) Getting started

2) Sticking with it

The hardest part about any long-term goal is staying the course. A lot of authors begin with a lot of enthusiasm but put their cherished manuscript aside when they become bored with it, stumble across a writing hurdle or simply have other priorities. It’s easy to become self-critical, get overwhelmed or simply lose heart.

NaNoWriMo’s approach is to encourage writers’ enthusiasm, determination and creativity by giving the project a hard deadline.

The question is, if writing 50,000 words in a month is so impossible, why has this event been going on for 15 years? Clearly someone is getting somewhere with it. Maybe it’s just the caffeine buzz that keeps this thing going. Maybe it’s the camaraderie. Maybe it’s momentum.

In reality, more than 250 novels written during NaNoWriMo have been published by traditional publishers, including Harper Collins. A many skilled executives and high achievers have become motivational speakers after publishing.

Business Books, Screenplays and Comics – Oh My!

This brings us to another salient point: novels aren’t the only form that writers are pursuing in this month-long verbal slog. Poetry, prose, non-fiction, screenplays and even graphic novels have been harvested as the fruit of this annual rite.

Some would-be authors get stalled because they’re afraid that others will judge their first attempts harshly. Others get stymied because the material they want to write goes against the grain of their personal or professional reputation. For instance, can you imagine an economist writing about his imaginary life on the pro tennis circuit? Or an out-of-work hospital administrator writing about starting a vineyard in southern Oregon? It could happen.

This kind of self-consciousness has kept untold books from seeing the light of day.

While NaNoWriMo’s brutal schedule can help to keep your writing on track, the venue itself is completely private – as private as you want it to be. It’s like Facebook for word nerds. No one has to see the material you’ve written. All you need to do is check in from time to time and report on your progress for the benefit of your writing friends within the platform.

Completing your first draft is all that counts. Grammar, punctuation and quality are all immaterial at this point. The whole point is camaraderie for a very loner kind of activity.

Even with this level of acceptance, if you’re a bit squeamish about writing your book, try using a pen name. Having a nom de plume has come in handy for established writers and newbies alike. Just ask J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

Most people with busy lives balk at the idea of knocking out a book manuscript in a month. However a lot of the authors I publish have the capacity to produce a quality first draft in just one week, with the bulk of the writing accomplished in a 3-week period. How does that break down? Well, if you are writing 50,000 words in 21 days, that equates to 2,500 words/day. That is about the equivalent of writing 4 long emails…something that many of us do many times a day already!

Are there a few cheats involved? Well… maybe. We in the publishing business prefer to call them shortcuts. If you’re short on time and want to compress your success, author Liv Montgomery offers at least a dozen unique strategies in her audio program “Draft Your Book In A Day.” I’ve used some of these techniques myself, and they’re surprisingly easy to apply.

Of Post-It Notes, Corporate Pensions and Ellis Island

Maybe you’re the kind of person who has scraps of paper lying around, Post-It notes jotted with plot ideas or character developments. Maybe you’ve got a self-help book outlined but you never quite got it off the ground. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to tell the story of how your ancestors arrived in this country. Whatever it is, the odds are high that you have a book inside you – something that the world needs to read.

If you’ve always wanted to start or finish a book, try capitalizing on the spirit of National Novel Writing Month. Who knows? The book you write could be just the one the world has been waiting for.

If you do take the challenge, your December just might look a whole lot different. Are you ready?



Bryan Edired 1Bryan 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.




Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1November 4th, 2015
icon2admin

Sample Campaign – The Tried & True Book Selling Technique


So you want to promote your new book. You’ve witnessed other authors racing to the top of the best seller charts, and you wonder what they’re doing to build mega success. If you’re like most authors, you’re not sure how to go about reaping this kind of success for yourself.

Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be original to be good.

In fact, the less original you are in some cases, the better off you’ll be. As they say, success leaves tracks. Follow the tracks, and you’ll find success.

Take for example the traditional author’s boring, stalwart best friend, the Sample Campaign. Sending samples of your book to retail buyers, bloggers, reviewers and other influencers will boost awareness with the people who matter most, gaining exposure for your book and for you as an author. Using giveaways to create buzz while you are in pre-launch can be an inexpensive and effective way to generate publicity.

The Sample Campaign involves sending either physical copies of your book to reviewers or distributing e-copies to qualified centers of influence. Both tactics involve an investment of time, research, risk and reward.

Launching a Sample Campaign may sound expensive – and it is expensive if you try to get creative with this approach, but there are ways you can be both unoriginal and highly successful.

Copycat Book Marketing and Other Cheats

If you’re going to model the best, start by looking at the Amazon best seller list within your book’s category. Find the best-selling books that are most like yours and model their marketing tactics. What do you see? Would you buy these best sellers?

The odds are high that all of these books have received the royal treatment from a staff of pros, yet the approach is kept focused and simple.

What best-selling authors know is that the goal is to get attention from centers of influence. People who have a megaphone and a crowd who are always glad to lend an opinion.

If you want to get lots of good reviews from your Sample Campaign, you’ve got to make your book buzzworthy. Make sure it’s not just a scintillating read, but engaging from the first moment readers encounter it.

First Impressions: the title, book cover and description are the most influential elements when it comes to helping people determine whether or not they will buy your book – or review it for their audience.

Professional Design: your book cover is the most important feature of your book, and it should be intriguing. Make sure your cover is a match for your genre. If you’ve written a mystery, don’t use romance imagery – the kind with windswept lovers embracing on a naked rock above a storm-wracked cove. You might raise an eyebrow or two, but where’s the mystery? A poor cover will make it harder to sell your book.

Enticing Description: Your description needs to pull people in as well. Start your description with something provocative, and use your chosen keywords right up front. Make buyers and reviewers ravenous for more. Would you buy your book if you read your own description?

How Can You Distribute Sample Copies of Your Book?

Review copies are given away free, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come at a price for the reviewer. Select only reviewers who are the most likely to come through with their promised action. Because you will be investing your time, resources and energy in distributing your samples, be choosy about who gets to have them.

Here is a 3-step formula to generate heat in your Sample Campaign, used by marketing pros who are “in the know” about how to sell books.

Step 1: GOODREADS Set-up

You may already know about Goodreads.com, but many authors use an ineffective approach. Start by creating a reader account using your author name. Before you do anything else, get familiar with the venue (this is called “lurking”), then review several books. After you’ve become a trusted member of the community, you can add your book or have someone add it for you.

Once your book has been added, you can change your status to “author”. You’ll have to submit an application to Goodreads’ staff for review, and this takes a couple of days. Be sure to add your social media links to your Goodreads account and website.

Once you’re established on Goodreads.com, click the link to “Create A Giveaway”. These are physical books you’re giving away, so you’ll need to buy copies of your book and send them to the reviewers who request it. Be sure you conduct only one giveaway at a time or this can get expensive and confusing.

Step 2: BLOG TOURS

Capitalizing on blog tours is an excellent cog in the wheel of your Sample Campaign. To do this, take a title from your Kindle best seller list and Google it with the search term “blog tour.” This search will yield bloggers who customarily review books and need something to blog about.

Your next step is to contact the bloggers and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing your book. Give them plenty of advance notice, typically about 2 months. Popular reviewers are often booked well in advance, and these are the ones you want to reach.

When you contact them, include a link to your Goodreads page so they can see your alluring cover and intriguing book description. Ask for their review to be published within the first 5 days of your release, preferably on your actual release date.

Step 3: BRICK AND MORTAR

Indie bookstores love authors, and many would welcome you for an author book signing. When you run your giveaway campaign, contact the store manager first before you seed the marketplace with copies of your book. Make it your goal to send out only copies that will actually yield results. Track where each one goes and follow up until you get solid results.

If you work with a publisher, ask them for a list of buyers from their Rolodex to send samples.

Book reviewers are real people with busy lives. When you request a review, don’t make the mistake of pitching your book like a used car salesman. A brief personal introduction followed by a simple paragraph describing your book should do the trick. Ask for permission to send them a review copy, and then be sure to follow up. Stay on track until you achieve the success you’re looking for.

With this kind of focused activity, perhaps someday you will find your work on the best seller list… and start reaping the success your literary endeavor deserves!



Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.





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Download today and instantly enjoy the free audiobook Sell to Anyone featuring Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Dr. Larry Iverson.

Sales & Success by Made For Success Publishing is an all-in-one storefront, personal library and audio player focused on enabling and coaching your sales talents with world-class speakers. Hundreds of hours of insight and experience at your fingertips.

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Book Awards – Resting On Your Laurels and Other Thoughts on Winning Book Writing Competitions


Competing for a writing award is an often-overlooked tactic in the book marketing list of “To-Dos”. But is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

Back in the day – I mean way back – citizens of the Greek Empire knew they had made it big when they were crowned with a wreath made from bay laurel leaves. You know the kind: the pungent herb you use to season your holiday bird.

The ancient Greeks used laurel wreaths as awards for accomplishments in sports as well as poetry. Later on the Romans copied the Greek custom and awarded laurels to victorious conquering generals. Judging from the size of the Roman Empire, they must have gone through a lot of leaves. Eventually the generals got lazy, a lot of internal squabbling happened, and the empire declined. So too did the custom of awarding laurels.

Laurel wreaths are still used today as the symbol of academic success, and they’re sometimes used in graduation ceremonies for master’s degrees. A poet laureate is someone who’s been given this distinction.

After the ceremony, there’s a lot of feasting and often a sad good-bye to days of scholarly endeavors – no more burning the midnight oil or striving for literary perfection. This is where the phrase “resting on your laurels” comes from. It means relying on your past successes and not pursuing new challenges or paths to glory. Well, at least for some….not for authors!

Popularity vs. Profitability

Why does this matter today? As a matter of habit, or maybe just human nature, we are obsessed with competition. As soon as something is invented, right on its heels comes a new kind of award. We just can’t seem to stop comparing one thing to another and crowning the moment with a token of our esteem. Ask any Nobel laureate.

And it’s fitting, isn’t it? What better way to memorialize the moment or benchmark the best? A stroke of genius deserves recognition, whether it’s a gold medal in the international Olympic games or a regional award for a new work of fiction. Usually with this recognition comes some kind of remuneration and some amazing publicity opportunities.

We just love to recognize the best, hold it up for example, and challenge anyone to do better. It makes for forward progress in the most wonderful way.

This brings us to the topic of book awards and the enormous boost they can give to your reputation – and your book sales.

Bryan Heathman’s Top 7 Book Awards for Authors

Winning an award for your book may seem unlikely at first blush. After all, the competition and requirements for submission are usually thought to be pretty stiff. But in reality, the fee for submitting your magnum opus for Pulitzer Prize consideration is only $50. Some authors spend that weekly at their friendly neighborhood Starbucks.

Imagine carrying around the title of “Award-Winning Author” on your business card. You just might get past some velvet ropes a little easier with that kind of clout (hey, it could happen).

Besides Pulitzer and Nobel, the list of prominent book awards reads like a “Who’s Who” at an acronym convention: PEN, NBA, NBCC and Booker to name a few. But there are lesser-known, more accessible challenges to meet, such as Benjamin Franklin, Independent Publishers Guild and Writer’s Digest. Besides bucking the competition for the major brass rings, you are much more likely to win the Sophomore Cup and be the proverbial big fish in a small pond.

Besides lots of celebratory perks and a cash prize, winners are announced to major trade journals, news outlets, public libraries, social media and blogs. Consider your entry for the following awards when you publish your next manuscript:

The Benjamin Franklin Awards: the Independent Book Publishers Association is a non-profit organization that offers advocacy and education. Their Benjamin Franklin Award honors independent publishers and self-published authors for excellent book editorial and design.

Independent Publishers Guild Award: the IPGs Independent Publishing Awards celebrate the achievements and successes of IPG members. Frankly it’s a great way for them to drive membership, and it’s a great way for you, the author, to connect and network with other serious professionals.

IPPYS – Independent Publishers Book Awards: the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs) shine a light on excellent independent, university, and self-published books each year. The independent spirit comes from all corners, and books are judged on merit, not necessarily polish.

Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards: Foreword Reviews is dedicated to discovering new indie books. The INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards help showcase the best indie books for readers eager to discover new stories by unknown authors.

Dan Poynter Global Book Awards: winners of this ebook award get the customary hoopla that accompanies book awards – stickers, social media buzz and press releases. As a winner you’ll also be considered for a one-year scholarship award for Dan Poynterís Para Promotion Program.

eLit Awards: the eLit Awards are committed to illuminating and honoring the best of English language entertainment. The eLit Awards include digital publishing in a wide variety of reader formats with submissions from around the world.

Do you have any favorite literary awards? If so, send me a message via www.MadeForSuccessPublishing.com/blog or LinkedIn Messaging and I’ll update this list periodically for the benefit of the writing community.





Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1October 21st, 2015
icon2admin

Noisetrade – A Hidden Gem for Book Marketing


by Bryan Heathman

The Author’s Dream

There you are, sipping coffee and cognac by the stone fireplace at a lodge near Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Your muscles are warm and loose from a day of skiing, and your mind is on the fine meal planned for the evening.

Recent sales of your best seller have funded this little getaway, and you can’t believe how easily – how quickly – it all came together. It was all so sudden.

You lean back, gazing out the window at the gently falling snow, and smile. Yes, you can trace it all back to that one pivotal moment, the one when you decided to give away copies of your book on Noisetrade. After all, doesn’t everyone?

“If only they knew it was this easy,” you muse, “then everyone really would be doing it.” The sweet aroma of the steam fills your senses while the down-stuffed armchair cradles you in comfort. The thought whispers at the edge of your mind, “Yes, it is truly a good life…”

CLANK!

You’re startled awake with a clatter. The spoon you used to stir your powdered instant Swiss mocha mix has fallen to the kitchen floor, jostling you back to the reality of the moment: the onerous task of writing your book marketing plan.

If you don’t figure out some way to build your readership, your dreams of Swiss-inspired success are hosed. You might as well use those overstock copies of your ebook to fuel the virtual fireplace app on your smartphone. Not glamorous. Not at all.

Using Noisetrade to Build Your Best-Seller Dream

Using Noisetrade can be one great step on the journey to market your book. Noisetrade is an author-driven marketplace for ebooks and audiobooks. Rather than direct commerce, contributors are rewarded through donations that readers make on the honor system.

For example, a reader downloads a juicy sci-fi novel and has the option to pay for it after the aliens have been summarily dealt with. Score one for the author.

Authors can build an audience by giving away full-length ebooks or audiobooks, or alternatively authors offer sample chapters. Readers can find fiction, non-fiction, study guides, graphic novels and audiobooks galore. It’s the utopian version of Amazon.com without the coffee makers, winter coats and toy ads.

And it’s true: Noisetrade can be cool. When I work with authors to develop and execute their marketing plans, we do use NoiseTrade, but not for its idealistic original intent. Putting partial ebooks and audiobooks on this site has generated hundreds to thousands of new subscribers to email lists for many of my authors. Here’s how it works.

When a reader selects a book to download, they are prompted to make a choice from the pop-up window. They can either log in with Facebook credentials, use their free Noisetrade account, or download anonymously as a guest.

Those who log in are prompted to join the author’s mailing list and agree to receive email from them. After that, the author is free to build a relationship and market to them as often as they wish.

The Reality

This is a great email list-building tactic, but a horrible tactic for generating revenue when you post your entire book.

Noisetrade is not a good platform for making pots of money and retiring to the slopes of Neuchâtel. For one thing, the appeal for consumers is that the downloads are free. This attracts freebie-seekers.

Even though the Noisetrade site advises users to leave a tip (and they recommend an amount), the timing of their recommendation sucks. The pop-up asks for the money before the meal – before the reader has a chance to be inspired, amused, educated or tickled by the enormity of the author’s wit. Who’s going to pay for a sci-fi novel when they aliens haven’t been vanquished yet? Most authors don’t include a payment link at the end of their book, so the sale is lost.

If you can keep this in perspective, you can capitalize on Noisetrade’s innate sexiness as a marketing tool. Our best success has come from this model, or recipe, for using Noisetrade to promote books:

  • Give away book 1, and publish links to purchase books 2 & 3
  • Get email addresses when people download your ebook/audiobook
  • Add these emails to your email database and wow your subscribers with your clever words

Noisetrade is great for getting your creative works into the hands of consumers, building your mailing list and staying in touch with them. If you keep this in mind as you use Noisetrade to market yourself, you can maximize its potential and start adding a little VSOP to your afternoon coffee. Santé!




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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.






Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1October 13th, 2015
icon2admin

Book Publicity Media Kits – The 5 Essential Elements Journalists Need


by Bryan Heathman

Successfully marketing your book basically means letting people know that it exists. After all, you wrote down your best ideas so that others would read and enjoy them. Getting more book sales translates to more people sharing your best ideas – fact or fiction— and benefitting from them.

As the person who’s primarily responsible for promoting your book, one smart move you can make is to leverage the huge media potential available to authors. Doing this will mean you won’t be the only person touting your book. You’ll have massive media outlets helping you out.

The problem with using traditional publicity is that the process can be intimidating. Buyers for book distributors and retail book stores decide how many copies to order per outlet based on publicity and demand. Getting regional or national exposure helps drive that demand. But how can you get publicity for your book when there’s so much competition for face time in the media?

The answer lies in preparation. Having a complete media kit prepared ahead of time for all your publicity contacts will ensure that they have access to everything they need to decide to put you in front of their audience. In fact, a media kit will stack the odds in your favor, and getting mass exposure becomes a matter of making yourself available to media outlets.

Time starved magazine editors, radio personalities and TV talk show hosts are all looking for completeness and professional presentation. They need to see a total package that will help them out with their stories. If you can present them with the material they need ahead of time, you are much more likely to land that interview, book review or feature. This preparation comes in the form of the media kit.

The 5 Essentials of a Book Media Kit

There is a wide assortment of materials that authors include in their media kit, but many of them are overkill for a journalist in a hurry. Sometimes less really is more. Your complete media kit should include the following elements:

1) Your Author Biographies – Yes, you need more than one bio. Depending on the length, these may include your professional background, your experience as an author, and even information about your lifestyle such as where you live.

Your bios should be offered in the following lengths:

  • 2 lines (120 characters)
  • Short bio (50 words)
  • Medium bio (100 words)
  • Long bio (400 to 600 words)

2) Your Press Release – This should include meaty useful content, citing you as an authority on the topic with a reference to your book. It should not be an announcement that you’ve written a book. There’s no quicker way to bore a journalist, and these are the people you want to excite.

Besides meaty and content and sound bites, your press release should include the following often omitted data:

  • Headline up to 20 words
  • Subheading (optional)
  • Dateline (City, State, Date)
  • Call to action at the bottom of the release
  • Your contact information – don’t make people work hard to find you

Click here for tips on writing a Press Release for your book launch.

3) A Book Synopsis and Sample Chapter — Pull your most important information onto one sheet. Include a cover image, the title & sub-title, table of contents and key selling points. Include reviews and endorsements if you have them. If you don’t have them, then set aside time to get them. Include book review excerpts if you have them, such as, “This book is a thrill ride! I couldn’t put it down.”

4) Publicity Photos — Offer more than one type of publicity photo. Make sure these images are professionally done with nicely balanced contrast and clear, sharp focus.

  • Image of your book cover created by a professional book graphic designer
  • Head shot of just you with even lighting and an approachable facial expression
  • A candid shot of you in a relevant context, showing you in an environment that relates to your topic

5) Sample Interview Questions, Tips, Quotes and Sound Bites — People in the media may not have the time to read your book, so make it easy for them to understand your work. Include sample interview questions in your media kit. Radio and TV personalities especially love these. Journalists love to see list of tips that they can reprint in connection with your book. All media people love to use quotes and sound bites, so feed them what they want.

The thing to remember about your media kit is that it’s a work in progress. It will constantly need to be updated. If you set it and forget it, in time it will forget you. Stay active in the life of your book’s publicity. With proper care and feeding, and it will provide you with fat royalty checks for a long time to come.




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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.






Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1September 22nd, 2015
icon2admin

Traditional Media Exposure = Rocket Fuel for Your Book Launch


by Bryan Heathman

There are several thousand ways to successfully publicize a book that I’m aware of, and some are more effective than others. For example, you can promote your book by selling it back-of-room during speaking engagements, and you may actually make thousands of sales this way. The problem with this approach is that your own involvement limits the number of sales you can make, as the opportunities to speak are scarce… as is your time. This “scarcity principle” applies other marketing tactics I’ve seen authors use – not just public speaking engagements.

Imagine how much more effective your marketing efforts will be when you invest your time instead of spending it. Think of the activities you can do that will offer you leverage. Using traditional media such as radio, TV and print can give you massive leverage.

By putting your book in the hands of other people who can reach a large audience for you, you are leveraging their audience. Imagine sitting down for an interview with a radio talk show host. How many people can you reach in one 10-minute chat? What would audiences for your book look like if a dozen radio shows picked up a press release you distributed? How might your book launch change if your interview became syndicated? What would a stint on Good Morning America do for your sales?

Traditional Publicity Doesn’t Have To Mean Boring

Using traditional media such as radio, television, newsprint and magazine exposure for your book can make or break your sales numbers. This is anything but boring. By distributing your book through channels that will automatically publicize your work to large groups of people, you are investing your time and resources wisely. Let’s take a look at how you can apply this kind of leverage to your Book Marketing Plan.

Whether you’re looking for a burst of heat from your initial book launch, or your topic is evergreen and you’ve got your eye on long tail sales, publicity can give you the leverage you need to put your book into the hands of readers. Social media and other interactive types of publicity are great for this.

Yet for most authors who take the time to draft a Book Marketing Plan, somehow traditional publicity keeps getting lost in the mix. Despite the prevalence of social media in our daily lives, traditional media is still not only an effective publicity generator, it’s often the most effective way to sell pallets of your published book.

The three months surrounding your book launch are a time of intense activity. With the right chemical mix of traditional publicity and social media, you can be sure that your book continues to make sales long after the launch is over.

A Media Kit Is Rocket Fuel for Your Book Launch

A media kit helps establish your credibility and enhances your reputation before you even start your marketing campaign. This means buying resistance to your books will be much lower. People will be more inclined to believe in you when you have a solid reputation.

A media kit is a branded set of marketing materials that’s rich with content, not hype. It includes collateral material for journalists, book reviewers, talk show hosts, bloggers and consumers. Frequently a time-starved journalist won’t take a minute to look into the media kit to make their decision about whether to cover you. They’ll rely on the summary you provide. If your information is complete and looks professional, they will simply use the material you have given them.

People in the media don’t have time to read your book, so make it easy for them to understand your work. If you are considerate of their needs, they are more inclined to cover the story of you and your book.

Include sample interview questions in your media kit. Radio and TV personalities especially love these. Journalists love to see list of tips that they can reprint in connection with your book. All media people love to use quotes and sound bites, so feed them what they want.

Above all, make sure you provide your contact information right up front. In fact it should be on every part of your media kit and every page of your website. No one should ever have to guess how to reach you.

Do you have questions about what to include in your book media kit? Click here for the 5 essential elements of a book media kit.

By leveraging traditional media, you can launch your book to stellar status join – maybe even join the galaxy of published superstars. The only question that remains is, how high do you want to go?




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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.






Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1September 22nd, 2015
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Book Reviews: How to Get Book Reviews on Amazon


by Bryan Heathman

As an author, the best thing that can happen for your book is that titillating four-letter word we all love and fear at the same time: BUZZ. Getting people to read and talk up your book is what it’s all about.

Buzz is the reason for those late nights hunched over your keyboard with an empty cup of something at your elbow, while a long-suffering significant beckons from the next room to come back to bed. An audience for your greatest ideas is the reason to lie awake, staring at the ceiling, piecing together the right words to express your ideas. Buzz is the reason to take the contents of your head, convert them to verbiage and digits and publish them in an ISBN-backed, endorsement-bedecked, jewel-tone-covered volume called My Great Work.

Clearly, buzz is what you want. The goal is to generate a flurry of well-deserved hype over the 3-month time frame surrounding your book launch and thereby tell the world your story. But how does a lone author working from a spare room get buzz, and how much is enough?

Let’s start this question of buzz by addressing the topic of book reviews, or what professional marketers like to refer as social proof. There are 2 types of reviews which authors seek – professional reviews (trade reviews, media outlets, etc.) and consumer reviews. Let’s take a deeper look at getting consumer reviews.

Separating the Papyrus from the Chaff

From legacy publishing digests to rogue Indie publishing specialists, information abounds online about how to successfully launch your book and get reviews. After all, consumer book reviews are the bread and butter of many a book launch campaign with good reason. One thing has been proven…consumers make buying decisions based on social proof.

Last week I took a fantastic scuba diving adventure with my daughter, exploring reefs and shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. After seeing the tropical fish in the delightfully warm 86 degree water, Alex, the store manager of the scuba shop, asked us to log into TripAdvisor to write a review. Alex knows how important reviews are to his business – both in terms of positive reviews and the quantity of reviews.

The same principles of getting reviews for a scuba diving shop can be applied to books.

Plenty of quality reviews on Amazon.com alone signals the difference between the roar of the crowd and the figurative chirping of crickets. With authors I advise on book marketing, I require at least 30 reviews on Amazon before we can take your Marketing Plan to the next level. The reason is that several highly effective book marketing tactics require that you have this number before you can launch a substantial campaign.

So, what are the steps you can add to your marketing checklist to kick-off your book launch with lots of reviews?

The 5 Most Effective Steps You Can Take to Get More Book Reviews

1. Develop an overall Marketing Plan. Think about how you can market your book as you’re writing it – not as an afterthought. If you wait until your manuscript is finished, you will either delay the launch or suffer from low book sales. Include book reviews as part of this plan, and draft a clear, specific strategy for getting them.

2. Write a great book. The book you write should stand up to thoughtful analysis, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Have it professionally edited, commission an excellent cover, and let your book stand on its own merits.

3. Keep a list of reviewers. Develop and organize a list of people to tap for reviews as you’re writing your book. Ask yourself “Who has a vested interest in expressing their opinion about my work?” Begin this task early on, and maintain steady activity. Here are a few ideas to get start building your list:

  • Friends and Family: reach-out to your inner circle of people closest to you and ask for a favor to write a review once your book is published. Some authors can achieve the requisite 30 reviews from this source alone.
  • Fans & Supporters: keep a list of people who know, like and trust you. These folks will have the greatest emotional investment in the success of your book. Many authors will organize a “book launch tribe” who perform various tasks throughout the book launch. Using social media networks is an excellent forum for organizing tribe members.
  • Colleagues: list the people who are in your industry who would be interested in supporting your work. You can trade promotion with them and perhaps even launch a joint venture promotion.
  • Reviewers: these are people who have an established reputation in the field of literary criticism. This category includes book bloggers, media personnel and celebrities. Notable reviewers can be your most effective allies in getting attention for your book.
  • Podcasters: remember podcasting? Well, it’s back, and it’s on the rise. Currently Americans listen to 20 million hours of podcast material every… single… day. (No lie.) Team up with podcasters to review your book and help you spread the word. Better yet, recommend that they tie their review to a 3-part series that includes an interview with you and a retrospective on your topic. The more you prepare material for them, the greater the chances of success for both of you.
  • Online Retail Communities: request book reviews on from top reviewers on Amazon.com, GoodReads.com, iTunes, BarnesandNoble.com and other similar e-tailers. Be polite, be informative, and follow up. Finding these reviewers is easier than you think…keep reading.

4. Get engaged. Cultivate relationships with the people you want to review your work. Be willing to trade your engagement with them for their thoughtful comments about your book. Be ready to get involved in their conversations on their blogs and social media. Participate. In this area, the more attention you give, the more attention you will receive.

5. Get social. Use social media to generate excitement about your work in progress. Don’t just release your book – launch it. As your big day approaches, make it clear that advance copies of your book are available in exchange for credible reviews. The number of copies you give away will have a marked impact on the number of reviews you receive. However, scarcity sells. Position the review copies as a scarce commodity, even when you’re giving away a thousand of them. In fact, expert review campaigns in advance of your book launch can lead to best-seller status for your book. I’ve seen it happen time and again. Promoting review copies on social media is a great way to jump start your campaign.

Getting quality book reviews isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t have to keep you up at night. After all, those long hours spent staring at the ceiling are best kept for crafting your magnum opus. Using these 5 steps will make your book promotion that much easier and help you get the kind of buzz you’re looking for. The right reviews at the right time can be just the nudge you need.

Author Resources for Getting Book Reviews:




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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.




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Book Endorsements: The Power of Third Party Validation


by Bryan Heathman

In the realm of book marketing, there’s an axiom that goes like this:

“If I say it, it’s up for debate; if someone else says it, it must be true.”

Third-party validation is a sure-fire method of getting people to draw a conclusion about me or my book. In fact, a well-known endorser has proven to add instant credibility to books and professional speakers.

Do you doubt me? You can prove it for yourself. Try this exercise: decide for yourself which of these statements sounds better if you say it about yourself, or if it sounds best coming from a trusted third-party expert:

  1. This book is the most efficient, effective path to living up to the potential inside you.
  2. No other author delivers so much yet still leaves the reader hungry for more.
  3. Each delicious word lolls around on the palette like a chocolate-kissed gem – you’ll want to try these foolproof recipes for yourself.
  4. The author is clearly the most knowledgeable person of our time and a credit to society.
  5. Put on your thinking cap – this book is lightning in a bottle. You won’t be able to put it down.

Got your answers? Good.

It probably didn’t take you long to decide that if you had written these blurbs about yourself, then you would have probably stopped at #2 (if you were feeling generous).

However, if any of these quotes about your work came from a head of State, a New York Times best-selling author, or the winner of a Nobel Prize, you’d probably crack the cover on your book and read at least a couple of lines (chocolate-kissed gems, anyone?).

Third-party validation is the most compelling reason to go after book endorsements for your work. It’s also a very intimidating step in the list of things that an author must do to get noticed in the crowded book marketplace. In terms of phobias, requesting endorsements is not far behind root canals, furry South American spiders and that dreaded numero uno… public speaking!

But unlike the items in the paragraph above, getting book endorsements doesn’t have to be all that scary. There’s really very little risk involved, and the benefits far outweigh the price of your request. The few steps below will help you ask for—and get—the endorsements that are so critical for your book’s success.

It’s simple. Don’t ask, don’t get.

Ask, and you just might collect a priceless recommendation from someone you really admire. Having the thought leader in your field say good things about you is sure to up your ratings, not to mention your book sales. So ask for the endorsement.


Five Essentials for Getting Quality Book Endorsements

Now that we’ve established this is an important step to take, let’s take a look at what you need to do to get your first “Yes”.

1. Ask an Author. Authors are usually responsive to requests for book endorsements. They “get it”—start with the experts in your field or genre. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get a response, especially when you remind them of the exposure they will gain from your marketing.

2. Ask an Expert. Experts also thrive on exposure and professional courtesy. Aim high when asking for an endorsement. I typically get a 20-50% response rate using the system I’m giving you here.

3. Send Your Endorsement Letter. Starting with a letter, request a endorsements for your book. In fact, I’ve gone as far as creating an Endorsement Request Template which I share with authors published by Made for Success Publishing. Your letter can either be inserted into the body of an email, or it can be mailed as a physical letter. Your tone should be complimentary without sucking up, and you’ll need to briefly state something that the two of you have in common. Make sure they know how to contact you in reply.

Just last week, I sent an endorsement request to a famous author whose book has sold 25 million copies. His book also has a major motion picture releasing this quarter. He sent me a response saying “maybe,” based on his ability to squeeze-in this request during his upcoming new release book tour and red carpet movie premier schedule.

4. Send Your Book Review Materials. Once your endorsement prospect has answered your letter and said “yes” or “maybe” it’s time to give them the tools to do the job. Offer an at-a-glance summary of your book: the introduction, the table of contents, and a couple of sample chapters. Use your judgement about whether to mail a copy of your materials or send it via email. If you send an email, provide a website link with a protected URL where the endorser can download a PDF as some folks are shy about opening email attachments they receive from strangers.

5. Include Endorsement Samples. Make some suggestions about what your endorser might say. Prepare three or four sample endorsements, since people in your network may ask you to write the endorsement for them. Make the comments easy to digest, but also let them glow a little around the edges.


To Best Seller Status and Beyond

The endorsements you collect can be quite valuable for you and your book, long beyond launch day. It helps to think of the time and effort involved as an investment. What you put in will return to you in the form of dividends.

Book endorsements will be featured on your website, Amazon.com, in your marketing materials, on your book jacket, on sell sheets that are sent to retail book buyers, and many other places.

The time and resources you invest in this stage of your marketing campaign is more than worth it. The right book endorsement will open doors for your writing endeavors, your book, and your paid speaking opportunities.




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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 on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.





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Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1August 31st, 2015
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The Write Stuff – Choosing the Best BISAC Genre for Your Book


by Bryan Heathman

In the beginning, the world was void – formless, nameless, unreadable. Then everything got categorized, and we’ve been trying to file it ever since. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

So too with books. Just as soon as an author writes something, somebody comes along and categorizes it. The most successful authors categorize their work first, then write it.

When you have information, you need to put it somewhere. You’ve got to be able to access it again, and other people will probably want to look at it too. Thus was born the BISAC, the Publishing industry’s answer to the Dewey Decimal system.

The BISAC is a list of hundreds of categories and sub-categories that has rapidly becoming the industry standard for classifying books by genre. There are those who argue that in time it will replace the venerable Dewey Decimal System. Others contend that it already has.

If you’re a published author – or would like to be – it pays to educate yourself on the technicalities of book publishing. You only need to be a little bit more savvy than the rest of the pack in order to be miles ahead, perhaps even capture that elusive best-seller status.

Let’s take a look at how choosing the right category can help you sell more books.


Dewey or Don’t We?

The Dewey Decimal System is most commonly associated with stern-faced librarians and dusty book covers. I can remember volunteering at the Arbor Heights Grade School library as a kid, hoisting abandoned volumes into gaps on the shelves, putting away the day’s reading material while Miss Marian looked on from behind her half-glasses while adjusting her bun.

It was kind of fun. I could sort and organize, while enjoying the smell of ink and leather that when combined makes that “library smell.” Come on, you know what I mean! The fact that I grew up to be a publisher is amusing to my high-tech executive sensibilities – but then, certain advances in publishing technology have helped take the toil out of hocking Tolstoy and his modern-day equivalents.

This leads us back to the BISAC, more formally known as the Book Industry Standards and Communications list. What I’ve found in working with authors is that very few of them have ever heard of the BISAC. Little do they know how essential this tool is for their publishing success!

Unless you’re writing for your own amusement, we can make the argument that your book needs to fit into an established genre. People need to find it, and book sellers need to be able to organize War and Peace next to your masterpiece.

Many would argue that the Dewey Decimal system does this, but that does little for the author when it comes to selling books at retail. This archaic system is too confusing, and it takes an entire course of study in Library Science to learn to speak Dewey.


ISBN for Ibsen, BISAC for the Basics

The ISBN (International Standards Book Number) is a numeric commercial book identifier based on a 13-digit code (generally), and it serves as the anchor for your book’s bar code. Retailers and e-tailers need to have one for your book in order to sell it – even if your name is Henrik Ibsen and you’ve won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

But the ISBN doesn’t do anything to help customers find your cherished volume. It’s for machines only – not at all user-friendly. The Dewey Decimal System is the next best thing, but it still doesn’t quite fit the bill.

Way back in 2007, there was a flap in the news about a public library in Texas doing away with the Dewey Decimal System altogether and organizing their catalog like a bookstore would. The nerve! Imagine helping people find what they’re looking for in an easy-to-understand way. What system did they use? The BISAC.

The BISAC is the brainchild of the Book Industry Study Group, and their list itself is copyrighted material. But just about every bookseller in the world refers to it now. I predict that it won’t take long for libraries to catch up. You can find the BISAC master list on the BISAC website: https://www.bisg.org/complete-bisac-subject-headings-2014-edition

At the core of every book is a sense of relativity – where your book fits into the grand scheme of things. As you set about to draft, polish and market your magnum opus, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who else has written a book like yours?
  • Why is their book successful?
  • Who will want to read your book?
  • What is the single most relevant category for your book?
  • What is the most appropriate BISAC genre for your book?

Some authors don’t like to be pinned down to a single category as they write. What they don’t realize is that they’re doing themselves a disservice by ignoring genre requirements. Books aren’t supposed to be elusive. Even books on cryptozoology are easy to find with BISACs.

When you sit down to write, try to think like a book seller. Choose a BISAC that matches your material. With a little discipline and forethought, your manuscript will serve more people with less effort.

In the end, you’ll actually sell more books. Now that’s a category any author can live with – the best-seller category.




Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with bestselling 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 on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.






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Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

 

icon1August 26th, 2015
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Smarter Amazon Listings for Books, eBooks and Audiobooks


by Bryan Heathman

Getting a book into tens of thousands of reader’s hands is no easy task. One of the greatest challenges an author faces is overcoming the problem of obscurity. Digital book catalogs have unlimited shelf space, making it increasingly difficult for interested readers to find your book.

Over the weekend, I had an interesting conversation with a senior executive from Amazon.com. I was sitting in his freshly remodeled home, enjoying appetizers on the porch on a warm summer evening. This executive manages a team of people at Amazon who perform the software development on Amazon’s search algorithms.

This conversation took an interesting turn when we started talking about Amazon’s search results, such as what you see when you type in search terms like “high performance tennis books.” I was curious as to the weight (if any) they give to historical conversion rates when deciding which books to display in the search results. This was interesting to me as the author of a book called Conversion Marketing, which delves into how to optimize a website to boost ecommerce conversion rates.

What I discovered was interesting in that Amazon displays the most relevant search results as possible while resisting the temptation to display the highest converting items in their catalog.

Why is this important to authors? What this means is that when you, or your publisher, creates your book listing on Amazon, it makes a material difference in the sales of your book based on how you structure your book listing and your book’s information (or metadata).

I like writing about the topic of online book conversion because authors keep asking me, “How can I sell more copies of my book?” Over the last decade of my experience publishing books, I’ve discovered that getting a book into the marketplace effectively involves the collective knowledge of 30 different people.

From slick cover design to writing punchy marketing copy, the demands of publishing your book involve some highly specialized skills. If you’re not an expert at all of them – and trust me, no one is – it’s time to work a bit smarter.

I own a company that helps authors publish their work, then distributes their books and audiobooks internationally. That gives me a unique perspective on the question of how to sell more books. Not a week goes by when I don’t have authors approaching me for help boosting the sales of their books. The most common mistake independent authors make is that they try to do too much themselves. I’ve witnessed a lot of missed revenue opportunities from false starts, poor workmanship or negative reviews. These mistakes can be very costly indeed.

So what can you do to create a great looking book listing on Amazon.com, which also drives high traffic from Amazon search results? Here are my top 3 marketing tips for structuring a great performing book listing on Amazon.com:

Tip 1 – Keyword Research: establish what keywords people use to find books in your genre. Use these keywords throughout your book listing. If you can include key phrases in your title, sub-title and/or descriptions, you’ll be doing great. To research keywords, consider resources such as AMZ Tracker.

Tip 2 – Book Description: structure your book description with over 1,000 characters. Also, it can help if your description is HTML coded. Finally, make sure your description is well written. A search will begin and end here if the description cannot get the point of your book across quickly.

Tip 3 – Bullet Points: many Amazon shoppers like to have a quick summary of the book, at a glance. Using bullet points in your description can help, with the key selling points of your book. What goes into your key selling points? A few ideas include mentioning awards, endorsements, a synopsis and the genre of your book.

Follow these simple guidelines for your book listing in electronic catalogs, and you will be well on your way to getting your work into the hands of eager readers.




Congratulations, Paul J. Thomas, on your newest book Bite Size Advice: A Definitive Guide to Political, Economic, Social and Technological Issues.



Bite Size Advice is an indispensable tool for those wanting to increase their political, economic, social and technological literacy. Written in clear and concise language, it demystifies the key issues impacting our day-to-day lives and delivers invaluable advice in bite size chunks. Now you can find out everything you wanted to know about almost everything.










Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing, GOKO Publishing’s US partner. He works with bestselling authors and consultants which have included the late Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher and marketer. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.





Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






 

icon1August 10th, 2015
icon2admin

Book Marketing – The Achilles Heel of Authors


by Bryan Heathman, CEO of GOKO Publishing’s US partner

He was in his 50’s and his steel-blue eyes could bore a hole through a sheet of steel.

“What do you mean I need to launch a $25,000 marketing campaign?” Rod’s voice was steady, from years of practice leading teams for technology companies.

“Listen Bryan, I didn’t sign up for this – press releases, blog posts, cowtowing on social media, butt kissing on talk radio, writing jacket blurbs. I’m not a marketer. The only thing I’m going to write is my story and my ideas will sell themselves.”

I sighed, as I’d heard this story too many times to count. “I’m sure you can see that the work needs to be promoted,” I offered, thumbing the corner of his thick manuscript. The meeting had dragged on longer than I’d expected, and the chic seafood restaurant was now empty of lunchtime traffic.

“You’re a promoter and that’s what I’m evaluating you for, isn’t it?” he quipped.

“Um, actually I’m a publisher,” I retorted. “You see, my job is to move books through distribution channels in order to exponentially expose readers with your writing. “

“Fine. Whatever. You can do that too. I’m just not going to do anything but write my stories. I’ve been leading teams for 20 years, and I’m not going to change that now.” He took a sip of his ice tea. “I’ll leave the marketing up to you to figure-out. My game is technology and leadership.”

The man was formidable. If it weren’t for the fact that he was referred by a high-profile professional speaker, I would have called for the check and gone to my next meeting.

No, book marketing was definitely not his thing. While he went on on with a voice of authority, I mused about how he would come across at a book signing.

But there was something about Rod that made me stay on. Maybe it was the quality of his work; it really was good.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Of Jangled Nerves and Disruption

I’m telling you about Rod because his situation is common among writers. In my work as a publisher, I usually deal with two types: those whose motto is “I breathe, therefore I speak,” and those whose motto is “I write, therefore I don’t need to speak.” One is outgoing; the other is not. One is people oriented; the other is well qualified to work in a Forest Service fire watch tower – alone.

In both cases, their medium is words. And in both cases, “sale” is a four-letter word. Sales and marketing are the last things either of them wants to think about. They just want to work with the words they love.

Unfortunately, a love for words just isn’t enough to get a finished book into the hands of readers. In fact, as I’ve said so often before, writing your book is only 5% of the work involved.

Unfortunately for authors like Rod, writing is all they know. The good news is that I’ve got a crew of about 30 people who handle the tasks of editing, book design, sales and distribution. So many authors try to take on all of these tasks at once and succeed at only a few – if any. It’s just too much for one person to master.

I think young authors are a little less buffeted by the disruptive storms of change and technology than those who are more seasoned. But anyone trying to keep up with a market that has changed as radically as publishing has is in for a bad case of jangled nerves, as evidenced by the number of Create Space authors that cross my desk on a daily basis. The average book launched last year only sold 500 copies, which is far below the expectations of people like Rod.

Selling the Sizzle

When my team and I take on a new project, the first thing we ask is, “Who’s the audience?” My job is to find authors who want to be published, but have made strides towards the enormous task of selling their work to the public. It starts with assessing the playing field and crafting a story that resonates with a hungry audience. How this story gets told is up to each author.

Here are a couple successful book marketing practices to get you started:

  • Blog Tours – provide articles to high traffic bloggers
  • Radio shows – guest appearances on local or national radio shows
  • TV appearances – many New York Times best-selling authors get their start with appearances on Good Morning America
  • Social media – this is a great vehicle to build a big audience at a low cost
  • Bookstore signings – bookstores and libraries are always a fun place to talk about your book
  • Speaking engagements – there is nothing more effective than sharing your ideas with a crowd to generate book orders
  • Advertising – it has never been easier than today to purchase advertising to a highly exact audience. We have partnerships with several email newsletter publishers that still get amazingly high response-rates with readers
  • Partnerships – professionals in this business build relationship with others who have large audiences, effectively structured deals with the philosophy “I’ll scratch you back if you scratch mine”

What I love about my job is that I help get words and ideas into the hands of readers around the world – readers who wouldn’t have access to these ideas without easy access to a book.

Whether it’s through libraries in Liberty, Kansas or on Kindles in the Amazon jungle, the authors we publish have a reach that wouldn’t have been possible for them otherwise. It’s great to see them realize their goals, and the quarterly bottom line shows how effective a publisher can be in the distribution food chain.

For authors like Rod, a publishing relationship is a godsend. Now his business philosophies can be enjoyed everywhere, and his book sales show it. That’s something any author can sink their teeth into.



Congratulations Robert Spillane!

Goko Publishing wants to congratulate and support one of or new authors, Robert Spillane. Getting a book from concept to reality is no easy task and Robert has just completed publishing his second book in just 1 year!!



EyeforanI_TransparentAN EYE FOR AN I
This book discusses ancient and modern philosophers whose ideas enable us to gain insight into and mastery of ourselves. While this sounds like psychology, it is what the ancient Greeks called moral philosophy and its main precept is ‘know oneself’.

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EntertainingExecutives1_3_1ENTERTAINING EXECUTIVES
Office politics, power struggles, ulterior motives, personality differences …all combine to make this cynical poke at the “executive branch” of a typical office highly entertaining. The setting takes you to a management training program where several managers are invited to attend.

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Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He works with bestselling authors and consultants which have included the late Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher and marketer. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.






Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






 

icon1July 20th, 2015
icon2admin

Could Your Brand Inspire A Gold Rush?


by Bryan Heathman

Have you ever experienced the frenzy of a gold rush? I have, so let me tell you a story of what it is like to experience the exhilaration of a gold rush!

My experience was not a gold rush in the traditional sense. You see, a traditional gold rush looks like this… I live in Seattle which has roots in the gold rush era, where 100,000 prospectors from Seattle and San Francisco raced to Alaska during the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush. In this gold rush, a select few of the prospectors got rich. Interestingly, it was the merchants in Seattle and San Francisco who got rich selling supplies to miners on their way to Alaska, who were required by the Canadian Government to stock-up on items such as packs, non-perishable food, denim jeans, picks and shovels.

My gold rush experience was far different, but was equally as competitive as the Alaskan gold rush. In the late 1990’s, there was a phenomenon knows as the “Dot.com boom”. I was one of the figurative miners, known as a Dot.com’er, working to figure-out ways to commercialize this new thing called the Internet or the Information Superhighway. I was fortunate to have worked for Microsoft during this period and learned the ropes from a big technology company. So I ventured-off, climbing up the equivalent of Chilkoot Pass (pictured above), and helped pioneer a company in the online advertising industry.

Gold RushBut did you know that there is gold just about everywhere you look, even today? What if you could create a gold rush for your products or services without competing in the fast moving business of technology?

The magic is right in front of you – in your brand. You’ll find customers just about everywhere. But until your brand addresses the needs of a SPECIFIC audience, you could easily wind up prospecting in the wrong place. All your effort will be wasted, and you could end up tired, cold and broke just like the thousands of men trudging through the Alaskan wilderness.

The reason behind a successful brand is simple. If you don’t know your customer demographics, you may try to make your brand appeal to everyone. An axiom which I teach in branding is that when you try to appeal to everyone, you wind up appealing to no one at all. When your logo, slogan, sales videos, website and marketing materials are geared toward the wrong demographic, you wind up turning off potential buyers.

In order for your business to hit paydirt, focus your company’s brand so that it appeals to the needs and desires of a select few versus the teeming masses. These select few will thank you for it with their wallets. Let me share 3 simple tricks on figuring-out what your audience looks like.

Know Thy Field

Before you brand your company, you need to know who your customers are – their demographics. Knowing your ideal customer’s profile is essential to your company, your branding and ultimately your sales conversions.

Knowing this information will let you focus on targeting the right audience and on their specific desires, setting yourself up for success. With a little research and planning, you will have the keys to branding success.

You can use this information to craft all of your promotions and messaging. When you know what your customer looks like, then you have found your golden customer-base.

Suppose your best customers are female, college educated, married, suburban, with an average age of 35. This population has a specific set of likes, dislikes, pleasures and pains. They tend to have a common perspective, even their own lingo.

Knowing this empowers you to speak to them in their language and address their desires. These people will want different things, even look at the world differently than blue collar men over 55, or urban college kids just starting out in life.

You need to know everything you can about your audience – their gender, age, amount of education, income, profession, geographic location, hobbies – everything that influences their buying decisions.

Without this information, you can’t put a face on your audience. Sales conversion becomes a roll of the dice. With this information, you can dominate your marketplace.

The good news is that others have had this challenge before you, and I’d like to share 3 tools for getting the job done is less than an hour. There are three benchmark websites you can use to figure this out, and we’ll cover them in a moment. Learning to use them in the right sequence will provide you with a 3-step system that sets up your brand for success.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Start Mining

The way look for gold is to start looking. Take advantage of these powerful resources to get to know the sweet spot of your marketplace. Then start addressing their desires.

There is more good news…these sites are all free to use and do not require any technical know-how. All it takes to begin prospecting for your ideal customers is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

  1. Competition: Know your target market. Head over to Google.com to research your marketplace and locate the top five competitors in your field. To start, enter the keywords that are most closely related to your field or product, then review the top search results that Google displays.

    Take a look at the websites of specific competitors, and get a feel for what they offer. How are they addressing the needs of your demographic? Your competition has invested heavily in market research, both time and money. Leverage their assets for your own advantage.

  2. Traffic: Go to Alexa.com and look up your competitors’ websites. Enter the domains (the website URLs) of your top competitors into the search box. This will show you how popular your competitors are worldwide, as well as locally. Where is their traffic coming from? How are those traffic hubs satisfying the needs of your customers? Is there a lesson you can mine here?

  3. Demographics: Go to Quantcast.com to research demographics for the sites you’ve found. What kinds of people are using these websites? How much money do they make? Are they married? Do they have kids? How long did they go to school? Where do they live?

Quantcast measures market profiles and displays the demographic information for free, which offers you a slick marketing advantage indeed. However, because the service is elective, not every website you research will be Quantified. That means the demographics you’re looking for may not be available. You might need to search for several sites before you hit paydirt and find real the real gold – market data. Keep digging. What you’re looking for is out there.

For the business executives who take the time to know their market, the job of mining for new customers comes naturally. No shovels or pick-axes are required!

Bryan BWBryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He has worked with bestselling authors such as Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher, rainmaker and marketer. Download the Sales & Success mobile app to start your journey with free access to audios by Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar and Dr. Larry Iverson.







Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.

learn-more
 

icon1April 20th, 2015
icon2admin

Aspirational Branding-What does THAT mean?


Let’s start by defining a prestigious brand. Does your brand promote a feeling of Aspiration? Better yet, does your brand have what it takes to kick start a movement?

How are you creating prestige for your brand, and what are you doing to influence your buyers?

Aspirational brands appeal to people who desire something better. They buy products with “prestige appeal.” From a business standpoint, businesses who sell products/services with prestige typically enjoy very high profit margins. When creating a Brand strategy, they will make ownership just out of reach for most people. Meaning, their buyers may need to aspire to engage.

On the other hand, an Inspirational brand is a product that’s produced to satisfy the wants or needs of everyday needs and desires. Basically, it’s a commodity like toothpaste or bananas. How do you inspire consumers to purchase a commodity product?

With an Inspiration brand, the logo on the label matters but does not align with the identity of the consumer. The product is commonplace. This applies to everyday things like orange juice, auto tires or coffee. The buyer believes quality varies across brands, but you have to shout to be heard above the noise in the marketplace through advertising and promotional tactics (i.e. direct mail, coupons or purchasing in-store display space).

The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary

The other day I received a direct mail piece that caught my attention. In fact, the skilled marketer who created this mailer “set the hook” so effectively that I have the brochure sitting next to my computer.

Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I actually saved a piece of direct mail.

The tagline on the brochure says ” The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary.” Hmmm, I think.

This brand is obviously trying to distance itself from the commodity brand.

The product this company is selling has all the hallmarks of an aspirational brand. It is expensive. The brand is associated with quality. The products are rare and you don’t see many people using it. But when you do see this brand, the discerning eye takes notice. This is the perfect situation for an aspirational brand.

So I open-up the flyer and the first thing I note is the thick paper and high gloss printing. The photography used in the flyer is stunning – crisp in detail. The copy is minimalistic, so I can read it instantly. Here are some of the phrases they used:

“Discover the extraordinary details.”

“Take control.”

“We invite you to experience dynamic and distinctive driving, firsthand”

Well, if you haven’t guessed it yet this flyer was for a new model of car. But by the time I flipped to the 5th page of the flyer I was shocked by what I discovered. In my minds-eye the brand of this vehicle, Maserati, is out of my reach. But the “call to action” message in this flyer made me think differently….in fact, the arresting discovery made me think that I could aspire to own one of these vehicles. You see, the company is promoting a new model of Maserati that is priced lower to compete with mainstream luxury vehicles.

So all of a sudden, I’m their target market.

Exhilarating Performance is Just a Click Away

Your brand is at the core of what you do. What feelings or emotions does your business inspire in your customers? Think about how you present your brand, not just on your website but whenever you meet people, connect with them on social networks, or even in your direct mail flyers.

How are you setting yourself apart, making people aspire to own your product? What is it you do that makes you stand out from the crowd? Think about your brand around your unique strengths and go forth to generate a new level for your customer to aspire.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






Have You Ever thought of Having
RIP-ROARING INFLUENCE?

Rip-Roaring Influence -2Being influential is as good as gold, and far more valuable. Anyone who has ever made a significant and lasting difference had the power of influence on their side. Once you have mastered the essential lessons Mark Victor Hansen shares with you, you will have the power to take your life to a bold new level. Dare to master your own personal and professional influencing power and experience the difference that having Rip-Roaring Influence will have for you.

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icon1April 13th, 2015
icon2admin

Can Your Brand Create an Avalanche of New Business this Quarter?


Your brand is the core of your marketing, the central theme around your products and services. When it comes to your bottom line, your brand is not just the sizzle. It’s the steak.

Snowball MoneyI am working on a book launch for a book themed around the ancient Greek story of Mt. Sisyphus. If you’re not branded, you may feel like Sisyphus – the ancient Greek who was cursed to push a huge rock uphill only to have it roll back down to the bottom every time. Trying to promote your business without a brand can be a frustrating, fruitless task – one that gets you nothing but a sore back.

But the right branding can mean all the difference for you. After pushing your rock up the mountaintop, it can create a giant snowball of momentum for your business as it rolls down the other side.

Your brand is more than just a name and a logo. It’s your essence. It impacts every aspect of your buyer’s total experience with you, because it colors their perceptions. Your buyer’s perceptions color their relationship with you and ultimately whether or not they engage with their wallets.

So, are you branded? Is branding turning people on? Or is your lack of branding putting people off?

The problem is that most people are so busy going about their business they’re not thinking about how they’re coming across. They’re not branded. Yet all it takes is a simple choice to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Who Is Filling Your Cash Register?

Get to know the people in your marketplace, and get a clear idea about who you’re marketing to. You want your customers to spend money with you, and you know that means you have to make them feel confident about dealing with you. So find out who they are.

What do they want? What pain keeps them up at night? What rewards do they want the most? How can you add value to their experience?

When you send a clear message about your brand and the values you represent, your customers can feel comfortable entrusting you with their business. Using the right brand strategy, you can create a lasting impression and build a bond of trust.

Your website and social media accounts are sometimes the first place your customers will get to know you. From the fonts and color palette to the logo and tagline, your marketing materials should evoke a positive response with your target audiences.

You want your look and feel to set you apart, yet at the same time you want to create a natural fit within your marketplace. You also want your image to attract the kinds of people who can benefit from your offering. Here is 20-second branding exercise: close your eyes and picture the edgy and aggressive colors and fonts used by a wakeboard manufacturer. Next, visualize the elegant script font used to brand a prestigious jewelry company.

OK, now open your eyes and let’s give some thought to your company. Business cards, press kits, and print materials are tools used to reinforce your brand. Though the world is relentlessly driven to the digital realm, we are still living in a 3-D world. There are opportunities everywhere to take advantage of print media, from tradeshow brochures to buses.

Branding is a long term strategy for any business but should be implemented into your marketing and communications from the start.

If you own a small brick and mortar business in a small town or city, you can still follow branding strategies just as if you ran a national franchise or corporation.

There is no excuse for not using a branding strategy for your business. If you own a business, you need a solid and reliable brand.

Practical Steps to Finding the Right Branding Resources

It’s fine to talk about branding your company, but where do you start? If you’re looking for top quality logos, images and marketing materials, there is a wealth of services available to you at a fraction of the cost compared to what the big Branding Agencies bill their clients.

Freelance sites such as LogoContest or Fiverr offer a wealth of opportunities for getting the job done cheaply – if you know what you’re doing. The downside of throwing a virtual dart at your computer and randomly choosing a designer is that you never know what kind of results you’ll get. You may get lucky; then again, you may wind up with brand representation that does not connect with your audience. And that can be quite costly.

Getting a referral to a reliable contractor is another way to get branded. Take a look at the brands you know, like and trust, then see if you can discover their source or ad agency.

If this all sounds like Greek to you, schedule a meeting with a marketing pro- and you can finally push that big rock over the mountaintop and create an avalanche of new business.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






Personal Branding Basics: Identify Your Personal Brand in 60 Minutes

The key in getting people to remember your name and ideas is having a clear Personal Brand. Learn the essentials of establishing and communicating your personal brand in this insightful audio series. People who have established their Personal Brand are promoted faster in the workplace and have a clear sense of their future. In this program, you’ll be guided through a system which helps establish your course and how to communicate your vision of the future to people you meet.


Personal BrandingGetAccessNow2-300x96
 

icon1March 30th, 2015
icon2admin

Falling In Love With Your Future


Is there a secret formula for Leadership? No, it’s not really a secret.

Being an exceptional Leader requires passion, commitment and intuitive vision. In a word, it takes heart.

If you have a passion for the thrill and independence of being a Leader, plus you have the commitment to follow through on that passion, here is a breakout formula that can take you wherever you want to go. Falling in love with your future is as simple as letting your heart lead the way.

Research

Do-things-with-passion-or-not-at-all-Wherever-you-go-go-with-all-your-heartFirst you have to know where you’re going, so research is key. Find a successful cause or company similar to the one you envision leading. Study how it started and how it grew.

Next, learn all you can about the Leader behind it. Pick apart the Leadership style, and see if you can ferret out the steps or elements involved.

Devour books and publications related to your Leadership concept. Talk to other Leaders and ask them about their best practices.

Vision

A successful Leader is a bold visionary, seeing what others cannot. You have to be willing to follow that vision despite naysayers.

Many Leaders never finished college, but that hasn’t stopped them. Some visionaries started small companies that grew into large enterprises, such as Dell Computer. Other captains of industry chose to stay small, like your favorite neighborhood bistro or that consulting firm your friend owns in Kansas City.

Regardless of the size of their teams, they’ve all relied heavily on their vision – not necessarily on an MBA program.

Leaders handle ambiguity with ease and are fearless pacesetters. They get a thrill out of leading the way into unfamiliar territory and thumb their noses at the word “failure.”

Let other people manage the details for you, but keep a tight hold on your vision. You must be the guiding force that inspires your people to follow that vision. Shoulder the responsibility for the outcome, and hold yourself personally accountable. Let your passion for your cause show you the way. Focus on the big picture and trust others to focus on the details.

Strategy & Action

When you know where you’re going, the only thing missing is the strategy for getting you there combined with the courage to act. But this is no small thing. Jumping into Leadership without a strategic plan is like jumping in the ocean without knowing how to swim. You may reap unfortunate consequences and discover it all too late.

To create the strategic plan, picture your outcome exactly as you want it to be. Then write down your goals and objectives for achieving that vision. For each goal, create a strategy and a target date for achieving it. Begin with the end in mind, and work backwards until you reach the position you’re in today.

Assess your strengths. The odds are that you already possess the knowledge, skill and experience your team will draw upon. Now list all the strengths you can apply to reaching the object of your ambition.

Then appraise your challenges. Maybe they involve market penetration, profitability, expertise, competition or location. Challenges change as your objective changes. How will your challenges impact your goals?

Be willing to act. You can get things done by delegating, outsourcing or leveraging other people’s talents. Being a Leader means tapping untold reserves of innovation and unflagging determination. It means being willing to endure long, fast-moving days if you want to reap the rewards.

Get things done through delegation, and create a framework of people who can help you achieve your vision as a Leader. Even if your plan means working solo, you can benefit from accessing all kinds of talented consultants, vendors or subcontractors. Expect your framework to change as your vision grows, but build it only as big as you need it to be.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.

learn-more
 

icon1March 16th, 2015
icon2admin

Did You Say What I think You Said!?


Words Have Power red sign with a landscape background

As a leader, you’ve probably heard lots of talk about empowering others. It’s a great concept, but when you get right down to it, there’s little evidence that it’s actually happening whenever it really is happening.

Even more important, there are times when the leader’s job is to, uh… y’know – LEAD. As a leader, you’re privy to a lot of facts and insights that your team just doesn’t have. Your job is to make judgment calls, and sometimes go against the grain. Sometimes your team may not understand why you’re making the calls you do.

The bottom line is that you need each other. The team needs the leader to point the way. The leader needs the team’s unique talents so that all of the various nuances of your collective project are handled thoroughly and efficiently. In order to get the team on board with your abundant wisdom, you’ll need to know when to coax and when to shove.

For all that, you’ll need to understand how you’re coming across to them. In other words, you’ll need to be sensitive to them and their perceptions.

Understanding how your actions influence the empowerment process will allow you to decide when coaxing is sufficient and when shoving is actually required. Combining these two ticklish prospects can often yield stellar results.

How To Be Sensitive Without Getting Stepped On

Empowering your workforce is not likely to happen all on its own. Everyone involved will need to apply some real effort. The result of this effort will create an environment where people have enough freedom and responsibility to act independently whenever they have to. At the same time, it should offer some firm guidelines, leaving room for your leadership.

A team that understands the rules has a better chance of winning the game. Their ability to do this comes through understanding your team’s needs and what’s required of them.

It means becoming sensitive to how they regard you. Your attitude towards their empowerment and your sensitivity to their perceptions will guide you. You’ll know just when it’s time to coax and when to shove.

Here’s an exercise you can do with your team, either as a group or in a one-on-one setting. It will help raise potentially difficult issues in a safe environment. You’ll emerge from it with a clear picture of how to proceed, what to keep, and which aspects of your style you need to improve.

The exercise highlights the aspects of your leadership style that are likely to enhance or limit your team’s ability to act independently. How much they can do on their own will have a direct impact on the degree of their empowerment as individuals within the team framework.

Start the session with a brief explanation of empowerment tailored to the your team’s unique circumstances. Either working in small groups or as individuals, ask your people to come up with answers to each of the following four questions. As an alternative, you can ask each person or group to answer just one of the questions in detail.

Here are the questions:

  1. What do you need me to start doing as a leader?
  2. What do you need me to stop doing?
  3. What do you need me to do differently?
  4. What do you need me to do more of?

Asking for a succinct, honest appraisal will help people feel they are able to air their views without restrictions. Your team’s responses will play a key role in how you approach empowerment in the future, so let them know you’re listening.

Give them time to consider their answers, and be on hand to respond to any questions they may have about the process. Make it clear to your team that all feedback is extremely useful to you and, ultimately, to them too. Say clearly when you expect to get their answers. Make sure you follow up at the right time; be consistent.

Where Can You Apply What You’ve Learned?

Applying the lessons you’ve learned from this exercise will not only benefit your team, it will also show your degree of sensitivity as a leader. In other words, showing that you know how to coax makes you more effective when it comes time to shove. Reinforcing your sensitivity to the team’s needs and perceptions can actually build the team bond.

When you start this exercise with your group, explain that you will be writing up these suggestions and providing everyone with the results. Then deliver what you promise. Show them what the results are, and demonstrate how their feedback will be applied. Also, come up with some concrete ways that you’ll get their input in the near future.

If there are areas where your leadership needs to diverge from the group’s consensus, you can always try reverting to the ol’ tried and true: Talk. Communication is the key to understanding; and understanding is the key to gaining their support.

By opening up to your team, you stand to gain their understanding – and their sensitivity. With their trust and support, that makes you an empowered leader.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.

learn-more
 

icon1February 23rd, 2015
icon2admin

Effective Leadership – the 7 C’s of Getting Result


Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.

Good LeasdershipTime and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.

Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.

However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.

If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.

Navigating the 7 C’s

There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.

Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.

The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.

Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.

Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.

Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50′s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.

Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.

Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.

Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.

Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.

Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.

Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?

To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.

It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.

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icon1February 9th, 2015
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Leadership and Drive: Accessing the Power of Teamwork


A mentor of mine once said there are two reasons for doing anything: the STATED reason, and the REAL reason. The REAL reason is the thing that impels us to act.

Group of Multiethnic Designers BrainstormingSo, what drives us into action?

The REAL reason is what makes a football player finish a championship game with a taped-up dislocated elbow – an injury that would send most guys to the hospital begging for morphine. It takes a strong dose of conviction to get back into the game with such a debilitating injury.

When I was 22 and living in Anchorage, I attended dog races for fun. The REAL reason is what causes an Alaskan musher to bundle up and drive a team of sled dogs 1,100 miles through the dark and wintry sub-arctic wilderness. Running the fiercely competitive race known as the Iditarod could only happen with a very good REAL reason. Yet it happens every year.

The REAL reason is what makes a soldier stay awake for three days, what makes a fireman return to a burning building, what makes a scientist review the results of an experiment just one more time.

The REAL reason is what’s known as Drive. The beauty of it is, we all have it.

Each one of us can be a champion under the right circumstances. With the right leadership, we can all tap into our own inner drive and bring home incredible results against all odds.

Capitalizing On the Inner Game

As leaders, we can tap into the drive that motivates the people we are charged with leading and reveal their finest strengths to the world – and to themselves.

The word “drive” is defined as an inner urge that stimulates activity or inhibition; a vigorous onset or onward course toward a goal or objective.

If you find yourself leading a team, there’s only one way you’re going to get to know what drives the players as individuals. First you have to get to know them as people, find out what makes them tick, touch their minds and motives.

No one was ever pushed across the finish line and called a winner. Winning comes from the inside, from the inner drive – from the real reason. Winning is evoked, coaxed like a feral cat out of the shadows. Winning is invoked, not imposed.

Driving the Team to Win

If you find yourself leading a typical pack, you’ll notice that they’re probably a pretty diverse group. They come from varied backgrounds, and they have plenty of different real reasons.

This is actually a good thing. Their diversity is your strength. It’s up to you to unite them to work as a team.

You’ll want to be cautious, though, not to completely dampen the wild individuality inside them. Instead, you can channel it to work for the benefit of your common cause. Here are questions you can ask yourself to accomplish just that.

Getting the Team Together: Do my people have a clear sense of where we’re going and why? Do they know the role they need to play? Is each player holding the right position?

Playing By the Rules: Are my decisions and actions consistent with our stated goals? Are my team members aware of those decisions? Are we all striding together? Does your team personally understand and agree with the direction?

Using the Right Equipment: Have I created a culture that values drive as a tool? Does our culture embrace the value of the individual as well as the cohesion of the team? Do they have the tools they need, not just to play the game, but to win?

In It To Win It: Am I rewarding my team for taking on the tough duties? For making critical decisions? For giving their all?

The reason for doing anything may seem obvious to us all, at least on the surface. Harnessing the REAL reason – the inner drive – and putting it to work will inevitably yield the fruits of victory.

What will spur you on to play your best game? Your victory cup is waiting!

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icon1February 2nd, 2015
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Leadership and Endurance: Staying Up When Things Look Down


Endurance-Shackleton

Everyday the world is made fresh, and no two days are alike. No one stays the same from day to day, or even moment to moment, because each experience brings new opportunities and fresh perspective.

We touched on this lightly in a previous article, Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others. You can tap this concept and put it to work on your behalf.

Today is a whole new day. Today your spouse is different. Your coworkers and colleagues are, too. Your friends and companions are 24 hours older today than they were yesterday, bringing with them a world of new encounters. Because of this, the way they think today is different from yesterday, no matter how slight that difference is.

If you keep this in mind, it will cast a fresh light on your world and your way of thinking. You can get to know them all over again each time you connect.

Even you are different.

Your cells are renewed constantly. I’m told that there isn’t a cell in your body that’s older than 7 years, right now, no matter what your birth certificate says.

If you trim an eighth of an inch off your fingernails, that means you cut away one month’s worth of growth. Think of all the things your fingertips touched in the past month, all the experiences your fingernails had during that brief span of time. Has your mind grown as much?

And what about your enthusiasm?

Does your perspective need a little freshness dating? Every now and then it’s a good idea to check the contents of your head and throw out the ideas that are past their peak.

Without even being aware of it, a repetitive routine can let boredom creep in, stale yawns trudging on the heels of monotony. Before you know it, your enthusiasm has tanked and you’re not sure why.

The Hazards of Breaking New Ground

If you’re in a position of Leadership, the habit of stale thinking can spread like a deadly-dull virus through your team and the others around you. If you’re not careful, it can spread to your home life and your other relationships too. This can play havoc with your success, both personally and professionally.

Here’s a case where maintaining a fresh perspective aboard a sinking ship was literally a matter of life and death. There’s much to be mined from it on the topic of Leadership.

About a hundred years ago, a crew of 27 men (and 70 sled dogs) led by Ernest Shackleton sailed from South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic. Their intent was to land on the coast of Antarctica and trek across it shore to shore on foot, something no one else had done before. Unfortunately, they never even got to their destination.

The ocean between South America and Antarctica is notorious as a sailor’s graveyard, owing to high winds, deep swells and no small smattering of icebergs. Just six weeks after they began their voyage, the ship Endurance was lodged in an ice floe somewhere in the Weddell Sea. A few weeks later, it sank.

It took Shackleton and his crew some 18 months to return to South Georgia Island. During that time they camped on the ice, sailed across mountainous swells in little more than row boats, endured frostbite, hunger and desolation, never knowing if they’d see home again. But they persevered, and they did return.

It seems to me, if you were a crew member on the Endurance, you’d need a whole lot of enthusiasm for the taste of adventure. Just to get on the boat, you’d have to have a pretty tough inner game, a love of dogs, and a whole lot of gear.

You’d also need a very big idea about why the trip was necessary. There would be many chances to give up, all of them good ones.

The greatest threat to their successful return after the shipwreck was not so much the idea of quitting while they faced danger amid the storms and swells.

The greatest jeopardy to morale would have been the days on end of relative monotony – the cold, the gray, the unending sameness of their diet. There was no sound but their own voices, the wind, and the water lapping against the ice for the nearly 700 days of their journey.

The Rewards for Renewed Perspective

Surviving through this kind of ordeal takes a kind of camaraderie and a freshness of spirit that’s hard to find in this era or any other.

Every person on Shackleton’s team brought a set of skills essential for the mission. As a leader, Shackleton must have been keenly aware of this. Each one of the crew contributed a unique perspective to the group, along with the experiences gained during each whole new day. Together they persevered, and their survival itself was a triumph.

Whether you commute to work in an office, plow a field all day, or sit at home and knit, you are selecting the moments of your life and the thoughts that go along with them.

Now is a great time to give your enthusiasm a boost and see your surroundings through fresh eyes. Why not take time out for a little shift in perspective today?

You can give your doldrums the brush off while you trim your fingernails and think about where your fingers have been during the past month. If you find it dull, promise your hands that they’ll have a more stirring adventure to tell next time.

This article on Endurance and Enthusiasm is
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icon1January 26th, 2015
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Leadership and Ambition: Get Your Dream Into High Gear


What’s your greatest ambition? Do you know where the road of life is taking you? Do you know who’s taking the ride with you – those who share your ambitions?

Ambition fuels your goals, ignites the fire of life that kindles behind your eyes. It makes smoke curl from your nostrils as the restless engine of your desire is stoked when you contemplate your ultimate success. It torques your actions into high gear, and impels those around you to act with vigor on your behalf.

Chasing The Horizon

For many people, the idea of getting a great job and staying with the same company is their ambition. However, this scenario is largely becoming a thing of the past and having three or more careers in a lifetime is now the norm. This fact carries with it both an opportunity and a daunting responsibility to become clear on your own ambitions.

Don’t Arrive by Accident

It’s all too common to find that you’ve arrived on your current path through a series of coincidences, each one taking you a little farther away from the dreams you had when you first started. For most people, there is a huge gap between the results they get and the results they want.

Whether starting your own company or as an employee, more and more people are unsure of their ambitions. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to take time out, sit back and have a talk with yourself.

For example, some years ago I had a buddy who was confronted by just such a challenge. When we were both fresh out of college, we both went to work for Xerox selling office copiers.

Jeff and I had met years before in college, bonding over Top Raman and the love of fast cars. Jeff drove a Porsche and we took that car to every pizza joint near our campus (my college car was a classic VW Fastback, no match for the Porsche). We both shared a passion for starting our own business and becoming the next Henry Ford. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

After college, he had a successful career with Xerox followed by stints with other Fortune 500 companies like HP and Dell. He worked his way up into an executive position, in time making a pretty good salary with cushy corporate benefits. He was tied to his job with a velvet rope, plush but limiting.

Let me say here that Jeff did not aspire to be a corporate employee. For years, Jeff would talk with me about getting the nerve to “make the jump” and pursue a tech start-up.

Once you’ve been in corporate life for a while, you may feel locked into your job and your plush lifestyle, the way my friend did. Unless you get in touch with your true ambitions, your only options are to move sideways to another company or to move upward in the hierarchy of the company.

So what do you do? The answer is to finally ask yourself that most elusive question: what do you want to be doing five years from now? Ten? Twenty? What is your true ambition?

These are the questions my friend Jeff avoided asking himself for years, as the time slipped by and the rut got deeper. If your own answer isn’t “exactly what I’m doing now” then what you need is decisive action. Not tomorrow: today.

What my friend didn’t realize is that forging out a life’s ambition, or a major definite purpose, isn’t all that difficult. He was afraid of taking a momentary step back in his lifestyle for the sake of pursuing his longtime dream of starting his own company.

Eventually Jeff got his chance, seizing an opportunity to exercise his expertise in mobile technology.

Over time, he grew his idea into a steady business with the CTO’s of major cellular phone companies. He even has staff, inventory and a schedule of glamorous tradeshows he attends on an annual circuit. It’s a career he loves, but he never would have gotten there without making a change – the thing he dreaded the most.

If you can free yourself from the fear and pessimism that commonly confront change, you can free up enormous reserves of energy to fuel your dreams.

Getting Your Goals Into High Gear

In order for things to get better, things have to change. Even if your ambition lies a bit farther down the road you’re already on, progress means change. Anything else will mean stagnation.

Whatever your ambition is, the chances are that there’s an opportunity for your next step not far away from where you are right now. The key to your dreams lies somewhere in your immediate surroundings.

If your ambition really is something you’ve seriously wanted to do, then it should be as simple as getting started and getting noticed. It’s okay to start small. If your first steps don’t work out the way you’d hoped, don’t give up. Keep your ambition in sight, letting it always fuel the passion for your dreams.

Whether you succeed or fail, it’s always better to try. At least you won’t find yourself years from now asking those two most terrible words: “What if…?”

Living out your ambition is not as hard to do as you think, especially when your actions are powered by your true passions. So what are you waiting for? Drop it down a gear and hit the gas! You never know what’s waiting for you around the bend.

 

icon1January 19th, 2015
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One Simple Act of Generosity


Be A Link In the Chain

My partner and I were working with an author named Jennifer last week on her social media strategy for her upcoming book. She told me a simple story that got me thinking about this giving season – about how it can bring together people of all kinds, regardless of their backgrounds or economic status.

When Jennifer ordered coffee at her local drive-thru that day, a stranger in the car ahead of her generously paid for her coffee drink.

Jennifer was so touched that on the spur of the moment, she did the same for the person in line behind her. When she drove up to the cashier, the barista leaned out the window and told her that she was the 40th person in-a-row to pay it forward!

Hundreds Changing Hands.

Of course, “pay it forward” is the idea of repaying a good deed by doing good for others instead of for the original person. It’s a simple enough concept, but it’s so seldom seen these days.

In this case, that same couple bucks was turned to do the good work of more than a hundred dollars. The small gesture made a difference for at least 40 people. Who knows how far the chain extended that day? After all, there’s no telling what happened after Jennifer drove away from the coffee stand.

Though drive-thru coffee may not be your cup of tea, you can still use this idea to make life a little better for someone else. Simply extend a bit of kindness with no strings on it. For centuries, people have been doing just that for friends and strangers alike.

Where Do Kind Acts Come From?

A lot of people mistakenly think this idea started with the Hollywood film Pay It Forward from the year 2000. The movie was immensely popular, about a young boy and his big idea to change the world through simple acts of kindness. The movie topped out at #4 at the box office and netted $55 million worldwide at the box office, but it went on to make big ripples around the globe.

To trace the movie’s plot to its source, you’ll find that the screenplay was adapted from a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. But the concept didn’t start with her. You’d have to go farther up the chain than that to find the idea’s origins.

Back in 1980, “pay it forward” showed up in a special edition Marvel comic that teamed Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. The story traced the path of a $5 bill from a loan by a retiree to someone down on his luck, following the five-spot’s round-about route, returning to the elderly man by way of the two superheroes.

But “pay it forward” didn’t start with Marvel Comics either. An author named Lily Hardy Hammond wrote about the idea in her book In the Garden of Delight, published in 1916. She said, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” Even a hundred years ago, the idea wasn’t new.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay in 1841 called “Compensation.” He said, “The benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

Still, this isn’t the beginning of the chain. Ben Franklin proposed the “pay it forward” idea in a letter in April 1784. He told a friend, “When you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation… I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress.”

Would you be the Knave? Perish the thought.

From Stage to Cinema in 2000 Years

You might think that someone as smart and influential as Benjamin Franklin originated the “pay it forward” idea. It sure sounds like him. In reality, the idea predates modern civilization, making its first appearance (that we know of) in Ancient Greece.

The concept was the key to the plot of a classic Greek comedy, dating back to 317 BC. The play was called The Grouch (okay, it was called Dyskolos), written by someone named Menander. The script was lost for centuries and rediscovered in 1957.

I’m sure in the future some Broadway director will turn the ancient play into a big budget action film, spawning a line of polyethylene superhero figures, a comic book, and maybe a series of theme park rides. For the time being, it’s just a nice story about a grouch whose life is touched by an act of kindness.

Now, it seems to me I’ve seen something like this before. Didn’t I? Ah yes, I think it was my hometown stage production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Maybe this year I’ll buy a couple extra tickets and give them to those two young adults in line behind me… and ask them why one of them keeps calling me “Mom”.

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icon1December 23rd, 2014
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Leading With the Power of the Personal Touch


by Katherine Owen

two wooden heads with gears coming into collision concept

Nothing gets through to business prospects and colleagues quite like the personal touch. You can send text or email, even leave a voice mail message.

But if you really want someone’s attention, it’s the live connection that cuts through their daily clutter and gets a response.

Here’s a case in point. I’m working with a couple of partners on a project to develop a new patented technology, one that measures public response to marketing and other initiatives. It’s really very slick, and I can hardly wait until we launch the platform.

I’m so excited about this technology, I just can’t help getting worked up when I talk about its potential. Sometimes I bore my family and friends by talking about each new development in the project. Yes, I admit it – even my kids had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

(Okay, maybe I’m joking about the NDA.)

I’ve been told you can hear this excitement in my “music” – in the words I say and how I say them when I talk about this incredible project. It just naturally comes across. I couldn’t suppress it if I tried. What I feel here is pure passion.

Recently I sent a carefully crafted email proposal to a prospect, a warm contact. I got nowhere! I sent another message, and then another. Nothing happened. In fact I didn’t get any action at all until I picked up the phone and made a personal connection.

Why do you suppose that is?

One answer is that a personal connection is happening now. It’s live. On the phone or in person, the connection has immediacy, true relevance. Once you’ve said the words, you can’t reel them back in.

Another factor in making a solid connection is the dynamic of the human voice. Some call it the most masterful of all musical instruments. From a whisper to a shout, it conveys the full range of human emotion, the animation within the heart and soul.

Your voice can compel someone to act, or it can soothe to calm reassurance. Its live, real time connection renders you intriguing beyond measure, far more than flat words on a page ever could.

These factors make it doubly important to use your voice deliberately. When you do, you gain the ability to tap the power of the personal touch.

Show Off by Showing Up

In another article, Like A Song On the Radio, Make Your Words Unforgettable, we talked about using the voice to make your message memorable – using volume, tone and rhythm to bring your message home.

These techniques are excellent and they do work. But first you have to make the connection with your intended audience. That takes the personal touch.

In Sales, the saying goes that “the fortune is in the follow up.” What that means for each of us – whether we’re in Sales, Leadership or Support – is that nothing happens until we make that personal connection. Every exposure to our compelling idea is a link in a chain.

To be effective, each exposure should be more personal than the one before. Each one relies more and more on the use of your voice in order to make an impact.

Testing: 1 2 3

Even though one-third of young professionals today prefer text over other forms of communication, the overwhelming majority of communication happens through speech, starting with phone and

voice mail, and often leading to face time.

If you want to command a degree of influence, you can start with a quality outgoing voice mail message. Call it your personal PR, your outgoing message tells a world of information about you – your energy, material facts such as your name and business identity, how and when you can be reached directly. In fact, it’s often the first impression you make with a new client.

Here are tips for getting the most from making that personal connection.

Make It Personal: When you record your message, present a crisp, positive image. Speak clearly and confidently, and extend your own brand of warmth. Say your name and company followed by concise directions. You may want to consider changing your message daily or weekly to show that you’re tuned in.

Be Professional & Courteous: If you’re using voice mail to screen your calls, it’s a great way to take control of your time. Have the courtesy to respond to your messages each day. They are important to the people who left them; in fact, it’s the reason they called.

Be Interesting & Interested: When you return calls, don’t make the common mistake of lapsing into a bored or robotic tone. Look alive. Imagine yourself sitting in front of the person you’re calling, making eye contact and a positive connection.

Have an Agenda: To maximize your time, plan your calls ahead. Draft a rough agenda of what you’d like to cover during your chat. If you need to meet face to face, check your schedule before you pick up the phone. Offering a couple of meeting times will stack the deck in your favor.

Follow up: Before you finish your conversation, have a clear idea of when your next contact will be. Confirm it with your colleague or prospect, and make it a point to follow up.

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icon1December 9th, 2014
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Like A Song On the Radio, Make Your Words Unforgettable


Pretty woman mouth blowing hand drawn icons and symbols close up

Your tone of voice can have a greater impact on your powers of persuasion than the words you use. There’s no doubt that your voice is a powerful instrument.

But what are you doing to control it? There are distinct methods to make your message as haunting or as catchy as a song on the radio so that people are singing your praises.

Think of a really memorable talk or presentation you attended recently – one that moved you or changed the way you view the world.

What was it that stayed with you? Was it the speaker’s words, or was it the tone of voice that moved you? The odds are high that the speaker’s passion came through – broke through the barriers of your mind so the words could captivate your heart.

Maybe you felt it in the quiver of their voice as they told an emotional story. Perhaps it was a sudden change in their volume – a whisper or a shout that rattled you in your boots.

You might have been influenced by their tone of voice when they asked a thought-provoking key question. Perhaps it was the sheer pace of the words – staccato as a machine gun – that tumbled out of a mouth straining to keep up with inspiration.

The fact that you’re thinking about it now is a testament to the power of the human voice.

How To Become Impossible To Forget

All of these elements tap the rich array of capabilities of the voice, making it possible to influence others and communicate with passion.

It’s the sad truth that too many discussions, speeches and presentations are easy to forget. And that’s a problem because the reason anyone would want to talk with you or listen to you is to engage in memorable, meaningful communication. One of the most potent yet often overlooked facets of vocal communication is the instrument itself – the voice.

Whether you’re addressing an audience of one or one thousand, you’re engaged in public speaking each time you open your mouth to speak in a public place.

So how are you coming across? When you speak, are people reminded of the dulcet tones of a rippling brook… or are they shrinking, as if from the shrill sound of fingernails slowly raked across a blackboard?

No matter where you find yourself today, as a novice or a master, you can learn to use your voice for a more lasting effect and become unforgettable.

Speaking of Dynamics…

The dynamics of your message will come through much more clearly when you color your message with a range of volume, tone and rhythm that conveys your emotional intensity. Your voice and intonation make all the difference in how you come across.

There are three basic elements that you can tap to ensure your verbal messages are understood – and remembered – time and again.

Volume:

Before you can communicate effectively, it’s essential that you really connect what you want to say, who you’re talking to, and why they might want to listen. Match the purpose of your words with your volume.

The human voice has a dramatic dynamic range, from the intensity of a whisper to the full, rich command of a shout. If your voice is too soft, you risk coming across as mousy. Too loud, and your audience will tune out. Make sure your message is fully heard so that people catch the full meaning of the important words you want to convey.

Tone:

Adjust your vocal quality to match your audience. Support your tone with a breath that stems from deep in your body cavity. Relax your tongue and throat, and allow your words to flow from a mouth that seems to savor them.

Your vocal quality or timbre, the way you articulate, and the rise and fall of your voice all contribute to your tone. Like the melody line of a song, you’re composing and singing your message all day long.

Rhythm:

Who are you speaking to? How much time do they have? How long is their attention span? What are their interests, beliefs and values? What do they share in common with others? How are they unique?

Each of these factors will influence the rhythm of your speech.

If you’ve been asked to give a eulogy at a good friend’s funeral, by all means, take your time. The dearly departed has probably earned it. There’s no shortcut here, and the members of the congregation are sure to appreciate the display of respect demonstrated in your slow, measured speech, savoring every last detail you painstakingly convey in your somber pace.

Slow thoughtful speech is the hallmark of a eulogy. If that’s your venue, take your time. Otherwise, cut to the chase.

Brevity is the soul of wisdom, and the rhythm of your speech has the power to convey a world of urgency or a casual note of nonchalance. Match your pace to the audience before you.

What do you want your audience to do as a result of your communication? What’s really at the heart of your message? By effectively using your voice in a measured, deliberate way, you can pack a powerful punch that drives your message home.

Communication is at the heart of all relationships and business dealings. Whether you’re connecting with an audience of one or a thousand, your experience can be a rich and rewarding one. Using your voice to full effect will mean the all the difference in creating a lasting impression.

  
 

icon1November 20th, 2014
icon2admin