The backyard was loud with the crazy near-chaos of my 6-year-old daughter’s birthday party. Children running and chasing. Balls flying. Little voices chattering, laughing, bossing. A crowd bouncing on the trampoline. Jackson, the 8-month old puppy was adding his own exuberance to the noise, while the adults were chatting and laughing on the patio. It was exactly what a birthday party should be like.
In the middle of all the noise one of the moms needed to get her son’s attention on the trampoline. But he was across the yard on the trampoline, with all the party’s noise between them. She called his name. No response. Then came the middle name. No response. She yelled. She waved her arms. But he just couldn’t hear her.
There are a lot of people who have a message acting like that mom. They have something important or urgent to say. They want to help, or warn, or educate. But the noise is just too loud, and the audience they want to reach just can’t hear them. What can they do?
It’s this exact situation that Michael Hyatt speaks into every day. Michael is an expert at helping people amplify their message. This is called building a platform. He comes by this insight honestly. As an active player in the publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, he’s served as an agent, a publisher, as the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publisher, and most recently as the Chairman of Thomas Nelson’s board. He is also a published author with four books to his credit, and a fifth that’s just about to be published, as well as a sought-after public speaker. Along that path, he’s become something of a marketing and social networking master.
The book that’s soon to be published is called Platform: Get Noticed in A Noisy World. The tagline couldn’t be more clear: A step-by-step guide for anyone who has something to say or sell.
Like that mom trying to be heard, anyone with a message today has so much noise to overcome. Media shouts from every direction. Twitter and Facebook feeds flow like rushing rivers. At any given moment there are millions of videos to watch and blogs to read online — not counting the latest Kindle release, or dead-tree best seller down at the local bookstore. All of that noise drove me to this book.
Can I Be Heard?
I’m a life-long church kid, and a 17-year veteran of full-time pastoral ministry. I know the church inside and out. I’m also a couple of years into a major life change. Trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, rather than living out of my gifts and strengths, trying to be a “good pastor” like my dad, trying to stay in control and on top of everything in my life, my family, and my church — all of this very nearly killed my marriage, my relationship with God, and my ministry.
In the course of my emotional recovery, I discovered something that was revolutionary for me. I had learned growing up in the church that emotions were untrustworthy and unspiritual. They were something to manage, to overcome. But when I looked at what the Bible says about emotions, I saw something different. I saw that God is incredibly emotional, even that emotions are used by God to help us grow. I came to believe that without emotional growth, spiritual growth just isn’t possible. This deeply impacted my life. As I began to share this message with others, I saw it deeply impact them.
Now I had a message to share. I began developing a book on living a whole-hearted life, where healthy emotions take an important role in hearing from and relating to God. The ideas are Biblical, and they seem to be making a difference for people, but the thought of trying to communicate this in spite of all that noise was just overwhelming.
A Launching Platform
I’ve heard the word “platform” tossed around by social media types and people in the publishing world. I understood that this meant famous speakers had a platform (fans and followers) that made it easy for them to publish a book. But I’m not famous. I couldn’t see exactly how someone like me might develop of platform of their own.
Platform, has changed all that for me. I’ve read any number of motivational books about how to find your passion, set your goals and get moving. I’ve got a number of writing guides and how-to manuals on my bookshelf. I follow a number of really excellent blogs on the subject of writing. But nothing I’ve ever read has come close to what this book offers.
The big issues are covered: What’s your personal vision? Are you passionate about your product or message? Does what you’re offering exceed people’s expectations? If not, platform building isn’t for you. Quoting David Ogilvy, Michael sets this challenge: “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” Your product needs to create a “Wow!” experience for people.
Not only is Michael right about this, but his book embodies this principle. Once you get the big questions nailed down, the book is page after page of serious, practical, hard-earned wisdom presented in a direct step-by-step manner, including things like:
- How to create a name for your product that captures attention and sets expectations.
- How tools like domain names, email addresses, twitter handles, Facebook pages, your personal headshot, and your blog or website work together to create a brand.
- Exactly who you need to help you and what their roles should be.
- How to get the right endorsements and why that matters.
- Why you should blog, how you should blog, what you should blog about, and how to avoid the most common mistakes that bloggers make that undermine their effectiveness.
- Why you shouldn’t hire a proofreader.
- What matters about SEO including what you ought to pay attention to, and what you can ignore.
- How you can generate income from your blog.
A Fire Hose of Motivation
When I finished reading the book, I had two reactions. First, I was stunned at how much practical guidance I had just gotten. I still can’t believe this was all in a book; it’s the sort of thing you might expect to get from a conference with a thousand dollar ticket price. I really did have a “wow!” experience.
Second, I was torn. You see, I got an advanced copy of the book as a part of being on Michael’s launch team. Part of my commitment was to read the book and write a review of it. But as I finished the book, the last thing I wanted to do was write a review. My vision had been re-ignited. My goals made clear. I had practical concrete steps that I wanted to take right now. The book was so motivating to me, that I wanted to get to work building my platform!
Get This Book
One of the endorsements of this book comes from well-known business and marketing guru, Seth Godin. Speaking of Platform, he wrote: “A generous book from a man who knows what he’s talking about.” Generous isn’t the half of it. Here Michael is demonstrating another principle from his book: giving people value above and beyond what they expect, being lavish with people, helping them succeed.
If you are are an author with an idea you want to communicate, or a musician trying to build a following, if you’ve got a great new product that can really help people’s lives be better, then you need a platform so you can be heard. There’s just no way around this. But when you’ve started to think that maybe you don’t have the right connections, or the the right opportunities, Michael Hyatt shows up offering you a toolbox with every tool you need for the job.
Even though I already have an digital version of the book, I’ll be buying a hardback that week. Why? Because I already know that this is a book that’s going to overflow with underlining, highlighting, margin notes and random bits of paper marking spots here and there. This is a desk reference for the new media age.