Michael Hyatt: How to connect with an audience

Bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers provides the blueprint on how to

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012 Michael Hyatt knows how to build a platform. His latest New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World, is endorsed by Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Chris Brogan and more. 

As the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, he understands the changing landscape of both publishing and promotion. It is this changing landscape that is creating new opportunities to succeed. 

Hyatt’s book is an easy-to-understand blueprint on how to be heard, how to get noticed. At a time when social media both provides more opportunities and more competition. We currently live in the “gold rush” of self promotion. The key is pausing long enough to develop a platform before proceeding. Patience is prudent. 

I’m not Oprah and I don’t have a book club but I do recommend this book and Hyatt, especially when it comes to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and writers. 

I asked Hyatt five good questions about his book and publishing.  

1. Why did you write this book?

I started seeing this disturbing trend where we were turning away talented writers without platforms. I got involved in blogging, over 8 years I built a platform. Hit a point in 2008 where I had 20,000 visitors a month and it doubled each year. Now, I have 300,000 unique visitors each month. 

I really felt like I learned something in the process that would be beneficial not only to authors. I learned a lot of things mostly by failure to connect with an audience.  

2. What exactly is a platform? How do you know if you have one?

First, you have to create a home base, a spot in cyberspace that you own and control. The future is that if you don’t have a blog, video channel, are solving real world problems then you are not going to exist. First establish your authority then aggregate like minded individuals that share your passion.

Then expand the reach with social media to engage with people, potentially fans, to point them back to your home base. 

Engage your tribe. So many people take the direct response mindset to social media. It doesn’t work. 

The key is to make 20 deposits before you make a withdrawal. Stick to the 20 to 1 rule. Offer up useful content and initiate conversations. When i do make the ask or talk about something I have produced or contributed. 

I was speaking to mortgage bankers about the line between personal and professional. There is no line. Be who you are everywhere. Those worlds intersect. Be authentic. 

3. Is there a specific audience the book targets?

Small business owners, would-be authors, artists, public speakers, politicians. Everyone who is frustrated and wants to share something with the world and wants to get noticed.

Small businesses fail more so from lack of visibility than lack of capital. 

Seth Godin set the theory, made it practical. 

4. What advice would give to someone trying to polish and promote their own personal platform?

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs be. Figure out how you can be remarkable. The product is the marketing. David Ogilvy said, “great marketing only makes a product fail faster”. You need to create the wow and get unpaid envagelists. 

What’s your wow factor? Get that right before you make movement. Don’t overanalyze. Ship it. Do the best you can. Get it out the door and tweak it and be responsive to the market. The wow factor is the gap between what your customers expect and what they experience. 

5. What is the future of publishing?

There’s a lot shifting around how content is delivered. I just wrote a sixty chapter book. Web is conditioning our brains to take in information in different ways. I recognized how people are consuming information. 

I was aggressive in my expectation but things are going digital even faster than I thought. Those digital fans are buying more books than regular books. And they are buying them on multiple platforms.

People who are bloggers and have a platform will be able to negotiate better deals and have a shot at getting noticed. It wasn’t because I was on Today. We drove the list of people following me over the years. 

One trend in publishing is self-publishing. My point of view is let’s give authors the option. It doesn’t have the stigma that it once had.

The time is right for people to build a platform. A lot of mistakes have been made. The analytics are better. It’s a great, exciting time. 


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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