It seems like everyone is building a platform for themselves or their business these days.
That’s not a bad thing — but almost no one knows how to do it effectively.
It’s not easy, and everyone building an online platform runs into struggles along the way. But there is one macro-struggle that I see over and over again, especially from people who are just starting to build their profile online.
I’m not talking about “wantrepreneur” types who have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. This is a problem that plagues accomplished, successful entrepreneurs just as much as it does the first-timer.
First, some background: I’ve worked with numerous authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs, both in my time at Book in a Box and as a freelance consultant. These are people that have dominated their fields (medicine, Wall Street, etc.). So they know what they’re doing. But they all run into the same problem when it comes to building their online platform.
What do I mean by fragmentation?
Let’s take a look at an author I worked with. This is a highly successful Wall Street executive who left the street to become a high-end performance and career coach for other Wall Street executives and top performers.
That’s a fancy way to say he’s a life coach. Like them or not, life coaches typically make money in these ways:
- Low-priced books, videos, or courses, in an effort to sell
- Packaged or group coaching, in an effort to sell
- High-end coaching on a monthly or one-off basis
That’s the basic model. It’s important to keep the model in mind, because this author’s goal is for more of all of those actions to take place. To make more money.
Now, let’s look at his platform. When I first began consulting with him, here’s what his online platform looked like:
- Website branded with his name
- Website branded with his business’ name
- A book with a different name than either of his websites
- A podcast with another different name
- An email list
- The standard set of social media accounts
- On his websites, he published the same articles to both every now and then (no set schedule)
- His book was used as a way to get email subscribers for his websites, and also to sell coaching with a weak call to action
- The podcast was defunct, but still featured on his websites
- The email list was sent the complete text of anything new he wrote for the websites
- His social media accounts were all connected, so he was sharing the same thing on all platforms – often retweets / reshares of financial news
Do you see the problem yet?
It’s not necessarily that he has too many assets. That wouldn’t be a problem if they were all branded correctly and on-message with how he makes money and who he makes money from.
It’s also not necessarily the activities. Those wouldn’t be a problem either, if they were focused on the right people on the right platforms, and not spread so thin.
The Golden Rule of Building a Platform: Always tie your actions and assets to the core of your business. Always.
The most common impulse for people building out a platform is to try a bit of everything and see what sticks. That’s actually NOT a bad idea, but the way that most people try it is terrible.
There’s a big difference between intelligently testing different social media strategies and “Doing Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat for a few months.”
So, what should you do instead?
Let’s get practical now. I assume if you’re reading this, you’re either trying to build a platform of your own, or you’re working on building a platform for another person or the company that you work for.
Step 1: Keep asking “Why?” until you have a rock-solid answer
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself why you’re building the platform. There aren’t bad answers here, but you’ll probably find that your thinking is muddled and unclear the more you work on this exercise.
Imagine you’re my author from above. Why is he building a platform? Here are a few reasons that sound good, but aren’t the real reason:
- He wants to increase his name recognition
- He wants to get more media coverage
- He wants more people to buy his book
Sure, those are all reasons. But try adding the word “so” to the end of them. What naturally comes to mind?
So he can help more people and make more money.
That’s it. That is the core reason he will develop ANY asset or do ANY activity that has to do with this businesss.
Do this exercise for yourself right now, then move to Step 2.
Step 2: Get a 10,000 Foot View
This one’s easy. All you have to do here is gather a list of all of the assets you have and all of the activities you’re doing daily, weekly, monthly to build your platform. Think hard and don’t leave anything out, even if it’s a tiny little social media account or a 10 minute per week activity. Write it all down.
Step 3: Run each asset and activity through your “Why”
Take everything you just wrote down and ask yourself, “Is this asset or activity directly impacting my ‘why’?” Don’t rationalize here — be ruthless. It’s going to come in handy when you get to Step 4, which is:
Step 4: Stop doing EVERYTHING that isn’t helping you achieve your “Why”
Seriously. Just quit it immediately and don’t look back. It’s not moving the needle. It needs to be cut.