One Big Idea
Michael Hyatt’s most recent book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, is marketed as a timely how-to for aspiring bloggers, marketers, and just about “anyone with something to say or sell” (from the cover). Today’s airwaves are overloaded with ads and ideas. The task of becoming distinguished and successful seems especially difficult.
But, according to Hyatt, it is also easier than it has ever been. All you need is two things: “a compelling product and a significant platform” (xv). The incredible popularity of social media offers success and recognition to anyone willing to put the work in. Hyatt begins the book by detailing what it looks like to have a “wow” product. But for the majority of Platform, he outlines practical insights and tools to developing a massive crowd of online devotees.
Two Best Stories
Many of us have dreams that require some amount of resources and renown to be made a reality. In Chapter 9, Hyatt encourages his readers to “Think Big… No, Bigger!” (36). He emphasizes this point by citing the story of Lou Holtz (the phenomenally successful college football coach), as told by Henriette Anne Klauser in her novel Write it Down, Make it Happen. Holtz wrote down his big dreams, and spent most of his life fulfilling them. Hyatt cites this excerpt from Klauser’s book:
“His list included having dinner at the White House, appearing on The Tonight Show, meeting the pope, becoming head coach of Notre Dame, winning a national championship, being coach of the year, landing on an aircraft carrier, making a hole in one, and jumping out of an airplane…
If you check Coach Lou Holtz’s website, along with the list you will get pictures—pictures of Holtz with the pope, with President Reagan at the White House, yukking it up with Johnny Carson. In addition, a description of what it was like to jump out of an airplane and get not one but two holes in one.
To date he has achieved 102 of his original 107 goals.” (37)
Hyatt’s book isn’t all talk of sunshine-and-roses, however. He makes sure to offer insight as to what poor use of the internet looks like. In Chapter 18, while exhorting the reader to focus their efforts online, he is careful to discuss what this both should and should not look like. Hyatt cites a story from his time as a Thomas Nelson publisher in the early 21st century:
“…we went website crazy… We literally built over one thousand sites and none of them got any meaningful traffic. It was like printing a beautiful brochure, sticking it in the warehouse, and then wondering why people aren’t buying your products. What we learned is that for an online strategy to work, you need to create a site that makes people want to come back for more—and bring a few friends with them. The problem was not with online marketing; the problem was the way we were using it.” (72)
Three Key Takeaways
1) The New Professionalism. It might even be hard to call it “professionalism”. Today’s customers (at least the ones that can be found in social media) aren’t interested in suits and ties. Formality is, to some degree, a thing of the past. Don’t be above engaging one-on-one with your customers. Reply to their private messages and questions, no matter who they are.
2) Great product + growing platform = success. As Hyatt puts it, “A compelling product plus a significant platform equals a big win for you.” (29) With these two elements, your small business or start-up or project or plan will work. These are the two main sections of the book. They are also themes repeated often throughout the book.
3) Exceed your customers’ expectations. Blow them away in every aspect of your organization—customer service and support, online engagement, product updates, anything you can find. You don’t just want a social media department that is “good enough”—you want responsiveness, innovation. You want people to engage with your organization because it offers more than a plain product or simple service.
Four Best Quotes
Here are four inspiring and insightful excerpts from the book:
1) “Now, for the first time in history, non-celebrities—people like you and me—can get noticed and win big in an increasingly noisy world.” (xvii)
2) “You can’t spend enough money or be clever enough to overcome a lack of word-of-mouth marketing.”
3) “The truth is, mediocrity is natural. You don’t have to do anything to drift there. It just happens. But if you want to create truly wow experiences—and if you want to build your platform—then it is going to require courage. Are you willing to be brave?” (21)
4) “As a writer, your biggest problem is obscurity, not piracy.” (96)
Below are a few helpful applications for any organization with a vision to grow.
1) Networking is necessary. Time to call in your favors. Start with well-established relationships—try to secure endorsements or referrals to other writers and bloggers where you can. Then think bigger. Make a list of the well-known names in your field, and pursue them methodically and tactfully until they give you a raving review.
2) Engage frequently and actively through social media and your site. No weeks off. No letting things slide. Hyatt points out that nothing deters traffic like a site that was last updated in ’06. And your Twitter followers will lose interest in you if you leave them hanging for days on end.
3) Email subscriptions are a must. Hyatt discusses the importance of traffic, but plenty of traffic is worthless if it doesn’t transform into subscriptions. Subscribers are people who want to participate with you—traffic are people who only sometimes glance.
4) Dream planning. Just do it. It sounds cheesy, but Hyatt’s chapter (chapter 9) on dreaming big offers a helpful way to turn a dream into a vision, and then into a real, achievable plan. Much of it has to do with writing out the dream, and reverse-engineering until it breaks down into tangible to-do lists.
5) Be the one running your show. Delegating has its place, certainly. But, as Hyatt points out in chapter 8 (33-35), no one knows your vision as much as you, and no one cares about it as much as you. This is your biological brain-child. Raise it well.