What Is a Platform and Why Do You Need One?

by Gina Ratliffe

It seems these days that the word "platform" is popping up all over the marketing world. This idea that was once an obscure term for industry insiders only, is now being seen as the THE strategy to follow.

But what exactly is a platform?

How do you get one?

What will it do for you?

A strong platform establishes you as an expert in your field, makes you money, positions you for movie and book deals, makes you eligible for corporate sponsors, sets you up for television and allows you to monetize your dreams.

A platform is your key to business success. A platform, more specifically, is your career's integrated big picture.

Your platform is the combination of your brand, your web presence, the things you write, the speeches you give, the products you sell, the classes you teach, and all the ways your name is known and spread, including quotes and appearances in the media.

How to create a solid platform...

1. Clearly and concisely communicate what you do, why you do it, and why YOU are the expert in your field to a massive list.

Elevator pitches, mission statements, website blurbs, marketing manifestos—all these things are opportunities to say, "This is me in a nutshell." That nutshell is very important, especially when first starting to establish your platform, because you often will only have seconds to grab attention.

Platforms are all about the attention paid to you and your work.

If you can't quickly and clearly communicate what is your special message, your audience will move on to someone who can. Remember, an expert is someone who is so certain of their message and ideas, that they can "own" that message in any conversation or professional engagement.

2. Establish a home base on the web. This is most easily done with a blog. With a blog you can create a central holding place for your main ideas, your videos, a calendar of your events and engagements, a list of your publications and appearances in the media, and links to all your other places on the web such as your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

By having all these things together in one publicly accessible place, you not only are making yourself more available to being found by anyone and everyone, you're offering them a cohesive snapshot of what you're about and why you're the expert in your field.

The new film "Julie and Julia" offers a good example of how a blog can play an important role in building a platform.

The real life Julie Powell wanted to cook all of Julia Child's recipes in a year, started a blog, wrote a book, and now there's a film! She was just doing something she was genuinely interested in, and she did it in a way that other people could access it.

3. Write! Create articles for your blog, your ezine, and any other publication you can get your name into. You'll not only be establishing your ideas and providing multiple opportunities for people to quote you, you increase your web and media presence with each article. A small yet consistent publishing presence sets the stage for larger publishing opportunities, like book deals.

4. Find your niche. To have a clear brand and a strong platform, one must be able to identify who you're speaking to. Knowing your audience isn't just about directly reaching a group of people who want your services; it is also about having stable marketing ground that you can claim as your own, and then ground you can acquire with a growing presence.

5. Figure out what makes you different. Whether it's your comedic approach to getting over a bad break-up, or offering a holistic view of one's place on the planet along with your body scrubs, no platform can be strong and steady without something that makes you special in your field. You don't have to reinvent the wheel—you just have to have something relatively simple that will make you pop to the media.

6. Be consistent. Take every opportunity to build exposure. Eventually those small opportunities taken will accumulate into a platform that works for you 24/7.

7. The great thing about a platform is that once you get it rolling, it starts to keep itself going. Platform-centered marketing is about making real connections with people—no wonder it is the idea reigning supreme in this social media saturated world!

When you are connecting with people and not just networking your way towards clients, you are building career-long clients and contacts.

You are not just reaching them with a single product, you are giving them a whole person. People are much more likely to remember you, to quote you, to want your ideas encapsulated in a book if you are bigger than a product—if you are an entire media presence.

Success Coach, Gina Ratliffe, publishes the Esther Experience weekly ezine. Women Entrepreneurs: If you're ready to live as Queen of your finances, relationships, and health, and have more fun in your life, get your FREE report now at www.EstherExperience.com

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