“Branding” has become quite a catch word these days. As nonfiction writers, we, too, need to “brand” ourselves and our work. We even need to go so far as to become a “media brand.” In the process, however, we can make our writing more marketable to publishers, and, ultimately, to readers.
What exactly is a media brand and how do we as writers go about accomplishing the creation of our own media brand? Back today to tell us is entertainment professional and consultant Philippa Burgess of creative convergence. I’ve heard her speak about this topic, and I’ve always found what she has to say fascinating. I know that by applying the principle of branding to myself and to what I write, I can not only make myself more-marketable as a writer, but that I can help myself build a platform across all media – all of which will make my books sell better as well.
So, today, take of your writers hat and put on your marketing hat. Or, better yet, wear them both. That, I think, is the idea.
The Power of Your Media Brand
By Philippa Burgess
Entertainment Professional and Consultant
Partner, Creative Convergence Inc.
As nonfiction writers, I encourage you to think about becoming a media brand. In my previous post we talked about how to create compelling content. Beyond that, the success of your project lies in your ability to market it to the greater public. The easiest way to do this is to cultivate a relationship with your audience that includes desire, familiarity, and value using a myriad of media channels. In doing so, with a certain amount of consistency and growing visibility, you become a media brand. The additional benefit to doing it this way is that you are able to develop your content and your platform concurrently. When your book is ready you’ll have a better product that’s knows its place in the market primed with a ready audience.
Here are some key points you need to know and keep in mind when creating your media brand:
A media brand is a promise. If the expectation is a positive one, every time it delivers on its promise it deepens the loyalty of its audience. A brand seeks to earn mindshare, which is a general awareness that it exists. From there, it has the aim of creating top of mind awareness in its category. This means that if someone says, “Toothpaste,” and you say, “Crest,” this brand of toothpaste not only has mindshare, but represents the category leader in your mind. This holds true for media brands such as Dr. Phil, Oprah and Martha Stewart, who all have vast mindshare and are category leaders in their respective arenas.
See your media brand as a relationship that creates and fulfills a desire for its audience. A brand is not just a fancy logo or a catchy tag line but an experience that is shared between the company, product or service and its audience. Therefore, a successful brand is able to become a proven commodity in the marketplace. Writers, celebrities, and titles are just as much as brands as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Tiffany’s.
This is important to you as nonfiction writers, because today’s audience encounters over 60,000 marketing messages a day. Everyone is vying for our attention while looking to make a positive impression. If your brand has rooted itself within the hearts and minds of your audience through repeated interactions over time, then it has established value. From there it can be promoted across larger and larger media channels with greater traction and ultimate success.
Build your media brand so you can distinguish yourself and your message from other nonfiction writers in the marketplace. If you are writing a memoir or offering practical advice on anything from how to run a business, a family or a hi-tech gadget, then you need to be sure you are distinguishable in the marketplace from all others. You want your audience to develop a relationship with you, and then consistently seek you out for the fulfillment of their desires – be it for information, inspiration or entertainment.
Your media brand builds on its success and provides additional opportunities to get your message out. There are many who come to nonfiction writing with academic or real world credentials, but all nonfiction writers need to start thinking along the lines of gaining media credentials. If bloggers, magazines, conferences and talk shows want to talk about what you’re doing because they think you’ll entertain and inform their audience, thus making their brand look good, then you’re on your way to being able to successfully grow your brand into the publishing arena, television or even film.
Your media brand helps you to consistently reach and call your audience to action. We often hear “platform” as a buzzword in the publishing industry. It is becoming more essential to have a platform, because it means that you have cultivated an audience so there is less risk involved for publishers when it comes to investing in your project. They know that when you speak, your audience listens. They have confidence that you have learned to navigate the infrastructure you need to reach your audience and have proven your value through repeated interactions. Moreover, you know how to motivate (or ethically bribe) your audience into action. It also becomes easier to move a story across media channels, such as articles, books, graphic novels, television, or film, if the story or its author, are branded.
Your media brand gives you the opportunity to monetize yourself and your project. Given your ability to deliver an audience, you have created more opportunities for speaking, articles, book sales, film rights or other business transactions. You’ve proven that you have something to offer; now comes the time to start packaging it to sell across media platforms. The more established your brand becomes the more value is attached to what you are selling. The term “rich and famous” is just simple math. The more people a brand is able to connect with powerfully, the more revenue it can generate for you and others.
Start small and grow it with steady efforts. As you look to establish your brand across media channels, remember that every oak tree was once an acorn. Trust that you will get experience as you go – “ready, fire, aim.” You won’t do all of this perfectly, so don’t worry about it. You’ll need to step out and jump. Then you can adjust course along the way. The idea of starting small can help you get practice, but it can also help you learn what your audience really wants and needs from you. When you make mistakes, they are in front of a smaller audience who are more forgiving. Plus, your brand will still be emerging and less will be at stake.
Cultivate your relationship with your audience as you develop your content. In this way you’ll get to work on your material and see how you are able to deliver the most value. Writing articles or giving talks is a good way to find the parts of your story that are the most compelling and valuable based on audience feedback. As you develop your stories, join writers groups or speaking clubs, such as Toastmasters, to polish your skills.
Take the time to go to the bookstore, the video store and Amazon.com and look at competing authors and titles. You want to find authors and titles you can point to in your space that have been successful, but you also want to find ways to distinguish yourself from them and fill a gap in the market. Think in terms of presenting your brand as “the fresh in the familiar.” Doors in entertainment and media are not difficult to open if you have the key. It is a very doable process if you take the right steps to fashion such a key by creating a strong media brand.
Not only do titles, books and authors become media brands, so do particular niche markets and categories. Find your category, take the steps to developing your media brand and look for the audience that is looking for you.
About Philippa Burgess
Philippa Burgess is a partner at Creative Convergence an entertainment company in Los Angeles that specializes in literary development and marketing across media. The company has recently sold client projects to Warner Brothers, Paramount, Lifetime, and ABC Family. Recent TV production credits include “52 Fights” for ABC/Touchstone and “Men’s Guide the Women’s Bathroom” for CBS/Paramount. Among their nonfiction film projects were “Thieves of Baghdad,” “Queensized” and “52 Fights.”
Philippa oversees the consulting division of the company. The department provides a collaborative creative and business development process for a dynamic list of consulting clients that include emerging nonfiction writers, experts, authors, and content creators who want to establish a media brand. She teaches at conferences around the country and facilitates the popular “Your Signature Story: From Content Creator to Media Brand” and “Million Dollar Screenwriting & Content Career” teleseminar courses.
Creative Convergence Inc.
An Entertainment Company
4055 Tujunga Blvd., Suite 200
Studio City, CA 91604
Four days and counting down…Write Nonfiction in November is almost over. Are you almost done with your project? Don’t leave it unfinished after November 30th! The whole point of the WNFIN challenge is to start AND finish a nonfiction project in 30 days. You’ll feel so good if you meet the challenge. I know you can do it! Leave me some comments and tell me how it’s going and what you wrote about this month.