The simplest definition of a platform is a raised floor or stage. But what does that have to do with marketing or building a brand? Quite a bit, actually, because raised platforms or stages are used by public speakers, presenters and performers so that they can be seen by their audience.
In this post I look at how platforms have been used over the years, and how the platform itself has changed over time, and especially in recent years.
Platforms, 100 Years Ago
A hundred years ago one of the popular platforms being used was the “soapbox” made famous by salesmen and preachers. It was a wooden crate used as a makeshift stand by travelling speakers. When they arrived in a new town they would find a good location, turn an old soapbox upside down, and communicate their message from their elevated platform.
A Modern Definition of a Platform
These days most speakers and authors don’t want to carry around a wooden crate wherever they go and they don’t need to. In fact they don’t even need to “go” anymore, since it is possible to communicate huge audiences using the Internet.
But the idea of the soapbox is still the same…
A platform is a foundation or base that someone has built that provides an opportunity for them to air their views publicly. In the traditional publishing world platform was used to describe a person’s public visibility or reputation and therefore how much demand there may be for their next book .
It is not enough to have
a great product. For example let’s consider a book author. You might have written the best book in the world, but if nobody knows about your upcoming book launch, you won’t sell any copies. You need a way to get your message out, and your platform is how you do that.
Publishing expert Alan Rinzler explained in an interview at Forbes, “By definition, the old model of the author platform was the writer’s public visibility and reputation that the publisher’s publicity department used to promote and sell the book … We insisted on a stellar track record in book sales and appearances on radio and TV. Everyone understood that the bigger the platform, the higher the advance.”
But over the last few years, the way that people choose books has changed. Today consumers search for products and services online. They look at reviews and ratings from their friends or peers. And that means that how platform is defined has changed yet again…
A person or entity’s platform now takes into account, in addition to offline factors, their online visibility and reputation. How many people are visiting their web site or reading their blog? How many people are following them through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+?
Those who have the biggest and strongest platforms are usually those who have spent time providing valuable information, building relationships and gaining the trust of their audience.
Do you want to build your own platform? Great! That’s what I’m going to be discussing on this blog.
About the Author: Gary McLaren