In 1931 Winston Churchill found himself more or less exiled from political life. During the previous years, he’d vehemently fought members of his own party where he was seen as out of date and out of touch and so began what became known as his ‘Wilderness Years’.
An ordinary politician would be powerless when voted out of office or driven to the fringes by political enemies. But Churchill had something way more valuable than office. He had a platform.
Nowadays, most are unaware that Churchill made his living as a writer. He published over 10 million words in his lifetime in hundreds of publications. As a result, it was his enormous worldwide readership that Churchill cultivated through books, newspaper columns and radio appearances that allowed him to survive the periods in which he did not have the ability to directly shape policy. Instead, he was able to reach the people directly, especially about the rising threat of world war.
During his Wilderness Years, Churchill published 11 books and over 400 articles. He also delivered more than 350 speeches. His enormous platform allowed him to not only be relevant but also to guide opinion across the globe. Without it there’s no way he would have become Prime Minister in May 1940.
For any leader or entrepreneur, a platform like that is invaluable. A platform becomes the ultimate insurance policy and the most durable form of influence.
In business in 2020, a platform is a combination of email, social reach and potentially being on stage.
It’s your audience. It’s media that you control.
But how do you build it?
The answer is relatively straightforward: Build a list.
Why? Well imagine that, for reasons entirely outside your control, all of your advertising is blacked out,.. Google won’t run your ads and Facebook won’t touch you. You are suddenly persona non grata – just like Churchill in 1931.
No publisher, no crowdfunding platform, no leaflet distributor no investors would touch what you’ve got.
But if you’ve got a list, you can carry on in business and the revenue will continue to flow.
Think about a band like Iron Maiden. They haven’t been played on the radio for 20 years. But in that time, they’ve put out a dozen albums which have sold millions of copies. How? Because their relationship was directly with their audience. They have a platform. Iron Maiden have an enormous email list.
There’s a theory about the entertainment business put forward by Kevin Kelly, whose the founder of Wired Magazine. He calls it, “1,000 True Fans”. A creator, such as a musician, photographer, film maker or author needs to acquire only 1,000 true fans to make a living.
With 1,000 true fans – people who will purchase anything and everything you produce – you more or less guarantee a liveable income provided that you continue to produce consistently good work.
It’s a small empire and one that must be kept up, but it’s an empire nonetheless.
Winston Churchill and Iron Maiden both had and have way more than 1,000 fans.
There are other ways to build your list. We’ve run a lot of video ads on Facebook over the last six months. Just helpful stuff. No sales message. But we know who has watched all of them, some of them, bits of them etc. Now we can show offers to those who are engaged with us and because they’ve been indoctrinated – they’re familiar with us, they know us – from their previous views the response rates are much higher. It’s a platform.
None of my competitors can access my platform. Even if they know what I’m doing they can’t replicate it. They don’t know which people have watched and engaged with me. It’s my unique platform. Same for my email list.
For entrepreneurs, when they have an audience that they alone can access – a platform – everything is very different.
It’s like the ultimate marketing tool. And the ultimate insurance policy. All built into one. Take away my building, my staff, my product even, but leave me my list (my platform) and I’ll be back in business within just hours.
But it doesn’t just happen. It must be built.
Problem is, most business owners don’t dedicate time to building their platform. They’re not focused on their list, but they should be.
Think about it… As an entrepreneur, you know a lot of stuff. Things that can help other people in achieving their own goals. Start getting them out there. Start building your platform, your audience and your future.