A publishing strategy

With so much information circulating these days, a one-shot or scat-tergun approach to publishing won't even register in your targets' minds. Publishing an article in an industry journal once or twice a year won't attract many clients.

Establish an ongoing presence by publishing frequently each year. Make sure that your writings target an audience that will enhance your consulting business; otherwise you'll be spinning your wheels. Don't scatter your pieces all over the place; concentrate on submitting them only to those outlets that reach your target audience.

To build name recognition, visibility, and attract clients, commit to writing a regular column or pieces for a newspaper, magazine, or for a Web site that your clients are likely to frequent. Your objective is twofold: to build a following of readers who will be your advocates; and to amass writings that convey the value of your ideas to clients and become assets for future use.

A systematic and continuous publishing strategy is the best way to both build your base of intellectual assets and exhibit them. When properly implemented, a well-planned publishing strategy will give you clear guidelines on what to publish where and for which audience. A systematic approach will also carry you through the sometimes agonizing process of writing and publishing because you'll have your goal firmly in sight.

You should commit at least one-third of your marketing budget to publishing. That may seem high, but your strategy must comprehensively cover every element in the publishing process:

^ Finding hot topics

Researching those topics Writing, editing, and rewriting

^ Finding the right publisher

^ Marketing your work

Publishing has drawbacks. Writing and publishing can detour you from your core business. It's easy to get bogged down with necessary evils like editing, meeting deadlines, and coordinating with sources, editors, printers, agents, and publishers. And it may be a challenge to find time in your already insane schedule.

Most consultants think that the writing experience they have gained from project work is sufficient for writing articles. But their writing may not be in the style or voice appropriate for most publications. Don't assume you can just transfer your client writing skills into polished prose that will satisfy an editor. It rarely happens.

For example, redundant words creep into consulting prose like vines in rainforests. In his classic book, On Writing Well, William Zinsser calls clutter "the disease of American writing" and says that we are "strangling in unnecessary words."2

Consider these bits, drawn from consultants' writings: "a 5 percent positive revenue increase"; "two parallel paths"; "Your satisfaction is our main priority."

You are writing to draw readers to your practice, so look for help if you need it. By working for even a short period with a writer or editor, you can learn how to eliminate jargon and consultant-speak and to write clear prose that readers can easily grasp.

The fear of writing for publication prevents many consultants from ever getting started. Writing—like most disciplines—can be learned, but it usually takes effort and practice. It doesn't help that having pieces rejected is a standard part of the publishing business. But guerrillas take rejection in stride and eventually break through to become published authors.

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