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Build Your Image By... Making Your Articles Work Harder!
By Forrest Wallace Cato
 

There is a harmful myth I forever witness among lots of lawyers, doctors, authors, speakers financial planners, insurance agents, and other professionals.  (All of them should know better.)  They believe, if they get an article written by them, or written about them, and then published -- in a magazine, newspaper, etc -- then their phone will ring off the hook, prospects in large numbers will line-up to enter their office, and their invitations to speak will soar.  This “wish-list” rational is contrary to reality.  This is not even accurate.  This is totally incorrect thinking.  But this myth prevails.

Published articles do not stimulate massive and immediate results like this!   

Published articles in magazines, newspapers, house organs, newsletter, or e-zines usually have little, or none of the desired effect, unless they are merchandised.  You must merchandise your articles if you want to get any of your “wish-list” results from them.  You have to add the necessary marketing and promotion efforts that make published articles work for you.  Do nothing and your articles do nothing for you! 

Dr. Joan Berry, creator of the Fast Track MBA programs used at American universities nation-wide, says, “The most profitable action you can take is to become aware of your sabotaging beliefs, or myths, and clear them. When you get free of your fabrications, that lead to flawed expectations, you can then better function with reality.”    

Do you know how to make your published articles work effectively for you?  Can you skillfully merchandise your published articles?  If you are not sure about how to accomplish this then for God’s sake please read on.  Not doing this is like seeing a small fire break out in your home and having a powerful fire extinguisher nearby but being unable to turn it on.  

Getting Published In Magazines Is Not Necessarily Important For You!

Realize that your getting published in most of the endless magazines is not all that important!  Many of these publications promote special agendas and are edited by low-paid people who actually know little about the industry they cover.  The publishers can not sell enough subscriptions to these many magazines, so they give them away and call this “controlled circulation.”  A few of these publications are even owned (in secret) by products and services companies.  Guess what type of advocacy they practice? 

These many publications tend to repeat the same subjects and treatments again and again.  You can easily see this predictable pattern if you take the time to notice.  The editorial content largely avoids controversy, substantive issues, challenge, and significant differing points of view.  They do not ask you what you think.  They tell you what you think.  So why bother submitting articles to them?  Your prospects and your clients do not ever read the majority of these.  Most have publishers who know little about magazine publishing or how to monitor editors or their editorial staffs.   

Most of the editorial employees for these publications are not even professional enough to acknowledge receipt of your submissions.  Nor do they show the business professionalism and common courtesy of thanking you for submitting something.  Nor do they ever indicate if your masterpiece will be rejected or published, or when your writing will appear.  These basic courtesies and proper business methods are routine practices at most other professionally produced publications including other trade journals.  Many of these editors publish a feature that is only a self-tribute in every issue.  Some publish a sophomoric-like editor’s column that begins with something as limp as: “This month is the time of the year when we freshen our marketing skills by looking in the mirror and asking ourselves some important questions.  So before you look in the mirror read our article on …”    When such editors loose their jobs you usually never hear of them again for the rest of your life.  Again I ask, why is your getting published in these magazines so important to you?         

I’ve often seen young editors just out of college who never sold anything, yet in my presence they actually lectured famous top producers on how to sell.  In the magazine publishing industry there is an old joke:  “Place the word ‘editor’ after a person’s name and immediately that person becomes the world’s greatest expert on whatever their publication covers.”  Editors can easily become full of themselves and not only posture and pontificate, but some actually assume a reality that says they are both all-knowing and wise sages.  They ask for special treatment, free passes, and say, “If you let me speak at your program I will give you space in my magazine.”  Or, “Hire me for this or that on the side and I will see that you get coverage in my …”  Too many of these editors also tend to publish their friends over and over. 

They also use their magazine as an outlet for their articles.  Usually their own publication is their only outlet, ever. 

More and more, being published in a magazine has less effect than this once had.  Read any of these magazines on a regular basis and notice the self-serving, repeatedly published friends, biases, irresponsibly inflated biographical sketches of the published writers, lack of skilled and knowledgeable editing, etc.  Why do you need to be published in these magazines when you can publish your own articles on your own blog, e-zine, or newsletter, without being treated so shabbily?  Your “pay off” is in the merchandising of your articles, not in the printing of them by these magazines.  If you can write well (And this is an important “if.”) then your self-produced copy will have about as much credibility as appearing in their format and vehicles.   

Lew Nason, LUTCF, RTIA, RFC, who founded the famous Insurance Pro Shop became a major sales improvement training success partly by showing financial professionals how to see and accept reality rather than myths.  Jim McCarty, CLU, RHU, LUTCF, RFC, who teaches “show business sales techniques,” says: “Nason has some fascinating and, I think, ground breaking, research and lessons on the difference between the realities and myths that you choose to believe and act upon.  The reality is that the value of being published in the countless financial publications is fast changing.  The primary concern of the many financial publications is advertising sales.” 

How To Merchandise (Or Exploit) Your Articles 

After your article is published, you have specific ways you can merchandise or “use” your article to make it work more effectively for you.  Assuming that your article contains content that is interesting or helpful for your prospects, then you should merchandise your article as indicated in the following. 

·       Mail copies of your articles to your clients.  This reassures them.  This reveals that you are intelligent, etc.

·        Mail or send copies to your prospects.  Ask for their opinion on some point or points in your article.  Your objective is to begin a dialogue.

·        Place copies of your article(s) in your Press Kit, Fact-File or Info Folder.  These are all the same.  This makes these more effective and more impressive.  This reflects your professionalism.

·       Use copies of your article, when appropriate, as hand-outs or “leave behinds” when you make platform presentation, conduct seminars, speak to the Rotary Club in your area, or make visits.

·      Use copies of your articles as enclosures when you do direct Mailings, or use your article as your DM piece.

·        Make stacks of your articles available at your dentist’s office, doctor’s office, etc.

·        Attach copies of your article(s) when you submit something to others who can be useful for you, convention directors, club presidents, etc.

·        Place your article(s) on your Web Site, or offer free copies of your article to anyone who asks for it.

·        Include your article(s) on your on your blog, or e-zine, or announce it’s availability from there.

·        Send out a news release about your article to publications within your local or regional market area and enclose a copy of your article.  (National media will not publish such a news release, as they do not want to acknowledge the existence of other competing media.)

·        Make copies of your articles available to appropriate organizations in your market area, i.e., civic, social, fraternal, business, religious, -- groups that are appropriate for you.

·     Make copies available to your building association members, your country club members, hospital waiting rooms, community colleges, the Elks Lodge in your market area, etc.

·        If you are an Elk then send the article to the editor of the Elks magazine and propose to the editor an original and exclusive version on this subject created especially for his Elks readers. Do this with other appropriate sources.

·       Remember that it is OK to send an e-mail attachment of your article, and then follow-up by mailing a hard copy of your article, both to the same person.  Or do this in the reverse order.

·      Frame and display your article(s) in your office, on walls, in your conference room, lobby, or hall.

·        Carry extra copies around with you, possibly in your briefcase, pouch, or in a file, and recognize when it is appropriate to “place them” or give them away.

·        Send copies to appropriate contacts in your greater market area and invite the recipients to use you as an information and reference source.  Include the “correct person” at your local radio, newspaper, TV, etc.  You find out who is your “correct person” by phoning and asking.  Address this correctly and to the right person.  

·        Always seek opportunities to further distribute your article(s).  Some planners even place them on bulletin boards in supermarkets, bowling allies, golf course facilities, etc.  If you have access to places that sell “big ticket” items, like airplanes, yachts, expensive cars, etc., then see if they will allow you to make available copies of your article(s) at their places of business.

·      After you have enough articles published, extract or condense from them and assemble these sections into what becomes a booklet.  If appropriate indicate where your copy originally appeared.  Now you have an impressive quality booklet that can be used for booklet marketing.  Size your booklet so it will fit within a regular business size envelope. 

·        Over time, you can compile your articles and this can become a book for you.  May books are created this way.  If possible you need a theme running throughout all of your articles.  Make inserts or rewrite so that you have a beginning, middle, and end. 

·        You should be able to think of at least three additional “useful” way that you can merchandise or “use” your article(s) in your local market area to make them work more effectively for you.  I just gave you twenty ways to do this.   

I have often been guilty of assuming that it was obvious that everyone knew they should merchandise articles.  I further assumed that everyone knew how to merchandise articles.  There have been countless articles on Article Marketing.  What mistakes I made by not explaining this more thoroughly in the past. 

Above all, don’t get published and then forget about this exposure, and do nothing about the opportunity this presents for you.  Time and again I have watched financial planners get on magazine covers in glorious color, and have large-space feature articles inside including many photos of them, but they totally wasted all major opportunities to benefit from this exposure.  This amount of print space would have cost them $50,000.00 or more, if they had purchased this at existing advertising rates.  This magazine exposure is more believable than advertising, and much more creditable.  Unlike an advertisement, the ulterior motive of a magazine exposure, if any, is not obvious.  And being on the cover is priceless.  Imagine a fiduciary totally wasting a value like this, and then thinking, “I got nothing from this article.  The article did not translate into any business for me.” 

I hope you never make the mistake of not having your article(s) merchandised by yourself or others.  The reality is that you must merchandise any article if you want results from it.  This myth can hurt you.  Avoid the belief promoted by magazines that “good things will happen” if you only appear in heir pages.  If you do nothing to merchandise your article then you will get little or nothing.

 

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