BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Getting visible ...

Soooo … I hate it when I sit down to write a review and discover that I'd put in exactly zero little bookmarks to lead me back to choice bits in the text … and I just discovered that this is one of those cases. I'm rather confused by this, as the lack of bookmarks is frequently the effect of my not productively interfacing with the book, yet I had found this one engaging, entertaining, and reasonably informative … but, obviously, never felt moved to stick a marker in there. Odd.

Anyway, I'd run into some mention of David Avrin's It's Not Who You Know, It's Who Knows YOU! A Practical Business Guide to Raising Your Profits By Raising Your Profile somewhere on-line (I don't recall where, but I do remember trying to track down his publisher – unsuccessfully – to request a review copy … they've not got much of an on-line presence, and are “coincidentally” located in the same small Colorado town as the author, so I'm guessing this was, essentially, self-published). I ended up looking over on Amazon and was able to score a very good copy of the the hardcover (signed, even!) from the new/used vendors for well under a buck (plus shipping).

The author presents himself as “The Visibility Coach” (, with a focus on marketing and strategic branding. The format of the book is a lot of 1-3 page topics (70, if my count is right), grouped in three main sections: Your Brand, Creating Awareness, and The Pitch … each closing with a “The Visibility Coach says:” banner with some pithy comment on the preceding section (with every one of these including his logo, which I found irritating in its incessant repeating, yet forgivable in the context of a “personal branding” screed).

What I found especially confusing in my not having marked anything here is the realization that I've already used references to material in other contexts! One would think that I'd have targeted those for later use – guess I was breezing through this too fast to “stop and mark the proses” {sorry about that}. Of course, in my defense, a large collection of individual bits, loosely assembled into a few thematic sections, doesn't build much of a narrative arc … so a lot of the “good bits” just flew by, and I was into the next part before realizing that the last one was choice.

This leaves me in a position to do some “cherry picking” via a scan-through of the text … not ideal, but hey. I guess I'll start with the above-noted bit that I already used. I was posting in my main blog about the re-release of one of my old poetry collections, and was contemplating the market (or lack thereof) for all my emo navel-gazing. This refers to Avrin's piece on what he calls the “Sesame Street Strategy”, which starts out talking about the career decline of Donny Osmond, moves into the disastrous mid-stream moves of Maxim magazine (when they sought to change with their initial readers, rather than target a particular “self-replicating market”), and eventually ends up on Sesame Street:
      In fact, if you have a self-replicating market, you can often continue to offer products and services to each new batch of customers that comes along. I call this the Sesame Street Strategy. How is it that Sesame Street has stayed on the air for more than 40 years? Because every year there is a new crop of five-year-old children (gleaned from the ranks of last year's four-year-olds) hungry for learning and entertainment. Companies … {addressing this market} … continue to grow and thrive because kids inexplicably seem to keep being born and growing up – needing to learn stuff. Who knew?
The author uses this to pose the question if your business has to keep changing to chase after your existing customers, or if you have a new batch of target customers coming in the door as your previous ones move on.

Of course, the topic of “visibility” keeps coming up, in slightly different contexts. In the wonderfully titled “Schtick Out” piece Avrin notes:
      To become top-of-mind, you need to craft or highlight something about yourself, your message, or your business that is readily and easily identifiable with you – and only you. When you hear someone say, “Yah, it's been done,” it's usually not a very subtle reminder that there is nothing special in copying someone else. So here's the question: What do you do, that only you do?
He lists a number of examples, from the chocolate chip cookies featured at Doubletree Hotels, to the political snark of Ann Coulter. About half the book later, he revisits this with a personal example, which, while approaching obnoxious on one level, is also brilliant for the reasons he details in “See and Be Seen”:
      Some years back, I was attending a conference with my colleagues at the National Speakers Association and having fun zipping around the convention hotel on a Segway scooter. The Segway was brand new at the time and caused a lot of buzz. As I rounded a corner, I passed a woman who said, “Hey, I remember you!” “That's the point!” I said with a smile as I zoomed past.
      For a time, the Segway was my schtick. I used to bring it along as my signature at conferences and conventions around the world. It was a great way to meet far more people than I normally would at such a large event. …
      More important, I always knew that I could call any of the hundreds or even thousands of fellow attendees in the weeks that followed and say, “I was the guy on the Segway.” People would instantly recall who I was and the conversation was a breeze from there. If I'm going to call myself the Visibility Coach, I better be visible!
      My question for you then is: “What are you doing to be noticed and remembered by your prospects?” …
      What are you doing to be seen and remembered? How are you ensuring your top-of-mind status with your clients and prospects?
He does note that most folks don't need to “find some hokey stunt to draw attention to yourself”, but suggests that most could find “a distinctive hook or activity that dovetails nicely into who you are or what you do”.

This isn't just “philosophies” of visibility, however, as there are several sections with direct coaching and practical advice. I especially found the “Good TV” part of interest, as “doing media” can be such a disaster if it's not handled well. This part was especially useful:
      Here's the key to a good media interview: Most reporters don't know the subject nearly as well as the guest. So when a reporter asks you something, answer it briefly and transition into what you really went there to talk about. You can expertly move past the often irrelevant or less important question by simply employing transitional phrases. ...
{he gives several examples}
      Then go on to say what you came there to say, and do it with passion, regardless of the questions asked. If the reporter has something else in mind, don't worry – they'll jump in. Get on the edge of your seat and advocate for your position, organization, product, or crusade, and do it as if you only have one minute to make your case (because that's likely all you do have), and keep talking!
He goes on to point out that answering the questions is not what makes “good TV” – it's presenting a coherent message in a passionate, engaging way.

This “updated version” of It's Not Who You Know, It's Who Knows YOU! has only been out a couple of years, but appears to be out of print (the author's site points over to Amazon, and they only have the ebook version, plus copies through the new/used aftermarket vendors), so will be unlikely to be on the shelves of your local bookstore. If I had one general caveat to pass along about this, it would be that it's more for businesses than individuals, although, obviously from the examples given above, much of the material is applicable to both. I found much of this very useful … and you might too.

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Tags: book review
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