Winning the Culture War Ep. 002 - Examples of Great Platforms
This opening 7-part Mini-Series is entitled: Online Strategies to Change the World.
01 - What Makes a Platform?
02 - Examples of Great Platforms
03 - Creating Great Content
04 - Systems for Audience Growth
05 - Welcome Email Subscribers
06 - Basic Income Strategies
07 - Advanced Income Strategies
Welcome to Winning the Culture War with Cody Libolt.
This podcast is designed to help you become extraordinarily skilled in communication, especially if you are a Christian and a Culture Warrior. I want you to be a loud advocate of truth in whatever sphere you are able to have an impact.
This podcast will equip you for debate, persuasion, sound moral reasoning, and building a platform to get that valuable treasure to the world that needs it.
This opening series is: Online Strategies to Change the World. We’re looking at how to create a platform, attract an audience, and get paid to make it grow. I’m Cody Libolt. After last episode you have a strong foundation for understanding what an online platform is. In this installment we’re diving deeper.
We’re going to look through some examples and concepts of online marketing that work to get a message out and grow an audience. This material will be a reference point for what we do in future episodes.
Let’s start by doing a quick skim through some marketing experts that are great to follow as examples.
I put together a couple reference files for you, so you can find all this information in the files if you want to dig in at some point and take a deeper look.
I’ve given you two docs:
-My Top Book Recommendations for Getting Your Message Out
-18 Marketing Experts I Currently Let in My Inbox
These are the information sources that have been most useful to me. If you have a wishlist for books, every one of those 8 books should be on it.
For the list of marketing experts I let in my inbox, here’s what I recommend:
You don’t need to be getting weekly emails from all of those experts. But you might try getting on their email lists with a secondary email address and staying subscribed for a few weeks. That will give you a collection of welcome and onboarding emails from different sources. You can use that later as you’re look for ideas in your own messaging.
The material you’ll receive from these experts is top quality, so you might enjoy looking through it at some point. When you do, make sure to look not only at what they are saying, but also at why they are choosing to say it. What are they doing to help you figure out who they are and what they can offer you? If you look at five emails in a row from a given expert, you can notice that the order of what they are sending you is well-thought. It’s designed to make a good impression and inform you about the value of what they are selling.
Now that you have this list of email marketers, you could dive in and learn a ton by observing what they do when you join their email lists. For now it will help to look at several examples and give you an idea what their overall process is for bringing in email subscribers.
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Three Great Examples
Let’s start with Mike Kim at https://mikekim.com/.
Look at his social media first. If you want to, right now go ahead and pause the episode and go on Facebook and especially Instagram to see what Mike Kim does on social media.
If you do this, here’s what you’ll see:
There are posts with quotes, pictures of him meeting people, or perhaps some video content or links to his blog or podcast. Click on those, and eventually you will find an invitation so that you can opt-in to his email newsletter. Then you’ll receive an email welcome series. This is how he helps you get to know him and how he can help you.
Now compare AD Robles. This is an explicitly Christian platform with a website and YouTube Channel. You’re likely to find AD first on YouTube, and then find his Patreon page or website. The overall idea is that people move from discovering to subscribing to making a regular donation to support his project, once they are convinced that he is creating something valuable that they want to see more of.
I’ll show you one more example, from a new field. Here is Michael Hyatt’s website. Pay attention to the similarity in they way these different people (selling different things) all make use of some of the same best practices. How long does it take you at all three of these sites to see what they are offering and howto get it? You know right away, and you’re able to get on the email list right away.
Here is why they are doing that: Each of these three platforms is doing “content marketing.” That is, they have a message and they are getting that message to a ton of people who can access it for free. And if those people want to get a deeper level of access, they can join the email list. When they do, they will receive a lead magnet: Typically a free guide that is very short and offers some information that would be very useful to the kind of person this platform is designed to serve.
Each one of these people has some combination of:
A website with articles
A video channel
Social media channels
Email capture forms leading to email marketing software
A place where people can pay for something (donation page or sales page)
You see most of those pieces publicly, but let’s talk about the one part that most people are not as familiar with: the email marketing software.
This is an online software that integrates with your website and sends emails to your newsletter list, which could be 5 people or 500,000 people. This kind of service comes as a subscription software, and it is a very low price (maybe free or $15/month) to use it with a small subscriber list. MailChimp works that way. ConvertKit is another popular option, and it is the one I use.
Out of all the marketing programs or tools you will use, your email marketing software is the most important. Your list of email subscribers is your most important business asset as a marketer. It is the people who have given you permission to market to them. These are people you can always get in contact with when you have a new content piece to publish or when you have something to sell.
Email is the place to sell things. The rest of you online presence is of secondary importance to your email list. The online presence, including a website and social media accounts, exist as a way to find people to invite onto the email list.
Social media does have its other uses as well, but inviting people to join the email list is the essential function, from the marketing point of view. It does other things too: It helps people discover all your content, and it helps you interact with your fans and test ideas. But from the point of view of marketing strategy, social media’s main role, far above everything else, is to bring people onto your email list.
If someone joins your email list, then you have the ability to announce new content in a way that they are much more likely to see vs. an announcement on social media.
Also, the email list has this great advantage: You are not in danger of losing access to your fans if Facebook changes its rules or closes down. Facebook can close your Fan Page if they chose to. No one can take away your list of email subscribers downloaded on your hard drive.
Email marketing software lets you send an email broadcast to all the subscribers you have on your list with a couple button clicks. It also lets you set up a series of welcome emails to go out to people who first join your list to tell them about what you offer.
You can send things to your email list as often as you want. You can send them a quick note saying “Hey I published a new article, click here to read it and share it with a friend.” Or you can send people the link to your latest podcast or video or a link to something to buy.
You can send emails asking people to sign up to get on the phone just to talk with you and get to know you—or to fill out a survey. Some people send emails once a week or a few times a week. It’s up to you. But your email list is your primary point of contact with your fan community.
A Call To Action:
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Picturing Your Platform
You can picture your online platform like a kingdom with a castle in the middle. The castle would be your email list. Outside of that castle, the town you own would be your website. That’s your territory.
Now imagine that you have an outpost out of town, and it’s valuable to you, but it is built on someone else’s land: That is social media. You need to be on social media to grow your audience. But the social media is a means to an end. The end is to invite people to meet you and come and visit the party going on in your town and your castle.
So when we speak of an online platform or an online presence, think of these in order of priority:
Perhaps some other online spots
With all this talk of strategy and tools and attempts to win people to be following your material, here is something Christians typically need to think through:
Is it good to want to get your message out?
Is it a godly desire to want readers and viewers for your message?
A Biblical Platform
Nehemiah 8:4 tells us, “Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion.” If God is calling you to help people with understanding the truth, you have to get the truth to them, which means you may sometimes need to be on a platform.
I want you to realize that this “platform” concept is not something to be afraid of. You can make yourself fret about anything. But don’t. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are speaking the truth for the right reasons in the right way.
Did Ezra say: “I can’t teach people the Bible because I don’t want to be platforming myself?” Or worse: “I don’t want people to say, “He’s just building his personal brand!”
If he had said that, then he would have been succumbing to fear of man. Instead, he did the right thing. It meant putting himself out there and subjecting himself to the likelihood of being criticized or rejected by some. Ezra did it anyway.
With that, you now have a solid foundation in understanding the idea of a platform. And you’re ready for the next episode, in which we’re going to answer the question: How do you grow an audience for your platform?
Alright that is a wrap for this episode. There’s much more to come. And if you’re looking for personal input on your project, please email me at Cody@CodyLibolt.com. I would love to talk with you.
Thanks for listening today.
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