Three Innovative Avenues for Specialty Author Marketing: How to Profit From Learning Platforms

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Marketing is a challenge for all publishers, including publishers of business content. My bet is the challenges experienced by these specialty publishers and their authors fall in line with those reported in Kelsye Nelson’s 2016 Book Marketing Survey. Among others, Nelson found the following to be the most common book marketing complaints throughout her writing community:

  • Discoverability is difficult in a crowded market
  • Social media is a constant struggle
  • Marketing efforts fail to yield desirable results

Achieve Discoverability

As publishers, it is crucial to team up with your greatest asset – your authors – to help them overcome the challenges outlined above. Marketing goes beyond just generating buzz for the next book release. Efforts should ideally focus on the big picture, and that’s overall brand visibility. Help your authors stand out from the crowd.

The more you achieve discoverability of your authors and help position them as mentors, experts, visionaries – whatever their goals may be as business book writers – the more loyal your authors will be to you, the publisher. The publishing industry’s success relies upon the success of writers. That said, innovative marketing efforts should be on every publisher’s high-priority list.

Learning Platforms As Author Marketing Tactics

It should come as no surprise when I say that some author-based marketing initiatives can be supported by modern, publisher-friendly platforms and technologies. Learning platforms, for example, are ideal hubs for publishers to make their business authors known among a global business audience.

There are several kinds of learning platforms out there for publishers to consider, ranging from newer technologies to those that have been around since the 1990s. Most, if not all, of these platforms exist because of the content uploaded into them for consumption by professionals.

Types Of Learning Platforms

Various types of learning platforms can include:

  • Collaborative learning platforms: These are the new generation of learning technologies. Collaborative learning platforms combine published content with collaborative tools that allow professionals to connect with one another, share content and discuss popular business-related topics.
  • Traditional learning management systems (LMS): The LMS has been around for quite some time, and their main function within organizations is to deliver, track and report back on professional training. Training delivered through an LMS is typically managed by a learning professional, and learners consume required readings and resources to gain valuable skills for their professions.
  • Content platforms: Content platforms are meant as hubs for experts or avid writers to share information with various publics. Content written can be categorized and disseminated to those who subscribe to – or show an interest in – specific topics, like HR, business development or leadership. With content platforms, anyone can write and share content.

Ways to Market Author Brands In Learning Platforms

You may be wondering, “Why should we use learning platforms, with so many digital publishing platforms out there?” The audience that uses learning platforms is eager to do just that – learn. And to effectively learn, consumers need easy access to the best of the best in business content. If you’re a publisher of specialty business content, your titles are the cornerstone of professional growth for members of these platforms. Ultimately, readers are attentive and receptive to learn from and about experts – or, your authors.

Here are three ideas for marketing author brands and titles in a modern learning platform:

  1. Create online profiles that go beyond a simple biography and links

Online presence for authors is key. Learning platforms that are publisher and author-friendly will feature pages dedicated to author promotion. These pages can be easily discovered and shared among an online audience of readers. As a publisher, explore the features of dedicated promotional pages, and how you can help your author maximize the page to reach its full marketing potential. A few steps could include: working with your writers to create an engaging biography to entice readers to dive into content and follow the author more closely; spotlighting a short list of both current and backlist titles (art included) that are easy to read instantly; and incorporating a calendar of events so audiences can find out if your authors are speaking near them. These features and content – housed on a single author page – provide a nice online overview of each author, and help readers get a feel for their areas of expertise. Just make sure to coach your authors on how to use modern promotional features to their fullest advantage.

Bonus: Platforms that host interactive or gamified features for readers take marketing to another level. Gamified and interactive features include letting readers vote on their favorite cover design or participate in an online book discussion hosted by an author. The more readers can engage with authors and content the more they’ll feel connected to the writer. As relationships with authors are established, readers will increasingly share content and upcoming author events. Organic, word-of-mouth marketing at its finest.

  1. Refresh the backlist with bite-sized content

Once great content enters the market, it is important to ensure the content receives a long shelf life. But there is only so much publishers can do, right? Well, one way to give books that have been “on the shelf” for a while a boost is to turn them into easy-to-consume, bite-sized content. Let’s say there are three works hosted in a learning platform, all covering a similar topic. Work with your author to pick chapters from each book to create a custom “Discovery Path” that guides readers through the chapters, offering a new way to consume each title. Bite-sized content is popular right now in business (especially on mobile devices), so creating these brief content sets delivers readers exactly the type of content they are looking for. Once created, encourage authors to share the packaged content in specific “learning groups” within the platform for increased visibility.

Just as professionals share their favorite news articles, they’ll begin to share this bite-sized content with their networks outside of the platform, as well. And, as publishers, don’t forget to join in on sharing the Discovery Paths through your organization’s social channels or in newsletters.

  1. Position authors as “teachers” to add revenue

The Discovery Paths referred to above can be used as a great asset for targeted marketing to professional groups or organizations. And they come with added revenue. Work with your author to pinpoint professional groups that may want to use the created paths as training modules within their organizations. Set a price, and sell. Aside from added revenue, your author will gain visibility among a new and untapped audience. The more learners are exposed to author content through training, the more they’ll seek the author’s complete content to research additional concepts by way of self-directed learning.

New Technologies Mean New Opportunities

As a publisher, it is important to be aware of the new technologies and platforms out there that can aid in growing the visibility of your authors. With a bit of work and coaching, you’ll help set your authors and their content up for success. Just be sure to look at platforms that might not be as obvious – like learning platforms for professionals. Marketing opportunities on such platforms really are endless.