Letter to Oliver on Publishing and Selling

One of the valuable by-products of publishing is being more effective at selling

Dear Oliver (and other readers),

I know you  said you’d follow up on our brain-burning conversation with the standard list of links and notes. But you went further and wrote me a letter – wow, thank you!! You pressed our discussion into the wet cement of our brain matter; I think it will stick. 

We talked about this – that part of the value of writing publishing regularly is making our ideas stick in our own heads:

So much of our ideas that are of value are lost, forgotten, or return to us in the New York Times or from Silicon Valley. If you commit to saying something, you force yourself to get out at least some of these thoughts.
– Oliver Cox

This effect moves us towards that Christopher Hitchens/Seth Godin state where you express yourself with equal crispness in writing, speaking, and off-the-cuff conversation. 

For me, this is an opportunity for anyone serious about pursuing content marketing for her business.

When in conversation with a prospective client, do you really want to say, “Here are the top 10 tips for getting new Twitter followers”?

Or do you want to answer questions like, “Tell me about your business, what’s your approach to X?”, with cringe-free clarity?

Publishing lets you provide helpful context, explain complex ideas simply, formulate arguments, and negotiate well.

And that helps the independent expert sell.

As Dan Pink discusses in Selling Is Human, selling happens even when no money is involved – when instead you might want time, ideas, or mental energy. 

So selling continues to happens, for example, long after a services deal is inked. 

Or after a recurring software license is purchased – you persuade someone to part with enough of their time to learn your produce so well they thrive on it.

What makes that persuasion work? 

A friend recently explained to me a key premise of Chris Voss’s Never Split The Difference, a book about negotiation: get perfect clarity on what the other person wants.

That’s the starting point, at least, of effective persuasion. 

Publishing can help here too. Many of those I pay (in money, attention, time) for advice, coaching, ideas, or consulting describe for me exactly what I want. And they haven’t even met me. That’s why I literally pay attention to Stephanie Flaxman, for example.

Content marketing gives you a choice – speak in your own words and apply your ideas to your customers’ specific needs (either individually or – if you have good positioning – as a group). Or publish listicle trash.

As you point out, Oliver, publishing also creates space for our own thoughts against the onslaught of infinite content. 

And reading what others publish, even if it’s brilliant, isn’t enough by itself:

When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. In learning to write, the pupil goes over with his pen what the teacher has outlined in pencil: so in reading; the greater part of the work of thought is already done for us. 
– Schopenhaeur

The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional writer to publish and clarity your own, valuable thoughts. The even better news is that if you are (or will be) in business for yourself, you have an opportunity to publish by practicing what marketers call content marketing.

Oliver, thank you for the conversation and for helping me draw a line between publishing and “selling”, for experts such as yourself.

Have a great weekend all,
Rowan