How Many Spokes on Your Content Wheel?

This week’s newsletter is inspired by a statement from Mark Schoenwald, the new CEO of Thomas Nelson (the sixth largest American trade publisher and world’s largest Christian publisher, according to Wikipedia):

We can no longer think of ourselves as just a book publisher, but as a content provider. That means that we have to be able to deliver our content in any format, in any delivery method that the customer chooses… We have to view the content as the product rather than just the published book. So that’s been our biggest paradigm shift.

It’s not easy to come to that conclusion, but since when is the right thing easy?

I believe you can — and should — say the same as a speaker: “I can no longer think of myself as just a speaker, but as a content provider.” (You may recall that I identified being a “content creator” as one of the key qualities of the top 1% of speakers last year.)

While this may sound intimidating at first — “But I just want to be a speaker!” — the great thing is that the foundation for this transformation has already been laid, beginning with Mark Sanborn and others commissioning The Expertise Imperative in the early 2000s.

At that time, Mark said this about speakers in the changing marketplace:

It won’t be enough to be a good speaker. Being able to develop, demonstrate and enhance expertise and then communicate it effectively and powerfully will be key.

“Being able to develop, demonstrate and enhance expertise” = content creator

When The Expertise Imperative was written, the focus was still on speaking as the way to “communicate [your content] effectively and powerfully,” and indeed speaking may remain as your central focus.

But today — largely thanks to technology — you have many options to distribute your content “effectively and powerfully.” As a matter of fact, a recent National Speakers Association white paper, The Professional’s Imperative, says as much:

With online conferences, web-based seminars, self-directed learning modules, and a wide variety of instructional formats with the ever-increasing possibilities delivered by constantly changing technical capabilities, the platform is evolving upon which professional speakers deliver their words of expertise.

So with all the mediums of content delivery available to you, why would you not want to take advantage of them? Instead, follow Thomas Nelson and other publishers and share your message “in any format, in any delivery method” that will allow you to reach more people… and build a stronger business.

You might think of your content as the hub of a wheel, and all the methods of delivering your content are the spokes — like this illustration:


Speaker Content Wheel

Sample "Content Wheel" with 9 spokes -- there are over 30 different ways you could package and deliver your content.

Not only does every new spoke allow you to reach more people with your message, but it also adds a new profit center to your business. The more spokes you have on your wheel, the more protection you have in the event that one spoke fails.

Just look at what happened to speakers’ businesses in the recent recession.

Do you know any speakers who went out of business — or at least had to supplement their speaking business with other endeavors — because their primary revenue stream went dry?

In contrast, do you know any speakers whose business actually grew because they had “spokes” that thrived in the new economic environment?

This is why Succeed Speaking is about much more than just speaking. There are plenty of other resources you can go to if you just want to become a better speaker. I want to help you build a better speaking business. (And I hope that’s what you want, too.)

So… Here are some questions to ask yourself this week:

  1. How many spokes are currently on your content wheel?
  2. What spokes could you add?
  3. What help do you need to make it happen?

HINT: Leave a comment about #3 below and I’ll see if I can point you in the right direction!

2 Comments on “How Many Spokes on Your Content Wheel?

Fred E. Miller
April 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Good post with great ideas.

Working all those spokes adds to the perception the “Speaker” is an Expert. Perception is reality and we like to work with Experts.

Experts can charge more for their products and services, also.


April 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Thanks, Frank! And you’re absolutely right — this very much ties in to establishing yourself as the expert/authority in your field.

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