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Chicken Soup for the Brand Builder

Here are some marketing tips from the co-author of the Chicken Soup series.


When it comes to leveraging books into businesses, few authors are better known or more respected than Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and One Minute Millionaire.

But even though more than 80 million books have already been sold under the Chicken Soup brand, Hansen’s complete empire is far more diversified and includes audio books, greeting cards, branded merchandise, board games, calendars, a television series, music CDs and even pet food.

Whether you want to break into the book business with a financial planning tome, or are simply looking for new ways to market your practice, you can learn a lot from Hansen and other savvy authors like him who have used new technologies and sophisticated marketing strategies to create robust and far-reaching businesses. Here are some keys to their success.

Financial planners can turn a seminar into self-help-style audio and videotapes.

Make seminars last
Advisors can lengthen their marketing reach by turning one message into several profit-generating marketing pieces. Consider the simple effort of turning a book into an audio-cassette program. Hansen protégé Cynthia Kersey, author of Unstoppable, created an eight-tape course from her book in just one weekend, and then went on to parlay that course into $500,000 worth of retail sales and a stint on the Home Shopping Network. She now conducts training and coaching programs for individuals who want to reach a specific business or personal goal. Similarly, financial planners can turn a seminar into self-help-style audio and videotapes.

Or consider author David Bach, the expert behind The New York Times best-seller The Automatic Millionaire. He turned his book into a six-week telephone seminar series that helps consumers fix their finances. While Bach had written numerous other books over the years, the teleseminar series—and the premise that he could turn people into millionaires—landed him on The Oprah Winfrey Show within days of completing the series, and just in time for his book to be released in bookstores.

More tips from the top
Hansen also offers these tips for effectively marketing your products:

  1. Build a brand using free publicity. Hansen and his Chicken Soup co-author Jack Canfield used the power of the press release to promote books everywhere. They then used that print exposure to launch a syndicated column seen in more than 150 newspapers worldwide.
  2. Transform your expertise. Use your financial planning expertise to develop training programs and other profit centers, including home-study courses, boot camps, consulting, train-the-trainer programs and more. These types of programs generate additional revenue streams and will help you market your services and create a name for yourself in your community.
  3. Take your knowledge to the Internet. Using e-newsletters, e-books, one-page websites that sell specific products and services and other e-marketing strategies, advisors can almost instantly broadcast their name and expertise around the world.
  4. Start speaking. You can sell thousands of dollars’ worth of financial planning programs from the podium if you use the right sales techniques.

Following Hansen's model can pay big dividends. After all, you can be a brilliant advisor, but if no one knows you're around, you won’t make a sale. As Hansen puts it: “Writing a great book that captures the market’s imagination is just 10 percent of the effort you need to make. Marketing and extending your brand is the other 90 percent.”

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