When Preparation meets Relationships meets Opportunity

I remember one client, Jerry DeWitt, who had been a Pentecostal minister for twenty-eight years. After reading the work of and meeting Richard Dawkins he eventually became an atheist and, as a result, lost everything and was ostracized by his family and friends. He wrote a deeply moving and inspiring book called “Hope After Faith” documenting his experience. As we struggled to come up with ways to get attention for the book – as well as for his important ideas – Jerry threw out the idea of one day hosting a “church service” for atheists. We ultimately encouraged him to host that service in the Deep South during the week of the book’s launch. As it was being coordinated, I happened to have lunch with a friend in New Orleans who occasionally freelanced for the New York Times. I mentioned what was happening. The next day he emailed me: Please, could he attend and would we mind if he wrote about it for the Times? CNN made the same request.


That’s what happens when preparation meets relationships meets opportunity. Asking a reporter in New York City simply to write about some book that was coming out (or the rising trend of atheism) would likely not have worked. But when something as provocative and unusual as hosting an atheist church service in the Bible Belt? The most important outlets in the world ask if they can write about you.  They ask your permission.


– Ryan Holiday, “The Perennial Seller”

Releasing a book during COVID? It’s a whole new world out there.


A strong, digital presence has always been essential, but now without the benefit of end caps, window displays, or author signings in your favorite bookstores, it’s more important than ever to create dynamic, shareable content that will grab readers’ attention, and get them to buy your book.

Think of the last time you decided you just had to see a certain movie. What convinced you? Chances are it was the preview that flashed up on your social media feed—then shared with your family and friends, because you knew they’d love it, too. Believe it or not, a fantastic book trailer can do the same thing.

Everyone is connecting more via social media than ever before, on their phones, tablets, and laptops. A book trailer can be an excellent way to reach new people, spread the word, and market your self-published book.

A 30 – 60 second video that captures the heart of your creation, can communicate the essence of your book to your target audience and increase your sales. See this example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ6wuqQIy-4&t

If you have a published or self-published book and would like a trailer to help market your book, Paraclete Multimedia would be happy to help.

Mistake Number Two



The second mistake brands make is they cause their customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand their offer.


When having to process too much seemingly random information, people begin to ignore the source of that useless information in an effort to conserve calories. In other words, there’s a survival mechanism within our customer’s brain that is designed to tune us out should we ever start confusing them.


Imagine every time we talk about our products to potential customers, they have to start running on a treadmill. Literally, they have to jog the whole time we’re talking. How long do you think they’re going to pay attention? Not long. And yet this is precisely what’s happening. When we start our elevator pitch or keynote address, or when somebody visits our website, they’re burning calories to process the information we’re sharing. And if we don’t say something (and say something quickly) they can use to survive or thrive, they will tune us out.



from “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller

Mistake Number One



The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive.


All great stories are about survival-either physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. A story about anything else won’t work to captivate an audience. Nobody’s interested. This means that if we position our products and services as anything but an aid in helping people survive, thrive, be accepted, find love, achieve an aspirational identity, or bond with a tribe that will defend them physically and socially, good luck selling anything to anybody. These are the only things people care about. We can take the truth to the bank. Or to bankruptcy court, should we choose to ignore it as an undeniable fact.


Mike said our brains are constantly sorting through information and so we discard millions of unnecessary facts every day. If we were to spend an hour in a giant ballroom, our brains would never think to count how many chairs are in the room. Meanwhile, we would always know where the exits are. Why? Because our brains don’t need to know how many chairs there are in the room to survive, but knowing where the exits are would be helpful in case there was a fire.


Without knowing it, the subconscious is always categorizing and organizing information, and when we talk publicly about our company’s random backstory or internal goals, we’re positioning ourselves as the chairs, not the exits.


“But this poses a problem,” Mike continued. “Processing information demands that the brain burn calories. And the burning of too many calories acts against the brain’s primary job: to help us survive and thrive.”


from “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller

Too complicated

“There’s a reason most marketing collateral doesn’t work,” Mike said, putting his feet up on the coffee table. “Their marketing is too complicated. The brain doesn’t know how to process the information. The more simple and predictable the communication, the easier it is for the brain to digest. Story helps because it is a sense-making mechanism, Essentially, story formulas put everything in order so the brain doesn’t have to work to understand what’s going on.”


from “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller

You are the only one who can practice your skills

You are not in control of the process by which your art is made. But you are the only one who can practice your skills so that you have the flexibility to track with the process. This is your job-to master your craft. For me it’s learning how to make sentences work, how to shape scenes, how to flesh out characters. That’s my work. That’s what I practice. This skill is my contribution to the creative work. 

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press


Rational and Efficient Advertising

A rational, efficient advertising campaign involves two key things: knowing how much a customer is worth to you (or a customer’s LTV – lifetime value) and knowing how much it will cost to acquire that customer via the advertising you intend to use (or CPA – cost per acquisition). When ego is stripped from the equation – “I like seeing that billboard of myself on the way to the office each morning” – all that remains is whether the math works. Does this Facebook ad drive sales in a revenue-positive fashion? Are we sure that this TV commercial is driving sales, and at what cost? How many ads can we run until we start to see diminishing returns?


– Ryan Holiday – “Perennial Seller”

Will It Move?

There is a terrific exchange between the great editor Maxwell Perkins – who edited F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, among others – and one of his authors. The author was complaining that one of this books wasn’t getting enough advertising support from the publisher.  Perkins reply – over eighty years old – is still critically relevant to every type of creative. Comparing advertising a product to a man attempting to move a car, Perkins wrote:


“If he can get it to move, the more he pushes the faster it will move and the more easily. But if he can’t get it to move, he can push till he drops dead and it will stand still.”


– Ryan Holiday – “Perennial Seller”

Integrity: Who I Am


A person of integrity is congruent, outwardly manifesting who she or he truly is on the inside. Integrity requires that, first of all, I know who I am; then, that I behave according to who I am. “Who I am” evolves over time through my decisions and beliefs and personal disciplines. To develop my integrity, I pay attention to my growing self-awareness. I make choices intentionally rather than go through my day merely reacting. And I ask myself questions that help me clarify what I’m doing and why.

Today, ask one of these questions, or a question of your own, that gets at the heart of who you are and who you are becoming:

  • “Is this what I truly want to do?”
  • “Does this action reveal what is important to me?”
  • “Am I speaking from my true self—or am I trying to protect myself or impress someone?”

Help me see more clearly who I am.


from “small simple ways: an Ignatian daybook for healthy spiritual living” by Vinita Hampton Wright, Loyola Press



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