A veteran of the advertising business is launching a new venture along with a well known local writer/consultant.
Stephen Martin, co-founder of the Martin Agency, and Jim Bacon, a business journalist/editor who helped start Virginia Business magazine, have launched Thought Leader Marketing. The firm is part marketing, part public relations and part literary agent and writing coach.
The idea behind Though Leader is to serve clients who wish to promote their business, or themselves, by writing a book. Martin and Bacon will guide clients through the process of writing, publishing, branding and touring the lecture circuit.
“People who have come to me with really good ideas … once they get a book out there, their business takes off and they become the go-to person in their particular field,” said Martin.
Since leaving advertising in 1995, Martin has been running the Oaklea Press, a publishing company with offices on Three Chopt Road. Most of the titles are distributed to big-name book stores.
“One of our most profitable lines is business books,” Martin said.
One title, Lean Transformation, about manufacturing, has sold more than 100,000 copies. Another, Product Development for the Lean Enterprise, has sold more than 60,000. Both have been translated into several languages, and some companies have bought them in bulk. For example, Boeing ordered 400 copies of the product development book, he said.
“It dawned on me that this is a great marketing tool,” said Martin. “It does two things: For the person who has the idea, it will build their business dramatically, and what it does for me is good material for Oaklea Press to publish and make money on a good book, which is what I am in business to do.”
Martin said Bacon came up with the idea to do it as a business, and Martin said they plan to charge an hourly rate, on par with hourly rates a public relations firm would charge, to guide company leaders and industry experts through the book-writing process.
Bacon said they don’t have any clients yet, but he said they plan on building the business one client at a time. Once it shows they get results then the business will grow from there, he said.
Bacon describes a thought leader as someone in their field who is forward thinking and anticipates trends and changing dynamics. The goal is to make their clients the thought leaders in their field and in the process grow their business.
“If you are a regular guy in sales or marketing and trying to sell your service, spending a lot of time making cold calls or going to trade shows … it’s really hard,” said Bacon. “If you are a thought leader, you are the one giving the speech and the center of attention and the people line up after the speech to talk to you.
“It’s a much better way of marketing, and a lot more fun.”
Al Harris is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to Al@richmondbizsense.com.