One of the biggest hurdles that self-published authors have to cross is marketing. An overwhelming number of indie authors are pretty forthright about the fact that most of their marketing is done via social media. While social media is highly effective, it has its limitations. As such, authors need to find ways that are creative, memorable, effective and respectful. Too many, the word “respectful” will seem out of place; however, given the rules of social etiquette as it relates to social media, it behooves each of us to be mindful and respectful of these spoken or unspoken rules.
Having worked in Corporate America for over 15 years, I’ve seen the various marketing techniques that businesses implore. Authors may call it by a different name, but usually the concept and approach are the same. For example, businesses often utilize cold calling to generate business. Cold calling is the process of approaching prospective customers or clients who were not expecting such an interaction. The word “cold” is used because the person is not expecting to be contacted nor did they specifically ask to be contacted. Authors utilize the same technique, but call it pounding the pavement or frontline hustling. Whether a business executive or an author, the goals of cold calling are the same; you want to get the person’s permission to have a conversation with them and then engage them enough that they want to know more about your product or brand. Ultimately, you hope this approach will lead to a sale. As with social media, this is a highly effective approach, but can be limiting.
While many authors focus on ways to increase sales, I would encourage more authors to focus on methods that increase visibility. This is an approach known as content marketing. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage potential consumer bases with the objective of making them loyal to your brand and ultimately securing sales. Content marketing utilizes such methods as videos, blogs, photos, etc. The difference between content marketing and more direct marketing methods is that it stops short of a direct sales pitch.
Here are a few content marketing methods that I utilize to bring focus to my brand:
Reviews: When I began publishing, I found it difficult to find people who wrote quality reviews. From an author’s perspective, I found many reviews to be unclear, poorly written or simply too personal. I ultimately decided to be the type of reviewer that I was looking for. I researched and established a format for my reviews and present them in a way that provides constructive criticism for the author and feedback that is useful to potential readers looking to make a purchase. I recognize the type of credibility I am seeking to garner will take time, but I’m in this for the long haul.
Articles/Interviews: Many authors write for more than just reader entertainment. Some authors blog while others are featured on various media lending their expertise on various subject matters. Many of these platforms we have to create for ourselves. For example, as an author, I want to lend my voice to the plight of the gay community. In an effort to do this, I recently began writing for a grassroots newsmagazine connecting with members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender sub-communities. This opportunity didn’t come to me, I went to it. Again, my goal was not to pitch my products, but build another platform for my brand.
Content marketing is nothing more than creating relevant content and distributing it to your target audience. While many authors flood reader pages and groups with their book links, I tend to be much more strategic in my marketing approach. While there is something to be said for social media and pounding the pavement, there is also something to be said for building an audience that respects your thoughts and opinions and is loyal to your brand. When people are loyal they are more likely to invest their hard-earned money into your products. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose, and nothing but a loyal reader base to gain.
J’son M. Lee