Marketing is a monster, a science and a very broad concept. The good news is that it can be tamed, understood and reined in with a little understanding. Over the years, I’ve also learned that marketing, for many writers, can sound like a four letter word. I’m here to tell you it’s not so bad. Now, granted, my perspective can be a little biased since I’ve spent over 15 years working as a marketing professional in the lovely corporate arena. However, I want to help you understand this beast just enough to make it work for you.
First I’ll start with basic definitions. Marketing is:
1. The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
2. An aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
3. Activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers
Marketing activities include: advertising (print, broadcast & online), PR/Publicity, printed materials (aka collateral), events, sponsorship, direct mail, brand management & strategic partnerships. The different forms of marketing include, traditional marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and search engine marketing to name a few.
Here are a few of my recommended strategies for writers. For the sake of keeping this post at a reasonable length, I’ll share more strategies in upcoming posts.
It’s great when it’s cost effective. It can also be costly. Before doing any kind of advertising be sure that you are using the right source to reach your targeted audience. I wouldn’t make sense for a Christian fiction author to advertise in a magazine or on a website that is geared towards avid readers of mystery or sci-fi books.
This is focused totally on gaining access to your readership by use of the media. Contrary to what many believe, this form of marketing is not free! Effective PR, when it’s done well, takes time and time equals money. However, adding PR strategies to your marketing campaign can prove to be very effective and can often give you a great return on your investment. If you can create a dynamic press kit on your own, go for it. If not, hire someone do it for you. At the very lease your press kit should start with a professional sounding bio, a press release, contact information, a photo, and any media clippings that you may have been able to acquire. Find reasons to reach out to the media. If your book wins is nominated for an award, generate a press release and send it out to the media. If you are asked to participate in a noteworthy event, generate a press release and circulate it. Start with you hometown media outlets and pan out from there.
Even in this digital age, it’s extremely important to get out in front of your audience. Your presence sells books. At the end of the day, you are your brand and your brand needs as much exposure as possible. Plan promotional events around the launch or content of your book. Attend and/or participate in conferences, book festivals & fairs, workshops and seminars. It’s great for meeting readers, networking and getting yourself exposed throughout the marketplace. When readers get to know you, they buy based on you. You are selling yourself with every book. Be wise when determining what events to attend or plan. Make sure your decision is cost effective and strategic.
Social Media Marketing:
The first thing you must understand is that simply having a Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads profile is not marketing. Marketing is much more strategic than posting updates about how cold it is outside. Use your social media platforms to be social. Engage your audience and focus on audience building strategies. To see effective social media marketing in action friend, like or follow a few of your favorite brands and see how they interact with their audience. You can run contests, offer giveaways, build your email database and much more using your social media profile. Let me warn you…do not, and I repeat, do not, get on Facebook and Twitter and just post, “Buy my book.” Do not, post your link on everyone page as they friend you. You must first engage your audience in a genuine manner otherwise you will only succeed in annoying them and causing them to unfriend or unfollow you!
I hope these quick tips have helped to guide you in starting to build a great, integrated marketing plan. Remember the best campaign is an integrated campaign—one that incorporates several strategies at once. You must always engage in more than one method to reach your audience so that you can make as many impressions as possible. The more people are exposed to you, the more familiar they are with you and your brand and the more likely they are to move towards making that purchase.
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