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Archive for March 6th, 2012

What does the Oreo cookie have to do with your book marketing campaign?

OK  we SELDOM post more than once in a day, but this is too juicy to wait on…

What’s at the top of the news today – Super Tuesday? Nope. The Oreo cookie turns 100 years old today. Thanks to my friend Nancy Sanders of Three Dog Marketing for reminding me of this esteemed occasion. According to the Alaska Dispatch, “That makes ‘Milk’s favorite cookie’ older than the sinking of the Titanic (by a month), women’s voting rights, and the Russian Revolution, just to name a few.” More than 490 billion Oreos have been sold in the cookie’s first 100 years, making it the best-selling cookie of the 20th century, by far – so much so that it really has become a food icon in American culture.

What does all of this mean to you, as a book marketer? Lots. Here are seven marketing lessons to take from the simple Oreo cookie.

CREATE A SPECIAL EDITION! To celebrate the big 1-0-0, Nabisco has released a limited edition Birthday Cake Oreo with a simpler design that resembles the original and rainbow sprinkles in the crème center. You certainly can’t wait for your 100th anniversary, but find other reasons to create a special edition for your book. If you’ve printed only soft-cover copies, perhaps issuing a special hardbound version is in order for select audiences. One author I know is releasing a music CD with his novel because music features heavily in his book.

TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO USE IT. One of the most famous aspects of Oreo is the conversation regarding people’s preference for eating it. Do you pull it apart, eat the stuffing side first, or dunk it in milk whole? Well, how about giving your audience ideas about how to use your book? Tell them who the potential readers are. Suggest different uses for the book. For example, a historical novel could be used as ancillary reading material in a college history class.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! The Zap2It blog reports, “Fifty percent of Oreo eaters pull the cookies apart first, with women twisting the top off more than men.” Those are some amazing metrics. How does Nabisco know this about Oreo? They ask. The do focus groups. They watch people eat Oreos. How well do you know your readers? What do they like about your books? What would they like to see more of? How do they prefer to follow you … blog, social media, website?

BE WILLING TO ADAPT. In deference to health concerns, Oreo’s crème filling went from being produced with lard to using non-trans fat oils. We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. If your marketing strategy isn’t working, don’t give up – reevaluate! And be flexible enough to change gears, if necessary. Of course, give your campaign time to work first. If you’re looking for significant success before you’ve given it six months, making a change could be premature.

THE NAME MATTERS! It would be hard to argue that Oreo’s name didn’t have a lot to do with its success. The sandwich cookie Hydrox, which many incorrectly consider to be an Oreo knockoff, beat Oreo to market by 3-and-a-half years. As the Alaska Dispatch notes, “According to YouPet.com, Oreo is the seventh most popular cat name in the United States, just behind Shadow, Tigger, and Baby.” Give your book title some consideration – including actual market research, if possible. Test a few titles with people both familiar and unfamiliar with your topic.

VARIETY SELLS! You’ve probably seen the orange crème filling in the Halloween versions, Peppermint Oreos at the holidays, and of course, Double Stuf Oreos. Japan even has a green tea flavor! Katharine Shilcutt of Houston Press claims that the Berry Burst Ice Cream and Strawberry Milkshake flavored Oreos are the same product with different packaging. How can you do the same with your book? If it’s nonfiction, does it lend itself to smaller booklets aimed at particular segments of your broader market? Could a long novel be better pared down to several shorter novellas, for increased eBook sales?

THROW A PARTY! The Chicago affiliate of CBS reports that “Nabisco … threw a 100th birthday party [for Oreo] on Michigan Avenue … complete with a dancing cookie, a flash mob, and a speed licking party to see who was the fastest at removing the crème filling from between the Oreo’s cookie wafers.” Don’t wait to sell 100 copies or 1,000 copies – throw a party to launch your book before you sell any copies! And take a page from the speed-licking contest book. What sort of contest can you hold to make your launch fun, memorable, and buzz-worthy?

If you’re not inspired yet, get your SBM* hat on and take some inspiration from these other mentions of the Oreo Centennial:

Happy dunking!

Laura

* Savvy Book Marketer
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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Reposting someone else’s content is NOT blogging

A while ago, I wrote a post about using public domain materials in which I said:

OK – this is just my opinion (as is most of what you’ll read on this blog), but I think co-opting public domain materials to create your own books or info products is a cop-out. It’s not illegal, but it is a lazy shortcut that shortchanges the reader, the person whom you, as a writer, want to be keeping at the forefront of your focus.

Well, the same is true of your blog posts! If you’re going to blog, you owe it to your readers to come up with your own material. This is not to say you cannot or should not reference other relevant blog posts. As you may have noticed, I do it quite often. But there’s a difference between referencing another post and simply co-opting the material and putting your name on it.

Here’s an example. I was going through my Google Alerts for “book marketing” recently, and came across two very similar posts. The first was 5 Book Marketing Mistakes That Cost You Sales, on the Smart Author Sites blog. The second was Are you Making These 4 Book Marketing Mistakes that Cost you Sales?, by Judy Cullins on BookCoaching.com.

Hmmm… I thought. These topics seem awfully similar. Because of the number discrepancy, I at first thought that Cullins had taken material from Smart Author. As it turns out, it was the other way around. Cullins mistitled her post – she actually delineates five book marketing mistakes. And Smart Author, rather than writing an actual post with any real material in it, simply “borrowed” an abbreviated version of Cullins’ post.

The entirety of original content in the Smart Author post is as follows:

I came across a GREAT blog post today by author marketing guru Judy Cullins. Here are some of the highlights, quoted directly from the post…

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Amen, Judy!

As far as I am concerned, this is simply cheating. To be fair, I have not read any other posts on the Smart Author site, so I am in no way alleging that this is a habit. But even in this one instance, it’s not fair to Cullins, the original author of the material. How could Smart Author have made the material their own? By adding their own commentary (i.e., work) to Cullins’ thoughts. Why do they agree? What has been their experience with the five mistakes Cullins mentions? How would they expand or digress on said mistakes?

When it comes to your own blog, please do the work. You know how you’d feel if someone abridged your book and put their name on it, right? A blog post is no different. Your readers want to hear your thoughts, your ideas, your words.

To originality in blogging!

Laura

P.S. If you’re not using Google Alerts, you should be. You can ask Google to email you whenever your selected keywords are mentioned in new online content. It’s simple to sign up and helps you stay up-to-date on your topic, industry, trends, or even your own name.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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