Best advice to new authors: Learn to think like a MARKETER!
For the next 8 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.
Day 21 writing prompt:
What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?
About 9 years ago, I met a man to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude for the success I’ve had in my business. I don’t even recall how we met, but he took an interest in me and took me under his eccentric wing to teach me everything he knew about marketing – which was considerable. He’d made a name for himself in the tech industry, building and selling a few companies from his base in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When he and his then-fiancée decided to move to Phoenix, he did his research. He jumped online and began exploring all the science, technology, and marketing groups and organizations in the Valley. He was looking, specifically, at their officers and boards of directors, paying particular note to the names that reappeared across multiple organizations. Those, he figured, were the people he’d most like to get to know once he moved here. So he called them up and set up meetings with them the week he arrived. Guess what? Instant network! Sure, he still had to do the happy hours and rubber-chicken lunches, too – but he arrived already “knowing” a few key players in his field. Smart guy? You bet.
And when it came to marketing, he was equally sharp. I used to tell people this guy could take a blank sheet of paper and see 27 marketing opportunities in it, where all I saw was a blank sheet of paper. The thing is, he had trained himself to think like a marketer. Eventually, after hanging out with him for a while, spending 3 days a week with my rock-star personal trainer, and joining a business development group called Shared Vision Network, I began to learn to think like a marketer, too.
I even borrowed a tagline to that effect from James Malinchak, a prolific (and profitable) speaker on the college circuit. When people ask for my USP or what makes me different from all the other editors and self-publishing consultants out there, I tell them that I specialize in teaching my authors to think like marketers.
And that’s the best advice I can offer any author – either a newbie or one who’s been around for a while but is not selling as many books as they’d like.
LEARN TO THINK LIKE A MARKETER.
When I started this blog, I did a number of pieces about mindset – because if we’re to succeed at any venture, the most important thing is having a success mindset. So first we’ve got to give ourselves permission to market our books! Then, we have to embrace marketing and study it like a scientist in a lab.
That means watching the TV ads instead of flipping past them. It means engaging the phone solicitors and door-to-door folks who still go around the neighborhoods. It means noticing Internet ads and listening to radio ads and reading the ads in magazines and newspapers. It means tuning in to the marketing messages that surround us daily, instead of tuning them out.
The reason for this is very simple: you will only become good at marketing when you become well-versed at it and know what works and what doesn’t work.
Ask my husband what a critic I am of TV commercials. But I’m an equal-opportunity critic: I will cheer a great ad as quickly as I boo a bad one. I saw a great print ad in a magazine during my accidental computer hiatus a couple weeks ago and made him stop what he was doing to listen while I read it to him. “So do you want me to go get you some mayonnaise now?” he asked at the end of it.
The good and bad news is that once you learn to think like a marketer, your marketer’s brain is always going. Sometimes you’ve got remind yourself to simply be in a situation, without sizing up the marketing potential for your community theatre group or the PTA at your kids’ school.
How good are you at thinking like a marketer?
Do you see the natural product or industry tie-ins for your book? Are you making a list of the groups and organizations that might be a natural fit? How about the holidays – are you paying attention to which seasons or specific holidays might lend themselves to special book promotions or contests?
Please understand, however, that thinking like a marketer does not give you carte-blanche to be that guy or that gal who does the Business Card Shuffle at networking events or tries to ply their book at every turn. If the opportunity arises, certainly you will mention your book. But you won’t go out of your way to create artificial (i.e., obnoxious) reasons to bring it up in every conversation.
Learn to think like a marketer. If you’re not there yet, have no fear. Go back and read Marcie’s blog from the beginning (OK, skip the ones that just aren’t for you … but I guarantee that it’s all quite scintillating material)! And begin paying attention. Notice when ads speak to you. What about them catches your attention? Pay attention to the products you purchase. Do you know why you buy the things you buy at the grocery store or why you purchase a particular brand of gasoline (petrol for you UK types) or clothing? Which blog headlines grab you? What do they have that others don’t? Which websites do you visit? Look for product placement in TV shows and movies. Ask yourselves how those products got there and let your mind wander to the ways you could create tie-ins for your book.
For instance, 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women has nearly 100 questions that deal in some way with the topic of sex, love, and/or romance. I think a book isolating those questions is a natural giveaway or promotion for a company like Passion Parties. (BTW, did you know there’s a blog called Christian Nymphos? Tagline: Married Sex: Spicy, the way God intended it to be!)
Book marketing is not rocket science. It requires creativity, patience, and a willingness to dive in. What are you waiting for?
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!