Marketing lessons authors can take from the State of the Union address
OK – just so we’re clear: this is not a partisan post. This is about the concept of the State of the Union address, a speech the President of the United States presents to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, typically delivered in January of February of every year. Last night was President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address, so it seems the perfect opportunity to study this annual event.
Aside: Do you think Congress will vote to change
the word “he” after the election of our first female president?
In order to grasp the marketing lessons, let’s break down the State of the Union address, one facet at a time.
OUTLINE YOUR AGENDA. The State of the Union address reports on the condition of the nation, as well as allowing the President to outline his legislative agenda (for which he needs Congress’ cooperation) and his national priorities.
When it comes to your marketing, you need to have a plan and to be able to confidently, eloquently, and simply explain it, as necessary. While you may not follow it precisely – as life happens and situations change – a plan will give you an outline about where you’re going so that can avoid trying to blindly navigate the market for your book.
COMMUNICATE IN A WAY PEOPLE WILL RESPOND TO. Though the State of the Union began as a communication between the President and Congress, it has morphed largely into a communication between the President and the people of the United States. With the advent of broadcast media, the speech is now seen live on most TV networks, preempting scheduled programming. Once given during the day, the speech is now made in the evening in order to reach the largest possible television audience, usually after 9 p.m. EST.
How are you communicating with your audience and prospective readers? Do you know where they are, and are you going there to reach them? Are you reaching out to them where they spend time (e.g., blog, website, social media, Meetup), or are you H-O-P-I-N-G they will come to find you?
HONOR SPECIAL GUESTS. The President’s goal in the State of the Union is to outline the administration’s accomplishments over the previous year, along with setting the agenda for the coming year, in upbeat and optimistic terms. Since 1982, it also has become common for the President to honor special guests sitting in the gallery of the U.S. House chamber, such as everyday Americans or visiting dignitaries.
Who are the most important people in your publishing success? Who are your raving fans? Whom do you go out of your way to thank for their support? And most importantly – how do you let them know how much you value them?
LEARN TO HANDLE CRITICISM. Since 1966, the televised State of the Union address has been followed by a response or rebuttal from a member of the opposing political party.
You will never be all things to all people, so how do you handle criticism? Do you view other authors in your genre as competition or colleagues? Do you look for the similarities – and ways to leverage them for increased exposure – or focus on the ways you’re different?
Regardless of your politics – or feelings about the federal government – they do get some things right. I think the State of the Union is one of them. What lessons can you learn, extrapolate, or apply in your marketing efforts?
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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