WHAT IS MARKETING?
Marketing is connecting products and services with consumers who are able to buy from you for profit. That’s it. Forget all the fancy definitions you’ve heard about advertisements and hard sells and getting up on a podium in front of thousands of people. Marketing is about connection, plain and simple.
What are we trying to connect potential customers to? Our books. More specifically, books that make a difference in their lives and scratch an itch better than anyone else. When we sell books, we are really selling an experience. It’s the experience of learning about your book, getting excited to read it, getting a whole lot of value in it, and sharing it with others. It’s the experience of exchanging ignorance for knowledge, weakness for strength, boredom for excitement. It’s a journey. When we market books, we market that experience.
People buy a product or service based on what it means, not what it does. When a reader buys your book, they buy it because it means they will get an experience out of it. Depending on your genre, the experience you give will vary. For a romance author, it’s an experience of excitement and possibility. For a non-fiction author like myself, the experience is self-enrichment and fulfillment. When you read my books, you learn something about yourself, your audience, your marketing, and how to go further in publishing then you ever thought possible. What do you mean to your audience?
When you figure out what experience you want to give, it’s time to find an audience that will enjoy that experience. Your goal is to find a specific audience to tailor your marketing efforts to. You are not trying to reach every reader in the world. You might not even be trying to reach every reader in your genre. You can market a Sci-Fi superhero novel to a Sci-Fi zombie fanbase all day, but you’ll probably not get very far. Don’t waste your time and efforts trying to market to someone who isn’t interested in buying from you. Talk to your target audience and tailor every marketing effort to them. Here is a great resource on how to do that.
When you talk to your audience, make sure to dramatize what they will get out of reading your books. You have to make it clear to them. They have thousands of other books being shoved in their faces. Why should they read your book? What makes you different? What experience are you offering that no one else is? Express this as clearly as possible. Make it known. This is where you focus on differentiating yourself.
HOW DO I FIND MY AUDIENCE?
When you find your audience, nail down your messaging, it is time to find your distribution channels. What are those? They are ways that you can connect with your audience. Some are physical, like attending a conference or a large book signing. Others are digital, like joining a Facebook group full of potential fans or hosting a webinar that teaches about a topic you write about.
Here are a few distribution channels to think about:
2- Detailed Blog
3- Social Media Accounts
4- Conferences (Think Comic Con or Anime Con)
5- Content Marketing (Creating engaging content that puts your brand in focus. Think Interviews, short stories, interactive websites tailored to a theme in your book. See Pottermore.com)
6- Social and Search Ads (Twitter/Facebook Ads and Google Ads)
7- Speaking Engagements
8- Email Marketing Campaigns (Don’t you dare miss out on this!)
9- Community Building (Gathering an audience through Facebook Groups or a similar platform to talk about common themes that are explored in your book. Read this incredible article by Jon Loomer for a great idea of how to do this using Facebook Pages.)
10- Viral Marketing
Every audience hangs out in a different place. Your job as a marketer is to find where your audience is at and reach them at that place. They will not come to you. You have to go to them. Distribution channels help you to do that. Finding your channels is often trial and error. You have to experiment with what works and abandon what doesn’t. When you find your channels, stick to them and work them as hard as you can. Always focus on giving your potential readers value. Don’t spam them.
HOW DO I ENGAGE WITH MY CUSTOMERS?
When we engage readers, we have to meet them along their own personal journey. This means interpreting where they’re at in the cognitive decision making process and incentivizing them to choose our book instead of someone else’s.
What is the cognitive decision making process? It is the way that we as human beings, and as consumers, make decisions. It’s a four step process.
1- Problem recognition. This is when we realize we have a need that is not being met. We want to get to a different state of being then where we are at. For readers, they might need to know about about a topic or learn a particular skill (non-fiction) or have a strong desire to explore a new world and meet characters that teach them about real life someway (fiction). These are problems. They will cause the potential customer to look for products that fulfill them.
2- Information search. We do as much research as we can to find products or services that can help us fulfill that need. We keep analyzing our problem and looking for a solution until we have several options in front of us. The bigger the problem, the more research we do.
3- Competitor Analysis. This is where we stack up our options. We look at the experiences promised to us from different brands and decide which one fulfills our need the best.
4- Product Choice. This is when we ultimately decide which brand wins out over the others and gets the purchase.
We have two choices. We can either engage them in the problem recognition phase or the competitor analysis phase. We either reveal to them a problem, which is us revealing how and why they need the “experience” our books can fulfill, or we can convince them that our books can fulfill their need better than anyone else’s. It is far easier, and far more effective to engage them in the third phase than the first, but there are times when it is necessary to do so.
When we communicate through whatever distribution channel we use, we must keep this in mind. We must actively think of where the customer is at in the cognitive decision making process, and urge them to move along the steps and choose us over the competition.
HOW DO I KEEP THEM ENGAGED?
Make sure that all of your work, content, marketing material, and website looks high end. Keep it as clean as possible and make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing. Customers are quick to judge you based on the image you present. A second rate experience means you’re not getting the sale. Take the time to make sure that everything you’re involved with is of a high quality. Remember- we market on experience. This starts with the moment you first make contact.
Make sure to use positive affect to lure them in and grab their attention. Positive affect is the happy mood you get when something makes you feel good. When we can associate our brand with good feelings, we create an initial bond between the book and the potential customer. At that point, they think of happy things when they think of the book. It makes it a whole heck of a lot easier to sell.
Ensure that your actual content is top notch as well. Nothing attracts or repeals customers like second rate content. Are you striving to be the best you can be? Are you always learning, and therefore, always giving more? Ask yourself how you can be more generous in your content. Where can you add in more detail, or write a better story, or develop a plot line better? Ask your customers as well.
When you work on a series, make sure to get a customer’s information. At the end of your book, include a form that lets your customers sign up for your email list. This is incredibly important. When you can get their information, you can get a hold of them anytime. Make sure to never spam them. Always give genuine value. When you get ready for your next book, send an email out letting them know about it. If you’ve done a good job creating quality content and a great experience, they’ll be excited to come back and experience it all over again. By using this email marketing strategy, it’ll be easier to get your next book a higher ranking. Plus it helps you build a genuine relationship with your audience. Talk with them. Engage with them. Listen to them. They are important to you, and you are important to them. Do everything you can to nurture the bond you have with them.
Listen closely to the feedback you get from them. Often times this comes from reviews. Sometimes it comes from comments on your website. You might even get an email from a dedicated fan. It’s happened before, it will certainly happen in the future. Take into account the good, bad, and ugly. If you’re writing books that are starting to get away from what your target audience is wanting, consider making a course adjustment or targeting a different audience all together. It’s alright to switch things up once in a while, but make sure that it’s part of your strategy and not something done on accident.
Often times, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to a new audience with a new series. It helps us as authors, marketers, and creative thinkers grow. It’s nurturing. Plus we get to interact with a whole new set of people.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T SUCCEED?
There are times when you will fail at marketing. This is okay, maybe even good for you! It means you’re discovering what doesn’t work for the audience you are trying to reach. You will fail far more than you will succeed. This is because audiences are very mobile, fluid beings who constantly change where they are at. In the age of the internet, people move from place to place very quickly. Sometimes they will be on Instagram, other times they might migrate back to Facebook. Fads and Trends are very peculiar like that. The best advice I can give you is to learn as much as you can about them.
A fad is something that is popular for a very short while. It sparks a great amount of interest and traffic, but ultimate dies down after a short amount of time, usually a few months. A trend is a modest amount of growth that lasts over an extended period of time. It’s steady, but doesn’t typically have the explosive growth that a fad has. New social media sites often experience fads. They get really popular for a short period of time, but than falter as users get bored to them and revert back to their old social media sites and habits. It’s completely unpredictable when something like that might occur.
Your job as a marketer is to seek out the trends and focus on them. Occasionally, if your timing is remarkable, you might be able to benefit from a fad. Often though, we don’t hear about them until it is too late or the fad is on the downswing.
Don’t be discouraged! Keep getting out there and growing your audience. Keep engaging authentically and giving as much as you can to them. Marketing is a long tail game. It isn’t short and quick. It (usually) doesn’t happen over night.
There are a few tools that help you identify trends.
Google Trends allows you to type in a topic and come up with the search results for any given period of time. It’s a great resource that helps you determine whether something is a trend or a fad.
BuzzFeed Trends shows you the latest trending articles. While it isn’t as robust as Google Trends, the value comes from being able to analyze articles that have proven to be successful. Learning often comes from analyzing the success of others. This tool can help you visually see what it takes to create a trending article.
SEMRush is a website dedicated to analyzing the relevancy, content, popularity, and ranking of websites. You can find out how popular a social media or news network is, and whether it’s wise to spend time getting featured on it. You can also add in your own website and get a comparison to your competitors. There are so many advanced features that It would be best to dedicate an entire article to it.
Reddit Is a hot bed treasure trove of trends. If it’s trending, it’s on there. Plain and simple. It’s also a great place to get trends going.
I hope that this short guide was able to help demystify marketing. Throughout my website(TheAuthorBlog.com) you will find articles that go more in depth with how to market your books.
For more incredible marketing tips, pick up a copy of my new book “Beyond the Page: Killer Marketing Strategies for Novice Authors”, on sale October 20th.
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Have you ever just felt confused about marketing? Does the thought of it frighten you? It scares a lot of people. We've been told time and time again that we need to market our book if we ever want to sell it. But what does that mean? I'm here to answer that. In under three thousand words I've compiled a solid, simple guide to give you the knowledge, confidence, and ability to be successful. In this book you'll learn: What Marketing Is Why It matters How to use it to get sales Why having a specific audience is important How to engage your audience effectively