Marketing for Dummies

Finally, I come to the toughest part of this whole book publication game – marketing. In today’s post I talk about my conceptual view of marketing of books and in my following post I will mention some of the specific things I did.

To start with, there are two styles of marketing – traditional marketing and permission marketing as Seth Godin calls it. Traditional marketing is what most companies still follow – put up your ads on the Television, on the radio, in newspapers, on large billboards on the roadside. In fact, put it in every possible place you can so that people just can’t escape it and the whole world gets to know about your product and tag line. It works on the premise of establishing a top of the mind recall. I read somewhere that is a person sees something six times he will end up buying it. Of course, part of this strategy is also a catchy image and tag line that has an emotional appeal to the consumer and makes them buy it. This involves use of words such as sex, free, rich, elite etc. that trigger positive associations in the viewer’s mind. So, the consumer buys more for the emotions associated with the product promotion that for the utility of the product.

Now the second is permission marketing. This is like a two-way conversation. It requires a deep understanding of your customers. You actually want to sell them a product that will be of value to their lives rather than a brand that makes them feel good. So, you segment you customers to the niche group who can benefit from your product, understand their basis for picking a product to satisfy the said need and then put up your product in front of them at the very moment they are looking for it a non-invasive way, clearly spelling out the unique value proposition of your product.

Clearly the first approach feels more like a sleight of hand – working on general human psychology and manipulation of fears and desires to create an emotional need for the product. The second approach on the other hand is about being there for the customer to genuinely satisfy a need and appearing at the exact time and place of need to fulfill it. From the way I have put it, my preference is by now quite clear. However, the first is easy – most people do it – there is a standard template to follow – you can just go with the herd doing what everyone else do. It feels secure. The second approach on the other hand requires a lot of thinking, and very often making decisions based on limited data which poses a serious risk of going wrong with one’s strategy. Spraying bullets all around with a machine gun is easy though requiring more fire power. However, being a sniper and shooting with precision is tough, though it might not require that much fire power. That is the difference between the two approaches.

Let us see how each of these approaches works for books. The traditional approach consists of splashing your book all over social media with catchy tag lines, hashtags and attractive banners. Keep flaunting your awards, rankings and the amazing sales you are making, giving the prospective reader a feeling that is something awesome that everyone is reading and they will miss out on being in the bandwagon if they don’t pick up your book. Think of social triggers that appeal to them such as feminism, liberalism, rebellion against authority etc. whatever is in vogue and ensure a close association of these with the book so much so that the person begins to feel they are betraying the ideal by not reading your book. Use the need triggers such as love, relationships, friendships, family and other things people long for and make the people feel the book will help fill an emotional void.

The second approach consists of locating the readers for the themes and genre your book belongs to, understand what they look for and then subtly mentioning how your book has what they are looking for. This will be through active engagement in book communities. In social media, put up statuses that are kind of indicative of your writing and make people curious and come to your blog for more of the same. Then from blog, lead them on to the book. In real world also, you identify people who may benefit from what you have written and position it to them. This approach requires a thorough soul searching on what you hoped to accomplish with the book and who might be the people who will benefit. All this is good in theory but requires lot of thought and perseverance.

As far as I am concerned, this being my first book I decided to take a middle path of sorts. I decided to deploy some of the conventional wisdom. As well try it and see rather than dismiss is based on theoretical considerations. So, I have flaunted my high Amazon ranking, having been splashing the book around a bit, been using hash tags. Going along with initiatives such as book tours, videos, launch events with contests and all that typical jazz. I am trying my best to keep my heart in this so that it doesn’t happen these methods have not worked due to my not giving that extra push. But given my natural inclination, there is only so much I can do. And still it does not yield expected results, probably the methods, while still effective for the right people, may not be the ones for me. In parallel, I have revived my blog, joined book communities and actively engaging fellow readers, trying to post interesting statuses whenever I can. While these things are more satisfying, they require quite a bit of time investment which is very difficult given my professional and family commitments. Taking time out for writing itself is a luxury in the circumstances – further taking time out for an intense engagement oriented marketing campaign is next to impossible unless you sacrifice the time writing, reading and honing your craft on this. But I still try to balance the things how much ever I can and get going.

If reading the story of how this book came to be interests you to buy the book, you can find the e-book and paperback on international markets out here. (This is not a link to a shady site. This will take you to Amazon page based of your country). Paperbacks in India can be bought out here.