The Marketing Department: Action-Movie Marketing
Every author’s goal is to make their books visible to the widest audience possible, but the simple fact is that not every reader will be interested in every book. Therefore, some level of marketing focus is needed.
Stop Pray-and-Spray Marketing
Have you ever watched an action movie from the 1980s? The hero usually has a massive automatic weapon that never seems to need reloading. To make it even less realistic, the shooter never actually takes aim at the target before pulling the trigger and launching a single, well-aimed bullet. Instead, he sprays 10,000 bullets in the general direction of the bad guy. Take this scene from Predator for example:
Certainly, the goal of marketing is to get your book in front of as many people as possible. But if you aren’t making it visible to the right people, then you’re wasting a ton of time and money. It doesn’t matter how many times a person sees your book if they dislike the genre. They’re never going to purchase or read it.
So don’t market like an action film, throwing out a thousand ads indiscriminately and hoping to hit the right person eventually. Instead, pause, take aim, and use the minimum amount of ammo possible. Market more often to people who you know are already interested in your books–or in books very similar to yours. Don’t just pray and spray.
Take Aim: Define Your Target Audience
Describe your average reader. Having a general understanding of who reads your books will help you tailor ads to appeal to them.
- Are they predominately male or female? Or are they a mix of both?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What other books do they enjoy?
- What other media do they consume? TV shows, movies, music?
- What other authors do they enjoy?
- What social media outlets to they use? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc?)
- What devices do they read on?
- Where do they purchase their books? Which stores?
Use your answers to help guide your targeted ads. Narrow your audience so that you have the most chance of connecting with people who are already interested in the type of book you have written. Then, tailor each ad to suit the viewer and the venue. Don’t run the same thing on every platform. A Tweet should look different than a Pin. But all of them should be designed to appeal to your audience.
Conserve Your Ammo: Make Each Ad Count
Not all your marketing should be a call to action or a push to purchase. Marketing really comes down to relationship building (aka making friends). Sometimes just having a pleasant conversation on Twitter can be better marketing than a major ad campaign.
When you do run an ad, make it count. Design it specifically with your friends (aka readers) in mind. Would your readers be more likely be on Instagram or Snapchat? What sort of pictures or videos would appeal to them? What hashtags will reach other demographics who share an interest in your genre?
ProTip: Keep records of your results and experiment to determine the best ads to run.
Advertise free items, not just those you have available for purchase. Free items might not make you a dollar right now, but they can offer you a great deal down the road. For example, you could offer the first book in a series free for a limited time. If readers enjoy the free intro to your series, they will be likely to purchase the subsequent books. Or you could offer a free short story to people who opt in to your email list.
Opt-ins: Social Media and Email Lists
Social media and email lists represent two different sorts of opt-ins, and they require different styles of marketing. While both types are voluntary–readers choose to see your content–people expect different things and will be put off if you do not behave appropriately for each venue.
Social Media Opt-ins. People choose to view your posts on Facebook (whether as a fan page or group), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. Or they may search your subject out on their own using search features and hashtags. Either way, you are not broadcasting to the whole world. You are speaking to individuals who have chosen to follow you or are interested in the subject matter you discuss. Yes, your audience will expecting some amount of book-sales style posts. However, this is social media. They also expect you to be interact like a normal human, not like a commercial set to repeat. Nothing is more off-putting than following an author only to find that their entire feed looks like a giant, non-stop ad.
ProTip: use the 80/20 rule for marketing here. Spend 80 percent of your time making friends, sharing photos, or posting funny memes. Use only 20 percent of your social media time on advertising.
Email List Opt-ins. An email list is the ultimate marketing tool. Why? Because there’s no guesswork. You know these people are already interested specifically in you and your books. They chose to join your email list, and that means more than following you on social media. They invited you to send your content directly to their personal realm: their inbox.
Use this privilege wisely.
The people on your email list are your friends and biggest supporters. They have purchased your books in the past, and unless something goes wrong, they will continue to do so in the future. Find ways to thank them. You could offer discounts and coupons or exclusive free content, like short stories or deleted scenes.
No bait and switch! When you set up your email list, tell people what you intend to send them, and then send only that. If you plan a chatty weekly newsletter, let them know. If you’re going to recommend other writers (aka essentially run ads for other books), tell them ahead of time. If you only intend to send book launch announcements, let them know that too. No matter what you plan to send, make sure your readers know what to expect and when to expect it. Then respect them enough to give it to them.
That’s really what marketing is about. Making friends and then respecting them enough to sell only when appropriate. But knowing when to sell and when not to can be tricky. In the following posts in the Marketing Department, we’ll talk more about how to build an email list.
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