The tale is almost as ancient as writing itself. Picture the author in an ancient Italian city, scribbling away into the night by the dim amber light of a candle. He eeks out his living in a garret above the crowded street below—one teeming with readers he hopes to entertain, influence, convince or transform.
His livelihood depends on it. Somehow he must overcome obscurity and get his book into the hands of as many readers as possible. As an author, he must reach them to survive.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and—BLAM!—a burst of light explodes onto the scene in the form of technology. It spreads like wildfire to the far corners of the world in the span of a decade.
The garret is now a home office in outer suburbia, and the crowded street is replaced with a finely edged lawn. Ink spilled from a quill becomes the glow from a tablet, spread at the touch of a button to a prospective audience of billions through Audible and Kindle. Friends and followers who were once as far away as the moon are now near through social networks, video and Skype.
In the history of the world, authors have never had it so good. Yet with so much opportunity available to everyone, the ancient question remains unchanged: how do you stand out? As an author, how do you keep your family (and your banker) happy, and reach those teeming masses of readers? The answer may surprise you and is not a closely held “secret” as some would have you to believe.
Reaching a Massive Audience
Twenty years ago, social networks had more than their fair share of social misfits. As AOL was supplanted by MySpace, the color and candor of the scene started to change. It became mainstream. In the era of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, social media gradually has become reason enough for late adopters to join the world online.
Social media networks keep your message in front of the consumer. But how do you do this if you don’t’ have an established list of followers? Reaching out to like-minded people one-by-one on social networks isn’t the way to reach large numbers of people. If you join a Facebook group and post something that says “Buy now and save!” you’ll get no response and may even get banned from the group.
Paid advertising on these networks is an efficient way to reach the people who want and need your book. It puts the power into the hands of the author. This spells opportunity to connect with far more than your immediate social circles as well, and that makes everyone happy: your friends, your family, your banker –and especially you, the author!
Over the years, marketing tools come and go. Smartphones and social media have changed the landscape of marketing in ways no one could have predicted. The next disruption is right around the corner. Regardless of the latest marketing technologies, there are three principles that hold true for decades.
1) Audience Targeting: Segment your audiences, and cater your efforts just to the buyers. Clearly identify what makes them tick (emotionally). Consider going beyond old-fashioned demographic segmentation and look for patterns in personality types. Take, for example, two 45-year-old women that live in the same city—one is a successful real estate professional and one is the CEO of a software company. Would the same advertising appeal to one woman who is motivated by building a massive network versus another woman who is focused on leading software development?
Paid social media advertising offers some of the best audience targeting opportunities ever afforded by the marketing community. No longer do we target large blocks of unsegmented people via network television buys. Now, authors can easily target readers based on where they live, age, gender, books they have read and movies they watch.
2) Multiple Campaigns: If you’re launching one marketing campaign at a time, you won’t get very far. In today’s climate your offer will need to cater to multiple audiences simultaneously. This may require launching multiple marketing campaigns with highly specific targeting. Taking the example of targeting the two women – perhaps one campaign targeting the real estate professional is themed around entertaining while another campaign is geared towards leadership education.
3) Specialized Messaging: Your promotional messaging can’t be a catch-all for multiple audiences. Using a catch-all philosophy only “catches” a few. Profile your target audiences to increase conversion rates from your offers.
Take a look at your ideal audience and identify their greatest pain and their biggest pleasure. Then apply these pressure points when designing your social media campaigns for higher conversions.
You may think that paying for advertising isn’t necessary for your business, but in the final analysis, when do you want to succeed—now, or someday? Are you enjoying the warm amber glow of that dim candle, or would you like to explode your book awareness from the comfort of your suburban office?
Opportunity doesn’t wait. With sound advertising practices, you can apply leverage to your book marketing campaigns and invest your time wisely somewhere else—say, edging that finely manicured lawn.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.