blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Marketing or madness? They don’t have to be synonymous.
Did I ever tell you about the high-pressure fudge salesman who accosted my daughter and me with marketing gone mad? One would not think high-pressure and fudge would share common ground. Normally, fudge happily jumps into the shopping cart without persuasion. But in this case, my daughter and I had tasted several samples and decided that was enough. The fudge tasted as if it had been in the glass display case too long. We’d had better offers during our vacation to the tourist-glutted area.
Apparently low on his fudge sales quota for the month, the salesman stood between us and the exit. Not kidding. He plied us with every argument known to man, every reason why we NEEDED to purchase a pound (that’s right, a pound) of fudge…of several different flavors.
I’ve appreciated every car salesman we’ve worked with over the years. Maybe that’s because we’ve avoided those who approached with a “What can I do to put you behind the wheel of this little beauty” attitude in favor of those who asked, “What will meet your needs?”
The fudge guy did not care about our needs. (No offense, whoever you were and wherever you are now.) He cared only about winning a war to make us buy. What kind of victory is that? It would have been enough for him, apparently.
That’s not convincing, compelling, honorable marketing though. And yes, an author’s marketing efforts can be all three.
Marketing doesn’t have to make us lose our sanity, our common sense, or our soul.
Marketing shouldn’t change us into lesser versions of ourselves.
The importance of marketing our books shouldn’t make us create false identities, or stir strife, or turn us into machines rather than artists, or distance us from either our readers or our family and friends. And we can’t afford to have it override our primary objective–to write a great book. And another.
Marketing should offer what the reading public needs.
We’re not sno-cone sales people peddling raspberry ice in the Arctic, we’re authors who have penned stories worth telling, fiction and nonfiction with purpose and insights, information and inspiration. We don’t hawk our wares. We offer resources for reading fun, emotional healing, practical help, enjoyment, or to open doors for conversations. Readers stand in need of something. Our most significant writing–and marketing–question is, “What do they need and how can I most effectively and graciously inform them where to find it?”
Marketing should point to answers, not pricetags.
Even though part of our marketing plans will include letting the reading public know when a book is on sale, the point isn’t the sale price. It’s the opportunity. It’s the offer. And it’s the answers, entertainment, or experience readers will find when they purchase the book.
Marketing should tell stories, because stories sell without a high pressure fudge guy.
Sometimes the books we create are answers for a friend of a friend, legitimately. When we let people know how a book can bring a bright moment or needed insights for someone they care about, honor is at the heart of our marketing or platform-building. Just as a good leader looks at everyone in the room rather than only those looking at the leader, so an honorable author in marketing mode is looking at and aiming to serve the needs of those in the room, not seeking to drive people with an unspoken “Look at me!”
Marketing shouldn’t change us into lesser versions of ourselves.
In an ancient, beloved text, Jesus encouraged His followers with this: “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine” (Mark 4:21 NLT). He understood the difference between pedestal (to be seen) and platform (to be better heard), between marketing (letting the work shine, informing others that what they want or long for is available to them) and madness (drawing attention to self, shame-tactics, begging, soul-draining, and blocking the exit).
Marketing and madness don’t have to be synonymous. Platform-building is not pedestal-building. If you’re writing books worth reading, creativity and compassion for your readers will steer your marketing campaigns in effective yet honorable ways.
“Platform-building is not pedestal-building.” For this, Cynthia, I thank you!
Thanks, Shirlee. Glad that little perspective change helped.
I know you love your Amish stories,
ending with a tender kiss,
but can I get you into glories
of my Zombie Apocalypse?
The story arcs are quite the same,
and the writing’s really tight;
and think of all the time you’ll gain
when you can’t sleep at night!
The characters are sympathetic,
even the decayed undead
who roam the earth, peripatetic
and will get inside your head.
And so, my friend, let’s get this done;
I’ll give you three for price of one!
I sure needed a laugh today, Andrew. Thanks!
Amen Cynthia. Your description is how I’d envision book marketing. Desperate sales people do not attract me to their product/service as a consumer. But show me a well written book that the author is excited about and it sounds entertaining or addresses a felt need those are major hurdles. Personally book covers can be enticing for me. True Confession: I’m a book hoarder.
Book hoarders are applauded here! 🙂
Kristen Joy Wilks
Something interesting happened to me recently concerning my attitude about marketing. I was in a class and they urged to write about what you love, be in groups with other people who love the same thing, post about what you love, blog about what you love … . I write RomComs and of course I share funny stories online … but I looked at what I was actually posting most about. Dogs and kids doing crazy things, often together, sometimes at camp. I have 3 sons and a Newfoundland. It was such a theme that I decided to write some books with dogs and kids doing crazy things together at camp. I don’t know if they will sell, but I have about a zillion ideas, and am having a blast writing these. And if they do find a publishing home, well, the marketing won’t be so bad since I already post about dogs and kids and camp. A perfect match for me, I think.
What a great connection!
Jean E Jones
Pedestal versus platform: well said! Good, helpful perspective here. Thanks.
Great article, you’re right. If you write books that are worth reading, creativity and compassion for your readers will drive your marketing campaigns in an effective but noble way. The right strategy is important. One person who has made the right decision for many companies is – Ross Levinsohn https://www.topionetworks.com/people/ross-levinsohn-5226b5ea1dedae0dd3001352.