Though I’m at risk of stating the obvious, the one key to success with marketing is successful word of mouth. Getting the average Joe or Jane to talk up your product, book, or service is they key to exponential exposure, sales and success. In fact, you can see that of all marketing, the type of “advertising” consumers trust most is recommendations from consumers (see graph).
While no one is surprised by this, the big question is how do you make this happen? Many of us participate in blogs, forums, online groups, social networks, etc. to gain exposure about our books. This has good results. Friendships are forged, trust is gained, and we start to buy each others books. The limitation is that these sales are only additive. That is, they are essentially direct sales from author to buyer, one at a time. What is needed are the multiplying sales. Essentially having readers sell books for you. They don’t do this outright (commission, etc.) but they do it by word of mouth.
I first heard of The DiVinci Code from friends at work who had read it and talked it up. I didn’t read a review in the newspaper or hear a radio add. I was “sold” by my friends. This is the power of word of mouth.
But how do you get readers to do this? Well, the answer lies within. When do you do it? When do you start “selling” books you’ve read to friends? My guess is you don’t talk about every good book you read. Just those that somehow stuck with you, made an impact or otherwise struck a chord. So the issue here isn’t writing just a good book, but one that will resonate and create what are called “promoters”.
In marketing, promoters are the folks that go out of their way to “sell” something that they believe in even when they personally don’t benefit from the sale. These folks are hard to find. In fact, if you have a normal population rate a product on a scale from 1-10, only those who rate a product 9 or higher would be even close to being promoters. A seven or eight is a good score but doesn’t cut it. Even with a 9 or 10, this doesn’t always get you there.
So how do you find these promoters? Well, they find you. They are the ones who send you an email about how they found your book and loved it asking when the next book is coming out. They are the ones who tell you they’ve told their friends or neighbors about your book. They are the ones who continue to visit your blog and comment on your posts. These are your promoters. Your job is to stay in close contact with them; keeping up that relationship as you write your new book. And frankly, you ask them to promote (subtley of course). Some folks have even asked if I’ve got extra bookmarks because they want to hand them to folks they know who might like the book.
In the end, promoting starts with you. We can all promote one another. It is one of the reasons I’m posting reviews on this site as well as Amazon, Shelfari, Goodreads, etc. I also take these books to work and lend them out to collegeause. If you’ve read some of the books from authors on this site, how much are you “promoting” them? I know, it’s hard enough to promote your own work, but honestly, it’s easier to promote someone elses work because no one sees is as self promotion (which of course it isn’t). And frankly self-promotion makes everyone skeptical (just check out some of Amazon’s forum’s where an author tries to promote their work – yikes!). But if everyone is promoting everyone elses work – well, no stigma of self-promotion and suddenly you’ve got an arm of folks promoting your work instead of yourself.
So I ask all of you to think of books that you’ve really enjoyed and believe they deserve a shot to be read by many to go out there and promote them! And for those interested, I do still have a number of extra bookmarks (wink!).
P.S. One easy method for spreading word of mouth is the “Retweet (RT)” on twtiter – check out the twitter post here.