That's basically what marketing is all about: making your product stand out among the billions of other similar products.
Strictly talking about books, if you think this is hard in a good, old-style bookshop, then imagine how hard that's going to be on the web! Millions of people are purposely or randomly scanning the web, looking for or casually stumbling over billions of different titles.
How do you make your book stand out? How do you target your audience?
Social Media Marketing seems to have been the latest trend, targeting groups of people on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but in these specific cases marketing has adopted a new approach from the strictly product-selling policy.
Social networks are not supposed to sell, they're meant to connect. It's the direct connection between publisher and reader that has revolutionised marketing and its strategies in the last 2 years. To my eyes, this is like the old witch using sweets to attract to her house poor Hansel and Gretel.
Thousands of FB group pages are created every day by digital marketing people at big and small publishing houses. New jobs have been created for people to specifically update the publishers' social networks pages, all-day-long.
The main aim is to lure people on the page/website, get them interested and hooked up with free give-aways and competitions, in exchange of a connection to the person's personal account, tweet and email address - to which targeted newsletters will be sent until further notice from the person, who could really not be bothered to subsequently unsubscribe from it.
How terribly effective is all this?
As a marketing person I find all this very exciting, especially because I entered the publishing field just as these new techniques were starting to appear. I had the chance to apply some of these at the small publishing house I was doing work experience for, and they seem to work.
I must admit, this is a work of love.
You really need to make time to interact with your audience, and not all small publishers can afford to pay a person to do this full time. But here are my suggestions for small publishers:
- Save aside half an hour a day to update your pages, blogs, and twitter with the latest news from the authors, new titles and releases, interviews and so on.
- The give-away trick is very efficient if played right.
- Send out advance copies to bloggers, especially to those who have a blog that specifically deal with topics in your books.
- Look out for people to review your books on Amazon, and reward them. Some people would die for signed copies of books, even if they don't really know the authors. (I'm one of them).
- Think outside the box! I'm amazed at how so many small publishers are still so stuck up in the past and don't recognise the potential of social media marketing! It's not as hard as you think it might be!
- Put some work into your newsletters. Make them look slick and professional, but also interesting. Invest some time to play around with Publisher (yes, a lot of people still use that!!), it'll pay in the long run!
- Be consistent. Don't expect great results after a month or two. Social media marketing is all about building connections and maintain them in time.
Nobody knows how and if this whole social media marketing campaign will be efficient in the next few years, why, with all these new technologies and websites coming out every month, it's almost impossible to predict how long things will be the same! But this is exactly why publishers, big and small, should be aware of what's going on around them, exploring and trying new alternatives.
Especially at the early stages of every new internet phenomenon, it's very easy to dive into new marketing opportunities often without even spending a penny!
So keep your eyes open; look out for new ways to target your market and audience and go for it. Visit websites such as Mashable, and Future Book and see what's going on.