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Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Hope Your Book Marketing Is Not Organic


One of the most overused words in online publicity and marketing circles is “organic.” The term generally refers to a style of marketing that sounds good on paper, where things are supposed to develop naturally, but the truth is, things don’t happen fast enough or go far enough for me. I lean towards being assertive and aggressive in the marketing arena -- you cannot just hope someone discovers you and then champions you. It happens sometimes, to some degree, but it is not something we can afford to wait around for.

When you hear organic you think natural and strong and healthy - -at least when it comes to food.  We are told by nutritionists to consume organic foods, free of pesticides, genetic manipulation, or hormones. That sounds good.  But when promoters say your brand must grow organically, you need to question such a strategy.  You need to manipulate the landscape before the right conditions can exist for organic food to flourish. Same goes with marketing.

When it comes to PR and marketing, you are in the world of pushing, selling, shaping, begging, and trading. Little happens accidentally or altruistically. If you want something, it won’t just come to you. One must ask, take or recruit – not wait politely, quietly, or reservedly.
Now, on the surface, organic looks like the way to go. You want word to spread – naturally and on the merits – about you and your book. But for that stage to happen you will have needed to plant a thousand seeds. Before something can grow organically one has to bring the soil and water, and it is true with book marketing. You cannot just hope that a book will take off and find its fan base; you will need to first curate the right environment for growth.

For instance, let‘s say you are exhibiting at a fair or convention. You can have an elaborate display that invites people in or you can have a quiet, subdued display. Further, you can have someone handing out fliers at the entrance, to greet people and guide them to your booth, or you can just hope they will eventually walk by your booth. Additionally, you can answer people’s questions but not offer information beyond that or you can speak about all kinds of things, hoping something resonates with the potential customer. The shy side is organic; the other version is more aggressive and outgoing. Which one do you think works best?

Organic is passive or responsive; but you need to actively market and promote – all the time. You can’t wait to be asked something, you need to go out and assert yourself. You cannot sit back and hope or expect people will find or look for you. They will seek you out only sometimes. You need to go after your market and be out there. Be visible. Plant your seeds. Ask for the sale – always.

Of course, all of the pushing, advertising, screaming, and inviting won’t grab people for long if the core of your message or book is weak. You still need a good book, an interesting message, and a reason for a conversation to be sustained. It is just that all of that, by itself, is not enough unless you or a paid surrogate goes fishing for customers and barks up many trees.

For things to grow organically one must actively accelerate the process early on. The end result of any campaign is the hope that your book will eventually spur a dialog and a word-of-mouth chain that will give it some legs. But don’t be fooled into thinking you have done your job by creating a great book or a great Web site. You will need to live on a diet of social media and to execute a comprehensive publicity campaign in order to really advance your cause. You need to shout above the crowd in order to be seen.

Organic foods may be what the doctor ordered but organic marketing won’t heal you until you first set things in motion by actively proselytizing. You have nothing to lose by pursuing your market with passion, energy, and enthusiasm. Whatever will grow organically, shall do so; and where you can claim some of the market for yourself by actively reaching for it, you will benefit tenfold. Organic marketing can grow, well, er, organically, but good old-fashioned ask-push-grab marketing is still the way to go if you actually want to get what you want.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

2 comments:

  1. I didn't always feel this way, but I have to agree now. There was another writer whose first book was published around the same time as mine (2009) who had a particularly aggressive marketing style that put me off. My thought was that if I was put off, others would likely be and not purchase her book. (She did things like sponsor contests but only award the prize if her book reached a certain number on Kindle's whatever list.)

    Turns out I was wrong. Her book sold very well, and she ended up on those lists of authors to watch. Made me rethink my notion that certain types of promotion are too tacky to be effective. Her techniques worked.

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  2. A local author was signing at a local book store where her big mouth gathered crowds. It was tacky to me but I watched her just the same. She got louder as more people gathered then made a big hoop-a-la inviting a young woman to have her photo taken with a 'famous author' - She sold a lot of books - > The End.

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