Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Marketing Lessons From The Mets

As a long-time Mets fan I have seen many more losing seasons than winning ones.  I’m not even talking about winning the World Series or even making the playoffs.  As the Mets play their 50th season of baseball they only had 23 seasons where they won more games than they lost.

But I don’t want to lament on how historically bad this lovable, frustrating sports franchise has been.  I only raise the point about how they turn in mediocre to record-setting seasons of ineptitude to make a different point.  I respect their ability to market a product that is clearly inferior.

They begin each season knowing they are the second best team in their own city (the perennial-winning Yanks steal the spotlight). They often aren’t even serious contenders to make the postseason.  So how does the team market itself?

·         It stresses the sport – the fun of baseball – over the fact the team stinks.

·         It oversells what few stars it actually has.

·         It hypes potential and the future – you can see the young stars of tomorrow playing today.

·         It stresses the “experience” of going to see a ballgame as being fun and exciting, even if your team stands a good chance of losing.

·         It sells history and loyalty and branding and talks about the few championships it has won as if they happened the other day.

Have I been brainwashed to root for a losing franchise?  I choose to love a team that regularly disappoints.  I’m sold on something, but it’s not on winning – so what is it?

The Mets television broadcasters show old highlight reels from years past whenever a game is delayed by rain.  This happened recently.  On one occasion they showed 1963 highlights and on another night they showed the 1975 season’s best moments.  Each of these neatly packaged shows reveals similar content –

-          Interviews with the new and upcoming stars.
-          The GM or manager speaking positively on how the team is improving.
-          The fun fans have when coming out to the park.
-          Footage of a few big hits or plays in the field.

I realize it’s all B.S.  The Mets were awful in both these seasons but the fans were sold then – as they are now – on something other than winning.  It is a sociological phenomena. Why would we spend our time or money championing a losing cause? It’s like going to see a movie you already have seen and it was terrible the first time around. Why would you think it will be better the next time?

I think there’s a lesson from all this that pertains to book marketing. It shows that good PR and marketing can overcome a less than perfect product.  This is true with most books. We market and promote potential – the potential for a book to entertain, inform, inspire, enlighten.  Whether fiction or non-fiction, we must present our books in a positive light. We have to sound convincing to others, regardless of how good the book is.

Most people don’t purchase books because the books are great.  They buy them because they hope or think they will be great.  Or someone told them they are great. 

It doesn’t mean one should lie when promoting or marketing a book or anything for that matter, but we should realize that no matter how good or mediocre a book is won’t matter unless you get people to discover it and buy it.

As long as you are of the frame of mind that people will benefit from reading your book you must market and promote it with the attitude that people need or want this book. Sometimes we have self-doubt about our book or we see so many other, perhaps better books out there and we lose a little courage or energy to promote our book.  Don’t fall victim to insecurity; go out there and push your book just as the Mets promote themselves. 

You don’t have to be a winner, apparently, to be profitable and successful.

***Brian Feinblum can be reached at and followed on Twitter @thePRexpert. He is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts ( )

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