Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Can’t Dress For Summer In The Winter

Marketing is about perceptions. Marketers rely on appealing to the perceptions, misperceptions, preconceived notions, fears, and desires of potential customers.  They don’t have to lie, but they certainly don’t always embrace the facts.

But I’d like to correct several perceptions too many authors and publishers have – that social media and e-books rule the world and that traditional media is no longer impactful  This may  one day all come to pass, but not as of now.

No doubt e-book sales are growing.  The sale of digital e-readers this year surpassed the total that existed prior to 2011 (I made that up but it’s probably close to correct).  But even so, for the moment, 80+ percent of book revenue is still from paper books.  So for now, paper books are still The Marketplace.  They are losing steam and they will eventually be on par with the number of e-books sold in the coming years.  But not there yet, so authors should still sell in a paper world and not assume that digital – only is the way to go.

The other misperception out there is that social media alone will always push a book to great success. The truth is, social media is an important growing tool to market and promote a book.  But by itself it can only do so much for so many people.  It takes time, effort, and savvy – you can’t just blog and click millions of sales. Like anything else, social media has to be used wisely and often.

Further, when social media is enacted in tandem with other things – radio tours, book signings, seminars, book clubs, direct marketing, book reviews, road tours, etc. – great things can happen. Traditional media is far from dead.

Major newspapers, magazines, TV shows and radio shows still reach millions of people and are respected as authoritative sources that get picked up by the blogosphere, so by no means is traditional media gone. Are their circulations and viewerships eroding? Yes, but small, gradual declines from what were once lofty numbers still means that even at three-quarters strength, most authors would rather be featured in their local paper, on a national TV show or a radio show than in most other things online. The truth is, there is no reason to choose between online and offline – just as one doesn’t have to choose between PR or marketing – do it all!

So, for now, don’t dress for summer in the winter. Do what works in the current climate and always diversify your efforts.

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

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