Thursday, February 12, 2015

If You Hear About My Book, Will You Buy It?

What percentage of people hear, view, or read a message and then act on it?  How often must one be exposed to that same message before he or she decidedly acts on it?

Advertisers, promoters, marketers, and social media specialists wonder the answer to these questions.  The truth is it takes millions and millions of viewings, airings, and readings of a message for even a small percentage of the country to react.

We are told numerous times to:
·         Go vote
·         Not text and drive
·         Not smoke cancerous cigarettes
·         Consume certain foods, products, and services
·         Embrace a specific political position

The results are not what we’d expect or desire.  Why is that?

First, look at the message.  What is being said by whom to whom?  Is the message clear, timely, targeted, and filled with strong incentives to act or penalties for inaction?

Second, how many people are exposed to the message?

Third, how often are people hearing the message?

Fourth, what opposing messages are they exposed to?

Fifth, are people overwhelmed by messages from all sides all the time that they simply tune-out all of it?

We are exposed to thousands of messages daily, from what we see in commercials and advertisements to what we see in our entertainment, news content, social media, or our conversations with friends and family.

I wonder why if people watch Super Bowl ads, there aren’t a hundred million sales of a product the next day.  Supposedly 115 million people watched some or all of the big game and its equally important commercials.  These commercials were talked about weeks before they aired and then analyzed immediately following the game.  Yet, despite modest spikes in product sales, none of the advertisers said they emptied out their warehouses.

Authors will find the same reaction with their news media exposure.  Just because your book is mentioned in a magazine or discussed on a television show means it’ll sell millions of copies.  In fact, it’s rare that any single media outlet’s exposure would yield even thousands of book sales.  But, as you collect interviews, reviews, and guest posts across all media – TV, radio, print and online – over a sustained period of time – you have a chance to start selling books at a reasonable pace.  What really moves books is the word of mouth that comes when the media exposure generates book sales and those readers then tell others about the book.  Still, from reaching even tens of millions of people through the media, you may only sell 3,000 to 30,000 copies of your book.

Look at Sports Illustrated.  It’s a well-known brand with a substantial readership.  Its famous annual swimsuit issue typically nets 1.5 million to 2 million newsstand sales – up from a typical week of 67,000.  But given how much exposure the issue gets in the media, shouldn’t it sell ten times that number?

It was featured on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and in every single major news outlet – numerous times – and still less than 1% of Americans bought a copy of it.  Don’t get me wrong – this is considered a wild success by most standards, but it’s evidence that just because a lot of people are fed a message repeatedly doesn’t mean they will act on it.

Is it an economics issue?  A cultural one?  What prevents everyone form doing what a significant-sized group is already doing?  If two million people choose to act, why don’t 20 million more follow?

Maybe it’s over-exposure.

Perhaps we heard a message once too often to care.  We feel we consume the subject of the message to the point we don’t need to go out and buy it.

Or maybe there’s so much free content out there that keeps us busy that we don’t need to buy a swimsuit issue.  There are tons of swimwear, model, lingerie and porn sites available at no charge.

It could be that people have caught on that the swimsuit issue doesn’t represent anything real.  Few can wear the $500 bikini featured in the magazine.

Maybe others are turned off to what some say is the sexist portrayal of the magazine’s women.

You can search for a thousand reasons why people won’t buy what you are offering.  It’s a numbers game.  Go out there and reach a lot of people and hope you can penetrate their wallets.


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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