Over the years I have done a lot of marketing. Some things got better results than I expected, others…not so much. But many things delivered different results than I expected. This is one of the magical things about marketing.
Let’s talk about how this might apply to selling your books. Say that you have set up a book signing event at a local coffee shop. You make posters for the coffee shop to put up and you create a small display in the store. You send out press releases to local media announcing the event and talking about you and your book. You send email announcements to everyone on your email list, call your friends and relatives and tweet the news out to the world. This is going to be huge! You’d better bring hundreds of books!
The day comes and your big event draws 12 people, only 3 of whom buy your book. (Some just don’t buy and some of the others are friends and fans who already own the book and just came for moral support.) Your big event was a failure. Or was it?
You got 12 people to come to your event. That’s not bad. My first bookstore event drew three people. One of them was my husband and one was a guy who happened to be sitting in the part of the store where my event was held. He was nice enough to stay. Future events went better, but every author has had one of those dead events now and then.
Here is the important lesson: There are lots of other results that can come from your event, both short term and long term. In the short term, you may sell more books if the coffee shop makes signed copies available after the event. There may be people who couldn’t make it but want the book, or just people who will discover the book while waiting for their coffee.
Long term benefits are harder to calculate. There is a cumulative effect of doing promotions. People will start to recognize your name and, more importantly, the title of your book. They may visit your website and, even if they don’t buy your book today, they may sign up for your email newsletter. If you regularly send press releases about your events to local media, they will start to remember you as a local author.
I sent press release after press release to a local media outlet to announce classes I was doing. The hope was that they would publish them in their events calendar. They didn’t. This went on for months. Epic fail? Well, one day I got a call from a reporter. They were preparing an article on trends in sales and marketing training and wanted to quote me as an expert. Why did they consider me a marketing expert? They had received dozens of press releases promoting my marketing classes. Even though they had not published the information I submitted, they saved it and featured me in not one but two major articles. As a result, I got consulting clients, speaking engagements, students in my classes, book sales and more. And after the first article, they started publishing notices about my classes, too!
There can be other unexpected results. Perhaps your media release gets you an interview on a local radio show. They may be so impressed that they invite you to do a regular spot on their show. (That sounds preposterous, but it happened to an author I know.)
Think about what you want to get from any marketing you do. Ideally, there will be several ways for you to win. In the example I started with, if any of the 12 people at your event are not on your email list, ask them if they would like to be added. Get photos of the event to post on your website and to social media. Talk to your contact at the coffee shop about getting a blurb from them about working with you on the event. If they say you were great to work with and got buzz going for their location, you can take that to other places you would like to work with. Cultivate any media contacts you made as a result of the event, even if they didn’t interview you or promote you.
Treat every promotion you do as a learning experience. Learning even one or two things that work (or that don’t work) can make future marketing even more successful.