The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the author and not Fictionista Workshop.
Five Pillars of Marketing Reach
Let’s talk about octopi. They’re actually a little bit like your nightmares come to life. Whatever you do, don’t Google them, and don’t watch a YouTube video called “Octopus Houdini.” I digress, but the reason I’m using these creepy creatures for context in my post about book marketing is the fact they’re the smartest invertebrates, incredibly flexible, and really great at using each of their eight arms to get what they need.
With all due respect, let’s forget Amanda Hocking for a moment. I’m about to explain why marketing your books like an octopus is the best idea of all time. Octopi wouldn’t survive long in the wild with a single arm. Likewise, you won’t survive long in the cutthroat ocean of indie or self-published book marketing if you don’t leverage each of the five most suction-cuppy arms of a good online marketing strategy:
Arm #1: Your Personal Brand
When I say Lexus, you probably think luxury. When I say J.K. Rowling, you think Harry Potter, philanthropy, and social activism. These automatic associations are branding done the right way. Carnival Cruise, on the other hand, probably has some less-than-positive connotations among most of us at this point.
Personal branding sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s well worth discussion. As my buddy Nando Rodriguez of Ogilvy + Mather puts it, think of “your personal brand as an identity that puts you at a 360-degree view.” Identify your unique selling points, know how you fit into your genre, and drive it home on your marketing platforms.
Arm #2: Your Blogging
When an author recently asked me what the single most important component of their marketing strategy should be, my answer was blogging. Something like 97% of consumers start looking for products on a search engine, but only 4% of first-time visitors to your website are ready to make a purchase. Having engaging content that’s targeted to your readers, not necessarily other authors or your friends, is key to making that instantaneous connection, so they’ll come back to you when they’re ready to buy.
While I believe producing blog content that readers want to bookmark and share should be our primary goal, positive search engine optimization (SEO) is also a bonus. Google loves websites that add fresh content on a regular basis, and studies routinely show consumers are lazy and pick one of the top search results. As a reward for all your hard work, you’ll start to steal one of the top spots for the words relevant to what you do, like “Indie chick-lit about teachers.”
Arm #3: Social Media
Every day, more than a half billion new Tweets are generated, which is more books than exist in the world. Social media is a nearly ubiquitous tool, and your challenge as an author is to stand out amidst the noise. Post invaluable content, build genuine relationships, and perhaps most importantly, let other authors bask in your limelight once in awhile.
Arm #4: Email Marketing
There’s no single marketing tactic that’s more divisive than email marketing. Honestly, I’m a fan because it works, and it has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any form of marketing. Follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Can-SPAM act to the letter, and don’t add any contacts who haven’t specifically opted into communication. Use your email list as a tool for relaying extra important and relevant information to people who already love you, and you’ll be thrilled with the results.
Arm #5: Your Website
People really hate slow-to-load websites that look like they’re stuck in the ‘90s. 58% of consumers will actively try to avoid a brand in the future if the company’s website leaves something to be desired. Gorgeous custom web designs are pricy, but there are plenty of professional-looking WordPress templates for less than the price of 10 lattes. Believe me, a website design that means business is well worth your investment.
While these five arms are just a basic overview of the critical components of an online presence, you’ll be less agile and effective if you eliminate one. Wherever your readers are, you should be also.
Jasmine Henry is a Project Manager at Inbound Marketing Agents, a creative agency in Nashville, TN. Connect with her on Twitter: @jasminehenry10
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