Peter Drucker said, “Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function…It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customers’ point of view.”
Whoa. Talk about pressure on the marketing team. To encapsulate everything your company will be perceived as into a single advertisement, that’s pretty impressive.
How does that relate to writing? Well, you want to sell your book, don’t you? I know I do. Now how do we do that? It depends on where you are.
Some writers are still working on their product. Perfectly fine, but that’s the time to start looking into how to market your first customers, agents and publishers. Yes, they are your customers. You are trying to sell them something. Most of the writers I know are already following agent and publisher blogs. They’re googling things like ‘how to write a good query’ and are making good progress on this part.
If your product is finished and you’re already querying and submitting, that’s the time to start researching the next step. How to market to the public at large. When the book is near or just after being released is the part that most people think of as marketing. These authors have to shamelessly self-promote themselves, calling newspapers and giving out bookmarks and setting up signings. This is where you can really tailor your marketing to your customers.
Think about things in your area. I live in a university town, so I could probably get away with some more liberal methods of marketing. Heck, I could write in sidewalk chalk around campus; student organizations do it all the time. That’s a way for me to market to my audience. It probably wouldn’t go over too well in many other places though. Be creative, be resourceful. You can come up with some great stuff.
Another part of marketing is professionalism. You wouldn’t go to a job interview without showering (at least I hope you wouldn’t). Don’t go to your book signing in pajamas. Don’t give out business cards printed on computer paper. And while your cat may be cute, don’t spend all of your precious moments talking about him. Think about the image you want to convey.
I remember I saw a commercial for Quizno’s a long time ago. The commercial was so terrible that it is still scarred into my memory. It looked like a hairball dancing on the screen in front of a picture of the restaurant. (Anybody else remember it?) I refused to eat at Quizno’s for years because that commercial frightened me. That was almost ten years ago and I only saw it once, but that hairball is my perception of Quizno’s to this day.
Of course that’s an extreme example. Most times the effects won’t be quite so harsh, but the point stands. Think before you market. It’s not a measure once curse twice kind of thing. This is peoples’ perception of not just the one product, but your entire company, of you. Don’t frighten them away.
I’ll end on a good example. In my marketing class, our teacher showed us a fantastic commercial for a bank in Turkey. They thought about the image they wanted to convey and then thought of a creative way to show it. You don’t even have to understand to language to get it. I know, most of us writers won’t get to make commercials, but a lot can be learned from them.
Think about the advertisements you like. Why do you like them? What caught your interest? What kind of sub-message is it sending? Do you think that sub-message was intentional?