Good-bye Marketing Plan, Make way for the CONNECTING PLAN
Top-down marketing is history” – Bob Lefsetz
Everyone know that the Internet has changed the way business works. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. Traditional “megaphone” marketing simply does not work anymore, and this is especially true for books. For one thing, authors can’t be heard above the din of all the product and service marketers with huge budgets. And for another, most consumers are just plain turned off by the constant stream of empty marketing promises and gimmicks.
Instead of thinking about “marketing” our books, we should be figuring out how we can be “connecting” with our readers. This means: communicating your ideas to a community of readers that will be interested in what you have to say once they find out your book exists. It also means connecting you as a writer to readers who want to know what you are doing next. Connecting to communities means a creating a two-way conversation, engaging with people in conversations, about a cultural activity they really care about.
This is not the kind of marketing that tries to be as loud as possible to cut through the background noise of modern life or that follows information theory and tries to get its message across so many times that the reader will finally pay attention.
Books are special. Sure they are products, but they need special handling because we are trying to convince people to give us some of their valuable time to read them. It’s important to remember that in the modern world most people are trying to make sure they will have more money tomorrow than they have today – our growing economy is intended to create abundance. However, it’s not money, but time that is ultimately our most precious commodity because in the money economy we all know that no matter how much money we are accumulating, time is never going to be increasing for us. We have less of it every day.
So when we give our time and attention to a book, we are engaging in a truly powerful exchange between reader and writer, an exchange that writers and publishers must honor and cherish. That’s why we need to nurture the relationships between readers and writers, and why shouting from the rooftop that “I have a book here I want you to read” makes no sense at all. Nobody likes being shouted at, therefore it makes sense that they will be much less likely to sample your book than they would have been if they had learned about it through a more subtle approach.
So let’s not talk about a “Marketing Plan” for your book. Let’s think about how to create a “Connecting Plan.” We all know that when we walk into a room full of interesting people, the best way to engage with them is not to start talking about ourselves, but to look them in the eye and ask them questions that can be the beginning of a real connection between us.
Creating meaningful relationships almost always begins with an introduction and a genuine interest in the person to whom you are talking. Real engagement almost always happens one person at a time.
Whether you are speaking to one person or making a presentation to a large crowd, you should always try to find ways to engage with your audience, to become “one of them,” a person who can be trusted and to whom people can relate.
And of course it is critical to know your audience before you even start to talk to them. A “Connecting Plan” must begin with research and with questions about the audience for your books. Only when you know to whom you are talking are you able to say things that will attract people, engage them, and allow them to care deeply about what you are saying to them, and ultimately, about the books you would like them to read.
Write me at , and I will send you a comparison chart between the “old” megaphone-style marketing plan for a book and a “new” connecting plan we would undertake today.
David Wilk, October 2011
Comments and additional suggestions are always welcome!
Thanks to Lou Aronica and Betty Sargent for comments and editorial assistance on this essay (though any mistakes or mis-statements are mine alone).