Good marketers and PR professionals understand what makes people tick. In many ways they are applied psychologists, combining audience insight with a steely focus on outcomes to influence decisions. This was just one of messages I took away from a public relations workshop I attended recently.
“Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behavior, from communication and memory to thought and emotion.” British Psychological Society
“Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour” Chartered Institute of Public Relations
What does this mean for book marketing? A good deal perhaps. The ultimate aim of book publicists is to sell books. Even when we want to broadly build a brand or author platform, we still have that ultimate outcome in mind. We want to take potential readers on a journey from not noticing our product to thinking “Hey, looks interesting, I’m going to buy that.”
It’s easy to assume that if we have a well-crafted message or brand, or just an amazing book, that behaviour will be impacted. Readers will think “WOW that looks great” and hit the download button or sift through their wallet and hand over that hard earned cash at their local bookstore.(Equally, just because you have a fantastic PR campaign doesn’t mean that you will sell books or gain long term customers if you have a substandard product! You might sell book to a reader but they may not buy another.)
This isn’t the Field of Dreams – just because we build it, it doesn’t mean they will come! A good book, pithy synopsis or a memorable “lift pitch” will not on its own secure the marketing result you want.
An effective marketing campaign relies on determining your target audiences’ beliefs, values and barriers to taking action. People only pay attention to what they perceive as relevant and in a digital world where readers are trying to navigate their way through a barrage of marketing campaigns we need to help them.
In short why should they buy your book? Why would it appeal to them/ can they access it in their territory/ what are their peers saying about it/ what does the cover “say” to them? All these questions need to be answered to some degree. It’s only then that we can truly get our book marketing right and build an author platform that resonates.
Our potential readers also need to hear that message frequently, at the right time and through the right channel for them to act on it. It’s only then that the reason for our call to action can resonate and we stand a change of getting our targets to do the thing of buying our book and remaining loyal readers.
Much of this seems like common sense, but while we may have the best of intentions, things can sometimes get in the way of doing a thorough job of planning promotional activity. Lack of time, money and sometimes just old fashioned enthusiasm can mean it’s easy to rush into a campaign so we can just do something.
In the digital age this is even easier than ever. Within minutes you can clog up readers’ timelines with endless “buy my book” social media posts that will at best resonate with a few and at worst get people hitting the unfollow button. Either that, or you’re signing up for book parties that your likely audience won’t even be attending – no point staying up in the early hours at a party with a dozen participants interested I erotica when you write cozy mysteries! Trust me, that’s a mistake I made in the early days and one I won’t be repeating.
Now could I do a better job at planning my marketing? Absolutely I could. The question to ask is, could you? What strategies are you deploying for planning your promotional activities? Feel free to comment and share your tips, and please post your contact details if you would be happy to network with other authors and publicists and share best practice.
Helen Treharne is an author and PR Practitioner – as you’re on her website your probably know this. Is it weird I just described myself in the third person? Yep, bit weird.