|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM|
As my business model develops, I find myself turning away from product creation, to marketing. Trying to conform my website to the latest SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques is not nearly as enjoyable as drafting worlds and breathing life into the people who live in them. It isn’t as fun as crafting book covers or recording audiobooks. But all the work that’s gone into Terrapin Hollow Press and my products amounts to a hill of beans if nobody ever sees me. Hence the need for marketing.
While I’ve seen some cases of exceedingly creative marketing strategies (click here), I’ve heard it said numerous times that creative people are lousy marketers – particularly for their own material. We are often too attached to the product, and this can lead to certain kinds of blindness. Either we can’t see how our product or marketing strategy might be perceived through another’s eyes, or we assume that everyone will be as ecstatic about it as we are. Take Twitter, for example. There is a ridiculous amount of self-promotion going on there. There are some people who can’t tweet anything unrelated to their 99 cent erotic sparkling vampire ebook. I signed up to the micro-blogging site because I thought it would be a neat venue for networking with other authors and publishers, but I didn’t sign up hoping that my 140 character commercial would sell a thousand copies.
I’ve been looking at case studies for effective marketing strategies. Some show off the unique brilliance of marketing gurus – like Gillette’s recent tie-in with the new Man of Steel movie, in which people were invited to provide their theories as to how Superman shaves. In early 2007, Penguin Books created something called https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaborative_fiction#A_Million_Penguins" target="_blank">A Million Penguins – a crowd sourced novel. While it produced an illegible work of some 1,500 pages, it was excellent publicity, conveying that a giant in the publishing industry was still hip to emerging trends. Others are more gimmick oriented, such as UNICEF’s Dirty Water Vending Machine (see below).
Other strategies are shady. Some are down-right manipulative. There are companies that offer to scatter ten- to fifty-thousand backlinks to your website for a fee. This amounts to your website address being inappropriately plastered in the comments sections of thousands of unrelated websites. Recently, I was reading an article about technological breakthroughs that are making solar panels more efficient. Six comments down, there was a link to buy prescription drugs from Canada. Incidently, the first six site members to join my Forums space are advertisements. Another trick employed by Matt Inman of The Oatmeal – the most popular web comic in the history of web comics – was to load every image with all of the then-trending keywords, regardless of relevance, practically guaranteeing his site would show up on every web search. Problem was, it was deceptive. The image of a lumpy cartoon character eating a bowl of cereal shouldn’t pop up when one enters the keywords: “Free Online Dating”.
I’ve been perusing various Gorilla Marketing strategies for two reasons. The first is that the world is changing. People no longer resonate with traditional interrupt-style advertisements. This would be like a television commercial, or the ten minute block of adverts you get on the radio while driving home after work. More and more, people just block it out. I’ve always found interrupt-style advertising to be an odd approach to selling something. When you interrupt someone who is otherwise engaged, they tend to have an annoyed reaction. Stands to reason some of that irritation can be felt toward the company who stopped my enjoyment so that they could insert their annoying jingle in my mind. Companies pay a lot of money to govern the ideas and impressions to which they are associated. I’ve never eaten at the sandwich shop Quizno’s, for example, because in the early 2000s, they had a commercial in which their food was being pedaled by an obnoxious dead rat.
The second reason I’m exploring alternate forms of advertising is simply because I can’t afford the ten grand most national magazines charge for half page ads. Given that interrupt-style advertising is offering less a return on investment, I’m not sure I should even try to drum up the funds.
So I’m focusing on SEO, word of mouth, and making sure that I have a superior product. That includes my website, which (I hope) has value added components—things people appreciate, which are offered for free. I’ll do book signings and am preparing a presentation on dialectic fiction, press releases and giveaways. My book is also entered into several competitions and up for review at various sites. I’m participating in communities of interest and am always looking for new ways to get word out there (without being an annoying shill).