Friday, September 25, 2015

Learning From Others & Building Buzz

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
For this week's field trip, we would like for you to take another trip to your favorite bookstore and do the following:
1.           Browse your favorite section and randomly select a book from the shelf
2.           Note the author's name, book title, and publisher.  Read the back cover copy.
3.           Browse the same section, but this time look for the latest book from one of the top authors in that genre
4.           Note the author's name, book title, and publisher.  Read the back cover copy.
 When you return home (or as soon as you have access to a computer) research the following:

  • How is each author promoting their books online?
  • Go to each author’s website... is their website showcasing their latest book?
  • Were you able to find them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
  • Is their publisher doing any promotions for the book? If so, what?
  • Do they have any upcoming blog tours or book signings?
  • What are some things you like about their online marketing? 
  • What are some things that you didn't like about their online marketing?

Often, learning what NOT to do is just as important as following a GREAT example.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Morgan says: One of my favorite things about my local bookstore is the "staff picks" shelf.  In this area of the store, each employee has written a little shelf-hanger card that describes why they selected their choice book for this shelf.

Your assignment for this week is to talk with the staff of your favorite bookstore.  Specifically, I want you to find one of the people who added a book to the "employee recommended" shelf.  If the store you frequent doesn't have a specific area for staff selections, then ask one of the workers if they have a book recommendation.  (Most bookstores have staff members who are avid readers.  I am sure they will have a favorite book (or
 books) that you just HAVE to read.)

As you engage the bookstore employee, I want you to
 ask them one simple question Why do you like this book?
·                     Is it the setting?
·                     The characters?
·                     The suspense?
·                     The romance?
·                     The author's voice?
If you want to take your questioning one step further, ask them What made you pick up this book the first time you read it?
·                     Did a friend recommend the book to them?
·                     Did they read a review?
·                     Maybe they overhead a conversation about it?
·                     Did the cover art work or copy peak their interest?
·                     Maybe they heard good things about the author?

I'm sure you'll be surprised by a few (or all) of their answers.  Take a moment to think about how many people this one person has told about their favorite book(s).

How can you use this information to help your career?
Are there any marketing efforts for your books that would attract this reader?

If they are a member of your target audience, you may even consider giving them a copy of your book as a thank you for their time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Wednesday, it's Morgan with a few marketing campaign reflections and thoughts.  

I will admit that I am extremely fortunate to have book loving co-workers.  We often sip coffee and discuss the latest books we are reading in the hall and at each others desks.  Our president is even an avid reader and sometimes joins the discussion.  I share the books I collect from various writing conferences.  Our agreement is that if they liked one of the books they've borrowed, they have to post a review and / or tell others about the great book they just read.  But there are instances where they didn't like or finish a book they borrowed.  (Again, not every book is going to be every person's cup of tea.)

Word of mouth campaigns are funny things.  If the person talking about your book really liked it, positive promotion ensues.  If they hated your work, the opposite is true.  Malcolm Gladwell in his influential work
 The Tipping Point explores the elements and factors that can cause a message or product to go viral.  Mavens (the experts) chat with Connectors (the folks with a wide network of contacts in a variety of fields) and Salesmen (those among us who can sell ice in Antarctica).  The right message relayed to the right mix of people at the right time can cause the ripple effect needed for a best seller.

So how do you influence this process?  

KNOW and UNDERSTAND your audience.

Over the years, I've gotten a good feel for the different genres and writing styles my co-workers enjoy.  For one lady, the 'smut factor' (her words, not mine) must be high (two or more love scenes) for her to enjoy a romance novel.  Another lady enjoys YA Steampunk.  While yet another swoons over books that incorporate historical adventures.  Equipped with this knowledge, I can put my Maven skills to work by pointing each of them towards new and seasoned authors that write what they enjoy reading.  And guess what....once they've discovered an author they like, they want to read all the books that author has written! 

Of course they won't like 100% of my recommendations, but my hit rate dramatically improved the more we discussed their likes and dislikes.  Needless to say, we are in the early stages of planning a book club.  I will be sure to keep you posted on our progress.

For this week's field trip, I challenge you to chat with at least three new people you see regularly to find out if they read books often.  If their answer is 'yes,' then ask them to tell you about the types of books they like to read.  Keep it casual, don't turn the conversation into an inquisition.  I'm sure you'll be surprised by the information that book lovers are willing to share.  And who knows, you may even find some new readers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In last Wednesday's post, I introduced some terms that may have been new to you:
·                     Maven - a subject matter expert
·                     Connector - a person with a broad and diverse network of friends, associates, and other contacts
·                     Salesman - a persuasive person

Each person, listed above, plays a role in propagating a word of mouth campaign.  Just think of the last time you needed a new product or service.  Did you consult with your friends, experts, or store clerk before you made your final buy decision?  Have you recently made a purchase based solely on a friend's recommendation?  Have you ever avoided a service provider or product based on a negative review?  If your answer is 'yes' to any of these question, then you have been affected by 'word of mouth'....sometimes, they are formal campaigns orchestrated by corporations who pay trend setters to use their products.  Most often, they are genuine recommendations from people we trust.

I would argue that, in today's WiFi connected world, bloggers are a mix of Maven, Connector, and Salesman.  Formal review sites, like Goodreads and Consumer Reports, act as a mix of Maven and Connector.

How does all of this information pertain to your writing career?  Use your new found knowledge to your advantage.  Connect with bloggers online.  Write reviews on Amazon. Talk with bloggers and reviewers at writing conferences.  Do some research to find out which bloggers will enjoy your style of writing and start to engage them.  We all prefer to do business with people we know and trust....bloggers typically enjoy promoting authors they know personally.

How can you engage bloggers and reviewers?
·                     Follow them on Twitter or Facebook
·                     Subscribe to their blogs and leave comments
·                     Have a drink with them at a conference
·                     Make an effort to understand their passion for reading and blogging

Here are some bloggers I've met and / or follow on Twitter:
·                     Sara M. (
·                     Sarah Wendell (
·                     Book Lovers Inc. (

Questions for this week:
·                     Which bloggers do you follow?
·                     Do you interact with them via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media?
·                     How do you select the bloggers you follow?

I challenge you to find at least one blogger who covers the types of books you write.  Connect with them through their blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  Find out how they select the books they review.  You just might learn something new and start to generate some buzz for your books and your PERSONA.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Keen Eye & Fresh Perspective

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
It occurred to me (Morgan) this morning, that our last few posts have had a consistent theme of messaging with a heavy focus on the point-of-purchase (POP) arm of marketing.  When most people think of POP, they generally tend to focus on displays and signs...this line of thought made me think: What are the components of a well designed sign?  The reverse question also occurred to me: What constitutes a 'bad' sign design?  

A well designed POP sign should communicate its core message in one glance.

People new to marketing and sign design often try to cram in too much information.  Just think what the state of traffic would be, if the street signs contained too many details?  Drivers would be too distracted deciphering street signs to avoid car crashes!  When on the highway, how do you know where the fast food chains are for each exit?  Their logos, distance, and two words: "Next Exit" make it clear, in one glance, where you can get burgers versus tacos.

Examine the poster below.  Is it clear what type of story you would get if you bought Ms. Marvelle's book? <Steamy!>

In store sign at Jan's Paperbacks.  See last Wednesday's Field Report for details.
For this week's field trip, we would like for you to take extra note of the signs you encounter in your everyday life.
·                     Which ones are easy to comprehend / digest in one glance?
·                     For the signs that contain more detailed information, which ones actually make you stop to read them?  Which ones do you just pass by without reading?  Why?
·                     How can you apply what you learned to your POP signs?

          Put your POP signs to work.  Communicate in one glance.     

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This week, I would like for you to take a moment to think about three popular brands:

·                     Office Max
·                     Staples
·                     Office Depot
What thoughts and images immediately come to mind?  Maybe your mind jumped to the toner or ink you need for your printer, plain tiled floors and fully stocked shelves, or helpful staff.

Take a look at their websites via the links provided.  Pretty standard stuff, here.  Exactly what you would expect from an office supply website: extensive navigation bars, a large promo ad of some sort, and sales or discounts highlighted.

Now, I would like for you to venture over to a new site I discovered: Poppin.

Poppin. also sells office supplies, but what's different? 
They took a fresh perspective on how to design and market their office supplies!

I just love to be surprised and refreshed.  And how refreshing it is to find a company that has taken something so mundane as 'office supply shopping' and raised it to a new level.  

Did you notice that you can shop for goods based on color?
<for some reason this fact makes me giggle like a school girl.>

Note: Businesses have brands and cultures.  Nonfiction authors, nonprofit organizations, and politicians have platforms.  Fiction authors have genres and PERSONAS.  Keeping this in mind, note how Poppin.'s "work happy" culture is present in all corners of their web presence.  (Check out their 'Meet Poppin', 'We Give Back', and 'Fun Stuff' links at the bottom of their web page.)

Your assignment for this week:
·                     Take a look at your website with a fresh perspective
·                     How can you incorporate your PERSONA into all corners of your marketing?
·                     Through your writing, are you taking a fresh perspective on an established genre?  Is this new spin adequately represented on your website and in your promotional materials?
            Don't be afraid to try something new and let your PERSONA shine through.       

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Morgan here with another Wednesday workshop.  It is a scientifically proven fact that color has an affect on mood, hunger, and purchasing habits.....yup, purchasing habits.  I found this great post via a link Therese recently shot my way.  I tried to embed the post graphic, but the resolution is a little fuzzy.  If you are unable to read it here, check out this direct link to the infographic from Daily Infographic.  

I challenge you to try to think of ways to integrate the information below into your PERSONA & POP designs.

Hopefully, you can now understand why I love, love, love marketing!  

            It's so fascinating!