5 Things I’ve Learned About Marketing {Discussion}

Posted 28 June, 2013 by Amanda / 14 Comments


Most of you know that I run my own business. Being a business owner means that I’m required to wear a lot of hats. I’m not just an editor, I’m a marketer, an administrative assistant, a web designer/administrator, and just about anything else that I need to be.

And I’ve learned a lot about marketing.

On the book blogging side of life, I get marketed to. All the time. And knowing what I know about marketing to people, my standards for good marketing have gone up–and my tolerance for bad marketing has gone down.

I’ve received a couple unsolicited review requests addressed to me using the bcc field–which means it’s likely a mass email. (Doubly likely since I know others who received the same email.) I once had an author who told me, after I declined his review request through FB and linked to my review policy, that I couldn’t blame him for trying.

But you know what? I CAN.

Bad marketing is not excusable because “it’s tough out there.” It’s tough out there because people are practicing bad marketing tactics and everyone is suffering the consequences. If it’s tough out there, you up your game and you work at it.

Also? This applies to everyone. Remember my post about marketing? Here are some principles to supplement it.

1. Make a connection

Everyone gets bombarded with advertisements and emails all the time. If you want to stand out in the crowd, find a way to make a personal connection with the person. Sometimes, this is as simple as using the person’s name.

Sometimes, you have to work harder. Who is the person you’re connecting with? Reference something they’ve done. Show them that you understand them. Talk to them on social media–without referencing whatever it is you’re trying to sell.

Because when you don’t make a connection? It just shows you don’t care about them–you only care what they can do for you. And no one wants to be used.

So bloggers? “Nice _____. Check out my post!” is the equivalent of saying, “The only reason I’m commenting is so you visit my site.”

And authors/promoters? “Hey! Want to read my book?” doesn’t make a connection. At the very least, learn the person’s name and use it. But what really makes a connection is showing that you know the blogger, have followed the blogger, and know, without a doubt, that you’re pitching something they’re going to love. Otherwise the only message you’re sending is that you’re desperate for people to read your book.

2. Know your target audience

Who are you marketing to? If you don’t know that, you’re going to fail.

And your target audience? Isn’t book bloggers.

Book bloggers, believe it or not, is too vague. On a Book Bender’s target audience? Women. Age 25-45. Readers of romance and paranormal books. That’s not to say we only want readers within those parameters–it means that our posts will be most appealing to our target audience.

If you’re trying to get people to read your book, sending out a mass email to any blogger whose email address is publicly available isn’t the way to do it. (Also, it violates #1 and #3.) Vet your pool of potential reviewers. If I’m marketing an erotica book, I’m not going to approach YA bloggers. It’s a waste of my time and theirs.

3. Email with permission only

This isn’t just polite–it’s required by law in the US. Starting a private conversation is one thing. But if you mass email, you’re email marketing. And if you’re email marketing, you’re required, by law, to have permission to use that email. Having an email publicly available is NOT permission.

If you don’t have permission to use someone’s email address, don’t use it. If you really want to get in touch with someone, reach out to them. See #1.

4. Stop taking shortcuts

Marketing takes time. It takes hard work and research and knowing exactly what you need to accomplish. It’s not easy and if you try to make it so, you’re going to alienate more people than you pull in.

Like asking for comments on Twitter? You may get comments, but it won’t get people coming back to your site. Good marketing creates loyal fans, not one-time pity visitors.

Getting comments usually involves writing good content, interacting with people on their blogs, and talking with them outside blogs (Twitter, Facebook, email). It requires time, work, and sometimes, lack of return effort.

But marketing? Is never a 100% thing. You will always have unopened emails. Sucky comments to views ratios. Low numbers of people clicking your links. That’s just the way it is.

There is no shortcut to good marketing. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you.

5. Remember it’s not about you

I know you’ve got something to promote. Anyone who markets does.

But as I’ve said before, writing a book or a post isn’t reason enough to get people to read it. How will reading the book or post benefit the reader? If you can’t answer that, your potential reader isn’t going to know the answer, either. And it’s not their job to figure it out.

If you can tell people how you can help them, they’ll be more likely to give you the time of day.

So this post? It’s “Want to know five secrets to successfully marketing yourself? @BookBender’s spilling the beans.” {Click to tweet this.} And it’s NOT “Hey, I wrote about post about marketing! Come check it out!”

Filed under: Discussion,


14 Responses to “5 Things I’ve Learned About Marketing {Discussion}”

  1. Yeah, I was never marketed to as much as when I started my book blog (which, of course, continues today). The one-liners (“Hey, I wrote a book & I’ll give it to you free to review it! Aren’t I nice?”) are my *favorite*. Mostly because they’re the easiest to delete. I do appreciate those who put in the extra effort, though I’ll probably say no anyway because I have so many books to read as it is. But those are the ones that will get a response from me. The others are trashed. Fact ‘o life.

    • Honestly? We’re more likely to “bite” from people we know. I once had someone approach me after a few months of regularly commenting on my blog, and I was all, “Hey, I know you! Let me help you in any way I can” even though I rarely–if ever–accept review requests. Because the connection is there.

      But you’re right–it’s totally easy to trash those impersonal requests. And I do. Frequently.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with this post Amanda! And I had no idea you needed permission to use someone’s email address if you’re email marketing. Good to know. I just got one of those mass emails the other day that said “To the fine writers of Supernatural Snark”. Awesome. They wanted to write a post for me that I could then post on the blog. It wasn’t even a post about books, which is irritating on a variety of levels.

    I just look at these emails like a cover letter one would send to a potential employer – you do the research, find a name, write to a specific person and tell them why you are the right fit for the position. Why wouldn’t you do the same when you were promoting your book?

    • Yeah. A few months ago, there was a trend among authors and publicists to add emails to email lists (through services like MailChimp). And that’s against spam laws. To add people to lists, you need their permission. That’s why I don’t add people to my weekly digest or to my business newsletter without them signing up for it. That, and it’s a quick way to piss people off. I *do* have links to both newsletters in the bottom of my RSS feed though. ;)

      Looking at review requests like a cover letter is so true. Because, like job interviews, no one is going to care about you until you show them why they should. Review requests are no different.

  3. Nice discussion. Check out my blog!

    Knowing what I now know about the BCC emails we’ve been receiving lately, I’m not surprised by them. A little disheartened that there are people out there who think this is the way to get the word out about their books, but not surprised. That said, it is SO EASY to hit delete when it’s clear the person who sent the email is just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Whereas the author who takes the time to make an email seem more personal (whether it’s a form email with little tweaks or not), gets a much closer look.

  4. Yes to ALL of these things. But moreso, the fact that these conversations are being had makes me feel like nerdly happy. Marketing isn’t what it used to be anymore. Marketing is about making connections. Marketing is about getting to know people. Marketing is not all up in your face anymore because it can be. F that. Nobody responds or should respond to it anymore.

    The television/magazine/radio form of advertising AT you has now been supplanted by the internet’s form of advertising FOR or WITH you and I couldn’t be more tickled.

    • So true. People no longer have the patience to be sold at; they want to be wooed. (Basically. Woo me, dammit.) We want VALUE. I’ve unsubscribed to a few email lists because it was all about their products and nothing of value to me–even though I’d been interested in their products to begin with.

      And I sometimes feel like bloggers, especially when they’re new, feel like they need to respond to each review request personally because the person took the time to email them, no matter how awful the pitch was. Down with that! There’s nothing wrong with deleting emails from bad marketers without responding. If authors expect bloggers to do something for them, they need to make their case. If they don’t do it, there’s nothing wrong with hitting delete. And not feeling guilty for doing so.

  5. Great discussion topic, and thanks for the tips! I hate being sent a BCC mass email. It makes me feel faceless. The other day I received a request that was so perfect. The author states my name and my blog’s. He mentioned liking a review of mine. He gave me an option (no unsolicited copies), and more. I had no interest in the book, but because it was an exemplary request, I could not refuse. Lol.

    I think a lot of people like to do that pity tactic. I have seen tweets like “This post needs hugs”, and the like. It sounds cute, but trust me, it makes me stay away. I also hate those comments that sound like pleads, a big reason why I refrain from meme participation. “I like your list this week! Check out my TTT here”. It makes me cringe.

    You are just a blur in blogosphere/publishing world if you are selfish, lazy, unfriendly, and egotistic. A blur.

    • Ha. Yes. And THAT is good marketing. :)

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who avoids posts that “need” comments. And I confess to purposefully not following posts that are linked to me in comments for two reasons. 1. WP gives you the option of adding your website, so I already have it if I want to stop by and 2. when it’s an event or meme, I can go to the main link up and visit sites. Basically? If someone wants to connect with you, they will.

  6. Another great post. I love this feature. Well done. I’m not sure what BCC emails are, so I guess that’s a good thing, but I’ll go back to a previous discussion. Pay it back. Build relationships. You are so right to highlight finding your target audience, and yes it’s tough to get exposure on top blogs in your genre, that’s why they are top blogs ~ they are selective and think of their fan base. Great post, as usual. Thanks so much, have a great day!

    Paul R. Hewlett

    • Bcc emails are blind carbon copy–which means you can send one email to multiple people without revealing anyone’s email address. We use it for Bout of Books, for example, to send one informational post to all challenge hosts. It also avoids reply all emails. The bcc emails I (and other bloggers) got *looked* like a personal email, but was, in fact, a mass email. Pretty lame from a review request standpoint.

      • Wow, I’ll say. If one was going to send unsolicited requests for reviews, you would think they would at least research something about the blogger and the blog and tailor their request to them. Thanks for filling me in on that, and thanks again for a great feature.


  7. I am confused by the above comments: If you cannot contact people without getting their permission, how are you to get their permission? And why am I still receiving tons of junk mail in the snail mail every week? Is all of this junk mail illegal too?

    Sure, I can throw it in the trash, and people can delete my emails asking if they would be interested in seeing my book.

    But if you are an independent author who has written a book, and you don’t have tons of money to hire marketing agents (who probably send out spam anyway), how are you supposed to sell books?

    But you seem to have upped the anti even more, seeing as you are a publisher, but you don’t want people, authors who have written books, to contact you by mail unless you have heard of them first and invited them? Or what? Sending an email to a publisher because you have written a book is not like sending out blind spam to thousands of people. Sorry, I just don’t get it.

    I have a book and I would like a publisher to publish it. Many publishers only accept proposals via email. I don’t want someone like you to handle my book because I want someone to do that who is going to value both me and my work, and that means that they won’t be offended if I contact them via email.


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