Thursday, January 08, 2015

Promoting your product

I've been spending a lot of time in the last year promoting my three e-books. It's a tough task but it has to be done. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's a chore. You meet interesting people online in the process, and there's always plenty of advice as to how to do it better - too much, perhaps.

But one thing is certain, if you're not a big name and not already a big seller, you're going to have to be patient and let the sales trickle in bit by bit.

I was thinking about this while walking the dog this afternoon. I came across a sign on the roadside which had blown over (not the one in the picture; that's just an example, and doesn't look as if it would blow over easily). It was advertising firewood and so on. I wondered if it would have been anymore effective even if it had been standing up.

Firstly, it was right on the corner of the road that the customer was expected to go up. No warning further down the road, nothing. Just the one sign.

Now this isn't a road where motorists are doing any great speed, but even at 50 kmph, it takes a bit of doing on the motorist's to read the sign, understand it, think about whether he really wants that product, think about whether he really wants to stop or if he's got better things to do; it takes him time to realise the sign relates to the road they're just about to pass, to discuss it all with his wife, to find a way of turning around and then going to investigate. Even if he thinks about all this and decides to come back later, it's possible he'll forget, or find something else more urgent needing to be done.

I know all this because I've often not stopped when going through the orchard area in Roxburgh. At 100 kmph it's even harder to make all these decisions.

At the very least there needs to be two or three signs further down the road at considerable intervals (and yes, I understand that's all a cost to the seller), each one pointing to the road that's coming up, and giving the driver plenty of time to consider whether he wants to make the effort of stopping and buying the product.

Without those warning signs, however, it's unlikely anyone will stop, unless they're absolutely desperate for what's on sale.

Now compare this to an author trying to sell his/her book on line. If I post a tweet, or a facebook comment once, and don't bother again, all I've done is announce to a few possible followers that I have a product. Big deal. If they happen to know me, happen to have read my previous books and enjoyed them, then it's vaguely possible they may suddenly decide on the spur of the moment to purchase the latest one.

It's more likely they'll pay no attention at all. In a digital sense, they'll keep driving.

However, if I post tweets at regular but not annoying intervals, and make them different, enticing, and interesting (that is, not just sales blurbs, but like real tweets or comments) then over the course of time, interest will be aroused, and the reader/follower may think: I remember that from a week or two ago. I might be interested.

They may still switch off and go to the next more interesting tweet or pretty picture. But after seeing these tweets/comments several times, couched in creative ways, they may start to say: Yes, I will look into this. They may click on the link, investigate further, check out the sample. They may even buy.

But notice what a long process this is.

This is why advertisers keep on hammering away at us on TV, in the newspapers, online. They know that the first time we won't pay any attention. We might like the ad, if it's clever, but as for the product, we may find we have no use for it, or it doesn't appeal just at that point. But over successive weeks, months and so on, the product starts to click in our memories, and we slowly change our view. We may resist forever - some ads make me resist, though obviously the advertisers don't realise that. Equally, we may finally think: now's the time.

Perseverance, creativity, continual exposure. All keys to telling the world that we authors have got something they'd like to read. Just this week, a person who has their own online app and with whom I've had a lot of contact via email about what he's selling, suddenly announced he'd bought my book. I think the only way he'd have known about it is because it's on the bottom of my emails. And has been for months.

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