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Monday, May 01, 2006

How Marketing Saved Civilization

Any author (or blogger) will tell you that titles matter.  The name is frequently what draws people in to read a post, or buy a book.  In a world of competing diversions, these titles are more important than ever.  Why the Irish Saved Civilization was a very average book released with a perfectly crafted title just engaging enough for all Americans who claim some amount of Irish heritage to buy it for other Americans with similar backgrounds.  It probably sold well in Ireland too.  But my guess is that only 10% of people who bought the book ever actually read it.  The title is what sold the book.  An article in Business 2.0 magazine this month (The Author as Uber Marketer - not yet posted online) makes the case that beyond choosing the right title, authors today are also engaging in smart word of mouth marketing techniques in order to sell their books.  Marketing budgets in the publishing industry are being stretched too thin, and as a result authors are often put in the same position as startups - trying to sell something they believe in without any marketing budget to do it. 

This is creating a fertile industry-wide testing ground for all sorts of new marketing tactics beyond traditional advertising.  If you want examples of high impact marketing ideas, great word of mouth campaigns and innovative guerilla marketing strategies - look no further than authors trying to sell their books today.  They don't buy TV spots (too little ROI).  They rarely buy radio or print ads (not targeted enough).  Instead, book marketing has become all about PR, word of mouth marketing, and getting smarter about how and where to expend effort.  Authors of books are going onto to write their own reviews, claim authorship of a book and respond to comments.  They are attending book signings in stores, book club meetings and other real world events.  They are reading and posting comments to blogs.  They are starting their own blogs and using affiliate marketing to make a cut on every online book sale completed through their referral.  Seth Godin used a very smart prerelease strategy of limited editions sold in boxes of 100 copies to get The Big Moo into the hands of influentials.  Guy Kawasaki has seen sales of his books spike since starting his blog in January.  Peguin Books has an entire channel dedicated to getting its books into the hands of vocal individuals through a partnership with Buzz Agent.  The future of publishing is in smarter word of mouth marketing - and away from mass marketing.  I suspect there are many other industries that are heading toward the same scenario, but haven't quite figured it out yet ...


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