Sunday, May 17, 2015

On Time Magazine, Humorists, and Creative Marketing


I have lots of favorite humorists and I’ve added a new one. I may be behind the times but I read my first humor column by Kristin van Ogtrop in Time magazine recently. Other than a killer (and funny!) voice, she talked a bit about marketing, specifically about book marketing!
                                
It seems the three British guys who have day jobs in advertising are promoting what she calls “personalized books”—whatever those are—and they’re doing it with a Web site (http://3pregnantdads.com). Seems part of their gimmick is to strap on 33 1/2 pounds of belly and boobs to their bods so they can better relate to what their pregnant wives are going through.

33½ Pounds? Really? These guys are British and they measure their money in pounds, not the weight they gain—or lose!)

They didn’t remove their load until March 15, UK’s equivalent to Mother’s Day in the US. Kristin (the Time humorist) doesn’t tell her readers how many books they sold with this ploy or even how well their Web site was trafficked, but, hey! They landed in Time with a whole column dedicated to this gimmick. So, it seems that achieved at least some of what they were after.

The question is, would you—perhaps a less exuberant author—want to do something this crazy? Well, sure. It wouldn’t hurt to have the knowhow of an advertising or marketing executive and power of your firm behind your shenanigans, should you choose to do it. But the real trick to success is that the scheme you cook up must be something that will catch the attention of the media and that fits well with the book you’re selling. And, oh yeah. Be sure you have plenty of time, money, and/or expertise to do the Web site right. In other words, you must coordinate your site with you chosen visually fun or smart or interesting trick and the media releases you send out.

Just so you know, I’m feeling a little less self-conscious about my idea to cover my ancient (1989) Volvo station wagon with 350,000 miles on it with decals advertising my HowToDoItFrugally books. Unlike most who use similar ideas, I want acrylic pockets on the side that will hold brochures or bookmarks that people can just help themselves to. I could send before and after pictures of the automobile to Kristin at Time.

On the other hand, maybe not. I think these guys with their pregnant tummies make my idea look…well, hardly newsworthy.

And therein lies the best lesson of all. Your gambit has to be newsworthy—with an emphasis on “new.”
 
 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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