Friday, September 04, 2009

What Authors Can Learn About Marketing from Disney

I love Disney. It’s the child in me. It isn't just Disney, it's myth, legend, fairytale. When I was studying literature at USC, I couldn’t resist taking a children’s lit class. That I have written very little for children is beside the point.

Besides all those things, I admire Disney for its marketing. But lately the LA Times reported something of special interest in its Calendar section (Aug 24, D1-D9). First the background.

In July Disney had promoted its coming Alice in Wonderland at Comic-Con the in San Diego where 126,000 fans of cult stuff showed up to play. Disney brought Johnny Depp and Tim Burton and the Expo took advantage of the new media by rolling out the festivities on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. (BTW, that is one of the things about any event; these days they are no longer necessarily local. That goes for the LA Times Festival of Books, the Green Expo I'll be participating in as an interviewer on October 31--see the correction on this event below under appearances--at the Ontario Convention Center and about anything else!)

Disney president and chief executive Robert Iger says, “ . . . we live in a world where digital communication enables people to express their opinions about things to a much broader set of people. We call it the combustion of digital word of mouth . . . their ability to communicate with others is unlike anything we’ve seen at any time before."

But, apparently, Disney doesn’t like just being part of the festivities. Even as an exhibitor. So they are taking the best of Comic-Con and making it into what they’re calling D23 Expo, a four-day event coming in September that will celebrate Disney. And apparently Disney exclusively. And, according to Iger, they will be concentrating not so much on attracting new fans (Comic-Con did that) but to acknowledge and cater to the fan base they already have.

Nothing wrong with that. The secrets for us authors to take away from this are:

1. I already mentioned that no event is local. By using new media effectively, you can reach many times the number of people than you would at any onsite event. In fact, you could give a party like Nadine Laman ( just did. Four weeks of what she called a Blog Party (get it? Block Party) where she gave away books and communicated with people like the Welsh guy, Glyn, and people from Croatia as well as Ohio.

2. That we can adapt what works for one book or one profession--however different it may be from ours--to our own needs.

3. The people who can most likely spread the word for us are those who already love us. Let them know they are loved back and they will jump through hoops, knowing you are doing the same for them.

Viva Disney! Viva us Disney fans!

PS: Often I give timely news like this to my Sharing with Writers newsletter subscribers first. I mean, somebody's gotta be first. I warn you. My newsletter is long. That's because it includes tips on craft and promotion, feature articles, what's new in the publishing world--all information that will help build your career. I subscribe to a couple long (and newsy and helpful!) ones like this and I print them out. I don't want to miss a thing. With the warning, I'd love to sign you up. Send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to HoJoNews @ AOL. com.

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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 two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is 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. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, 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 blog.

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