Sunday, June 06, 2010

What We Authors Can Learn from Apple and Jobs

I tutor accent reduction and American culture on Wednesday mornings and last week I explained the concept of marketing to my Korean student who has a beauty salon. It occurred to me that it isn’t only immigrants who might benefit from a refresher course on marketing. It’s been a while since we got down to marketing basics for authors in this blog. Sort of a Marketing 101 plan. One that will inspire you to market. Inspire you to be proud of the marketing you do.

It’s always amazing to me that in a country of capitalists (many of them pretty rabid capitalists) that so many of us feel uncomfortable with words like “marketing,” “promotion,” “publicity,” and even “advertising.” If you don’t believe me, look at the furor over Twitter’s plans to earn some money by accepting advertising.

So here is some reassurance for you. The best marketing is not selfish. It never has been. It’s caring. It’s understanding your customer or audience and giving them what they want.

The best marketing is careful and detailed.

The best marketing is personal.

Let’s look at one of the best marketing machines in the world. Apple. They don’t even do focus groups. They know their customer so well they can tell the customer what she wants before the customer knows she wants it. The new iPad is an example of that.

Detail? Look at their products. That’s detail. Inside and out. Efficient. Gorgeous to look at. Look at Steve Jobs. He even dresses to the image of his company. Casual--501 jeans, a black turtleneck and a sort of stubbly computer-hacker kind of half-bearded face. Smart, too. His little squarish glasses. Warm--those eyes full of delight for what he does.

Personal? There is no hesitation at Apple or from Jobs to exploit his charisma. But we’re also aware that this is a company of other people. Similar--we assume--to Jobs. We sometimes get to peer into the campus where they work. We are aware that they are treated well. Our feelings about the company (even if we don’t own an Apple or Mac or any of the other gadgets) is warm and appreciative because it feels familiar.

As authors or publishers, we can do all of that. In fact, it may be easier. We are starting with a warm, fuzzy product that everyone loves, books. It’s a lot easier to think in terms of an audience for cozy mysteries or poetry than it is for a hunk of wires and metal. It’s a lot easier to think in terms of some books than it is others! Still, there is an audience for every book. If you haven’t figured out what yours is, you’d better read it again donning your maketing-magic beanie first. There are some things to look for as you read in the “Know Your Angles” section of Chapter 15 of The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo).

So go for it! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. If you can’t be proud to promote (market) your book, how can you expect anyone else to pass on the good word for you?

----- 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 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 . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about it:

Search This Blog