Monday, January 20, 2014

What Works? Peterborough Sings worked!



What? It's January 20 already? How did THAT happen?

Well, if it's Jan. 20, it's time for "What Works: An Online Marketing Symposium." If you've been wondering how best to market a product in these weird but brave economic times, you may want to check this out. Bloggers from around the globe have posted their ideas on what works and what doesn't, marketing-wise. I'm as curious as everyone else – I'm dying to know some "secret way" to get readers to find my book ... and my body, of course. Since novel-writing isn't as lucrative as I had hoped, I was thinking maybe I'd sell my, ahem, curvaceous and only slightly used body to the highest bidder.

I like to think I know a little about marketing. Back in my days as a newspaper reporter I came up with several cool community ideas, worked them out, promoted them, and had excellent success.

My absolute best idea was Peterborough Sings.

It was late fall in the mid-90s. My ex-husband had just spent some time in a recording studio laying down some tracks with his band and, just for fun, I recorded a song, too. I was thrilled with the results. Somehow the professional techniques of the studio made me sound not half-bad and I had a ton of fun doing the recording. One day I was driving to work at Peterborough This Week, the newspaper I worked for at the time, and I came up with an idea to get local singers into a studio.

The idea quickly blossomed inside my excited head and this is what happened: local singers would tape themselves singing a Christmas carol and send the cassette (this was the '90s) to me at Peterborough This Week. I would round up a few judges with experience in the music business, and have them pick 10 winners. Those winners would go to a studio and record their carol. A cassette would be made with all the winning songs on it and then sold. The proceeds would go to the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper Drive.

Looking back on it now, I don't know if I would take a project like that on. It was a HUGE amount of work but the results were SO worth it! We had some awesome amateur singers get some exposure, the Salvation Army got a lot of money and our newspaper gained attention as a real "giver" in the community.

So how did I do it?

1. Be fearless. I championed my idea and didn't take no for an answer. Be your project's "champion."

2. Involve others who can help in areas you can't. For example, one of my judges was a popular disc jockey at the local radio station. He brought the station on board with free commercials advertising the project and playing the final tape on air. In return, the newspaper printed free ads for the radio station.

The owner of a local recording studio volunteered his time and his studio to do the actual recordings. In return, the paper gave him free advertising and plenty of goodwill plugs.

A printing company printed our cassette liners (that I designed on the computers at work) in return for advertising and we bought our cases at cost. The newspaper's photographer dressed her niece up like an angel and took a wonderful photo for the liner.

3. Be organized. I had a lot of balls in the air during this two-month long project and there were some pretty crazy days along the way. But someone had to be the "point man" in order to "git er done" and that point man was me.

4. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Use every avenue you can think of to promote your project. Newspapers, radio, TV, posters and, most importantly, word of mouth. Traditional advertising may be out of reach for most people, but that doesn't mean you can't negotiate deals or send in press releases for free publicity. Either learn how to write a professional press release or hire someone to do it for you. This is not the time to write a lame, uninspired letter to a newspaper begging for some ink. Learn how to attract an editor's attention. Be enthusiastic. Editors tend to be jaded people – it takes a lot to win them over.

Doing your own marketing isn't easy and I think it's getting harder and harder all the time, but no one will ever be as enthusiastic about your project as you are, and thus no one will do a better job at promoting it. Good luck!

P.S. - I just read the most inspirational post from a fellow writer who, like me, is terrified of public speaking and promotion. Kevin Craig isn't part of this blog tour but, honestly, his words will inspire you. Click HERE to be inspired!

To see what other bloggers are saying in the symposium, click one of the following links:

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71 comments:

  1. What a cool idea! Yeah, I imagine it was a lot of work, but getting all those people on board to help made it come together.
    Thanks for participating in the symposium.

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  2. Thank you for smacking me... so much that I am afraid of when I share my books. It's like opening yourself to everyone and saying... here read this and then be kind... or the very least nice.

    Jeremy H.

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!
    [Being-Retro]

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    1. Don't I know it – putting your work out there is like saying HIT ME!!! You'll be fine, Jeremy! Now, git er done! :)

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  3. I wonder if I could market and sell the hubs.....all proceeds to me of course.

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    1. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Good luck with that Delores! And, if it works, tell me how you did it!!! ox

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  4. Let us know how the body sale thing goes. LOL. The great thing about your singing project is that you were inspired to do something that sounded like a great amount of fun to you. It probably made at least some of that hard work worthwhile. I get what you're saying about not being sure you'd do it again. Sometimes it's better to dive right in if you don't remember how cold that water is.

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    1. Exactly, Kim! It's like childbirth! If we remembered the pain, there would never be baby #2!

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  5. What an amazing event--Tapes for Christmas! I love how everyone worked out trade deals through it.

    I'm totally stuck on this press release thing. I know, I know, I need to get into it, but well, that's a TON of work. I'm thinking I'll have to hire someone.

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    1. There are a TON of people out there who can help you with press releases – I know a whole bunch of them personally and they probably don't even charge much. Let me know if you need a name!

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  6. All of what you've shared is right on. It's the getting organized part that keeps me in a twist. :-)

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    1. Yep, me too! Sometimes it's only shear passion and determination that gets me through, while organization drops sadly by the wayside...

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  7. I'm gong better at the organization with each book that comes out. Great advice and I could feel your enthusiasm as I read your post.

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    1. If only I could get paid for enthusiasm - I'd be RICH!!! Thanks Susan!

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  8. Being fearless and organized are very important when you're marketing. You have to take risks and try new things. :)

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    1. And I need to take that advice, Chrys... there are some days when it's soooo hard!

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  9. I loved your number one. Championing your cause can really give you the push to do the additional work to see some success behind it all.

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  10. Great story and loved your examples! I need to be more fearless and call on others to help. I tend to do things myself, but this year I am branching out more and stepping out of my comfort zone. Hence joining the Online Marketing Symposium. Thank you Cathy!

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  11. Be fearless--so true! BTW, I haven't even said the words "cassette tapes" in years so thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

    Nice to meet you today, Cathy!

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  12. Be fearless. Such inspiring words! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

    p.s. cassette tapes? I vaguely remember having some of them in the 1980s. Don't tell anyone I'm that old, though!

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  13. And having such an awesome, fun idea didn't hurt either -- it's great that it could be a win for so many people!

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  14. What a wonderful success story. Congratulations.

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  15. Wow, this does sound like a difficult but worthwhile project. Very cool!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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    1. It was pure joy, actually!!! The kind of work I wish I did every single day.

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  16. Great work, Cathy! Both the blog, and th history.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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  17. That's a great story, Cathy - and you're right. I used to be fearless - somehow the fear has crept in on me. I must be strong for my books - the characters deserve more!
    Good luck with whatever you do next.

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    1. Jemima, I tried desperately to comment on your post but I just couldn't. Isn't technology wonderful?

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  18. That would have taken a lot of adrenaline! And talent! Wonderful.

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  19. Getting the newspaper and the businesses involved was a genius of an idea!!

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    1. It really taught me the value of working with other people!

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  20. Well, I bought your book. So you can feel free to keep your curvaceous body, I already have one. :) Course, shortly after I bought it, Amazon informed me that I had an issue with my account, which I have fixed, and now can't find my kindle.

    So as soon as I re-download it, you'll get your cash. Mkay?

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  21. Awesome story! You do have to take risks and get yourself out there however possible. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Those are great tips and an awesome success story all the way around.

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  23. My niece works for PTW!
    That's my old home town, sigh....

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    1. No way! What department does she work in???? Peterborough is a really nice city. I enjoyed working there immensely. Great people. Beautiful location. I bet you miss it.

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  24. I'm so bad at marketing and promotion. I just want to be left alone to create. LOL Let someone else do that. I don't think I have the energy or confidence to do what you did Cathy! That was a huge and cool undertaking.

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    1. Ermagherd, look who's talking about energy! Madame Joanne, you have more energy than anybody on the planet, I swear!!!

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  25. Hi Cathy, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Thanks, Chris! Yours is delightful, too. In fact, so delightful that I joined your legion of loyal fans!

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  26. It's always inspiring to learn what works for others in marketing. Marketing can be hard work but so fun when it all comes together!

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    1. I agree, Karen – that's why I leapt onboard this symposium. It was truly inspiring and helpful. Thanks for the follow!

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  27. wow! what a great triumph!
    we are our best advocate. and if we want to sell, we have to put in the effort. great example and advice!

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    1. I know, right? I should have gotten a BIG trophy!!! Would you arrange that for me, Tara? ;)

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  28. Loved Kevin's post - Thanks for sharing that and for participating. That was a great example of success. Congratulations! Organization, planning and not looking back - believing in whay you're doing convinces others too - so key - put it out there and go for it big time. Wonderful advice!

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    1. Isn't Kevin wonderful? I met him a few years ago at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. Not only is he a very talented writer but he's a nice guy, too.

      Thanks for organizing this symposium, Yolanda. I really got a lot out of it - in fact I started a Goodreads Giveaway today because of what I learned during your symposium. So thanks!!!! ox

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  29. Loved your intro. :-)

    Getting help from others can do so much. I'm not good in creating illustrations so I sought the help of friends who can.

    Will visit Kevin's post after I go through the other links. Thanks! I'd love to read inspirational posts.

    The Musings of a Hopeful and Pecunious Wordsmith

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  30. Inspirational!
    Good to hear your idea worked.

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  31. Cathy, you've inspired me with this post. There's something I need to move on and you've inspired me to do that. My biggest lack is being fearless. Need to get on that.

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    1. You inspire me ALL the time, JL! And you know what? I'm pretty fear-fulled, too. It's something we all have to fight.

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  32. Attitude makes all the difference and being fearless and enthusiastic about your own work, exuding confidence, is a great idea!

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  33. Organization is the key to success! Sounds like your event was a lot of fun!

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  34. great examples and tips! you know you're stuff! I love your header! newest follower, hi!!!!!

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    1. Hi Tammy! Thanks for the follow!!! (I love the header, too... Hilda is such a hottie!!!)

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  35. I love that you jumped in with both feet without flinching! Thanks for the inspirational story and the great tips!

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  36. That sounds like it was a great idea, Cathy!

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  37. I'm trying to work my way slowly through these symposium posts, collecting info for future reference.
    A fearless attitude is a great asset. It will get you everywhere! Sounds like you've nailed the "fearless factor" Cathy!
    Thanks for the boost of inspiration!

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How's it going, eh? It's SO good to hear from you. Tell me every darn thing...