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: