Marketing is every bit of contact your company has with the outside world. Every bit. – From Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Levinson
Why does the term “marketing people” evoke such dread? In some circles it might even be considered an oxymoron. But I say that the trepidation around marketing and marketing volk comes from a lack of understanding about what marketing is, even within that world. Marketing is about people and connecting people. Here are five alternative views of marketing to help you fall in love with the process of marketing your work.
1) Marketing as Service
This is the core principal of my own marketing consulting business. Marketing is a way of connecting people with the people, ideas and products they might need. Being helpful is the new M.O. in the marketing world.
For writers, it’s not about selling yourself. It’s not about “Hey, look over here! I’m awesome, read my book!”. That’s the “shiny” approach. You try to grab someone’s attention by being shiny.
The problem is, that people really don’t care about you (nothing personal). What people really care about, is them. When I’m browsing the internet, it’s because I’m bored and need some net-ainment, or because I need some new shoes or because someone’s blowing up my facebook or for any number of reasons. I never hop online because someone else wants me to. It’s always about something I want or need.
The same logic applies to buying. If you can give people something they need, something that makes their life better in some way, then they will start to care about you. And that’s the basis of a relationship.
2) Marketing as Relationship
Often, a marketing relationship looks at lot like a zealot screaming at the passing horde from a top a soapbox. If being useful is our new operation system, then our goal is to start a dialog with our audience.
Let’s say you have a writer’s blog. If you’re selling you’re new eBook every post, it’s gonna be crickets chirping on your comments. In his interview with DIY MFA Radio, Guy Kawasaki says that you should use the 8/2 rule, that is, for every two posts selling something, you need eight posts offering useful, funny, informative, educational or somehow engaging content.
Any interaction with your audience is a dialog, not a monolog. It’s a discussion. Listen. Ask for ideas from your readers, don’t just shove yours down their throats.
3) Marketing as Truth
Marketing is also the truth made fascinating. – Guerrilla Marketing
Somehow, we’ve gotten this idea that marketing, advertising and business in general is about profits by any means necessary. And that means shining the shinola, spinning the pins and tweaking the twerking. Lying in other words.
But I say, it ain’t necessarily so. As the rise of socially conscious consumerism has shown, people don’t like buying from companies that they feel are unethical. Marketing, real marketing, is telling the truth in the most engaging way possible. And you don’t have to bend the truth to do that. Seriously.
Tell your audience the truth about you and your work, and they’ll respect you for it.
4) Marketing as Story
Alright word nerds, here’s your time to shine. Every ad, every blog post, email, any damn bit of marketing tells a story. It’s the story of how you can help me. It’s about how you Monsieur/Madame Auteur can show me a good time with your awesome book. But remember that 8/2 rule! Most of the time, your marketing story is about how you can help me have a good time with your interesting blog post, funny quote, or informative email.
Keep in mind, this is the slow game. You won’t have stellar sells, a monster mailing list, and 10,000 Facebook likes, at first. You build the relationship, prove your worth to your audience, and in turn, they will stay loyal to you.
5) Marketing as an Act of Love
I can feel your eyes rolling, but I’m serious here. You are offering a person something that you feel is helpful for them. If it’s a story you actually feel is good and will help them to see the world in a new way, then telling people about it is a way of helping, a bit of generosity. Your book won’t help them if they don’t read it.
It’s also an act of self-love. You’re putting something, a book, a story, a website, out into the world. You’re saying to yourself, “this is good, and I think that you might think it’s good too”.
If there’s only one take away from all this, it’s this: Be useful to your audience.
Offer them something that will make their lives better, even if it’s only a small way, and they will thank you by buying your book, subscribing your blog and being a part of your audience for years to come.
Kent Bridgeman is a freelance writer and marketing strategist who also writes short stories, screenplays and poetry. He helps his clients clarify their marketing messages and craft potent content. He lives in Chicago with his lovely fiancée D, and a grumpy parrot named Poncho. Check out his work at thewritejazz.com