Thursday, July 7, 2011

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Book Isn't Selling

Do you believe you are doing everything right, but feel you are still not getting the results you hope for? Marketing a book requires a laser sharp, targeted approach. Listed below are 10 reasons why your book marketing plan may fail.

Recent studies show that an extremely high percentage of buyers state that the Internet is not just a choice - it is instead the ONLY choice. Even those who intend to buy in the 'real' world often do their research on the Internet before venturing out into that real world to purchase products and services.

Buyers must be able to find you. But they will NOT search by your name or your book's title. They will instead search using a very generic phrase like 'children's book' or 'thriller' or 'spy novel'.

Studies show that hardly anyone goes beyond page three of search engine results. So, you must be on one of the first three pages for the GENERIC SEARCH TERM (like 'children's book) that describes your book. Go to a search engine and check this. Type in the generic phrase that describes your book and see if you are on the first three pages of search engine results. If you are not there, you are virtually invisible. If you are invisible, nothing else you do will matter much at all.

Marketing in the Internet environment requires a completely different approach. If you are using methods and strategies proven to work in the real world in the past, these old school strategies will most likely not work much at all in an Internet marketing environment. Even if you are using that old marketing model perfectly, you can still fail miserably in the Internet environment.

The old saying 'Build it and they will come' has been changed to 'Build it and they will likely ignore you'. To achieve sales success, you must have interested traffic, and you must have a lot of it. You must know how to convert that traffic into sales. All the traffic in the world will not matter if it does not convert to sales. Converting traffic to sales is no small task.

In the 'old days' (just a few years ago), the strategy was to tell as many people as possible about a product and hope that a percentage of people responded by buying the product (this is called an outbound strategy). But the Internet is search engine driven (requiring a laser sharp INBOUND strategy).

Today the potential buyer begins by typing a generic phrase into a search engine, in essence saying 'Here is what I'm looking for'. Your book site is then indexed by the engines based upon how important it appears to be in regards to the generic phrase entered and in regards to how you stack up against the competition for that generic phrase. This is 180 degrees from the old school, real world model.

Search engines rule this environment. THEY decide who is important and are the equivalent of the traditional Yellow Pages. However you will only be listed in THIS one-of-a-kind gigantic online yellow page directory if you understand and follow the SEO rules given you by the engines. If you don't know and understand the rules, you will be at the end of the listings. And, if you are at the end of the listings, no one is going to find you, as they will likely look at just the first three pages.

Imagine having your business banned from the yellow pages in the real world. Not having a great SEO strategy is the same thing. As far as the searcher – the book buyer - is concerned, you will not exist. This is especially true if the Internet is the only tool the buyer will use.

Let us suppose that the buyer does find your website. Now what?

Understandably, many authors like to talk about themselves - but the buyer is not really interested in your history, how you came to write the book, what lead you to write it, how you struggled. They want to know what your book will do for THEM. You must speak to THEIR NEEDS SPECIFICALLY. If you do not do this and do it well, you will have a visitor, but not a buyer.

You must get that desired message to them in under 30 seconds. You must know what THEY really want, and you must provide it more effectively than the competition. If you are not saying what the buyer wants to hear, they will likely never buy your book.

Remember - to the Internet searcher, you are but one of millions. You may look like everyone else. Your book may be 'just another book' to that shopper. What are you telling the visitor that NO ONE ELSE is saying? Without a sharply researched brand, you will appear to be just like everyone else.

Type the phrase 'children's book' into the Google engine today (May 1, 2011) and you will get over 30,900,000 hits. That is your competition. Every one of those pages is presented to that shopper. Your book is just one of them. You know your book is not like all the rest, but they do not. What have you done to take a strong position in regards to the competition you face?

All marketing sites are websites, but not all websites are marketing sites. Your site must be sharp, clean, clear and it must brand you and position you better than the competition. You must provide a logical, step-by-step map for the visitor to follow and you must have compelling calls to action in all the right places. If you do not do this, you will end up with visitors. Remember: a visitor is not a buyer and won't become a buyer without a sharp brand, proper positioning and a strong call to action.

A website is a website is a website. Anyone can build a website. A book marketing website, on the other hand, should be a results-producing machine.

No, you are not a boring person. But do remember always that the attention span of the searcher is very, very short. There are millions of competitors, just one click away. You have 30 seconds to present the brand, the position and the primary reason why someone should buy YOUR book.

When fishing, no one jumps into the water, jams the hook into the fish's mouth and tries to force it to bite the hook. This is what many selling strategies are like.

If you yell in people's ears, attempting to jam your really great hook in their mouths, don't be surprised when they run away. (Think about how you feel about spam, pop up ads, Twitter-blab and commercials). No one likes to be sold.

Instead, in this environment, you must (much like fishing) offer irresistible bait instead. The fish will then come running, they will tell all their friends and they will bite willingly.

Don't put up a website and believe people will magically just show up. They will not.
Don't put up a website and expect people to buy, (if and when they visit). They will not.
Don't put up a website and believe you are finished. You are not.

In the real world, building a successful business takes years and a great deal of effort. In the Internet environment, building your online store will take just as long - perhaps longer. It will require just as much work to make it succeed - perhaps more. The Internet is not a magic bullet. It is a different style of business. A real world business may have a few competitors just down the street. Your Internet business has millions of competitors, all right next door, just one click away.

In this environment the whole world is your potential buyer base. But this will not matter if you don't learn how marketing really works in this environment. If you are not getting good results, don't complain - instead, get some help.

Looking for some real help? Click here

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Marketing - Selling Your Work In An Internet Marketing Environment

If we can believe the numbers, somewhere around 800,000 self published books hit the market last year. Imagine this:

You walk into a library. The library contains over 300 million books.

'Show me everything you have in the way of children's books,' you say to the librarian.

The librarian hands you 38 million index cards.

'Oh, wait a moment,' you exclaim, 'I only have time to look at 20 or 30.'

Now the librarian, whose name happens to be Ms. Searchengine, decides which 20 or 30 of the 38,000,000 cards she believes to be important and hands them to you. The rest simply disappear from your vision. The other 37 million plus books become invisible to you.

This example seems extreme, but the numbers are close to being correct. There are over 300 million sites on the Internet. People, not knowing an author's name or title, will search using a generic phrase such as 'children's book'. Some search engines will return over 38 million hits for such a phrase. And most searchers will only look through the first 20 or 30 search engine results before stopping.

If you are the author of a children's book, this is very close to what you will face when attempting to get some notice for that new book you have slaved over. How does one overcome this mind-numbingly difficult situation?

Niche marketing.

Yes, I know - the very phrase 'niche marketing' has become a cliche. It's been overused. It has never been overdone.

In the past, marketing was primarily a game of numbers. As marketing professionals we came to expect about 1/2 of 1% rate of return. If we sent 1000 postcards bulk mail to a list, we could expect that about 5 people would respond to that mailing (assuming they had shown no prior interest in the subject of the mailing). If we instead used a targeted list (for which people had previously shown an interest in the product being presented), the numbers went up.

Many people panic when they first hear about a rate of return of just 1/2 of 1%. 'Oh,' they say, 'that means I will need to get 1000 visitors to my site to sell just five books! I only get about 20 or 30 visitors a day! It will take forever to be successful."

While on the surface this may seem to be a depressing situation, the inbound nature of Internet marketing actually makes it much easier to enjoy larger conversion percentages. Why is this so?

If an Internet surfer types 'children's book' into the search engine, what are they interested in?

Children's books.

If your site is optimized for that phrase, they will find you - maybe.

This actually means that not some, but rather every person who that author's site is interested in what that author is offering. All of them. Every single one.

However the real key in inbound marketing is to be found by those who are looking for you - to be one of the first 20 or 30 presented by the search engine for that very generic search phrase. They do not yet know the author's name. They do not yet know the title of your book. That is an extremely difficult task for some.

This is precisely why strategic search engine optimization is so important to anyone marketing anything on the Internet. This is especially true for marketing books. Try to imagine what might happen if 800,000 new hardware stores opened in the US every year. Year after year after year. Yet this is what is happening in the field of book marketing. And that is why you will want to get serious about SEO if you intend to market your book in an Internet marketing environment and this is also why you want to learn as much as possible about the search habits of your niche market.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Internet Marketing and PR Strategies – Are You The Invisible Business?

Way back in the day, I had a client who owned a transmission shop in a city of 100,000 people. His transmission shop was named 'AAA Transmission'. He chose this name because this would be the first listing in the yellow pages when someone searched for 'transmission' (yellow page optimization was and is much simpler than search engine optimization). This placement in the yellow pages was responsible for bringing in nearly 90% of his new business.

One year, due to an oversight, the phone book company failed to place his ad in the yellow pages section. He lost 90% of his call-in business practically overnight. The phone stopped ringing. This simple oversight nearly destroyed his business. As a result, he was then forced to run large ads in the local newspaper week after week after week - a very expensive proposition.

As a business owner, you would likely find this story to be sad indeed. However, believe it or not, this is most likely your story if you have not taken the time to develop a laser sharp Internet search engine strategy for your business. The Internet has replaced the old phone book for a very high percentage of the population. In your case, however, you may be invisible to the entire world, not just a city of 100,000.

Imagine for a moment a directory containing nearly half a billion entries (this is close to the truth, assuming we count both websites and blogs). Your goal is to have your business appear on the first page of that directory under an appropriate heading such as ‘printer’ or ‘accountant’. How would you do that? That is what search engine optimization is all about.

Most businesses find this to be a very daunting, if not completely overwhelming task. Very few people will every type your business name directly into the search engine query box as most of the world population does not yet know you even exist. Instead, they will use a broader term, describing what they are looking for. They will use words like ‘printer’ or ‘accountant’ or 'transmission'. If your competition appears and you do not, this is the same as having no listing in the yellow pages. If nearly everyone is using that search engine to make decisions about where to place their business, you are in trouble indeed.

Take just a moment and do this. Type in that very broad term that relates to your business. Look at the total number of sites returned. That is the number of sites that make up your competition in this 500 million entry directory known as the search engine.

The search engine will always hold the final say regarding where you are placed in this directory. Again, for some, getting to that first or perhaps second or third page can be likened to finding the Holy Grail buried in your back yard. This is not likely to happen. And, for most, this seems to be a nearly impossible task.

But it is not difficult if you have done your homework. All that is required is a strategy that incorporates three key components

1. You must know how your potential client thinks and which words your client will use to find you – not the words you might use, but rather the words THEY will use. This keyword analysis is a vital first step in the process.

2. You must know and fully understand how search engines work. This will require some hours of serious study and research.

3. You must design a strategy that incorporates both of the above and simultaneously outshines the strategy of the millions of sites who are your competitors.

You have two options. You can take the time to learn what you need to know and to develop that strategy based on your particular situation or you must hire someone you trust to do this for your business. Failure to do either will certainly cause you to be nearly invisible to those who matter – your potential clients.

Posted by Don at Free Publicity Focus Group

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Media Versus Paid Advertising - The Writing On The Wall

In the news yesterday I read about yet another local North Carolina magazine going out of business. 'Changes in the publishing business' was the reason given by the owners. These closings follow the track of larger magazines and newspapers across the country.

Magazines and newspapers are having a tough time these days it seems. Why is this occurring? Frankly it is because magazines and newspapers need ad revenue to survive and, for many, it is just not there at the levels required anymore.

Many blame the Internet for this turn of events. However, it is most likely not the Internet itself that has caused the problem. It is, rather, the fact that people have simply begun to say 'Enough is enough'. The mindset of the modern-day consumer is a far cry from that of the Silent Generation, the Veteran Generation and the Boomer Generation. These folks would sit still for those blatant, yell in the ear tactics. Not so today. Things have changed and they have changed permanently.

As a society, we have advertised ad nauseam. Though it used to work well, advertising no longer works like it used to. A recent study showed that a very high percentage of people who can skip advertising DO skip advertising. Advertising must produce results or it is money wasted. If nobody is listening or watching, it will not produce those results.

People simply do not like ads. Think about this. When you pick up a newspaper, do you prefer to read the ads or the stories? When you watch television, do you jump up to make a sandwich when the show comes on so that you can get back in time for the commercials? TIVO, spam blockers, popup blockers, paid radio - the list goes on and on. The success of commercial skipping technologies is a testament to the simple fact that people dislike advertising. As a marketer, the very last thing you want is to have people fast forwarding past your message. People do not like to read ads, but they do like to read about subjects they find to be interesting. This is why content is king and why publicity works.

This is also why social media marketing is quickly taking the front seat in regards to producing results for business in the Internet marketing environment. There is one form of message that people love more than any other form - hearing from their own friends. That message is read. That message is not ignored. That message can and will produce results.

Social media messages, sent via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any social media delivery system, from one person to another, represent the modern-day equivalent of referral marketing, generally considered to be the most effective form of delivery for any marketing message ever devised by mankind. It is always been the most effective, is still the most effective form today and will always be the most effective form of creating awareness for any business.

Magazines, radio, tv and newspapers will never disappear, but they will be forced to develop different operating models and the Internet takes more and more of the revenue share. Those who can manage to incorporate social media marketing into their revenue generation model will survive, while those who do not or cannot most likely will not survive.

Posted by Don at Free Publicity Focus Group

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Social Media Marketing - How To Determine The ROI For Business

Many business owners have a hard time getting their heads around the real value of social media. Some refuse, some are afraid of it, some are confused by it, many ignore it completely and others jump in just to say they have jumped in.

“What is the ROI of social media?” is a question heard more and more these days. The mindset of the successful business owner demands a fair return on investment. This is common sense and is frankly most likely the reason why that individual is the owner. The owner invests money or manpower to attempt to create a profit of a certain percentage. A fair return on investment is one of the measures of success. If we cannot measure that return on a particular investment, how will we ever know if we are being successful and, if so, to what degree? This makes perfect sense. It is business.

Social media marketing does not easily lend itself to such cold calculations. So let's ask a few quick questions:

What is the ROI in regards to having lunch with a potential big client?
What is the ROI in regards to a playing a round of golf with a trusted advisor?
What is the ROI in regards to having a drink with the new hire?
What is the ROI in regards to attending a social affair as representative of the company?

ROI cannot be calculated in the above cases either. Yet these are almost universally accepted necessary practices of nearly all business owners. Most owners do not think in terms of ROI in regards to these practices. All of these fall instead under the heading of PR or building relationship.

That is precisely what participation in social media accomplishes. It is an electronic version of lunch with a client, golf with an advisor, drinks with a new employee or attending a social affair. It is the building and solidifying of relationships between organization and customer; between business and client. Every business owner knows that many of the longest lasting and most profitable relationships are not build in the boardroom. They are often built on the golf course, over lunch or while having drinks. Social media is the same game, but on a much larger scale

Can we determine the ROI of a positive impression? Can we coldly calculate the value of a warm conversation? Can we determine precisely the amount of awareness a billboard on a busy highway creates? No, no and no.

Likewise, we cannot determine the ROI of social media.

Of one thing every business owner can be certain. According to the hundreds of studies available out there, a huge percentage of the general population now participates in social media on a regular basis. If your company is not there, it may end up being virtually invisible to that huge percentage of your potential new clients.

Forget ROI in regards to social media. Look instead at what your company stands to lose by not being there.

Posted by Don at Free Publicity Focus Group

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Going For It - New Years Book Marketing Resolutions.

Depending on the source you believe, somewhere around 500,000 new books hit the shelves this year.

What does this mean?

* If each book were but an inch thick, and all the books were placed on a single shelf, that shelf would be over 7.8 MILES long. You book is but one of them. This does not take into consideration all the books out there already. That's just this past year.

If you walked into a bookstore and asked for your own title and the clerk pointed and said '7.8 miles down, on the left,' how would you feel?

* Walk outside tonight. Count every star you can see in the sky. Write down the total number of stars you can see, then take that number times a factor of 200,000. The resulting number is the number of sites competing for your potential buyer's attention. This number varies widely depending on the source and nobody knows for certain, but it's somewhere around 400,000,000 sites. That's 400 million. (again there is a lot of argument on this point)

* We must remember that many of the competing books out there have big money and big marketing and publicity machines backing them up, while many of the competing sites have SEO experts at the helm with huge budgets and years of education, knowledge and experience. Such is your competition.

Sadly, authors who initially hoped they would become more famous are more likely simply becoming more invisible.

This year, if you are serious about your book, you should perhaps get really serious about marketing.

Putting up a nice website, writing a blog, twittering and facebooking, doing a book trailer or a press release and the like, while commendable, are not really going to set you apart, as nearly every single one of those 500,000 authors and companies and 400 million owners of those sites are doing this also. Everybody is doing this. So, what will work?

Developing a laser sharp marketing strategy and marketing plan that will set you apart and create real awareness for you and your book will work. If you are but playing at marketing, you must begin to really work at marketing your book. It is perhaps not necessary to work harder. It is always advisable to work smarter.

What does developing a real book marketing strategic plan involve?

* Developing tightly focused buyer profiles
* Formulating laser sharp branding strategies
* Developing traditional and non-traditional publicity strategies
* Writing keyword optimized, profile specific marketing copy
* Developing an effective media strategy
* Developing a keyword strategy specific to your niche profiles
* Implementing a website optimization strategy for the visitor
* Search engine optimization for the search engines
* Developing effective targeted optimized blogging strategies
* Developing effective social media marketing strategies
* Learning to develop inbound marketing strategies with outbound strategies

Some of these are Internet strategies. Over 70% of your potential buyers now consider the Internet to be not just A choice, but THE FIRST choice when making purchasing decisions. And the points above are but starting points. The strategy must be implemented and you must work that strategy every day. You will need to adjust that strategy as market conditions change, new opportunities are presented and ideas once good become not so good.

Nobody writes a book to become a marketer. People write books because they want to be an author.

However, the term 'author' now encompasses the term 'marketer'. If you do not get serious about marketing, you will be an unknown author. Free articles and ebooks regarding marketing are available at the Free Publicity Focus Group article section here. Free video training is also available here. A free, no obligation consultation is available here.

It is the year 2010. The marketing methods used in the past decade will not work well in this environment.

The market is not a thing - the market is an event and it is an event that changes and morphs and moves and becomes something different every single day. You must not only keep up with these changes, you must stay ahead of them or be left in the dust. Owning a business and saying 'I hate marketing,' is like owning a car and saying 'I hate buying gasoline'. People do not actually hate marketing. People actually hate selling. But selling is just a subset, a component of the marketing model.

Are you ready to go for it? Make a resolution in 2010 to get really serious about marketing.

Feel free to contact me at

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