This is the first of a three-part post about how profoundly the Internet has changed marketing, extracted from Michael Booth’s new ebook, The Ebook Ebook. The changes, of course, include those in book marketing. The short answer: The better you use the tools which Internet provides you (most of them free) the more successful your book promotion –and sales– will be. The bad news: 1/ You can’t do it without Internet. 2/There’s a learning curve.
If the publishing world has evolved in the past few years, the changes in marketing have been equally dramatic. Briefly, the new online marketing model has supplanted old-fashioned marketing. (Why? Because it’s better: cheaper, faster, more efficient and easily quantifiable.) These changes in marketing technology were accelerated by a worldwide economic crisis the likes of which nobody under the age of 80 had ever seen before. The changeover hit so fast, in fact, that a lot of marketing professionals—including book marketers–were unable to keep up and were abandoned along the trail.
Old-fashioned marketing (OFM) was mainly about advertising and public relations, both of which have been severely discredited in the new world of e-marketing, as both are invasive, push-model techniques designed to interrupt our train of thought with “creative” presentations which “impact” us with the features and benefits of their products and services. This meant that advertisers would interrupt our favorite TV programs with commercials, fill our newspapers and magazines with unnecessary ads, bother us with junk mail and telephone sales calls, visually pollute our cities and the countryside with billboards, and generally making themselves—and by extension their products–odious. Nor do you have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this kind of advertising is expensive and its costs have to be added onto the prices of products.
Online PR Has Cut Out the Middlemen
As for PR, it was always a clumsily imperfect, indirect and difficult-to-quantify game. PR professionals were (and still are) in the business of currying favor with the media, hoping their news releases, product-related events, publicity stunts, and free lunches for editors and reporters would translate themselves into press coverage for their clients’ products and services. The “effectiveness” of that press coverage was measured in “clip books,” scrapbooks of press clippings. Real metrics? Forget it.
Compare that sorry state of affairs with the practices of the cordial, persuasive, and eminently effective new, pull-mode Internet marketing model, a model which is ideally suited to selling books. Readers no longer wait to be offered ebooks. They go searching and browsing for them, painlessly, without leaving their homes or offices. In this new mode the ebook marketer concentrates on creating attractive and informative web presences with relevant information regarding their books and the benefits they offer the reader. The good ebook marketer makes this information search-engine friendly and, since the information is searchable, it’s always waiting there to inform prospective customers of your book in the moment when they are ripe to buy it. At the critical moment of purchase ebooks have an important advantage: online delivery. There’s nothing like providing your customers with instant gratification!
The place of PR in the scheme of things has been taken over by real interactive communication online. Thanks to Internet the press release has given way to news releases which still go to the print and audio-visual media, but also directly to long lists of searchable directories, ezines, customers, potential customers, stockholders, investors, suppliers, institutions, and other stakeholders. Not only is it easier and faster to send these communications electronically, but infinitely less expensive. Most online news distribution services (Google it.) now do a good job of covering the online media and directories, as well as the conventional press.
Remember the Press Kit?
The press kit, that thick folder with paper-based press information—releases, backgrounders, product sheets, photographs, graphs, catalogs, etc.–which companies would spend fortunes to print, collate and mail to hundreds of media contacts, has now become the online press room, where reporters and editors can simply log in and download whatever material they need. Instantly, and at any time of the day or night in any time zone. You can create a miniature version of the online press room on your own site, a “Press” page with a brief biography of the author and the portrait from the back of the book, a couple of news releases and photographs of your front and back covers. It’s fun and easy to do, and you’re going to be so pleased when the first reporter contacts you.