It's only taken one quarter to understand that us authors, being creative types, are looking at things backwards. You want to sell more books? Don't ask yourself, "What would an author do?" Ask instead, "What would a small business do to market themselves?" Because, an author writes (hopefully you have that part down), but a small business SELLS.
Back to the question at hand. How do I sell more books? You must learn to market them as any business must market its product. Oh, that’s a no brainer you say? Really? Then explain why in Forbes magazine's State of Small Business Marketing article published just 6 months ago, they indicate the struggle is real for ALL small businesses? See, it’s not just us.
Let’s hit that switch for a minute, think like small business owners and apply Forbes' points to our own business marketing.
1. Online reviews can help – or hurt - a business.
As authors we tend to take reviews very personally. But Forbes points out, reviews are a powerful tool, both good and bad. They are a direct feed into the customer's mind, point #4, but we’ll get there. Us authors live and die by reviews, yet if we get 10 bad ones we tend to shout "trolls" and "haters", when they are giving us invaluable feedback. They are telling us something is wrong. They can’t all be "haters". It means we need to polish the craft or adjust our marketing techniques to a more appropriate audience. How long would a restaurant who gets tons of bad reviews, without adjusting their service, stay in business? See how adopting a business mindset can improve your view of what is happening?
2. Few small business owners outsource their marketing.
A direct quote form the Forbes article, “Street Fight’s research on small business owners found that among business owners that either do their marketing themselves, delegate it to an internal team, or outsource it to an agency, the owners who do their marketing themselves are the least satisfied with their results.” Sound familiar? How many authors DYI everything, including the marketing?
Do you know why they are least satisfied with their results? Because they/we are not marketing experts. We are world builders and character developers, not marketing executives. In last week’s blog post I said authors/small business owners had to be willing to invest in their own business. Here is the perfect place to do it.
3. Small businesses tend to neglect their websites.
Forbes said it, not me. But, really? There are people out there who still don’t know the power of SEO? As authors we sure do, right? However, when you look at your website, if it were that of an author you’ve never read, would you click through? Would you put the time into searching for the links? Sometimes it’s hard to take the “I’m in love with my own product” goggles off and look at things from a neutral point of view. That’s a great time to get your customers involves and get feedback, which brings me to number #4. I told you we would get there.
4. The customer is priority #1.
Remember those reviews? That’s your customers telling you what they want. Listen to them, interact with them. Get to know them. Do you know who your customer is? Where does she hangout? Do you hang out there too? Are you marketing in the right places? Are they foaming at the moth to buy your next book? Or are they unsubscribing from your daily emails? Listen to them. They are talking to you. Giving the customer what they are looking for will boost your sales as it does for every small business.
5. Facebook is still the social platform to be on.
HA! I knew it. People still hangout on Facebook, they just do it differently as the algorithms change. You are a business not a person, for the purpose of this post, and customers are still looking to Facebook for interaction and information on businesses. I know there are people out there who say Facebook is dying, but have you been on it today? Sure you have. Changing is not the same thing as dying and Facebook Groups and Facebook Live gives us new opportunities to interact with our customers in new ways. It’s not just about the number of follows anymore. Remember number 4? If we are doing that correctly and building a relationship, getting that return business and really connecting with people, then if Facebook does decide to disappear one day it won’t matter, your loyal following will follow you to the next place. Concentrate on the task at hand. Taking care of your customers and building the relationships, not chasing the next best thing.
What can you do different to market your writing like the small business you are, and sell more books? It’s the question we all want answered so if you have any ideas, or thoughts on my interpretation of the Forbes article, I’d love to see them in the comments below.