As a start-up entrepreneur, one of the many lessons I’ve learned in business is to start marketing your product as soon as possible, even before it is ready for customers. Marketing creates demand and you should start building awareness early.
When a few of my colleagues mentioned I should write a book, I had no idea what I would write about. I just knew it would be about start-up companies because that’s what I’ve done for years and the stories always seem to fascinate people over lunch. So instead of starting with the book, I started a blog and shortly afterwards, I started article marketing.
I wrote about a lot of different aspects of start-up companies, everything from product development to humor about employee antics to advertising. I watched what attracted readers, and there seemed to be three topics that were the most appealing to them – funding, marketing, and customer engagement.
Fourteen months later, I held my first book in my hands.
I knew marketing and promoting my book would not be easy and quick. I reached out to all sorts of people, investigated many different types of marketing approaches, and I have tried a few different ones. You’ll find authors who swear by one or two methods, but no two authors do the same.
Virtual Book Tours
These are online book promoters. They use their network of contacts to get you placement in blogs, in online magazines, and on blog talk radio shows. They may even do Facebook advertising and press releases too. Some are specific to different geographic locations across the globe. I engaged several of these services and I found each one to be quite good. Each one has their own set of contacts. You can exhaust their contacts within a couple of months and so I needed to use more than one. These services suit my personal schedule as they do all the leg work, and I just need to be available or provide the content.
Traditional Public Relations and Publicists
This is one of the more expensive options and many of these firms have gone to a la carte service model, so some part of their services is affordable. The trick is going to the right firm, one that deals in your subject matter. These firms have contacts into the mainstream media from news organizations to television to radio to magazine. In six months, my firm secured more than 25 placements and they focus on media engagements with large audiences.
I hired a guest blogging consultant, who recommended doing four guest posts per week. In his experience, this really builds an audience like nothing else. He recommended researching the blogoshere to find the appropriate blogs, spending 2 to 4 hours getting to know each blog and its audience, and then proposing a guest post. Finally, he suggested spending 8 to 10 hours writing each guest post. It didn’t take more than a minute to figure out that this would consume more than 40 hours per week of my time, and it just didn’t fit into my personal schedule.
Next I met a highly successful Internet guru, who swore article marketing works to build an audience. This is how she built an audience of millions. I was already doing some articles, but not with structured intent. Steve Shaw, the founder of SubmitYourArticle, said it takes 6 months before you can see noticeable results from article marketing and recommends at least 8 articles per month for each article website that you use.
Email and Internet Marketing Campaigns
One of the techniques many authors swear by is joint venture marketing campaigns. The trick bestselling authors use is to concentrate all the promotion is a short time period such a one day and to build a group of authors that all cross-promote to each other’s fans. In brief, you contact bloggers, social influencers, website owners, newsletters providers, bestselling authors, and anyone with a substantial online presence and ask them to promote your book to their audience. These are your joint partners. They suggest gobbling together an email list of at least 500,000 people and a million person list is preferable. I tried this for about six weeks before I gave up, it was consuming all my time. I know authors who have done this method and it took them months to organize all the necessary joint partners. You can hire services to do this on your behalf, but as I found out, these services are specific to a particular genre and reader demographics.
Book Reviews and Book Contests
I have reached out to podcasters and other authors with complimentary books to review my book. I search Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu for possible authors to contact. iTunes is a great place to find podcast candidates. I have also paid for sponsored book reviews and entered independent book contests. I got the most traction from those that I contacted and secured their help for free. One day I may win one of those book contests, but the winners (at least in my non-fiction business category) tend to be serial authors from the smaller publishing houses.
The Internet is full of advice about authors building social platforms. This includes a website, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are services that will offer to build this platform for an author, but that’s the mechanics. The real work is in generating the content, interacting with the audience, and building your fan base – and I have not seen a service yet that will do this part. You may ask yourself why building a fan base is important. What I’ve learned is the media will check you out online before committing to having you appear in their publication or on their show. Even joint partners will search for you online.
For Facebook, I set aside a small monthly budget to advertise my fan page. On LinkedIn, I share links to my blog posts in groups that are related to me topic. This brings readers back to my website. For Twitter, I use the free version of socialoomph to queue up tips that I tweet to my followers. I also send out links to my blog posts to send readers back to my website.
My advice to authors is not to take on more than two marketing services or efforts at a time. I find I can’t handle too many requests. I may have to spend 20 to 60 hours setting up of a new marketing service. One week I had to write 15 guest posts and articles, and everyone wanted unique and different topics.
The lead time to just get into the line-up for many of these marketing services can be four months. The shortest lead time I’ve experienced was 8 weeks.
There are consultants and services for just about everything for authors. You need to pick and choose what you want to do and how much you want to spend. I’ve been quoted fees from $500 to $50,000. There are service firms who arrange for speaking engagements, virtual conference events, Facebook parties, and just about everything imaginable.
For me, it is a matter of how much time I can spend promoting my book. Yes, you can do-it-yourself, and on my own I’ve managed to land articles in such publications as Entrepreneur magazine. But my time is limited and I need others to help me promote my book.
About the Author
Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three tech start-ups companies. Cynthia writes the popular Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog and has written the book, ““Startup From The Ground Up – Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business”.