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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Eau de Promotion

I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what to write today when I got bombarded with emails from one of my workshop classes on promotional flyers.

Why am I taking a class on promotional flyers when I'm already a graphic designer?

Because there is more to good promotion than a nice layout. You have to know (through experience) what the market will bear and what constitutes important information to the reader and the book seller.

The marketing director (Samhain is so cool to have a marketing director) said something that surprised me. Not because I didn't know this, but because I didn't think anyone else did.

Promotional collateral does not a sale make.

I've discussed this on OWW in the past and on this blog as well. The last big conference I went to was RWA. The event was an education in itself. I was absolutely bowled over by the hugely professional staff and the format of the workshops. Of all the cons I've been to so far, RWA was the best run operation.

Most cons have a few tables where authors can drop off their promotional material for people to browse and pick up. RWA had TWO rooms packed solid with tables of promo giveaways, including books.

I stocked up on everything, more for research than anything else. I studied each flyer, bookmark and trinket for aesthetics, readability, and success as a promotional tool.

I went back into these rooms several times a day, not to pick up any more products but to gauge how well certain promo materials fared.

Everyone loves candy. That went fast. Useful objects like calendars, pens, and bookmarks also did well.

But let me burst some bubbles here. Not a single item induced me to buy a book. Not one.


I'm not the target audience. I don’t buy because someone has a cool looking postcard. I buy because I like the writing, or the premise, or the author.

But there are readers who do buy when they read the blurb on a postcard. Good advertising is the swing vote on whether they buy or not. And those are the people you want to attract.

What should you put out on that promo table? Perhaps the better question is not what, but how much.

Choose one thing. Make it the most spectacular promotional item you can come up with. Hire a designer if you really feel you can't produce something professional. For once, shiny does matter. You want to present the slickest most professional image you can.

We could go into all sorts of discussions on how to design a nice postcard or business card, but I'm going to hold off and save that for a live workshop or a free ebook in the future. If you're interested, drop me a line. (My email is under the profile page.) If there's enough interest, I'll make it happen later this year.

I promise you'll be delighted.


Carol Burge said...

Hey, Maria, I'm interested in a workshop! I never turn down an opportunity to learn something new!

Maria Zannini said...

A friend of mine has been doing a few workshops and she talked me into going that route too. I'll let you know when I get a gig together.

Carol Burge said...

Thanks, Maria!