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Friday, May 22, 2009

Killer Campaigns: Word Of Mouth

Truly, if there is any better form of advertising, I don't know what it is. Word of mouth is not only the purest form of marketing, it is almost always the most sincere.

I say "almost always" sincere because there are a few cases where someone will try to manipulate the consumer via the media or cross-promotion, but true word of mouth promotion is done at the grassroots level. And it's hard to force it to bloom. That's the beauty of word of mouth. It only generates through the effort of the individual.

Take "Twilight" for example. It went viral almost from the beginning and it reached a particularly receptive audience of tweens and teens. Even if Stephen King didn't like Twilight, there are legions of fans that will disagree with him vehemently, and that's the way it should be.

Word of mouth has no boundaries. It doesn't rely on experts, authority, or the media. It is one person telling another person: "Yeah, this was pretty good. Try it."

When The Da Vinci Code came out, I was stunned at how people raved about this book. It took me several chapters to invest myself, but when it finally happened, I understood what people loved about this book.

Had I NOT heard the constant endorsements from regular people I would have never picked up the book. The writing style didn't appeal to my comfort level and it didn't get interesting for me until further into the novel. It's not a book I would have purchased without a nudge. And I think that's the greatest advantage for word of mouth advertising. It urges you try something even if your initial reaction tells you not to.

Can you create word of mouth?

In small ways, yes.

While a lot of authors hang out on writers' loops and will rave about a book that particularly appealed to them, writers' loops are the least likely to stir demand. They are an audience, but not your mass audience.

If you want people to talk about you, hang out with the average (non-writer) reader. That's the soccer mom, the policeman, the janitor and the office worker. Reach out to the people who have nothing to do with writing, people whose only interest is to find the next good book to fill their lunch hour or their commute home.

Book signings, community meetings, book clubs, parties, and non-writer groups are all excellent ways to expand your visibility. From there, you have to let nature take its course and let people decide whether to buy your book or not.

Encourage word of mouth
• Meet people either in person or online.
• Be yourself
• Don't talk at people, talk to people.
• Be excited about your work. Enthusiasm is contagious.
• Personally thank those who mention you or your book.
• Invite them to visit your website or sign up for your newsletter so they can read previews of your next book. (business cards come in handy here)
• Talk about your process, research, or funny stories about your writer's journey. People love hearing about the inside scoop. It makes them feel closer to the author.

And the most important tip…

• Talk about OTHER people's books.

Sounds like the antithesis to what you're trying to encourage, but quite the contrary, it fans the flame. People who share their passion for reading aren't limited to genre or author. Talk about the books you love and the conversation may very well turn to something closer to home--like your books.

For more Killer Campaign posts go here.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini -- http://mariazannini.blogspot.com/


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4 comments:

J.K. Coi said...

As always, great advice! I'll miss these killer campaign posts :0)

Shelley Munro said...

Good post, Maria. I love to talk books with people and recommend authors. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Not to worry, JK. I'm going to bundle them into a nice readable package.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Shelley. I think that really helps all of us.

For example, I have a lot of "dog-lover" friends. When the subject of books comes up, I always have several authors I can recommend that have dogs in their books. people eat this stuff up!