So, you’ve got a fantastic story experience you want to share, and the world will be a better place for it, but how will anyone find you?
That may help visibility, but those ads crash into reader bias if you don’t have discoverability systematized.
I heard the term from author James Hunter.
It’s the idea that, as a new author, you face a reader’s tendency just to read what they know. It’s a huge hurdle, but once you overcome it with a fan, that barrier favors you. It keeps that reader coming back.
Discoverability is that tough middle-of-the-funnel stuff few gurus touch on.
It’s the most challenging stuff, and frankly, the most important, as it links visibility and conversion.
Below is my funnel model. While I’m not a fan of the funnel as a model. I like the virtuous marketing cycle.
I think it helps to translate some concepts into common marketing ideas.
If you get someone to click on your ad, the aim is to get them to buy, but how often does that happen?
Most of us need to get comfortable taking a purchasing risk. We need to be brought over from the bias of what we are satisfied with to what’s new.
So what to do…
It’s simple. Think like a 1950s adman.
I’m not saying to write snappy copy or having an Always Be Closing mindset.
No, this is about old-school marketing acumen with an author twist.
You see, in the twenty-first century, data, funnels, and conversion tactics have blinded us to
KNOW LIKE TRUST
This is what gets you to the other side of reader bias.
First, I have to know about your books.
Then do I conclude that your books are going to be to my liking? Specifically, I need to know that I’m getting an entertaining read that suits my taste. That comes from the emotional satisfaction a reader gets by spending time reading your books.
The problem here is as much as you want the reader to figure this out, they’re lazy. They don’t want to waste the cognitive power to sort through that choice.
If the reader reads, they will come to trust that you will deliver the goods time and time again.
If that happens, they become a customer for life. Better yet, they begin to advocate for you to others to get them to join the tribe.
This is where it gets tricky. It also gets powerful.
Ask top advertisers, and they’ll tell you the story sells. Read all the greats for direct sales. The old ads men, and you see the same themes.
They sell with story— a story that evokes an experience or emotion.
Look down the Vegas Strip. All the hotels have themes. They use experience to get you interested.
Remember what Steve Wynn said in the Pirate video “To me, it’s more than a hotel. It’s a gateway between reality and fantasy.”
His latest theme is luxury, style, and exclusivity. The brand and story are woven into every facet. You can see how he moved from the Mirage, a classy Polynesian oasis in the desert, to Treasure Island with its pirate theme, to the Bellagio being an example of the opulence of Lake Como, and finally, the Wynn where it’s all about his vision of a Vegas experience.
When the Wynn opened, people were ready to move their casino play over the minute it was done. They were loving Bellagio, but they knew liked and trusted what Steve Wynn delivered.
But what about you?
You have the secret weapon.
You can create that gateway between reality and fantasy on a smaller scale. The selling gets done in your books. That’s where the like will happen.
As I discussed in Advantage, you have the unique opportunity to connect your brand with your readers’ most intimate feelings and associations. They use their experience to fill in the details of your story and create a new adventure. If it’s good, they won’t be able to get enough.
I’m suggesting the winners in the future will be the authors that abandon the digital marketing Always Be Closing attitude and adopt a marketing experience that feels more like their story world.
When you get a potential reader’s attention, give them a story?
Think about this hard.
Go into your genre and read the first few sentences of the look inside for few of the books(including yours), and ask yourself if it keeps you reading?
Does the ad copy and book description get you engaged?
This is the world we live in, and this is the business you’ve chosen.
Tik Tok attention span is all you get to set the hook.
If you can’t pique curiosity in that timeframe, then readers will stop. They will stop reading the ad, the blurb, the book.
But if your marketing is all the best examples of your work and part of the story experience, you’ll stand out. You’ll get the extra time. Instead of trying to make the sale, make the introduction.
Take the ten seconds of attention you’re given and earn enough trust to get another thirty seconds, then deliver more story to keep them reading. Eventually, they will either like you or not.
Give them quick wins.
Introduce the prospect to your story world and characters. Could you write an ad copy that got me more curious?
It’s during the awareness (know) phase that you can trigger an availability bias.
In 1973 Tversky and Kahneman ran experiments where they asked subjects if there were more words that’s start with K or have K as the third letter. There are twice as many where K is the third letter, but words starting with K are easier to recall.
Sure, you can use re-targeting and multiple ads platforms to get visibility. The question is, what are you making visible?
To get a prospect to summit reader bias and come to your side of the mountain requires a comprehensive strategy of getting in front of a reader and educating them.
Your job is easier because you’re selling a story.
Don’t focus on telling the story of enjoying your product (I write fun urban fantasy). Instead, use your marketing and advertising to get the prospect into the story world. Let them experience it first-hand.
I touched on boredom and curiosity in email number ten. Bring the same techniques you apply to your story to keep them turning pages.
This isn’t new. The old-time ads men knew it took seven to ten touches. They understood that constant repeated messaging delivered cognitive recall for the actual purchase occasion.
I’m suggesting that you look at your marketing as an extension of your story world. Another medium that allows prospects to get to know you.
This is a slow burn. Just like cumulative advantage, it takes time to compound. It will eventually hit a threshold and start an information cascade supported by social proof and word of mouth.
The model is different in that you’re looking to use story to get emotional investment not in the act f reading your book but in your story world. You want the prospect to begin to connect and associate with your characters. The more they are invested in your story world, the easier it is for them to continue to buy from you.
How you implement this idea will differ from others because the content will be tied to your story world. The methodology, though, can be the same as other authors.
Remember back when I spoke of rat habitats?
Why not build your reader habitat in a way that bleeds onto social media, email, and your platform. The idea is that you stop looking at your email and social media as marketing but as extensions of your publishing.
To hell with what the algorithm says, only create content on platforms that aligns with and supports your story world.
Using curiosity, you can create a maze for the reader to explore. Of course, this has to be solely designed from the perspective of the reader. It’s all about the experience and getting them to value what you have to offer.
While this can include ad retargeting, this is more about the reiteration and continuation of messaging. If the old school ad agents are right and you need 7-10 touches (maybe more) to get traction, then how are you automating this process?
With the attention onslaught, there needs to be a SYSTEM for repeated touches. What those touches are and the next step are what you need to do differently.
An author can’t expect to scale a business with ad hoc ads driving to a sales page. It’s just too big an ask to go from unknown to buy my book. You need to give a prospect control to self-education and discover why you’re awesome in their time frame.
Self-education and Discovery
A funnel may allow this, but most don’t.
The idea is your prospect gives you the attention and signal of interest as they self educate. In the case of an author of fiction, this, in my view, is getting them to “taste test” your story experience.
As they show more interest, you respond in kind. When designed as a SYSTEM, an audience scales up passively. Passive in the sense that you’re out of the process. The process allows the prospect to engage on their schedule. If it takes them three months to warm up or three minutes, the system adapts and responds.
Part of my marketing is providing content for prospects to discover and consume. If there is interest, there are ways to educate and discover more. Some would say I make it hard for people to find my paid products. I try to help a prospect understand if we are a good match for each other.
An example is my pre-sale pages for Treat Your Writing Like a Business. The product (book and course material) is only sold direct. This is limiting my visibility not being on Amazon, but the tradeoff is I have control of the experience.
Here is a link. Before you get access to the sales page, you must click several times then provide your email. It is only then that you get the offer.
Why do I make it so hard?
The pre-sale process helps define the problem and helps the prospect discover if they have a problem that I can help them with. In this case, if you’re not interested in treating your writing like a business, then I’m not your guy.
I have a bachelor’s in the fine arts. I went to school with those starving artists that want to beg patrons for money so they can preach, teach, and virtue signal. I can’t help them, and the sooner they figure that out, the better for both of us.
However, if my philosophy about building a publishing company that creates wealth is interesting, I can show you that I know a lot about the subject.
Here are the attraction rates for my pre-sale pages
From page one to two, 75% of the people make it.
Page two to three 86% click-through
Page three to the sales page 91% give me an email
At this point, I collect an email so that I can follow up with an autoresponder sequence tied to the interest they have shown. This keeps my list clean.
I only lose 41% of the prospects.
Of that, 49.8% purchase a book or a course.
Looking at it from those who visit the first pre-sale page, my conversion rate is 29%, with an average sale of $24.31. I get $7.09 for every person that sees that first page.
BTW I also have 100% visibility of my customer journey.
I know from my own experience it just takes time. There have been products that I’ve bought, and I now associate my identity with the brand. That didn’t happen overnight. I had to mature or have the problem present in a few cases that finally made me realize I needed that product.
For fiction authors providing examples of your writing that opens loops, evokes emotion, and builds character relationships are the hooks that catch readers.
Can you put me on a slippery slope to slide into your story world?
P.S. If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve created a free membership area called Autoresponder Advantage. It is where you can learn how to use your email autoresponder to nurture a reader systematically. If you’re interested, sign up here.