Two emails ago, I suggested you think like a 1950s advertiser, focusing on providing readers a way to know, like, and trust your work.
That doesn’t mean acting like a direct response marketer all the time.
I’m old enough to remember direct response marketing by mail. It was a huge business in Chicago. Legends in the copywriting industry used curiosity, behavioral psychology, and conversational hypnosis to get you to imagine a wonderful life all made perfect through the purchase of the special offer you just opened.
The tactics translated well to infomercials and, later, digital advertising.
That is, until everyone was doing it. Then an immunity grew against calls to action.
The very best direct marketers understand how to market through the life of a product. When a product is new, they focus on consolidating the audience around a desire. Once a product is known, they spotlight the product itself.
The objective in the early stage is to connect the product to an existing unmet desire, NOT educate them about a product.
This is what most authors lack today—a broader long-term brand awareness strategy.
To build your business, you need both long- and short-term strategies. Some of those strategies will be passive, others active. Both are needed to make the system work.
A long-term passive brand awareness strategy allows prospects to get to know you with lower risk and on their timeframe. Done right, your website becomes SEO supercharged and a portal to your story world.
The advertisement isn’t about your product or price but helping your audience identify as your audience. How do you help someone that desires to read your work identify as a potential reader when they don’t know you?
The classic line is, “If you like X, you’ll love Y.”
Awareness campaigns are long and slow. The campaign allows the reader to discover and browse. You guide a prospect to walk through your conditioning content and form an opinion, not rush to a call to action like “buy my book.” Ads click through to LEARN MORE, not BUY NOW. A prospect finds low-risk passive interaction on the other side of a click.
Let’s use the idea of Firefly. The fan community feels let down and abandoned because a show they loved was canceled. While that audience may be too small to warrant an ongoing TV series, it is an audience that desires a particular type of story that you might fit with your work.
So, what if your advertising and presale pages on your website targeted that feeling of abandonment and fan betrayal? Your campaign is designed to get a reader recognize that they are part of many, and there’s a solution to fill the unmet need—your Firefly-like stories.
But being Firefly-like isn’t enough.
There are hundreds of authors producing that type of content. You need to deal with the feels.
Let’s dig into feelings manipulation with a tool like Pluchik’s Wheel of Emotions.
Fans of a discontinued show feel sadness and surprise.
On the wheel, those adjacent feelings lead to disapproval. The opposite is a mix of joy and anticipation resulting in optimism. Could you, over a series of presales pages, take a disappointed Firefly fan to a place of optimism? The basic instinct is that the fan has lost something, which goes back to abandonment and loss of resources. You can include them and help them reclaim those lost resources.
In a funnel process, 95% of traffic gets lost. The direct marketing model tells you to find more traffic to shove into the funnel to get to the conversion goal.
Our strategy is to get readers to congregate, then loiter. Build a system that gives them time and opportunity to understand how your work will fulfill their desire to be entertained. Give them time to change their mind.
Educating a reader is hard, and there will be resistance. Getting someone that is part of a crowd to engage in crowd behavior is far easier. You help them recognize that their private want is part of a greater group’s desire.
The trick is finding and activating that group’s desire.
Thus, active direct marketing is appropriate—when it’s time.
Your tribe, the readers interested in your latest release—you owe it to them to get the word out. The reality is that only a small portion of readers will be super fans. The majority want to support you and are eager to read, but getting their hands on your next book isn’t a top priority. You need to go the extra effort to get the word out. That’s when direct response marketing makes the most sense.
Remember, the way cumulative advantage works is the audience you keep after your current launch pushes the next launch further up the ranks.
Nothing is better at audience building than retaining the right readers, then sending that optimum signal back into the market. Sales channels love a signal they can amplify and optimize.
Beware of the Rising Bar
Think about how the bar rises over time.
If the key performance indicator for Amazon to keep sending your signal is an above-average conversion rate, you’ll continue to get favor until you fall below the average threshold.
That’s logical but scary when you think about how this function will slowly increase the average conversion rate.
Authors will need to overcome greater and greater hurdles to trigger Amazon’s marketing boosts. The disparity will increase between authors as only the more successful ones will be able to keep up with the rising average.
This is another cumulative advantage supercharger, always favoring those with an above-average close rate and increasing the average over time through feedback.
It may be hard to have the patience to develop an audience through passive brand awareness. Still, the businesses that take this long-haul strategy will see exponential growth in the long run because behind the scenes, you’re compounding readers’ attention.
When you use active direct response calls to action, it’s to a smaller engaged audience that wants to see your notifications.
Don’t think it will play out this way?
Consider: there are hundreds of authors just like you reading these emails, nodding their heads, pulling out notebooks, and planning out their Wynn-ing Way. Those adopting and implementing these ideas are seeing the results.
How do I know?
Every week I get replies. Sometimes it’s just a one-word reply, a “Thanks,” or “Brilliant!”
Other times, I get readers telling me the relief they have from the Joy of Moving On and the results from adopting these ideas.
Let others stick to interest-based advertising with calls to action, or take another Amazon ads course with thousands of authors learning identical tactical activities in the hope of selling more books. Let others be slaves to the algorithm, altering their content and channel to get likes and follows.
We understand the path to fame and fortune is one that requires courage and patience. One where we put experience and service first if we wish readers to give us money.
This is a career that can go on for decades. It is also one that can be short-lived, trying to get rich quickly.
If you’re one of the authors applying these ideas to the 4% of your business that delivers the biggest results, you’re already moving out ahead of the herd. It may not feel like it because compounding takes time. The early impact is small, but it scales exponentially.
If the system is in place for prospects to become aware, loiter and learn, it’s working. It may take months or years for it to deliver, but it will capture more prospects than traditional funnels. Adoption of your work happens on the prospect’s timeline, not yours. Suddenly and unexpectedly, things will appear to have gone viral. Readers will come out of the woodwork.
But the truth is… we both know you did the work and practiced patience. You treat others as you would like to be treated and let them take the long path to becoming your fan.
Wishing you the best in building your publishing business,