Thursday, June 13, 2013

Marketing vs Relationship Building

This morning I happened to read Chris Brogan's piece on  marketing versus what he called "owning relationships."  It got me thinking about my own marketing efforts for my novels, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you today.  First, if you'd like to read Chris Brogan's piece on the subject click here: Marketing VS Owning Relationships.

I live in a pretty upscale community, but that doesn't keep us from having our share of homeless men and women looking for handouts on the street.  Some mornings, I like to take a walk and grab a cup of coffee before I start my writing day.  The walking along with the caffeine gets my creative juices flowing, and by the time I get into my office I'm ready to go.  Urth Caffe, a terrific and very busy  breakfast place, is on my walking route, and most days, standing near the cafe, I see George.  I see several what I call "regulars" during my walks, but I only know one of them by name.  George.  George seems to know everyone who passes by.  When he sees me approaching his face lights up.  "Hi, E!  How's the tennis game."  George is chatty and has learned several tidbits about me. George never asks for money.  He never has his hand out.  His cup is on the ground nearby and invariably people put money in it.  I know I do.  That's because George seems genuinely interested in me.

Homeless people have less than a minute to market themselves to passersby.  Most of them do it with signs or pleas for help.  George does it by relationship building.  Recently George told me he found an apartment.  He's out in front of Urth Caffe fewer days, doing day labor other days.  I know most of us are rooting for the day George won't be out there at all.  That's because George didn't just market his wares to us, he built relationships.

Late last year I decided the future of my marketing efforts was not in getting 10,000 or more Twitter followers or 100,000 Facebook likes.  The future for me was in relationships.  That's when I decided to start The 25.   I felt that by building relationships with fans and staying in touch with them, I gave myself the best chance at selling more books.  You can learn more about The 25 by clicking on the link.  If you're a fan and you'd like to join my little club, follow the link to find out how.

If you're an author who is in this for the long haul, you need to think beyond KDP giveaways, tweets touting your latest work, and blog tours.  It's not that you shouldn't do these things, but the market is glutted with authors on Twitter and there are over 6,000 free ebooks being given away on any given day.  When you find a fan, you need to cultivate a relationship with them. 

I have a friend who was touting their high number of Twitter followers.  I told the friend they're not really followers if you can't motivate them to do something, they're just names on a list.  To be successful, we need true followers.  Here's the test.

My novel Heaven Sent was due to come out on December 12th 2012.  I wrote to the members of my, then fledgling, The 25 urging them not to buy the book on that day.  I had a KND ebook of the day promo coming a week later.  I asked them to all hold off and buy the day of the KND promo.  I told them why I needed their help.  Some of you reading this are my loyal followers so you know what happened.  Instantly, I received tweets and emails from my fans telling me they had my back.  On the morning of the promo several fans bought the book and then  tweeted "I just bought Heaven Sent by @Evanlowe  #twofive"  You have no idea how gratifying it was to see those tweets.  Later that evening Heaven Sent made its first appearance on an Amazon Best Seller list.  I saved the screen shot and sent it to all members of The 25 with a thank you.
Heaven Sent
The book wound up spending several days on Amazon's Best Seller lists, and has appeared again several times since.  The fans who bought Heaven Sent on the day I asked or during that week are my true followers.  I asked them to do this three days before Christmas and yet, because of my relationship building, my frans (friend + fan) took time out of their busy days to buy my book. 

The lesson here is simple: if you want to build a career in writing, you need to build it around true fans. They're not easy to come by, but they're worth the effort.  So take your marketing efforts to the next level and go beyond marketing with relationship building.