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5 Keys to Online Marketing - For Authors

Over the many years we have been in marketing, we've discovered that all marketing processes come back to 5 main points.

  1. Building

  2. Influence

  3. Value

  4. Consistency

  5. Responsiveness

Frequently when we work with authors we find that the concept of marketing is a bit foreign to them. This isn't always the case, but it has happened often enough that we've taken our 5 Keys to Online Marketing program and created a summary of it geared towards helping authors become better marketers without being overwhelmed.

BUILDING: The concept of building is the same in marketing as it is everywhere else. You start with something small and you build it up to where you want it to be. There are two aspects to the idea of ‘building’ in relation to marketing. One is the idea of building momentum through the power of networking. This concept leverages the word-of-mouth communication between people who already know about you, to those who don’t yet. Before social media existed, this occurred primarily by actual in-person conversations. Social media has obviously accelerated this process dramatically. This activity has the effect of essentially building your following. The other important aspect of building is that of building your content, that you can post on social media platforms, as well as other places. The initial creation of content can be facilitated through the use of brainstorming tools such as mind maps. There is another technique to make the process of building content more quickly and easily. You can create a ‘post’ or small piece of content around a central idea. This bit of content can be small enough to fit in a Twitter post. You can then expand this content into a larger post for Facebook, and then an article suitable for LinkedIn, and perhaps even a blog post, or a video to post on YouTube.

INFLUENCERS: Influencers are people who are important in your field, or in fields related to yours, who have the ear ‘and eyes’ of members of your target audience. They would typically be influential people who already have a following on social media channels. If they are posting regularly on social media, you can share their posts [or do the equivalent of a ‘share’ on the respective channel] on your social media pages This is sometimes called ‘curation’, and the beauty of this activity is that it benefits both you and the influencer whose content you are creating. You are leveraging the knowledge and prestige of the influencer to build your own following, while driving more traffic to the influencer’s pages. You may even find that an influencer who is noticing that you are consistently sharing their content, begins to share your posts with their [much larger] audience.

VALUE: There are two ways to look at what value means in marketing. First is the concept of a ‘Value Proposition Statement’. Although there are various formats for a Value Proposition Statement available on the Web, a typical one follows this pattern: “For [the target audience], I provide [something of value], so that [core benefit derived from what is offered.” An example would be: “For the stressed-our reader, I provide an engaging and captivating novel, so that the reader can escape the demands and strain of the workaday world, and experience a bit of calm and escape.” There a number of books and other resources available online to help with identifying the core benefits that your product offers [beyond the basic features], which gets at the true value that you bring to the market. Another aspect of value is the idea of providing value up-front to people who are not yet your customers, but might someday be. One obvious way to provide value up-front is to give away free samples of your product. This is clearly not practical for most people with something to sell. Anyone who has an active social media presence, however, can provide value up-front, by posting valuable content. This could include valuable knowledge and information, or simply valuable entertainment.

CONSISTENCY: Imagine that you have an acquaintance who repeatedly invites you to lunch, and fails to show up to the restaurant every time. How long would you continue to make lunch plans with that person? If you think of marketing as the cultivation of relationships, you can see the importance of having a consistent, predictable pattern to whatever marketing activities you engage in. The key is not how often you post on social media, or attend networking events, or do other similar actions. The key is do these consistently. Here are two tips to help you get and stay consistent: First, commit to a schedule or cadence that you can sustain, and do not establish a schedule that you cannot commit to. Second, schedule time to do your marketing activities on your calendar. There is an adage that says, “If it ain’t scheduled, it don’t get done!”


Continuing on the theme of “marketing as relationship-building”, imagine someone with whom you communicate, or to whom you speak, who ignores you. No matter what you say or do, you get no response from this person. What will that do to the relationship? The same holds true for your marketing [and communication] program. If you follow the suggestions we presented above, you are bound to get people to contact you, or interact with you. If you fail to respond to them in some way, you will eventually [or quickly] lose them as a prospect or colleague. The more successful you become, the more difficult it will become to respond to every contact. Here are some tips to help you stay responsive: Develop systems to be able to respond to contacts very quickly, but personably [such as email message templates]. Get someone to help you [an employee if you can afford one, or a volunteer or intern if you can’t]. Remembering the adage about scheduling, schedule time to respond to people who contact you onyourcalendar. Keep in mind that nobody likes to be ignored, so don’t be an ‘ignore-ramus’!

The 5 keys as high-level concepts are relatively easy to understand. Where people have trouble is in the execution. To that we say go back to the beginning. Start small and build to something mighty. And we're here to help wherever you are in the process.


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