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A Novel Approach To Marketing = Authenticity

>(Comment for a chance to win a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card)

Even before I sold my first novel to Alicia Condon at Kensington, even before I contracted with my agent, Paige Wheeler, I was angling for market share as an author.  As a pre-pubbed, pre-agented writer dreaming of that “someday” call, I would walk down the aisles of WalMart thinking to myself, how did they get here?  Then asking myself, how do I get here?

For years I didn’t have the answer.  I looked to everyone else for tips, tricks, advice, direction.  One writer says blog, another says don’t bother.  One author says promote out the wazoo, another says, I never promote and I’m NYT.  One agent says, your premise isn’t unique enough, another says the same premise is far too “out there”.

I did the website, the blogging, the facebook, the twitter.  I took the dozens of classes on craft and storytelling and promotion.  I read.  I wrote.  I submitted.  I queried.

About 8 years later, by the time I signed with my agent, I realized what all published authors realize at some point…most before they even sell:  there is no shortcut, no trick, no “magic beans” as Lauren Dane says.

In the last six months, as I’ve struggled to cultivate clever marketing strategies in preparation of my upcoming release, I’ve watched the industry and the changes within.  Like so many other authors, companies and entrepreneurs out there, I’ve wondered just how to gain the attention of the customers (read: readers) I hope to cultivate soon.  Ultimately, I sat back, frustrated, disheartened and dazed, doubtful there was really any way I could make a dent in the attention deficit that has become our target market.

Taking that break from what felt like an upstream swim helped me settle.  I found myself able to look at the whirlpool from a different perspective and I discovered what I was doing that was holding me back: focusing on myself.

When I decided to dip my toes back in the water, it was with a stronger sense of who I am, where I fit and how far I will allow myself to be drawn into the pull of it all.

I’m a giver at heart.  Even as a kid, I’ve always enjoyed giving presents more than getting them.  I’m absolutely positive this is some personality disorder that is documented in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), but in the end, it’s just me–good or bad.  So when I waded back to the waters edge, I suppose I did it more authentically.  I utilized twitter and facebook and blogging as a way to give to others — information, advice, technique, antidotes, gifts, thanks, whatever I felt I had/have to offer.

Not only did it feel good, it felt right.  I felt as if I’d found my groove.  In this economic slump, an environment of dwindling audience and growing competition for said audience’s attention, simply giving without expectation of return on investment isn’t generally thought of as the first or best plan of action, but it fits me.

The best part is that I’ve discovered it fits a lot of other people out there, too.  I’ve had a tremendously positive response and feel like I’m finally settled where I want to be…right on the edge of all the fun where I can watch and participate without getting run over or worn out.

Today I came across an article that validated my search for marketing authenticity.  I want to share a few quote from the article, as I could not illiterate my point of view any better.  The piece was written by Michael Stelzner, co founder of Social Media Examiner and you can find the complete articleHERE — definitely worth the read.

But here are a few passages that spoke to me…intimately:

  • Have you noticed that everything is changing? Your industry advances, ideas expand, products morph and your customers move on. Similar to space travel, everything’s hurtling forward. Nothing remains still. Just when you think you have everything figured out, it all changes!
Um…yes! This is why I stopped trying when my head was spinning 90mph.

  • We’ve been treating people like fish. We’ve been taught to simply crawl into a boat, paddle out to where the customers are, grab our reel and cast out on top of customers. Then just jiggle that bait the right way and you’ll be able to force a customer into your boat.
As a customer, I recognize this tactic.  And, no, I don’t like it.  It makes me feel…ordinary, forgetable, disposable.
  • If you want to connect with customers and attract raving fans, the solution is very simple: Focus on people.

I LOVE this!!

  • You can meet the needs of people by helping them solve their problems at no cost. When you help people with their smaller problems, many will look to you for their bigger issues.
  • Great content PLUS other people MINUS marketing messages EQUALS growth!
  • When you offer great content—such as detailed how-to articles, videos—that focuses on helping other people solve their problems, you’ll experience growth. Why? Because this type of content meets the needs of people. It doesn’t focus on you, your products or your company. It is a true gift to your audience.
  • Once the marketing messages are caged, the focus of your company shifts from “What can we sell you?” to “How can we help you?” You shift from pitching products to boosting people.

Now there’s a concept — boosting OTHERS, not just YOURSELF!! Wow, how novel!

  • With the old forms of marketing, you pitch and sell. People ignore you and your business is at risk. With the new method, you give gifts, people trust you and you become indispensable.
  • The result: You no longer need to sell! Instead, you demonstrate your expertise by the content you produce, the ideas you showcase, the stories you share and the people you attract. By creating a platform for others, you can also build strategic alliances, quickly grow a large following and dominate your industry.
  • You have the chance to own the place people go to for help, eliminating your reliance on traditional marketing channels. You can become the center of your industry, niche or local market. And when that happens, you’re launched on an unstoppable trajectory that will take you places you never imagined possible.

Well, there you have it…in theory anyway.  IMO, I love the theory, it works for me, it feels good and I’m going to stick with it.

I’m a big believer in karma.  How about you?  What are your thoughts on this theory?

Comment for a chance to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!

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