Online Marketing: Feel like a Dog Chasing its Tail?

Marketing Net Pic

Joe published a book. Sales are slow. He learns that he needs to market the book.

He develops a blog. It starts out small and grows slowly. Even the blog needs to be promoted.

Joe joins Facebook and Twitter. His experience there is much like his blog.

He makes a website for his book. That entails SEO optimization.

Joe includes links to his social media sites, author website, and book from his blog.

He links to his social media sites, book, and blog from his author website.

He adds a fan page to his book to help drive traffic to his blog, social media sites, and author website.

Wait a minute. Joe wants his online marketing to drive traffic to his book, but he’s using his readers to promote his websites. Huh?

Here’s what it looks like to Joe:

  • A drives traffic to B, C, D, and E.
  • B drives traffic to A, C, D, and E.
  • C drives traffic to A, B, D, and E.
  • D drives traffic to A, B, C, and E.
  • E drives traffic to A, B, C, and D.

That’s great except for one little detail: There wasn’t a source of traffic anywhere to begin with!

Are we just driving around in circles? Where does the traffic come from? Are all of Joe’s followers other authors trying to market their own books?

These are natural things to wonder when you first explore online marketing.

The author who is wondering such things might wish to be aware of the following points:

  • It would have been helpful for Joe to do some effective premarketing.1
  • Joe wants a simple, easy, magical source of traffic. In reality, marketing requires work, patience, and wisdom.
  • A ton of instant sales would be really nice, but this is really difficult to come by for a new author on the first book. A gradual increase in sales is more realistic and can become significant over a long period of time.
  • Marketability2 is as important as the marketing. Any problems with the content, cover, blurb, writing, editing, or formatting can render the marketing ineffective.
  • Local offline marketing can be quite effective for many new authors, and this can help stimulate the online marketing.

Think of your combined marketing efforts as an ever-expanding marketing net.

If your online content is designed well, someone in your target audience who wanders into your marketing net is likely to check out one or more other components of your online platform: your blog, your social media sites, your author website, your book website, your fan page, your book’s product page, your author page, etc.

The larger your net, the more opportunities there are for potential people in your target audience to wander into it. Having content that attracts your target audience helps greatly.

It takes time to build your marketing net. It takes time for your target audience to discover your net. It takes time for your following to grow. It takes motivation, diligence, and patience.

It’s not about money. It’s about helping your target audience find a product that they’re likely to be interested in. It’s about blogging because you have ideas to share. It’s about writing because you have a strong passion for it. It’s about marketing because you have a passion to share your work.

It’s about gaining exposure for your work.

Following are some specific things that you can do to help stimulate traffic.

For example, a temporary, infrequent reduction in price or freebie can help with exposure. For this to be most effective, you must build a modest following first (one benefit of premarketing). This greatly helps you spread the word through your marketing net. Price doesn’t generate interest. Creating the perception of value and spreading the word generates interest. You have to promote a sale for the discount to draw readers in.

An advertisement that reaches a large percentage of your target audience can help promote short-term interest and increase your exposure. Don’t focus solely on the initial return. Consider what the potential exposure, if promoted effectively, may do in the long run. It’s very important for an advertisement to reach your specific target audience3 and for your book to be highly marketable for it to pay off. Keep the investment low because there is no guarantee that it will pay quick dividends. Do a cost-benefit analysis.4

Having multiple books or a series also widens your net. This offers previous readers an opportunity to get more (provided that your previous content was good enough to warrant it).

Local offline marketing can be a valuable resource. Meeting people in person allows you to show your personality and charm them. Being able to meet an author in person is a treat. See if small, local, indie bookstores or other stores that sell books have any interest in your book. Perhaps a school or library would be interested in a reading. Find out where your target audience is likely to be and make an effort to meet and interact with them. A small, local paper may have column inches to fill with a local story about you or your book.

Effective premarketing can lend early sales to start out with a strong sales rank and may also earn early reviews. It also enables you to build your following prior to the launch of your book.

Getting a blog review, interview, and especially publishing an article relevant for your target audience in a high-traffic area can help draw in readers.

Related Posts:

1. Premarketing Ideas:

2. Marketability:

3. Target audience:

4. Cost-benefit analysis:

Want More? To find more posts about marketing and publishing, click on one of the links in the Index on the sidebar to the right. Choose Cover Design, Blurb, Formatting/Editing, Marketing, Writing, or Publishing.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

10 comments on “Online Marketing: Feel like a Dog Chasing its Tail?

  1. Sometimes I feel very spread out, and I don’t even have a twitter account. I think, for myself, doing real face to face sells with the paperback will make a big difference for me. My audience tends to be older than most of the online crowd. But the online crowd is maturing also, as baby boomers take to the net in retirement.

  2. This is a very great post – well crafted and very useful … and encouraging as always. Thanks, Chris! I came to blogging late, and am working my way through the circle you described and building from the bottom back up to publishing fiction. Having a blast exploring and dawdling in the meantime (not sure that was your point but nevertheless it’s mine I take along with yours). See you soon. Best!

    • Thank you.🙂 It seems like a circle at first. When you describe it as building from the bottom, it sounds like a pyramid (but this word brings with it a business connotation). Maybe it’s more like a funnel, hoping everything falls down to the product. But net appeals to me. (Sorry, I’m just thinking “in print,” so to speak, from your description of building up.)

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