Wait. Whoa. Jennifer! We're running after you--can you stop for a second?
I'm attempting to be clever here--but wow. Jennifer Fusco is always on the move. And man, does she know about everything about everything about marketing. She's the Creative & Brand Marketing Manager for the General Electric Company, North America. If you had her brain for one moment? Your head would spin.
And no, we're not trying to sell light bulbs--either is she, obviously--that was just a little lame GE reference. But what Jennifer's insight means for us around here? We are now going to get the inside scoop.
Yes, you've heard about Facebook, and Twitter, and whatever else that we all do or at least know enough about to complain about. But what do the pros do? What do they know that we don't know?
Jennifer knows. And now--she's gonna tell. Her new book is called Market or Die. Hey, when you put it that way....
JENNIFER FUSCO: First of all, thank you for having me on your blog to discuss the six things savvy authors should know about marketing. This list is what I believe that
you, as a savvy author, can do to help control your writing destiny.
1. 1 – Search engine optimization – I know, you’re like, huh, what? No, I’m not speaking Klingon. I’m talking about the things that you as the author can do to help readers find your website, blog …your internet presence. Best of all, these steps are FREE.
Let me start by saying I’m no computer nerd and if I can do these simple steps to optimize search capability, you can too.
Go to your website. Look at the title bar. Are those words that people would type into Google to find you? Yes? Great. No? Um. Think of some new keywords.
Got your keywords but don’t know how to upload them? In your browser, go to view, then source. Up pops a menu of (what looks like Klingon) but is really metadata or metatags.
· There you’ll find title tags, description tags and keyword tags. Just update them in your website’s original source files, hit save and hit refresh. Ta da!
· Having trouble finding the right keywords? Think in Google search terms. What might a person type in Google to find you or ask people what they typed to find you.
Or the real secret trick: find your work on Amazon. com. Click view then source, like we did above. If you’re lucky (sometimes its locked) it’ll pop up and show you the metadata and keywords Amazon used to categorize you!
· Lastly, optimize your searches by linking your websites with other authors. The more links you have the more web visits you are likely to receive.
2. – Keep your eye on price – In the business world, orders are largely won or lost on price. Price is a component to everything business runs on. In business, you consider how to get the highest price for your product. Once your product is in the marketplace, you want to keep generating demand for a set price.
For for writers, I know most of your pricing is contracted and we all have a good idea how much a 400 page paperback novel sells for. What I’m talking about – and where artists, like you, can seriously get hosed is the .99 cent sale. With the rise of e-book readers and self-published authors, there’s more competition in the marketplace than ever before.
To offset the mob scene of authors getting into the ring is the .99 cent sale. In some cases, it works. Let’s take Amanda Hocking for example. Nice writer, great stories and she makes money in the .99 cent game. But, for you guys who aren’t self-published, let’s think this through before we run down the road of .99 cent sales.
In my opinion, be wary of the .99-cent sale. Why? Multiple reasons, here’s one example, not of writer but of a popular musician who went down the road of the .99-cent sale. Let me paraphrase the Chart Watch June 5 on Yahoo.com article for you:
Lady Gaga's Born This Way set another record, but not one that Gaga's team will be happy about. It was reported on that sales of the album dropped off by 84% from its sizzling opening week. Her sales saw the steepest drop-off in sales history.
Gaga's album sold 174,000 copies down from 1,108,000 when sales were goosed by a two-day, 99-cent sale at Amazon. A big drop-off was to be expected. But the fact that Gaga's drop-off was steeper than any of the other follow-ups to albums that had a million-unit week is troublesome. It seems obvious that the opening week tally for Born This Way was generated not only by hard-core fans, but also by casual fans who just didn't want to pass up such a deal. Last week's near giveaway worked in the short term (by giving Gaga the biggest one-week sales total since 2005), but it may have also served to devalue albums in general and Gaga's brand in particular.
But Jennifer, you say, my sales aren’t close to the numbers Gaga is pulling down. And girlfriend did make a quick buck. Maybe. But I think it will be hard to justify to the buying public the sale a novel for .99-cents one month then sell a future book at market price twelve months later.
All I’m asking you guys to do is not to jump so quick into the .99-cent sales arena. Think it through. What does an offer of your work for .99-cents say about you? Does it suggest that the work is sub-par and you’re giving it away? How will it affect your brand? And if you sell this book at .99 cents, where do you position yourself going forward?
If you still need a litmus test on whether you should enter the .99-cent arena, consider how many people you can get excited about this effort. Do you have 20,000 twitter followers or Facebook friends who are going to help you promote this sale? Can you position the .99-cent sale as a gift to all of your faithful fans? If yes, give it a try. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
3. Embrace Mobile Optimization – In February, I ran across a statistic that said 90% of all purchases will be made via mobile device (phone or tablet) in the next 12-18 months. With that in mind, savvy authors should start placing QR (quick response) codes on your book jackets. It’s a must have.
If you have a smartphone, download a QR code reader. Scan your phone over the code and wha-la, my website. It’s an easy and a FREE way to attract potential new readers and drive traffic to your website. To make your own QR code, search “QR code generator” and input your information. It’s that simple!
If your book is stocked on the shelf, all a perspective buyer has to do is scan your QR code which will connect them directly to your website or blog so that they can find out more about you and make a purchasing decision right there on the spot!
4. Brand Continuity- In my marketing guide, Market or Die; I stress to authors how important it is to know yourself and your work before developing your author brand. Your brand has to be sustainable and it has to send the right message to your audience. Case in point, there’s a romance author (No. I’m not telling who it is) whose brand is “the author your mother warned you about.” I thought to myself, “Really? That’s what you’re going with?” Now, I don’t know about you, but my mother warned me against taking rides and candy from strangers, not about authors or books.
Double check your brand statement. Make sure it reflects a positive message about you and your work. You, your brand, and your work all go hand in hand --they have to send a singular, positive message in order to be believable in the marketplace and become something that you can build upon.
5. Selling Forward- I have many author friends and one thing I consistently see them do is promote one book at a time. Release day hits and they are on Facebook, Twitter, and email promoting one book at a time. In marketing, we’re always working six to twelve and sometimes eighteen months ahead.
In this marketer’s opinion I’d like to see an author say, “Thanks for your support of the release of Market or Die on sale now at Amazon.com, but be sure not to miss the next in my series, Market or Die: Integrated Marketing Plan Advice for Writers releasing this July and for you devout Market or Die fans, Market or Die: Sensible Advice on using Social Media will release in the fall of 2011.”
You see. I didn’t just sell one book – I sold three.
Don’t have an upcoming release that you can speak of? Sell your backlist. Sell yourself. Sell your upcoming personal appearances. Heck, sell something besides that one book. Maximize all opportunities to self-promote when you have a listening audience. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Market using an integrated strategy – Is #6 a shameless plug for my next Market or Die release? You bet. What did you expect? I’m a marketer. Shoot me if you like, but I wanted to write about the use of an integrated strategy because I don’t see too many authors doing it and, in this digital age, executing an integrated strategy is easy.
When you have a release, you want to promote a singular, positive message about that release, or next three releases, (see tip #5). List all the places where you can communicate that message and integrate them. Your integrated plan may include: Organic Searches (having people find your web presence WITHOUT costing you money), Paid searches (having people find your web presences which DOES cost you money), Mobile marketing (QR codes), promotions, print or digital advertising, social media (Twitter, Facebook and You Tube) and word-of mouth.
By implementing an integrated strategy authors can construct a social graph, which will help the author spot influencers (those who can help drive a purchasing decision), identify opportunities for collaboration and drive reader engagement therefore producing positive sales results. Just the kind of results we’re looking for!
HANK: Told you! Questions for Jennifer? She's here--and do take advantage of this wonderful access!
Jennifer Fusco is the Creative & Brand Marketing Manager for the General Electric Company, North America. In her writing life, Jennifer is a member of RWA’s PRO network, Vice President of the Connecticut Romance Writers Association and a writer of paranormal romance.