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Marketing EBooks

Could digital marketing across multiple platforms represent a new business model for publishers? Could this model work for books on paper as well as ebooks?

Just a few years ago, who would have thought the subject of book publishing and marketing could have become as contentious and sometimes rancorous as it has these days?

Authors, agents, publishers and readers tussle over which is preferable: digital or traditional (print) publishing … and lately it seems that the trend is swinging toward a blend of both. But hold on to your hat! The blend itself is probably just another transition phase …

And do you even want to wade into the fray about book marketing?

Authors think it’s the publishers’ job. Agents and publishers insist that, for the most part and for most authors, it’s primarily the authors’ responsibility. And the audience … wait, do they even know you just published a book and are frantically trying to get their attention?

Yes, how exactly are you going to market your book to your target audience?

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Multi-Platform Marketing Campaign

Use various types of channels and media to build a multi-platform marketing campaign. (Click image for credit and source)

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A New Marketing Model?

How does the following approach to marketing your book grab you?  Let’s say you could reach out and connect with your audience in these ways:

Market your backlist books online.

Create frontlist fiction and non-fiction books digitally, and publish them as ebooks as well as online to various devices and as POD (print-on-demand) in selected retail outlets.

Team up with independent, traditional publishers to bring your ebooks to a larger audience through enhanced marketing, publicity and editorial strategies; these strategies would be implemented online via social media, blog postings, videos, photos, written pieces and interactive promotions.

Partner with agents and publishers who could do far more than just sell film and TV rights. Imagine partnering with someone who could actually develop selected ebooks for all screens (film, TV, web, mobile).

Collaborate with publishers who would build up your list of ebooks as well as other curated, complementary pieces, and then package and syndicate your digital publications as appropriate to other outlets, for example, social networks, blogs and mainstream media portals.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here are two ways of thinking about digital marketing—before the sale (top) and after the sale (bottom).

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Digital Marketing on Top

Digital Marketing on Top: Use a multi-platform blended approach of digital and traditional media to move your customers from awareness to purchase. This example emphasizes digital media. (Click image for credit and source)

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Digital Marketing on Bottom

Digital Marketing on Bottom: Use a multi-platform blended approach of digital and traditional media to keep your customers loyal and committed to giving your company their repeat business. This example emphasizes digital media. (Click image for credit and source)

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If you want to learn more about how one publishing company is going about creating this type of new, digital multi-platform marketing model, take a peek at the website of Open Road Integrated Media (ORIM).

One purpose of this type of digital marketing model is to forge strong connections between authors and their audiences in ways that haven’t been possible before now.

Even though authors may not always meet and greet their fans in person, authors must still reach out and connect their ideas to … well … to other people and their ideas. In essence, you have to create mind links.

Is that sort of connection necessarily any less real if it’s done digitally instead of in person?

Could we be catching a glimpse of where book publishing must go if it is to survive as an industry?

Should traditional publishers consider retooling their operations around a similar model?

If you are one of the 80,000 independent publishers, would you consider partnering with a digital marketing company?

In fact, will traditional publishers even survive if their business model does not emphasize heavy-duty marketing, especially digital multi-platform marketing?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Is this model the book-marketing wave that authors, agents and publishers alike have to catch to survive and thrive? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks!  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Information visualization provides a way of helping people make sense of large, complex data sets, such as the following:

  • Topology data
  • Epidemiology data
  • Sets of time series
  • Medical data
  • Geographic maps
  • Network connections
  • Financial data
  • U.S. Government Budget
  • Billions of customer transactions
  • Radiation doses and their impact over time

Improving large-scale analysis of these and many other massive data sets presents an ongoing challenge for businesses, academia and government. Using information visualization techniques, however, allows us to explore visually and perhaps arrive at some understanding of patterns and groupings that might otherwise remain invisible.

Essentially, information visualization allows you to extract meaningful information from a sea of data.

And those data do not have to correspond only to the physical and concrete. They can be abstract, drawn from the domains of the symbolic, the textual, the logical, the tabular, the networked, and the hierarchical, among others.

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Example: Accessing the Geosocial Universe via Mobile Devices

How popular are the various geosocial networks with mobile users? This infographic is a good example of “compare and contrast.”

Geosocial Universe

This infographic illustrates and compares the popularity of different geosocial networking services. (Click to see credits and source.)

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Example: Ranking Themes in Documents

If you’re curious about the relationships among documents, this visualization shows clusters of themes and their strengths in health- and medical-related literature.

IN-SPIRE Software: ThemeView Landscape

This ThemeView Landscape figure shows relationships among documents. High peaks represent prominent themes. Peaks close together represent clusters of similar documents. (Click to see credits and source.)

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Example: Ordering  News Topics by “Interestingness”

Ever want to find out what are the hottest news topics within a given time period? In this visualization, the most reported (hottest) topics are in the center column. Less-reported topics appear in the side columns.

Automated, Intelligent Broadcast Video Content Analysis

News visualization topics are arranged according to “interestingness” for a given time period. Hottest topics (those most reported) appear in the central column. Side columns are used for topics of lesser impact by the interestingness measure. (Click for credits and source.)

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Using Information Visualization to Improve Your Publications

For your visualization to be effective, it must be useful to your audience as well as aesthetically appealing. This requires thoughtful analysis, attention to detail, imagination, and no small amount of perseverance. This YouTube video provides some examples and techniques. You may also find inspiration in Edward Tufte’s website.

The idea is that you do the heavy lifting, so your audience doesn’t have to.

To guide your work, ask the following questions:

Does your visualization have a purpose?  That is, what is the story you are trying to tell with this visualization? What information are you trying to tease out of the data and put into visual form?

Is your visualization the best one to convey the story?  That is, when your audience sees the visualization, will they immediately grasp the “big picture” of your analysis of the data? Will they easily grasp the meaningful patterns in the subject? If details are also important, does your visualization scale to that level in a way that makes sense for the subject and the audience?

Is your visualization interactive? Interactive views allow you to guide the story and are especially helpful when there is too much detail to show all at once. Although interactivity works best online, it can be approximated in print by breaking out information into related visualizations.

Is your visualization beautiful? Beauty influences comprehension. How you present something can determine its usefulness. Visual attributes such as fonts, colors, sizing, orientation of view, scaling of graphic elements and placement of graphic elements have a large impact on the user experience. For an example of WOW! beautiful maps, check out Maps: Visualizing Twitter and Flickr Data.

Tell me, do you think information visualization is the new frontier?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Do you use information visualization in your work? Do you generate your designs by software or have a graphic artist create them? I’d really like for you to keep the conversation going by leaving comments. Thanks!  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Internet Radio Means Global Reach

Do you use internet radio in your marketing strategy? Ever thought about it? It may be worth looking at the thousands of internet radio talk shows that could help you get your message out.

Radio interviews are a dynamite way to get massive exposure that can reach way beyond a local market. So think BIG—think global. Why confine your marketing to one or more local markets when you could be heard all over the world?

There are thousands of internet radio shows on over 10,000 internet radio stations. Some of these are “terrestrial” stations that also offer streaming or podcasts over the internet; others are entirely creatures of the internet.

And these stations all have one thing in common: their talk shows always need new content. Every day, each show has to feed the engine that draws listeners and powers the world of news and information.

World Map of Midwest Irish Internet Radio - Global Reach

Internet radio reaches people all over the world, so why settle for one or a few local markets when your audience is actually global? Internet radio lets you take your message directly to them, wherever they are.

 

Finding Internet Radio Shows

How do you find the shows you would like to be on? Here are two tips:

Audience. Define the target audience for your product, service, or message. You might segment your audience by demographics – age, gender, education, socioeconomics, and so on. Or perhaps it makes more sense for you to classify your audience by interests or lifestyle. Remember that a product intended for one group may also appeal to another, if only as an item to give as a gift. The takeaway here is to analyze your audience very carefully so you don’t overlook a healthy market.

Research. Use the following links to check out the types of talk shows that appeal to your audience. If your topic is kitchen tools and gadgets, for example, you wouldn’t be looking for an interview on a radio show about fashion accessories or gardening. Use specific keywords in your search for shows.

 

Contacting an Internet Radio Show

When you find a show you are interested in, the station or show website will display a Contact tab or menu option. Make a note of the show’s producer or host, including the email address and any other contact information. In most cases, email will be the best way of contacting someone and will also help you keep your lists organized and under control.

When you send an email letter, introduce yourself and let the producer or host know why you are contacting them. Tell them a little about yourself, why you would like to be a guest on their show, and how talking with you will benefit their radio listeners.

Be sure to keep your email lists updated and organized as you continue trying to book yourself on radio shows. You may have to follow up if your initial contact attempt gets no response (and expect that in a few cases you may never get a response to your query).

Continue searching for more contacts, and be persistent in trying to book yourself on shows. Eventually you should get some interviews.

 

So … What Are You Going to Say?

Congratulations! You’ve finally snagged an internet radio interview and now you’re preparing for your guest spot. What are you going to say?

Don’t even think of “winging it.”

Map your outline in such a way that your interview will have a storyline – a beginning, a middle, and an end. What are your key points? What is your overall purpose?

Break your storyline down into topics (speaking points), and create a question to introduce each topic.

Develop each topic by writing out the answer to its question. As you write, your objective is to get your message across by appealing to your audience’s needs and interests.

Remember to time each topic, according to the timelines your contact gave you, so you will be a good guest and not force the host to cut you off mid-sentence when show time is up.

Read everything you have written out loud. If some part of your script sounds odd or just doesn’t seem conversational enough, rewrite it. Edit and rewrite your material until it sounds right, says what you intend to say for your audience, and stays within the timelines you’ve been given.

Email a copy of your question-and-answer storyline to your interviewer well ahead of your interview date.

Now you’re on your way … soon to be a guest on an internet radio talk show. And guess what? You can use the same interview script, or a lightly tweaked version of it, for other guest appearances on shows that play to the same audience. Nice job.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever been a guest on an internet radio talk show? What was your experience? Share your thoughts and opinions in a comment – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Offline Strategies for Marketing Your Book

Authors, what sort of successful offline strategies for book promotion have you used?

In one of my online discussion groups, someone recently asked what sort of successful offline strategies for book promotion published authors have used. I’ve adapted part of my response for this post and hope that if you are a published author you’ll share one or two of your successful offline strategies for marketing your book.

When you start to develop the offline marketing plan for your book, your first questions should be:

  • Who is my audience?
  • Where are they likely to look for the kind of book I have written?

How you answer those questions will help determine which offline strategies you might consider. The following suggestions have worked for me as well as for some of my ghostwriting clients who asked for tips on marketing. Of course there are other strategies you can pursue, but these will get you started on developing a marketing plan for your book.

If you are publishing your book through a traditional publisher, the two of you will discuss who does what. (Most authors publish with smaller houses, which assume the author will be responsible for much of the marketing.) Just expect to handle a fair amount of the marketing and promotion yourself, unless you are a celebrity with wide name recognition or your book is so compelling that the big publishing houses are engaged in a frenzied bidding war to land your manuscript. (Compelling? It’s a code word that means “appears poised to make huge sales.”)

If you are self-publishing, then you are the publisher, of course, and in that case will especially want to pick and choose among those strategies that are likely to give you the most return (that is, book sales) for the time and effort invested.

Get all the reviews you can. Work with your publisher to have the book sent around to the most appropriate journals, magazines, digests, newspapers and other publications for review. See if your publisher will actually handle sending the review copies: this is a big job, and if your publisher is willing and already has a database full of contacts, be grateful. (And possibly consider sending your publisher a lovely thank-you note and fabulous flowers or delectable chocolates). If you are really lucky, your publisher will also track and assemble the review clippings, and send copies of them to you. Reviews serve many purposes; one of the most important is to help generate orders from bookstores, book clubs and other outlets.

Get out there and give interviews! Follow up on the press releases and review copies that have already been sent out by contacting local and national magazines, journals, newspapers, and radio and TV stations to set up interviews. Naturally, you’ll want to target those that are appropriate for your book, so when you make your pitch, be sure you know how your book is relevant to the publication’s or show’s audience—in other words, be able to tell them why they should interview you as opposed to another of the many authors who are also trying to snag an interview. Bonus: Since many publications and stations also have a website, your interview just might also appear online in written form or, in some cases, as a podcast.

Some nonfiction books lend themselves beautifully to seminars. If you decide that seminars make sense as part of your promotion strategy, consider structuring the fee to include a copy of your book for each participant.

Would speaking engagements work for your book? Many authors spread the word by speaking to professional associations, special-interest groups, conferences and other organizations. Tip: Ask if they can give your book a plug in their handouts and publicity (don’t assume they’ll just do it; be sure to ask and offer to supply the copy or advertising insert). Also, make sure you always have plenty of books on hand to sell on site; alternatively, you might arrange for a local bookstore to handle sales of your book at the event.

Before and after your book is published, consider writing articles about your book’s subject for relevant magazines, newspapers and journals. If you can manage a column, you’ll derive even more exposure. You might also approach selected publications and pitch excerpts from your book. The point is to get your book and your name in front of your audience, grab their attention, and motivate them to buy a copy. Bonus: Like other authors, you’ll probably find that the experience and the clips will have many future uses.

What about readings and book signings at bookstores, libraries, book clubs and similar venues? Although many writers dreamily imagine reading to large crowds of enraptured fans and signing books for long lines of adoring readers, in reality those events often seem to work best (that is, they produce the most traffic and sales) for well-known/celebrity writers or for topics that attract hordes of readers, no matter who the author is. Test the market for this type of event by talking with your local booksellers and librarians.

Whatever set of strategies you select to incorporate into your marketing plan—good luck!

Now it’s your turn: Have you used any of these strategies to market your book? What worked best for you? What other offline promotion efforts produced book sales for you? Take part in the conversation by leaving comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Business Blogs: 9 Red-Hot Tips for a Great Blog

Now that you’ve decided to create a business blog, how do you do that? Here are some practical ideas guaranteed to help you get great results.

Okay, you’re ready to take the plunge. You’ve decided it’s time to create a business blog and connect with your customers on a whole new level … but … how do you do that?

Relax. It’s not difficult. To help you get started, here are some red-hot tips for creating a successful business blog.

Objective. Your very first step is to define the objective of your company’s blog. Go no further until you know what your blog is supposed to accomplish.

Audience. You must know who your customers are so you can relate to them in ways that make sense to them and their experiences. You have to be able to get inside their heads and speak to them in ways they will find useful and appealing.

Plan. Sketch out a plan that lists topics, publication dates, research sources and experts to interview. Maybe you’re comfortable planning for two months of blog posts, or perhaps you’re the type who wants six months or even a year’s worth of topics ready to roll. The key is to create a topic outline, so you can work ahead and stay on top of publication deadlines. If you need to get buy-in or approvals from other staff members, a solid plan will make that part of the job much easier.

Reviews. Establish who is on the review panel. Depending on the size of your company and your industry, your reviewers may include people from the technical, legal, regulatory, marketing, sales and other departments. Really good advice: Keep the number of reviewers as small as possible. Remember that reviewers are meant to verify or question the accuracy of content; in all cases, the writer needs to be the “voice” of the blog.

Length. Generally, a typical business blog post is 300 to 500 words long.

Frequency. How often to post varies widely from company to company, but as a rule of thumb you should plan on blogging three to four times a week.

Comments. Allow comments—after all, you want customer feedback, right? A big part of the blog’s job is to connect with customers, and encouraging an ongoing conversation is a really good way to do that. Remember to monitor comments and respond to them. Depending on your company, you may need to develop an internal process for handling technical questions, requests for information, sales leads, and so on.

Keywords. As much as possible, use company keywords in every post. Just be sure you don’t get too “sales-y” or overtly promotional, unless sales and marketing are the explicit objectives of the blog.

Value. To keep your customers coming back and interacting, your blog must contain information your customers find useful. Blog about things your customers can relate to and care about, and you will build good business relationships through conversation.

Need a little more hand-holding? Want some examples of successful biz blogs? Check out Social Media Examiner and Performancing.

You may also like to read one of my recent posts on the top reasons why your company needs a business blog.

Now let’s talk: Have business blogs worked for you? Does your company use blogs to create a customer community? Do you have any tips, secrets or techniques for creating successful business blogs? Please leave your comments. Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower   The Write Ideas

Are Your Publications Things or Behaviors?

Do you see your company's publications as things or behaviors? Your answer can have all sorts of interesting consequences for your customers and your company.

If you started to think about your company’s publications as behaviors instead of things, would such a shift in perspective change the resulting documents? Would your customers respond to your message in a different way?

Consider the publications that you and others in your company create—they probably run the gamut, from sales and marketing literature to online pages to proposals to technical documentation and maybe even to interactive multimedia presentations and video scripts.

Like most writers, you work with others to establish the requirements for each publication and to generate and refine its specifications. You create an outline that captures the topics, features and procedures to be included in each document and organize that content in a way that satisfies the project specifications.

Such an approach is based on seeing the document as a thing. And, while it may be necessary, at least in part, is it sufficient? Does it really satisfy your customers’ needs? Does it let you wring every last drop of value out of what you spend on trying to connect with your customers?

What if you viewed a publication as a set of behaviors, instead of just a thing?

For starters, this might mean that your project requirements stated how your company’s customers would interact with the publication—and any associated product. After all, why do your customers read your stuff? What do they expect to get out of it?

If you thought about customer behaviors—for example, how they use the publication, the ways in which they need to access the document, how they find topics, how they use the information, what other resources they might need, how they might use the document as a focal point for customer-to-customer and customer-to-company interaction—would those considerations change your document specifications? Would the specs begin to reflect a mindset that took user experience into account?

If you viewed each publication as describing, prescribing and integrating a dynamic set of behaviors among your customers, your products and your company, how would that change the types of documents you create?

Would you enhance your publication model to include various scenarios and anticipated interactions that played to customer needs and experiences?

Begin to think about your company’s publications as behaviors instead of things, and I’ll bet your documents become more interactive, more dynamic, more user-friendly and more attuned to your customers.

Now let’s talk: What is your opinion? If you create publications, what is your approach? As a customer, how do you respond to companies’ offline and online publications: What do you like about them? What don’t you like? You can leave your comment at the top of this post. Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Kitten and Sponge Try to Communicate

Are you communicating with your audiences in a way that helps you reach your objectives?

Happy New Year! As you make your business resolutions for the coming year, communicating better is likely on your list. Whether you are an entrepreneur charging forward at the head of a fast-track startup or are growing an established small, midsize or large company, you know that telling your story and getting your message out to your customers and prospects is absolutely vital to your continued success.

With my best wishes to you for a kickin’ and profitable New Year, here are four hot-off-the-press tips that will work wonders for you in 2011.

1. Set Your Objective

Establish an objective to serve as the framework for your communication project. In other words, what is your purpose in reaching out to your customers, a colleague, prospects, your staff, or the general public? What do you want your audience to know, do, think, or feel? What results are you looking to get? From a single letter to an entire advertising campaign in a variety of media, you must know why you are communicating.

Taking aim and knowing what your target is before you take action gives you a real edge over your competition. So don’t bypass the tried-and-true advantage of figuring out where you want to go before you hit the trail: set an objective.

2. Develop Your Strategy

Now that you have an objective, you need a way to get there. The path to your objective is your strategy.

A useful way of thinking about strategy is to ask this question: what achievable steps can I take to reach my objective? In other words …

What is your product, process, idea, and so on? Who are your audiences? How can you engage and hold their interest? What sort of material (white papers, letters, brochures, books, manuals, videos, websites, blogs and other social media, and so on) do you need to create to reach your audiences? What must you say to your audiences to accomplish your objective? What is your point of view? How do you begin to tell your story, make your pitch, start your message to get through to your audiences?

Basically, you can think of strategy as defining the who, what, where, when, and how as specifically as you can. Strategy is your gameplan, and every step must lead to the why, which is your objective.

3. Establish Your Theme

Good Writing Establishes a Theme, Just As in Music

Is your communication organized around a theme, which holds everything together?

In music, a theme is a pattern of notes that makes the dominant statement at the opening of a composition. After establishing a theme in a piece, the composer develops it and plays with it until the end, when the musical exploration is resolved into a re-statement of the theme.

Communicating by words and images is similar. A good theme lets you own one or several words in the marketplace which are identifiably yours. In this sense, a theme positions or brands your message, that is, it creates “shelf space” in the minds of your audiences.

A theme is the glue that holds your strategy together. If you are spangling messages across market segments and platforms, what is the tie that binds, the unifying element, the cohesive force? Your theme.

You want coherence and organic unity? Grab yourself a dominant theme and stick with it for the project.

4. Create Your Message

Build your message around your theme. The message also must fit within some part of your strategy, so that it helps achieve your objective.

The persuasiveness and effectiveness of a message stem from four factors: what you say, how you say it, where you say it, and how often you say it.

The most important aspect of a message, however, is that you have to write for the audience. Do you know your audience well enough to send them a message they will find meaningful? Will your audience understand your message? Are you using words and images that are relevant and familiar to your audience? Will your message achieve the desired results with your target audience? Is the message appropriate for the medium you have selected, for example, the digital market space, a print magazine, a video or a white paper?

Howling Pups on a Communication Roll

Are you just howling into the wind, or are you on target with an objective, strategy, theme and message set?

What are your thoughts on how to communicate well? Please share them by leaving a comment. Thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas


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