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Posts Tagged ‘Planning

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

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

Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals: Multimedia and Multi-Platform

Does your company use Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM)? These documents offer users a multimedia and multi-platform experience.

Around 1980, some companies and organizations, notably the aerospace industry and the branches of the U.S. military, began to re-think how they presented technical information. Their products were complex, and their maintenance, troubleshooting and product-support requirements were stringent and time-consuming.

They knew they needed to improve performance, reduce errors, and shorten learning timelines. But how?

As it happened, they looked at emerging computer technologies and wondered if moving from paper to an electronic format would improve results. Among their questions:

  • Would users find it easier to learn and use the material?
  • Would they reduce errors and improve performance?
  • Could they integrate documentation with other systems?
  • Could they save money?

Tests with interactive electronic formats showed positive results and so, encouraged, the companies and the military forged ahead into the world of Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM).

Since that time, we have seen IETM systems develop a variety of features, with most using one or more of the following:

Linear Structure. This sort of electronic document is based on the structure and layout of a printed book and uses navigational aids, such as a table of contents and a list of figures, that hyperlink into the content. A PDF file is a good example.

Nonlinear Structure. These online documents are organized around the logic of the product or task, for example, instead of following a linear book-type structure. However, the concept of a static page remains. As you would expect, there are lots of hyperlinks and other navigational aids. This type of document is often authored in a markup language.

Dynamic Data. These online documents are very nonlinear in structure. Content and pages are dynamic, drawing much of their data from relational databases and data dictionaries. Background programming automatically updates the dynamic data when the databases and dictionaries are updated. Hyperlinking in these documents is typically very complex and is, therefore, usually handled by programming. Content may also be context-specific and user-specific.

Integrated with Expert Systems. As companies build databases of heuristics and expert feedback, these can be integrated with the IETM system to improve the user experience and results. This information can be dynamically mapped into documents in all sorts of ways. For example, feedback by expert troubleshooters about errors and how to resolve them is sought after by companies across the product and process spectrum.

New Frontier—Multiple Devices. Many companies are now changing the way they and their customers think about IETM. From design concept to reality, they are experimenting with unleashing product support through all sorts of channels, for example: Mobile devices such as tablets and phones, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, websites, CDs, PDF, print, wikis, and blogs.

The new frontier of IETM seems to call for a “basket” of delivery platforms, each carefully selected for a certain type of content.

And no matter the platform, content rules. As ever.

Content must be organized in a way that suits the product, the audience, and its intended use. Content must be consistent across multiple platforms, well structured, properly modularized, cross-referenced and completely accessible by a full range of search and navigational features.

IETMs and their spin-offs present design, writing and production challenges, but produce a better user experience and greater performance improvements over stand-alone paper documents.

For more on creating an interactive user experience, see my recent post Let Your Customers Tweet in Your Documents.

Now it’s your turn: Does your company use IETMs? On which delivery platforms? How would you describe your experience implementing IETMs? Do you think the results are worth it? Please share your thoughts and questions about IETMs in comments. 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

 

Search Engine Optimization -- Does It Really Work?

Search Engine Optimization -- Does It Really Work? Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What does it take to improve the visibility of your web page or website in a search engine’s results list? Can you actually improve your search-engine ranking? And, most important, is that what really drives more visitors to your page or site?

A lot has been written about search engine optimization (SEO) and its value as an Internet marketing strategy.

Over the years, of course, search engines have caught on to so-called black-hat techniques, often referred to as spamdexing, which can get a page or site removed from a search engine’s index. So ethical website designers have learned to avoid bad practices like link farming, keyword stuffing and article spinning. And beyond the ethics question, to my knowledge there has never been any clear-cut evidence that such tricks ever really worked without any massaging of the results data.

Legitimate practices for optimizing a web page or site, the so-called white-hat techniques, include backlinking, removing barriers to the search engines’ indexing activities, cross-linking between a website’s pages and URL normalization.

Perhaps the most important technique of all, however, is to create worthwhile content that is truly relevant to your audience and also contains the keywords that your audience is most likely to use in their search queries. Place those keywords on pages, in title tags and in meta descriptions.

In my opinion, content wins, hands down, over other website-based methods of optimizing for search engines. Here’s why:

  • In order to create content that is relevant and useful for your audience, you have to know your audience. This requires research, analysis and thoughtful consideration, not black-hat tricks.
  • To develop keywords that make it easy for your target audience to find your web page or site, you must know how your audience thinks. You’ll probably have to dig a little to figure out which search terms your audience tends to use, run some tests and get feedback.
  • To make your web page or site compelling enough to draw visitors, your content has to be useful, interesting and well written. Great page design and graphics certainly help, but those alone won’t save your site if your visitors decide the content is not worth the trip.
  • Finally, to keep ‘em coming back for more, you must keep your site’s content fresh. So update and tweak as often as needed, which will depend on your company’s overall marketing objectives, the site’s purpose and your audience’s needs.

Gee, it’s beginning to sound as though you might need a marketing plan, isn’t it? Which is exactly where I think SEO belongs: as one part (and only one part) of your marketing plan.

What do you think? Do you use SEO? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas


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