How many of you have walked through a mall (or other public area) and been approached by an overzealous worker trying to sell a product or service, such as nail polish or the latest home improvement technique? I can remember multiple times where I experienced this type of ambush and came away with perceptions that wound up positively affecting my own journey into the field of marketing. More than once I questioned the seller (after listing a long list of reasons why I should make this purchase) if he or she ever tried the product/service, and what did the person like about it. A lot of them looked at me and admitted, “Well, I don’t know. It’s just my job to sell it.” Some even stated that if I bought the more expensive option, they would receive a higher commission! Once in a while I would come across a kiosk where the staff would genuinely love what was being sold, but it was not the norm. Having been employed in a customer service capacity since I was sixteen years old, these were significant opportunities to examine my own attitudes, beliefs and tools of how I was serving the public. Now that I have taken the plunge into the vast world of writing, I would love to share what lessons I have learned along the way in successfully marketing my own written work.
HAVE A VISION!
I can’t stress this point enough—you need to have a vision of whatever it is you are going to write about. Whether it is a page in a church devotional or a 600-page novel, there must be a vision about what the result will look like. I am not saying that every single detail has to be rigid, structured and planned out; rather, I am strongly suggesting to mentally paint that picture in your head of how you want the finished product to look, and how it will bless those who read your work. When I was approached last year to contribute a chapter to a poignant book compilation regarding suicide awareness, I envisioned about how I wanted my part to appear in the book. It was also a topic that I am very passionate about and would have no issues with answering questions or engaging in conversation about it. When you are marketing your book or blog, always remember your initial vision and stick to it.
BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE!
I have many friends who are employed in the real estate business, and one of the main mantras in that profession is “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!” I formed my own mantra as I continue to write and market my content, which is the point above. As noted in my description of the kiosk sellers, a lot of them did not believe in what they were selling or promoting. I certainly don’t buy or try something solely based on a person’s opinion or experience, but I would enjoy hearing how it affected someone in his/her own life. A lot of my real estate friends have often expressed how much they love showing certain homes because they own one themselves, or the house has features they display in their dwellings. Bottom line is, belief in your product (book} makes it real and exciting for the customer. With the book I contributed to, I heartily believed in the subject, and that comes across as I market it with family, friends, and other individuals in my path.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
How many times did we hear that as children when we were going to school? While it was often an arduous task, it has come to mean something even bigger than just completing a math sheet or memorizing the weekly vocabulary words. As I graduated my university years and embarked on the pilgrimage of job interviews, that phrase took on a life of its own. Any articles I perused regarding job applications, “do your homework” was highlighted in every piece. It was imperative to research the company, agency, school, etc. prior to interview because you would not have knowledge ahead of time on what questions would be asked by those in charge. How embarrassing it is when an interviewer brings up an issue concerning the potential place of employment, and you have no idea what he or she is talking about (and yes, this happened to me early on)! As a writer, I am constantly researching information on diverse material and opportunities, so when I write about a subject or issue, I can embrace discussions and questions without hesitation. Often when you are marketing something, your customers will have a lot of inquiries from different angles, so doing your homework ahead of time will showcase your belief and passion, which will spill over into those in your presence.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
The previous point segues into this one, but it is again inspired by personal events. Not only is it important to have intellectual knowledge of what is being marketed; it is essential to have tangible tools along with you. I am in the process of obtaining business cards and building a website. I am also going to form a Facebook business page besides my personal page. From someone who was going to college when floppy disks were still the rage, I have had to adapt to learning and opening my mind to new programs and ways of communicating. The internet has opened up a whole new world to people, especially for writers. During networking events, more often than not, I very rarely need traditional paper for anything (except the business cards). The questions usually are whether I have a website, blog, a LinkedIn account, and the like. I would not appear very credible if I responded no to all of these questions. Friends have approached me on when the book will be available on Kindle. We live in a digital age, and that is not about to change. If you are going to strongly market your written work, learn and grow digital.
Writing is fun! Marketing can be fun too! No matter what it is that you produce, it will matter and affect someone’s world. I was told a long time ago that even if one person was inspired by something I wrote, it was worth everything. Look for opportunities to introduce your work. There are always open doors to walk through, and your story is worth going the distance. Go for it!