Mark Terry

Friday, October 12, 2007

When Book Marketing Doesn't Work

October 12, 2007

One of the magazines I get is PODIATRY MANAGEMENT. Yeah, odd, isn't it? I'm not a podiatrist. But I write regularly for PM--mostly on topics of practice management, things like 7 ways to market your practice, or my most recent article yet to come out, ways to plug revenue leakage. I'm such a regular contributor that it was easier to just give me a complementary subscription rather than deal with me nagging for the issues my pieces are in.

There's a first of two-parts article in the latest issue by David Zahaluk, MD, called "The Top Ten Reasons Why Advertising Frequently Fails--Part 1." I thought there were enough interesting things in the first five that I'd mention some of what he has to say here.

#1. People don't want to be sold. Zahaluk notes that we're inundated with advertising messages. In fact, he notes that the average consumer receives about 3000 sales messages per day. (Think about that for a second. What the hell does that say about modern civilization, anyway?). The result, he suggests, is we have a tendency to automatically weed out sales messages as being "just advertising." I think of the number of times I've stared at the TV through some amusing ad and some member of my family comments on it and I think (or sometimes say), "Uh, what was it for? I wasn't paying any attention." There's some ad out now for Stanley Steemer where the dog drags his butt across the carpet and the woman acts like her son slit his throat with a butter knife and the only thing I got out of it was it was for some carpet cleaning company, but I didn't know which one until my wife commented that it was for the same damned company that came to our house that week.

#2. Being boring. Here's how Zahaluk starts this:

"Perceptual studies have been done on the behavior of reading the newspaper. The reader scans the page quickly and separates news stories from advertising content. Then headlines are scanned with about 4 seconds each devoted to each headline. After that, articles of interest are read, and boring articles are skipped. Finally, ads are scanned and interesting ones are read, while most aren't."

The point is that for a print material ad you've got about 4 seconds to attract the attention of the reader.

#3. Lacking credibility. Here he talks about using specific measures in an ad, something like "73% of patients with severe foot pain get complete relief using new treatment" versus say, "Read my Damned Good Book." I'm thinking of how to apply that to a marketing hook for your book. "83% of book buyers read this on the potty without getting hemorrhoids!" Well, maybe not.

#4. The 'Me-Too' Approach. Here he basically says most ads look alike, especially when made by people who don't know what they're doing. A marketing expert called Dan Kennedy calls this "marketing incest" which I think nails it. In other words, how do you make your ad/marketing stand out from the other 100,000 writers currently marketing in the exact same damned way??? How, if asked, say, to do something for AuthorBuzz, do you make your thing not look like the other 4 books a week run there every week?

#5. Being tacky. Ha! I don't need to go into this one, do I?

Anyway, I thought these were interesting.


Mark Terry


Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Interesting...most book ads don't move me to buy the book. But I write so I look at things differently (I think!). I orginally bought Konrath's first book because he wrote an artical for Writer's Digest. (something about First Success) From his site I saw your posts and wandered over to your site and bought your books. Just finished the Serpent--great book! When do we see Derek's next adventure?
I had a friend who used to buy books she saw advertised in Romantic Times. So who knows where people are looking for something to read??? What kind of marketing catches anyone's eye?
Its a mystery....

2:56 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

ANGELS FALLING is tentatively scheduled for May 2008.

Glad you liked SERPENT.

I discovered Joe the same way and discovered Robert Gregory Browne from his blog, although I actually won an ARC of his book in a contest. I discovered Brett Battles from Rob's blog, although I'm not sure if I bought a copy of the book or it was sent to me to review by the publisher.

Although I think the ads will at least create some sort of awareness in my head--some of them anyway--it's pretty rare that I'll run out and buy their book as a result unless it really looks interesting and hits me at the right time.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

I would think on a local scope ads may work if you can get a newspaper in your area to do a "author in our town" type of artical. On a grander scale? Not sure what will work. We are so inundated with all kinds of ads on a daily basis most people are numb to it. I think a remarkable ad would have a good hook.
I do political ads here in my town and we're always looking for the catch phrase that will get people to look.

10:22 AM  

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