Fat Mogul vs. Advertising

This disgusting display found on hubcityblues.com.  Click to find their article on advertising that used this image.
This disgusting display found on hubcityblues.com. Click to find their article on advertising that used this image.

One of the first hitngs you need to do when working out a marketing plan, is deciding how far you’re willing to go.  I talked about this not too long ago in a post about drawing your own personal line in the sand.
For instance…I hate advertising. I often dream of a world without banner ads, billboards, commercials, and junk mail. The idea of joining that pile disgusts me. Yet…that’s pretty much your standard method for marketing a book.  Well, actually…advertising is a pretty standard method for marketing anything.  I mean, what better way to let people know that you exist than by placing big banners everywhere telling them exactly that?

So, although I absolutely despise how much ads have overtaken our lives, I completely understand why.

Yet, I often question the efficacy of such methods of marketing, at least when addressing a global audience.  Now, obviously, if you’re marketing a local service that meets a local need to a local audience, that’s an entirely different situation.  You sell car tires, they need car tires, and they can get them next door?  Well, put your name all over town and make sure they find you whenever they need tires.

Advertising is also a big different if you’re an enormous corporate conglomerate, as you aren’t exactly trying to create knowledge of your product as much as you’re working toward making your product’s name the first one they think of when they think of similar types of products.  Coke’s name is almost synonymous with cola-style sodas, yet they consistently work toward creating unique and memorable ad campaigns to keep themselves on top.

But when you’re someone who’s marketing to a global audience about something like entertainment…well, that’s an entirely different beast.  Obviously, one of the best items to look at for an example would be the movies.  Movie trailers are such an important part of the movie watching decision process, and the major movie makers have developed an art to the process itself. Heck, if you look at the trailers for Frozen, you’ll think it’s quite the different movie from what it actually was…and if you do a little bit of research, you’ll find that this was exactly what the movie marketers wanted you to think when watching the trailer.  They just wanted to get your butts into the seats and then sit down and watch a fun flick.

The movies Ratatouille and Up (I know…Disney movies…) both have some rather interesting tales about how far the marketing departments went toward crafting the trailers to suit the prospect of getting people to sit in the theaters.  The trailers had nothing to do with the quality of the films themselves (which I think both are amazing, for the record), but about trying to create a need in people’s minds.

Yet…movie trailers are an established brand of marketing that people expect for movies.

And here’s where things get sticky.

Book trailers exist.  They’re horrible.  Well, most of them anyways.  And the ones that aren’t horrible, well, they’re lost in the pile because book trailers have not become an effective method in which to market books yet.  I do remember seeing an ad on television years past (and being completely dumbfounded at the fact that there was a commercial for a book) about Eoin Colfer’s continuation of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.  I bought and read the book.  But if the commercial were for any other book than one that I would have bought regardless of how I was made aware of it, well, I’m certain it would have mostly been forgotten…outside of how weird it was to see a commercial for a book.

In fact, if you think about the motivating force for most book purchases in your life that didn’t come from just reading another book by a favorite author, I’m guessing that you’d all come up with the same answer…personal recommendations.

It makes sense.  Reading through a terrible book can be painful, considering how much time is spent on reading any given book.  We’d all like to have someone vet the process for us.  Unfortunately book reviews on the internet are rife with bias based on authors attempting to confuse the public (or just well meaning friends and family) that it becomes very difficult to trust anyone outside of your own inner circle of friends.

And this is where the author is left off…

I’ve recently embarked on a minor amount of research regarding placing actual banner ads on sites.  The one that actually has the best information attached to it was Goodreads.  I gave them ten dollars, expecting that it wouldn’t get me all that far, but figuring I’d see how people react to banner ads for books on a site set up specifically for book readers.  I won’t get too deep into the details (will leave it for a future post), but basically, the ad has been seen by over 10,000 sets of eyes…only four people have clicked on it.

Much could be said for the issues of ad copy and whatever else (and since goodreads only charges per click, I still have more testing to do with the process), but I’m willing to state that this only helps support the issue of how books are actually sold, which is on recommendation.

So…where does that actually leave the author to spend their advertising budget.  Luckily there are several sites out there that function purely as recommendation engines. Places I aim to set my experimentations next.

For now, I’m going to go ahead and suggest that traditional forms of advertising, particularly banner ads and things where you just blast you book’s image in front of people’s faces again and again aren’t going to do much, unless you’re willing to spend the big bucks to ensure that they can’t look in any direction without seeing it.

But, finding methods in which to get your book in front of people specifically at the time when they are looking for new books to read…that’s where I think your focus should be set…and where I hope to gather more information for you next.

For now, have fun out there!

What about finding ways in which to send things to people where they are asking for suggestions on books?

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