Modern Business: Give, and It Will Come Back to You
Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Once I began to research how to market Rachel’s book, it became clear that some of the things businesses are doing today follow Christ’s principle better than I did.
Give Away Free Stuff
One of the best marketing practices is to develop a mailing list. Email has made this very cheap to do. And one of the best ways to develop a mailing list is to give away free stuff.
For example, what we plan to do to develop Rachel’s mailing list is to create several short “episodes”, each with an epic comic book style cover. We will have the first one available for anyone to download (to whet the reader’s appetite). But to download several more for free, the reader will have to sign up to the mailing list. This is what Nick Stephenson calls “reader magnets”.
The next time you release a book, or come out with a product, or have a coupon promotion for your service, etc., you now have people who have allowed you into their inbox.
How will this come back to you? The next time you release a book, or come out with a product, or have a coupon promotion for your service, etc., you now have people who have allowed you into their inbox.
When is the last time you were in a retail store somewhere and voluntarily filled out a form with your contact information? It probably had to do with a free giveaway that you entered to win. So they give this $500 tablet away or whatever, and now they have 1,500 people that they can market directly to for some time to come.
One of the first things I learned was that authors who are always promoting their own books are annoying. Annoying people are not listened to. Annoying people are muted on Twitter. Annoying people get unsubscribed from on their email lists.
Who does get listened to? People who solve problems and have genuinely interesting things to say.
For example, one of the best ways to market whatever service or product you provide is to teach other people how to do what you do, or how to produce what you produce. This seems counter-intuitive to so many people because it seems like you are creating your own competition. What actually ends up happening, though, is that you become a source of information for people in your industry. You get linked to, and that causes your website to rank higher in Google. You get talked about, and that increases brand awareness. You are seen as an expert in your field, and that increases confidence in you and your company.
Another way to be helpful is to be a regular on forums in your industry, giving and receiving advice. You can do this by joining LinkedIn and Facebook groups, by finding Twitter conversations and hashtags to participate in, and by doing an internet search for forums on the subject. Over time people may start to recognize your name, and this creates opportunities. Again, the secret marketing sauce here is not to market unless you can do so naturally. What you can often do is to place your website and tagline in the forum signature. If it’s not a forum, then often there is an alternative. LinkedIn, for example, has a “professional headline” that appears under your name whenever you comment.
Rachel Abbott told a story on The Creative Penn Podcast once that she had participated in several Amazon forums for a while until one day her book sales soared. She posted on the forum about it and someone gave her a link to another part of the forum where lots of people had started talking about her book (which apparently was a very compelling crime drama). Her books continue to be best-sellers to this day.
Be Friendly with Your Competition
One of the best things an author can do to escape obscurity is to become friends with influential bloggers and authors in the genre. This can lead to interviews, guest blogs, book reviews, and other opportunities.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.
Proverbs says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” Here again, the secret is to prove yourself to be friendly, and not to self-promote. The more popular these people are, the more jaded they will likely be regarding people who just try to use them for their influence. But you do have something in common with them! It is very likely that you will find them to be very interesting people! Why not add them to your list of great relationships instead of failed sales pitches?
For example, if you provide a local service detailing cars, you could organize a car show with your competitors. If you have a computer repair business, you could organize a free internet security training session for local folk along with other technology companies in your area. If you sell stock photographs on the internet, put together a value-priced photography resource package involving several online photography experts. This gets them in front of new eyes: your email list and blog readers. It also gets you in front of new eyes: their email list and blog readers.
Practice Biblical Principles
So, once again we find out that God is smart. Who knew? Find ways to apply the teachings of the Bible to your life and business and you just might find that Jesus prayed “thy word is truth” for a reason.