Some Hard Pills to Swallow in Book Publicity & Marketing

media studio board

Clients want to know the numbers media outlets draw. Fabulous; Me too! Part of my job is to keep up with that since numbers are always changing, but what isn’t always said is the reason why the client wants to know. Occasionally, it’s because they want to judge if that outlet is worthy of them, meaning is there a “big enough” audience?

Here’s the pill to swallow on that one: They often want to know your numbers too. How big is your audience? What kind of following do you have? Can they see lots of interaction on your social media accounts? Do you reach a lot of people through your email list? How big is your list anyway? Everyone wants to be in front of an audience, including the big media brands, so keep in mind, it goes both ways now. When you’re asking for their numbers, they want yours too. This comes as a surprise to some.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind here.

First, bigger is not always better.

How often have we heard that?

Question: Is it better to have a feature in the New York Times, or a piece in your industry trade publication? For the ego, the New York Times, without question. However, when it comes to actually reaching your target market, the correct answer very well may be your industry trade outlet. True, the numbers are much smaller in the trades, but pretty much EVERYONE reading it is interested in what you have to say. The New York Times draws all different kinds of people with varied interests, and not necessarily in what you have to offer.

Second, big doesn’t necessarily translate into sales.

You need marketing campaigns for those who have become interested in your story to become customers. Generating a following is not enough. You must convert them. Part of that happens during your interviews too, but not in a direct way. You don’t say, “Buy my book!” like a carnival barker, unless you want to tick off whoever is interviewing you. You have to be compelling in such a way that people want more of you. That’s done not only through sharing great information, but in the WAY you are saying it. Energy and enthusiasm are necessary to get others excited. Use it. It’s free!

Third, starting small can be smart

Starting in the smaller outlets such as a blog or a smaller podcast can absolutely lead to bigger things. First, it’s a chance for you to hone your talking points and practice delivering in a powerful way (and making mistakes, which is part of the process.) Bigger media looks to see what you’ve already done and who has already vetted you. They don’t have to take a risk on a complete unknown anymore. If you have been covered in other media, if you have the numbers and the audience, and if you can show that you know how to deliver your message, you’ll get coverage.

Here’s another hard pill to swallow. This one is for leaders. There is this thought — myth, actually — that because you’re CEO and a leader that you should start at the top in top-tier media. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. If you’re a complete unknown within media, then you’re completely unknown. Until you get  known, you simply aren’t a big deal…yet. I can’t emphasize enough how difficult this pill is for some leaders to swallow. They think because they are a big deal in their company and within the industry that CNN should be running to them to cover them right now! Sorry. One step at a time.

Important point: Which leads me to this: If you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, then you may already know this, but it’s worth repeating. I consider myself both a cheerleader and a truth teller with my clients. Being a cheerleader is obvious. I am in your corner! Being a truth teller is the other side of that equation. It’s truthfully sharing where you are and where you need to be…when you’re ready for something and when you might not quite be there yet.  It is NOT, however, about brutal honesty. Brutal honesty is just that: Brutal. (Hat tip to Thompson Barton, author of Please Lie to Me.) We’ve all known obnoxious people like that and there is no place for that in business, or any relationship.

Being a truth teller is simply sharing with another where things stand in terms of their performance and what can be done to make it even better. It’s not letting someone go out and do something that is going to hurt them or make them look foolish.

For example, there is a woman who is one of these six-figure “I will help you build your business now!” coaches (who charges an arm and a  leg for you to be involved, by the way) and she was helping her people embrace video. She took one of her client’s videos and sent it out to her huge list explaining how she was helping her to do video in her work, and was being a cheerleader about it.

Problem: The video was awful and never should have seen the light of day. Her client clearly wasn’t ready, yet here she way being seen by thousands, in a bad way; I felt bad for her.

Bottom line: You need someone in your corner who is beyond family and/or a best friend. Family and friends are wonderful We all need them, but remember, they are going to love everything you do no matter what. They are not even going to see your flaws. You need a trusted advisor who will help you grow and be better and cheer you on, and will also say, “I don’t think you’re quite ready yet, but let’s get you there.”

Who doesn’t want that?

Another pill to swallow: Hearing we aren’t where we need to be to appear on Ellen or NPR, or whatever media is the big dream, can be a big pill to swallow. That’s for sure. But really, wouldn’t you want to know? And don’t you want someone to get you there who can really help you?

Media has come to mean so many different things these days. We’re all media if you want to look at it in very broad terms, and it is startling how many people never consider getting some training so they know how to speak about their topic in an inviting way. It helps to explain those webinars and podcasts where you end up listening to 15 minutes of the host and guest congratulating one another on being there (Yes, I admit, it’s a pet peeve of mine), before ever even beginning to get into the material. (Please get to the  point.)

I have to laugh…because as I get to know some of the new marketing “gurus” out there, many claim that ideas that have been around a long time are actually new, e.g., being authentic, telling your story and not being salesy, getting media attention in smaller venues makes way for the larger ones… Well, I’ve got news for them: This is not new. We’ve been doing this for years. Yes, there are new communication outlets, but the fundamentals are fundamentals for a reason.

These points aren’t really pills to swallow. They’re tips to understand as we travel this path of media and visibility together. I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned along the way, and am always interested in hearing your questions and what you learn along the way, too. Please feel free to share those gems with me. It’s how we all become smarter each and every day.

To you success!


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