Steve Henry, a successful businessman with a book idea, came to one of our marketing seminars recently. He left the seminar, completed his book, then began marketing it to his audience. The book has been so successful that I wanted him to be able to share his story with others…
When a skilled professional preaches a consistent message, you’d better pay close attention. On four separate occasions, I heard Chip MacGregor pose this question to his audience of writers: “What are you, the author, going to do to market your book? If you rely on your publisher or their sales team to produce an outrageously sure-fire, best-selling marketing plan when your book hits the street, then you’d better think again.
If you’ve ever attended one of Chip’s teachings, or if you read his blog, you’ve heard him say, “It’s imperative that you, the author, know exactly who your audience is and then go stand in front of them.”
This is when the light flashed for me. I was in the process of writing a business book based on my successful used-car dealership, the $5,000 Car Store, where we use Christian principles as our operating manual. The book’s successful launch and continued success was going to be up to me.
I gave in to this reality, and developed and marketed the roll-out of The Playbook for Small Businesses, my book, which tells the story of how I run my business. Here’s how I did it:
1. I designed a website that generates high traffic. It’s crucial to offer your potential readers an incentive to visit the site and then to complete a purchase. This is a numbers game. I knew that my potential customers were short on capital and could be in need of some great start-up advice, so I hired a company to provide me with contact information for new business owners who filed for business licenses. I sent postcards to the new business owners, congratulating them on legally putting their businesses on record, then I offered them a chance to win $2,000.
2. Every month, I mail over 6000 postcards to newly registered businesses in my Zone One market: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. After three months, 9 percent of these reply and sign up for our $2000 giveaway. That means each month I get almost six hundred potential book buyers and long-term fans. If I advertised in this market, I’d have to spend twice as much money to receive this number of highly probable purchasers every month.
3. If you plan to sell your new book electronically instead of in bookstores, your providers’ delivery schedules, wholesale fees, and restrictive service may handicap you. (The up-to-three-week wait for the Playbook is my number one customer complaint.) We’re all aware of what’s taking place with the independent booksellers, but church bookstores are alive and well. In fact, they are selling books in record numbers.
4. Consignment sales can provide big opportunities. We recently approached a large Phoenix church, and their bookstore eagerly took eight books. They also agreed to become the epicenter for our referral program as we roll out a national program using this model. They have referred us to six other churches in the Phoenix area.
5. Giving away content is a must. I give each new bookstore eight free copies to fuel the “new release momentum.” When you do this, plan also to give a speech and schedule a book signing. They almost always ask for it.
These are some of the marketing points I use daily to promote a book that’s within the top ten in its category on Amazon.com.
Steve Henry is the author of The Playbook for Small Businesses and co-owner of the $5,000 Car Store.