The Art of Marketing conference in Vancouver was a full day of marketing insight from Seth Godin, Nancy Duarte, Mitch Joel, John Jantsch, Brian Wong, Keith Ferrazzi, and big-name sponsors like Microsoft and CBC. Each highly qualified speaker offered a unique perspective on the current and future state of marketing.
Below are 7 essential takeaways from these world-class marketers, and my thoughts on applying them to the book industry.
1. Find a specific audience
The mass market no longer matters. The bell curve is melting, and more people fall outside of the normal range than inside. Target the ones outside of the normal range (what Seth Godin called the “weird people”).
What’s your niche? Zombie romance? Identify your exact audience. Hit up the place your ideal reader hangs out—both online and in the real world. You must go find your loyal followers.
2. Build a network
Modern marketing is not about broadcasting to anyone and everyone. It’s about building emotional connections with the right people. Create deep, loyal relationships with readers by genuinely caring about them. Be real, be vulnerable.
With those deep relationships in place, your web will start to build itself. It’s Metcalfe’s Law: readers will tell others about your book if they like it, and the value of your network will explode.
Building your network also means connecting with other authors (hi there!) and anyone who can help you market. Make a list of people you’d like to connect with. It might feel fake to approach someone and say, “Hey, I think it’s important we build our relationship.” It’s not. Being intentional about building a relationship doesn’t make it fake. So get out there and network.
3. Lead a tribe
People naturally want to be in a tribe—i.e., a group with a common purpose. What’s your tribe? Find it.
They key word here is find. Find, not create. You don’t need to invent a subculture—you just need to show up to lead it. Someone must become the leader of a tribe, and that someone can be you.
Then lead with generosity, intimacy, candor, and accountability.
4. Earn trust
Build relationships on both a professional and personal level. Earn your market’s trust, because once people trust you, they’ll listen to you.
Market to people who want to be marketed to. Don’t invade their space and privacy. It seems obvious: the most effective way to sell a book is to offer it to someone who is looking for a book to read.
John Jantsch talked about The Marketing Hourglass: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, Refer. This is a unified process, and an order of events we all need to remember.
5. Ditch the ads
The internet wasn’t designed for ads like TV, radio, and magazines were. People pay millions of dollars a year to remove ads from their apps and web browsers.
Marketing is no longer about ads. It’s about adding value to peoples’ lives with content. (Unique content for your niche! Remember to avoid that “normal range,” or you’ll find your content competing against Charlie Bit My Finger.)
Seth Godin said one of his early books on the internet was a failure because he saw the internet and tried to make a book. Yahoo, on the other hand, saw the internet and made a search engine. We must think in terms of what works now, and not attempt to mold it into something we’re comfortable with.
6. Be generous
Every speaker talked about generosity. People don’t want to connect with a selfish person. Give away copies, offer valuable content, offer rewards to your advocates.
Would your followers miss you if you didn’t show up tomorrow? The answer should be yes. Offering valuable content is key for your website, blog, and social media platforms.
Be generous without expecting or asking for anything in return. Generosity is the foundation of a strong following.
7. Resonate through story
As mentioned above, sharing valuable content is important to building a following. Use the rules of a story when developing content in order to connect with your audience at an emotional level. Story is the best way to create meaning around a brand.
Write content using a 3-act structure. Have a beginning, middle, and end, with thresholds in between. Establish what’s “at stake” for the audience (your protagonist), and ensure they emerge transformed. You are the intervening mentor who helps the hero get unstuck when they encounter roadblocks along the way. Let your passion show, draw from a range of emotions, and use rhetoric.
People identify more with brands that offer a human connection.
A few additional notes that I couldn’t bring myself to leave out:
- My favorite thought of the day came from Seth Godin: “If failure is not an option, neither is success. The guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.”
- Fear is an indication that you’re onto something good. Use it as fuel.
- The future is about connecting the physical world to the online world.
- We shouldn’t try to stand out of the crowd. The crowd will make us change who we are. The way to stand out is to avoid the crowd altogether.
- We live in a one-screen world, where the screen in front of us is the only one that matters. Develop a unified marketing strategy (not one for web, one for mobile, one for tablet.)
What else do you see as the new face of marketing? If you’ve used these principles, have they worked for you?