Disclosure: I work for a marketing firm. While I have no formal education in marketing or business and would never claim to be an “expert”, working in online marketing for two companies over the last four years has taught me a lot. This series will explore the marketing strategies I will use to promote my upcoming novel. Also, I know free stock photos are lame. I’ll get my own legit photo for this series at some point, I promise.
As we move through this series, I’m going to try and tackle each subject in a logical manner, going deeper and deeper into the many topics and subtopics within marketing without jumping around too much. Thus, some of this information may seem repetitive, because we summarized a lot of it in my first post on where to begin with marketing your novel.
Today, we’ll look more closely at indirect marketing, since this type of marketing is more readily available to most writers, through the magic of the internet — and content marketing.
Now remember, indirect marketing entails any marketing channel that is aimed at a broad audience and the stated goal of which is to attract more eyes to your brand and encourage engagement.
Common Types of Indirect Marketing
In my previous post I provided a list of direct versus indirect marketing channels, most of which can be used online. As with everything in this series, my list is not exhaustive, and this is just a survey; I will be covering most of these channels in more depth as we move forward:
- Blogging, Paid Ads, PPC Content, Press Releases, SEO, Social Media, Videos, and Promotional Materials
These channels (with the exception of promotional materials) are all part of your Content Marketing toolbox. We’re going to be talking about content marketing a lot in this space, so let’s just stick with a basic definition for now.
According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is… focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable consumer action.” Notice the operative words there: valuable, relevant, and consistent. That means quality over quantity!
Now, when you’re first starting out in content marketing, you probably don’t know who your audience is, and that’s okay. Just know that if you don’t find your audience efficiently, you’ll waste a lot of time and resources marketing to the wrong people. Sometimes, your true audience are just the people who follow you along the way. (Thanks, followers!)
1. Blogging – Yes, blogging is a form of indirect marketing. The content you provide on your blog, website, author platform, or whatever you want to call it, is almost exclusively focused on gaining views and followers. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be online.
As Jane Friedman says, posting consistent content to some form of online platform is “about making waves that attract other people to you—not about begging others to pay attention.” If you are trying to get your name out there as a writer, blogging is one of the most effective — and popular — ways to do so.
- Types of blog engagement to help you define your audience: views, follows, likes, comments, reblogs, back-links (someone else linking to your content from their own webpage)
- Popular blogging tools: Blogger.com, BlogSpot.com, Medium.com, Tumblr.com, Weebly.com, WordPress.com
2. Paid Ad Placement – Paying to have your ads placed in Google search engine results pages (SERP) or in banners on other websites can help get extra eyes on your on brand or website. I personally will not be using this tool (for now), because it tends to be expensive. Most ad platforms make companies bid for ad space, meaning you’re competing directly with other users for the same ad placement.
- Types of ad engagement: Clicks (how many times someone clicked on your ad), increased web traffic (seeing an indirect rise in website views based on ad placement)
- Popular ad tools: Google Adwords is the big player; SEOBook provides this run-down of other PPC tools which I know very little about.
3. Pay-per-Click (PPC) Content – I am differentiating pay-per-click, or PPC content from paid ads for one crucial reason. PPC Content does not have to be an ad, although it often serves the same purpose. PPC content can be blog content, which you pay another website to link to, like so:
Ever notice a box much like the above on an article you’re reading? These are PPC content placements. These are real headlines that appeared on a random profootballtalk.nbcsports.com article I pulled up solely for this purpose. The underlined name in the bottom left is the publisher or the originator of that piece of content. Clicking on the headline “Need New Socks…” will take you to their webpage, away from NBC Sports — hence why they had to pay for the placement.
See the branding in the upper right? Taboola is one of two major hosting platforms in the PPC space. Outbrain is the other one. I have used both of these platforms extensively as part of my job, and I will definitely be doing a deep dive on PPC content and these tools in the future.
4. Press Releases – Online press releases, news releases, or newswires are services through which you can send news announcements to relevant media outlets. Those media outlets will (ideally) re-publish your news on their own platforms, thus increasing the potential audience for your news and driving external traffic to your website.
- Types of press release engagement: pick-ups (an external media outlet re-publishing your release) reads, clicks, emails, social media shares, increased web traffic
- Popular press release services: Associated Press, BusinessWire, GlobeNewswire, MarketWired, PRNewswire, PRWeb
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO is the strategy of using keywords, quality content, and back-linking to drive traffic to your website (or any online content) in order to maximize your website’s ranking on the search engine results pages (SERP) of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Google your author name, or perhaps the title of your book. Does your website or platform rank among the top four or five results? If not, SEO can help by showing you which keywords you can use in your content to drive more traffic to your website and increase its SERP rankings.
- Types of SEO engagement: search engine rankings (for your brand or website), monthly searches for keywords related to you (e.g., “Steven D’Adamo”, “fantasy novels”, etc.), back-links
- Popular SEO keyword research tools: Jaaxy.com, SEMRush.com, SEOBook.com
6. Social Media – Social media platforms can help you reach an audience wider than your blog followers or website readers. They also allow you the flexibility to engage with your audience in creative ways other than your main channel. Sharing photos, links, or ideas is a great way to reach people who might not otherwise be interested in your website, but may end up checking it out because of your dank memes.
- Types of social media engagement: views, shares, comments, likes, follows, clicks
- Popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Imgur, Reddit, Pinterest, SnapChat, Instagram
7. Videos – This may not be applicable for most writers, but do not underestimate the viral potential of a well-written, well-edited video, whether it’s a webcast of your top 5 favorite books, or a promotional video for your upcoming book.
- Types of video engagement: clicks, views, shares, comments, follows
- Popular video sharing platforms: Vimeo, YouTube
Indirect Marketing Offline
One other type of indirect marketing I’d like to mention does not fall in the online content marketing category, and that’s primarily why it can be useful. After all, the internet is dark and full of terrors, and sometimes, it’s fun to see your physical promotional materials around town.
8. Promotional materials – These can include stickers, flyers, bookmarks, business cards, or the like. Go to your favorite cafe and find the bulletin board hanging on the wall, usually near the back — every good cafe has one. Pin a handful of business cards up there, or a flyer for your novel. You never know who may see it. I personally enjoy returning to said cafes and seeing how many of my business cards have been taken since my last visit.
Or, go to any local music venue in your city. What are you most likely to find all over the walls? Band stickers! So why not book stickers, or imprint stickers? This can be your chance to wow people with creative designs and collector’s items.
- Types of physical material engagement: if someone happens to take a business card or flyer from the bulletin board, or maybe that one random fan messages you to say they saw your flyer and are totally psyched for your book, man! Seriously though, I think these materials can be fun for you and your fans.
- Promotional material tools: BusinessCardsFlyersBanners.com, SmartPress.com, VistaPrint.com (they normally have a special running on business cards for new members — like $10 for 250)
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but I hope this gives you a solid idea of some of the tools that are available to you. I will be going into more depth on most of these in later posts, especially detailing the tools I will use for my own marketing strategy.
Which of these indirect marketing tools are you most interested in learning about/using? Are there other indirect marketing tools you have found useful in your promotional forays?
References and Other Resources
Content Marketing Institute, “What is Content Marketing?” http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
Jane Friedman, “A Definition of Author Platform,” https://janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/
Savvy Book Marketer, “How to Promote a Book with a Video,” http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2013/05/promote-a-book-with-video.html
SEOBook, “Keyword Research & Suggestion Tools,” http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/
SEOBook, “Pay Per Click Advertising & Marketing Tools, Coupons, & Reviews,” http://tools.seobook.com/ppc-tools/