Keeping it simple for the consumer is incredibly dire.
I can envision the comments already. Or at least the perplexed emails and phone calls from peers. What!?
Four things up front that are critical to my perspective: 1) I am referring to direct-to-consumer marketers and 2) I am assuming they have been briefed in short form on the editorial aspects of the book via a Title Information sheet and 3) this is a suggested approach – I’m not saying it will work for everyone and 4) I believe that in a digital world publishers need a way to scale their efforts to produce more – not fewer – titles.
Here’s my reasoning.
The consumer has not read the book. To put one’s mind in the consumer’s mind – to truly empathize with his or her purchase-making decision – it is beneficial for a marketer to understand the book on their level. The creative publishing process that has preceded the consumer marketing supplies the tools marketers need to do this, including packaging, quotes from other authors, reviews, author photos and bios, descriptive copy, comparable titles (in the retail space) and the like. And, often, the consumer marketer has been involved in much of this process and is steeped in the book landscape in general and thus knows about positioning a given title.
I believe it makes sense to peruse perhaps a chapter, in the way a consumer might – online or off – to get a sense of the writer’s style and the book’s content to ensure the marketing isn’t disingenuous or off base. But, in my mind, that’s about it for reading the book.
What the marketer is looking for is the hook – what to put in a Facebook ad, a Google ad, a blog post, the meta-data. What portions of marketing collateral will get the consumer to go from unaware of the book – or potentially interested – to an engaged purchaser? That’s generally found in the material that has already been created in the publishing process – rarely though, in my opinion, is it in the book itself. In fact, knowing too much can make it difficult to distill the message down. Nuance is tough to convey in B2C marketing.
In my mind, the most effective part of the consumer marketing cycle comes next – reacting to the flow of data coming back on what’s working and what’s not. This is where the true marketing gold lies. Less planning, more reacting in real time.
Obviously there are exceptions depending on the specific campaign. But, for this marketer, nope; I don’t read the books unless it is absolutely necessary to get a campaign right. I’m not going to refer to any specific campaigns but, for me, this process has tended to work out well.
All of this this may sound crass and please know that I love books and read voraciously. I just try not to confuse my love of books with my job of pitching them to consumers, and this is a part of pitching that I’ve found effective.
I welcome comments. Fire away. I’ll respond.