While reading an article about creating an effective marketing mix on boundless.com, I had to laugh to myself. Not because I’m the funniest person I know (obviously), or because of my extensive training in the field (through my MBA at Harvard and Ph.D. in economics at Oxford), but because of something I noticed while carrying out a little experiment over the past 12 months.
In my never-ending quest to market my first novel, A Father’s Son, I have tried everything under the sun these last three years. Most recently, I wanted to do something productive with the extra copies of my book rather than simply giving them away to random people (which I’ve done) in random parts of the city (been there, done that).
Thus, therefore, consequently and as a result, I came up with a BRILLIANT! scheme. I asked the owners of a popular convenience store in my ‘hood to sell my book for about 50% off the retail price on Amazon in return for a small profit to be given to them after the sale of each copy. The store had lots of traffic day and night, and the husband-wife team genuinely liked me (who can blame them, right?). To my chagrin, they put my books way off to the side of the cash register, above the samosas and deli meats. Which makes sense. Clearly. Furthermore, they didn’t ask me a single question about the story and simply placed it atop a fridge display case.
Over the course of the following three months, I sold exactly one book. Discouraged, I took the remaining copies of my novel home, a long, cat-like tail lodged firmly between my legs. Then, in the coming weeks, I had a different thought, the four P’s of an effective marketing mix, usually seen as product, placement, promotion, and price.
I knew I had price down ($10 a copy) and felt that the final product itself met the threshold for a potentially successful commodity. That left placement and promotion. I’d been a one-man wrecking crew for promotion since 2013, doing as much as I could with my enviable marketing budget of approximately $9.74. And the placement? Well, it was being sold on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and talked about on goodreads.com by people from around the world, especially in the book-buying meccas of Lichtenstein, . Laos, and Liberia. ‘Nough said, right?
In a moment of ethereal sales bliss, however, I was struck with an idea, so I marched across the street and talked with my friend Andrew, an ethnically Korean man who was born and raised in Ecuador and had been raising his family in Canada since the birth of his first child 14 years ago. Global citizen, anyone?
Anyway, he was a big supporter of mine, and although he didn’t run a convenience store with nearly as much foot traffic as the previous place I’d displayed my book, he agreed to put A Father’s Son front and center and vigorously promote it.
The result? Thirty books sold in its first three weeks.
Despite my impressive marketing background and unparalleled credentials in the field of marketing, I’m now convinced that of the four P’s to an effective marketing campaign, placement is king.
As a sidebar, I tend to watch YouTube for roughly 27-32 hours a day. Like many of us, I usually hit SKIP AD while waiting for a clip to stream. Not long ago, though, I watched a video on The Tube for an insurance company that was actually very, very well done. I guess effective marketing really does transcend preconceived biases. Click here to check it out.