THE OM OF THE SOFT SELL:
EASY, LOW-COST MARKETING
FOR THE CRAZY-BUSY AUTHOR
How to Visualize Your Marketing Hub to Attract Readers in Four Easy Steps by Mary H. McFarland
Finding Readers and Thinking “Soft Sell”
In Killer Nashville Magazine (Sept. 2021), I gave you a list of free digital tools to audit your platform to do the following:
- Control and adjust your brand as readers’ desires change
- Build in a “soft sell” to target
Let’s expand on that work by visualizing a marketing hub that lets you influence or “soft sell” readers to buy your books, plus some digital tools to help. As we advance, future articles will help you drill down on tactics for audience targeting. For now, let’s focus on putting the pieces you need in place.
So: you’ve got books up on Amazon. You’ve also got a website and a blog, and you’re all over social media, maybe posting on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. The more sites the better, right? (Well, no. You can market and sell effectively from one site). You feel like you’re doing everything right, but the readers—and sales—just aren’t happening. What more can you do?
A Starting Point to Engage Readers: Clear Sales and Conversion Pathways
Does engaging readers, i.e., influencing them to buy, seem like a mystery buried in layers of techno-myth? It is, and the most damaging myth is that marketing begins with a book launch or, worse, that your book launch is marketing. The launch is one phase in the digital marketing cycle; however, the key starting point is to define clear pathways among the various channels of your author platform and all other sales and marketing channels. Combined, these make up your marketing hub. Why create a marketing hub? Simple: traffic x conversion = sales. Once your hub is in place, you can influence prospective readers at touchpoints anywhere along channel pathways, using any advertising and promotion mix to generate traffic and sell your books. You can also use digital tools for measuring reader engagement and, ultimately, for increasing sales.
How a Marketing Hub Influences Readers to Buy
The marketing hub lets you observe prospective readers as they interact with your author platform and its sales and marketing channels. Observing reader traffic in real-time, using analytics and metrics to measure behavior, you can plan advertising and content campaigns that lead to conversion and sales.
A Product-Based Marketing Hub Is Your Starting Point
You’ve audited your author platform, so you know that organic reach, i.e., your social media interaction with readers, including “likes” and “shares,” etc. is limited. You also know what creates passion among your readers and you’ve got a solid value proposition, but you’re still a little hazy on finding readers. Where do you go from here?
Begin with these guidelines.
- One, define your marketing hub using a product-based approach. This might feel uncomfortable, but you’re a business and books are products, so all that you generate to sell books, whether it’s promotional content or blog posts or podcasts, for example, is also product.
- Two, classify your They’re going to be either a hard sell or a soft sell. If they’re free, “soft sell.” If you’re charging or using an opt-in, “hard sell.”
A Product-Based List: Creating Your Marketing Hub
Offering “free” everything (from blogs to swag to books) to get readers to buy books means we’re not used to thinking of the content we create to sell books as “products.” They are, and we can use them to sell. Note: “Free” and “soft sell” are not synonymous. Used correctly, free content can become your best “soft sell,” and it can also be repurposed as gated content (hard sell) to influence readers to buy. Yup! Think “soft” to “hard sell.” It’s the “om” of digital marketing.
Figure 1 shows a list of products in fictional thriller author Jan Smith’s product catalog. Jan blogs from her GoDaddy website, writes for an online magazine, and sells her books on Amazon. She is also an Amazon affiliate seller. Notice that Jan must only create three digital products,her blog posts, infographics, and articles, which she repurposes for use in her hard sell, i.e., the gated content, her ebook, and Jan’s workshops.
Figure 1: Example of a Product List for Jan Smith
A Sample Marketing Hub Using a Product List
A marketing hub is your author platform plus your core sales channel. For most, the core sales channel is Amazon, but you can sell from anywhere on the Web. Again, choose what feels comfortable. For example, maybe you want to prioritize reader engagement and organic reach on Facebook and selling from your Amazon Product Page. Perfectly okay. Or perhaps you prefer an advertising campaign on GoDaddy with a mix of free blogged content, plus some gated content with opt-ins. Again, okay. Whatever your choice, your marketing hub is built around a variety of digital content; that is, products used to influence prospective readers to buy.
Using Jan’s Product List (See Figure 1), her marketing hub will look like Figure 2. Examine it, noting the “pathways” (indicated by arrows). Note, too, that Jan has few products, yet she has multiple pathways for marketing and sales and multiple touchpoints for engaging readers. Don’t worry, once you have a basic marketing hub set up, you can tweak it, adding and revising as needed.
Figure 2: Example of a Marketing Hub for Jan Smith
Step-by-Step Procedure: How to Visualize Your Marketing Hub
The following steps show you how to visualize your marketing hub.
I’ve Visualized My Marketing Hub? What’s My Next Step?
You’ve visualized a marketing hub that works well and feels comfortable for you. At this point in the process of using digital tools to build in a digitally sweet “soft sell,” you’ve completed the following procedures:
- How to Audit Your Author Platform
- How to Visualize Your Marketing Hub
Your next step is to build your digital platform without feeling the dreaded social burnout. Meantime, visit Killer Nashville Magazine’s archive and enjoy more killer articles: https://killernashville.com/killer-nashville-magazine/.
Mary H. McFarland is a Golden Pen award-winning American thriller novelist. She is author of Jump the Line and several short stories. Mary is also CEO of Red Girl Digital, a technology company focusing on digital marketing for authors. Her next novel, Phantom Fire, first in the Zuri Slade Cyber Detective Series, will be released July 4, 2022