Author Topic: I'd like to start a discussion about the promotion side of our business  (Read 1188 times)  

Offline Hasbeen

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I'd like to start a discussion about the promotion side of our business. I've been around long enough to have seen almost every form of advertising come and go then come back again.

Put the first book in series for free/.99 and you will get sell through for the entire series. Didn't work for me and here on the board more and more are saying the same thing about pricing as a way to attract readers. Or run promotions on one of the web sites for free or .99 and see a jump in sales. Again the market seems to have changed. People download the book but rarely read it and no sell through because the reader got a book they stash and read later if at all. There too many books using the same strategy. 

AMS works for some but not for others. Now it's too expense for many to use. The latest iteration of the ups and downs of doing business on Amazon. Paying a lot for clicks in hopes for a sale.

Facebook ads worked but now there are so many not so much according to many on this board which has been my own experience.

I've tried them all with mixed success over the last few of years. It gets more and more frustrating trying to decide where to spend your money and how to evaluate the success of that strategy.

I am running a AMS campaign now that is my most 'successful' of any I have tried but it comes with a caveat I'm selling more on Audible than through Amazon. As you know it's hard to advertise an audible book individually so right now I'm counting Audible sales as part of the AMS campaign. There is no other way I could see that I could reach that many in the audible market. They had to listen to the sample on Amazon then buy the book from Audible using the button on the Amazon page. So I'm looking at the cost of my ad very differently right now counting Audible sales as well as Amazon. Still in evaluation mode though.

I guess what I'm getting at is it time for us to start to view advertising differently not strictly click=sale but more like traditional businesses. They can't necessarily directly connect an advertisement with X amount of sales but they do it anyway as a way of keeping their brand in front of the market. They view advertising in a different way still aiming to increase sales but not as directly as we indies have up to now.

Should we now begin to think of advertising as just a part of doing business without a click=sale evaluation. Set a budget we can afford and spend it the best way we know how without counting clicks leading to sales? Instead view the advertising as a way for us to stay visible in an increasingly large market place populated by millions of books for a set amount readers. The more often a reader sees your book the more likely they are to eventually buy it. 

I honestly don't know. I do know the business is changing and if we are going to survive then we need to find ways to deal with these changes. I don't have the answers but I think if I can get a discussion going we all might find our own answers.




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    Offline Hasbeen

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    That's a marketing view of the world versus a sales view. When we look at tactics from a sales view, we expect to see a direct relationship between an action and a sale. From a marketing perspective, our tactics serve a wider purpose:

    * Raise brand awareness
    * Win new customers (new)
    * Win back lost customers (lost)
    * Retain existing customers (retain)
    * Raise product range(s) awareness
    * Invigorate old product range(s)
    * Introduce new product ranges
    * Appeal to specific demographics (new, lost, retain)
    * Promote brand/product loyalty
    * Etc, etc.

    None of this has anything to do with tracking sales to click ads (or any other type of ad), but is the sort of overall brand & product management companies do.

    Does this apply to the book business? I think it does, so I pay a lot less attention to sales to click ratios (barely any attention at all). Sometimes I do expect an immediate uptick in sales (if I'm discounting for example), other times I am simply improving brand or series awareness, or I'm actively looking for new demographics.

    For example:

    I will do short or long discount windows to get a series moving.
    I will try new types of ad creatives/media to attract a different demographic.

    Right alongside marketing, all companies have New Product Development (NPD) and Quality Assurance (QA). These are two other important functions and they dovetail with marketing. In theory, marketing also gathers feedback about what your customer wants and that feeds NPD. QA makes sure the product the customer gets is in line with their expectations (whatever they happen to be).

    That means it's your marketing plus what the buyer is looking for that helps shape your offerings, which builds your brand to sell your products.

    Some people would assume this is "write to market", but that isn't at all what I mean. NPD is not about copying other products. Although that is done in business it's not generally seen as NPD. Most companies actively pursue a degree of uniqueness to their products, otherwise what makes their brand or product any better than another? It's hard to sell based on your differentiators if you don't have any.

    My point is, you're right to suggest we can't focus on sales alone and should look at marketing in a broader way, however we need to look at our NPD and QA as well. I would also add you have to develop a different set of metrics to measure whether you're going in the right direction, which is also something worth discussing. If sales alone don't dictate the success of a tactic, then how do you measure it? I use a variety of measures, many that would be considered non standard, but I also assess my catalog performance over the period of a year and its full life. That method assumes your books are assets that will keep earning.

    This is definitely a good talking point and there is more to your post, but this is what immediately came to my mind.

    I don't have a business background and your explanation of the difference between marketing and sales strikes a cord with me. It also provides me with a different way of approaching all advertising. I do think we are going to have to think of marketing and sales as separate goals with different measures of success for the type of advertising we are trying to do.

    Most of the discussions on this board have equated advertising with just sales. I agree that if we are going to survive as indies we need to begin to think in terms of marketing and sales not just sales. I think as your catalog gets larger you have to set different advertising goals for your books/series. Establishing your brand can mean lots of impressions and a few clicks. To a large extent we are in an impulse buyers market unless you are well known and have established a following. When we advertise we need to think of exposing the readers to our products again and again (impressions) in hopes of catching their eye eventually.

    I think you have crystallized the topic nicely and given me a new way thinking about my little publishing business. I still struggle with getting moving my back catalog but thinking of advertising older books as a marketing strategy makes a lot of sense. 


    Offline C. Gockel

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    I still look at clicks to downloads. I also look at sell-thru from downloads between one ad platform and another.

    Facebook still works.

    AMS still works. With AMS you really don't have to bid as much as they suggest. Bid what you think will lead to a positive ROI. I have heard that traditional publishing houses are moving in on AMS and it isn't working as well for indies--but I think ads of all types just get stale, and maybe people who are having trouble there should just turn their ads off for a bit.

    I just turned on an older FB ad that I had turned off a few months ago and its ROI has gone right back to where it was before.

    For the cost per lead (for newsletter promos) and CPC (for sales) I am liking Story Origin and Book Funnel.

    I wish I had something in Kindle Unlimited right now. I do believe that is really hurting me. It is just another way to find readers, but it is one I'm not utilizing.


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    Offline David VanDyke

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    Everything still works. It's simply not as easy. The market is maturing. The honeymoon period is over.

    This is a good thing. In the long run, quality will tend to win out. Marketing--including throwing money at something--will continue to work, but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, even if you can convince a certain number of people to buy that sow's ear.


    Offline Hasbeen

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    I'm glad to hear that both AMS and Facebook are working for people. I wonder if it is dependent on genre.

    My most successful AMS in the years I've been using it is in a niche sub-genre. One that is very specific but has a relatively high interest level.

    Are AMS and Facebook genre dependent?

    Offline vic6string

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    Everything still works. It's simply not as easy. The market is maturing. The honeymoon period is over.

    This is a good thing.

    I think this quote sort of nails it. I only have one book, and it was really just an experiment to learn the process. I haven't started really going with my writing due to lack of time, but I have stayed on top of the info here and throughout the web about what to do and how to do it. I think we are finally coming out of the wild, wild west stage when it comes to self publishing. Like most gold rushes, the first few folks to hit, hit big. Then everyone jumped on board (many with little to no talent) hoping to be the next big thing. I think we have reached the point where people are starting to jump ship. There will always be scammers and dreamers, but there were simply too many of each for self publishing to flourish the way it should. If people have to work their way through a million bad books to find that one gem, everyone suffers. Once it gets to where they just have to make it through a thousand books, or a hundred, then the system will work. There are only so many book-recommendation emails people are willing to open and only so many email lists they are willing to sign up for. In the words of the Joker (Jack Nicholson version) "This town needs an enema".

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    Offline Anna Rose

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    I still look at clicks to downloads. I also look at sell-thru from downloads between one ad platform and another.

    Facebook still works.

    AMS still works. With AMS you really don't have to bid as much as they suggest. Bid what you think will lead to a positive ROI. I have heard that traditional publishing houses are moving in on AMS and it isn't working as well for indies--but I think ads of all types just get stale, and maybe people who are having trouble there should just turn their ads off for a bit.

    I just turned on an older FB ad that I had turned off a few months ago and its ROI has gone right back to where it was before.  Although, mine just goes to Amazon now.  If it doesn't work, I can always go back to wide in the fall.

    For the cost per lead (for newsletter promos) and CPC (for sales) I am liking Story Origin and Book Funnel.

    I wish I had something in Kindle Unlimited right now. I do believe that is really hurting me. It is just another way to find readers, but it is one I'm not utilizing.

    I just put my fiction books back in KU for the summer.  Hoping these new KU/BookFunnel promos will be a boost without the big advertising expense.

    ETA:  Story Origin looks interesting, but seems like a lot more work to upload the book.  With BookFunnel we just need a D2D page even if it only leads to Amazon for the moment.
    « Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 09:33:07 am by Anna Rose »

    Offline jrd360

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    Has anyone been using StoryOrigin?  It does look interesting.
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    Offline C. Gold

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    Has anyone been using StoryOrigin?  It does look interesting.
    I use StoryOrigin. It's free and just recently hit the 2000 author mark. The UI is easy to use and it has a generous selection of different features:

    - Calendar - to see your scheduled events
    - Integrations with various email sources
    - Direct downloads page if you want to simply hand the book out to people via link
    - It has the usual book promotions, but these can identified as giveaway, discount, or KU
    - You can search for already created group promos and filter by genre or promo type
    - If you are an Amazon Associate, you can use your affiliate links with discount and KU type giveaways
    - They also let you add universal links with affiliate tags as well. This honors the reader's preference and directs them to their store of choice
    - It also has newsletter swaps. You can put your newsletter up for dates and get other authors to apply to be shown in your newsletter, and vice versa.
    - There's a Facebook group for StoryOrigin and the developer is always eager to get feedback as he works on adding new features.




    Offline deceangli

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    I know that folks here don't like Amazon-bashing, but the reality is that most of us are simply keeping Mr B in the lap of luxury. The balance point is wrong. We need to find ways of achieving visibility without paying top rates for advertising - especially when the cost of running those ads might well exceed our returns from book sales.

    I'm experimenting with a website (there's another thread where I'm calling for guinea pigs) and I'm determined to crack this puzzle one way or another. We probably won't all make money from writing - far too many authors out there, for a finite market - but we can make the curve a little less spiky so that the business is more evenly distributed than at present. That will call for some lateral thinking

    Offline starkllr

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    Everything still works. It's simply not as easy. The market is maturing. The honeymoon period is over.

    This is a good thing.

    Not for those of us who are falling farther behind every day as the marketing bar is constantly raised, and the cost and amount of effort to even try to remain visible gets higher every day.  That sure as heck isn't "good" for my bank account balance, or my sanity.

     
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