11: The 6 Ps of Successful Book Marketing Pt.1
We’ve invited back book marketing expert, Paul East to discuss the Six Ps of Successful Book Marketing.
From proposal to publication and beyond, The Six Ps of Successful Book Marketing has been specially created to walk you through every aspect of marketing your book so you can plan, prepare and tick every box like an expert.
In this episode, Paul and Sue talk about the first three ‘Ps’: Positioning, People and Platform.
with thanks to Dave Harries of CommunicateTV: www.communicatetv.co.uk
Dave Harries: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Right Book Project, a Right Book Company radio production. My name is Dave Harries and I’m here with my co-presenter, Sue Richardson, to explore the whys and wherefores of book publishing and how writing a book can enhance your business and personal profile. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but Sue is a publishing expert who’s been in the book business for many years and has written her own book – The Authority Guide to Publishing your Business Book. This podcast is all about you and your journey to writing a book. So, please get involved by joining our Facebook group, The Right Book Project, or tweet @therightbookco. You’ll find notes, links, recordings and transcripts of these podcasts on therightbookcompany.com. Now, today we have a guest with us, that is to say, Sue and I have a guest with us, in the form of Paul East. Hello Paul. Welcome to the show.
Paul East: [00:00:45] Thank you. Hello.
Dave Harries: [00:00:46] Paul has been on the show before because Paul is a book-marketing expert and works with Sue a great deal helping her to market her publications. So, he’s the ideal person to help us talk through the topics that we’re going to deal with over the next two episodes. Because these are topics that we feel deserve a certain amount of time and therefore we’re going to devote two episodes to it. So, that topic is basically the six Ps of book marketing. So, before we go any further Paul, what are the six Ps of book marketing.
Paul East: [00:01:16] Okay. There is number one: positioning. Number two is people. Number three is platform, which we’ve discussed before in a previous podcast. Number four is profile. Number five is promotion and number six is planning.
Dave Harries: [00:01:32] I was going to ask Sue that question, but I thought that might be a bit much to remember them all. So, today over the next 25 minutes or so, we’re going to talk about the first three of those: positioning, people and platform. So, let’s turn to Sue first. Before we get Paul’s expertise on this, and let’s talk about positioning. What does that actually mean, Sue, positioning?
Sue Richardson: [00:01:53] Well, I don’t want to second guess what Paul is going to say.
Dave Harries: [00:01:58] No, do. We like an argument round here.
Sue Richardson: [00:02:01] I guess positioning is about thinking about your target market and how your book sits in the position of being seen by that target market. Would that be right, Paul?
Paul East: [00:02:15] Yeah, pretty much.
Dave Harries: [00:02:17] Sorry, don’t ask him.
Sue Richardson: [00:02:19] He’s the expert!
Dave Harries: [00:02:19] H e’ll have his turn in a minute. Paul how important is that? I mean, in the overall scheme of things, why does positioning even matter?
Paul East: [00:02:27] It’s really, really important. Actually, the six Ps are, just going back a step, are a process, I think, that you need to kind of go through if you’re going to do your book marketing properly. One of the things that I kind of noticed, or I realised, with authors I’ve worked with is that they really struggle to understand exactly what it is they need to do around book marketing. And a lot of them have ideas, a few ideas about some bits and pieces they may do when they come to market their book, but no real structure or planning behind that. And also, you know seeing marketing as a bit of a chore, a bit of kind of an aside or something that. You know: oh God, I’ve got to do marketing now. As we said before, marketing is as important as any other part of writing the book. And also, you know, marketing gives you an opportunity to really shout about you; who you are; what you do; why you do it; to talk about your book; to talk about yourself and who doesn’t love talking about themselves at the end of the day. And then I think it’s good if you can kind of shift the emphasis away from it being a bit of a chore, a thorn in the side, into something that’s very positive and very interesting. But the problem that authors have is there isn’t anywhere that they can go that gives them that process of marketing their books. So, I came up with my own, which are the six Ps. So, talk about positioning. This is where it all starts. So, this is the foundation stone of marketing your book. Everything flows from here. So, it’s really about understanding that marketing isn’t just about the ads you do and the PR that you do and the social media that you do. It comes down to a lot more than that. And it’s also about what your book looks like; the jacket image you give it; the title you give it; the copy you write for it. It could even come down to the name you give yourself when you write it. You know, there’s a lot of authors that write under pseudonyms and things like that, because their name may not suit their market or may not give the authority that they want from it.
Dave Harries: [00:04:24] And can I ask you about positioning in relation to the writing of the book as well? Because obviously, I would suspect, that a lot of authors, when they’re writing the book, perhaps are not, at that early stage — perhaps it should be — but they’re probably not giving that much thought to the marketing, because they’re probably not experts on it; they may have never done it before. So, how much does the content of the book affect positioning? Because it seems logical to me that it would be a very important aspect of it. So, in some ways, what you put in the book is going to dictate that positioning.
Paul East: [00:04:57] Well, I think it comes a little bit round the other way. And this is why we say, you know, if you’re going to market your book properly, you should probably start thinking about the marketing before you even start writing it. And I think actually, how you want to position yourself will do more to inform the book than the book should do to inform your positioning, if that makes sense. This is about you. This is about your author brand; it’s about who you are as a person; it’s about how your book and your business are going to be perceived by your audience, so I think you’ve got to have that conversation with yourself before you even start writing the book. Who is my audience? How do I want that audience to perceive me and my book? How is this book fitting into my business and going to maximise my brand as an individual and my brand as a business? And then you create the product that meets those objectives and that expectation. What a lot of authors do is the other way round: they write the book and then think: okay so, how is this actually now going to work?
Dave Harries: [00:05:54] But that’s exactly my point. You know, I think most authors probably don’t have the foresight to realise that they should do it that way round you just described. I mean, Sue you’ve worked with lots of authors, how many of them do think about this stuff first?
Sue Richardson: [00:06:09] We start with our authors looking at their whole publishing strategy. And the first question we ask them is ‘why’. And the second question we ask them is ‘who’. And those two things, before they’ve even started to really think through the idea for their book, are absolutely key. So, obviously the ‘why’, as in what are their objectives as a business owner, a business person writing a book? What do they want to achieve from writing a book? Why are they writing it in the first place? But very importantly, aligned closely with that, is the ‘who’. Their target audience; their readers. Who do they need to influence? Who’s going to be affected by this book? Whose world are they going to change with this book? And this is where, Paul is absolutely right, the thinking about…in a sense you were already thinking about the marketing of your book, because the book has to be created for a market. A group of people who need what you have to give in that book. So, right from the start, we like to focus very much on that audience, on that target market and make sure that the author is writing the right book for them.
Dave Harries: [00:07:30] But you must get cases, well maybe you don’t, where an author comes to you with a kind of almost completed manuscript and says: look, I’ve written my book. Can you market it for me? I mean, how do you kind of deal with that?
Sue Richardson: [00:07:42] W e ask those questions. And we say does…okay, you may have finished the writing of the book, but does this do the job, both for you in your business but for your target audience, you’re your market, your readers? Those two things, they go hand in hand, they have to both work. If they don’t, we have to look again. We have to look at what’s missing, what needs to be looked at. And it’s great if it’s a manuscript because actually, most the time, it’s just a case of perhaps looking at the positioning of it; looking at the way that it is being presented; aligning it with — having reviewed the ‘why’ and the ‘who’, if you like — aligning it properly with that and then you’re good to go.
Paul East: [00:08:26] But, you know, I guarantee, almost a hundred percent of the time, that if an author does this piece of work, in thinking about their positioning and thinking about how they’re going to be perceived; how their book is going to be perceived, how they’re going to be perceived, they will write a better book as a result of it. That situation that you just offered Sue there, you know, where you come with a manuscript already done, you can still market that. And of course, you can still create a book out of it, but it would have been better if you’d have done that piece of work before you actually put pen to paper. And it’s not just about the ‘who’. It’s about understanding the competition, who else is doing it? Who else is out there talking about the things that you’re talking about? You know, and if they are already 30 [or] 40 authors doing it, you’ve got to understand how you’re going to fit into that, because ultimately if you can’t make yourself stand out in that noise, it’s going to be hard further down the line to sell the book.
Dave Harries: [00:09:21] So, before we move on to the second P, just sum up for me, if you can in a very pithy phrase, the key elements of positioning, Paul.
Paul East: [00:09:30] So, it’s about you: your author brand. It’s about how you want you and your book to be perceived. It’s about understanding your USP, so, what you’re bringing to the party that’s different to everybody else that’s out there. It’s about understanding how you’re doing it better than other people, so that you can articulate that and bring that into the book. And it’s about understanding your audience, you know knowing what they want and how you’re going to deliver on their desires, their needs, their problems, their wishes. If, further down the line, you’re going to do PR or publicity for your book, if you’ve already thought about what your story is and what makes your book different and special from everything else that’s out there, the PR is going to be made a hell of a lot easier because PR is about stories. And the story isn’t that publishing a book, the story is a something special in that book. And understanding your positioning will really help you to tease those angles out further down.
Paul East: [00:10:22] Okay. Thank you for summing that up. I think that was pretty pithy, wasn’t it?
Paul East: [00:10:24] It wasn’t very pithy at all.
Dave Harries: [00:10:27] Define pithy. Pithy, it’s not one of the six Ps, though, pithy, is it?
Paul East: [00:10:31] It’s not. But I could add it on.
Dave Harries: [00:10:32] Seven Ps. Alright. So, we’ve done positioning and I think I’ve got the hang of that. So, people is next in your list and, I’d like you to sum up what that means for me, but also tell me why people comes after positioning.
Paul East: [00:10:47] It’s actually interesting because when I was creating this kind of process, for a long time had people before positioning, but I quite soon realised that you actually have to understand who your audience is.
Dave Harries: [00:11:00] People means your audience?
Paul East: [00:11:01] And people is your audience, yes. So, people is your target audience, the people that you’re going to give your book to, sell it to, who’s going to read it. So, it is your audience. But I realised that you know, you need to understand who they are as a concept, as an abstract, before you can start really drilling down into what it is they need and what it is that they want. So, the positioning has to come first. You have to understand who you are, what you’re trying to achieve and where you fit in that market before you can start looking at the audience. Who’s going to be interested in it?
Dave Harries: [00:11:28] I remember, in previous episodes, we discussed you creating the ideal sort of reader in your mind, and maybe even on paper. Is that what we’re talking about here? You know, it’s a really kind of drilling down and getting as specific as possible with whom the book is meant for?
Sue Richardson: [00:11:44] Yeah, absolutely. It’s very easy when you’re writing, it’s very easy to get quite self-absorbed in that process. It really helps you to have that, as Paul was saying, to have the picture of who it is that you’re going to influence, who it is that you want to solve the problem [for]. The people out there who have problems that you can solve. Who are they? Really imagine in your mind that person, as you’re writing even, you know, never mind thinking about the marketing so that you’re really addressing the people that need you.
Dave Harries: [00:12:21] Paul, I know it’s a classic sort of conundrum in business, in communications and marketing and business, that people say you should be niche, you should narrow down your audience and market just to them because it’s much easier. But of course, the temptation, and this I imagine applies to writers as well, is that: well lots of people can benefit from my book. I know that there are many different types of readers and I don’t want to narrow it down because I want the whole world to benefit from my wisdom. So, I presume you’ve got to resist that temptation.
Paul East: [00:12:51] Of course, And the simple message is: don’t do that. I mean, narrow it down. Even if you segment your everyone into lots of different audiences and find the biggest one and concentrate on them first. I mean, how do you market something to everyone? It’s not possible. Ultimately, you’ve got to narrow it down if you stand a chance of making a success of this. Yes, you can have a big audience, big potential audience, but my advice would always be to cut it down into segments: find your primary audience, the one that you think is going to be the most receptive to what you’re offering, and is going to bring you the biggest benefit; and then have secondary and tertiary audiences that you focus on later or in a lesser way. But niches are, you know, gold. You need a niche to be able to really focus your marketing.
Dave Harries: [00:13:34] And Sue, do you think that, again looking at real life examples that you’ve experienced, do books sometimes, do they break out of that initial audience sometimes? You know that yes, you market them to that very specific niche but suddenly you find that actually there is a bigger audience, and then of course, you can change your marketing to reflect that. Does that happen?
Sue Richardson: [00:13:56] I think it can happen. I think sometimes books surprise you. You know, and there are times when perhaps a book that you are fairly sure is very niche suddenly actually appeals to a wider audience than you expected. Or a different audience from the one that you expected. But generally speaking, I think that you know Paul’s right, it’s about making sure that…actually the more niche you can get… you do get that…you’re so right, Dave. I mean, there are lots of people who think that their books will be…it’s good to write a book for anybody and everybody. And it just so does not work. And the more niche you can get. One of the things about niches, is that you have to remember that quite often a niche market is very underserved, you know. And that’s the thing to remember, is that if you’re writing a book that’s for a really narrow niche, although it may…I think one of the reasons why authors think that it’s good to make it wider is because they will have a bigger readership. But ironically, that’s not necessarily true. Because you might have a very narrow niche, but the people within it don’t have the information that they need. So, they will all want your book instead of a tiny percentage of everybody wanting your book. And you having the difficulty of making it visible for everybody.
Dave Harries: [00:15:15] And I suppose, you have to bear in mind as well, that with a business book it’s not necessarily about sort of total numbers of books printed and sold.
Sue Richardson: [00:15:23] Indeed.
Dave Harries: [00:15:24] It’s about so much more than that. Which again, Paul, brings us back to the niche thing is not a bad thing, because if you’re selling to the right people, and they in turn can influence other people and hopefully your business will benefit from that and so on?
Paul East: [00:15:38] Yeah. And you know, if you’re writing a book for everyone, it kind of flies in the face of everything that we’re talking about here really; you know, in terms of sitting down and thinking about how you going to position yourself; you know, your USP; because if it’s for everyone, all that probably doesn’t matter. No one has written a book that’s for everybody. Everybody that’s written the book, has written a book for a particular group of people. The fact that it may explode out of that has probably been more by accident than by design. If you try to market your book to everyone, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time and money marketing to a lot of people that aren’t actually going to be interested in it.
Dave Harries: [00:16:10] I presume it’s going to help the writing process as well, Sue. Because you know if you’ve got that particular person in mind, you know, you can be speaking to them in your mind, as it were, as your pen goes to paper, your fingers go to the typewriter. That shows how old I am, typewriter. Anyone know what that is? The keyboard and it’s going to help you to sort of put the right words on the paper. Because you know who you want to read it.
Sue Richardson: [00:16:34] Yeah, that’s right. And you know what questions they have too. You know, you’ve probably asked them: what problems do you need solving? You know, and that’s always the other thing I think about this whole area is that the closer you are to your audience, the more you know them, the better the book and the more you can serve them in that book.
Dave Harries: [00:16:55] Okay. So, I think, once again Paul, if you could quickly sum up the people point for us. And then we’ll move on to our third P.
Paul East: [00:17:01] So, the people is the audience. So, it’s the group of people that you think are going to be most interested in your book and your offer. And it’s really about drilling down and understanding who they are, how you’re going to reach them, where they hang out, all that kind of stuff. There is also another little group of people as well that you need to consider, and that’s people that can help you to promote the book and, you know, influencers that can help you to promote the book. So, there’s kind of two sides of the people.
Dave Harries: [00:17:29] So, you should have an S on the end?
Paul East: [00:17:30] Yeah. Peoples!
Dave Harries: [00:17:31] Okay, and I can see how positioning and people are very closely interrelated in that sense.
Paul East: [00:17:36] They are. And actually, when you’ve done the people part, you know, and you’ve gone through that process of working out who your ideal audience is and how you’re going to reach them and all of that kind of stuff, there is a benefit in going back and revisiting the positioning piece awhile, because then you can see if anything you’ve learned from the people part can actually help to influence the positioning part as well.
Dave Harries: [00:17:56] Okay good. Alright, let’s move on to our final P for today’s episode which is platform. So, once again Paul, if you could introduce the concept of platform.
Paul East: [00:18:05] P number three is platform. And we’ve spoken actually, in previous podcasts, about this already. But it is worth bringing up again and as part of the process, after you’ve been through the positioning and the people part, that’s the time then to turn your attention to your platform. Now, your platform, as we discussed before, is your sphere of influence; it’s how easy you can tell the world, your audience, about the book that you’ve published and how easily you can spread the word about it. When I say easily, that’s probably not particularly fair. It’s not necessarily easily, I guess it’s efficiency, rather than ease. And so, within your platform, you’ve got a network of people and it’s during this platform stage that you really need to get to know who your network is. Who are the people that populate your platform? And you know, as I said before I encourage authors to do that quite forensically, to really understand the value of everybody you know to see how they could help you to write a better book; to promote and market your book and also as a potential customer for your book further down the line. And it’s understanding, getting to understand or getting to know, that not everybody in your platform is going to be equal. You know, some are going to bring more value than others.
[00:19:14] So, Sue would you, I mean, are these kind of influencers…if you’ve got influencers in that group, in that platform, presumably they’re going to be worth talking to, assuming they’re influencing the right sort of audience for you. But do you find with some authors that they perhaps don’t think they have a platform, in the way Paul has just described it, because they don’t do much networking or the sort of business they already run or the sort of organisation they’re involved in just isn’t it, doesn’t lend itself to that? Or does everybody have a platform, it’s just a question of being forensic about it?
Sue Richardson: [00:19:47] I think everybody has the potential to have a platform. And I think that probably one of the key things for anybody who’s thinking about writing a book…it’s very interesting actually, because sometimes I talk to people, I talk to authors, who are wanting to pitch to a big commercial publisher. And it’s a key thing for a publisher. How big is that platform? And one thing that you have to say to authors perhaps, who haven’t really started to develop their network yet, is that actually that’s the thing that they can start on right now. Anybody can start to build their network, create that platform. You know, it is a case of getting out there and standing in the spotlight and not being afraid to do that. And I know that can be difficult for some people to do. But everybody has to start somewhere. And building those contacts, creating that network — through being generous with your content, through blogging, tweeting, whatever else you are doing; podcasts, however you…just being visible, being out there and building a following — is absolutely crucial for anybody who wants to develop their profile as an expert in what they do. And the book? The book is a part of that. The book will help you grow the platform, but you need a platform to develop the sort of the outgoing of that book to. So, this is why, you know, sometimes publishers get criticised for only taking, it’s very difficult as a first-time author to get published. Well, part of that is to do with platform, I would argue. That actually a book will help you grow your platform and why, quite often by the time you getting to do your second or third book, you might get the interest of a bigger publisher because your platform is bigger, because your network is bigger. Because you’re out there, you’re visible, you’re seen. If you haven’t got to that stage yet, it should not stop you or put you off. You just need to learn that you need to grow that now. Start growing it now and keep growing it and keep focused on it and keep pulling that following in and talking to the influencers that you know. And it will move on.
Dave Harries: [00:22:02] Paul, it sounds as if this platform stuff is important and indeed could be a deal-breaker with a publisher, from what Sue was just saying. So, when you’re advising people in the marketing of books and they come to you and they don’t have a huge platform, how can you help them to grow that? Sue mentioned a few things there, social media and stuff. But is there a sort of strategy, is there a plan that they can put in place that will really help them grow that platform?
Paul East: [00:22:28] Yeah. And those are the kind of things that we can help them to do. I mean, most of the things that Sue spoke about are the key ways of doing it. It is about being out there. It’s about connecting with the groups and the forums and the community that your audience is likely to be in. It’s about being part of that. I mean, I guess the key is, ultimately, is not to be a stranger to your platform or to your network when your book comes to publish. By the time your book is out, you would ideally expect everybody in your platform to know who you are and what you do and why you do it and how you do it. So, at the point you come to tell them about your book, they’re already primed to be receptive to that. But it is fundamentally about putting out your content, about putting out your name, about getting yourself…connect with bloggers and podcasters. Podcasters you know and podcaster you don’t. Offer your services free of charge, you know, to support them and help them. Just gradually, and it takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight, it can be quite a slow process, you know, you start to build your tribe basically.
Dave Harries: [00:23:30] And I suppose like the positioning and the people that came before it, developing the platform is something you ought to be doing before you even start writing the book.
Paul East: [00:23:37] Yeah. And you know, what Sue said about if you’re going to go to a publisher with a book proposition, they will expect you to have a platform. But it has to be the right platform as well. I mean, it’s not enough to just say: yeah you know I’ve got 150,000 followers on Facebook. And if they don’t all, they’re not following what you’re doing, you know, if they’re just mates, then it’s probably not that useful. And the only…you’d be surprised what some authors will do to get a book deal in terms of talking about their platform, and how powerful and influential it is and the access they have to it. But you know, if you’re not telling the truth about that, authors won’t, I’m sorry, publishers won’t often check that that’s the case, but the only person you’re lying to yourself, at the end of the day, if you’re not totally honest about the value of your platform to you when it comes to publishing your book. And that’s why you have to put the work into understanding who’s in your network and your platform. You know, we said in the previous podcast, if you’re writing a book about dog care and you’ve got a platform made up of cat lovers, then you’ve probably got to either write a book about cat care or start building a different platform.
Dave Harries: [00:24:44] Sue again, you know, Paul’s made that point eloquently there. You know, if somebody comes to you, if an author comes to you and they’ve probably got a platform already, but they may not be aware of it, they may not even know what the term means, so, some of it is about you explaining that presumably, as well as helping them to increase the size and influence of that platform?
Sue Richardson: [00:25:06] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Paul has kind of a great approach which is like a series of questions of our authors around what is it that they are doing. I think you’ve got a good point there, that sometimes actually, authors may not even be quite aware of the kind of the riches that they’re sitting on. They may not be thinking about it in those terms. So, to kind of drill down into, you know, first of all their thinking about their audience, their market, their readers potentially for the book. Where are they hanging out? You know, are they already actually speaking to those people? They probably they, maybe they are. But to kind of go through a series of questions around where the people that you need to gather to you are sitting now. And how can you access them? And from very small beginnings you can start to quickly grow and I’m sure anyone with…and again, get somebody perhaps to work with that can sit and ask you those questions and think it through with you, is a good way to go, I think.
Dave Harries: [00:26:12] So, Paul, once again, just before we finish, quickly sum up platform for me.
Paul East: [00:26:16] So your platform is your sphere of influence. It’s how far and how easily or efficiently you can spread the word about you and your book.
Dave Harries: [00:26:24] Okay. Thank you very much. We’ve run out of time but remember in our next episode we’re going to be talking about the other of the six Ps. The remaining three of the six Ps: profile, promotion and planning. Thank you very much to my co-presenter, Sue Richardson, and Paul East, our expert marketing guest. If you’d like to comment on anything you’ve heard, or if you have specific questions you’d like answered, or even an idea for a future show, please join our Facebook group, the Right Book Project or go to therightbookcompany.com. You can also go over to iTunes to subscribe, download and even leave a review or give us a star rating. We’ll be back in two weeks with our next episode. Remember Paul will be back too, with Sue and I, to discuss the other three Ps: profile, promotion and planning. So, join us then and in the meantime, keep writing.