Starting from Scratch: A Guide to Building your Brand
Why do companies spend millions to track us online and build profiles? They’re identifying the what, when and why we browse, click, and buy. There’s no coincidence that after you shop for a lamps online, you start seeing lamp, light bulb and home furnishings pop up ads on your social media. It’s called cookie syncing and you need to be doing your own version of it to build your brand, attract your target market, and sell your products.
Who is your customer? Or better yet, who is your best customer? Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, you’ll need to be targeted. There’s a reason that beer, hair loss prevention and sexual enhancing product companies pay millions during the Super Bowl for an ad spot - it’s watched by over one hundred million people, many of them men. Most of us don’t have such a budget to spend on Super Bowl ads so we’ll need to get creative of how to share our message.
What is your message? Walmart is known to have the best price, Chick-fil-A, the best service and Toyota, reliability. What you want to be known for, what’s unique and what problem will your product or service solve?
How will you communicate your message ? There are limitless opportunities from Google ads to billboards. What works for others may or may not work for you. Regardless if you are spending millions or focusing on more cost effective methods, the goal is the same- to get people to know you.
Meet more people
Meeting like-minded people should be a priority. One way to broaden your circle is to host, sponsor and attend events. Decide who your target audience is and create an event that would attract them. Be clear of what’s in it for your guest. This was my book launch pitch:
Gather your tribe! Join author, Amy Lyle, for a cocktail party/book launch/social media event! Dr. Myla Bennett, from Ederra Bella Plastic Surgery, as seen on The Real Housewives of Atlanta is the emcee for the event and will donate a surprise procedure to one of the guests. Andrea Ferenchik, from blog, “Mama Quit Her Day Job,” will be speaking about creating a career you love, even if you’re over forty. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to The Place of Forsyth. Join us as we dedicate the evening to celebrating women!
Inspiring speakers? Donating money to charity? Free booze and free plastic surgery? It worked. Over 300 women, ranging from thirty to seventy showed up to the event. Hundreds of posts were shared online about the event and … I sold a lot of books.
Your launch is not about immediate sales, it’s about establishing your message and creating a lot of buzz. You also get to keep the EMAIL LIST you gained from the event, which can be used for building relationships and promoting future events.
Hosting a large event can be as expensive, plan as your budget allows. If you cannot host an event, be a SPONSOR. You will get your name on materials and normally a shout-out, plus it gives you good content to post about on social media. Can’t be a sponsor? ATTEND events that are interesting to you. Sites such as www.MeetUp.com are dedicated to putting the like-minded together. There are hundreds of free plans available online about planning a successful book or product launch.
Using Social Media
People are on social media to relax, not to buy things, but you need a following to build your platform. A platform is all the ways we make ourselves visible to our audience. Social media can be very powerful, if used correctly. No one wants to see posts that say “Buy, buy, buy!” Your Facebook, Instagram and or Twitter strategy should be to get to know more people and have more people get to know you. How do you get people to know you on social media?
Follow people with the same interests or friends as you. Authors normally accept my friend request because I’m an author. People that have 20 or more people in common with me, I send friend requests. I’m taking the risk that if we have 20 friends in common, we’re most likely fairly like-minded. People Like You will be your best supporters.
Be generous with sharing others’ posts and tweets. Thank people for sharing, following and liking your page and posts.
Start a conversation: Did you ever? Remember when? What do you think about? Do you support? People like to talk about …. themselves. Create that opportunity for them.
Use hashtags, including hot topic tags and company hashtags if appropriate. My friend Lise Ode often puts the hashtags of the products she uses in her recipes on her Mom Loves Baking blog, often the companies share and retweet her posts!
Start a trend. Every Friday, I do a funny #FridayFail post, because my book is about failures. I share how I’ve failed and invite others to share their failures. I’ve done #FridayFail for so long now on Facebook that people often tag me when they fail. I love it! Other people’s failures are even funnier than mine, so people comment and share the post. The Humane society has dog of the week. My friend Carla does a motivational tip of the week and then asks people what amazing things they accomplished during their week. The point is to engage with your followers.
Use video! If you hate to be on camera, make short videos interviewing experts in your field. If I were a real estate agent I would post tips from plumbers, electricians and appraisers. It’s content people may need AND when you tag the expert you have extended your own reach by hundreds or even thousands of people.
Ask for something, occasionally. Wanting to boost my reviews on Amazon because my book was in the running one of Amazon’s Books of the Month, I posted what I needed, 50 more reviews. I also provided directions how to do a review and my book link - within one click they could easily access the review tab. I reached 100 in a few days and THANKED everyone for helping me. Do not over ask or people will stop following you.
Start a group. I started The Cumming Writer’s Group as a Facebook group to ask for tips about self-publishing. We have 89 members and now meet twice a month to critique and share each other’s work. The group shares information about literary festivals, new social media tools and all sorts of resources for writers.
Create a Launch Group.” Author Wendy Paine Miller invited fifty friends to participate in her book launch campaign. They’re kept informed of what is going on with her book, share her posts and offer emotional support. It’s a great way to set up your own army of marketers.
Join groups that you have interests in: books, dogs, travel, and ENGAGE. You can’t join an online book club and post your own book the same day - you haven’t built any trust. But as you become active in the online community, an opportunity will arise where you can present your expertise. I suggest doing this only if you are sincerely interested in what the group is focused on.
Organic reach on Facebook is about sixteen percent. Posts that are shared, liked and have engagement are showed more frequently. Create good content and participate in your posts.
There are thousands of groups to join, be selective and commit to really engaging in those groups.
I rarely place ads on social media because they only reveal how many clicks, not the actual conversion rate. Advertising on social media is not terrible expensive so you may want to try it to test YOUR results. I do pay for advertising on Amazon, because that’s where people shop for books. I purchased a keyword software tool that helps me create my book ads on Amazon called KDP Rocket. It has been the most effective tool to drive book sales. The creator, Dave Chesson, offers hours of videos (for free) on how to best market your book. I pay for Hootsuite, an app that allows me to post across multiple social media at once and has a scheduling tool. Social Jukebox allows me to select tweets and posts that I want to retweeted/post at intervals I select. They offer a free and upgraded versions. I just started www.appCreatorCollabs.com. My posts go into a pool that can be retweeted or shared and I retweet or share others’ posts. It works on a point system, the more you share, the more your posts will get shared. It’s working. My first post submitted to CreatorCollab.com was retweeted several times generated close to 50k views. I do not post “sales posts.” I post funny quotes or pictures. The point is to have people become interested in you, follow you, and then they may take a look at what you’re selling.
The key to social media is consistency- pick a theme and stick to it. The theme should not be a sales pitch. I’m trying to attract people that love funny movies and books, especially women because my comedy, book and screenplay are female centric. I rotate the same themes every week. They include:
Funny movie quotes
Funny movie screenshots
Inspirational quotes from women
Inspirational quotes about writing
Quotes from my book
Inspirational photographs of places writers would love to write (castles, the beach, etc.)
Pictures of people reading my book in a foreign land, with a funny quote about it
Hopefully, you are seeing a trend. If it’s a book holiday of sorts: National Read A Book Day, Independent Authors Day, Book Lovers Day or Banned Books Day, I do post something about my book, normally a quote and the link. If something amazing is happening with the book, such as being featured in a magazine or on television, I will post it, but it’s not a sales pitch, it’s more of an event announcement.
Thank people when they follow you, either immediately or at the end of each week. I love seeing “Best Followers of the Week” posts where people tag their top followers. Congratulate people on their wins, comment on posts that are of interest to you. It takes time, but if you are consistent you’ll start to see results.
Another avenue you should pursue to build your brand is getting press.
Get Some Press
There’s an insatiable demand for content. Having articles with your name on them is a great way to increase your visibility to a larger audience. Most print magazines also have a digital offering so make your article titles precise: something people would search for. If your article is about avoiding buying a home that has mold, name it as such. In the world of Search Engine Optimization (the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page) you’re competing against millions of results, be as clear as possible with what the article is about.
Locally, almost all publications list the names and emails of their writers and editors. Create a sample article (350 words is a good start) and share with them why their readers would benefit from your article. Think like a journalist, does the article help people understand technology, health or a new trend? For example, I pitched to the newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows on the phone and in emails three themes: “A Failing Forward Tour,” “How to Change Your Life After Forty” and “Why Laughter is Good for Your Health.” I always open with, I think your readers/viewers/listeners may be interested in …
Most local papers, magazines and event sites will allow you to publish an event for free, especially if a good cause is involved. Every month I create an event for my local writer’s club meeting. Often, I list what authors attend the meetings and what they’ve published. “Join us for Writer’s Club at Starbucks and meet, X and X. We will read and critique each other's’ works.” A few of my local Facebook community pages/groups have over 30,000 followers.
Don’t forget the bloggers. Find bloggers that have a following of people you are trying to attract and offer to write a guest blog, sponsor a contest, etc.. Some bloggers charge for guest spots, some do not. If you have a blog, offer to host others. It adds interest to your blog and you may pick up some followers. I paid to set up a blog tour with http://www.sagesblogtours.com, which specifically caters to authors but just as there are blogs for every theme, there are blog tour companies for every topic.
For events, there will be paid and unpaid speakers. Reach out to the organizers and inquire what the process is regarding securing speakers. On a local scale, look on social media for local, like-minded groups. Groups of people often like to have meetings featuring speakers. Prepare a short write up of what your speaking points would be. Are you an expert in your industry? What will attendees gain from your speech? Always film yourself doing a speaking engagements, as larger engagements will request a clip.
Wrapping it All Together
I found out the hard way that getting on television, something I put a lot of effort into doing, resulted in only a tiny increase in book sales. When I’m a speaker, even for a small event, or get an article published, the conversion rate is much better. I will still do any television program offered to me, because it builds my credibility and brand. My neighbor is an attorney and paid a fortune for commercials but the majority of his new clients call from a single billboard he rents. Be mindful that not everything will have an impact, you have to try different things and track the results.
Create a plan. You can’t be on television, win speaking engagements, get Twitter followers and write for magazines all at the same time. Make a list of what you would like to do and set goals to complete the tasks on a daily or weekly basis. RESEARCH tips before jumping into anything. My goals for the week include: social media posts and interaction, contacting 10 bloggers, two media outlets and submitting at least one article to a publication. I get plenty of “No’s” but eventually a few that say “Yes!”
Amy Lyle lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband, four teenagers and one large dog. Her book, The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures, released in May 2017, is a top ten selling ebook on Amazon. Ten percent of proceeds go to The Place of Forsyth. Visit Amy at www.amylyle.me or @amylyle Book link: http://ow.ly/yGx930fcA3