Friday, January 16, 2009

Online Marketing

Online Marketing is a lot like fishing. The very best way to catch a fish is the individual angler walking the mountain stream with a fly rod casting into the spots where he or she knows the elusive trout might be hiding. The online angler does this with emails to friends, relatives, or email addresses that they have hoarded from former book purchasers. They have the product for sale at their own website. This personal connection offers the highest chance of success, but the numbers are small because it depends on the number of individual casts that you can make out into the water.

More fish are caught by the bank fisherman. You’ve seen them. They cast out into the water, set up a pole, then cast another pole until they have a half dozen of them lined up. This is the online person who doesn’t depend on knowing people individually, but mines online group, directories, organizations etc that they are in to put out the word on their product. They have the order link in their signature line and keep the bait dangling in front of the people at these places all the time.

Then there are the people who put out trot-lines, long fishing lines with many hooks on them, suspended by floats and placed out in the water. This online angler has their books in a number of online outlets, usually with some help from their publisher getting their books in these multiple locations. The key is the world’s largest fisherman, Amazon, first because they sell the most books, and second because a lot of online stores simply tie to the Amazon ad in their own bookstore.

Finally there is the commercial fisherman. These anglers go out in big boats, spread their nets, and work as wide an area as possible. The online angler who works professionally uses all of the above methods of fishing. They also understand that these are simply methods of getting hooks into the water. They know that bare hooks in the water don’t catch fish, and a product being available somewhere online does not result in a sale without someone being told it is there and given a reason to want to purchase it. Sure, there will be the occasional sale just by someone browsing through and see the book is available, but most of the sales will be made by people who have achieved visibility, and who have baited the hook.

How do we bait the hook? Discounts, contests, giveaways, ad copy that entices the buyer to want to try the product, reviews and endorsements. We get these promotions and enticements out by every resource available to us. Sales belong to the people who are doing both, the ones who are getting the most hooks in the water, and the ones that are baiting those hooks with the most visibility and support that they can generate.

There is greater satisfaction in being an individual angler, casting our book in front of a known prospect and relishing the very personal sale. But if the objective is to maximize our sales we have to spread our nets by all of the online resources available to us. But most of all, the bottom line is to have a superior product that people want to buy, and when they do will talk about to their friends. For the very best advertising of all is word-of-mouth promotion. This priceless commodity cannot be bought, it can only be earned, and it is the best online sales avenue of them all.

1 comment:

Loretta said...

Mr. Burns,

As an angler, I enjoyed how you've equated the analogy of baiting hooks and fishing to marketing books. BTW, my friend, Debby Mayne steered me to your site. She speaks highly of everyone at Hartline. Hmmm, now if I could just catch a fish.