Tips and Tricks - Targeted Marketing

2013-Jan-12 -> from the helpful-advice-for-all department Tags: marketing amazon tipsandtricks 

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.

That phrase was on a poster in the classroom where I once learned the basics of the French language. It was put there by my very wise French teacher. He lived by those words, and pushed those words on everyone. It's about setting goals, but also, it's about setting targets.

Marketing is such a huge topic that it would take me months of steady writing to cover it. There are whole books, whole courses, and people who dedicate their lives to marketing. They do it full-time and get paid big money for it.

I don't get paid big money. In fact, as far as marketing goes, I'm pretty much a novice. But the one basic concept I do understand is the most absolute fundamental and important concept in marketing: you must have a target.

Nobody starts a marketing campaign without a target audience. In fact, it's impossible to make any real decision in marketing without knowing your target audience. The success or failure of your marketing campaign, no matter what the form, will depend on you knowing your target. Knowing your target will also have a big hand in whether you succeed or fail on Amazon.

Being an author, the rest of this article will be geared toward book marketing, but the concepts are the same for any product you happen to be selling. Whether it be generic widgets, books, or trips to Cancun, in order for you to really make sales your target must be well defined.

A while back I made a blog post about the Amazon Recommendation System. If you haven't read it, follow that link and read it now. Much of the following post will reference concepts introduced in that post.

Amazon's recommendation system depends very heavily on two items having lots of common purchasers. The more purchasers two items have in common, the more likely Amazon is to recommend one item to customers of the other. On top of that, only purchasers in the last six months are considered in their recommendation system. Why? Because they want to keep the recommendations fresh. They understand the value of targeted marketing. People who bought one item are very likely to buy another item that has already been purchased by many of the same customers. Their system is designed to do the targeted marketing for them.

Having a Good Product is Important

The rating on any given product makes a difference in the Amazon recommendation system. Given two books with identical purchasers, the product with the higher rating will get recommended first. This means that when the reviews start rolling in, you better make sure you've put the best product up that you possibly can.

It's also important to know who buys the type of book that you are selling. The idea is to target just the right people with your efforts so that you make the most of the purchases you get. And no, this doesn't mean relentlessly spamming message boards and Facebook groups full of people who are trying to have real discussions. You need a real plan in order to draw in those customers, and it's almost certainly not going to happen with the first book you release.

What About Amazon Select?

Select is no exception. Here's a secret that many people don't consider when they decide to have an Amazon Select free promo:

Every single person who downloads your book for free counts as a purchaser.

Yep. When Amazon starts recommending your book to people after the free promo ends, it will consider all those new "purchasers" in its system. If you target your promotion right, you can enjoy an extended period of strong sales as a result of those recommendations.

If you splash your free promo out in front of thousands of people, and do no targeting, then many of the new "purchasers" will have no books in common, and your recommendations will be next to worthless. Even worse is if those new "purchasers" have the wrong books in common, which will end up recommending your book to the completely wrong audience. This is a situation you want to avoid at all costs.

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.

It's such an important concept that it warrants stating it again. You can't sell a book effectively without targeting your marketing efforts. Do yourself a favor before you do anything else to market your books, and take some time to define your target. Write it down, focus it as narrowly as you can, and then create a plan on how to hit that target. This will help you get the absolute most out of all of your marketing efforts.

Good luck!

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Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.


By jenny milchman on Sat 12 Jan 2013 09:11:12 pm [ Reply ] I love the quote! Thanks for the post, Thomas.

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 13 Jan 2013 09:20:18 am [ Reply ] Hey Jenny. Thanks for dropping by. I'm always glad to share a bit of advice and hopefully help somebody else. :)

By Rob on Sat 12 Jan 2013 09:58:37 pm [ Reply ] Good advice indeed! Another favorite of mine along these lines is, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." I think the application to marketing is that if you're not getting the results you're looking for, changing something might help. Persistence is an important characteristic, but you also need adaptability!

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 13 Jan 2013 09:21:15 am [ Reply ] Absolutely, Rob. Thanks for the quote, and the insight.

By Julianna on Sat 12 Jan 2013 11:32:57 pm [ Reply ] One of my biggest problems is that I am not sure who my target audience is - my book is cross-genre - historical action/adventure romantic fantasy with, in this first book, some YA elements (though the series does not as a whole have them). It also has very strong female lead and secondary characters. Potential audiences? Lots - readers of: historical fiction, light romance (especially unusual period pieces - this is set in 250BC), epic fantasy (though this is not quite as epic a scale as a lot of those, it does cover a lot of territory), fans of Amazons (though first book doesn't have that much of them in it), fans of mythic fantasy (there's a Simurgh in it), YA readers (this first book is largely a coming of age story of the heroine), etc. Some of these unfortunately probably don't play well with others. Without hiring someone to do marketing research specifically on my book, how on earth do I figure out what to target? My beta readers have mostly been older women who like historical fiction, and middle aged women who like broad-based (think Oprah) fiction, women's fiction, and some light romance. It's been reasonably well received by said groups, so I am assuming I should target those. But it is an action-adventure fantasy as well, and let's not forget the potential interest to teens. What's a writer to do. Pick a group to start with and play w/ the targeting to see what winds up working best?

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 13 Jan 2013 09:24:20 am [ Reply ] Julianna: Thanks for dropping by. This is a problem a lot of people have, but if you consider what you've written, you've actually pretty well defined your target audience already:

People who read historical fiction or romance who also like mythic fantasy. Don't try to target all those audiences separately. Combine them, and work with a more narrow audience. What you have then is called a niche. If you can build your books up until you rule that niche, your audience will expand organically. But always focus on ruling that niche.

By Julianna on Sun 13 Jan 2013 11:42:14 pm [ Reply ] Hi Thomas, Thank you for your response. Good words, but I'm not sure how to tackle trying to find the overlap of those groups. Any suggestions in regards to that? Maybe start with all those keywords and see what keywords any reviewers choose and tweak from there?

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 20 Jan 2013 01:38:00 am [ Reply ] Julianna: How to reach specific readers in your target audience is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. Every group of readers, every audience, is different. As an indie author, one of the best things you can do is get involved. So find communities of people in your target audience, and get involved with them. The key is to be sincere about what you get involved with though.

Good luck!

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