For my day job, I’ve been reading some marketing material, pertaining to tourism. Then it struck me; what they were saying made perfect sense for book marketing as well. Just think of your book as a destination and your reader as a tourist looking for a unique experience.
The material I’m referring to was a study regarding positioning a Greek island as a holiday destination. Destination positioning, as the official term is, has to do with creating a distinctive place in the minds of potential tourists.
This positioning involves two variables:
- Tourist satisfaction: what emotions did the experience create in the mind of the tourist?
- Attribute satisfaction: were the individual’s desires and expectations met?
The author reaches the conclusion that a successful positioning strategy requires that the destination image and the specific product attributes that satisfy the customer should match as perfectly as possible. Indeed, a wrong destination positioning would create a mismatch between tourists’ expectations and the actual experience they live, thus generating negative feelings (and reviews).
Substitute reader for tourist in the above sentences, and you will realize the importance of targeting your readers carefully.
A simple example
If this sounds like a lot of big words, consider this example. Patmos (above) is a quiet Greek island that’s famous for the fact that St. John, better known as author of the homonymous Gospel and the Apocalypse, lived there. As a result, the whole island has positioned itself as a perfect destination for those seeking a spiritual retreat.
On the other hand, Mykonos is an island famous for its relaxed, gay-friendly atmosphere and rich and varied night life.
Although the two islands are a stone’s throw away, it’s obvious that they cater to a very different kind of tourist. It’s a safe bet that any party animal finding themselves in Patmos would have as rough a time, as any monk or nun finding themselves in Mykonos.
Unique Selling Points (USP)
I have often stressed in the past the importance of brand-building. This has to do with finding your Unique Selling Point (USP) and targeting people who respond to that.
Again, we can use tourism as an example. With tourist destinations becoming substitutable, Greek islands need to differentiate themselves from each other in order to find and exploit their uniqueness. Since we live in societies that are bombarded by information, people’s minds have created defense mechanisms to sift through the clutter of information. Therefore, a destination’s message needs to circumvent this clutter to reach the consumer.
An effective positioning requires a succinct, focused and consistent message that will make reference to competing destinations and distinguish between them. There are four means of achieving this:
- Word of mouth is a primary source of propagation,
- mass media is a secondary,
- travel agents is a third and
- personal experiences is a fourth
Now, doesn’t all this sound terribly familiar? Just substitute travel agents with literary agents and mass media with social media, and you have the makings of your book marketing plan!
It makes total sense, Nicholas and I’d argue that the same applies to restaurants, bicycles, and just about anything anyone hopes to sell. All the elements of branding need to come together in a coherent message. I think the alternate “tourism” lens is really helpful. It gives me a way to step back and take a new look. 🙂
Thank you, D 🙂
I’m the annoying bugger who’d want a gay-friendly spiritual experience on Patmos. Even in my 20s that photo of Myconos makes me recoil in horror!
Your argument has a lot of substance though. I’d much rather have fewer people downloading my book but a higher percentage of them enjoying what they read. It has made them a very hard sell but it does make for a higher percentage of satisfied customers.
PS Sorry about Europe, I’m really embarrassed. And a bit gutted. I voted to remain.
That’s sweet of you, thank you. It’s a real shame, to put it mildly, but I’ve consciously steered away from mentioning the German in the room. Or the war. Or that fact that John Cleese supported the Leave vote.
Actually one of the out voters I spoke to cited the harsh way Europe has treated Greece as a reason we should leave.
The Europeans messed up, sure. But we’ve only got ourselves to blame for our troubles, as far as I’m concerned. And it was the EU that saved us from a LOT worse in the end.
Makes sense, Nicholas! Yep, I’ll need to think about destination marketing in Sunset Inn, a book title and it was a real place. Thanks for this informative post! Great thinking!! ? Elizabeth
Thank you so much! 🙂
Brilliant share as always. 🙂
Aw, you! Thank you 😀
Such a great correlation, Nicholas! Thanks for sharing your insights. 🙂
Thank you so much, Rachael 🙂
One word for this post: brilliant. I, too, recently read about travel marketing (don’t ask me how I stumbled upon it) and was thinking along the same lines, but your post really drove the idea home. Thank you!
Aw, that’s so kind of you! Thank you 🙂
I understand about targeting a specific audience, but I’m having trouble doing that with such a niche market. I worked out a way for my last book, but getting the right audience for this one is a greater challenge. It’s soft-core crime and most like hardcore. It’s regional to the Florida area and while there are tons of regional authors, most that are successful, even in this genre, are reporters with columns in local newspapers. I believe with this book, I’m going to need more personal appearances and less online.
I’ve been avoiding personal appearances, mostly for lack of time, so I’d love to hear how that works out for you!
Great food for thought, Nicholas, thanks!
Thank you, Elle 🙂
As usual, a really interesting and thought-provoking article. Thanks Nick! 😀
Thank you so much, Jan 🙂
Interesting tactics and take on marketing. Makes a lot of sense, especially if you’re writing a story where the setting is a major selling point. People who are into fantasy love the world as much as the characters, so you can’t really avoid bringing it up. One thing I do is make posts that go in depth to the main locations, which I hope sets the stage.
Word of mouth is always a precious commodity. Probably why it’s so hard to get.
Tell me about it 🙂
Truly one of the bigger woes of indie author-dom.
In theory, marketing practices should work for any product, whether tourism, or vacuum cleaners. With books, you have imagination to deal with, which is not always so easy to predict. Otherwise, Nicholas, your advice, is as always, very sound.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thanks for that, Pete 🙂
Wonderful, useful advice. And you know I’ve been working on this kind of plan for the island of Corfu to sell my trilogy for a year now. It still works!
I’ve read your excellent advice on the matter. Well done!
Well, Nicholas, this is shocking!!!!!!
You are absolutely right and I’ll admit th there is some sort of charm in the idea that the book is a destination. I really like this definition.
I’m finding quite hard to define my readers and especially to pin down where they are. I’ve read a lot of articles about marketing and everyone is stressing the fact that you should make clear how your book will solve the reader’s problem. Of late, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that this is not really what a storyteller should do. We just tell stories, we don’t solve problems. And I wonder whether trying to stay inside this kind of marketing strategy really pays for a storyteller.
I’ve watched a series of webniars lately that really drove the point home for me: all the speakers have books for sale, all of them sell a lot… and all of them use their books not as the main feature of their career, but as a means to reach bigger money-makers in their business.
That’s what made me think that this kind of marketing might not be the one for me. My book isn’t a means to something else. My book (my stories) is THE POINT of my career (if we want to call it that, which is kind of a stretch at the moment).
So thinking to the book as a destination (which is more of the point of the journey) might be a far more effective way.
Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Thank you! Problem-solving may be a perfect focus for non-fiction (eg self-help) books and marketing gurus who make a living out of talks, seminars etc. But it’s a silly piece of advice when it comes to our work.