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!