Recently I spoke at the Publishing University (PUBu) conference in Chicago to a group of publishers about long term marketing strategies for their authors. I’ve had the privilege of creating several marketing campaigns for everyone from self publishing authors to New York Times Best Sellers. I was one of the few people at the conference that wasn’t directly involved in publishing the publishing world , which gave me a unique perspective on the industry (I hope).
I had one BIG question for the crowd:
“How would you sell books if you couldn’t use a book launch?”
Nearly every major publisher focuses all of their marketing efforts and budget on promoting the book launch. Basically, those first 30 days after the book is released. Then the marketing is over. To anyone who isn’t familiar with the publishing industry, any help from the publisher in marketing is a good thing so you take what you can get, right?
Instead I presented the audience with an idea of shifting the focus away from only launch marketing to “Selling your book slowly”. By creating Evergreen Assets and ongoing content, you can build a website that grows as a resource with your audience and attracts new visitors to convert them into buyers and long-term fans.
What are Evergreen Assets exactly? They are pieces of content with four characteristics:
Highly optimized for search
Highly optimized for conversion
NOT behind an email capture
Look at Josh Kaufman for example. Josh is the author of a book called the Personal MBA. Josh is a one-man band which and runs his business entirely by himself without subcontractors or employees. This means he needs to make everything as efficient and systematized as humanly possible. So what can we learn from him?
Josh has created an evergreen resource called The 99 Best Business Books that has been such an incredible Evergreen asset that 60% of all the visitors that come to his site find him through that single page. But this is no mistake.
“My entire book launch strategy revolves around building evergreen resources that will market the book in perpetuity without active day-to-day promotion.”
– Josh Kauffman
I think we can build a better long-tail system to market these books in order to attract more interested readers organically over time. Yes, it’s a slower way of selling books but it can also be automated and even if it increases sales by a few percent, it would be a massive increase for the publishers the bottom line.
Jumping back to Kaufman’s site, check out his reading list and noticed that it’s not just a harmless reading list, it’s an optimized conversion machine! Every green box is a conversion opportunity to either opt in to his email list or buy his book.
The same goes for each one of the 99 pages for the books he writes about:
These are so well optimized for conversion that out of the 50,000 unique visitors that Josh gets each month he knows that 5% of them will either buy his book or opt in to his email list (where he will eventually sell them something).
Once he automated the conversion process, he’s done very little to promote it, he mentioned in an interview. Even though he could, he’d rather spend the time with his family.
Now I know this wouldn’t work for every single book, especially books that are written to make a few bucks on a short lived trend. And I’m glad for that! This is a great strategy for high quality, timeless books and authors.
The great news for publishers is that this is only ONE guy! If he can build and automate a system that attracts and converts thousands of visitors, we can replicate parts of it and spread the marketing out to sell books and gain traction with new readers consistently over time.
Do you think this is a viable model for the publishing industry? Let me know in the comments.
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.