In our current economy, the urgency to sell our product or service can overtake our ability to do most anything else. Financial obligations don’t just disappear the way many of our jobs, or prospects for business, have. Bills and taxes wait for no one.
Fear of loss is a big motivator, isn’t it?
So those of us who have something to sell have turned, by the millions, to social media, a (for the most part) free form of selling. Awesome, right?
Not so fast.
Technology: Think back to when you were a kid. What annoyed you most about watching your favorite TV show? Those darn commercials! Waiting through what seemed like hours to get to the good part surely tested the small amount of patience we’d only recently learned to have.
Fast forward: we’re all grownup and many of us see the Internet as a great way to find cool stuff without ever leaving our homes. For those of us who watched this tech boom, it’s been a revelation. Think about this: I graduated from high school in 1982. College in 1986. My Uni library had microfiche and catalogue cards – now extinct. In fact, my tween doesn’t even know what those words mean.
Coming a long way, baby – particularly with Apple products in our back pocket – has allowed us to become more entrepreneurial. Everyone has something to sell. And perhaps, someone is willing to buy.
Finding them isn’t as tricky as it used to be, what with social media, blogging, new advertising options using social media, and the millions of daily online sites available. And don’t forget Skynet Amazon.
My theory: The urgency to sell is what prevents you from successfully selling.
(Who am I to say this? You may know me as a bestselling author and social media consultant, but in my previous corporate life I spent fifteen years as an award-winning salesperson, sales trainer, and advertising account rep. On top of what I do now, I’m also a certified communications trainer.)
So…now what? We need to make money. We can’t just sit around and talk about chocolate on Twitter all day. (Okay, maybe Nutella but…)
Engagement. Pure and simple. I don’t mean in a unicorns and rainbows kind of way. I mean in establishing yourself as the real, authentic person you are who does not sell sell sell by constant self-promotion or spamming links* about your own products or service. *According to Twitter Spamming Rules, ‘If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates, you are spamming.’
Tell me. How’s that working out for ya?
Success Factors: Promoting others, providing interesting rich content, networking, connecting…all these activities are what we call ‘building your author platform,’ in publishing — but engagement goes beyond that. You’re creating a base or tribe of people who will go to the ends of the earth for you – and you for them.
Personalized recommendations are crucial. That’s why I make no blanket statements here. But a basic platform is necessary. Twitter, Facebook, a blog. Find what works for you and make it your Earth. The rest are just satellites.
I talk daily with people I’ve met on Twitter. It has become my main source of networking and friendship for my author account @RachelintheOC, my business account @BadRedheadMedia, and my latest venture, affordable advertising for indie authors, @IndieBookPromos (I hope you follow at least one, if only to observe what I’m discussing here today.)
Are my successes because I constantly spammed my links in every tweet? No. Am I the greatest marketer who ever lived? Far from it. But, I have learned to curate, nurture and grow my core group. (For specific info on how to sell your book without constantly spamming links, see my previous article about just that.)
(The Taleist Survey, May 2012).
Based on what I see coming through on Twitter every day, this does not shock me.
Selling is all about relationships. When I worked as a sales rep, I won awards and stuff through methods that mostly displeased my managers. Many times, I just went in to visit with my docs, learning about their background, families, and hobbies. I avoided the marketing strategies my company’s talking heads had spent millions on.
Why? Doctors hated the company line. How many times a day do you think a rep asked them, “Will you write my drug?” vs. ‘How’s your wife’s back feeling since her surgery?’ while I handed him my favorite summer read to give her.
They were bombarded. I had to stand out.
Sure, I felt more like a caterer more days than not, but establishing myself as ‘Rachel The Person With A Name,’ as opposed to ‘just another drug rep,’ was important to me. Did some of my docs write my drugs because they liked me? Maybe. But I also provided interesting, rich content to them. I related to them on a personal level. They then decided to ‘buy’ on their own.
People make decisions to buy based on their own decision motivators. How will spamming ever uncover their motivators to buy your books, product or service?
There are clear parallels between what I did as a sales rep and trainer, and what I do now as an author selling books. As a consultant helping authors, my goal is to help authors (and other businesspeople) learn to engage, not simply focus on their own selling goals.
Back to engagement. If you take nothing else away from this article, take this:
Final thought: Field of Dreams. Great flick. ‘If you build it, they will come,’ is an oft-repeated phrase from that movie, to the point of becoming a cliché. On the surface, it can be. But as you know, ‘building it’ created life-altering changes.
Do me a favor: I want you to write that phrase out. Go ahead. Grab some paper and a pen. Fold it up in your hand, consider your ‘building,’ and put it in your back pocket for me. Anytime you start to feel that sense of urgency engulf you, take it out and look at it.
Remember…you have to build it first.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.