Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail? How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success?
Participants will share strategies they’ve used to promote books, businesses, blogs, music, events, all sorts of things, and talk about what worked and what didn’t. It’s meant to serve as a resource for others’ future endeavours, so we know what to avoid and what might work.
Back in the days of aohell, when I was 18, I started a message board on the political boards of the ACLU section. I try to avoid discussing politics here, to avoid alienating readers who might swing differently, but let’s just say that this board was to discuss a very left-wing political party. In my late teens and very early twenties, I was a lot further Left than I am now, and made the mistake of joining this party as soon as I was legal. I regretted it very quickly and registered Democrat instead when I actually registered to vote in September 1998.
So, full of youthful idealism and naïveté, I searched aohell profiles for keywords, and sent out several friendly mass mailings asking, politely, for these people to come over and check out the board. Some of them were very interested and became regular contributing members of the board, but others took it personally, and kept hitting “reply all” while telling me they didn’t share those political views and wanted off what they thought was a mailing list. I wasn’t the one who hit “reply all” and thus prolonged these messages! One guy kept whining about why was this happening to him when he had back pain and was finishing a book, and how dare I defend myself and reply back to him, like I were doing this on purpose to annoy him.
Lesson learnt: Whatever you’re promoting, unsolicited mass mailings rarely ever work. Even if you think a person has common interests, you can’t assume they’ll like your book, group, or business when you don’t know that person beyond seeing a keyword in a profile or an isolated blog post. At least my excuse was that I was only 18 and didn’t understand netiquette very well.
I actually made a really good contact from that mess, David McReynolds, who was very friendly and understanding. David ran for president with the SPUSA several times, including in 2000. (The group I naïvely joined is further Left than the SPUSA.) I met him when he came to my campus, though I was too nervous to tell him, when I asked a question, that we’d interacted online many times. He told me about an active mailing list called RedYouth, and I really enjoyed and benefitted from that group. David even came to my defence when some people, one guy in particular, later attacked me for identifying as a Zionist and defending Israel’s right to exist and defend itself against terrorists.
Lesson learnt: You may be surprised at the unlikely friends and contacts you find from a failed marketing experience, or while in process of promoting something.
One of my proudest achievements is being one of the charter members of the Student Alliance for Israel at UMass-Amherst in 2002, now the Five College Alliance. I helped to write our constitution, secured local sponsorships for events, brought six well-known speakers to campus, promoted events through flyering, lots of awesome stuff. That group was our gift to the younger students, since most of us were graduating.
That time around, I didn’t just blindly staple up flyers every single place I went, or walk into every local business to ask for sponsorship and to display flyers for our big events, like a community-wide rally against the anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing graffiti appearing on at least three of the area campuses. I still have one of the posters I made for that rally, and got it framed.
Lesson learnt: Don’t be in-your-face when asking for sponsorships, blog promotion, book signings, cover reveals, etc. Focus on the people you know will probably agree to help, don’t make it all about yourself, and don’t make the other person feel forced into doing this.
(And yes, contrary to what you might think, being a Leftist does not automatically mean someone is anti-Israel!)