by Erin Mitchell
Confession: I’ve always had a problem with “creative” marketing because too often, it sounds great when talking with like-minded folks, but ultimately, it doesn’t cause any sales. Which makes it marketing for marketing’s sake. Which is a waste of time, energy, and money.
I thought, therefore, that it might make sense to hand out some awards, five to be exact, to marketing tactics I’ve seen and/or participated in recently that are creative and smart.
So without further ado…drum-roll please…here are the winners:
Best Use of a Pet in Brand Building
Alafair Burke created the Duffer Awards last year in the run up to the release of LONG GONE. They were so successful that she did them again this year before the release of NEVER TELL. The Duffer Awards are brilliant because:
- They’re named after Alafair’s beloved French bulldog. The Duffer passed on to doggie heaven a few months back, and is remembered fondly by her readers because she shared him with us all. And people love pet stuff.
- They’re interactive, with each day’s matchup voted by readers.
- They involve other authors, some of whom embrace the competition to its fullest, and bring their readers along with them.
Best Means of Creating New Readers
Lisa Unger’s new book, HEARTBROKEN, comes out next Tuesday, June 26. Lisa is successful enough that she could sit on her tush in air conditioning all day watching the sales roll in, but no. She’ll be out meeting readers on the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, where she will give away hundreds of copies of her previous books. Lisa’s trolley ride is brilliant because:
- People on the Jolley Trolley tend to be on vacation, and everyone on vacation needs a great thriller to read.
- By giving away copies of her previous books, she introduces new readers to her stories—and her brand—which will drive sales of HEARTBROKEN.
- The Jolley Trolley appearance creates a perfect photo/video opportunity, so it has legs (especially online) beyond just the day itself.
Best Way to Get a Book Read by Reviewers and Influencers
Make no mistake: reviewers of every stripe get a ton of books to read. More than they could possibly hope to get through. So asking someone to pull a book out of the TBR stack and read it is a big ask. This week, I did just this on behalf of author Sara Blaedel’s new book ONLY ONE LIFE. Because ONLY ONE LIFE is set in Denmark, though, the letter asking for the read was accompanied by tea from A.C. Perchs, which happens to be Sara’s—and her protagonist, Louise Rick’s—favorite. Sending out hundreds of tea bags was brilliant because:
- In trying to make a book stand out, it’s something different. How many other tea mailings will these folks receive this year? None, I’ll bet.
- It makes sense. Reading and drinking a nice relaxing mug of tea go together well.
- It reinforces the brand, because Perchs isn’t available in your local Thrifty Nickel market over here.
Best Call to Action
When Crimespree magazine wants to encourage people to renew or subscribe, it calls in the big guns. Or, in this case, the Death Star. In addition to a giveaway of books, if they get 30 subscriptions/renewals by Monday night, Editor in Chief and Publisher Jon Jordan (aka Crimespree Jon) will get for the love of his life, Ruth (Mrs. Crimespree), her “Lego dream” Death Star. This is brilliant for so very many reasons, but the top three:
- It’s personal. With Crimespree, you’re not subscribing to some faceless corporate magazine. It’s the people behind the magazine, Jon and Ruth specifically, who make it a joy to read. And this incentive underscores exactly that.
- It begs to be shared. I saw this and immediately renewed. Then proceeded to tell everyone I’d done so. Because I want to be part of Ruth getting her Death Star, dammit!
- It’s asking people to do something they want to do anyhow. Not like they’re asking you to donate your kid’s left ear or anything.
Best Use of Reverse Psychology
Last year, I was happy to do what I could—which was just spreading the word, really—to help save the library in Troy, Michigan. On the ground in Troy, though, they did much more…and they won. Here’s the story:
This was a brilliant campaign because:
- It forced people to get off their butts and put their votes where their mouths are.
- It encouraged people to think about something in a new way. I’m guessing this is probably one of the only times a group of Americans has votes to increase taxes.
- It’s clever as all hell.
So there you have it. Smart creativity in action. If I’ve missed one—and I’m sure I have—would love to hear about it!