by Erin Mitchell
I’ve talked before about being a fan of gimmicks, when the gimmicks work. How do we know if it’s working? It raises awareness of a book and author. It makes people curious. It contributes to selling books.
Most gimmicks are, though, kinda meh. A little too predictable, and not necessarily social media-friendly.
Enter Robert Crais’s Green Fuzzy Balls.
In case you hadn’t heard, SUSPECT is the new book from Crais. It’s neither a Joe Pike nor an Elvis Cole tale, but instead a stand-alone. In it, Maggie, a German Shepherd, figures prominently. So some brilliant marketing mind made green tennis balls emblazoned with Maggie’s name as well as the author name and book title.
The balls tie to the book because if you’ve ever met a German Shepherd, you know that they’re fantastic fetch players. A tennis ball might only last 5 minutes, but boy do they love them. But the green fuzzy balls are brilliant for a much more important reason (sorry, doggies).
When they started arriving in readers’ mailboxes, I started seeing Tweets and Facebook posts that were all variations on, “I got Robert Crais’s balls!” How much fun is that? People obviously took much joy in posting it, along with pictures of the aforementioned balls. Just typing it repeatedly here is making me grin.
And the result? I’ve talked with several folks who haven’t read Crais before, but they’re going to pick up SUSPECT as a result of having their attention attracted by the his green fuzzy balls. While this is anecdotal, for an author who topped the NYT Bestseller List with his last book to be finding and connecting with new readers is significant in marketing-land.
This gimmick has also been well executed because not everyone got Robert Crais’s green fuzzy balls. I, for example, am not in possession of a pair. But I know about them. I’m writing about them. And the fact that they’re slightly rare only increases their cool factor.
As tchotchkes go, tennis balls aren’t the cheapest option. But I’ve always advocated for spending a bit more on something effective rather than less on something that has no impact.
If you'd like to be in with a shout to win a set of Robert Crais's green fuzzy balls and a signed copy of SUSPECT, click here.
Photo courtsey the super-awesome Pop Culture Nerd.