- Don’t lock yourself into one marketing message
- Broad messages make for bigger audiences
- Have a variety of angles for year-round marketing
Imagine if the publicists for The Descendants, the George Clooney movie up for five Academy Awards, had decided to market it as a film about Hawaii.
Sure, I might have gone to see it. It is set in Hawaii and I’m a sucker for those sun-soaked surfs and volcano vistas. And, I’ll admit, George Clooney.
But I made The Descendants a date night with my husband because it was marketed as a movie about family relationships in a time of crisis. The glimmers of tension, conflict and humor in the trailers reeled me right in. (By the way, it’s a great contender for Best Picture!) Hawaii was part of the story, but by no means the whole story, and not even the most compelling aspect.
I bring up this point because many authors and entrepreneurs come to us with their minds set on a narrow marketing angle – like Hawaii for The Descendants. They’re sure that should be the focus of their campaign because it’s the biggest audience for their book. All too often, they sell themselves, and their book or product, short.
Marketing is about gaining exposure to as many people as possible, and to do that, you’ve got to have a variety of angles in your message that will have broad appeal.
We had a client who’d written a provocative novel about young brothers confronting coming-of-age challenges in a small Oklahoma community. Geography featured prominently, partly because there were lots of killer tornadoes. The author wanted us to concentrate his campaign on Oklahoma and other states in Tornado Alley.
When I looked at his book, I found themes and topics that would resonate almost anywhere in the world: man versus nature, the insecurities of adolescence, sibling rivalry and heroism. The author had researched some of these topics in order to write about them more believably. He was well equipped to discuss his opinions about all the issues raised in his story.
Some business experts write books aimed at a particular demographic: recent college graduates in search of jobs, professionals laid off in middle age, people getting ready to retire. Their advice is insightful, helpful – and usually of value to a far wider audience.
I remember a particularly exciting campaign for an expert with just such a book. She had great ideas for a hard-hit demographic of middle-aged business professionals laid off during the current recession and couldn’t visualize any but that group as her audience. We saw that young people just starting their careers could also benefit from her wisdom. We broadened her message to include people of all age groups and the media snapped it up. She was quoted on monster.com, in The Boston Herald and appeared on CNN, among other media outlets.
Finally, when there’s nothing else to use as a news peg, there’s the old seasonal spin. TV, newspapers, radio and even social media love a holiday hook. This week it’s Valentine’s Day; next week it’s President’s Day; next month it’s St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, which even we here in Florida are looking forward to after a weekend of Arctic blasts.
But pegging your book or product only to a single holiday, even if it’s a perfect fit, is short-sighted. Sure, send out a pitch just before Mother’s Day touting your book about your mom’s amazing life, or products that would make a great gift for Mom. You’re nuts if you don’t! But what are you sending out today? What are you talking about on your social media sites? What are some of the themes in your book that can be used to power campaigns all year long?
Cultivating a variety of messages with broad appeal is the key to reaching your maximum potential audience. Of course, that doesn’t mean neglecting the obvious.
I appreciated the lush Hawaiian scenery in The Descendants and it occurred to me the movie would have theaters there sold out for weeks. That translates to some decent box office – but not the $65 million the film’s raked in.