By Judith Briles
In looking back over my multi-decade publishing and speaking career, here’s where 95% of my book sales came from: speaking. How did I get speaking gigs? By:
- being good
- hanging out
- getting referrals
- using postcards
Yep, I sent out postcards—sometimes 50 a day. Postcards that I created and printed that were all about my books.
Isn’t snail mail old-fashioned? Nope, not in my marketing book. In 2000, there were over 103,526 million pieces of first class mail delivered. In 2016, it had dropped to 61,219 pieces. There’s less snail mail to compete with. Plus, it’s speedy—there’s no envelope to open. Wait-wait, there’s more. It’s cheaper than regular first class mail.
Health care was where I worked as a speaker for 20 plus years. Rotating postcards for my books:
- Zapping Conflict in the Health Care Workplace
- Stabotage-How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions and Slugs in the Health Care Workplace
- The Confidence Factor
- Money Smarts for Turbulent Times
that health care professionals bought at gigs was part of my marketing routine.
On the back of each postcard, was a reference to the Keynote or Workshop that went with the book’s theme. As an author of multiple books, I had the advantage of mailing out a different postcard each week for a month; then I started over. Each time a postcard cycled, I added a different note on each of the four.
What if you don’t have several book covers to rotate from? No big deal. How about creating:
- a word cloud with your keywords
- a cool picture of you
- an image that connects with your past
- an image that ties into your expertise
- even alternate book covers?
You have options—you don’t need to stick with a single concept.
Was my technique effective?
Yes, indeed! In one call, the secretary to one of my recipients answered the phone. She said, “My boss has had your postcard on her desk for three months.”
Wow, I thought and then said, “Is she available for a few minutes so I can say hello?”
The call was put through … in ten minutes, the gig was secured.
Postcards worked for me. I was consistent in how I sent them out.
My marketing postcard strategy would be:
- First, call on the phone. I kept it very short if I got the person live versus voice mail. If I had already met her, I would remind her where it was and at what event and added that she had wanted me to call her. If she had asked me to hold a date, I would mention it.
If I hadn’t met the person, I would thank her for taking my call and identify who I was and my expertise. Hello, Susan, this is Dr. Judith Briles …
I would ask if there was any conflict within her department or hospital. I would ask if increasing productivity and reducing turnover were important. And then I would see where our conversation would go.
- I offered to send additional information and/or guide her to my website and refer to a particular feature on it that I thought would be of interest.
- I thanked her again; asked when I should follow-up and say goodbye.
- After I hung up, a postcard would be sent and I would schedule another call in my management system at a time recommended or in 7 to 10 days.
- I would also send an email after the call was completed with a “tidbit” in the message that I thought might be useful—something about the industry; a news item that could have an impact; maybe something that just is pleasant or meaningful. Again, keeping it short.
- When my follow up date came, I would make the scheduled call and attempt to reconnect.
- Whether a live call connected or not, the process was completed. Another postcard would be mailed.
- Sometimes, the gig was booked quickly. Other times, more follow-up was needed.
- Until I got a “yes” or “no”, I would then repeat.
If I got the dreaded voice mail (and I did 80% of the time), I would immediately start addressing the postcard. A short message would be left. Hanging up, a one-line note added to the card with a stamp … a follow up date ping added to my management system and the next call was made.
This worked successfully for me. Call, postcard, email, call, postcard …
Since the late ’80s, I’ve tracked my speaking and book sale revenues. Using rounded numbers, in excess of $3,000,000 in speaking fees and $2,000,000 in book sales have been created. My all-time single record was a keynote with 700 in attendance that resulted in 566 books being sold within a five-hour period one afternoon that netted $16,480. All seeded from a postcard.
Because I was on the road so much (150 days away from home), I had to create a method that was efficient and fast—when in the office, I could find one to two hours a day to do my marketing.
Below is a sample of what I currently send out for writing and publishing conferences. Note that there are endorsements, speaking topics, and a full bio of who I am and what I do. Now I have postcards for all my publishing related books:
- AuthorYOU: Creating and Creating Author and Book Platforms
- How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos
- The CrowdFunding Guide for Authors & Writers
- Snappy Sassy Salty-Wise Words for Authors & Writers
and of course, the new baby that births this month:
- How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech
The front and back of one of my postcards for speaking at writing and publishing conferences looks like this:
What works for you will depend on your personality and methodology. My advice: Never underestimate the power of snail mail and the postcard. I don’t do bookmarks—I do postcards—a fine book mark on its own.
If you would like a copy of my current cards that I use for marketing, I would be happy to email a pdf of what they look like—front and back. Put in the subject line of an email “postcards” and I will send them to you.