Seth Godin has been a “companion” for the last 10 years, and his short, pithy, and often surprising blog posts have taught me plenty about marketing and, even more important, how to think about the connection between marketers and their audience.
Although I’m only partway through the book, I can already see that like his previous bestsellers, Godin is—once again—re-orienting our approach to marketing in the online world, bringing us right up to date with what’s working today.
It takes incisive thinking to be able state complex ideas in a short, simple way that anyone can understand, and that’s long been one of Godin’s appeals.
Near the beginning of the book, the author sets out what he calls “Marketing in five steps.”
This short list presents such a valuable conceptual overview of the marketing process, I thought it would be worthwhile to elaborate on his ideas and see how they apply to indie authors trying to market their books.
Marketing in Five Steps for Indie Authors
In the following list, I’ve used Seth Godin’s text, then added commentary to each item:
- The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
- A book “worth making” is one that makes a unique contribution to your readers, one that delivers on what it offers. Godin mentions a “story” connected to your product (book, in this case) and this is critical to marketing. People respond to stories. Why did you write the book? How did it come about? What obstacles did you face? They all go into your story.
- The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
- It’s important to know who you are writing for, the part of the population that will be thrilled about your book. If you make those people very satisfied, the rest of your marketing will be suffused with authenticity. Your book will be grounded in the wants and needs of this audience.
- The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
- In marketing we often say we want to get into the conversation already taking place in a prospective readers’ mind. Story is what resonates, what connects us to the archetypal storylines running throughout human history. Knowing your own story, and the story behind your book, gives you the ideal insight into how to market it.
- The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
- After you’ve walked the first three steps, have your message and understanding of your market honed, then you can reach out through social media, launch planning, interviews, and all the other ways we bring attention to our books.
- The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. To earn permission to follow up ad to earn enrollment to teach.
- Anyone who has run a popular blog, a long-lived podcast, a regular newsletter, or any other form of published content will tell you that only over time can you build a true and lasting relationship with your readers. Over time you deepen your relationship to your craft, and to the goals you share with your community. The ongoing conversation you have with people is a demonstration of your own commitment to your values and your willingness to be a leader.
Seth Godin always stresses the importance of being of service to your chosen community, being animated by a desire to serve.
Whether you plan to use lots of videos, Facebook Live broadcasts, interviews, written articles, paid ads, or any other form of marketing in support of your book sales, understanding these five steps will give you a firm grounding in the real connection you have with readers.
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”—Seth Godin
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