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A Marketing Handbook for Writers: Part Thirteen - The Affinity Game


Marketing based on shouting is operating on the principle that success is based on the number of people who hear you.

It’s also based on the idea that, if you shout loudly enough, people will stop what they are doing and ‘obey’ you.

You can probably see how this could be called ‘force marketing’: the concept that, given enough energy and volume, a message can overwhelm the listener and compel him or her to do as the message suggests - a kind of mass hypnosis, in other words. The fact that a few people do seem to be ‘overwhelmed’ and go and buy a product after being shouted at seems to convince marketers that this strategy works, and encourages them to continue. Some reports say that ‘spam’ accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day, which is about 45% of all emails, although some research companies estimate that spam email makes up 73% of global emails.

But it’s probably true that you can only be hypnotised if you are willing to be. In other words, there must have been some kind of incompleteness within you that welcomed the hypnotist’s message in the first place for anything to affect you in that way.

There is another way to market - the only way that really works.

In marketing, what you’re really looking for is the same thing that you were looking for when you were writing your book: a person or group of people who would relish reading your story and get a buzz from it. These people divide into the categories mentioned earlier: the ones who have a very prominent need for your story, the ones who have a not-quite-so-prominent but nevertheless potential need for your story, and the ones who have little or no awareness of their need.

To understand what is going on here and how to get in touch with the first two categories of people, it might be helpful to take a step back.

In the course of most of our lives, our groups of associates are formed without our permission: we end up in a family without any power of choice, then we end up in school group according to the random selection of people attending that school at that time, and then we end up in a workplace surrounded by colleagues over whom we have very little power of choice. We get used to the idea that meeting someone with whom we are going to share a markedly high degree of affinity, and with whom we have a lot in common, is a rare thing. Such individuals appear only occasionally, as if by magic: perhaps they are a family member, by luck, or a classmate, by chance, or a workmate, by some miracle. More often than not, such people appear from outside all of those circles. We have to go looking for them at parties or through dating agencies or clubs. When we find them, it’s special: communication is easy, and we become mutual ‘fans’ without much effort, whether the relationship is based on affection, friendship, romance or altruism.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find this kind of person more easily and form a group of them in our lives, rather than the sometimes awkward and occasionally destructive associates with whom Life places us?

Marketing is all about finding that group.

How do you do that?

Well, it’s probably a good idea to stop wasting energy shouting at the world at large. Even if these people are in your vicinity, they will have a lot of other ‘noise’ going on and probably won’t hear you anyway.

You could do worse than start with the same kind of thing we have been talking about for a while now: concentrated incompleteness.

If you want to attract the kind of person who appreciates you and your writings, the first thing to do is to be genuine and vulnerable. You have to emit the right ‘signal’, and in this case the right signal is being You. Just as when you were writing your story it helped to find a ‘voice’ within the narrative that was your own, in marketing you need to find a voice. Voice is the element that makes you sound like a person. Your ‘author’s voice’ should be natural and conversational, individual, distinct.

Some authors and marketers can handle multiple tones of voice, switching between formal and informal, and adjusting to meet various kinds of audiences. To begin with, you just need to be authentically You.

What does this ‘authenticity’ consist of?

Concentrated incompleteness.

You don’t want to shy away from revealing the personal, the flawed, and the imperfect sides of yourself as a person. This doesn’t mean that you must project incompetence or total failure - it means that you should be presenting yourself as a real person with a real life. The gaps, holes, inadequacies and small failings that you have in your day-to-day existence actually attract other people, especially those who share similar gaps, holes, inadequacies and small failings.

If you develop a persona based on perfection, you will more and more be seen as a machine and you will gain less and less affinity from those who receive your message. You will smack of inauthenticity; you will come across as unreal and shallow; it will seem to your audience as though you are hiding something. I'm sure you can think of some people like that. Sometimes they become politicians.

Because, let’s face it, you would be hiding something. No one is perfect. Everyone is human. And human beings are attracted to other human beings naturally.

This can be developed so that you will gradually draw nearer to those people with whom you will have a high affinity.

Stay tuned for more…

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