The four Principles of Organic Farming are:
Organic farming should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plants, animals and humans as one and indivisible.
Organic farming should be based on the living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to common environment and life processes.
Organic farming should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations and the environment.
Wait a minute! Why am I talking about organic farming?
Because, if you’ve been following this series of articles, you will have discerned the close parallels between it and organic marketing, which is the pathway to success and viability for you as an author.
The four Principles of Organic Marketing are (paraphrased from the above):
Organic marketing should sustain and enhance the health of social media topics, groups, members and communications as one and indivisible.
Organic marketing should be based on the intercommunicating ecology of social media systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
Organic marketing should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to communication.
Organic marketing should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well being of current and future members.
What does this mean in practice?
Over this series, we’ve played with the idea of running one or a handful of social media groups, built around topics of great interest to you and relating to your fiction, and from them generating potential customers for your books. We drew parallels between the cultivation of healthy social media groups full of ‘warm prospects’ for your work, and the changes that occurred in human society 12,000 years ago which led to all kinds of things, including art, inventions and civilisation itself.
We’re not looking just at ‘changing the way you market your books’ — we’re looking at a total change of lifestyle built around your writing. The big plus is that you get to focus entirely on your writing and associated material that you love, and you acquire emerging fans and super-fans over a period of time.
Not a single ad, not a single spamming post, not a single attempt to ‘sell’ anyone anything.
To do this correctly, though, the above principles need to be applied:
When running your group or groups, you need to keep feeding them with appropriate material, on topic and relevant so that they stick around and engage with the group.
When I say ‘the intercommunicating ecology of social media systems and cycles’, I mean that you need to be sensitive to the culture of the groups you create — in practical terms, this means being very careful about introducing your own work and trying to sell it madly to members. By engaging with your groups yourself, mentoring and participating in the conversations, and pacing your expectations, you will find yourself working with the group’s members, growing to like them and helping to sustain their interests. This will lead naturally — organically — to sales of your book or books.
What you’re building is a set of relationships which deal in fairness and a high, positive level of communication. Whereas conventional marketing asks you to simply hunt down and take money from strangers, organic marketing asks you to involve yourself and glean understanding from a group of people who will become over time known to and admired by you, as you will by them.
As you manage your social media interaction with them in a precautionary and responsible manner, protecting their ‘health and well being’ in terms of keeping them interested and free from any upsetting exchanges, you are cultivating an audience of fans.
This principle of health of individuals and social media communities cannot be separated from the health of the ‘topic ecosystem’. For example, if you have a Space Fantasy group which avidly discusses its topic, and someone heavily insults and disparages Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the key exponents of the space fantasy genre, leading to argumentative threads between members, you might need to step in as an admin and calm things down. It will be up to you to set the tone of a group — healthy debate about relevant topics produces healthy thoughts and interactions which in turn fosters the health of interest in your work. Members stick around, recommend your group to their friends, take a look at your own books, and everyone wins.
Health is the wholeness and integrity of any living system — not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. When you step out of conventional marketing with its primitive hunting techniques, and become an organic marketer running your own ‘farms’ of interested public, you want safe, upbeat and engaged interaction that stays on topic and remains polite — this builds interest, immunity, resilience and regeneration which in turn lead to sales.
The role of organic marketing, whether in acquiring new members, interacting with them, spreading the word, or getting sales, is to sustain and enhance the health of groups and their members from the Occasional Visitor to the Superfan. In particular, organic marketing is intended to produce high quality hot prospects that contribute to further sales of your work.