We’ve been talking about using social media groups as a marketing tool — a marvellous one, unavailable to earlier generations — to gather an audience who are broadly interested in the types of story that you write. By accumulating an audience and making such groups interesting, while occasionally dropping in a comment or two about your own book, members of the group, who are already ‘warm prospects’ for your book, are guided in a non-selling sort of way towards purchasing it. It’s by far the most effective method of creating a following, and while it involves a bit of work, can be much more satisfying than any other form of marketing. It's certainly more effective.
Now I would like to take this a stage further, or deeper, by examining the make-up of your potential reader. And again, this is best examined by looking at yourself as a reader.
Customers — including you and me — are made up of seven broad strata, ranging from a total 'superfan' element through to a kind of ‘anti-customer’. These things are built into all of us, and when we are confronted by a product these strata come into play in some form. It’s a marketer’s job to be aware of these strata and to master their management, so that products can be sold. You may or may not recognise these factors immediately, but I think you’ll gradually come to understand them. We’ll look at them as though they were separate people at first, to make it clear.
1. The Superfan
This person doesn’t require marketing or any kind of sales approach. They will purposefully seek you and your products out. This is the person who, without you having to do anything at all, is searching for your books on Google right now. You don’t need to do anything other than let them get on with it — and make sure that they are supplied with enough of what they seek.
2. The Fan
This person also doesn’t require much intervention on your part, but isn’t necessarily actively pursuing your work. They love your writing, they follow you on social media — but they occasionally need reminding about new products coming out, or they may need ‘nudging’ with a slightly special deal of some kind in order to make a new purchase.
3. The Emerging Fan
This person may have read some of your material, or had it recommended to them in some way, but may still be in the process of deciding whether or not they really like it. This is usually the stage a customer is at immediately after they acquire a product — obviously the marketing worked, the purchase occurred, but they have yet to determine if the product matches their needs. If you’re using the social media group strategy mentioned earlier, this person will probably be an active part of your group.
4. The Potential Fan
Now we get to the traffic that is largely flowing past your work. In a social media environment, this person may be a member of your group but not a particularly participative one. They are broadly attracted to what you are offering, but have not yet been ‘sold’ on it. They may drift off; or you may be able to hook them further in.
5. The Occasional Visitor
Here’s the person who flits in and out, maybe visiting your group or page or website without interacting with it much. They may express some interest in your offerings but it is fleeting.
6. The Non-player
On the outskirts of your social group, not very interested even broadly in what you have to offer, is this type of person — they may even resent some aspects of your work.
7. The ‘Anti-customer’
This isn’t necessarily a nasty person, though it can be — this is just someone who has zero interest in your work, will not approach it, and probably has no need of it. There’s no point wasting time on this individual, you won’t get anywhere. By definition, they are not going to go for what you are offering and may even kick against it if they come across it.
Imagining these types as distinct individuals is probably easier than the next step — because aspects of each of these strata are in our own heads as human beings.
You are the best example to use to describe what I mean. When you are awake and aware and alive to the possibilities of the world, all seven of these aspects are potentially present, in relation to things in your environment.
Take a look around you right now: in your space, no matter where you are, there will be a range of things towards which you have different attitudes. Some parts of your environment may elicit a ‘superfan’ response; you may be very fond of some, while you may not be sure about others. Certain parts of your surroundings may only be mildly interesting to you, and others you might even partially blank out — and there will be aspects of your situation which you don’t like at all and perhaps even push against.
Actually look around, just your physical surroundings: what is hugely attractive? What is merely mildly intriguing? What parts of your space are easy to ignore? Is there anything there which you don’t regard highly and would rather have removed?
Marketing is the process of managing these aspects of perception.
Here’s what each aspect needs from you as a marketer of your work:
1. The Superfan Aspect
Make sure that there is enough material there to satisfy the super-appetite and that no barriers exist to acquiring it.
2. The Fan Aspect
‘Nudge’ this aspect with regular reminders and offers.
3. The Emerging Fan Aspect
Encourage this aspect to actually engage with the product. This can be done with games, competitions, deadlines — anything that entices the person to use the product, or, in your case, read the book.
4. The Potential Fan Aspect
This is where covers, blurbs and overt marketing material come into play. But there’s no point disseminating covers, blurbs and other marketing material broadly to strangers — you want to focus on your carefully gathered social media group where you have some hope of capturing more attention.
5. The Occasional Visitor Aspect
You need something bright or broad here: bright, so that someone ‘walking by your shop’ has a little attention pulled in, or broad in that this occasional visitor is drawn into the vicinity of what you have to offer because of other, similar interests. Using an earlier example: a person might be attracted into a social media group by their fascination for the wider science fantasy genre. But having gotten them this far you now have a chance to present specific material relating to your book.
6. The Non-player Aspect
All of us have this characteristic in us, even when we are largely convinced about a product that is being presented to us. This is where we store our reservations, our reticence, our last minute baulking.
7. The ‘Anti-customer’ Aspect
And we all have this attribute too. There are things that we will never buy, and even rail against.
How does this work in practical terms?
Imagine that you have walked into a bookshop and are browsing the shelves. There are some books, no doubt, that you would spend money you didn’t really have in order to acquire — this is your Superfan Aspect at work. Other items on the shelves greatly attract you, and you would buy them if their price was right, perhaps — you’re a Fan; while there are some books you can see which you are determined to investigate further at some future date —Emerging Fan. As you browse, you come across items which are of mild interest — it is entirely dependent upon their covers and blurbs to latch onto that slight attention you’ve given them (the Potential Fan Aspect) — while others you skim past, perhaps picking them up and glancing at them, but no more (Occasional Visitor). And inevitably there will be some sections of the bookshop which you walk past without a glance because you are a Non-player in relation to them. At the other extreme to Superfan, some books in this imaginary shop are rejected and perhaps even reviled by you, the Anti-customer.
Any product elicits this range of responses in any human individual.
Here’s the crux:
Your book elicits this range of response in any potential reader.
Your job as a marketer is to understand this range and make the most of it.
More soon. And if you can’t wait, there’s more on this in my book The Seven Levels of Attention.