The Seven Functions of the Self-Published Author: Marketing

When I was working as a Management Consultant it was back in the days before the internet — you know, those prehistoric times when the only way that businesses could get hold of potential clients was through widespread advertising, bulk mailing or cold calling.

Any small business wanting to acquire more clients had only a few options. Back in those days, it was common practice to place a small ad in a local paper — which is partly what kept local papers afloat financially — or to design a leaflet and have it dropped into mailboxes in the local area. To contact a wider audience, one needed national press or a TV or radio campaign. If you happened to have a list of previous buyers, you could try going through the list on the phone, though this was much more expensive. All of these options were costly and tremendously wasteful. They were ‘shotgun marketing’ or ‘shouting from the rooftops marketing’ at its worst. Out of every ad placed, maybe less than 1% of newspaper readers would respond; similarly, leaflets and cold calling were hugely uneconomical.

What any enterprise was trying to do was the same thing that it tries to do today: contact likely buyers. But there was no way of establishing who they might be with the technology of the time.

It brings us back to the question asked earlier: what exactly is marketing?

In simple terms, marketing is communication.

You want to communicate about your product, but ideally in such a way that the person on the other end of your communication becomes interested, is enticed, and decides to come closer or look more deeply into what you have to offer. Theories developed in the middle of the 20th century about all this: how the prospect could effectively be ‘hypnotised’ in various ways by a product through the use of marketing techniques. Clearly, if you were selling an unhealthy product like a cola-flavoured soda loaded with questionable ingredients, you needed to be able to convince people outside the fields of logic and common sense that the product was worth buying. Hence the ‘mass marketing’ of the last few decades, which was basically an attempt to communicate on a vast scale to everyone who lived and breathed, in the hope of getting enough of a ‘trickle-through’ to sustain a business.

These ideas have rolled forward into the internet age. We are all spammed daily, even hourly, through the supposedly advanced channels of newsfeeds and smartphones and so forth, using complex algorithms.