'Oh no! Not Marketing again! Do I have to?' Part Four: The Undiscovered Country

We’re looking at marketing as nothing more (and nothing less) than communication.

The basic idea is that, when you write a story, you’re creating a communication, and that that communication isn’t really complete until it reaches the minds (and hearts) of readers. Part of being effective, then, is to write a very good story — one that utilises all the methods of the master authors to attract, glue and guide readers, one that leaves readers with a powerful emotional and perhaps even an intellectual impact. And part of it is making sure that that story makes it across space and into the hands of its public, so that it can be read and appreciated. The first part is to do with the craft of writing; the second is the craft of marketing.

Broadly speaking, this all divides into the following six steps, outlined last time:

1. Having enough space and secure confidence as a writer to know what it is that you want to say.

2. Saying it to the right people.

3. Persisting in saying it to the right people despite distractions, disappointments and delays.

4. Acknowledging feedback.

5. Continuing to communicate until your desired results are obtained.

6. Understanding your marketplace enough to know when to adapt and when to simply persist.

Having enough space and secure confidence as a writer to know what it is that you want to say is a combination of putting together an author platform and having a good understanding of your own themes, messages and motifs; saying it to the right people is a case of isolating your own audience in the mass of the public at large.

But let’s say you’ve done the first two things: you know what you want to say, how you’re going to say it well, and you’ve selected the right audience to whom to say it. You start communicating to that audience — and still nothing happens. What’s going on?

To understand this — which is an issue faced at some point by almost every author who is striving to be successful — we have to remember that marketing is communication.

Communication between human beings is not the same as communication between computers: pressing a button and sending an email is not the same as having that email read, understood and responded to. Human beings are not machines; your audience is not a push-button entity. Your readers are live, vibrant, functioning and engaged people, with lives of their own and minds of their own.

One of the problems with modern ‘marketing’ is that it tries to treat customers as robots. You will have experienced this many times yourself, as a customer — every time you see an ad or marketing message of some kind, the expectation is that it will ‘push your buttons’ and elicit a response. The world — especially the cyber world— is jam-packed with these stimulus-response expectations: ‘We send out an ad, it gets so-and-so feedback’. The whole business of search engine optimisation is based on this; the bulk of the effort of modern marketers is to reduce the customer to