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The World of Marketing 4: Cold Marketing

A writer recently asked me this question as part of my coaching programme:

I sent a promotion to a cold list offering a free e-copy of my latest book. I had half a dozen or so people click the link to check out the book but nobody went ahead and actually bought it. What did I do wrong?

The solution is pretty straightforward. But keep in mind that there are four types of prospect for your book(s), which we’ll cover in a moment.

If I’m talking to a cold list, an offer like ‘Get my free book’ sounds good to me — but for the person at the other end of the line, it feels risky and burdensome. In fact, whether or not somebody downloads your book comes down to two things: the amount of burden they perceive versus the amount of reward they think they’ll receive.

How do I know that?

Because I see hundreds of such offers myself: ‘Download my book!’; ‘Get my free novella!’; ‘Get your copy today!’ They all sound like they are shouting at me. And I don’t have the time or inclination to follow through.

Probably neither do you. Think about your book for a moment: you think that, once people read it, they’ll fall in love with the characters; you think they’ll be hooked by the exciting plot; you think that they might even get some insight into the human condition, perhaps, or at least come away moved or entertained. You hope that, at the end of the book, they will feel like buying books from you. You think it’s going to be really valuable for them, right?

You see positives.

What do they see?

They see someone saying, ‘Come and spend some hours of your valuable time, and at the end of the book possibly be lulled into buying something.’ They see burden and risk.


Why is that?

Because they are cold. Getting your book is something they are not yet ready for.

For someone who has never met you before, who knows nothing about your writing, any offer that says ‘Download this book’ as the very first point of contact is a marketing mistake. But eager writers make that mistake all the time. Thousands of eager writers, flooding the internet with such demands.

There are two ways of dealing with this:

1. The very first offer we make for a cold list has got to be zero risk, all reward. This is for people who know nothing, people who have only casually come across your website or page.

2. Don’t market only to cold lists.

The most perfect offer you make on your website or to brand new, cold prospects is short, free, eye-catching information about you or the type of thing you write. Give them snippets; give them character studies; give them quotes, background, insights, images, testimonies from other readers. Don’t expect cold prospects to have more than fifteen seconds to spend, if that.

Think about what most people really want when they’re looking for the kinds of stories that you write in the first place. Give them that, but with something that stands out and catches their attention. What kind of things stand out and catch attention? You’ll need to understand the technology behind How Stories Really Work and Become a Professional Author to know exactly what to use.

You want things that suggest high-reward, low burden, low-risk, to get them ready to take the next step with you.

Should you ever offer more than that for free?


To ‘warm' and ‘hot’ prospects.

On your website, you should have a ‘Get Your Free Book’ button, for those people who are warmed up to you. Don’t expect cold people to click on it. But have it there for the ones who have heated up sufficiently to reach for it.

There are four types of public for any author: rave fans who will buy anything that writer writes; new readers, who are liking what they read; warm or hot prospects who are somewhat attracted to that writer’s work; and cold public who are likely to drift on by. You need a curve of marketing approaches: the first group are willing to take the risks, they know what they’re getting; the fourth group are unwilling to take any risks, they don’t know you.

Shape your marketing accordingly.

For a marketing consultancy, contact me.


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