Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inbound Marketing

Today, I celebrate my birthday. Should I say which one? I'm not so sure. Let's just say I'm young for being a grandmother and people tell me I look younger than my true age. My friends in my day job department are going to take me and my friend Connie out to lunch at Carlucci's (a cute little Italian restaurant) to celebrate our birthdays. Connie's birthday is tomorrow (which was my due date) and mine is Friday, the 21st. We're doing it today because our boss will be out of town at a conference the rest of the week. Again Friday, another group of friends at work is celebrating a group of November birthdays. Nancy and Sandra had birthdays on November 13th and mine which happens to be the day we're going to lunch, and Mimi is the only one who doesn't have a November birthday in the group. My hubby took me out to dinner on this weekend (as of me writing this, in advance as usual, we've not gone out yet so I'm not sure of the place yet). I think birthdays are too good to last only one day. They have to be spread out for at least a week and better yet, a month! Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, it's time for my real topic today: "Inbound Marketing". Yep, that's "inbound" as vs. "outbound". I've been doing a lot of inbound marketing without even knowing it. :) I found out tonight when I came upon an article and then followed link to link to learn more. In short, "inbound marketing" is helping people to find us who are already interested in our wares, in my case, my stories. This sounds very simplistic. More explicitly it involves a lot of social networking such as blogging and using social networks such as ning groups, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo... I'm a Twit and I have a MySpace page. I obviously blog and haven't missed a day posting to this blog in more than a few months. I'm a guest blogger on other blogs and a member of other blogs where I blog either once a week or once a month. In this economy, a lot of marketers are shifting their advertising/PR paradigms to heavy inbound marketing. Outbound marketing often doesn't work well, anyway. For instance, when I see advertisements in my email box, I just go down the line and hit "delete, delete, delete". I'm sure I'm not the only one. Another instance happens a lot at our day job. We have a telemarketing department so my company does a lot of outbound calls. I'm in customer service so I normally receive inbound calls. Occasionally, however, we have to call a donor to alert them of a problem we found. Too often, the donors hang up on us without giving us a chance to tell them the purpose of our call (to help them with a problem they don't even know they have). I'm trying to call someone now who hung up on me the first time and now won't answer. I'm sure she has caller ID. I'm about to give up and send her a letter which she'll probably throw away when she sees my company's name. Then in a awhile, maybe not even for a few months she'll realize she has a problem and be upset it's not resolved. Oh well... We tried to help so I won't feel sorry for her. I'm pretty sure it's because she's tired of being solicited to. She, like many other people (me included), are sick of outbound marketing. Whereas I agree that MySpace is a social phenomenon (although I can't tell it personally - at least not yet), I don't have the time to use it as effectively as marketing gurus advocate. The real marketing gurus probably hire staff whose day job is to hang out on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, etc. while I'm at my day job doing something totally different and will risk getting fired if I try it. So I have to wait till I get home and try to squeeze a little bit here and there between being a mom, wife, taxi, and writer. I learned that the rule of thumb is that if you have a lot of money to advertise or hire a PR firm to market your book, you don't have to spend a lot of time doing PR work and conversely, if you don't have the money to buy advertising and hire a PR firm, you should spend a lot of time doing your own PR. Presently, I fall into the second category, as I'm sure a lot of people do. Unfortunately, my time is limited, too, so I can't hang out on the loops all day like I see some authors. I can't use what little free time I have to chit chat it away even if I want to. But still, I (and others in my boat) have to find a way to socialize, to get involved and known in the writing and reading community. So what do I suggest? What do I do personally? Blog consistently. Build a community of friends and colleagues. Help other people by writing posts that are either informative or entertaining (better yet both simultaneously). Visit other blogs and become part of their communities. Guest blog when asked. Help others by inviting them to guest blog for you. Write short stories that you post around the web for free. Two of my publishers publish free short stories by their authors as gifts to readers. Four of my free short stories are currently available at Total-E-Bound for your reading pleasure as a thank you from me and a way to let you see if you enjoy my stories without putting out a dime. I also plan to write some for my new publisher (one is in the works and almost finished). Don't stop with your own publishers but submit stories to ezines and magazines. I also have a free short story published in Scarlett Magazine, a British magazine much like Cosmo only more risque. :) And I have other stories posted around the web and on one of my websites. Write articles. Whether you sell them or give them away for free, they're invaluable. Each one is a valuable PR vehicle. Better yet, they help other people and build good will. Make your own book trailers. I made the plunge and put 3 book trailers on You Tube. Each one took a few hours to make. The first took the longest but once I became familiar with the program and where to find pictures and music, the rest were much easier and faster to make. As time permits, join writers, readers, and marketing groups. Post regularly with helpful information and include a signature line so people can find you. When the opportunity arises, teach a class. Join treasure hunts and group contests. Cross promote. Exchange links. It's a win-win situation. Search engines will rank your site higher the more inbound links your site has. Currently, this site has a search engine rating of "3" out of "10". It's not the best, but it's better than a "2" which it was a few months ago. Cross promote with other authors and with readers and marketers that share similar audiences. If you or someone who likes you enough to really help, knows how to make widgets, make or have made one or two cool widgets and create some viral inbound marketing. Have you played the "Black Boxes" game? See the widget on my sidebar to the left. It's ingenius. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to do it but if I find a little time, I plan to learn how. Increase your search engine optimization. (Okay, I'm not good at this - yet.) But all the articles I'm reading highly advises this. I'm sure there are more ways to conduct inbound marketing and to optimize the inbound marketing you're already doing. If you're involved in other ways to inbound market, what are they? How do you do it? What ways do you find successful to get word out about your books or whichever products you market? You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


DJ Kirkby said...

Happy birthday!!!!!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Happy Birthday, Ashley!

Wow, February sure must be a cold month for moms and dads, LOL, there are a lot of November birthdays. Two of my CP's celebrated birhtdays this past week and my son and I will celebrate our shared birthday on Saturday!

This was a great and informative blog. I think you've hit the nail on the head in that, in a nutshell, the marketing end of the job can be incredibly time consuming. As is evidenced by my sporadic blogging, LOL, it's hard to find the right balance.

Birthday Hugs and good wishes!

Kenzie Michaels said...

Happy early birthday:)

You hit the nail on the head...I automatically anything that smacks of advertising. I subscribe to a recipe e-zine, and know what days my recipes fall on. Anything else in the subject line gets deleted unread.

Great advice!

Anonymous said...

Happy happy birthday!!!

Check out www.Facebook.com too. Lots of authors, readers, and author/reader groups on that social link too. You'd be surprised how many hits you get.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Happy Birthday, and good thoughts on the marketing!

Sandra Cox said...

Happy Birthday!:)

Unknown said...

Scorpio like me - yay! Hope you had a good day

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