7 Book Marketing Lessons from Virgin’s Richard Branson
Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group of companies, is considered to be one of the best entrepreneurial marketers in the world. So what does he have to teach authors about book marketing? These points are roughly drawn from Branson’s book “Screw It: Let’s Do It”.
By: Joanna Penn
1. Challenge Yourself. Many authors shrink at the thought of marketing and promotion, preferring to stay out of the limelight. But marketing is just another skill, another tool in your expanding toolkit. The reality is that authors need to be able to market themselves these days, even if they are published traditionally. If you want people to read your book, they need to know it is available. So challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone. Get marketing!
2. Be Bold. There are no rules. There are plenty of ideas for book promotion – you will find many on this blog. But remember, there are no rules. You can do anything you like to market your book. One of Richard’s biggest stunts was hot air-ballooning across the Atlantic. That was a bold and dangerous move and got him an extraordinary amount of press. You don’t need to go that far, but publicity stunts are often far more effective than a mere press release. What could you do to attract media attention that ties into your book?
3. Use word of mouth. Virgin uses word of mouth marketing and promotion far more than it uses advertising, and that is for a company with a huge budget. For authors, this is now an achievable task from your own study. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the blogosphere will spread news by word of mouth much quicker than ever before. Build your presence there and see the results.
4. Understand and use brand recognition. The Virgin brand has been built into an entity that can now sell anything. People trust the brand. It means honesty and low cost for the consumer. You need a brand as an author. It is a lifetime role you have taken on. You want people to hear your name and know what you offer. People should want to come back to your website because they know what they are getting. You build a brand by deciding what you want to be known for, and consistently delivering on that.
5. Chase your dreams but live in the real world. Marketing is not a magic potion that will make your book a bestseller. We all dream of achieving the success of JK Rowling, but that dream is unlikely. The real world is about making individual readers happy. Sometimes you will have successes, and other times you will fail. But writing is a journey. This one book is just a goal achieved along the way. There will be other books, other marketing campaigns, other successes. Expect success, but if it doesn’t come immediately, keep trying.
6. Just do it and have fun! Richard Branson is a billionaire but he didn’t start that way! His mantra is “Have fun, work hard and money will come. When it’s not fun, move on.” Every project he takes on is fun for him, as well as hard work. Authors need to have the same attitude towards book marketing. Just do it, and once you get into it, it can be very fun! Enjoy yourself and you won’t find it hard to do. If it’s not fun, pay someone else to do it for you!
7. Take time off. Writing a book is a long project, especially as most authors have a ‘normal’ job and family life to live at the same time. When the book is written, you have a sales and marketing mountain to climb. No wonder authors shrink from this! Richard Branson runs a number of global companies with thousands of employees. Yet he still manages to spend a lot of time on his private island in the Caribbean. As an author, it is unlikely you have an island to retreat to – but make sure you take time off from marketing, or even writing. Get some space and some rest. Fill up your soul, and then return with vigor and enthusiasm!