Using Mail to Build Your Author Platform

In previous articles, I explored using the Marketing Pyramid approach to building your Author Platform. To recap the Marketing Pyramid consists of three frameworks:

  1. Foundations
  2. Systems
  3. Media

In this article, I’ll be diving into why mail is a vital element of the Media Framework.

Using Mail to Communicate

This is the first communication cluster authors should look to develop. With the systems framework in place it will be fast, easy and low cost to move forward and you can use all forms of mail to communicate with your three target fan bases.

Seven Guiding Principles

When you start to plan your mail communication tactics you need to apply the following principles otherwise the effectiveness of your mail communications will be dramatically affected.

  1. Brand Consistency

I’ve said this before and I’ll keep nagging away at it. Brand consistency, both visually and with words must be in place. Failure here is one of the most common reasons for poor marketing performance.

  1. Every Communication Has a Purpose

When your communications lack purpose you become a contributor to the marketing noise we are all bombarded with every day. If you’re a noisy marketer, then your target audience’s subconscious will filter out all your marketing messages resulting in poor marketing results.

  1. Talk to Your Ideal Customer

Every communication must talk to the ideal customer avatar you developed in the Foundation Framework. If you try to communicate with everybody, nobody will hear you.

  1. Make it Timely and Regular

“Striking will the iron’s hot” holds true in marketing as well as in life. Failure to continue the communication process will leave your target audience with the impression that you’re not interested in them and they will quickly look elsewhere.

  1. Part of a Process

In the Systems Framework, we looked at creating a marketing and sales process. It’s within this process that your communications need to be generated and delivered. Do it well and it will work on auto pilot, 24hours a day, seven days a week.

  1. Get Personal with One to One Communications

Using Mail to Build Your Author Platform with today’s technology is super easy to personalize many communication pieces with at least your target audiences name but it’s better still if your personalization includes additional details such as past purchases. If you capture details such as birthday and the sporting team they support, you’ll quickly tap into “marketing gold”.

  1. Call to Action

Finally, calls to action need to be embedded into each communication piece. Your call to action shouldn’t always be “buy me”, you need to mix it with other actions such as “connect with me on Facebook”. Consistently asking your target audience to do something, no matter how small, will train their subconscious to act in some way every time the hear from you.

Top Three Mail Tools for Authors

Using mail to build your author platform can fall to only three tools. By no means are these three tools the only mail options available however from my experience they provide most authors with the best return on investment. If you get these three working before you explore and test other methods such as SMS, personalized video, letterbox drops, chat bots etc,  you will be well on your way to selling your first 1000 books.

  1. Email Marketing

Despite what the 2 minute marketing gurus say as they try to peddle their latest “shinny marketing bubble”, email is not dead provided that you use it correctly.

The number 1 rule with email marketing is to never spam your contacts and forget buying a list of email addresses, while in some countries such as Australia, it may be legal, it’s still bad practice and you will immediately be viewed as a spammer.

The 2nd rule is that you must make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your list.  A one-click unsubscribe link in the footer of your emails is the only way to go.

The 3rd rule is let them know as quickly (10minutes is my standard) after they enter your list; the communications and the frequency that you will appear in their inboxes.

The 4th rule is to encourage them to connect with you on other platforms such as social media. This demonstrates that you value a deeper relationship and enables your prospect to engage with you on the platform of their choosing.

The 5th rule is to email regularly and consistently. The regularity should vary according to where they are in your marketing and sales process. In the Australian market, I’ve found the following works best. When someone first enters your list, you should look to send 5 to 7 emails in the first two weeks and after that drop back to once a week for the next 3 to 6 months and after that never longer than once a month. The monthly email will typically be a newsletter that’s relevant to the interests of your ideal customer but should never only be about you and your business.

The 6th rule is to constantly give value while random emails ask for value from your prospect. Random value asks could be requesting a book review, a testimonial or a referral, extra data such as sporting team or birthday, all of which help to deepen the relationship. But don’t forget, as part of your random requests, to ask that they buy something from you.

The 7th rule is to automate as much of the process as possible. It will save you massive amounts of time and deliver your target audience much greater value.

  1. Low Cost Direct Mail

While everybody’s inboxes are groaning with emails, their letterboxes are near empty every day. This makes it a super easy way to get their attention. The downside of direct mail is that, nowadays, the production and postage cost can make it hard to justify for regular mailings but it still works if you know how.

Unsolicited direct mail is generally not cost effective for authors, however there are some circumstances where it may be considered. A local unaddressed postcard or flyer mailing to gather support for a local event such as a book signing or a speaking event can deliver results. It may also be worth considering a targeted addressed and personalized mailing if your publishing project is a high-priced training or coaching product.

On the other hand, sending a mail piece to somebody you already have a relationship with can have an enormous return on investment. The following a just a few examples that I use, that work well and are very economical:

  • Thank you cards for those that leave a review or give a referral,
  • Birthday cards, provided you know their birthday,
  • Congratulations cards when their sporting team wins a major tournament or grand final,
  • Postcards for promoting an event or a new book,
  • Direct mail pack when promoting or upselling to a high-ticket program, and
  • Welcome kits when they sign up for that high-ticket program.
  1. Ride Along Mail

This is an underutilized opportunity that is super easy to tap into and very low cost. Ride along mail is where your mail piece is included within another communication and can be added to your mailing or an influencer’s mailing.

One of the simplest and easiest form of ride along for authors is to include a bookmark or a postcard with every book that is mailed to a buyer. You can use the bookmark for many purposes including to promote your other books, ask to connect socially, promote an event or even promote another author.

Discount coupons are another form of ride along that will help you expand your prospect list. They can be a “take one” from local libraries and book stores or it can be inserted with a promotional partner’s mail.

One of our business coach authors has a great tactic that’s working well for her. She visits the book departments of large discount retailers and book stores and places one of her book marks in business books that relate to her area of expertise. Tapping directly into her ideal customer who has a burning problem she can solve became instantly easy.

Now it’s time for you to get creative on where your mail can go along for a ride.

Key Takeaways for using mail to build your author platform are:

  1. Apply the seven guiding principles to all your communications,
  2. Regular and often works,
  3. Measure results to look for improvements in Return On Investment,
  4. Tap into ride along mail, it’s a fertile communications channel.

I know, building your Author Platform can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In coming episodes, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and low cost approach to building a solid platform that you can leverage for many years to come.

Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:

Creating well thought out, regular communication pieces will deliver consistent author income if they are built on solid foundations. Measuring and adjusting what and how you communicate is the secret to continuously improving your mail communications and the resultant income you will generate. As always, stay the course, get the strategy right, do the basics well and you will succeed.

Published On: May 9th, 2020 / Categories: Self-Publishing Tips /

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