An Uncle in the Marketing Business? ~ Part 1

This past week I’ve been doing some fresh thinking around the topic of marketing. As Terri said yesterday, it can be a full-time job. On the other hand, if we allow it to be full time, we won’t ever get more writing done.

At times I feel as if I’m banging my head against the fridge—-but no food is coming out. So what am I doing wrong?

The other day, I had a light-bulb moment. I haven’t finished processing the topic, and would love to hear from you, but I do believe I’m on to something.

Let's start off by asking five questions.

1. Where are we marketing? As writers, we like to hang together, after all writers are really the only people who understand writers, right? We rejoice with each other when we have some sort of break-through moment. We encourage one another. And we share our links. This is a great idea. But it’s not marketing! Marketing starts to happen when those people, whether they are writers or not, share your links and your information.

2. Who are we marketing to? Here in South Africa we have a chain of furniture stores called “Joshua Doore”. They have a catchy advertising jingle that first appeared in 1970. It says, “You’ve got an uncle in the furniture business: Joshua Doore!” (You can listen to the original version here.) It really is a brilliant piece of advertising, and the fact that the main slogan is still played daily on our television sets proves this to be true.
It’s great to have friends in the business, and I’m sure the staff of Joshua Doore take advantage of specials on their floors. But imagine if you will that the advert only plays in store, outside of shopping hours, so the staff are the only ones present.

Kind of silly, don’t you think?

Yet, is that perhaps what we do as writers? We belong to writers’ groups, we create an author’s page on Facebook, and we invite all our writer friends to follow the page. After all, our “personal page” on Facebook is just that. It’s personal. We create one or more Twitter accounts, and we “follow” other writers and ask them to follow us. We retweet other writers’ messages—to other writers (of course, because those are the ones following us) in the hope that they will RT ours. We join LinkedIn, and we link to other writers’ groups. We may enjoy the fellowship, and much of this may be helpful, but it’s not marketing! Marketing starts to happen when those people catch the message and share it, together with your links.

3. Do people really follow our marketing attempts? A friend was a missionary teacher in a primitive country. Her small daughter was one of her pupils. One day the mommy was busy making supper and the little girl was trailing her, chattering endlessly. All of a sudden the child called, “Teacher! Teacher!” The mommy stopped and looked in astonishment. The child had worked out how to get her mommy’s attention. She had realised that Mommy had tuned out from her incessant chatter.

Don’t we all do that? We tune out to voices or other people who are not interesting us. That leads to another question. In our marketing, are we perhaps trying too hard? When people see our posts, do they switch off? I confess that I have a few such contacts. I know any link they share will be self-promotion. I know nothing about them except that they are writers. And they know nothing about me. They're not interested in me—and I don’t know enough about them to know if I'm interested in them. I hardly ever read their tweets, their Facebook pages, or their LinkedIn comments.

4. Are we missing the point with our marketing? Not other writers (unless of course we’re writing for writers, like this blog). But are we reaching the ones who want or need to read what we have written? Sure, we're interacting on various social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus . . .   But think about it. These all fall under the category "Social Media".

My dictionary defines “social” as “Marked by friendly companionship with others.”  We're not talking about Marketing Media. It is called Social Media. Social. Friendly. 

5. How can we be social and still market? Is it possible? We're already complaining that we don't have time to both market and write. How can we now stop to have "friendly companionship with others"? Surely that will take up even more time? "I don't have the time for this!" we wail, as we carry on furiously using up time on ineffective methods of marketing.

I don't believe it will require more time. I think it calls for a smarter use of our time. But I've already taken up enough of your time explaining the dilemma, and I hope I've given you something to think about. Next month we'll look further into this, and hopefully come up with some easy ways to become an uncle (or aunt) in the marketing business.

OVER TO YOU: Do you have any thoughts about how we can develop our social skills without frittering away time we don't have? Please share your suggestions below.

More Reading on Making Friends on Social Media

Making Twitter Friends
Some Old Facebook Friends

SHIRLEY CORDER  lives a short walk from the seaside in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer. Shirley is also contributing author to ten other books and has published hundreds of devotions and articles internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. 

Follow her on Twitter or "like" her Author's page on Facebook, and if you tell her who you are she'll be happy to be your friend and follow you back.


Magdalena Ball said...

Focused marketing is critical, Shirley and you raise some good points. Of course not all online relationships are solely about marketing - we can be social and still market. Sometimes marekting is about building relationships with our readers, our writing 'tribe" and about developing connections that go beyond selling books.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for this Maggie, and of course you're right. I'm not in any way knocking the need for a "tribe" or just plain on-line friendships. I just think we may miss the point sometimes by being too focused on our writing relationships at the expense of developing other contacts.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I'm so glad you addressed these questions/doubts/helps, Shirley. They are exactly the reason I wrote The Frugal Book Promoter ( To help authors balance. The help auhors find what's right for their book, their lives. And I think one of the most overlooked aspect of marketing is one Magdalena alluded to--that is, so much depends on the way we market. Heart makes all the difference.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Loving helping writers get read with my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter ( .

Heidiwriter said...

Thanks so much for your insight. I'm guilty of "preaching to the choir" and need to move outside of my comfort group.

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirley, marketing is stressful and what works for some may not work for others. But, Maggie is right, it's focused marketing that works. It's finding those couple of things that you see are making a difference. And, it's about time management. I just read two posts about blocking writing and marketing time. In other words make a time schedule and stick to it as best you can.

I tend to disagree that our article marketing efforts and sharing through social networks are wasted time. These are proven marketing strategies. You need to keep in mind that you're not just 'talking' to your groups when you share a post. That sharing has the potential of going viral. The key is to have effective keywords in your titles and within the content so it becomes the possible results for a topic related search query. Doing this opens you up to the world and anyone looking for your topic.

So, you're not really staying within your own little circle of writers and marketers, you're global.

But, another way of stretching your 'reach' muscles is to become active on forums related to your topic.

One other way is to guest blog on topic related sites.

Other ways are to guest blog on topic related sites, and query for radio shows and even digital and regular TV shows.

Shirley Corder said...

Heidi, thanks for your comment. I think this is a case where a cliché says it well! That's really what I've realised that I've been doing. Most of my marketing goes toward the writers - who have their own marketing to do!

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Karen. I actually intend to cover all of these points plus more in Part 2. :-) My problem was that the post went on too long, so I stopped and concentrated on laying out the problem as I see it. I do all these things you mention, and nowhere in my post do I suggest that social media is a waste of time. I'm saying we can make BETTER use of that time--the time we spend on social media. I certainly am already since I saw what I attempted to share. Obviously I shouldn't have divided the article when I did.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Carolyn for reading the post as it was meant to be read: Raising "questions/doubts/helps". Yes, I bought your book a year or so back, and I know you address these and similar issues. (Thank you.) I do a lot of these things myself, and I am in no way knocking the traditional means of marketing. I'm suggesting we can get more out of them by doing less work / spending less time. It's all a question of answering those questions. At least, that's what I'm exploring.

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirley, I do the same thing. I write a long article then divide it into parts. And, we do need to use our marketing time wisely!

You got a good conversation going here. That's what it's about!

Debbie A Byrne said...

Great post. Looking forward to reading Part 2.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Debbie!

Shirley Corder said...

I got the idea of dividing it from you. :-) I couldn't figure out what to leave out, so looked to see what others had done.

Sue Peters said...

You raise some good questions Shirley! I believe when it comes to marketing we definitely need to investigate our motives. I don't necessarily see writers groups as a marketing tool, more like a place where I can get much needed support and appraisal. Appraisal is important when you start to write but it won't do anything marketing wise. So when it comes to social media and marketing...perhaps "less is more"? You have certainly got me thinking.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for the visit Sue. I don't know about "less is more" so much as a need for a more targeted approach. I'm still working round this myself.

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