Two Marketing Lessons Learned in a Verizon Store

Those of us in the book industry often fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is familiar with what we are familiar with. I don’t think this just applies to the book industry; I think it’s a human trait.

For instance, consider the Kindle. I have heard and read so much about the Kindle in the past couple of years that I fell into the trap of thinking the average person on the street who loved books would know about the Kindle. I recently found out this is not the case.

The other day, I was in a Verizon store getting some assistance with my cell phone account. The young lady who waited on me was very polite and friendly. We got to talking and she told me how she loved to read. She mentioned that she purchased at least two books a week to feed her reading habit.

Then she pulled out a postcard-sized advertisement for the Nook and said to me, “Have you heard of this? I think it’s really cool and I’m thinking of getting one.”

I told her that I had indeed heard of Barnes & Noble’s Nook. I asked her if she knew that Amazon had a similar e-reader called the Kindle. This young lady did not know that there were other e-reader options. A friend had recently given her the advertisement she showed me and this was the only e-reader she was familiar with.

I walked out of the Verizon store thankful that I had been reminded of two important lessons:

1. Not everyone is familiar with what I am familiar with.

I often wonder when a new small publisher signs up for membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) how they became familiar with our organization. Some tell me, others don’t. On the other hand, I am sometimes surprised when I run into a publisher who I think should know about CSPA, and they have never heard of our organization.

Just because someone loves books does not mean they know all the major bookstores or are familiar with the major online book review sites. Just because someone is an ardent fans of Christian fiction does not mean they have heard about your Christian fiction books.

This is why marketing must be a never-ending activity for publishers and authors. There are always more people who need to be introduced to your books.

2. Person-to-person marketing is the most effective.

I am certain that this sales lady had been on Amazon.com and had the Kindle pop up on the home page. Most likely she just did not notice it or ignored it in pursuit of what she knew she was looking for. Yet, when a friend handed her information about the Nook, she began to think about how purchasing one would save her money on her book purchases in the long run. She even began to seriously consider purchasing one.

We live in an era of information overload. Seeing an ad for a product or service will most likely not engage us until we have a reason to become engaged with that ad. I see hundreds of banner ads everyday on the Internet. I ignore almost all of them. I can’t even tell you what many of them are for.

In the age of information overload connecting with people is more important than shouting about your book or product. You can’t out-shout the other ads. Connection is the key. Use the opportunities you are presented every day to connect with the people you cross paths with both in-person and online to promote your books.


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