Is Advertising a Waste of Money?

“I don’t advertise; it’s a waste of money.”

These words came out of the mouth of a small publisher I was conversing with at the recent CPE International. CPE stands for Christian Product Expo. It is a twice-yearly industry trade show where publishers and others producing products for the Christian market gather to showcase their offerings to Christian retailers.

This thought, that advertising is a waste of money, is a commonly held belief. Yet, it is inaccurate.

If advertising did not work, would businesses continue to spend billions of dollars on advertising? Think of all the places you encounter paid advertising:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Radio ads
  • Television ads
  • Billboards
  • Display boards (think public transportation and sports games)
  • Google ads
  • Website ads
  • Social media ads
  • Amazon ads

And this list does not even cover everything. The truth is advertising works.

However, paid advertising in and of itself is not a sufficient marketing strategy. Every business and every publisher and author needs a comprehensive marketing plan. Why? Because people need multiple exposures to a product or service before they will buy.

Advertising is just one strategy; and it does work. In fact, as organic traffic from web search engines continues to decrease, so will book discovery. In response, authors need to engage in more old-fashioned marketing and advertising tactics (think print).

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) had a booth at CPE International where we represented some of our Members’ books. At the show, a retailer came to our booth asking to place an ad for a book that was featured in our catalog. This particular book was not even on display at the show. The retailer had seen an ad for the book in two periodicals—one being the annual Christian Indie Publishing Association Product Catalog (our annual cooperative catalog featuring our Members’ books). This is just one small example of the power of advertising.

You can view pictures of CIPA’s booth at CPE International in the video below.

Related Posts:
The Goal of Advertising
10 Book Advertising Ideas for the Physical World
How to Sell More Books

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Photo courtesy of RitaE.

Getting People to Share

Every good marketer knows that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of advertising. Getting people to talk about your product leads to more sales.

Knowing this fact is not enough. Rather, it raises the questions:

  • What is the best way to get people to talk about your product?
  • Why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others?
  • Why are some stories and rumors more infectious?

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at Wharton, set out to research and answer these questions. He came up with six basic principles that drive things to become contagious. He put these principles in his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Watch this interesting video of Jonah Berger talking about a few of the principles in his book, and learn some techniques you can use in your own marketing endeavors.

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Where’s the Money?

Who has money to spend? This is an important marketing question.

If you are selling a book for infants, you don’t market to the infants. They have no money to spend. Instead, you market to the parents and grandparents of infants, because they are the ones with the money to purchase your books.

I recently came across some interesting statistics that point to which population in the United States has money to spend.

In five years, 50% of the U.S. population will be over 50 years old. This consumer group spends about 50% of the money spent on consumer packaged goods (CPG). CPG is the types of goods that are consumed every day by the average customer. These boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will be in control of 70% of the disposable income in the United States, and it is estimated that they will inherit around $15 trillion.

Some studies indicate that most marketing efforts are geared toward the 18- to 49-year-old age group and that less than five percent of advertising is pointed toward the older age group. Yet, between now and 2030, the 18 to 49 group will only grow by 14% while those in the 50+ group will grow by 34%.

Don’t forget the 50+ age group when you are planning your next book marketing campaign. Remember, many of these consumers have children and grandchildren, so even if your book may not interest them personally, they might think it is a good gift for one of their family members. After all, books still make great gifts.

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