How Responsive Are You?

24 hours. That is the length of a day. It’s also the time-frame in which people expect a response.

How Responsive Are You?

Whether it is:

  • a phone call
  • an email
  • a text
  • a direct message on social media
  • comments on social media

most people expect a response within a day. Slower responses equate with poor customer service in consumers’ minds.

A recent study by Clutch that surveyed U.S. adults found that 83% of the respondents said that if they interact with a brand on social media, they expect a response within a day. Over one-third actually expect a response sooner—38% expect a response within an hour.

Not surprisingly, younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to expect brands to respond quickly. Some 90% of consumers ages 18 to 29 expect brands to respond to their comments on social media within a day or less.

Responsiveness can mean the difference between acquiring and losing a customer.

The phrase “Strike while the iron’s hot” can be applied to inquiries you receive. Whether you are contacted by a potential reader, a journalist, a media host, a reviewer, an influencer, or an event planner, the timeliness of your response will have a direct impact on your sales and exposure.

Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman who produces a magazine for readers that features Christian books. He was looking to open a dialog about how to feature more Indie published books in his magazine.

I sent a timely response. Then I waited. I did not hear back from this gentleman for a couple of weeks. In his follow-up email, he told me that publishing the magazine was his side business, which is why he had not gotten back to me sooner.

I responded to his second email in a timely fashion. That was about a month ago. I still have not heard back from him.

Due to the lengthy time-frame in which this gentleman communicates, I have become reluctant to pursue further discussion with him. His lack of timely response makes me question whether he will follow through on any agreement that we come to. It also makes me question whether he will have success with his venture moving forward.

Writing, publishing, and marketing books is a side-venture or “second” job for most Indie authors. Don’t treat it as such. Give the same timely attention to inquiries as you would if it was your primary job. Otherwise, you will lose out.

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Are You Taking This for Granted?

Censorship. It’s a big concern for many people. The problem appears to be growing, not diminishing.

Last year, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) launched the Internet Freedom Watch. One of the tenants of this organization is to protect and stand up for freedom of speech.

NRB saw a growing problems of viewpoint censorship on the Internet, especially suppression of Christian and conservative views. The organization has been documenting incidences of social media profiles that are being censored or shut down due to conservative or religious content.

The major social media players—YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—have all participated in some type of censorship. These social sites have suspended, shut down, or demonetized accounts due to their religious or political beliefs. As this trend has grown, citizens have become concerned.

In addition, each of these companies now use algorithms that determine who sees the content that is posted. No longer are users assured that their followers and fans will see what they post. Rather, each social media site determines who sees what. Some people feel that this is another form of censorship—control over the flow of information.

As the concerns grow, new options are being offered. There are two new sites offering an alternative choice for social media users.

1. AllSocial.com

AllSocial.com is a brand new social media platform that aims to be the way social media was meant to be. This site does not use an algorithm. All posts made are shown to all a user’s followers. In addition, all points of view are allowed and users will not be banned for religious or conservative content.

2. Blessings Through Action

Blessings Through Action‘s goal is to provide a virtual community for Christians on a social media platform that allows people to engage and encourage each other to more action.

I applaud the efforts of both of these services. However, I know that they have a huge uphill battle. I have seen many social media sites come and go over the years. A few have risen to the top—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest—and dominate most social media users attention.   A few other sites that are geared toward a specific topic— like Goodreads for book lovers—have also survived and thrived.

While I think your best course of action is to continue to develop and grow an audience on the social media platforms that you are already established on, I would also encourage you to check out and support these new social media platforms.

Let’s not take our freedom for granted. Lend your support to those who are helping ensure that we will be able to maintain our freedom of speech. If we fail to do this, one day, we may not have the freedom to publish Christian books.

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Awareness Is Always the First Step

“Have you tried Topgolf?”, my friend asked. I had not even heard of the place until she mentioned it.

It turns out that Topgolf is a popular new game. Players rent a bay in what resembles a driving range to play a golf game. Players score points by hitting micro-chipped golf balls at giant targets in a field. Points are scored based on the distance of the target and how close the ball is to the bulls-eye of the target.

Awareness is the first step

Until someone asked me about it, I was blissfully unaware that Topgolf existed. Now I know. Now I have one more place I can choose to spend my leisure dollars.

Awareness is always the first step in a buyer’s journey. After all, I can’t buy something I don’t know exists.

Eugene Schwartz, an advertising specialist, described five levels of awareness that buyers journey through in his book Breakthrough Advertising. The five levels are:

  1. Unaware: Buyers don’t know your product or service exists, or that they have a need for it.
  2. Problem aware: Buyers are aware they have a problem, but they don’t know the solutions.
  3. Solution aware: Buyers are aware of some solutions to their problem, but are not aware of your specific solution.
  4. Product aware: Buyers have become aware of your product, but they have not bought it yet.
  5. Most aware: Buyers who have purchased and used your product.

I traveled through these five steps with Topgolf.

  1. Unaware: I did not even know that Topgolf existed.
  2. Problem aware: I needed a fun local activity for my son and his friends during Spring break.
  3. Solution aware: I knew of a couple things we could do, but wanted more options.
  4. Product aware: A friend mentioned Topgolf, so I checked it out since my son enjoys golf.
  5. Most aware: We rented a bay at Topgolf over Spring break and played a couple games. It was fun. We may do it again.

This first step in a buyer’s journey is your marketing challenge. Making people aware of your books and how they solve a problem for buyers is the goal of your marketing activities.

Exposure is key. Word-of-mouth is your best tool for raising awareness. Get people talking about your books and people will become aware they exist.

Offering free review copies of your book and giving away your book to key influencers is powerful and drives word-of-mouth. Don’t skimp on this step of your marketing plan. Give books away and watch the Biblical principle of “give and it will be given to you” play out.

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An Audience of One

Everyone.

This is a word I commonly hear from authors when I ask them who the audience is for their book. Authors often tell me that “everyone” would benefit from reading their book.

An Audience of One

Everyone is a huge number. It is around 7.7 billion people—that’s the number of everyone living on the Earth right now.

Reaching everyone is overwhelming and impossible. When we feel overwhelmed, we often get stuck. We don’t know what decision to make or what to do because there is just too much.

“Do the next thing” has become a popular phrase. The phrase encourages people not to get overwhelmed by all there is to do, but to simply start with the next thing in front of them.

Everyone is too many. Thinking about reaching everyone is too much and impossible. Instead, narrow your audience to one. Ask yourself, “Who is the next person who needs to hear about my book?” Then focus on that one.

The North American Mission Board has developed a similar concept for evangelism. They believe that people become overwhelmed when considering all the people who need to hear the Gospel message. Many end up feeling inadequate and don’t do anything. In response, the organization has launched the Who’s Your One? campaign.

The motto of this campaign is “We must do whatever it takes to reach the lost, and it starts with one.” The campaign is designed to help people focus on one person—the next person they want to reach with the Gospel message.

I think the same concept works for marketing for authors. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the numerous marketing tasks you could engage in, focus on an audience of one. Ask yourself:

Who is the next person who needs to know about my book?

After you reach that person, focus on your next audience of one, and so on. Try it. Your audience growth may not be fast, but slowly, you will build a solid audience for your book.

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Photo courtesy of Guilherme Almeida.

Your Next Big Break

Your big break—that media interview, that stellar endorsement, an influencer willing to work with you, a large book order, that awesome speaking engagement—might be right around the corner. You never know when it will happen… but I can guarantee it won’t happen if you don’t plant seeds.

To harvest fruit, you must first plant seeds. All your marketing efforts—both small and large—are seeds you are planting.

Marketing is planting seeds

I have sent out scores of press releases. Many never get a response. Not too long ago, I sent out another press release to the media. I really wasn’t anticipating much from it. After all, I know that press releases are about planting seeds and watering those seeds.

A few weeks later, I received an email. It said:

I am doing a story on indie publishing in the Christian market. I’ll talk to a number of sources for the story, and would love to include you and the newly named CIPA.

An interview was scheduled. A conversation took place. Then, an article was published. I was quoted in the article.

Not a big break, but a nice one that brought more exposure. You can read the article here.

Too many authors are “one and done”. They try something once. When they don’t get the result they expected, they decide that the marketing technique did not work and don’t try it again.

In marketing, “one and done” will kill your efforts. No farmer plants one seed and expects a good crop. Farmers do not know which seeds will germinate or which seeds will lie fallow or end up getting eaten. So, they plant many, many seeds, sometimes overseeding so they can ensure a crop.

Wise King Solomon knew this principle. He said:

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.

writing at night

In book marketing language, this statement reads:

In the morning conduct your marketing activities, and at evening don’t think you are done, because you do not know which activity will succeed, whether one or the other, or if all of them will be equally good.

You can’t have a big break unless you are constantly pursuing opportunities. So, keep doing marketing activities like:

  • Sending out those press releases.
  • Pitching for interviews.
  • Asking for those endorsements.
  • Pursuing those speaking engagements.
  • Seeking collaboration with other authors.
  • Showing up day in, day out on social media adding value to other’s lives.

And remember that God is the Lord of the Harvest. Your success rests in his hands. Trust him.

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Photo courtesy of Dương Trí and Bruce Mars.