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.

Are Your Marketing Messages Sticky?

Can you finish these catchy advertising slogans?

  • Snap! Crackle! … (Rice Krispies)
  • When you care enough to send … (Hallmark)
  • It’s the real … (Coca-Cola)
  • Melts in your mouth, …. (M&Ms)

These messages are sticky. They stick in your mind. That’s why you can complete them. It is not just the sheer repetition that helps you remember, it is also that these slogans are catchy.

Every marketing message competes with thousands of other marketing messages. Having a message that is sticky is necessary to stand out and grab people’s attention.

In their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip Heath and Dan Heath present six principles that make a message stick. They are:

  1. The message is simple.
  2. The message is unexpected.
  3. The message is concrete.
  4. The message is credible.
  5. The message is emotional
  6. The message is a good story.

I would add that making your message bold also increases the stickiness factor.

For example, Hallmark’s slogan is “When you care enough to send the very best.” That is a bold statement. They are saying that their cards are the very best!

Some practical types might object. They might say, “DaySpring cards are better.” However, some marketing messages are just an opinion. You can boldly assert your book’s promise or your opinion.

If you want your marketing message to stick, your marketing slogan for your book needs to follow one of the six principles presented in Made to Stick and also be bold.

One of the marketing slogans I use for my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is:

The essential guide for marketing Christian books.

One reviewer recently made the following statement, which is much bolder and more likely to stick:

The Bible of marketing Christian books.

Play around with your marketing messages. Don’t be afraid to make a bold claim. A simple, bold statement is more likely to stick than just a simple or unexpected statement.

Related Posts:
Persuasion in an Age of Information Overload
What Is Your Promise?
Marketing Is Murky

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Expecting Fast Results: What A Mistake!

We live in a fast society. A Boeing 787 can fly around the world in 42 hours and 27 minutes. With Google Fiber, Internet connection speeds reach up to one gigabit per second. FedEx allows you to have a package delivered the very next day to almost any location in the world. China’s new Fuxing bullet trains travel at 350 km/h (over 200 m/hr).

We have become so accustomed to fast, that we expect it. Except not everything delivers fast results.

This is true of promotion and marketing efforts. Rarely, do these activities deliver fast results. After all, research shows that it takes on average:

  1. Seven to twelve exposures of a product before a person decides to purchase it.
  2. Nine months of regular blogging to develop a strong, loyal readership base.
  3. Seven contacts to secure a media interview.

I recently received a call from a woman who heard about a book that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) represented at the CBA Unite International Retail Show last summer (in July 2017). The woman had recently talked with a gentleman who attended the show and told him of her need. He informed her that he had seen a book that met her need in CSPA’s booth at the trade show last summer.

The woman looked up CSPA on the Internet and gave us a call. She did not know that name of the book, but was able to tell me her need and I immediately identified which book the gentleman was referring to. I gave this woman the information on the book and the contact information for the publisher.

It has been six months since the 2017 CBA Unite show. Six months after viewing a book, a show attendee told this woman about a book he saw at the show that met her need.

Here’s the deal. Marketing activities usually don’t reap fast results. However, they do reap results for those who are patient.

Even though word spreads fast in today’s digitally-connected world, personal word-of-mouth can still take time. At the right moment, when faced with a need, a product or book is remembered and passed along.

Remember, marketing is all about exposure. It’s about introducing people to your books so that they know they exist. Your job is to get the word out. God’s job is to bring the harvest.

I have always said that promoting a book is a marathon, not a sprint. So, keep marketing. Keep spreading the word that your book meets a need that someone has. It may take months, but the people who need your book will hear and respond.

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Are You Expecting Fast Results?
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Award to the Wise

As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the author of the award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, and the author of this blog on marketing Christian books, I try to follow my own marketing advice.

Now admittedly, I don’t follow my advice as well as I should. (Aren’t we all guilty of this? It is so much easier to give advice then to follow it.) I really should put more effort into marketing than I do. Sadly, it is primarily time constraints that keep me from doing more.

One area that I have taken my own advice seriously is in pursuing book awards. I am pleased to announce that my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, has won another book award! It is the recipient of the Book Excellence Awards in the writing/publishing category.


Now in its third edition, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace has now garnered five book awards. This book is truly a useful guide for authors and publishers producing Christian books.

I was surprised to discover that this most recent award program, Book Excellence Awards, charges a license fee of $149.99 to winners who want to use their award seal. This means that if I want to put the award seal on any marketing material or on the cover of my book, I must pay the licensing fee.

Now, licensing fees are not unheard of in book award programs. However, most book award programs geared toward small publishers and independently published authors do not charge a license fee to use their award seal. In fact, none of the other awards my book has won have charged a license fee.

What makes this more surprising to me is that the Book Excellence Award is brand-new. This means that this award is not yet well-known or well-recognized in the industry. Even widely known and prestigious awards like IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award or the IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Awards) do not charge a licensing fee to use their award seal.

Additionally, Christian Small Publisher Association’s book award program, Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award, does not charge winners a fee to use the award seal in their marketing materials or on their book covers. That’s one more reason for you to nominate your Christian book for this award. Nominations are open through November 15, 2016, at

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award does charge for book stickers, but this is because book stickers are a physical commodity that cost money to produce.

If you have not yet pursued book awards for your book, I suggest that you do. Book awards are a great tool for additional exposure for your book and a boon to your marketing efforts when you win!

Update:  In 2017, the Book Excellence Awards decided to provide their book award seal free to the winners of the award.

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10 Reasons to Enter a Book Award
Do You Need an Excuse?
The Value of Book Awards

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Have You Become Mobile?

My daughter and I recently stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast. The home that the B&B was located in was built in the 1800’s. The owners had restored the interior, but kept the historical feel of the house. The place was elegant and the hosts were extremely gracious.


Over breakfast, I spent some time chatting with the owners. They told me their story about how they had opened the B&B seven years ago. Soon, the conversation strayed to marketing.

The owner and I began talking about website design and utility. Then, our conversation strayed into website traffic. The owner of this B&B shared with me that when they first opened the B&B seven years ago, the vast majority of the visits to their website came from desktop computers. Now, he told me, that 90% of the visitors to their website access the site through a mobile device.

In case you didn’t know, mobile (smart phones and tablets) has taken over computers as the main way to access the Internet. Check out these statistics:

  • 81% of people browse the Internet with a mobile device.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop.
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour.

If you want to sell more books, you must get in the mobile game. This means that your website and emails must be mobile friendly—easy to view on a mobile device.

Mobile 2

I am part of that 81% of people who browse the Internet with a mobile device. Surprisingly, I still come across website that are not mobile friendly. Needless to say, I find these sites very frustrating. If reading a non-mobile friendly website is not necessary (in other words, I don’t need the information), I will leave the site and find one that is easier to access with my smart phone.

Fortunately, most website hosting companies now make it easy for you to keep your website mobile friendly. WordPress, one of the largest website building software providers, has a number of free plugins to make your site mobile friendly. Additionally, many of the newer WordPress themes have mobile ability built right into them.

I encourage you to check out your website on a variety of mobile devices to see how mobile friendly it is. Mobile is here to stay. It is the future. You don’t want to lose business because your website is outdated.

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Are You Mobile Friendly?
Predictions for 2016 that You Should Know
Are You Phone Smart?

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