Marketing Series: Using Events as Marketing Tools

I have heard my fellow indie creatives talk about hosting an event as a marketing technique.  For instance, a giveaway to market a book, or a Q&A to market a piece of artwork. You get the idea. But if you’re doing a single event, the event isn’t a marketing technique,  it’s something to market. Let me explain.

In movies about authors, there’s the inevitable and ubiquitous book launch scene. The press comes. There is a buzz about the author. There is buzz about the book. It’s glamorous. It’s fabulous. It’s presupposes a relationship between a corporate publishing house and corporate media entities that in all likelihood, as so well explained by Sarah Neofield , are owned by the same parent company. For individuals working in the publishing houses, PR firms, and media outlets, part of their job is networking. They form relationships from which to create buzz and accumulate event attendees. As an indie, you have to develop relationships with local media people for them cover your event. This task takes time. Thus, the classic movie scenario is unrealistic for the indie creative. In the movies, there is never even a montage of all of the networking people have done over the years, all of the smaller events they have hosted in preparation for the book launch, or all of the ancillary marketing activities needed for a book launch. There is no mention of how the publisher built relationships with the event atttendees.

If you’re an established indie, then cultivating relationships  may not be as big of a challenge as it would for someone just starting out. But, even if you can get people to come out to an event, the media may not have reason to cover it. This leaves me with a very impolite question: what’s the point of your event? If no one knows about it, then there’s no buzz. If it’s an online event, then having it  only makes sense for the indie with an active follower community. Otherwise, the event will require buzz, rather than create it. 

Without an established social media audience, you have to market your online event.   If you plan on doing a big launch, the best way to market it is with little events. Weekly live streams, for example, are little events that you can do leading up to the big event. The live streams can be about the upcoming launch. Or you can do Q&As.  You can do live stream readings from your book at real-life events or in your basement. The goal is to convince your audience that your live stream is worth showing up for.

But if you aren’t up to adding mini-events or are planning on only having the launch event, then in addition to promoting your launch, you will also have to promote your launch event. If you are already in the throes of launching your book with other marketing activities, adding an event is just going to compound your work and your stress during your launch period. 

If you’re just starting out and don’t have an established audience, a launch event may not be necessary.  There are other ways to create buzz about your book. For example, you can network with book bloggers and book club leaders to get review of your book. In the world of the indie writer, book bloggers and book club leaders are like the titans of mass media.  Their audience wants TBR recommendations. They make recommendations. If you’re going to spend money on, spend it on these influencers. One caution, you can’t expect a good review because you gave them a good gift. The gift is a thank you, not a bribe. Their credibility (and therefore their audience) depends on their honesty, so they have to be able to give their honest opinion.  

Carefully consider whether  a launch event is worth your time, effort, and money, and be clear about your expected outcome from your chosen  marketing efforts. If you don’t know what you want, you won’t know if you were successful or not. And worse, you may miss opportunities . If you want to do a launch event to create buzz and you’re clear about that desired outcome, you may want to brainstorm other ways to create buzz. For example, networking with book bloggers and book club leaders.  We are indies. We don’t use the same tools as so-called traditionally published authors. We occupy a different space, and we have our own ways of sharing our stories with the world. 

How to support Indie Writers!

Support indie writers by not only buying their books, but also leaving reviews. More so than traditionally published authors, indie writers depend on reviews. Help indie stories find their homes. Thank you and peace and joy to you!

Edited and Updated February 3, 2021

©2020, 2021 Michelle Raab, PhD. All rights reserved.

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