|some image rights reserved by Paulo BrandÃ£|
If you missed the introductory post, please review it now for the definition of branding: A brand is an idea in the mind of the consumer. The power of a brand lies in its ability to influence purchasing decisions. It is your brand that influences, not your promotional tweets or advertising budgets.
Today's blog looks at how Publicity and Advertising play different, but inextricably-linked, roles in the birthing and growing of your Brand. Law 3 (Law of Publicity) states that The birth of a brand is realized through publicity, not advertising. Law 4 (Law of Advertising) states that Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. It's kind of like a mother giving birth and the father providing the means by which to grow the child to adulthood. It's next to impossible for one person to do both things (which is why single mothers don't get nearly enough credit!)
If you're new to business, as an Indie Author, you might not really understand what the difference is between Publicity and Advertising. That's okay. I'll explain. Click through the jump-break to start learning these tools of your new trade: the business of publishing books.
Law 3: Publicity - Your Brand Is Born
Birthing a brand from scratch is the work of publicity. Maintaining an existing brand after it's been established takes advertising. Publicity is necessary to start the process because it's able to operate on nothing. Advertising (noun) requires an existing concept in order to advertise (verb) it to the world. The difference between the two activities is even more important so let me rehash it for you a few times here.
Advertising is when you talk about a product and expect people to listen. You show and tell and no one interacts with you during this process. Publicity is when other people talk about you and your product but you're not a part of the conversation. You are the conversation.
Advertising is output, from you to the world--you, broadcasting a message. Because so much advertising is constantly assaulting consumers everywhere, in every medium, many consumers just block out all advertising. Advertising has made itself useless by trying too hard to be seen and heard.
Publicity is input, the world talking about you. Publicity is when you do nothing to sell your product and simply create a presence for your brand, causing others to want to know more about you. This is priceless, right? The key words there are presence for your brand.
Bad Publicity - You Can't Pay to Get Rid of It
A third party discussing you and your brand is more "trustworthy" than you "advertising" yourself. This is why a saying sprang up years ago, There's no such thing as bad publicity.
Well, sorry to have to tell you, but there is such a thing as bad publicity. It's called gossip, mudslinging and otherwise unpleasant things being said. Controversy is not always a good thing. It's not always a bad thing but it is more often bad than good. Don't seek out controversy. You'll be regarded as a Drama Queen. Instead, understand that the goal is to get people talking and you never want people talking trash about you behind your back. Don't seek "bad publicity" on purpose.
I've heard several Indie Authors argue that "bad publicity" is a greyish area, that it's good to get people talking about you. Yes, it is, but not if they're saying nasty things. Remember, you can never make a second first impression. If the talk is spreading bad first impressions of you, the Author Brand, then you might never recover or have a chance to enter the mind of the consumer, let alone occupy a position there.
Remember, your success is not merely to get people talking about you. Publicity serves a purpose--not unto itself but rather in that it facilitates your entry into a position in the mind of the consumer. You don't want that "position" to be labeled "That author with negative connotations." That is a far greater hurdle to overcome than having no position at all. Try to avoid bad publicity from Day One. You're in business, not high school. Be professional and your publicity will be as well.
Good Publicity - You Can't Pay Enough to Get It
Good publicity takes very little effort to get. What it takes is a unique and original idea which arrives in the public consciousness in a "large" way. It could be a newspaper article or an interview or it could be that you did something unusual. For instance, maybe you decided to donate 50% of all your profits on a book set in the Serengeti to creating a clean water supply for Third World Countries. There are a number of charity funds already in existence--and celebrities contribute all the time, gleaning a lot of publicity for it. You don't do this "just" to earn yourself publicity, but donating profits to a charity which relates to your story can skyrocket your brand into the public awareness. It all depends on how you handle the publicity of the fact you're doing it. Make it a gimmick, and it's a negative. Make it a quiet add-on, and people will want to know more--and their talk is the purpose of the publicity.
Remember, publicity is not selling books. Publicity promotes your brand. Publicity can be conversations about your brand that don't even mention your books. Publicity can be used to establish your position so that later, your twitter promotions and banner advertising can come along and occupy that position. The position must be created and claimed first. Here's an example of how firmly establishing a new position--publicizing it and maintaining it--resulted in a brand that has lasted.
In today's market, we're all familiar with the Mac vs. PC Holy Wars. You probably know the television ad campaigns starring Jason Long as the Mac and a variety of nerdy-PC faces. These advertisement don't actually advertise the product so much as the brand. The Apple folks have applied Immutable Law of Marketing 9 (Law of the Opposite) to make sure everyone knows they are not the nerdy PC but the independent thinker Mac. Thus went the launch of the Macintosh brand in 1984.
It was a famous year because of the Orwell novel, and Apple packed an incredible one-two punch that slammed the Microsoft (MS-DOS) market monopoly a hard spin to the mat. Microsoft recovered, but Apple got its position firmly in place before they did. First, Apple ran a one-time-only advert during the Superbowl, on January 22, 1984. Check it out here:
If you play the video, you'll see the true reporting of an interesting fact: this ad only ran once. It was one of 235 ads that ran in the 1984 Superbowl but it was not "just one among many." Even the idea of someone saying that later was a part of their plan. Superbowl ads are like a religion unto themselves, but this particular ad was The Buzz, with a capital "T" and capital "B" back in 1984.
Everyone everywhere was talking about this advertisement. I mean around the world. No one knew what it meant or why they did this or what the gimmick was--and there was talk in computer circles of another event to follow. Remember, I said it was a one-two punch? Yeah, Apple followed up. They packed the second punch just 2 days later, on January 24, 1984 when Steve Jobs himself released the first-ever Macintosh computer at a major conference which was later broadcast on television -- and watched by millions who'd been made curious by the publicity stunt at the Superbowl two days earlier. Watch that monumental unveiling here:
The line at around time mark 3:50 Never trust a computer you can't lift. became one of the most-laughed about--and repeatedly talked about--slogans. IBM took a huge hit on the stock market in the weeks follow the Mac's release because of that line. So did Digital (DEC) and Honeywell, both of whom made mainframe computers that filled a room. The advert didn't even mention them, did it? There was no mudslinging, just the Law of the Opposite being applied. And applied well!
Don't forget that in 1984, the science fiction genre was expounding the ills of evil computers taking over with Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey both making big rebounds on the book lists. The big room-sized Machines were Evil. The tiny, little Carry-Over-Your-Shoulder-in-a-Bag Macintosh was Good.
Sound familiar? It should. It's the same sentiment in those "cool kid Jason Long as Mac" versus "nerdy geek PC who just doesn't get it" adverts famous now. That's the Apple Macintosh brand, isn't it? MacOS (and nowadays, all iOS devices) are sleek, slim, sexy and smart, while the "other guys" are just old farts trying too hard to be "hip" and looking ridiculous doing it. Sadly, I'm still a PC ;-(
The point is that all that was communicated on Day One--in Apple's 1984 video--and their brand is still going strong. That's the power of a Brand, and it was publicity that launched it, not the ad. The advertisement made no sense.
Law 4: Advertising - Your Brand Has Needs
Once your brand has been publicized, you need to do something to keep the message alive, to keep the buzz a-buzzing. You need to constantly feed and care for your brand. Yes, just like a newborn baby. It's 24/7, never ending until the day you die. Your "baby" could (and should) outlive you if you build a strong enough brand from the start.
Know what your brand is and stay focused on it, rather than trying to be all things to all people, shifting your slant everywhere you go. You create a strong brand by maintaining its focus as narrowly as possible, making it easy to identify and remember later.
The K.I.S.S. rule (Keep it simple, stupid) applies to advertisement design. The problem arises when you try to communicate your brand--and your book and your next book and your last book and your web site and your blog and your Facebook page, etc.--all in one advertisement. That is when you lose the sale.
If you're going to pay to place an advertisement, keep it simple. Keep it focused on your brand. Allow your brand to sell for you. Yes, you need to advertise the book that is on sale, but the book's marketing materials need to represent your brand, not the book's plot. Like a promo tweet, the point of the ad is to get the prospect to click through to the book's sales page. That is where you sell the book. The advertisement needs to spark the reader's interest in your brand. Speak to the position your brand is creating in their mind, and the reader will hear you.
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will look at promotion of Kindle books--with and without the KDP Select membership. (Disclaimer: I am not enrolled in the KDP Select program).