So more and more indie digital publishers – including the best selling John Locke – are saying that the traditional marketing methods are not as useful for them as they should be – and that word of mouth, direct referrals and good old quality offering is more important as a sales driver.
This does not really surprise me. I’m no marketing expert, but I can guess what’s going on here.
In the old days of brick & mortar stores, a lot of marketing was based on so-called passive brand awareness. This meant that once you got into the bookstore or cd store looking randomly for a purchase, you would spot a name and associate it with something. To that end, saturating the market with your brand presence, whether through interviews, posters, signings etc. to the point where your name just popped into your readers’ brains at random, was a desirable thing.
Not so with the Amazon model. You can’t really ‘browse’ Amazon. You have to know what you’re looking for. The most impulse purchase you can count on is through the recommendations and ‘other customers also bought’ box, and that’s a far cry from the passive brand awareness you would have strived for in the olden days. Thus, traditional marketing must fail if your only presence is a digital one.
With the onset of digitalized books, music and movies, we’ve finally come to the situation where our real life acquaintances must know less of us than our online ones.
If you visit a house like mine, you will never know what kind of person. There are no books on the shelves, no CDs by the stereo, no DVDs by the TV (and no TV). My flat is a blank card. The only hints you could get are about what kind of furniture design I prefer and what alcohols I drink, if I let you into the kitchen.
But if you were to subscribe to my online information feed, you might (if I were inclined to share these with you) learn instantly all my cultural tastes. Well, this may not apply yet to me personally – I’m not using seamless sharing on Spotify, and I’m not the most prolific Goodreads user, but you know what I mean.
For the sharing-savvy citizens of the internet, the term ‘real life’ is quickly becoming meaningless. Off-line is not where the ‘real life’ happens. Certainly not its most interesting part.