Guest blog article by Jennifer L. Self.
I recently attended a play portraying Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. The setting was 16th century England, right before the death of Henry VIII. His son, Edward, succeeded him to the throne but lived for a very short time. After Edward’s death, Henry’s daughter, Mary, took the throne. Mary’s reign was characterized by the brutal treatment of the English people and earned her the title of “Bloody Mary”.
In this play, the playwright imagined the childhood tension between Prince Edward and his sister Mary. They were preparing to go out onto London Bridge and greet the city people. As a typical child, Edward was reluctant when Mary prodded him to hurry with his dressing. “We’re only greeting people again, Mary,” he pointed out, resisting her urging. Mary’s character exclaims in exasperation, “Subjects! Not people, subjects. And do refrain from that disgusting habit of smiling. It does not become a prince.”
Mary’s dismissive attitude towards humanity and her arrogance is repulsive to us hundreds of years later. However, we tend to make the same error in our marketing, although to a lesser degree. There is a danger in focusing so much on followers, web site stats and book sales that we no longer see our readers as people. They are only a means to promote our own book or ideas. This, of course, is not God’s design for reaching out with the message He has given us.
Here are a few ways we can avoid treating our readers as mere numbers and appreciate them as the people they are:
- Focus less on what you do and more on what they need.
This is one of the fundamental problems of marketing. When someone asks about your product, you begin your pitch by telling all about you, your product and what it does. While they may politely listen, your message has no relevance to their life. They need to know that your product will fill a need for them.
For example, let’s say you write a book about caring for dogs. When you first launch into a long monologue about your qualifications and knowledge of dogs or explain the details of how your book is the best manual for dog care in the nation, you are only promoting yourself.
However, when you meet someone walking his dog, reach to pet it and ask him questions about his dog. At some point in the conversation you may ask, “What are your greatest challenges in caring for your dog?” As he shares, you are no longer concerned with yourself, but you are learning about what the dog owner needs.
- Craft a message that meets their needs.
When you take time to find out the needs of your audience, you become clear on your message. Draw from the needs of your audience and tailor that message directly to them. Those in your audience are no longer numbers and stats, but real people walking down neighborhood streets and in parks with their dogs.
When you write your book, picture those people who spoke to you. Remember what their greatest struggles were. Consider what they did to properly care for their dogs and share those tips with your readers.
- Share your message with those that need it most.
In our example of writing a book about caring for dogs, you probably need to share it with those that own dogs. Once you have found out the needs of your audience and crafted a message to meet those needs, you now have only to find them.
Where do dog owners shop? What websites do they frequent? Are there any clubs, meeting places or online forums made for dog owners? Can you contact local veterinarians about marketing your book?
When you begin to see your audience as real people with real needs, you craft a better message and reach your audience more effectively. When you ignore the numbers and concentrate on people, you lose your inflated opinion of yourself and your work. It is no longer about self-promotion but about building relationships.
While you are greeting these real people and filling their needs, ignore Mary’s advice. Go ahead and smile at them. We are all in this together after all, and it becomes you quite well.
I hope you learn solid principles to help you on your journey of success—whatever success means to you.
Change something today to make your tomorrow better.
Literary Strategist, LLC
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Jennifer L. Self is passionate about educating, working and living well at home. When she’s not dreaming up new business ideas or spending time with her family, she writes about simplifying and enriching life for the work-at-home, homeschooling mom on her blog.