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Welcome to The Book Marketing Action Podcast with Becky Robinson and Christy Kirk. In this episode, we are joined by an author who has done many unique, innovative, and creative approaches to mobilize his network to support his many book launches. We are excited for you to learn from our client and friend, Chip Bell!
Chip Bell focuses on customer loyalty and service innovation. He has helped many Fortune 100 companies dramatically enhance their bottom lines and marketplace reputations through innovative customer-centric strategies that address the needs of today’s picky, fickle, vocal customers. Chip’s latest book that launches today is, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions!
Becky: Before we dive into talking about the work you’ve done in marketing your books, will you tell us how many books you’ve brought into the world in your career?
Chip: Becky, I’ve written more than I’ve read. My latest book is the 24th book I’ve written.
Becky: Would you share with our listeners, what you’ve done, and what has worked best for you in marketing your books?
Chip: It starts with a philosophy. You’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village” and when it comes to book marketing, that’s wrong. It doesn’t take a village, it takes a bunch of villages! If everyone you knew bought one of your books, how would you be doing? How successful would it be? Obviously, we don’t know that many people. So you need to figure out a way to borrow other people’s villages and reach out to their networks.
To me, the strategy of marketing a book and promoting a book starts before you begin writing your book. You build your marketing plan as soon as you start the book, not well into it, and not well into the end. You have to start early, and part of the reason for that is people will help you in their villages if they feel an investment in it.
Some ways I do that is to get as many people as I can involved. I have what I call a book 100 and a book 1000, but I can’t manage that many advocates. You get them involved by asking for help picking out a title, stories for the book, book covers, etc. There are so many ways to involve people who you want to become advocates for your book, because now their fingerprints are on it. People share when they care. I want to get as many people to be involved in the creative process of the book so they feel a deeper commitment to help me market it when the book comes out.
Becky: That’s a really great point, Chip! I love the idea of involving people along the journey so they feel invested in the book and its success. So, let’s talk a little bit more about how you engage your network to engage their networks in supporting your book marketing.
Chip: I buy other people’s books and write reviews. You have to be willing to contribute and engage with others. One of my favorite writers is Tara Hunt. She wrote a book called, The Power of Social Networking: Using the Whuffie Factor to Build Your Business. Whuffie she defines as the residual outcome and currency of your reputation. Influence comes from being nice, your network, and being notable. There is no room for bullies with a lot of money. Money might buy you an audience but it does not guarantee you to have influence.
So thinking that way, we need to be helpful and collaborative in our work. I want to be a role model of “this is how you can help me,” by the way I help you promote your work. I write tweets, articles, invite others to write a guest post on my website, review books, all of the things I ask them to do, I also do for them. It’s a partnership.
Becky: I have seen that time and time again. The generous way you support many of the other authors that are clients of ours or friends of yours. The impact it has is incredible and I am deeply grateful to you for that, Chip.
Chip: My pleasure! I enjoy doing it. Obviously there is some reciprocity in it, but I don’t do it just for that reason. I do it because it’s fun, I enjoy it, and I learn a lot more when I’m helping other people and reading their books. Everybody wins!
Becky: So, let’s talk about some of the creative approaches you’ve used in mobilizing your networks? I know I have been the recipient of some packages that have really surprised and delighted me. Let’s talk about some of those creative ways you’ve engaged your network.
Chip: I think the surprise is an important element of it because a lot of the power bloggers you’re really hoping to influence as a new author, they’ve been there done that, and seen it all. So, looking for ways to set yours apart.
For Inside Your Customer’s Imagination, you’ve got to do something that’s imaginative. With this particular book, not only did I send out a free copy of my last book, but I also wrote a songbook to include, because I enjoy music. But, I had to think about how I can tie the songbook to the website. So I decided it would be cool if the accompaniment of the songbook was on my book page on my website. I make sure there are plenty of tools on my website, such as a sample chapter. Things that would be helpful to people in their life and work, whether they buy the book or not, they still get something useful from them.
I also do a lot of book giveaways. When I do a podcast or a webinar, one of the things I always mention is giving books away. It’s about giving back, but also creating a buzz in the marketplace about what you do in a unique way.
Becky: I think in previous episodes, we’ve mentioned some of the unique surprises you’ve included in past launches. Would you be willing to share some of those?
Chip: I wrote a book called, Service Magic, and created a card trick called 3 Card Monte. The third card I had designed like the book cover. For my book Sprinkles, I had these little jars and put sprinkles into them and also had a company create a label for the jars that was the cover of my book. Little things like that cause people to say, “Hey! Look what we’ve got here. This is different and out of the ordinary.”
I don’t care what your topic is, there is always a creative and unique way to promote it. And if you’re struggling to think of ideas, ask a group of kids what they would do to promote it! Again, you can ask your network to think of ideas too. The card trick idea, actually came from me asking people what I should do to promote the book. It takes time and energy, but your book is your baby so you want to invest time and energy into it. For me, that’s a critical part of promotion. I always say this is your book, but if it was your child or grandchild, what would you do for it?
Becky: That’s a very powerful framing, Chip. So is there anything else that’s worked well for you or some advice you might want to share with others who are preparing to launch a book?
Chip: Social media is key and build your network early. If you’re an author and you don’t have a lot of followers, now is your opportunity to grow that. Remember it’s about reaching other people’s villages and not just your village. It’s not just about having a great product, it’s making sure people know about your great product.
Becky: We are going to wrap up this episode, the way we wrap up all of our episodes. Chip has two great action steps you can take today.
- Take your book with you everywhere you go – book sighting, positioning the book in clever unique places. Take your book everywhere because you never know what opportunity you’ll have to position your book in a clever way.
- Start thinking about marketing before or as soon as you start writing your book. You can never start too early thinking about who’s your target market and how you’re going to build a network of advocates for your book. Involve as many people in as many ways as you can.
To learn more about Chip’s latest book (that launches today!) and the work Chip does, check out his website here.