Sunday, July 4, 2010

Resources for Writers #24: Mail Marketing Campaign

One important resource that a (published) writer needs is marketing tips, and cheap is good. However, if you have a little money to spend, it’s important to use it in the right venue. I looked at a number of ideas and, after the local library bought both my books outright, I settled on targeting libraries, based on the following premises:

1)     Libraries buy books.
2)     People who work in libraries buy books.
3)     People who work in libraries know people who buy books.

First, I found a listing for every library in the state (197) and made a set of labels (Avery 8160 is a good size). Typing the labels took some time, but I have them saved if I ever decide to do this again.

Next, I designed postcards at VistaPrint and ordered 250, of which 100 were free in a special offer, so I paid $27.11 with postage. I included:

  • my website where the books/trailers can be previewed
  • the email address of the publisher’s online store (for purchasing)
  • a note that the author is available for book signings, reviews, and workshops

Postcards require a 28-cent stamp. (Remember the days of the penny postcard?) Postage came out to $55.16. However, I already had almost 100 17-cent stamps, so I only had to buy the extra postage for those this time around.

Using Avery 8160 again, I made another label to use on the back with the address label. On this one, I made sure that the recipients would know that I was a local Arkansas author. Then, just for good measure, I added the title of my upcoming 2011 release. To make this label stand out from the address label, I added a border, shading, and used colored font.

All that was left was to label and stamp the postcards. The post office said that sorting by zip code wouldn’t facilitate delivery, so I didn’t do that. Speaking of zip codes, the list of libraries didn’t include those, so I had to look up them up individually from another printed list. Also, if a city was large enough to have more than one zip code, I had to look up the library itself. However, none of that took as much time as you might think. (Hint: Not every state thoughtfully provides one concise list. I looked for one in Texas and found that I had to check out the library systems to get the names and addresses of individual libraries!)

I chose not to use a return address label, electing to have the business contracted between the library and the publisher.

So for the investment of under $100 ($82.27), I’ve made contact with libraries all over the state. If half of them look at the postcard, that’s almost 100 potential buyers. Sales could come from both libraries and from individuals. Or, they could come not at all. That’s always a possibility, especially with books being something of a luxury in a poor economy. If I receive any requests for speaking/workshops, that’s exposure as well as an opportunity for individual sales. It seemed worth at least a one-time effort and investment.

I’m not sure if I can get any information from the publisher regarding sales from this mail campaign, but I may inquire about it anyway. It would help to know how many sales  (if any) resulted so I could decide whether or not to make the same investment of time and money again. 

I’d love to heard from anyone who has done something similar—or has other marketing ideas. Consider yourself invited to guest blog here at The Word Place anytime!


Jill James said...

Judy, that sounds like a great marketing strategy. Hope it works wonders for you.

Leigh D'Ansey said...

Hi Judy. You've put a lot of work into this and I'm sure it will be worthwhile. Here in NZ authors can join a government-run scheme and are paid each time one of their book is taken out from a library - I'm not certain if the payment is a percentage or a regular sum but it's a very useful payout once a year, especially if an author has several books available for loan across several different libraries. Good luck! (and if you are the right 'Judy', thanks for becoming a follower on my blog!).

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Judy,
Great marketing strategy, hope it brings in a lot of sales.


K9friend said...

Sounds like a great idea. Could you add book stores into your mix? The small independent book stores seem especially supportive of local authors.


Donna Alice said...

A sound idea - am hoping to start implementing it myself soon here in Ohio. I like the idea of having the postcards from Vistaprint too. Will have to get busy at that.