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The Little Things Do Add Up

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Have you ever wondered whether a book signing that produced just a few sales was worth the time and effort you spent on it? Was it worth your time to write the letter to the editor that the newspaper didn’t run, or to do a particular promotion that seemed to return zero sales? I asked myself those questions often until I realized that more publicity, more public appearances, and more just plain getting my name and the title of my book in front of potential buyers would eventually lead to additional sales.

All your promotional efforts are geared to creating a buzz–getting people talking about your book. But they have to have read about it, heard about it, and/or seen it several times before they’ll start talking about it. Promotion is partly a game of repetition and name recognition.

How many times must potential buyers read about your book or hear about it or see it before they decide to buy it? How many times can you get your book in front of them? There is no absolute number, but the more times your potential buyer encounters the title of your book, the more likely it is that your promotional efforts will translate into sales.

Keeping the Hits Coming

The promotions that don’t generate many initial sales may produce future sales. Think of the book signing that produced only a few sales but led hundreds of people to stop and talk, pick up a promotional piece, or look at your poster, even if they just looked as they hurried by. Some of those individuals may recognize your name or the title of your book in your letter to the editor, article, or news story when it’s printed a week later. And think of the person who is searching the Web ane.ok after the signing and comes across your site and realizes, “Hey, that guy was at the mall last week.”

Many times, promotions lead to additional promotions that eventually lead to sales. As part of my initial marketing plan, I returned to my high school (I graduated in 1996) and delivered presentations about the hard work, frustration, and sense of accomplishment involved in writing and self-publishing a book. By themselves, these presentations did not generate many sales, but by delivering them I got the superintendent interested in my book. He then provided an endorsement, which did lead to sales.

I learned the same lesson after I attended a marketing seminar where I was fortunate enough to meet a local Kmart store manager who was very excited to learn about my book. This new friendship led to a book-signing event at the Kmart store, which seemed unsuccessful– until a local television crew appeared and shot some footage for a 30-second spot on the local news. The unsuccessful book signing was transformed into a huge success because the local-interest story, which included my Web site address, generated tremendous traffic and sales.

More Than Just Sales

Right now, all my little marketing and promotional efforts have added up to sales of more than 500 copies of Saving Your Way to Success. Certainly not national bestseller numbers, but a real achievement in the context of my long-term goals as author and publisher.

After selling 500 copies, I started to see a ripple effect. Readers have responded and explained that my book has helped them or their children/grandchildren on their financial paths to success. Buyers have responded with letters explaining how much they enjoyed reading my book, how useful and practical it was, and how they plan to pass it on as a gift to their children and/or grandchildren. Some readers have e-mailed me to say how wonderful they think my efforts are in helping young people start on the right financial path early in life.

The fact that I am able to do that through my book makes all my promotional efforts worthwhile. It is the main manifestation of the truth that the little things do add up.

Justin P. Ertelt, president of Just-in Time Publishing, is author of Saving Your Way to Success, which is designed to educate students and young adults about the importance of saving and financial planning. To learn more, visit www.savingyourwaytosuccess.com.

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