Featured guest post by Chelsey Bentley, chief marketing consultant for Bentley Communications Group

As an independent author, it’s often difficult to get your voice heard. You’re at sea with thousands of authors, some big names to compete with, and consumers who may feel overwhelmed by the selection of books and authors to choose from. So how can you make yourself noticeable, and potentially grow readership (and life-long fans!)? The answer isn’t to pour out hundreds of dollars on advertising or change your tone to that of a well-known author, but fairly straightforward: set yourself apart. The marketing of your brand is the single most important step for any small business, and especially for independent authors.

As a marketing consultant, one of my favorite quotes is that of Mad Men’s infamous Don Draper,

If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.

I apply this strategy to marketing campaigns, new ads, and when meeting with clients to define their brand. Your brand is the key to helping you stand out in a sea of authors. Are you the quirky author who pens novels that change point of view halfway through? Use that to distinguish yourself.

Below are just a few tricks one can use to help define yourself as a brand, and set yourself – and your product- apart.

1)  When building your brand, think of it as a person.

Every one of us is unique, and that shows through our beliefs and values. Therefore, your brand is an extension of yourself or your ideal image. More often than not, authors create protagonists that remind them of someone close to them, or even of a facet of themselves. Let’s capture that facet or personality, and propel it into a full person. Is this character quirky? Sweet and southern? Fierce? Use the word that you think fits best, and use it to define your brand.

2)  Consistency is key.

  • Now that you’ve pinpointed a word that defines your book/brand, let’s take it up a notch. Consistency is key with brand marketing and identity. Invest in some brand standards. Brand standards usually consist of a font, colors, and a visual.  Is there a font that goes with your “brand word”? Use it in your cover, press kit or website. Any colors that stick out to you? Create a logo or small visual for yourself or your novel and stick with it. Put it everywhere! Create business cards to leave around town with your brand standards to drum up curiosity.
  • Use your brand word to drive your tone of marketing. If you’re going with a fierce brand, let that define your tone of voice in campaigns, direct mail, emails, etc. Let the protagonist’s voice shine through you. When your brand is personable and unique, it becomes memorable.

3)  Improve your digital footprint.

Got a Facebook page but you rarely post? Post more. Create a Twitter and Linkedin for your brand. Make sure you invest in a robust, content rich website that reflects the brand. If you have separate websites for each book you’ve written, make sure there is a link to your main author site (please make one if you don’t have one!), and your author brand is visible on each site. Hootsuite and Buffer allow for seamless (and free!) social media management for you to share author updates, photos, and anything else that aligns with your brand.

4)  Build relationships with your customers.

As a marketing consultant, I let my clients know that relationship-building is one of the most overlooked items in marketing today. Relationship-building helps your brand become more personable to your customers, which increases the chance they will share your product with others, and make sure you get great reviews! Start an email newsletter for your customers to read exclusive author news, book excerpts, etc. Stage author meet and greets at coffee shops for customers to discuss the book with you. These small “guerilla” marketing ideas are the easiest, and sometimes can result in a few extra sales.

5)  Partnership is important.

Along with building relationships, partnerships are important as an independent author! Be strategic in your partnership.

If you implement any or all of these tricks, you’ll be taking some very important steps to different your brand and enhance your author presence.

Chelsey Bentley is the chief marketing consultant for Bentley Communications Group, a full service agency that caters to each clients’ detailed marketing desires. BCG strives to deliver charming, precise and innovative marketing to “change the conversation” and impact an audience. 

Contact Chelsey

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