A Few Christmas Thoughts On Marketing

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Would you trust a Christian?

How about a Puritan?

A Quaker then?

On cold winter mornings before I head out, I love a bowl of hot steaming porridge oats, with a dash of maple syrup.

With this in my belly, I am ready for anything the day may throw at me…well, at least until the mid-morning coffee break.

Look at the image of the Quaker man on the box. He’s adorable, trustworthy, decent, a law-abiding citizen. His smile is certainly reassuring. Admiring his rosy cheeks? Well, he could be Santa Claus.

His face says it all. Buy my products and you’ll feel as good as I look!

a pic of quaker%20oats%20man

I was in my local supermarket recently, when my keen eye spotted a bargain. I saw an offer on the shelves that was just too good to miss. A double-size box of my favourite porridge oats, with twice the usual contents, for a knock-down, give-away price of 30% below normal cost. My hand flashed out quicker than lightning. The big box was in my cart. The next day, ready for breakfast, I broke into my double-sized box of….what? I was shocked, then embarrassed at being so gullible. I trusted the Quaker man to deliver on his promise. What I got was, yes, a double-sized box, but inside it was 60% air! The actual contents came up to the level (take a look at the first picture) of the top of the wooden post.

As we head towards to the Christmas season when billions of dollars change hands, maybe we should all take a step back and reflect upon the potential of marketing and its ability to persuade us to buy products that patently don’t live up to the advertising.

Just for the sheer sake of it, I did a trawl through Bible Gateway to check if the following words and phrases ever appeared in the Bible.

Marketing, Selling, Sales Strategy, Search Engine,

Keywords, Customer Centric, Optimization.

You guessed it. None of them have a place in the Good Book. As writers, of course, we need marketing to get our message out there and reach communities, whether they be local or global. But we need to be discerning and careful to avoid the trap of believing and buying into the same secular trickery that sells anything to everyone. We should not be inveigled by the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Not be seduced to sell our sacred message by secular means.

I have often pondered this: What would I say, if God said these words to me?

”Fred, your book is great, but it will only sell one copy. The person who reads it will be changed and will become my servant and take the Gospel to millions of people all around the world, and all because he read your book. Alternatively, I can have your book sell millions of copies, you will be rich beyond your dreams, but only a few will be saved. My son, it’s your free choice.”

What do we ultimately want from writing books? Fame and fortune? Or to be walking in God’s will?

Of course, the Lord has a strategy to communicate his message to the world. Undeniably, he uses the power of the Word to get the message across to the greatest number in the most effective way. And he uses great orators to reach the lost, but persuasion is not their business. Their business is communicating the truth about the Son. The way God markets his message turns human wisdom and cleverness on its head.

When God wanted to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s tyranny he sent a guilt-ridden, reticent, stuttering, fearful man called Moses to get the job done.

When God wanted to proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ he used an eccentric wild man, dressed in animal skins, eating locusts and honey in the desert.

When God wanted to save the world, he sent his all-powerful and eternal Son to be born naked in a stable for animals. As a human child he was vulnerable, weak, dependent and unable to live without his mother and father’s protection and care.

When God wanted to reconcile us to him, he allowed his Son be crucified, killed on a cross of wood, dying as a common criminal rejected and alone.

I wonder what the top marketing gurus and the best advertising companies would have come up with, if God had asked them to create a package to ‘sell salvation to sinners?’

They might have come up with a great sales strategy and a winning message to achieve customer optimization, perhaps throwing in an unforgettable slogan, an amusing jingle too… yet somehow, like the Quaker box of porridge oats I bought, I think it would fallen short, been so much air and less substance. I think their sales plan would have missed the target, somehow betrayed the truth, don’t you?

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SEO Is Not Enough To Grow Your Blog Subscriber List!

Only five years ago, you might have heard, “Radio doesn’t sell books. TV sells books.” Now, you’re more likely to hear, “TV is okay, but social media sells books.” If you get bloggers talking, tweeting, sharing, and posting about your books, you’re likely to experience enhanced success at marketing your book.

But, alas, marketing your blog is different from marketing your regular website. Specifically, plain old search engine optimization (a.k.a., SEO) isn’t enough to make you a widely read blogger.

The blogging system has added variables beyond SEO, like the warm, fuzzy, social element (hence the “social” in “social media.”) Search engines are “cold” and comb through blogs, looking for key words, tags, page relevance, back-links from other reputable sites, etc., but real people are “warm” and click on “forward” and “share” buttons if they feel that your message resonates with them on a personal, emotional level. Catch my drift? You have to be an expert at both the cold and warm elements in order to succeed at blogging.

By the way, in case you’re wondering what a “back-link” is, I’m going to be self-serving and include one here. It’s a link back to my own website, www.TheEdenDiet.com. Voila! I just raised my own website’s search engine ranking by linking it to the highly respected Wordserve Watercooler blog.

In the same way, let me return a favor to a fellow Wordserve author. A while back, Jordyn Redwood interviewed me on her blog, Redwood’s Medical Edge, and she included a back-link to my Eden Diet website. Now, I just returned the favor with a back-link from the Watercooler. Her blog’s search engine rankings just went up a bit. Do you see how it works? The “social” in  “social media” augments your search engine optimization.

Unfortunately, even if your blog content resonates with people on a warm, human level, only a small percentage of your subscribers will click “share” and “forward.” Probably, most will be passive and neither comment on nor share your posts. Thus, to expand your subscriber list, you must find ways to engage and mobilize that small minority of blog followers who could actually help you spread your message.

One way to recruit supportive blog followers is to cross-promote with other reputable bloggers who have large subscriber lists. Imagine the ripple effect of increased numbers of subscribers when other big-time bloggers link back to your blog (not to mention that the back-links will raise your blog’s standings with the search engines).

Because it isn’t easy to get big-time bloggers to notice let alone promote and share your content, let me tell you some strategies that have worked for me: (1) Ask to feature/interview other bloggers for your own blog. Try to pick those with large followings. Many will offer to feature/interview you on their blog, in return.  (2) Offer free books to those who interview you and suggest that they give them away to their own followers. When you first help others, some return the favor!

In summary, your ideal blog marketing strategy should be (1) get noticed (through regular SEO, using key words and tags, getting back-links, etc.); (2) hold your readers’ attention with a warm message that fills their needs; (3) encourage readers to actually participate and share your message; and (4) get noticed by and develop relationships with well-known bloggers who have big followings. Help your fellow bloggers spread their message by featuring them on your site, and maybe someday they will offer to help you spread your message.