Friday, June 3, 2011

Promotion Redux

by Sheila Connolly

I promise I'll stop obsessing about this soon, but with two books coming out in the next two months, promotion is very much on my mind.
The following was part of an email I received this week from an organization I subscribe to on line, and the header line included "Learn Essential Marketing Tools."  I was invited to participate in a series of workshops where I would learn how to:

--Develop a branding concept
--Develop an overall marketing campaign
--Understand and decide what marketing tools (web, print, etc.) best attract customers
--Learn how to plan and create the framework for your website
--Plan and create a website

All of this sounded very familiar, and I've been hearing it from publishers, agents and colleagues for years.  So why am I repeating it here?  Because this was targeted at farmers.  The email announcement came from SEMAP, the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership.

Yes, the workshops are all about how to market your farm business--just add "for your farm" at the end of each of the above items on the list.

And, believe it or not, this put some things in perspective for me.  Think about it:  electronic media have erased the boundaries between business sectors, and now the same strategies can be applied to mysteries and organic tomatoes.  It's kind of humbling.

But it's also an affirmation of the power of the Internet, if you know how to use it.  Think for a moment of any of the recent examples of civil unrest in various countries.  In an earlier, simpler day, despotic leaders could simply have shut down the radio and television stations and the newspaper (if they didn't already control them outright), and the general population would have had only limited knowledge of what was going on.  Now everyone seems to have a cell phone with Internet access and can post minute-by-minute reports on violence, with pictures and videos.  It's much harder to stifle a revolution these days.

Or in another case, just this past week in South Boston, close to a thousand teenagers congregated at a local beach, and--no surprise, since it was one of the first nice warm days of the year and no doubt more than one illicit substance was involved--violence broke out.  Did all these young people just happen to show up?  No.  They used Twitter and Facebook to draw people to the beach.

And then there's that hapless Congressman who's gotten into hot water about a nude photo that was sent from his Twitter account to someone inappropriate.  I don't know who was guilty of what, but listening to him sputter on camera, it was abundantly clear that he had little understanding of the impact of what had happened. (Bet you have a young aide on your staff who can explain it to you!)

It's an electronic world, and people have become accustomed to instant information.  My Luddite husband can barely dial his cellphone, but last week he spent eight hours driving to a conference with a bunch of colleagues, and any time a question came up, one or another of them would say, "let me look that up on my phone."  This isn't a novelty any more, this is the norm.

What's a writer to do?  We have to embrace ebooks, for one--and that's not easy, because the publishing universe is changing weekly, and even the major publishers are scrambling to keep up, frantically revising contract terms.  But we as individuals can't ignore the potential and the power of the Internet, or we'll be left in the dust.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Sheila, your post left me wondering if, like authors, farmers now have to sell what they grow directly. Are roadside stands the equivalent of brick & mortar bookstores? Also, some regimes are repressive enough to ban or regulate Internet access along with the media--although it's also true that some recent revolutions and civil wars have relied heavily on cell phones, and I've kept in touch by email with friends in countries going through one of each in the past few months.

Sandra Parshall said...

Farmers should count themselves lucky that they don't have to stand around in the produce dept at grocery stores, holding out squashes and lettuce to passing customers and asking, "Could I take a minute of your time to tell you about my latest vegetables?" :-)

As for cell phones, they can also be used to set off bombs...

Julia Buckley said...

How interesting! I grew up around a lot of farming families, and this just never would have been a part of their worldview. I wonder if it has substantially changed life for farmers?

Good luck with all the upcoming promotion!!

Diane said...

Sheila, I already have both of your upcoming books on my 'when are they coming out list'.

It's going to be a fun summer. Eight on my list just for the summer. And I'll probably be discovering and adding more.