I can’t even fathom the number of conversations I’ve had with new clients suffering from a severe case of “I Just Don’t Get It!” disease. The stories of why they wrote their books or developed their products are all different, but the endings are the same: They’re not selling diddly. Squat. Nada.
Before we get too far into the whys and why nots, let me warn you, I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. There’s no magic form for you to fill out to get instant access to my “Special Report,” nor is there a download of secret “For Your Eyes Only” information designed to get you on my mailing list. (My next rant is going to be about buying into the web marketing trap.)
Instead, I’ll go straight to the “why,” which is as complicated as it is simple: People can’t buy what they can’t find.
Most web marketing gurus will tell you that Search Engine Optimization can help direct potential customers to your book or product, and why you should hire them to get you listed front and center. I am not that guy. Oh, I believe in the power of Google, but there are major caveats:
1. Search engines are great if you know what you’re searching for. Type in your name and/or book title into Google and look at the results. You may be at the top of page 1 and even have 22 different listings on the first and second pages. You may get the same results on Bing and other search portals. You might even show up first on Amazon.com, where your book is right there, for sale to the masses. But you’re still not selling many books are you? Here’s the tricky part: YOU know your name and your book title, don’t you? But, people can’t search out your name and book title if they don’t know them.
2. People can search for my incredibly, fantastical keywords, can’t they? Well sure they can – and they do. Let’s assume for a second you have a book and it’s about Politics, Money, Religion, Employment or any number of topics. Now go to Amazon and type in your keywords – you know, Politics, Money, Religion, Employment … You just discovered there are 672,481 books using your Incredibly Fantastical Keywords, right? Now type in those same keywords along with your name and/or book title. Eureka! There you are. I now direct your attention to No. 1 above.
3. Your website is totally gorgeous but it’s not getting you sales. The first part of this quandary is, LOOK AT No. 1, above. Are people actually visiting your site? Have you checked out your server logs to see what your traffic data looks like? You’re probably thinking your webmaster takes care of all that, right? Unless your webmaster is getting a piece of the profits from every item you sell, odds are he/she doesn’t really care. Let’s be honest here, you’re paying your webmaster whether you sell or not. Now, if your traffic data is showing that you’re getting a boatload of traffic but no sales, maybe you need to be more realistic about how gorgeous your site really is. Looking good and converting visitors into buyers are two different things. But before you start blowing up your site, go back and LOOK AT No. 1, ABOVE.
Here’s a bit of free advice: If your marketing plan to reach 100,000 book or product sales is based on people finding you without a clue who you are, keep your day job and forget about buying the fancy car with your profits. You need exposure. You need to get your name and the name of your book, product or business in the news – in newspapers (they all put their content online nowadays), magazines and e-zines and blogs. Get yourself interviewed on talk radio and TV, if you can. Get your social network sites up and active and build a following.
Plenty of people do it themselves. If you find that too difficult or time-consuming, hire professionals to do it for you. There are 5 hundred million thousand books and products for sale online. If you want folks to know what to search for, they have to know that you exist and what you have to offer.
And the happy ending will come.
Joe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (www.leftbraindigital.com), a web development company. He’s an award-winning web designer/developer with more than 18 years of experience in print and web design and development. Thomas’ work became a major influence in graphic and web design in the “Y2K” era of the Internet’s dot-com explosion.