Mari Smith on Why Writers Need to Use Relationship Marketing

I spend a lot of time on social networks every day—maybe more than I should or have to if I knew how to do a better or more effective job with my social marketing. However, those efforts have garnered me a decent—not huge—platform, one that grows every day. In fact, it’s growing faster every day. I’d like it to grow even faster, though. Why? Because the bigger my social media platform, the more people who might buy my books.

This represents the foundation of all social or relationship marketing. The more people you connect with via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or any other social networks, the more likelihood these people might eventually buy something from you. For authors, however, a social media platform also can result in a book deal since publishers also see the number of fans you have as your potential ability to sell books. It also can result in relationships that garner you book reviews and book blurbs, as it has for my own forthcoming book.

So many of the aspiring authors I work with, as well as some of you—my blog readers, remain reticent to spend time on social networking. They don’t understand its value—or maybe they do but not fully enough to give up writing time for relationship marketing. I thought, therefore, I’d let the real expert on the subject—Mari Smith—explain the value here on my blog.  Maybe then some of my clients and readers would listen…

Today’s post is based on my interview with Mari, which I conducted while at BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2011 in Los Angeles, CA, this past November. (read part one of this interview here.) Mari is a passionate social media leader who specializes in relationship marketing and Facebook mastery. The author of The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web,  and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day, Dun and Bradstreet named her one of the Top Ten Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. With her popular blog at MariSmith.com and her large, loyal following on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+, Mari is considered one of the top resources and thought leaders in the world of new media marketing.

Mari and I first discussed her thoughts on the fears authors have about getting involved in social networking and how to use social networks effectively. (You can read what she had to say in my last post.) Then, we discussed relationship marketing and its use for authors. Mari discusses how her social media presence impacted her ability to land a book deal and how writers can follow in her footsteps. The following is our conversation on that topic.

Let’s talk about relationship marketing.  It is the crux of what you’re talking about, so describe for me what that means.

Relationship marketing as a term was first coined in the 1980s by Professor Leonard Berry. From what I can understand from my own research for the book, it was an academic term. It wasn’t really a mainstream term. However, the simplest and easiest way to describe it is to think of traditional marketing as transaction focused on going for the sale. Most often businesses are focused on the one sale in front of them. Relationship marketing is focused on building a connection with the prospect or customer in front of you and beyond you so you can have a long-term relationship. It’s really the shift from one sale to a customer for life. That’s the difference. The relationship marketing part is really building that connection, building up what’s called social equity. You’re using social networks, and such, so you become the obvious choice when people are looking for your product or service.

Even though I feel relationship marketing as a concept has been around a couple decades now, the new part is this social networking, the online social networking that has literally propelled people into a new level of relating. They are sharing every nuance of their life. Nonetheless, as a savvy marketer, you can tap into that plethora of personal information that people are sharing and use it to tailor and customize and personalize your marketing messages and really wow people. You can wow influencers, wow people. You can turn around a negative customer relationship situation and turn people into customers for life very, very easily.

What does that mean for authors?

For an author, I would say it’s been the same forever; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. What social networking has created and accelerated is the even more important aspect of who knows you. It’s all about relationships and the connecting. For example, in 2008, I got written up in Fast Company, and they dubbed me “the Pied Piper of the online world,” simply because I was Facebook friends with the journalist from Fast Company. I didn’t know her, had never met her, but we were Facebook friends. I have used that moniker for years, and it has literally created a phenomenal positioning for me in the marketplace. Being able to create those relationships can literally open doors for you.

Many authors are also speakers. You can get all kinds of speaking engagements through these social networks. There’s a terrific organization called SANG, the Speakers and Authors Networking Group. It was founded by a friend of mine, Larry Benet. I met him through Facebook. He was a Facebook friend, and then we did meet in person at many, many events, and we became fast friends. I’ve been to all the SANG events, and it’s been an absolute catalyst in my speaking and writing career. The online social networks are there to help us amend existing personal relationships and to create new ones. It’s like how we just met this morning, you commented on my Facebook page and said, “I’m at BlogWorld. Can we talk.” I responded, “We can make that happen. I’m still here for a few hours.” And here we are in person!

What is the main message you want to give aspiring authors who want to build platform but still feel put off by involvement on Facebook or the other social networks?

My main message would be just that persistency and consistency are key. Don’t give up.

Also, get the right education. That’s often what stops people from moving forward—simply a lack of knowledge or a lack of understanding. I started with zero fans, zero followers. I started somewhere. I think what I’ve accomplished—literally reaching an audience of a quarter of a million people, being able to aggregate all my audiences, and being headhunted for book deals—that’s perfectly achievable for any aspiring author. Ultimately no author on the planet wants to write a book and have it sit on the shelf. Every author dreams of being a bestselling author, I would think, or at least selling a reasonable number of their books. The chances of that happening are significantly enhanced by using social media marketing, or, as I call it, relationship marketing, which is a blend of the offline and the online—doing the speaking as well.

Why should published authors and aspiring authors, as well as bloggers, utilize social networking? What’s in it for them? What will they gain?

When you have an already built-in audience, when you’ve built up a decently sized and nice array of an online platform–and it doesn’t have to be monstrous (it could be 5,000 Twitter followers, 2,000 Facebook fans, and some blog subscribers), you’re more likely to get a publishing deal when you, obviously, come up with a good proposal. I was literally headhunted by my publisher. They said, “Mari, we’ve been watching you for a while.” They headhunted me from the Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day book, and at the same time they said, “We notice you’ve been calling yourself a relationship marketing expert for many years.”  That was a tagline on my blog.  “We want you to know that we know  you’ve got a Twitter audience, a Facebook audience, et cetera. They were watching how active I am. This acquisitions editor, said  “We’d love to have you write a book on the subject.”

Contrary to that, a client of mine and very dear friend who is extremely well-known in the personal growth seminar industry—if I said her name to anybody who’d been to a training in the last several decades, they’d know who she was—has no presence online, her site’s outdated, she’s not on Twitter, she’s barely on Facebook, and she has a brilliant idea for a book. Someone recommended her to a publisher, and they looked over her proposal, and they tried to find her online and did all these searches, and they said, ‘You know what? Sorry. We can’t give you a deal. Come back when you have an online audience.”

I was like, “Whoa! You’re kidding me? That is a sign of the times.”

What I think is cool is when you have an online audience, and publishers are following your every word, and they’re loving you, you can actually then take your pick of publishers.

What would you say are the best social networking sites for authors to use?

You know, Facebook’s always the top of my list, predominantly because of its sheer volume. I mean, eight hundred million plus, hurtling…well, they were hurtling for a while, now they’re on a slow, steady climb toward their first billion. I do think they’ll make it at some point in 2012, maybe 2013. We’ll see this platform with the first billion.

What’s really fascinating is the whole psychology of Facebook, how it’s become part of people’s everyday life. Out of the eight hundred million people, half the people log on every single day for an average session time of 55 minutes. Even though Google has the ranking of number one as the most visited site, Facebook is number two in terms of traffic.  In terms of session time, nobody beats Facebook for the length of session time. That’s one thing to keep in mind; you’ve got an enormous number of people, literally hundreds of millions, and their eyeballs are looking at Facebook either on their mobile device or on the web. Why not go ahead and carve out your piece of real estate, and set up shop? You can sell directly on your fan page. You can communicate and build this audience. You can really get to know your people. You can conduct market research. You can crowd-source a whole book; ask people to contribute content.

I love Twitter as well. On Twitter it is really easy to grow a sizable following when you take action to proactively seek out new people to follow. There are two hundred million or something people on Twitter. Look for an example—even right here at BlogWorld. For example, you look for the hash tag [#BWE], and it’s a wonderful way to meet new people and follow new people. And people will follow you back.

Google+ has a lot of potential, and I would definitely recommend getting active on there.

I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn, but I’ll bet writers could do really well with LinkedIn. I’m actually a member of several groups on LinkedIn. There’s an author’s group and writing groups.

Depending on your preference, there’s definitely at least one or more social networks that people can get active on.

I suggest you read Mari’s book, The New Relationship Marketing, so you truly understand relationship marketing. It offers tons of useful advice you can adapt with a focus toward building an author’s platform. The information Mari offers in an understandable and easy-to-read format includes “New Business Skills for Everyone” and “Nine Steps to Significantly Growing Your Business Through Relationship Marketing.” If you look at these as if your book is the center of your business and you are your brand, you will quickly discover the importance of all Mari teaches.  Putting Mari’s rules of relationship marketing to use definitely will help you create a readership—buyers—for your book.

If you’re just getting started on relationship marketing, be sure to read part 1 of my interview with Mari. If you’re doing something that’s working well for you on the social networks, I’d love to hear about it…and so would the other readers of this blog. Please share your stories in a comment.

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