Making Survival First: Part 20 - Marketing
This is Part 20 of the Making Survival First book series. For the previous sections click here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19
I've spent 19 parts talking about making Survival First. I haven’t said anything about marketing Survival First. There’s a reason for this.
I’m a terrible marketer.
As far as internet influence goes I’m basically invisible. Right now I have a few hundred followers on Instagram and a few dozen on the other major platforms.
It's not that I don't value marketing. Survival First is a serious project and marketing is a serious component of any serious project. Making a great book is great, but I’m not delusional enough to believe that I can passively sit back and hope it goes viral. I have to be this book’s biggest champion and actively market it to the world.
The tension I’m dealing with is a theme in Survival First. In the Product Market Fit Risk chapter I describe the difference between people who like to make stuff (product people) and people who like to sell stuff (market people).
As I was working on this this chapter I realized that, for better and worse, I’m a product person. I love making way more than selling. This so-far-19-part-making-and-zero-part-selling Survival First series is case in point.
But if making this book has been anything, it’s been a journey of self growth via self confrontation. And for me to give this book the best chance at success I have to confront my shit.
So indulge me as I confront my shit.
I don’t think I’m a terrible overall marketer. The survival and success of my current business, Taco Street, is proof that I have at least a decent grasp of branding, positioning, and marketing operations. I think my issues are with self-promotion rather than business promotion.
Maybe I have self worth issues. Maybe it’s because I get overwhelmed easily when I try new things like video production. Maybe I’m not a narcissist. Maybe it’s lingering not-cool-enough-for-the-cool-kids syndrome from my awkward-and-chubby middle school years. Maybe it’s trauma from years of job interview rejections. Maybe it’s the why-are-you-talking-to-me vibe I’ve felt from high-status influencer types. Maybe it’s feeling embarrassed to make and share video content. Maybe it’s fear from seeming desperate for attention.
Maybe it’s a general pessimism about marketing not working. Maybe it’s this what-works-for-others-won’t-work-for-me sense of denial. Maybe it’s the voice that says sure, other authors can get twitter famous, get on popular podcasts, go viral and sell tons books. But surely that won’t work for me right?
I’m sure it’s an all-of-the-above cocktail.
How I feel also depends on the marketing channel. Instagram is fun because I get to communicate directly with my friends that already know and love me. I don’t get icky feelings there.
Other channels…not so much.
LinkedIn feels like a name-tag-y networking event where people pose as corporatized Dungeons and Dragons versions of themselves. X/Twitter, while fun/addicting, feels like I’m bull horning into a festering circle jerk of wisdom signaling influencers. YouTube seems promising given the viewership it gets. Getting online hate for the first time has been pleasantly hilarious.
Like I said, these are my issues. And confronted issues are overcome-able issues.
Luckily, part of the solution to my marketing woes is baked into Survival First, and I would be a fraud if I didn’t follow my own advice. There’s two takeaways I describe for marketing-averse product-people like myself: get better at marketing and/or hire professional marketers.
So I’m doing both. I’m figuring out how to get over my shit and learn to use marketing platforms in a way that’s fun, efficient, and effective. More importantly, I’m focused on working with the right people.
As has often happened during this book journey, I’ve met the right people at the right time. I met Gunnar Rogers (Scribe’s former Author Marketing Manager) at…the gym.
The conversation went like this.
Me: Hey Gunnar, I’m about to finish my book and I need a book marketer.
Gunnar: I’ll be your book marketer!
I was excited to work with Gunnar because he’s competent, well connected, hilarious, not a sociopath (important for the kind of marketing I want to do), and a genuinely good human. I suspect we’ll be friends long after we’re done working together.
The timing was perfect. Under Plan A, working with Scribe, I likely would have had a two-month marketing cycle which wouldn’t have been nearly enough. Going off on my own and working with Gunnar meant I could work on my own timeline.
In my case I would need at least six-months to build relationships with the right people and media outlets and to create the necessary promotional content for the book. I met Gunnar just in time for that six-month cycle.
We’ve so far focused on getting me interviewed on podcasts. Gunnar knows who and how to pitch. My job is preparing for those interviews so I can give the podcaster great content to share with their audiences. If we all do our jobs well, then audiences will want to buy the book. Scribe’s advice for podcasting helped me a lot.
The idea is simple. Podcasters have audiences. People read books recommended by podcasters they like. More podcasts. More sales. I suspect the power law will apply here. Most podcasts won’t do much for sales, but a few of the right ones will.
So far I’ve been on a few podcasts. I was nervous starting out, but they’ve all been fun and rewarding. I’ve gotten to connect with new people and experience for the first time how people engage with the ideas that have been locked in my head for years.
The marketing strategies are still evolving. We’ll be exploring more audio/video production for social media, guest articles for major media outlets and expanding our network of strategic contacts.
A few compelling options on my radar so far are Justin Welsh’s newsletter, Nick’s Author Services at Book Thinkers, and professional branding/marketing with another former Scribe powerhouse, Hussein Al-Baiaty.
Overall I’m cautiously optimistic about marketing Survival First. I believe I’ve written a great book worth marketing. I think I’ll be able to overcome my own personal blocks with marketing, and that I’ve got the right people in my team and in my ecosystem to help me with my blind spots.
Jump on board!