I Am Not Good At Marketing

September 26th, 2014 by Potato

The book is very nearly done. The text is all in there and has had multiple runs of editing. Now it’s down to formatting all the little things, remastering a few images for print, getting the cataloging-in-publication data, the cover art, etc.

I’m proud of it — I think it will truly help people get started at investing, and covers a lot of important elements that are not covered by the books that are currently out there. While I usually have a lot of problems with self-promotion, I can think of the book as being separate from me, as a thing I can promote and herald without it being self-promotion in my damaged mind. But I’m still not particularly talented at it.

I can do the Fermi estimation and figure that there are millions of Canadians out there between 24 and 60 who could really benefit from this book. Yes, many won’t need it; others won’t invest on their own no matter how helpful the book; some are in debt and in no position to use it. Even if just 5-10% of them need it and would use it though, that’s a big market.

And I have no idea how to reach it. The simple fact is that I am not good at marketing. I can maybe write decent copy if I focus on not letting the loquacity run away from me and give it a few revisions. But that depends on having people actually there reading something, and I don’t know how to get to those people in the first place.

My big hope is that everyone who reads it will love it as much as my beta readers did. That they will recommend it to their friends, family, and frenemies. Sadly, people don’t talk about personal finance and investing. Even if I put a copy into someone’s hands and they adored it, to the extent of writing me a little email about how it totally opened their eyes to investing fees and changed their life, the odds are that they will not tell anyone else about it*. For whatever reason, vampire bondage erotica is a more acceptable dinner table, coffee with friends, or book club topic than personal finance. So I can’t rely on word-of-mouth to spread the news of how awesome and helpful the book is.

But beyond word-of-mouth, what have I got? I tried contacting some people in the media. I’ve had online interactions with Rob Carrick, Ellen Roseman, and Melissa Leong in the past when I wasn’t trying to sell them anything (not necessarily deep ones — moreso with Ellen and Rob than Melissa), so I started by contacting them. They were polite, but it wasn’t very promising. There are other people I can try to contact, but those would be completely cold calls. Somewhere I saw a suggestion to get some freelance articles in the paper or a magazine to build name recognition before a book release, which sounds like suggesting that to successfully sell your book, you start with having a past bestseller first — the book started because Adam Mayers didn’t want my how-to articles for the Star! So the media’s a bust.

Advertising? I got a free credit for Google AdWords a few years ago and I tried advertising for the predecessor book. The ads were a complete waste. Maybe subway posters would have a better ROI, but I suspect not.

Last time around I was really bad with social networking: the timing really worked against me, releasing right into my PhD defense, and then having Blueberry. This time I will try to distribute sample chapters and deeper discussions as guest posts on other blogs (if they’ll have me). Of course the problem there is that I might be hitting the wrong audience: it’s the people who aren’t reading personal finance/investing blogs who need the book the most. Good reviews on Amazon help, and I will plead with people to fill those out (their honest opinions — I’m not down for astroturfing). But if readers who liked it are already not telling their friends, going to the effort of writing a review may be out of the question.

So I have to admit it: I am not good at marketing. I have no idea what else to do. Suggestions, blogosphere?

Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

* — True story, nearly no hyperbole (at least, not in the retelling).

3 Responses to “I Am Not Good At Marketing”

  1. My Own Advisor Says:

    Happy to read it and promote it Potato. Send me a copy. Drop me an email at: [edited by Potato just in case Mark didn’t want the whole world to see his address]


  2. Edward Says:

    Hope you’re going to get a copy to Dan Bortolotti? The Canadian Couch Potato writes for MoneySense and it would be a decent place to get a review. (But judging on the number of comments there lately, I’m not sure anyone reads that site anymore. But they do have a print magazine?)

    I’d also get a copy to Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I believe most Canadian finance beginners listen to her above anyone else in the country. (Yep, more than O’Leary.) Many of her subscribers are (as you say), “aren’t reading personal finance/investing blogs “. And she adores books. If she recommended it to her “My Money My Choices” community groups, you’d be laughing.

  3. Potato Says:

    Hi Edward, thanks for the suggestions!

    I had thought about Gail, but I haven’t really seen her post anything on investing so it may just not be something that interests her. I’ve reached out to a few other bloggers who focus on the get-out-of-debt end of the spectrum and they wouldn’t even take a free review copy — investing just isn’t their bailiwick. But if she adores books, I will have to try!

    Dan is a bigger question mark. I mean, he fits the profile to a T, but he’s also written a big book on index investing. The very existence of my book implies his book is not fully answering Canadians’ questions on invesing, and he may or may not take that well. I’m too scared to ask him!