Viral and Fad Marketing

So if you’ve had any involvement with marketing in the publishing industry, you’ve probably seen times when an unknown book from an unknown author suddenly explodes in popularity. We’ve all seen it. A great example is Amanda Hocking’s self-published writing, which suddenly sold almost a million copies in two months after almost nothing. Well, believe it or not, this kind of thing happens in pretty much every industry. Think about it. Snuggies. It’s a bathrobe that someone just turned around. Snap bracelets back in the late 80’s. Beanie Babies. Pet Rocks (it’s a friggin’ rock for crying out loud). All sorts of things all over the place go from being unknown to a craze virtually overnight. Some of them are really simplistic, even stupid.

So here’s the fun part, especially in the publishing industry. Some marketing technique turns up that causes a book to skyrocket in sales, especially when the book is by a little or unknown author, thousands of other authors go ballistic over it, getting hyped up for that big break. Whether it’s a twitter feed, a book trailer, or whatever else, what works for one works for everyone, right? Actually, that’s an astounding no.

The sudden surge of popularity of an item is fad marketing. We all know what fads are. The kicker is they are unpredictable. Items become highly successful and go viral with poor marketing plans all the time. Actually, the dumbest, most ridiculous things become fads. The fact is, a fad is a marketing researcher’s worst nightmare because it defies marketing theory and practice. What that also means is that if you attempt to duplicate the marketing program of a fad market, you probably won’t see the success you were looking for.

The point is, do your research. Learn what marketing techniques actually work and understand that there is no magic bullet for success. Marketing plans must be multi-faceted and well thought out. Wishing for your work to go viral is great, but in reality, you will need to create a situation for that viral affect. This also means that some approaches you use will not yield immediate results, or will not yield direct results. When you combine these with other techniques over time, however, that’s when you begin to see results. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself fall into marketing traps.


6 thoughts on “Viral and Fad Marketing

  1. It’s an issue that runs rampant with authors. Most are not marketers and have a lot of trouble grasping the concepts behind marketing. What really sucks is that, even if you’re traditionally published, the vast majority of the marketing falls on you.

    • Ain’t that the truth: My publisher was tremendously helpful in every other way, but I got not one iota of help with marketing — an area in which I was woefully unprepared.

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