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Marketing funnels for writers who don’t want to know about marketing funnels

I know you don't really want to know what a funnel is, so here's a friendly explanation from someone who also didn't want to know about funnels

Funnels: Confused? Suspicious? Cynical? Alarmed? Bored?

I didn’t know anything about ‘marketing funnels’ or ‘sales funnels’ until a year ago, and I can remember how I felt about it when I first discovered the concept. Confused. Suspicious. Cynical. Alarmed. Bored. But now I realise that the concept can be helpful, although the way in which the term is sometimes used can be downright annoying.

I know you don’t really want to know what a funnel is, so here’s a friendly explanation from someone who also didn’t want to know about funnels:

  1. Think of an inverted triangle. Everyone who could potentially buy your book goes in the top. If you’re not sure who ‘everyone’ is then read this post first.
  2. You keep filtering potential readers out until you get to your superfans, who will buy all of your books, come to all your readings, watch all of your plays. It may not work like that in reality, but that’s the general idea.
  3. If you happen to have stumbled on this post and you actually do want to know all about funnels, then take a look at this post from Constant Content, which goes into much more detail.

How do you filter your readers like this? Well, here’s one way of doing it.

  1. Know who your ideal reader is. This is an important first step.
  2. Offer something that will attract your ideal reader. A free story, a free book, a video, tips and tricks, a podcast to download, an interview with you about how you write, postcards of your poems or cartoons, a chance to win a free book or a free ticket.
  3. Think creatively. Find ways to let them know about number 2. Where do they hang out (physically or virtually)? Which magazines do they read? What gigs do they attend? Which plays do they go to? Where do they go to film screenings or comedy nights? Which blogs do they read? Someone who likes short stories in Brighton and Hove might go to Rattle Tales at the Brunswick, for example.
  4. Invite them to stay in touch somehow. Growing an author mailing list is beyond the scope of this post, but it is something that most author-marketers recommend. For example, here is a post from Jane Friedman’s blog. A mailing list is a good way of staying in touch. If you’re in Europe and you’re setting up a mailing list, you need to know about GDPR. Here’s a post on GDPR from the Society of Authors in the UK.
  5. Stay in touch with them by giving them more of what they like (reviews, news, interesting information). Then when you have a book to sell, let them know about it. Encourage them to tell you that they’ve bought it – post a picture of themselves with the book, for example, or review it. That way, without being pushy, you’ve gone from ‘people who would potentially like my book’ to ‘people who’ve bought my book’.
  6. Ask those people what they think of X story or character or poem, or get them to comment on the cover for your next book, or share reviews on your favourite online review platform – now you’ve turned them into fans who are more likely to buy your next book. I learnt more about this from Nick Stephenson. You can find his blog here.

So that, my friend, in a nutshell, is a writer-friendly marketing funnel.

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