Premium Marketing

Strategies for the year ahead

The end of the year is nigh and there are some important things that need to be discussed. 


How many sales did you make in last year?  Would you like to double that amount by the end of this year?  One step along that path, would be to learn about how to use giveaways.  Christmas is a time for giving and we all like to give gifts.  Having said that, how many of your books did you give as gifts this year?  Did they achieve their aim and bring more customers into your life?  If not, why not?  


Believe it or not, the premium (or freebie/giveaway) is the most misused marketing tool an author has.


Think about this for a minute.


The aim of giving away a free book is not just to be a kinder, better person!  Your aim is to live an author’s life and to write for a living.  And that living depends on how many sales you make.  To achieve this aim, you need to tailor your freebies and giveaways so that potential customers spread your name/work/ideas far and wide - so that they’ll return to you and buy from you. 


Has that worked for you?


Take a look at what established companies give away.  Most give products that are not related to their own core products and services.  I used to work in the marketing department for a photocopier company that gave things like pens, t-shirts, mugs, wall calendars and baseball caps with their logo on it. 


All these are used quite sensibly to promote the company name.  Supermarket plastic bags are a case in point.  Although, now they make us pay for them!  What a swiz, eh?  If supermarkets are going to charge for them, do you think they should at least take their logo off and, instead, give us the aforementioned freebies!  Do you feel a petition coming on?   


Ask yourself how many of these freebies you have in your house (pens, for example).  Hunt for them.  Pile them up.  Did you know you had that many?  If you weren’t aware, and you weren’t prompted to buy from them, these giveaways are obviously not doing their job properly.  The reason?  You're not noticing the logos.


As I sat at my desk parceling up freebies as marketing gimmicks, I had a light-bulb moment:


The rule to follow with free products is to give away something of value


Something that people will return to and think “this is nice” and appreciate what they have. You want your free product to be kept and ‘saved’ and returned to - even if it's just in the memory banks of the customer. 


Your books are a good example.  Have you seen how many free digital books you can get on SmashWords or Amazon?  More importantly, have you totted up how much that has actually cost you to give it away in the hope of a sale?


On average, a book costs around £4,000 to produce.  If you go one step further and include a video, that’s another £2,000.  Think of all those hours you have spent crafting your story.  All those arguments you have had with your family, just to get that precious ‘quiet’ time in order to do your writing.  All the hours that you’ve spent collecting your ideas together, travelling to libraries, paying to be a member of professional organisations, spending time being a member of groups, attending conferences, and learning at workshops to improve your skills.  Also, not forgetting the reformatting, rewriting, and redrafting your book - in fact, re-doing everything you can think of – to make your work perfect in the eyes of the reader. 


I’m sure you can come up with loads of other scenarios you have experienced as a painful process – just to get your book written and published. 


And then what do you do?  You go and give it all away!


Regardless of how much it physically costs, how much time has that taken you?  Given the amount of time and energy you have put into your book, ask yourself:


"How much value do I place on my work?"


Of course, you give your book away in the hope that people will read them, appreciate them and then, return to buy more.  Heck, we’ve all seen the free books given away with a cellophane wrapped magazine.  As an author, don’t let these massive marketing campaigns fool you.  They’ve already been paid for by the conglomerate that made a deal with another conglomerate that published them! 


To make sure you are not out of pocket, or become that 'impoverished author icon' that the world is so used to seeing, you need to figure out is what a big company does. 


They give away what they consider a ‘taster’. 


If the 'taster' is something that jogs the customer's memory or entices them to return to buy another product, then it’s doing its job properly.


Those free books (inevitably, the full version) that you give away – I’m telling you now, more often than not, they end up stored on a Kindle and are never read.  Go on.  Confess!  You’ve got tons of them too.  I know I have.  Or, if they are read, then they are read over a weekend and promptly forgotten about.  Why is that? 


Because people don’t value something they haven’t paid for. 

They never have.  They never will.


There is a way to rectify this and I’ve crafted a possible strategy for you for 2017. 


Rather than promising yourself another diet frenzy (or fitness campaign), you can make this your New Year’s Resolution if you wish! 


  • Carefully think of what you are giving away

  • Instead of a ‘whole’ book, give part of a book away

  • Give a gift related to the subject matter

  • Think of an enticing strapline – related to your book

  • Think quality, rather than quantity

  • Put a plan of action into place, to change your website to reflect your ‘giveaways’


At my desk of the photocopier company, I was forever packaging and putting in the post to their clients these types of freebies:


  • Stationery: pens, pencils, calendars, note pads and rulers

  • Novelty items: key chains/fobs, mugs, golf balls, thermometers and umbrellas

  • Clothes: caps, t-shirts, socks and gloves


That was over 25 years ago.  Today, most companies have moved away from this.  Instead, their freebie list looks something like this:


  • Office: mouse pads, computer disks, calculators, rulers, snack in a box, catalogues

  • Survivalist: pocket knives, flashlights/torches, canvas bags, tent pegs, packaged food, dried food bags

  • Novelty: stress-free balls, children’s toys, books with customised covers, globes, kaleidoscopes


Of course, they also run big competitions with massively expensive prizes (holidays, flat-screen cinema TVs and the like).   One of the bigger prizes I organised was for the Dealers who sold the most products to be gifted with a golf weekend at the Belfry, a week in Barcelona to watch the Olympic Games and also a week in South Africa to watch the Rugby World Cup (see Invictus article below).  These had value, but that was because what they achieved (increased sales) was valuable. 


You can work out what is suitable for you.  But give some thought to what you can giveaway, alongside your book, something that won't cost you much but would add value to the customer's mind. 


Let me know how you get on by sending an email to: with ‘PMS-2017’ (no, not the woman thing! or the texting abbreviation ... PMS = premium marketing strategies), in the subject line.

Related topic: Dear Broke Reader

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