As it happens, I’ve been associated as editor and publisher, even author, with some astounding books of nonfiction that advance crucial ideas or simply tell inspiring stories. [You may go to my Free Man Publishing site for a listing of these books and authors.] As inherently interesting, professionally composed, well-written, and utilitarian as many of these authors’ works are, the sad reality is none has broached anything like a mass-market appeal, much less a mini-mass-market appeal (say, sales in the low thousands). Why? This column wrestles with imaginative spreading of creative seeds of thought that more than a few people will find likable to the point of buying.
Many have preceded me in this exercise, and I note that Wikipedia calls organic marketing ‘community marketing‘ and attributes it generally to select large corporations who ‘reinvent’ themselves naturally… with people… and stuff. Sorry, there do seem to be some instructive cases that apply to my present issues, but nothing works for me unless I see it with my own eyes and can cast it from my own forms.
Let’s think of organic marketing as planting a seed in receptive soil and providing what the seed needs to flower brilliantly or produce copious fruit. [Where the seed by analogy is the book or invention, the soil is the audience or audience type that best grows the seed (the market), and success is the measure of the plant flourishing therein. Immediately, one needs to ask oneself, “What kind of seed is my seed and what kind of soil is suited to its nourishment?”
Using a book of fiction to illustrate, is my book a high-action, detective thriller that young men on the move tend to like… or an emotion-laden romance novel pulling at the heartstrings of women of all ages? Is it a historical novel or documentary that appeals to people interested in public affairs? A sports biography? An instruction manual for brewing beer? A collection of humor columns? A children’s book? There are probably two to three dozen distinct categories for books listed at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
So just as it doesn’t make much sense to promote a book on needlepoint to aspiring ultimate fighters, you want to match your soil to your seed. Don’t plant or promote an idea to an audience that you have to convince to like it. It’s hard enough to simply bring an idea to the attention of those who are sympathetic. Let this be your first step: i.e. reach those who are already inclined to find what you have to say valuable and helpful.
Organic Marketing 101: Step 1
- What kind of seed is it?
- What kind of soil best nourishes that seed?
- Plant your seed in that soil.
This is the start of the organic analogy. Literally, who is your most natural market? Keep the Gardener image constantly in mind, don’t flit about worrying whether your plant will grow, just be confident and go about your business: if you plant it they will come. Just supply the water and the sunlight. Meaning: approach the people in your natural market as you would introduce yourself to a neighbor…
As Jesus says, consider the lilies of the field. Harbor no anxiety. Simply communicate in appropriate contexts to appropriate audiences the fruit they may anticipate from supplying the attention of sunlight and water to—buying or encouraging others to consider buying—your seed (your product, book, idea, whatnot). A good example is simply sending an advance copy via email, often a pdf file, of your book to friends, family, and a succession of naturally inclined audiences.
In my case, I would send an email with an attachment of my 25-page booklet, The Barrier Cloud (or link to a super-cheap ebook formatted copy), asking the recipient to make favorable comments on the Amazon page where it appears for sale. I have a client who has made a practice of performing this highly organic step for his books, resulting in several reviews, from which he may take it to the next step. [Note: as with every process in nature, thus in organic marketing, take your time to make the initial approach letter as personalized and connective as possible. It makes the difference between receiving a half dozen cursory reviews in a couple of weeks or, much better, 50-100 well-thought-out passionately supportive reviews in a couple of months.]
Also, this example initial-approach letter is tailor-made to immediately recognize whether you have matched your soil (intended audience) to your seed (nature of your idea).
Organic Marketing 101: Step 2
This is the critical stage of growth: the seed has begun to sprout and move toward the sun. Very exciting simply to watch a seed come to life, like a baby being born. Continuing with the same personal example: I now have two to four dozen favorable reviews—you’re requesting only positive feedback for step 1—and you can broaden your approach by:
- assessing interest of wider groupings of interest, i.e. instead of your local bridge club look at making an inquiry to state or national organizations, ideally finding names of key persons in these organizations.
- make a more formal letter of inquiry to a conventional publisher pointing to your already published book as a manuscript with high mass appeal; again seek out publishers you’ve done business with before and named persons in the companies.
It’s also at this stage when you can make a decision that you’re perfectly content to leave the remainder of the marketing process to the vagaries of whether your baby gets picked up virally—for reasons that are elusive—or not. You may be quite content with a few plants growing in a small pot for individuals of refined taste, and not really wish to spend the time or effort to spread the seed into vast fields. Make the routine occasional nourishment to keep the plant alive, always with the potential for widespread promulgation. [Think our modern online world of Facebook, Twitter, and, more important, develop person-to-person relationships in book clubs, libraries, book stores, social gatherings, etc.]
Organic Marketing 101: Step 3
Candidly, this is a realm I have not entered, so my comments regarding how to keep one’s productive focus on the organic must be taken with a grain of salt. Step 2 is the point where materially your idea is on the threshold of being able to sustain you. Step 3 is the stage where you reach full sustenance or, at the far end, abundant wealth from your idea. We’ll assume simply sustenance. [To give it a concrete picture, in 2014 federal reserve notes (FRNs), how do you organically move your product/idea(s) to market so it brings you 1K per week?]
To be continued…
Organic Marketing Supplemental: Bauble and Trinket Meter Turners
If you have some imagination—and most of us do, yet it sits untapped—sit down and think of extremely simple ideas or inventions (that are natural to you) that ‘turn the meter.’ [From the taxi business, the drivers who make the most tips are the ones who get the most fares, they’re constantly ‘turning the meter’… by not looking for one in a million rich customers on Park Avenue, rather cruising the boroughs for the gazillions of ordinary people who usually have shorter destinations and who maybe tip less but more often.]
The fact is many individuals are not in strong economic straits for a number of reasons, and need to find something to sustain them while working for longer-range seeds to mature into wide fields of glory. Tell your mind to come up with images for simple doodads (baubles and trinkets) and make a time for your mind to do so… via sleep, idle moments, just letting it work on ‘how can <something> be made incrementally better that people will pay for?’ You will be amazed at the results.
I’m not talking the pet rock here, though that was an example of marketing genius. No, I’m saying think of something very simple, taking little or no time to set up, that’s up your line, with practically zero capital investment, that enough people will buy on impulse to keep you in food and rent money. I have a few such ideas in the political paraphernalia area that can be readily marketed via the Web and have brought me a few ducats, and I expect to bring me a whole lot more with a couple of iterations.
Use your innate brainstorming ability to think outside the box. My dear departed brother, who was a successful inventor, told me that he often simply let his mind freewheel thinking of simple things that could improve a product, service, natural function, etc. Inventors are wild at heart. Go there: nonmotorized effortless pencil sharpener, papier mache dinosaur, pinkie mitt, genuine squirrel-proof bird feeder or squirrel deflector, certified spiritual dust from an iconic mountain, etc.
This is just a starter column. I’ll be adding to it as time goes on. My main thrust is to demonstrate, as a good friend of mine did long ago in letting solar panels sell themselves, that each of us can turn his ideas into a predictable, reliable, recurring source of wealth by going organic. Think gardener, seed, soil, water, sunlight and then cultivate steadily with a clearly documented purpose: the specifics for your seed and its nourishment will come to you as your own Authentic Swing. Again, per Jesus:
A farmer went out to plant some seeds.As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! — Matthew 13
Organic marketing: Know your seeds, know your soils, know your weeds (inner and outer).
One Final Thought
The running of a business or pursuit of material sustenance or abundance occurs in a political context. Sadly, the modern corporate mafia-driven economic system(s) of the world make it an explicit central goal to crush independent entrepreneurial activity and destroy wealth opportunities for anyone threatening to the Cartel monopoly. For that reason, to be human and to be successful, one must occasionally be willing to break free of legal compulsion, e.g. the regulatory guild edicts that restrict production and trade. I wrote a book that partly describes how to do that: Breakthru Strategy.
As Buckminster Fuller states:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
So be out there thinking of alternative economy. For example, consider jitneys (unlicensed cabs and rides); if you have a serviceable van, you can probably poll the neighborhood where you live and find a lot of customers who simply need a ride to the airport from time to time. Especially in older communities where driving skills and access to relatives who drive fall off. You can undercut what a taxi or limo service will charge and operate word of mouth, cash money. Don’t even have to create a Website. [Same is true for an amazingly large number of other services, from teaching to haircutting. Don’t be a sap playing by rules designed to impoverish you and enrich the political class, create some real economic opportunity for a very modest risk.]
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