In 2014, America was swept by a movement called the Ice Bucket Challenge. You may remember people posting videos of pouring ice-cold water over their head and then challenging their friends to do the same. Thousands of people participated and the movement went viral gaining national attention. The purpose of the Ice Bucket Challenge was to raise awareness and money for curing ALS, which is a fatal disease known as “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”
Since people started dumping cold water on their heads, over $100 million has been raised and researchers recently announced a major breakthrough by discovering the NEK-1 gene, which is a contributing factor to ALS. The movement was a huge success, primarily because people were led to focus on an activity and a cause, rather than focus on giving money. Not surprisingly, the money came anyway.
There is an obvious fund-raising lesson for non-profits to learn from this example. Yet, there is also a major marketing lesson for authors and publishers to learn as well. If you want to sell more copies of a self-help, non-fiction, book, employ this tactic:
Attach your book to a movement,
and market the movement rather than your book.
People do not want to be bugged about buying your book. That is a painful reality for some authors to digest, but it’s the truth. People do not care about your book. They are focused on their self-interest. If you want to get people interested in your book, then you must connect your book to peoples’ self-interest. A movement is great way to bridge the gap of interest between people and your book.
Merriam-Webster defines a movement as “an organized effort to promote or attain an end, such as the civil rights movement.” If you want to connect your book to a movement, ask these questions:
- What issue or problem can my book help put to an end?
- What is the BIG HURT in society that I want to end?
- What solutions does my book offer that people can apply to their daily life?
When you shift people’s attention away from buying your book and focus on building a movement, you actually INCREASE people’s interest to buy your book. It’s easier to gain peoples’ attention when you don’t come across as a salesman peddling wares. Shift from marketing your book to marketing a movement that improves peoples’ lives. This approach helps people view you as an ally, rather than someone begging for book sales. To employ this approach, take these six steps:
- Identify a big hurt in society.
- Publish a book with solutions to help end the big hurt.
- Start a movement to end the big hurt. Market the movement, not the book.
- As people join the movement, offer your book as the guide to end the big hurt.
- Tell people to share the guide and enlist others to join the movement.
- Book sales will naturally result.
Below are several examples of New York Times bestselling non-fiction books connected to a successful movement:
Title: The Purpose-Driven Life
Movement: End the concern, “Does my life really matter?”
Title: The Love Dare
Movement: End divorce and help couples share true love
Title: What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Movement: End a mother’s fear and confusion during pregnancy
Title: Made to Crave
Movement: End a woman’s unhealthy dependence on food
Movement: End the fear of saying no to other people
Title: What Color Is Your Parachute?
Movement: Empower job-hunters to find their dream career
If you publish self-help non-fiction and want to increase book sales, don’t market the book. Instead, create a movement and market the movement. Then, offer the book as the guide to the movement. People will view you as a helpful ally to trust, rather than an annoying salesman to ignore. When people believe in your desire to help them, their desire to purchase becomes a natural occurrence.
Deanna Cross (autobiography, "Silent Screams." says
As always, great research and info.
Elizabeth Van Liere says
Thanks, Robert. Try to put to use your helpful advice as much as possible. Happy to have attended your class at Estes Park several years ago. Elizabeth
Cindi McMenamin says
Thanks for always giving us great points through a memorable message or slogan: Market the movement. I love it!