The Science of Persuasion Applied to Author Marketing

marketingOne of my coworkers posted this video to the Marketing group on our company “chatter” feed. It explains six factors that influence individuals during the decision-making process. Long story short, people are insanely busy and overwhelmed with the fast pace of life. Therefore, instead of considering all available information, they use shortcuts to make decisions. Scientists have identified six of these that are universal.

As I watched the video, I began thinking of the concepts not in terms of our company business, but in terms of my author-entrepreneur business (a habit of which I am often guilty). I highly encourage you to watch the video and see what insights you can glean for yourself. However, if video isn’t your preferred medium, no worries. I’ve broken down the concepts and listed a few marketing ideas for each for you!

1.  Reciprocity

What have you done for me? Why should I do something for you?

If you provide a favor, gift, or valuable resource first, then the other person is likely to reciprocate when you request the same in return.

  • Provide guest posts to fellow authors; receive them on your site.
  • Beta read a fellow author’s novel; she’ll do the same for you.
  • Review a book; get yours reviewed.
  • Give a free book to readers; increase the likelihood of them writing a review or sharing.
  • Give a free book; get a mail list sign up.

2. Scarcity

Can I wait or do I need to buy it now? What will I lose if I do not jump on this opportunity?

People want more of what they can have less of. Simple economics: low supply = high demand.

  • Limited-time sales (ie: Kindle Countdown Deals)
  • Pre-order deals (discounted price or bonuses for buying early)
  • First 100 email list subscribers receive a free gift
  • Limited edition hardbacks, signed copies, variant covers, etc.
  • Giveaways (limited time and quantities)

3. Authority

Who are you? Why should I do what you ask me to do?

People are more likely to trust those who they view as being credible experts in their fields.

  • List your author qualifications on your website, in your author biographies, and on your book as appropriate (ie: degrees, awards, bestseller lists).
  • Provide knowledgeable, valuable content on your website, blog, and/or social media.
  • Explore opportunities to show your expertise by appearing on podcasts, giving interviews, and providing guest posts. Bonus points for hiring an assistant and having him/her contact media sources on your behalf.
  • Seek reviews and testimonials from other authority sources (or even simply readers/clients) and display them on your website and/or book covers
  • Apply for awards to boost your credentials and provide social proof of your book’s quality.

4. Consistency

Have I done this before? Does this line up with who I am?

People are creatures of habit. If they make a small commitment, they are more likely to agree to a larger commitment of the same caliber.

  • Write series and make sure the first book is stellar. A great first book will lead to more sales of a second book.
  • If you write nonfiction, start with a book, then offer a paid course or other service.
  • “Upsell” in the back matter of your book. Readers are more likely to leave reviews, sign up for your email list, or buy subsequent books after they have enjoyed your first book.
  • Request star review ratings. Later ask for written reviews.
  • Offer a free book or service, then move readers up to paid versions.

5. Liking

Are you similar to me? Do you pay me compliments? Do you cooperate with me?

Those questions contain the three factors that influence people to like another person. If you can get a “yes,” to all three questions, chances are, your readers like you.

  • Show your personality on your website and social media.
  • Engage with others online in a genuine way. DON’T spam your Twitter feed with requests to buy your book.
  • Always answer any “fan mail” from readers and express your gratitude to them.
  • If you offer direct book sales or services, follow the best possible customer service practices.
  • Be the type of reader you would want to your fellow authors. Show them your similar interests, express why you like their products, help them when you can.

6. Consensus

Are other people buying this? What do others think of this product or service?

People require social proof, especially when they are uncertain. They want to know that others have enjoyed the product or benefited from the service before they commit to it.

  • Provide reviews and testimonials on the front or back of your physical book and on your website.
  • Send out advance review copies to gather early reviews.
  • Compare your book to similar books or movies in the sales description.
  • Use the Amazon keywords and categories to place your book alongside those similar to ones your readers will like.
  • Ask your readers to share about your book on social media.

Most of these tactics are ones that you indie authors already use in your marketing efforts. However, by knowing the science behind them, you can better understand the purpose of these techniques and discern similar ones that may help you gain favor with your readers.

Remember, though, with great scientific knowledge comes great responsibility. No matter how well you understand these concepts, if you use them for spamming or seedy used car salesman type purposes, you won’t get anywhere with your readers or fellow authors.

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15 thoughts on “The Science of Persuasion Applied to Author Marketing

  1. Kate Evans says:

    Great post as ever, Kate. I think it’s the consensus bit which is difficult for indie authors. When an author is traditionally published there is almost blanket coverage on traditional media which makes it feel like there is a consensus that this is a good book. I always think if some of this coverage could be shared out more fairly then that would help the up-and-coming…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Agreed. Heck, even when traditionally published books don’t get a ton of media coverage, the consensus is implied. After all, if these agents and publishers approve, it must be a good book. However, I think we all know that there are plenty of bad books on all sides of publishing.

      Like

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