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BRUTE FORCE Publicity Rarely Works

I spent some time in advertising.  I also have spent a lot of time selling my own products.  Over the course of those many years I have learned one thing, brute force publicity rarely works.

What do I mean by “brute force publicity”?  Simple.  I mean beating your potential clients over the head repeatedly with your message to the point where it becomes annoying.

Yes, it is true that one of the rules of selling is to ingrain your message in the heads of potential customers.  But, doing so to the point where they tune you out is bad.

For example, I once sold advertising for a small radio station here in Pittsburgh.  Our most successful clients were those that would commit to a long term advertising plan, like a year, and who ran a few, well placed ads every day.  Our least successful clients were those that tried to bully their way into the market by flooding the airwaves with an annoying number of ads over a short period of time.  One notable exception to this was when there was a specific even upcoming, like say Mother’s Day, and you have people dedicated to selling something related to that event, say flowers for mom, do a typical buy to flood the airwaves in the weeks prior.

But, for normal situations, flooding the airwaves never really worked well.  In fact, those who flooded the airwaves, unless their commercials were REALLY super funny and memorable, became known as nuisances.  People tuned them out.  And that feeling translated to their products, no matter how good they were.

And you know what?  I see this same sort of thing on social media.

As an author, I follow a lot of other authors and get a lot of authors who follow me.  But there are so many authors out there using “brute force” to promote themselves.  They tweet 50-100 times a day and every tweet is, “HEY! My new book is out! Check it out! [insert link here],” or “PLEASE tell your friends to follow me and buy my books!” or “PLEASE RETWEET ME!” or “LOOK! Another GREAT review of MY book!” etc.

They rarely retweet anyone else.  And, when they do, the retweet is another author’s request to buy their book hoping that said author will retweet their plea for purchases too.  These authors rarely provide anything of real value to anyone, and, I’ll be honest, after the 15th time in two days that I have seen a plea to buy their latest book, I tune them out.

Guess what, I’m not the only one!  I usually make it a habit of publicly thanking those that follow me with a tweet.  Time and again, I get messages from other people who recognize the name telling me about how so-and-so I just welcomed is one of those authors who don’t do anything but tirelessly promote their own books to the point of spam.  So that speaks to how big the problem is.  And, apparently, how some people just don’t get that they are being essentially ignored by their followers, potential customers, because they are still doing what they did two years ago.

I love to retweet those that I follow.  But every day I struggle to find something that is not some self-serving, buy my book, promo to retweet.  I spend lots of time scouring tweets to find interesting blog posts, whimsical and funny comments, etc. that are worth retweeting.  I almost NEVER retweet a direct plea to buy a product.

I believe that the best way to promote something is not to beat people over the head with it.  It is the concept of secondary promotion.  You offer something of value, other than what you have to directly offer (like good blog postings, daily writing advice, etc.).  People learn about you and THEN they buy you product.  This sort of strategy lets people make up their own mind.  There is something in the psyche of people that makes them resistant to direct marketing.  They feel, when they are hit directly with requests to buy, no matter how subtle, that they are being told they must.  People hate being told that sort of thing.

You must give them reasons to buy.  Telling them bluntly that they should buy, unless you’re a close friend, often has the opposite effect.


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