The most important marketing lesson you will ever need to know

Marketing and advertising are not the same thing! Yes, I know you already know that, but I do just want to reiterate it just in case it was missed. Marketing and advertising are not the same thing!

I can hear you asking “But what does that mean in practice?”; and in practice it means that the only thing you need to remember when it comes to marketing is that ‘it’s not about you‘. This is the fundamental, most basic of the marketing rules and if you apply nothing else but just this one you will sell to the right audience almost all of the time.Of course, in advertising the opposite applies, it is all about you; your offer, your telephone number, where to buy and what others thought.

That doesn’t mean that advertising is not important, just that it misses the point of marketing. Advertising is just a part of the whole marketing strategy and it can be a very important one at that.

So, if you approach your marketing from the perspective of ‘it’s all about me’ then you aren’t marketing, you’re advertising.

OK, rant over …. calm and relax ….. calm and relax ………

I’d like to explore this idea a little more and see if I can demonstrate why it is so important that I started this post with a rant.

Let’s say you meet someone in a coffee shop, there you are minding your own business and all of a sudden this person you’ve never met before sits down next to you and starts telling you all about their brand new book.

They tell you how wonderful it is, how many they are selling and then they say that they are sure you’ll love it because it really is the best thing since sliced bread and is going to rival Harry Potter, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Dickens[insert your favourite author/book/product here].
So far, you’ve not got a word in edgewise and to be honest you’re probably thinking “how do I get away without causing a scene?”.

Ladies and gentlemen meet the advertiser …. the person who is only thinking about themselves and what they want to achieve.

Let’s re-run that scene again …..

There you are enjoying your favourite single shot vanilla latte at Costa (if you ever ask me for a coffee this is my order by the way). It’s pretty packed and there are few seats available so when a woman wanders over and asks if she can join you, you smile and say yes, indicating the chair opposite.

She sits down and you notice that she too has a very weak latte and you ask if that’s her preference.

She say’s ‘Yes, it is’.

Over the course of the next few minutes you find yourselves chatting about this and that – nothing in particular – until we get to the big question … “So, what do you do?”.

She replies, “I’m an author”; and you respond with something along the lines of “that sounds interesting, what do you write?”

And this starts you both off on a whole different conversation that will probably leave you with the feeling that you might like to go and find the book she’s been talking about and perhaps buy it.

This is the marketer at work. The difference between the two is that the latter took the time to find out about you and they only told you about themselves when invited to do so and always within the context of the broader conversation.

When you are getting ready to market your book (or indeed anything else you may be working on) the key is getting to know your audience, understanding what their needs are and what problems they will be looking to you to solve on their behalf. If you can get to the nub of that then you may well get the opportunity to have that virtual coffee and conversation, in the course of which, you can tell them about yourself and what you do. If you’d like to know a bit more about how to work out who your perfect audience is then why not have a read of Where are my readers? And other infrequently answered questions for Authors

Just as an aside, perhaps you could answer this question for me; what’s the most unusual marketing activity you have ever done to promote a book or another product?

Leave a Reply


  1. You’re welcome Annie. I don’t think the latter holds true by the way because we all know that even books that have been traditionally published don’t sell well on the whole. I think one technique you can apply is in mentioning your books in relation to another topic. For instance, you’ll sometimes see me link to one of my book pages from within a post ( is an example of this). It’s a subtle way of reminding readers about your book.

  2. Hi Linda,
    This is a very timely piece for me. I’m guilty of endlessly promoting my books, and my Facebook and Linked In contacts must be heartily sick of it. I know I’m sick of a certain gentleman who must be paying people to tweet about how orgasmically gripping his novels are…I’ve been quite put off reading them! Interestingly, I’m much more likely to take the approach you recommend in developing my coaching business or getting new customers for SHARE. It’s a real challenge, though, how to get your books known, largely via social networking, without seeming to always be blowing your own trumpet (and if it was that good, wouldn’t a first rate publisher have picked it up and be marketing it for you???????? or so says the little gremlin on my shoulder..)
    Thank you for your thoughts,

  3. I’m trying to engage more on Twitter – to break through the clutter of promotion.So maybe i should follow you and get a chat going!

  4. Thanks Gwynneth and that’s the thing isn’t it – you’ll always be more effective where you personally prefer to be. With me it’s Twitter as I often end up having some really odd (or is that unusual!) conversations with some very quirky people which I really enjoy 🙂

  5. Good post. It is my biggest gripe against Twitter. All I see on the feed is promotion/advertising with very little real socialising. I just don’t get it. That’s why I love Facebook. One can actually connect and get to know people. but maybe that’s just me.