I’ve been in the business of publishing for several years now, and it didn’t take me long to realize that valuable and captivating content alone isn’t enough to grip and engage readers across a variety of professions. It takes much more than a riveting story to grow a brand and successfully market titles. Recent Bowker reports tell us that in 2015, more than 700,000 books were self-published, and more than 300,000 traditionally published books were released in the U.S. alone. The sheer volume of new content in the marketplace makes it difficult for authors to capture and keep the attention of their target audiences.
If you’re a business book author or publisher (or any nonfiction author or publisher targeting the learning market), you understand that successful marketing is important to gaining a loyal following. If you’re running into marketing setbacks or are seeking innovative ways to garner attention for your brand, new releases, or backlist titles, it may be time to consider adding bite-size learning into the marketing mix.
Bite-size learning is all about delivering content in digestible snippets, meant to teach professionals about specific topics quickly. The demand for bite-size-learning content is rising in the learning and development industry, as attention spans shrink. We don’t have much time to capture our readers’ attention and draw them into our learning content. When it comes to marketing using bite-size learning, success means delivering content that is contextually relevant to the readers you want to reach.
The best approach is to create lean learning paths, or discovery paths. You can do this by reviewing the stock of titles you’d like to promote and finding common themes among three to five of them. Then, piece together chapters or brief excerpts from the different titles, all focused on the chosen topic. By creating a path that guides the reader through a learning experience, not only are you delivering the bite-size content that time-strapped professionals seek but you’re also promoting multiple works simultaneously.
Here are some ideas on how to market authors’ brands and titles using bite-size learning:
1. Go mobile. Pew Research says 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and 85% of young adults who own smartphones use them regularly for information gathering. Mobile technology has become a resource many rely on for content discovery and consumption. So, why not meet the readers where they are? Bite-size learning paths are perfect for mobile marketing campaigns. By delivering bite-size content that’s focused on specific topics directly to cell phones and tablets, you’re giving readers opportunities to learn on the go and you’re promoting titles at the same time.
2. Explore the multimedia possibilities. Since bite-size learning paths can include just about anything, not just chapters, my recommendation for promoting new releases is to include a video interview with the author in the discovery path. Have the author tell a brief personal story about the new release or share why he or she is passionate about the topic. Pair the video with a sneak peek at the book and a discount coupon to entice readers to order a copy. The key to packaging information into the path, again, is to keep it contextually relevant.
3. Promote your author as a speaker and thought leader. Even if there aren’t any new releases planned in the near future, you can keep an author in the spotlight by creating a bite-size learning path featuring backlist titles and snippets of previous speaking engagements to showcase an author’s knowledge. Send around the packaged content to market additional speaking opportunities and author appearances at local bookstores, fairs, and business events.
Teach your readers something, give them something, or help them feel connected to the author. By offering previews of works and glimpses into who authors really are, we’re enticing readers to make purchases but also helping to establish
loyalty. When readers feel a personal connection after watching video interviews or snippets of speaking engagements, chances are they’ll add specific authors to their watch lists moving forward.
Christian Smythe is the head of content and partner strategy at BlueBottleBiz, the first collaborative learning platform for business professionals.