Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Advertising Make-Over #5
Before announcing the “winner” of the last advertising make-over, a quick note to two readers who did not get their names picked from the hat.
Kimber Chin… you posed a good question about how to position romance novels set in the world of business. I’ll be happy to tackle that in a future column.
Angie Fox... checking out your website, you’ve clearly got it goin’ on. Not a whole lot I would suggest for improvements, but perhaps you might find some thought starters in this week’s column.
Here’s the synopsis from Jessa’s urban fantasy romance SEDUCED BY SHADOWS (NAL/Penguin):
The ultimate battle between good and evil has raged for centuries. The human soul has been the battlefield, the only common ground between the demon realm and the heavenly host.
But now evil is winning. Dark spirits cross from the demon realm into the corporeal world, spawning malicious imps and monstrous fiends. Humans unwittingly fall prey, physically and emotionally, to these forces of evil. Their despair and hatred feed the darkness, spiritually terra-reforming the earth so the demons will one day soon be loosed from their realm, invade ours, and directly attack the gates of Heaven.
Angels and the dark djinn possess human souls to wage their never-ending divine war, oblivious to the collateral damage. But down in the trenches of our cities, a band of immortal warrior brothers knows the real price, and pays it forever in blood and pain and demon ichor.
These warriors – the talyan – are also possessed, by repentant demons. The only redemption for the demons and their soul-torn hosts is to fight in the endless war. Reviled by angels and dark djinn alike, these talyan bury their diverse pasts and their fierce passions to save humanity from the hell-spawn.
Then the first female talya appears, and everything changes...
The only suggestions I’d offer to her website are:
1) Turn off the music. Statistics show most internet browsing is done during business hours. And a sure sign of goofing off is unexpected music coming from your co-workers’ computer. You want visitors to stick around, not be surprised and immediately click away. You can keep the soundtrack as an available option, just disable the auto play.
2) The home page is too wordy. The synopsis should be moved to a new SEDUCED BY SHADOWS page, where Jessa can link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers once the novel is released. Use the home page for breaking news, and keep it short and punchy like her “About the Author” page.
Overall, Jessa’s shown good instincts about branding herself, so I’ll assume she’s planning to go after low-hanging fruit, like using Authorbuzz to attract dark romance fans, librarians, booksellers, and heavy readers.
So the big question is how to further broaden her audience pool. Most mainstream advertisers subscribe to the concept of a ‘purchase funnel,’ which posits that the more qualified people enter the top of the funnel, the more back-end sales ultimately result.
Think of it like a drug dealer. Would you rather scour the alleyways – hitting up dope fiends on a one-to-one basis, sometimes going hours without a sale – or would you rather set up shop on a busy street corner? Of course, not every person walking past will be a customer, so you have to accept a certain amount of waste, but higher foot traffic brings increased sales opportunities, hence “turf battles” over prime real estate.
(Can you tell I just finished watching “The Wire” on my Netflix cue?)
One technique to drive awareness – and expand upper funnel audience – is by aligning yourself with similarly-themed, compelling content. That way, you let other people do the heavy lifting while you piggy-back on their traffic counts.
In Jessa’s case, I’d recommend finding those audience numbers within the CW’s full-episode player of “Reaper” or alongside movie trailers that feature angels & demons, like “Constantine,” “Max Payne,” and “Twilight” (yes, I know the last one features vampires, not demons, but it’s a hot property with cross-over in the paranormal romance genre).
YouTube has just introduced a new product that makes it possible to buy “video search” advertising on a cost-per-click basis. So Jessa could bid on the term “Twilight Movie Trailer” and if she won the auction, a sponsored video for SEDUCED BY SHADOWS would be featured on the top right of the page. The best part is that because YouTube now sells this on a cost-per-click basis, Jessa is only charged when the visitor clicks on her video. If the visitor decides to only watch the movie trailer, then Jessa gets to look like she’s sponsoring the content without actually paying a cent.
It should be noted that YouTube has become a busy corner of the internet – the three movie trailers I listed have over 2 million combined views. But piggy-backing on someone else’s advertising campaign only works if you have compelling content of your own. So what could Jessa do to attract someone who’s busy searching for other videos?
My suggestion is that she create her own demonic dating series. Unfortunately, the name “DHarmony” was already taken by the hell-spawns at Fox News, but she could shoot low-budget versions using various characters from her book:
“Yeah, my name’s Rick and I’m possessed by a Djinni. I don’t know why I signed up for this service… I really don’t have time to date – too busy prepping for the attack on Heaven. Which, I think, is more important than an appletini at Morton’s, but that’s just me. What? How old am I? Since time eternal, the fall from grace… but this body’s only 19, which means I still need a fake ID, so that part sucks.”
The actors could be decked out in horns and make-up, and if Jessa had the budget, it’d be great if they could morph back into human as each finished their scene. Obviously, Jessa wouldn’t want to misrepresent her book as a comedy if it’s not. But she’d want to make the videos entertaining, because the average person doesn’t want to be sold to, and humor’s a great way to slip in advertising messages. Based on her online bio (“She lives in Portland, Oregon, with a musician who feeds her, a shelter dog who walks her, and a pair of nocturnal geckos that keep her company during the wee writing hours”) Jessa doesn’t take herself too seriously, so I’m guessing that shows in her writing style.
If she produced this series of demonic dating videos, they could also be re-purposed into an online banner advertising campaign. Going this route would be preferable to trying to summarize the plot of SEDUCED BY SHADOWS in a small display box. And if she made friends with someone who knows flash, she could use rich media to grab the audience and slowly bring them into her world.
For a catchy headline, the one on her homepage would work – “What possesses you?” – or some variation like “What’s possessing you?” or “Are you possessed?” Then when the cursor hovers over her ad, it could blow up to show pictures of various demons from her book: Djinni, Feralis, Talya, etc.
As the viewer hovers over each demon, a mock dating profile could pop up, like:
Possessed by Malice
Likes: Eyeballs, pestilence, frozen yogurt, bringing forth the end of days
Dislikes: Cages, incantations, crucifixes, Talyan
Ideal First Date: First, I’d cover your body with pustules, then we’d listen to Kenny G records while digging in the back yard for vermin
Jessa's banner ads could link back to her YouTube channel, so her advertising campaign drives viewership of her videos, the videos drive viewership to her website, and her website drives traffic to Amazon and other booksellers.
Lastly, to generate excitement and boost sign-ups to her quarterly newsletter (which Jessa will do, right?), she can raffle off a demonic gift bag.
So that’s it for our advertising makeover series. I’d like to thank all the authors who served up their novels and websites for dissection. If your book wasn’t chosen for review, hopefully you gleaned some ideas you can use for your own advertising efforts.
Gregory Huffstutter has been punching Ad Agency timecards for the past decade, working on accounts like McDonald's, KIA Motors, and the San Diego Padres. He recently finished his first mystery, KATZ CRADLE and is currently on submission. The first 100 pages of his novel are linked here. For general advertising questions, leave a comment or send e-mail to katz @ gregoryhuffstutter dot com with 'Ask The Ad Man' in the subject line.