If you’ve been patient enough to wait for the third installment of a three-part story on this blog, you’ve read about a publishing initiative that failed (sort of), a resurrection that came from unexpected opportunities and a surprising turn of events where the solution to a distribution challenge created surprising sales in unrelated areas. This led to an unanticipated major shift in the Horse Sense and Cents® overall marketing strategy.
Today, you’ll get a peek at where we’re going with the marketing strategy designed to drive sales to multiple products. You’ll also be able to see how this is already happening through social media and other efforts (copy away if you wish – it works best with a tight niche audience and well-defined market). This year, the plan is to drive various product and service sales by spotlighting a single initiative.
As this rolls out, you can live vicariously as you read up on how it’s all working (or not). Sometimes the unexpected comes despite careful plans. There’s opportunity where you didn’t predict. Why not participate through the discovery process to avoid mistakes and learn from successes with your business initiatives?
What’s in store for Horse Sense and Cents®?
We have a list. It’s not huge (although a lot larger than the one for this blog). MailChimp houses our list. For a long time, we used a paid version (affiliate sales tracking and payment), but I wasn’t effectively supporting JV partners. So, now Amazon, iTunes and other big online retailers process most sales (there is a shopping cart on the site but we encourage people to go elsewhere with clickable links).
Some are very successful with the intricacies of autoresponders based on how someone reacts to an offer. I’m not. I give people with these kinds of minds tons of credit. I just can’t justify the $40 – $3000 a month because I know I’ll never be able to properly support the system. Seeing that far into the future analytically (creatively, sure, but that’s different) is too challenging. Five minutes spent manually sending something that’s current, relevant and timely works for now.
So, MailChimp gives us access to really dedicated and interested readers. We send sporadic “newsletters” to this crowd, but will go to a regular(ish) schedule this year. A portion of this will mention products and offer ideas on how/why to give them but most of it will be free information that can be implemented immediately.
Leading with a singular focus
We’re starting to get a small following on Pinterest. That’s enough when you’re working in a very tight niche. I like this venue for (subtle) promotion. We started a “50 Young Horse Training Tips” board that we’ve torn down and are resurrecting with better design (the background image wasn’t scaled back enough to make reading text overlay easy).
Pinterest will be used mostly for free sharing, but some posts will encourage people to follow the blog or buy a product. Eventually, we’ll start promoting a new book using the “50 Young Horse Training Tips” as a basis.
Instead of crafting one-up content as has mostly been the case in the past, this year’s focus will be on designing content that can be shortened, lengthened or illustrated for many different purposes. If there’s interest, we’ll consider printing posters, clothing or other items that feature some of the short 50 Tips. This can serve not only as a revenue stream, but also a promotional tool.
The blog, the newsletter, Pinterest and outreach on Google+, the Horse Sense and Cents® Facebook Page and to a small extent, Linked In, will heavily feature the young horse training theme this year. That’s proven to be an effective beachhead that appeals to our audience and can be easily tied to other products and services offered by the company.
Content is being pre-loaded on the blog that expands on the quick tip illustrations on Pinterest. This will also be a weekly (or daily) staple on our Facebook Page.
These blog posts are written (although will be reorganized) with ultimate book content in mind. We’ve had some success with our e-booklets (usually about 5000 words) both as Kindle Editions and audio titles, so will break up the intended full length book copy into 5 or 10 shorter titles (depending on whether we decide to test 10,000 word e-booklets or stay with the current 5000 word format) for additional revenue and to serve as a tease for the full book.
ACX, our audio title distributor, offers a Bounty program that’s more lucrative than title royalties. This year we’ll be working on some strategies with the blog and the newsletter to tell our readers about it. A lot of people visit for free information that serves them well. I suspect many would be happy to help Horse Sense and Cents® with purchase decisions they’re already making if given little tips on how the bounty program works.
We have other print/digital/audio books that will continue to be produced during this time, but major promotional focus will be on the Young Horse Training Tips and associated promotion.
Mostly, strategies will capitalize on the counter-intuitive things we’ve learned along the way. Namely, more formats actually increase sales for more expensive products they’re competing with; focusing on a single, strong topic makes people want to buy material on tangential products; big online retailers are better at driving sales (for this venture) than trusted industry experts; audio is the best place for us to be right now in this niche. Those are some of the surprising things discovered through trial and error with Horse Sense and Cents®.
There’s lots more in store for this little company in 2015. Occasionally, you’ll be able to experience success and challenges in real time here. Please sign up to the right if you want to be notified of new posts.