I make it a habit to look up people who’ll be speaking before I attend their session. I may look at their bio and often don’t because I’ve had 20+ years in marketing, meaning I know that most bios are hype. They are written to get you into the room, not to let you know what will be covered or how useful it will be. The bios may read as if they’re telling you what will be covered and how useful it will be (to a certain extent it has to or the presenter will get a rep for not-delivering on their promise) and their real purpose is to get you into their presentation.
So if your goal is to learn from the experts, first make sure they’re experts in more than name only.
Also recognize there are experts and there are experts. One presenter gave a talk about how to get online interviews. His expertise came from doing online interviews. He’d done nine. He had 18 non-paying subscribers. After three months. He didn’t know about anybody else’s interviews but he sure knew about his own. And he’d interview you, if you liked.
I asked what his social reach was. It wasn’t. He didn’t know. How many views was he getting? He didn’t know. Where did he rank in search? He didn’t know.
Working with such a person is good if you want to get in on the ground floor and this person has good marketing and business plans.
Beware Marketing Advice
Several cons have presentations from local celebrities and authorities. Some are good, some are not good, and always remember, local celebrities and authorities are local for a reason; they’ve never broken through to the big time.
One author expo I attended offered a marketing presentation – getting on radio and tv – from a fellow who’d been a local radio announcer for some 30 years on local stations.
Note that fact. It’s subtle and significant; he had an existing rolodex from 30 years of experience, meaning he knew just about everybody in the local radio and tv media business.
You don’t! Such a person describing what worked for them isn’t sharing their rolodex with you. Chances are you can’t call on friends in the industry to open doors for you the way he could.
The question needing answering is “How good was his advice?”
I recognized his name, couldn’t place it. What he mainly talked about was his book about the heyday of candlepin bowling in New England.
This is a second significant fact; He was there to sell copies of his book. He didn’t offer publicity consulting.
Regarding his book, he’d done his homework. There were some 200,000 people who had some connection to candlepin bowing in New England in its heyday. He told people that was his audience.
No, that’s his market. His audience is the people who buy his book. Ford’s market is anyone interested in a car. Ford’s audience are people who buy a Ford. Usually your audience is 1-2.5% of your market for his type of product because his competition is anything that consumes discretionary dollars. That includes going to the movies, going to the bar after work, a massage, a large coffee (and maybe a muffin), some ice cream when you’re grocery shopping, basically things one doesn’t think twice about, not something that requires foreknowledge of its existence, finding it online, going through the purchasing algorithm. And his audience is older (candlepin bowling’s heyday ended in the mid 1970s), many of whom are on limited incomes.
I really want to know how much profit he’s made on that book. I don’t care how many copies he’s sold, I want to know the profit. Unless you’re an exhibitionist, egotist, or something along those lines who doesn’t care about making money so long as people come to see you talk, selling books – at some point – is all about profit.
He did talk about getting on radio and tv interviews. Local. Like the interviewer I mentioned above. With eighteen non-paying subscribers.
True, everybody has to start somewhere. More true, without a plan on how you’re going to grow yourself as a business and an author, you’ll be lucky if your splash is big enough to be called “local”.
Do remember the author I mentioned in Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 3 – What Camp Are You In?), the one who spent $90,000 marketing her book. Hell, give me $90,000 and I’ll sit and listen to you for hours. And I’m sure I’ll be able to get lots of others to join us. And you won’t even have to write a book!