Book Marketing Commandment 9 of 10 – Practice the Pareto Principle

As an author, you have a number of different book marketing opportunities. And it is easy to drown with all of the information (noise) that is out there. Should you blog? Tweet? Post on Facebook? Run a Pinterest contest? Setup an affiliate program? The ideas are endless. But your time is limited. And you need results.

What should one do?

The answer lies in applying the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle states the following:

80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.

You may spend time and dollars on 10 different activities. But the bulk of your sales will result from only 2 of those activities. Your goal as a smart author is to figure out, as quickly as possible, those activities that provide the biggest bang for your buck. Then increase the resources that you’re putting in that direction.

Here’s an example of the 80/20 principle in action in our business:

As you may know, is a website owned by BookBuzzr. Freado has a Facebook fan page. For a long time, the number of fans on the Facebook page was in the region of 1,000.

We wanted to increase the number of fans and the number of people talking about Freado since this would mean increased reader participation on Freado which would translate to increased exposure for our BookBuzzr authors.

We tried a number of ideas. We tried posting at different times. We promoted our posts by paying Facebook. We tried running contests. Nothing moved the needle.

Then we began running a few Facebook ads that directly asked readers to Like our page. And we played around with the targeting options. Suddenly, we began to see results. Today, our Facebook page has over 18,000 Likes and growing. Our next challenge is to convert these fans to active participants on Freado.

The key point here is that had we taken the time to really understand Facebook advertising, we may have been able to grow our Facebook fan page audience earlier itself.

The Vital Few and the Trivial Many

As an author with limited resources, your goal is to figure out the vital few activities that will give you results. Learn to differentiate between signal and noise. Then pour all of your available time and resources in the direction where you see an opening.

To practice the Pareto principle in your marketing, you need to track and measure the things that matter closely. Then experiment frequently. You should develop an acute understanding of your readers. Interview them. Survey them. Hang out with them.

You will notice that even your book marketing efforts will begin showing an 80/20 pattern:

  • 20% of your blog posts will receive 80% of the attention in the form of comments, tweets and shares  – study those successful posts and write more like them.
  • 20% of your tweets will be retweeted 80% of the time – study those and tweet like that more often.
  • 20% of your Facebook posts will receive 80% of the shares – increase the amount of such posts.
  • 20% of the other authors you network with will provide you with 80% of your leads. Cultivate those relationships.

Be intelligent and lazy

Author, investor and entrepreneur Richard Koch, in his underground best seller of a  book –The 80/20 Principle – quotes General Von Manstein talking about the types of officers:

There are only four types of officers.  First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm. . . Second, there are the hard-working intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.

Richard reduces this quote to a 2 by 2 matrix which we have reproduced below:

Figure out where you are now. Then decide where you want to be.

In our concluding post in this series, we’ll talk about the importance of writing many books in order to be a successful author.

Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. Follow him on Twitter
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