Jim Rubart

Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Barefoot Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. His debut novel ROOMS will be published by B&H Fiction in April. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at]comcast.net

Do Book Trailers Work?

Do Book Trailers create more sales?



John Wannamaker, department store magnate (and inventor of the price tag) said, “I know fifty percent of my advertising works. If only I knew which fifty percent it was.”

Even with the advent of Google analytics and ethical modeling profiles now able to target consumers more precisely, we’ll never know exactly what causes a purchase. Why? Because the buyers don’t even know.

“I got your number from the yellow pages.”

“Really? And what got you to the yellow pages?”

For years yellow pages sales people would coach their clients to ask calling customers, “Where did you get our phone number?” The customer would of course reply, “From the yellow pages.”

“See!” the yellow page sales person proclaimed. “The yellow pages are doing a great job advertising your business!”

Uh, no. The yellow pages are a phone book where people look up phone numbers. They don’t shop there. (Studies show the 62 to 80 percent of people who still use the yellow pages already know the name of the company they want to call when they open the book.)

The real question is “What made them want your number in the first place?” A difficult question to answer.

“I found you on the Web.” Really? Cool. What got you to the Web?

I’ve had customers of my clients compliment my TV ads when all I’m doing for the client is radio, and vice versa.

Customers don’t pay attention to the meandering three-day path or maybe three-year path that got them to a decision point about buying your book or not.

Why did I sign up for Randy’s e-zine?

Before I signed up for Randy Ingermanson’s e-zine, I’d seen mentions of him online, bought a few of his books, met him at a conference, and had a friend recommend his Web site. Which sales message made me sign up?

All, of course. I liked Randy’s writing. After meeting him, I was impressed with him as a person. I trusted the recommendation of the friend who talked about Randy’s e-zine.

But if someone surveyed me and asked, “What made you sign up for Randy’s e-zine?” I’d probably answer with how the last impression of Randy was made on me. “Oh, a friend of mine told me I should sign up.”

The dutiful survey taker would make a checkmark next to word of mouth. Not a fully accurate answer.

This is the reason focus groups are largely a waste of money.

Sitting in a sterile environment next to six or seven other people who “fit the demographic profile” of a business’s customer, with researchers tossing out questions . . . do you really think people can accurately predict what they would decide? Remember,

people buy with emotion and back it up with logic. Focus groups are logical. Real spending of your denari in a real life situation isn’t. (For a deeper look at the vast difference between what people say they’re going to do and what they actually do, see Malcolm Gladwell’s book BLINK.)

Sitting behind a two-way mirror, advertisers think they’re getting deep insight into their potential customer’s mind. That’s the problem. A potential customer is never an accurate representation of a true customer. The person who can give you the most accurate information is the person who has already purchased. And even they can’t be completely correct.

Marketing 101 says people have to hear a message three times to respond. First time = awareness. Second message = understanding. Third message = action. (I think it’s closer to seven, but that’s another topic.) The point is those three messages might come from unrelated sources.

Okay, Jim, I get it. What about Book Trailers?

Should you do a Book Trailer? If your publisher will do a good one for you, absolutely. If you have the skill to do a good one yourself, go for it. If you have the coin to hire someone to make a good one, do it. (See last month’s column for guidelines on producing a good trailer.)

But if none of the above apply, don’t sweat it. I’ve always preached to my clients that it’s far better to have 100 percent of the people in a small pond know all about them, than have 10 percent of the people in a large one only vaguely aware of their products and services.

In other words, whatever pond you decide to own (Facebook, blogging, Twitter, your Web site, radio, TV, Book Trailers, YouTube videos, articles, speaking, interviews, etc.)—and you can’t own them all—own it all the way. Make the content stellar. And be there consistently.

Everything you do is part of a marking tapestry, and to pull out the individual threads is not a task attainable by mortals.

So do Book Trailers help sell books?

Yep, 50 percent of the time.