John Wanamaker was a retail and marketing pioneer whose Philadelphia establishment was an early model of the modern department store. A firm believer in the power of advertising, Wanamaker famously remarked, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Thus it ever was. Anyone with a product or service needs to make their presence known, but finding the best route is as wobbly a proposition as nailing Jell-O to the wall. In Wanamaker’s day, you put an ad in the Sunday paper. If you were P.T. Barnum, you hired a brass band.
Wanamaker’s Department Store, early 1900s
Here we are in the age of Internet marketing, self-publishing, and a world in which everyone must be their own brass band.
If you have a book on offer, you’re probably out there flacking it on social media, and I say good for you because it’s a heinous but necessary enterprise. You’ve probably also been approached by legions of promoters who promise to boost your Amazon rankings for a fee.
To pay or not to pay, that is the question. Naturally, free publicity is best, but sometimes it pays to pay. If you buy some promotion, I do have one piece of advice.
You’re not going to be able to measure the exact effect of your ads. Amazon rankings are not a reliable metric. (That’s another blog altogether.) So here’s the advice: When budgeting for promotion, picture how much cash you’d be willing shove down the garbage disposal, because that’s what paying for ads is going to feel like.
Then click your heels together three times and think of England, it’s as good a method as any. Hell, I don’t know what kind of marketing works. Nobody does. Just ask John Wanamaker.