Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Marketing Equation

Einstein did it for relativity, I don't see why we can't do it for book marketing and promotion.

I attended a seminar once a long time ago in a life far removed from here, and the speaker said something that I thought was profound. He said, Algebra is life.

Now, before all you non-math people groan and click away, let me explain.

In Algebra, we balance equations and solve for the unknown, which is pretty much what we do in life. Figure out what we know, what we don’t know, and try to chart a successful course between the two so that our life balances out.

I thought it would be entertaining interesting to apply that the same equation principle to marketing. Sounds fairly simple, right?

marketing + promotion = sales (m+p=S)

Except, as any marketing department can tell you, it’s not that simple. Oftentimes

marketing + promotion ≠ sales. (m+p≠S)

You need a really great book too. So maybe this is more accurate:

(great book) (marketing +promotion) = sales (gb)(m+p)=S

If you’re lucky, your publisher will be so wildly behind your book that they will do a significant amount of marketing and promotion for it.

(great book)(marketing + promotion)3 = SALES!! (gb)(m+p)3=S

Or perhaps your book will generate a lot of buzz on its own through word of mouth. In that case, the marketing and promotional efforts have only to build on that, rather that cut a path to your book in the first place. However, the truth is, in today’s market, you probably need a little bit of everything to be successful so my guess is the correct equation is this:

(marketing + promotion) (great book)buzz= Sales (m+p)(gb)buzz=S

Bottom line: Look at the equation. Isolate the variables. Select what you can control and work on that.

Moral of the story? Publishing makes math look like a cake-walk.


Anonymous said...

Nice, I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. And your right, marketing still makes math seem easy.

Mary Hershey said...

Dear Robin,

Interesting quote from the seminar-- "Algebra is life." I think my parents tried to tell me that in high school, but back then, I wasn't buying it. :-) At 16...
Make-up + Boys (- Mean Cheerleaders) = Life

But coming from you, it makes sense! Love your equations-- even though they are a little scary. Great post!
Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

Okay, first, Acck! Second, son, who, in 7th grade is light years ahead of any math skills I ever possessed, says, "It needs to be Gb,instead of gb, otherwise it looks like 'g times b'.

I have no idea what that means.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I love algebra. Algebra is the metaphorical language of math. And we writers love metaphors!

This post reminded me a bit of John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, where Colin tries to come up with an equation that will mathematically predict the duration of a romantic relationship ...

I agree that we need to focus on the parts that we can control. And I would add, play to our strengths.