Finding Key Influencers With Your “VIP” List

Of all the strategies available for marketing yourself and your work, this one can be the most powerful. Ironically, it’s the most underused.

Who do you know that can help you with your marketing efforts? Very often, sending a few signed (and personalized) books to a few key “gatekeepers” can do more than ten great publicity strategies combined.

This strategy is fairly straightforward:

  1. Compile your list of contacts in Microsoft Outlook or whatever database management software you use (instructions for Outlook below) and refer to it for each new product release.
  2. Cultivate your relationship with this cherished group of people and watch your list grow.
  3. When your next book comes out, send each one a signed and personalized copy. This needs to be emphasized: it’s easy to have your publisher send out a book on your behalf, but if your book isn’t signed and personalized to the individual, you’ve just lost an amazing opportunity. If you’ve ever received a signed and personalized book from someone before, you’ll understand why—it makes you feel special! And you’ll keep that book. Too few authors and publishers understand this.

Is your current list of influential people a little thin? Well, here’s a good place to start your marketing efforts. There’s a great chance that you know more people than you realize or that you’re only a few phone calls away from accessing them. You’re looking for what marketer Seth Godin calls “Sneezers”: people of influence who may talk about your product and/or provide a gateway to new opportunities (like speaking engagements or bulk orders of your book). Additionally, many of these people can be counted on to offer testimonials and endorsements of new products.

Some more suggestions:

  • Every time you release a new product, send your VIPs a copy with a simple, handwritten note.
  • Send a brief email to your VIPs to inform them of every noteworthy media opportunity you receive.
  • Send them cards for New Year’s and other special holidays.
  • Learn whatever you can about each person. Record their information in Outlook. When are their birthdays? Send them cards or emails, or give them a call.

You can build a VIP list of hundreds or thousands. And let me give you a heads-up: in many cases, you won’t get a thank you—neither an acknowledgment of receipt nor a thank-you email. Don’t take it personally, and don’t worry about it. People are busy. Think about it this way: you’re planting seeds. You never know when an opportunity might present itself in the future because of something you sent out to someone today.

To create a new category called “VIPs” or “Book Contact List” in Outlook:

  1. Select any item. Items include email messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.
  2. On the Edit menu, select Categories.
  3. Select Master Category List.
  4. In the New category box, type a name for the category.
  5. Select Add.
  6. To create more categories, repeat steps 3 and 4.
  7. Select OK twice.

To create a distribution list in Outlook (for emailing):

  1. On the File menu, point to New, and then select Distribution List.
  2. In the Name box, type a name.
  3. Select Select Members.
  4. In the Show names from the list box, click the address book that contains the email addresses you want in your distribution list.
  5. In the Type name or select from list box, type a name you want to include. In the list below, select the name, and then click Members. Do this for each person you want to add to the distribution list, and then click OK.
  6. If you want to add a longer description of the distribution list, click the Notes tab, and then type the text.
  7. The distribution list is saved in your Contacts folder by the name you give it.

The above article is an excerpt from the guidebook included in Everything You Need to Know to Become a Best-Selling Author.

About Scott Jeffrey

With an impressive client list including New York Times best-selling authors, speakers, and consultants, Scott Jeffrey is renowned for his ability to guide each client’s journey to the impossible—crafting their own adventure, zealously following their bliss and discovering their unique, meaningful contribution to the world. Scott is the master strategist behind Creative Crayon, LLC, a world-class strategic coaching enterprise and consultancy.

Scott is the author of Journey to the Impossible: Designing an Extraordinary Life, a Benjamin Franklin Award finalist, as well as the interviewer in the 10-CD audio program, Everything you Need to Know to Become a Best-Selling Author. He was the editor of Impossible Journeys.

Scott and his four-legged hiking companion, Yoda, reside in the mountains of upstate New York.

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