March 26, 2015

Marketing 101: Creating a Strategy — Guest: Jennifer Fusco

Dart board target with text: Marketing Strategies to Find Target Audiences

We’re probably all familiar with the idea that the “author world” isn’t just about writing anymore. We need to engage with readers on social media, think about branding, come up with marketing plans, etc.

Even if we’re traditionally published, we often have to “fill in the blanks” for promoting our work, as publishers don’t do nearly as much as they used to—or as much as they say they will.

Whether we want to push our publishers to live up to their promises, hire a marketing team to help us, or do all of our promotion on our own, the best way to make sure things work out the way we want is to be informed.

I’ve often said that we have a better chance of picking a good editor (for example) if we know a decent amount about writing craft ourselves. Without a base amount of information, we might not recognize when a sample edit from an editor is filled with errors.

This is just one of many reasons that my focus here on my blog has been on education in all areas of writing. So today I want to talk about an aspect of writing that I’m clueless about: marketing. *smile*

To help educate us, Jennifer Fusco, author and marketing expert, is here today to give us a rundown on the basic marketing strategies and more importantly, fill us in on why some marketing strategies might work better for our books than others. Please welcome Jennifer Fusco…


What’s Your Strategy?

When I teach marketing strategy to writers, I prefer to teach it in person rather than on line or via a blog post because strategy can get complicated, even frustrating. However, when I was asked to submit an article on strategy, I had to admit, I worried. Hopefully, I do the concept justice. So, please, please leave your comments and questions at the end of the post. I welcome them.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to marketing, you’re aware of how an author should find their target audience, craft a positioning statement, build a brand, etc. But, did you know there are four types of marketing strategies that should be considered prior to developing your target audience(s)? No?

In order to find the select group who will deem your book worth buying, you must decide upon which marketing strategy you will use to uncover them. The four most basic types of marketing strategies are: Mass Marketing, Differentiated Marketing, Concentrated Marketing, and Niche Marketing.

You may want to incorporate one or more of these into your next book release. But first, let’s learn the definitions and usages of each.

Mass Marketing

In Mass marketing, it is assumed the book will appeal to everyone. Mass marketing targets the buying public as a whole. It makes no distinctions between who will want the product and who will not. For Mass marketing to be successful, the author must have a recognizable brand and wide, plentiful distribution.

Mass marketing is a passive form of marketing. It is similar to the cliché “throw spaghetti to the wall and see what sticks.” Examples of authors who have a recognizable brand large enough to be successful with mass marketing are: Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Stephenie Meyer, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and George R.R. Martin.

Tip: The Mass Marketing Strategy Works Best When…

Mass marketing works best when the author needs nothing more to rely on for sales than the author’s name and the book itself. Mass marketing is used to sell both fiction and non fiction.

Differentiated Marketing

Differentiated Marketing is a marketing concept where the same product is marketed differently based on different (assumed) needs for each audience. For example, if you were marketing a car, you would use different arguments to find a target audience of women than you would to men. Marketers may appeal to women’s concern for safety, reliability, and comfort, where they may entice their target audience of men with the same car’s gas mileage, horsepower, and low maintenance costs.

One example of how an author may choose to use a differentiated strategy is by looking at the buying market as four separate buying groups. They are:

  • Libraries
  • Book Sellers
  • Readers
  • Authors

In a differentiated strategy, the author would find their target audience using a different “positioning statement” for each group. A positioning statement is a series of sentences which conveys the unique value of the book to each buying group.  Craft a positioning statement for each group by defining what makes your book stand out and makes the particular buying group care.

Again, in differentiated marketing, to find a target audience among each group, communications will be unique. For example, below are the positioning statements for Market or Die for the following buying groups:

  • Libraries: Market or Die is a useful reference book filled with timely instructions on book publicity, based on fact and research, which will not age.
  • Book Sellers: Nonfiction books continue to sell strongly in today’s changing publishing world. Publisher’s Weekly reported in 2012, “(a) less severe decline in nonfiction sales was due in part to a drop of less than 1% in units, and while e-book sales rose 136.4%, to $468.2 million, the declines in the major print formats were much smaller compared to fiction.” Milliot, Jim. “Industry Sales Pegged at $27.2 Billion” Publisher’s Weekly July 2012. Web.
  • Readers: While Market or Die is a marketing book specifically written for authors, any reader looking to learn more about marketing can benefit.
  • Authors: Market or Die is designed to instruct the author how to marketing their book and themselves by starting with a blank page and ending with a complete, measurable marketing plan.

For Fiction, a differentiated strategy may look like this:

  • Libraries: The book has received special recognition in Kirkus, Library Journal, or Romantic Times.
  • Book Sellers: The book or author has received an award or an achievement in part of this book. (i.e. Amazon Top 100 Author ranking). The author’s previous books sold over X copies.
  • Readers: The book’s blurb
  • Authors: This book is an excellent example of (POV, Setting, Character, World building) and should be read by fellow authors as a learning tool.

Tip: The Differentiated Marketing Strategy Works Best When…

A differentiated marketing plan works best when the author can “argue” the multiple benefits of their book to find their target audience(s). A differentiated marketing plan can be used to market nonfiction and fiction.

Concentrated Marketing

Concentrated Marketing is a form of marketing where all of your marketing efforts are focused on a select group of people. Concentrated marketing is usually geared for smaller groups of people because the product is designed to appeal to a particular segment.

For example, a romance author marketing to romance readers is a form of concentrated marketing. As authors are taking more control over their marketing, most are starting by executing a concentrated marketing plan. A downside to concentrated marketing is that it can quickly lead to market saturation.

Tip: The Concentrated Marketing Strategy Works Best When…

Concentrated marketing works best when the author is focused solely on attracting one specific type of reader.

Niche Marketing

Niche marketing is a form of marketing where the product is solely designed to market to one specific group. Persons outside this group would have no interest in the product. Books of specificity are niche marketed.

For example, most cookbooks are mass marketed, but Paleo cookbooks are marketed specifically to those interested in healthy, whole foods, Paleo lifestyle. My book, Market or Die, is marketed using a niche strategy because it appeals only to authors. It is doubtful anyone outside the writing community would have a need for a book about book marketing.

Tip: The Niche Marketing Strategy Works Best When…

Niche marketing works best when persons outside one specific group would have no interest in the book.

Now that you are aware of the different types of marketing strategies used to find your target audience, do you think you can incorporate one (or more) in your next release?  If so, which one would you choose and how would you use it? If you’re unsure, I’d love to help you figure it out. Just comment below.


Jennifer FuscoJennifer Fusco is the author of Market or Die, a marketing book for writers, and the owner of a publicity services company.

A three-time winner of the Advertising Excellence Award, Jennifer has launched successful print and digital ad campaigns. She has served as a member of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and believes that brand building is a key to professional success.

Ms. Fusco also writes contemporary romance. Her debut novel, Fighting for It, a sports romance, will debut September 15, 2015 from Penguin Intermix.

Market or Die coverAbout Market or Die:

Find your readers.
Make your brand memorable.
Sell more books.

Market or Die is designed to instruct the author how to marketing their book and themselves by starting with a blank page and ending with a complete, measurable marketing plan.

“Brand is one of those terms that we hear a lot these days; understanding what it truly means in the marketplace, creating and maintaining a brand, and how brand affects an author’s career is much more complex. Jennifer’s vast experience in marketing, public relations, advertising and brand innovation make her an expert in the field.” — Kristan Higgins, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author


Thank you, Jennifer! When many of us think of marketing, we probably think of mass marketing because that’s the form we’re most familiar with through TV advertising, etc. But as you point out, that type of marketing works best when we’re already a household name.

As I’ve already admitted that I don’t know much about marketing, I’ll hit you up with the first questions to start the conversation. *smile*

  1. In practice (where or how we spread the word about our book), what’s the difference between Concentrated Marketing and Niche Marketing?
  2. Do you have a recommendation for which strategy would work best for most fiction books?

Now it’s your turn…

Do you find marketing intimidating and/or confusing? Did you know about the different marketing strategies that would work best for different books? Do you have any questions about these strategies? Which strategy do you think would make the most sense for you and your book? How would you use it? Do you have any questions for Jennifer?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Jennifer Fusco
Jennifer Fusco

Hi Jami,

The difference between concentrated and niche has to do with market size. For example, a romance novelist who wants to attract romance readers would employ a concentrated strategy, that is to say, this is a large population of readers – and we aren’t segmenting them by saying we only want a small subset of those readers, no as a romance writer we want them all because we know our readers read cross sub-genre. Now, niche would be to say that we want only those romance readers who (oh, I don’t know, let go really narrow) ONLY read romance novels that have pets in them. That cuts your market size substantially. Therefore, you’d employ a niche strategy to attract only animal lover, romance readers. Make sense?


Thanks for putting this so clearly and concisely! And, I love that last example – I can just picture flyers for a book signing at my local pet store, carefully chasing those Rover loving romance readers. 🙂

Davonne Burns

I remember learning a lot of this when I was getting my business degree and it’s fantastic to see it put so clearly and geared toward writers. This is something I’ve been struggling with personally. I’m not pleased that my science fiction series has been labeled YA and feel it’s not appropriate to market it to teens given the content. On the other hand my current WIP is defying being labeled at all. It’s ‘soft’ steampunk with a focus on character relationships and development instead of on the technology. It also happens to be a non-traditional romance. I’ve been pondering which audience would be better to market it too.

What are your thoughts on using genres and categories to help find markets?

Jennifer Fusco
Jennifer Fusco

You could use a differentiate plan for a book like this. Should the piece have steampunk appeal, you can market it to those readers. Then, build a case as to why it also may fit the general fiction (maybe spec fic) market as well. Since I haven’t read the book, its hard for me to say exactly. But, of the description you’ve given me I’d use a Differentiated Strategy for general fiction, speculative fiction, and steampunk readers.

Davonne Burns

Thank you Jami and Jennifer!

Jennifer I was definitely leaning toward a differentiate plan but wasn’t entirely certain so thank you. I’m hoping to write up a marketing strategy in the next week or so and this will be very helpful.


Thanks so much for clarifying on each of the types and when to use them. I think I’m similar to a previous commenter, as my books are new adult mysteries. Not a well know or popular genre combined, but seperately, I can market to NA readers based on the characters age group, and mystery readers based on the plot. So differentiated, if I’m understanding, would be best for me?

Jennifer Fusco
Jennifer Fusco

You got it!!


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