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Monday, August 18, 2008

Marketing Lessons from Girl Scouting

Remember Girl Scouts? Thinking back on it, I believe that Juliette Gordon Lowe was actually creating a marketing organization, designed to promote the idea of good self-esteem to young women. She was a remarkable woman, and obviously a smart (Girl Scout) cookie.

Let's rethink some of the precepts:

1. Make new friends but keep the old. Okay, you never know what you'll learn from a pal. I just received an email from Jess Lourey telling me that my pre-release book Paper, Scissors, Death is beating out some releases on Amazon. I didn't know that! I don't know how to surface that info, but Jess does. That's just one tiny example of how friends can help us with this gnarled world of promotion. Secondly, she noted I didn't have my book tour on my website. Gosh, I hadn't thought of that! Now I'll hop right on it! (The tour info is on the Midnight Ink site and on But that's not enough.)

2. Do a good turn daily. Each day when my google alerts pull up scrapbooking posts, I try to email at least one of the blogs and pass along an honest compliment. Will that help me? Who knows? I just know I feel good afterwards, and maybe I'm spreading a little goodwill. Of course, I sign the posts with "Joanna Campbell Slan, author of Paper, Scissors, Death: A Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-and-Craft Mystery."

3. Be prepared. I try to bring bookmarks and business cards (with my book cover) with me wherever I go. In fact, I had this great idea: I'm going to ask my local branch of the public library if I can slip a bookmark inside other craft cozies. I bet they'll say "yes," because they want to keep books pristine and recommend them. This will do both. Slipping them inside is smarter than putting them on the counter.

4. Help other people every day, especially those at home. Well, that's an easy one to overlook, isn't it? My sisters Jane and Margaret would both willingly help me, if they knew how. So it came as a surprise to all of us when I started asking questions: Do you know any mystery readers? Have any friends in book clubs? Turns out that Margaret's school has a book club. I gave her an excerpt booklet and bookmarks to give the to organizer. Jane is an online whiz, so I've asked her to help me when I get my Facebook site going.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I remember something I learned years ago when I was getting my minor in psychology. When you ask a person to do a favor for you, if they didn't like you before, they will after they are asked. You see, we can't hold two competing ideas comfortably. So, the "favor granter "will decide to like the "favor asker " or feel unsettled. I'm telling myself to buck up. To ask people for help when I think they can. A "no" never hurt anyone. I can take it! Especially when the "yes" answers feel so good.

And I plan to wear a lot of green, highlighted by a great big Brownie smile.

PS Like these? I'll be posting the first in a list of ideas I've used to promote Paper, Scissors, Death on the Midnight Ink blog on August 21.


zhadi said...

Excellent post with many good points and nice ideas. Plus it mentioned Jess, who is one of my favorite people in the world!

Jess Lourey said...

You're the sweetest, Dana! And Joanna, I'm so sorry I forgot to tell you how to view your sales numbers on The numbers are totally not scientific, but if you go onto your book page on and scroll down, it'll show you your sales rank up against all other books published and available for sale.

You know amazon also has a blog that you can link to your books, right? It shows up right in amazon when someone is looking at your book, and I believe also feeds to other amazon readers who like books similar to yours. I don't post regularly on mine, but you can use the same info you post on this blog, I'm sure.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Well, shoot, Jess is on most people's favorites list, isn't she? Thanks for the help, Jess.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice, and good post. Relationship marketing is a give and take (in that order) process that works if you give and sell from the heart.

Marvin D Wilson
blogs at:
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Helen said...

I especially like that you didn't just ask others to help -- you had specific "tasks" in mind. Since half the work is trying to figure out how to help someone, you did a lot of the work for them. And that made it more likely they would agree to help and they would be able to help.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I do believe that sometimes you simply have to keep the conversation going long enough for people to think through how they MIGHT help. It's not that they don't want to. You know how it is. Someone says something to you, and 24 hours later, you slap your forehead and realize how you should have responded.

staff said...

Here's a very handy shortcut Aaron Shepard has built to Amazon sales listings, so that you can avoid all the scrolling around:

Barbara DaCosta

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

That's a FABULOUS shortcut. Thanks so much.