Jul 222012

As we dove into promotion of Underground Restaurant, we immediately realized that we had made a terrible mistake.

We had never written a book proposal, and that means we had written the book and designed a marketing strategy without having asked ourselves questions about market niche, audience, etc.

When we went to promote it became obvious that we had written it for a very small audience, people who already knew and loved our underground restaurant, The Viand. Actually selling the book (and learning about marketing, which was the goal of the project) required that we have a product with relevance to people we didn’t know.

It was easy to expand the concept of the book by linking with my other research areas and we re-wrote our basic marketing materials at once.

But as we brainstormed lists of people who would be interested in the new message we realized we were addressing a bunch of different audiences, urban agriculturalists, local foodies, fellow underground restaurant hosts, my students, my scholarly peers, the Viand guests. There was a different hook for each of these groups, and we soon found ourselves swimming in documents (and their revisions).

The need to target the message to the audience wasn’t the end of the fractal, though. There would be yet more acid to trash our layers of habitual writing.

“I’ve written a new book” WRONG. That’s always what my emails say. “I’ve done this new thing.” What about them??? I had to get out of how I saw the book and think about where they are in the world and what on earth (if anything) this has to do with their lives. How do they see themselves? Are they part of the local food movement? Are they concerned about…

We’d been reading so much marketing coaching, but it just hadn’t sunk in.

We need to sell specific products to specific people. We need to tell them that we want them to buy it.

We used Carmine Gallo’s guide to message maps and started over, again, creating an action message for each group we were targeting.

We needed to provide orientation to the tech/jargon they would be interacting with in the process.