Two Things My Cat Taught Me about Marketing
I have a traditionally published book that will be released this month. These days, authors are asked to participate heavily in getting the word out about their own publications. Unfortunately, I am practically the worst in the world at marketing my own creations. Luckily, though, I have an annoying cat. Let me explain.
Vladimir the luxurious minx must be fed first thing in the morning. It’s in his contract. When I am groggily making my first cup of coffee, one eye open, he employs various tactics to get me to pop open his can of Fancy Feast before I have gathered the cognition to spell my own name.
Sometimes his tactics work. But other times, they make me want to throw him across the room. I realized this morning that I can stand to learn a lot from Vladimir and his morning requests for his fancy kitty food. Perhaps, I thought, I could take the best of these lessons and apply them to marketing my new book.
Don’t “paws” the process
The one thing that makes me want to pitch Vlad right out the front door is when he stops the coffee-making process. The dang cat will literally jump onto the counter, place his body between my hands and the Keurig, and howl. It makes my blood boil. It makes me just as angry as . . . consecutive pop-up ads on sites.
When I go to a website, I generally know what I want (unless I’m wishfully scrolling through the designer section of the Nordstrom app after two glasses of wine). When I go to the website to find out, say, the number of televisions sold in 2020 and I have to wait for an ad and find the correct way to close it, not only have 2.5 of my seconds been wasted, but I never want to go to that site again.
These ads pause my productivity. Just like Vlad blocking the coffee, I have to find a way to get around the ad to do what I want to do. This not only annoys the crap out of me, but also sucks away just a little bit of brainpower that I could have otherwise allocated to writing fantastic articles like this one.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my frustration. A study on the effects of online advertising concluded that “All other factors being equal, (controlling for all other effects), subjects who were not exposed to ads were more likely to return or recommend the site to others.” So, pop-up ads not only sell products or coerce site visitors to sign up for your mailing list, but they also might keep customers from returning.
While I would never stop participating in my morning coffee ritual because of an annoying cat obstacle, I did decide to take the pop-up ads off my author's website. The research rang true. If someone wanted to buy my book, they would buy my book, but I vowed I would not place any speedbumps on their internet browsing journey to increase those chances.
Use the purr of a soft sell
When Vladimir employs his other “feed me” entreaty, he is much more successful. First of all, he stays on the floor and doesn’t hinder the coffee-making process. Second, he rubs his body on my ankles, purring softly. As I make my coffee, I notice his quiet cuteness and then think something like, “Aw, he’s so cute. I’ll give him some food.” And out comes the flaked tuna.
In this scenario, Vlad has made me feel that food distribution is my idea. He has presented himself, offered value to my morning with a sweet purr and a little ankle massage, and let me remember that I should feed him. This technique doesn’t make my blood boil (like the previous example), but it does make me feel a connection with him.
I’ve experienced this connection with a few content creators as well. I follow a fantastic woman on Instagram who shows vegan cooking in her stories. I’ve gotten so much information from her and have been so entertained by her that I just bought her book.
She didn’t ask me to buy her book. She showed me her book on her Instagram story, but I always felt like the book-buying action was my idea. I remember thinking when I bought it, “Aw, I’ll buy her book and contribute to the cause. Her cooking makes me so happy.”
I see now that, as I go into a season of promoting my own book, I need to do a little purring and ankle massaging as well. I bought my friend’s book because I had gleaned value, entertainment, and inspiration from her Instagram stories. I need to find ways to add value, entertainment, and inspiration for my own potential book buyers as well (without annoyingly jumping up on their cabinets). I need to employ the subtle purr of the soft sell.
As I learn more about marketing, I’m grateful to Vladimir for my morning lessons in the good and bad aspects of persuasion. I realize that, in examining my interactions with my cat, I can put myself in the shoes of my potential customers and begin to ideate strategies that don’t block people’s processes, but strategies that softly and effectively . . . purr.