Monday, April 6, 2009

A Mobile Device? You mean a car, right?

Nissan has introduced a brand new product! It's called a "Mobile Device".

I know what you're thinking. "That's a car, isn't it?"

Why, yes, it is, and an ugly one at that. Not to mention it would be interesting to break into the hatchback trunk.

 According to this New York Times article, Nissan is introducing the Nissan Cube in the midst of an economic downturn and marketing it not as a car, but a "mobile device". Feature descriptions include terms like "'search engine', 'browse', 'storage capacity', 'add friends' and 'set preferences' to describe features of the Cube." This vehicle is clearly being marketed to tech-savvy youths and young adults who presumable have credit enough to purchase an ugly unique vehicle (Nissan is making sure their payment programs accommodate this type of purchaser).

With product placements set up (in the Heroes online graphic novel), you'd think Nissan in on the right route, especially while hiring TBWA/Chiat/Day, which also markets the iPhone (you know, a real mobile device).

Ridiculous? Probably. But you have to recall Dentyne's advertisements using similar features.

Kind of heart-warming, isn't it? So why does it work for Dentyne but not for Cube?

Simple: the Nissan Cube is a big-budget, highly visible item; Dentyne gum is a small, regular, routine purchase with the potential for repeat purchases and more brand loyalty than a car mobile device. There isn't as much risk involved with purchasing gum as there is a car.

So how, pray tell, does this apply to writing?

Well, I'm glad you asked, you sly creature!

Books, while a huge investment on behalf of the author, are a small purchase for consumers. When you're marketing, you want to work to create a brand loyalty. What is your brand? Vaguely, it's books as a leisure activity. More specifically, it's your genre, whether it be romance or mystery, adult or young adult. Then, it's your publisher. Even more specifically, it's you, the author.

By building an interactive appeal to your novels and networking opportunities, especially if your readers are tech savvy (which, for example, young adults and urban fantasy readers typically are). 

How do you build interactive appeal, such as Dentyne is trying to do?

Make a commercial to tug at the heart strings.

Use gimmicky language.

The best thing to do is have a website with "bonus features". This doesn't simply mean posting a sample chapter--while that helps those who haven't purchased yet, it doesn't benefit those who have purchased and want more out of the product they purchased and the brand (you) they are trying to get acquainted with. Readers want that little bit of extra, perhaps a deleted scene or a character blog where they can interact with their favourite character. Branch out to interact on popular mediums, like Twitter, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, Facebook, MySpace (if this applies to your audience--personally, I hate it). Host contests of items of added value - signed books, posters, cover flats, t-shirts/mugs/other merchandise you invested in. What does this do? It has the potential to bring in friends and family brought by the holy grail of all marketing--word of mouth.

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