Ensuring you are targeting a willing, hungry and profitable audience is, without a doubt, the most important step of any marketing campaign. Getting this right upfront will save you hours of wasted time and effort.

Robert Coorey, Director of Global Marketing at e-Web Marketing, used science to help him ensure there was an audience waiting for his new book Feed A Starving Crowd which shares 200 tips for finding hungry customers.

Here’s how Rob ensured he would sell hundreds of copies of his book before he wrote a single word.

Let me share the story of how I found a starving crowd of buyers for my new book using Amazon.

I was recently reading up on self-publishing and I came across a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki.

I know and love Guy’s work but, before buying the book, I was enjoying checking out some of the reviews (don’t we all?)

One of the reviews was very detailed and gave the book just three stars. The reviewer was critical that the book didn’t provide much help for unknown, first-time authors.

Hot tip: In my opinion, three-star ratings are the best you can use for market research. Anyone who gives a one-star or a five-star rating is heavily biased. Maybe they are a fan of Guy (and would give anything he did 5 stars) or perhaps they have read every book out there and nothing would impress them anymore (leaving 1 star). Three-stars seems to be the sweet spot where the reviewer has considered the book, enjoyed some parts of it but has constructive criticism.

Going back to through this and other reviewers’ comments I had an “aha moment”: launching a book for unknown authors is a huge concern and pain point. For anyone wanting to write a book from scratch and self-publish it there is so much to learn and to get right: authors want to learn how to sell the first 100 copies of their books coming from nothing. These authors have got no marketing budget but they do have plenty of time. They’re not scared to do menial tasks to get their books out there, they just want to see results.

Best of all, they’re passionate about their books: each author thinks his or her book is the best thing anyone has ever written! Fair enough; it probably is. Selling information products to bootstrapping authors is definitely feeding a starving crowd.

I used the above thought process (what I’m terming the “Amazon method”) to write my latest book, Feed a Starving Crowd.”

Market research using the world’s biggest bookstore

Firstly, I looked at the top 100 marketing books on Amazon, and went through all of the 3 star reviews to find out what the common complaints were about each of these books. Here’s a few examples:

Nothing particularly new here – just a solid revision of accepted success principles.

No specific information, all general advice, its already been said elsewhere.

It takes forever to get to the point, too much waffle.

Doesn’t help you if youre just starting out – only good if you’re already established.

Not a “nuts and bolts” marketing book.

No processes or steps to follow – doesn’t show you the how.

Most info can be found online for free.

 

…this got me thinking: what if I wrote a book that specifically addressed the concerns from these three star reviewers?

When I began writing my “Feed A Starving Crowd” I made sure that the information I shared was brand new and that there were specific instructions and exact steps, no boring general advice. I made sure the book was concise and too the point, without any waffle and that the strategies I recommended were either free or very inexpensive to implement. Finally, I made sure that all of the tips could be used by one-man bands, small businesses and entrepreneurs…I wanted to make it clear that you didn’t need to be a massive big Fortune 500 company to use these tips.

Walking the walk

To show you what I mean, here is one of the tips from the book.

In 2012, Professor Kathleen Milkman of Wharton University published a study in the Journal of Marketing where she and her colleagues studied over 7,000 New York Times posts and looked to see which ones were the ‘most viral’. They found that there was very strong correlation between content that was highly emotionally charged and the content that got shared the most. This is a concept known as “the integral effect”.

In Professor Milkman’s study,she also found that positive photos and content are much more likely to go viral than negative content. This quality is called “valence”. Researchers in this study found that content that was positive or had positive valence and was charged, emotionally-loaded content, was extremely likely to go viral. This is why Memes and inspirational quotes always do well on Facebook.

Rather than leave it there, I went further in the book and included a real-world example from a campaign I ran.

Just a few months ago, we used Professor Milkman’s research to crack the code with our Punnky Facebook page. In the space of just a few days we managed to get over 100,000 likes and 22,000 shares.

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How did the Punky campaign go so viral? There are a few reasons:

1. We applied our online marketing skills and conversion rate optimisation techniques to this page (even though it’s for a non-profit). For example we tested fifteen different styles of content (e.g. regular text post, image, video etc.) and also different content themes (love, funny, relationships). Here’s were results of our analysis:

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2. We found was that images with a short caption worked the best. We also tested what the description should be to get the best results and found that a one-line description, followed by “Share if you <agree/love this/ etc.>” and then “Like Punnky for more great stories” worked the best. I’m not saying this is the perfect formula for your fan page, but it worked well for us and the process should allow you to achieve similar results.

3. The image in this specific example (the snapshot above) is very different. It is a screenshot of the Notes app from an iPhone and appears to be a personal message. This naturally creates curiosity – “I wonder what this personal message is?”, etc.

4. Our posts satisfied the results of scientific study which revealed how to make a post go viral using the integral effect.

The results and what you should do next

By taking a scientific approach to finding content for my latest book I was able to use Amazon’s freely available review-library to put together a book that I knew was answering the cries for help from one of those who needed it most: the 3-star raters!

As a result of this approach and actually putting together content that answered customers’ feedback (sharing 200 tips like the one above) the early reviews for my book have been wonderful. So far we’ve only received positive reviews (none of the mediocre stuff we were trying to avoid!) such as this great feedback from World-Renowned Motivational Speaker and Author, Brian Tracy:

“This powerful, practical book is loaded with great ideas to help you sell more, faster and easier in any market.”

How can you use publicly available information to find out what your audience likes and dislikes and distill this into your next blog post, webinar or eBook? It’s this market research that will let you truly ensure you be feeding a starving crowd when you release your next marketing campaign!