Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'The Lost Symbol' Online Marketing Strategy

Haven't been blogging for a while, but now I'm back. I'm planning to shift the focus of this blog a little bit - apart from writing about online marketing, I will be covering general marketing topics. We shouldn't lock ourselves in this virtual reality.

Anyone heard of the new Dan Brown book? Well, 'The Lost Symbol', available since last week, sold a million copies in the first day. Sales have been successful not only in hardback, but in the electronic format. The book appeared on several file-sharing sites hours after the official release and has been downloaded by more than a hundred thousand people.

Now, piracy is, of course, not the most socially desirable way to read a book. However, from marketing and sales prospective, the effect of availability of unauthorised copies on sales does not always have to be negative. Some argue, including the famous writer Paulo Coelho, that giving away free digital copies of the book can actually boost your sales. While that may well be true and regarded as a sales promotion, it still has to be done in a controlled environment. Giving away five or ten thousand copies is one thing, but hundreds of thousands is totally different.

The success of the book, as well as the crazy demand on the e-versions, has a lot to do with online efforts that Dan Browns team put into its promotion. I'm not sure where the guys got my email address from, must be some marketing lists, but several days before the release I got a message with the cover of the book as an attachment. That's it, no text, just the cover. And actually prompted me to find out more about the book (which has more than 21,6 mln searches on Google). Easy, and effective for them. Pricey, though, I would imagine.

Apart from the email campaign, and, of course, the website, there was Twitter. Now, that could have been used much more effectively. Doubleday, administering the Twitter account, seemed to lack experience in micro-blogging and needed more preparation in regards with heir launch strategy. Cryptic tweets are good, so long as you don't have to be a mason to understand them. Pure link-twittering, little engagement, and very poor communication. But, indeed, Twitter is not an easy tool to use to get measurable results.