Friday, July 17, 2009

Marketing Books with Online Video

This week I participated in a seminar on using videos on social media sites like YouTube and Google Videos to market books. Here are some tips I picked up, as well as some questions I have yet to resolve. I'll present the basic strategy here, then add my thoughts and concerns.

How to Sell Tons of Products (According to the Seminar)
Using Free, Web-Based Video

a. Pick a topic that people search for on the Web that ties in with your book. (Example: The topic "How Can I Find a Job?" would tie into your book, "Fool-Proof Career Advice For Recessionary Times")

b. Make short, one to three-minute, inexpensive (you can use a $99 flip camera) how-to videos about the topic. Make these based on frequently asked questions (FAQ's) about the topic.

c. Put the videos up on 30+ free video sites. Since Google prioritizes video, you have a great chance of getting a high ranking for your key words.

d. Link the videos to your website or blog, telling them that you offer more free videos on the same subject.

e. Use the free videos on your site to show them the value of your for sale products.

f. Link them to a page where they can purchase your products.

Does it work? Here's his evidence: 1) He's an expert. 2) He's seen it work for him. 3) His reasoning seems to make sense. 4) He's got quotes from others who say it worked for them.


1) It was a bit sensational - "You're virtually guaranteed..."

I don't believe anything's "guaranteed" to work in internet marketing.

Here are some reasons that this method could fail in any individual case:

2) Many other people may be targeting your niche with videos. If you're all using the same methods, how can yours be "virtually guaranteed" to turn up high in a Google search?

3) Sometimes Google's algorithms are hard, if not impossible, to figure out. (I have a site for youth workers that had more content than any other youth ministry sites (over 150 articles by top youth workers), and more visitors (about 650 per day) than all but about 2 of the top youth ministry sites. Yet, for some reason, using all the best practices for search engine optimization, and even paying an SEO professional, I could never get higher than page five in a Google search for the all-important phrase: "youth ministry." Go figure.

4) Your niche may not be very "sellable".

EXAMPLE SELLABLE NICHE: Someone produces a set of free videos showing unique, proven ways to promote a product on YouTube. He argues convincingly that he's an established expert. He directs people from the video to his site or blog for more free instructions. There, he sells people on a product that enhances their ability to use this method to greater advantage and increase their revenues. As long as he's selling a first-rate product that users will write believable blurbs about, then he's probably on to something.

EXAMPLE QUESTIONABLE NICHE: You've written a biography of your father, who was a nice guy and did well at his business, although the business was not big enough to be generally recognisable. You put some videos up on YouTube explaining "How to Make It Big in Your Business," directing them to your site for more free videos, which in turn tell them about your book.

Here are the problems I see with marketing this niche. First, there are lots of competing YouTube videos about how to run a business. What will make yours rank above the others, many of which are probably optimised by SEO professionals? Second, you're not a recognized expert. Thus, lots of people link to talks by Jack Welch, one of the top CEO's of the last century, making his videos (and dozens of other recognized business gurus) come up before yours in Google search. Third, your product isn't widely compelling. Sure, people who knew your father and his business might want the book. But people in general would be more compelled to read the story of Dell, MicroSoft, Amazon, Home Depot, or a host of other great companies.

5) Producing home-made, unprofessional video footage may work fine for some endeavors, but not for those who need to keep a sharp, professional image.

My takeaways:
  • Put my tv interviews up on more sites. Currently I have them only on YouTube. Why not put them up on more?
  • Since my book is about personal finances - a general topic which many videos cover - look for a niche that isn't crowded, yet people search for it. (Example: "What baby boomers should do after their retirement invesments plummeted in the crash.")
  • Make some helpful videos answering the most frequently asked questions on this niche.
  • Link the videos to my book on Amazon.
To learn more: - a service to help people market their products through online video. - a helpful critique of the above service. - YouTube best practices for non-profits. - As the title says: YouTube Best Practices.

Have you had experiences with online video that you'd like to share?