Friday, March 12, 2010

Author Shares Guerilla Marketing Tips that Work

Danny Kofke doesn't have a big platform, nor does he have a lot of time. He teaches full time in a public school (special education) and is raising two young children. Yet, he's selling far more books than your typical author, largely through his own publicity efforts. On his media page, I find four radio shows and one book signing that are booked for the next couple of months. And it's not a brand new book. It's been out over two years. It's called How to Survive (And Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher's Salary.

Here are some tips I picked up from him in a phone conversation this morning:

1) Face it, it takes time and effort to sell books. They don't sell themselves.

2) Book marketing is fun! He's been at this for over two years and still gets a charge out of doing radio interviews, TV and other media. He still fondly recalls the excitement of doing his first radio interview.

3) He takes advantage of both large and small opportunities. You never know what might pay off. He had one interview he did for Bank Rate that got picked up by the FOX site. Another went secondarily to AOL's home page. The point? Just get out there and do something, even if it's small. Do something enough and cool things start to happen.

4) His main method is to research viable media and send e-mails to them.
  • He starts with a Google search for such topics as "radio stations about teachers", "financial radio shows," etc. Then, he finds them on the Web and studies the show. If it's all about, for example, recommending stocks to buy, he doesn't pursue it.
  • Next, he finds the contact person on the site. E-mail them a pitch. The pitch must be powerful. Remember, it's not about your book, it's about their audience. With the first paragraph, share a startling statistic or something to grab them, demonstrating that their audience wants to hear what you have to say. If you've gotten publicity before, link them to your media page so that they can see or hear past interviews.
5) Follow-up and keep good records. Danny emphasized this over and over. He'll pitch anyone and everyone, then write on the calendar to follow-up in a month or so if they haven't responded. If they still don't respond, he may e-mail again several months later, saying something like, "Hey, I just spoke on this station and was mentioned in this article. If you'd like to interview me...." And he keeps following up until someone says that don't want to hear any more.

As you can imagine, good record-keeping is vital. He calendars items that he needs to do at a later time. He keeps a notebook as to who he's e-mailed, how they responded, and when to follow-up. If someone declines and wants no further pitches, he notes that as well.

Example: He contacted the "700 Club" early in his marketing. They declined to interview him. But recently he e-mailed again, telling them what other events he's done and linking them to his author site so that they can see his other interviews. This time, they booked him!

6) Interest can build over time. The media isn't just interested in new books. Once you get one interview and put it on your media site, this can leverage more reviews. Now the media has something to judge whether or not you're a fit for their program. The more interviews you get, the more impressive you look. It's called building a platform from scratch. It's called leveraging one opportunity to get other opportunities.

Danny sent 10 e-mails over time to CBS about getting on their early show. Finally, he could say in an e-mail, "Hey, I was just on CNN." This time, they replied and asked to see his interview from CNN. That's progress! Hopefully, he'll let us know if it comes through!

7) Danny uses HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to give his expertise to journalists who need to interview experts, or regular people with specialized experiences. Responding to a HARO request got him into the Wall Street Journal.

8) Set up your media page. We've already mentioned how he's using it. I like it for two reasons:
  1. It gives the media exactly what they want to know, all there on one page where they don't have to waste time searching for information. They can click on both articles and interviews and see that Danny can handle himself well on interviews.
  2. It's free and takes minimal time to maintain. I can hear marketing experts saying, "You need to post a blog every day, or at least a few times a week. You need to get links from other prominent sites. You need to post on other people's blogs." To which I'd respond, "Danny doesn't have time for all that crap. He's got something that works for him. Why ruin it?"

    Danny's blog is free and functions well for his purpose. He set it up on and didn't even bother to buy a distinct url. Apparently, he doesn't need a url, so why pay $10 a year to get one? That goes along with his book on how to live on a teacher's salary. You don't buy things you neither want nor need.

  3. It's easily up-datable. You don't have to use DreamWeaver or ExpressionWeb or have to hire a webmaster. Blogspot gives you all the basic tools you need.
9) You don't have to do everything. If I understand Danny correctly (I'll let him edit this), he isn't putting his book in book fairs, sending it off extensively for review, going for book awards, writing articles for magazines, and traveling extensively. While he has his eye on other opportunities, like presentations to school faculty, he's hung in there with something that's working for him - doing radio shows. I've heard that one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do is to stick with a winning formula once they've found one. Danny's making it work, and for that, I greatly admire him!

Follow-Up Interview

Out of 20 first contacts that you make, how many do you estimate end up
actually booking you?

Danny -I would say maybe 4-5 even replied to my message and maybe 2 would book me.

SM - Now that you've got interviews on your press page that they can look at
and realize that you've been in major media, is it easier to book interviews? If so, how many out of 20 responded at first and how many out of 20 now?

Danny - Yes, it's easier to book interviews now. Most producers want to see how you can fit into their show and help their listeners/viewers out. It is not about you or your book most of the time - it is about your message. Since I have been on numerous TV and radio shows, producers can take a look at these and see if I would be a good fit for them. They no longer have to guess what I would sound/look like since they can see first-hand. I would say I now get 5-6 responses (still not half) from the pitches I send out.

SM - Is 90% of what you're doing going after radio?

Danny - No, I would say about 60% radio, 30% television and the rest various print outlets. At first, before I had any television exposure, I was mainly going after radio but now, since I have had exposure in all three areas I mentioned, I pitch appropriate people in all of these areas.

SM - How many contacts (new and followup) do you think you average each week?

Danny - I would estimate 100 or so. Some weeks it is more and some less but, overall, I would say that is the average.

SM - How much time do you think you average marketing your book each week?

Danny - It is an endless job since there are so many ways to market. I have come up with a balance to be the best husband, father, teacher and marketer I can so I limit myself since I could probably work on marketing 10 hours a day! I would say I spend an average of 15-20 hours a week working on book related stuff.

Thanks Danny! That's great information. Thanks for being so generous with us!


  1. Really great advice. I like the specific, task-oriented tips. I have started a list of media people I would contact, but haven't gone any farther than this. Thanks for your post - some very good food for thought...and action! Marly

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Marly!

    After making this post, I followed up with some more questions for the author, like, "How many media people, on average, do you e-mail per week?" He said, "Probably 100!" I also asked about how many media people actually book him out of 20 contacts. I think we need to know what to expect out of campaigns like this.

    I'll try to update the blog post with more specifics this weekend.