February 17, 2008

Give It Away Give It Away Now: Suze Orman’s E-Book Promo

She’s a money management wizard — and now she’s proving pretty damn savvy about marketing, as well…

Of course, it helps when you team up with the greatest media mogul of our times (and I ain’t talkin’ Rupert Murdoch).

Last week on the Oprah Winfrey show — a.k.a. Nirvana for writers — author/financial consultant/TV show host Suze Orman announced that she would give away downloads of her new book, Women & Money, on Oprah’s website for 33 hours. The result: 1.1 million copies were downloaded in English, 19,000 in Spanish.

What, is she insane, giving away her work for free? No, just brilliant. Orman knows that she’s not just an author: she’s a rising multi-media star, en route to becoming the next Oprah. Giving away her book might have hurt her print sales, but look what it accomplished:

1. It scored some fat publicity: You don’t see too many other financial book writers getting this much coverage in the popular media. This stunt on the Oprah show accomplished far more than a few book reviews (or even a $3 million Super Bowl ad) would have, particularly with this target market.

2. It boosted traffic to Oprah’s website: Is there a stronger word than boosted? Exploded? Bazooka’d? Over 1 million people in 33 hours. It’s amazing the servers held up. Orman and Oprah must now be BFF’s. And if you’re trying to accomplish anything in marketing, Oprah is a wicked good friend to have.

3. It promoted Orman’s TV show:
Orman is not exactly major network material — yet. She appears on CNBC. C-what? Exactly. This giveaway will boost awareness of her show, future viewership, and higher advertising fees. Ultimately, it could score a deal with a major network.

4. It won brownie points from her audience: Says Orman, “This was not about getting people to buy the book, but getting them to read it, and that was the intention behind this offer.” Translation: “I really care about my audience, or so I want them to think. By the way, have you seen the store on my website?”

5. It promoted her book: Not everyone wants to read a book on a computer monitor, and printing it out costs about as much as just buying it ($14.97 at Amazon). So the dead-tree version will continue to sell. Proof: Women & Money is currently the #2 Bestseller on Amazon. Readers who like the book will also recommend it to their friends or buy it as a gift, and they might check out Orman’s seven other published books and her future publications, as well.

Would this work for any author? No. It works for Orman because she’s got other properties to promote: her TV show, speaking engagements, CD’s, DVD’s, financial kits, etc. She didn’t invest her brand into just one medium, which enables her to sacrifice sales in one area. (Note to authors striving for obscene wealth: books are just the starting point. Think of yourself as a brand.)

And as noted, this wasn’t much of a sacrifice. While some hopeless business drones still view marketing as a wasted expense (see “Silicon Valley startups”), even a financially-conservative professional like Orman knows that marketing can be a killer investment.

Update 1/10/09: She’s done it again. Her new book, Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan, is available for a limited time free.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

2 Responses

  1. I heard about the book contribution on Fox 58. I was hoping I could get on the list to receive a copy. I will be 70 on George Washington’s birthday. I am still a tutoring teacher and you know how it is said, “it’s never too late to make money.” My mother is close to 100 years old. So, I thought I’d try… a little humor goes a long way. Perhaps Suze and Oprah would have a book for me… Thank you!

  2. I would like to receive a copy of this book so that I can adapt new ways towards living and loving life!

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