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PyroMarketing - The Secret of Book Marketing Success
By Scott Lorenz, President, Westwind Communications

How Purpose-Driven Life and 'The Passion' Paved the Way

Book marketing professionals know the secrets of success that drove the sales of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life to a chart-busting best-seller and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" into a huge cinema phenom. Those of us in the business understand that sales of both blockbusters were driven by techniques outlined in a new book called PyroMarketing by Greg Stielstra who gained fame in book publishing circles when he served as the marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life, the best-selling hardcover book in history.

PyroMarketing embraces an idea that really has been in use for some time -   niche marketing. That tool is well-known and used every day by book promoters   but Stielstra lays out the niche marketing principles with a new, crystal clear   message that is so compelling that it is a must-read for anyone who wants to   promote an idea, service or product.

In a nutshell, PyroMarketing involves finding the "driest tinder"   (customers most apt to buy), touch it with a match (customers experiencing a   benefit), and fanning the flame (customers'word-of-mouth marketing), and save   the coals (keeping a record of customers).
  As a book-marketing expert, Stielstra found the driest tinder when the Rick   Warren organization tapped into the Christian faith community in America to   market The Purpose Driven Life. An initial six-week campaign for Purpose Driven   Life involved 1,200 people who read the book each day, listened to sermons each   Sunday, and met with friends each week in book study groups. At the end of six   weeks, 400,000 people were intimately familiar with the book. Within four months,   2 million books were sold. More than 5,000 churches signed up during the fall   2004 campaign.

"From the first campaign and for the next couple years," explains   Stielstra, "it seemed that for every book sold at a discount to someone   in a church-based campaign, five more books were sold through retail stores.   By focusing on the driest tinder within the church and encouraging them to spread   the word, we were rewarded with many more sales to people beyond its walls.   Fanning the flames didn't just double the campaign's impact, it multiplied it   by a factor of five!"

In an exchange I had with Rick Warren, the author emphasized that his personal   pre-existing contacts with pastors and church leaders was key in creating initial   interest in his book. That very limited, specific market was the driest tinder,   the book study groups was the match which produced customer benefits, and ministers   and study group members talking up the book was the all-important fanning of   the flame. The bookkeeping function of saving the coals by recording customers   into a database is a sometimes-overlooked step which promises to deliver repeat   customers.

Early on film producers wouldn't touch "The Passion" and so Gibson   employed PyroMarketing techniques to generate $500 million to become the top-grossing   R-rated movie of all time. By the fifth day alone, the film had earned $125   million in box office receipts against only $45 million in combined production   and marketing costs.

While it is amazing when you look at the success of Warren and Gibson, PyroMarketing   techniques are not a collection of hidden secrets suddenly discovered. In my   own practice, I find it helpful to re-evaluate all my processes to make sure   all elements are followed and to look for new angles to pursue. Part of this   constant evaluation of how I meet customer needs involves keeping up on what's   going on in marketing, promotion, public relations, and publishing. To accomplish   this I am reading constantly to keep pace and better understand how my colleagues   are thriving. That's why I recommend anyone read Stielstra's book, PyroMarketing:   The Four Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them For Life.   I have experienced success promoting authors using the same basic principles   Stielstra spells out in his book and found that discussion to be a very helpful   check-point.

In book marketing, a book cannot be promoted without first identifying who   the readers are in advance of a single sale. When we find the reasons why that   reader will read that book, we then craft the most effective message to be conveyed   to the information sources that reader relies upon. We don't bombard the market   with propaganda but send out promotional information to selected streams that   reach specific persons. That approach has always worked and always will. Salesmen   know that you can't sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo because he has no need   of one, but you'd have a shot at selling him thermal underwear.

So in drawing up a promotion plan for a client, I first find the niche(s) the   client can go after and determine how that specific media can be pursued. Getting   media coverage is all about creating interesting angles. I try to find out everything   I can about the author using a questionnaire that even asks about fraternities   or sorority membership, roommates in college, and other tidbits about them personally   and about the book itself.

To successfully market a book, Westwind Communications determines who will   read it and then targets that media directly. By way of example, one of my clients   has published a book of poetry. Now the average person won't buy a collection   of poetry. However, certain people love poetry. So we aim our book marketing   efforts for this client to poetry magazines, poetry web sites and poetry societies   who are the "driest tinder."

The reason most authors seek book reviews is that the people reading them represent   the "driest tinder." You don't read book reviews unless you are looking   for a book to read or give. So, it makes sense to target reviewers at media   outlets. Furthermore, people will tell their friends about a book review they   read in a magazine or newspaper, see on television, or hear on the radio because   the media is a third party, disinterested source disseminating the information.   That's why getting book reviews is so important in starting the "word of   mouth" every successful author desires. The challenge is that these reviewers   are bombarded with hundreds or thousands of books every year and it takes skill   to cut through the clutter to get a book reviewed.
  For any author, we make sure galleys and the finished books are sent to the   reviewers at major publications and broadcast outlets. We write and send press   releases, pitch letters in an electronic press kit, and make follow up phone   calls to media outlets encouraging reporters and reviewers to write about our   client's book. Being reviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Chicago   Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY are major goals. In fact USA Today   has 4.3 million readers every day. Furthermore, it gets more notice from the   other media than the other four newspapers combined. That's a major reason why   we will make a concerted effort to get our authors noticed by USA TODAY.

We also contact national magazines and others that may be interested in the   author's personal story. Sometimes the media is more interested in the author   than the book itself and that is just one more angle we'll use to promote our   client's book. We contact TV and radio outlets. Every day thousands of interviews   are conducted on TV and Radio stations across North America and several hundred   are with authors. We have developed relationships with many producers over the   years and those contacts combined with well-thought-out pitches produce results.

I regularly attend major media events in New York City for face-to-face meetings   with journalists, editors, writers and producers from top national magazines,   newspapers and radio/TV programs. I have successfully pitched such media outlets   as 20/20, Prime Time, CNN, People, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Time Magazine,   Dateline NBC, The View, Oprah's O magazine, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, Good Housekeeping,   Newsweek to name a few.

Details on Stielstra's PyroMarketing approach are given at   Learn more about Westwind Communications' book marketing approach at   For a copy of a review I wrote on Stielstra's book, or for more information   on book marketing and book promotion contact me by email at   or by phone at 734-667-2090.

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications ( ), a public relations and marketing firm which specializes in marketing authors. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, ESPN, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few. To discuss how Westwind Communications helps its clients get all the publicity they deserve and more visit or call 734-667-2090 or email

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