Book trailers don’t work as expected. Many authors are stumped by them. Here are four reasons why you should create them and why they do actually work.
The crucial difference between traditional marketing and marketing on the web is that everything on the web is equally available to everyone all the time. Unlike traditional media outlets like TV and Radio, there are no gatekeepers controlling the flow. There are no channel line ups and no show schedules.
In traditional media, advertisements are based on interruption marketing. They can be low-quality and still be effective because consumers can’t skip the advertisement to get to the content they want.
Not so on the web. It’s incredibly easy to navigate to the content you want. Therefore, there is no traditional marketing because it isn’t necessary (and can actually be a liability). Consumers can connect directly with the producers of the content that they want. This has several important consequences:
(1) The production value of a book trailer ought to be high. Low-quality might work on TV but it won’t work on the web. It’s still entirely possible that it will get lost in the shuffle of all that is new on the web. Humans are fickle and hard to predict, but they do generally flock to whatever is *new* or anything that does something *better* than the competition. So keep the production value high and show them something they’ve never seen before. (n.b. High *value* doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or high-quality. American teens regularly buy jeans with holes already in them. Why? Because it’s considered fashionable. The jeans makers now purposefully damage their product before shipping. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. The web can be counter-intuitive like that too.)
(2) The primary purpose of your book trailer should not be to advertise your book. (!) If they’re watching it, they’re already interested. Remember, anyone can watch anything. They’ve chosen your book trailer. So, first and foremost, make it *entertaining* to keep them watching and increase the odds that they will share it with their friends (more on that next).
(3) Leverage the power of social media. Make it easy to find your book trailer and easy to share it. Use YouTube, Vimeo, and all the rest. Your first viewers will most likely be your fans who will probably be buying your book anyway. However, give them the tools and they will share it with their friends who might not be fans (yet). Making it easy also means you don’t pick just one outlet. You can upload your book trailer to them all and you should.
Thus, although you end up spending a lot of time creating something that will be viewed mostly by people already interested in it, you gain exposure for your product and your brand. Because…
(4) Things published on the web live on forever. Thus, it’s entirely possible to get continual exposure for the rest of your career. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Book trailers work over the long run. So, by all means create them. Just don’t expect an immediate payoff.