All right, everybody! Today we’re going to do a little exercise to help you generate a bunch of ideas for you to use to create a target audience for a Facebook or Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ad. To do this exercise, you’re going to need a piece of paper, something to write with, and a timer.
Got everything ready? Great! Let’s jump in.
What we’re going to do is brainstorm for fifteen minutes. Here are the rules:
- Use free-writing for this exercise. That means no censoring. Whatever you think of goes on the paper. Don’t stop. Don’t overthink things. Just keep writing until the time is up.
- You must do this on paper. For whatever reason, our brains seem to free-write best when we’re physically writing, not just typing on a keyboard. (I’ve always been skeptical about this, but I tried it for the first time the other day and was amazed at how many ideas I came up with!)
- You’re going to focus on answering this question: What influences (or influenced) your writing?
Let’s dive into that question just a little bit before we get going. What are influences?
Well, let’s start simple. What books have influenced your writing? Or maybe you’re more influenced by TV shows or movies. Is there a place you went that helped you create your latest novel? Anything like that is an influence.
Here’s a partial list of categories to think about:
- TV Shows
I think we’re ready to start now. Set your timer for fifteen minutes and… go!
*fifteen minutes pass*
Time’s up! You should now have a bunch of ideas to look at.
Sorting the Ideas
At this point, it’s okay to move to a computer if you want. I like to use Trello for this step and make a card for each idea—it makes it easy to sort things and add more details later. But whatever floats your boat it fine.
What we’re going to do with your brainstorm list is convert it into a list of target audiences that you can market your book to. Once you’ve made a list of target audiences, you can plug these into Facebook or AMS ads to get your book in front of that audience.
How’s that work? Well, when you create an ad on either Facebook or AMS, you get to choose pages, audiences, or books that you want to see your ad. This works a little differently on each platform. Here are specific examples:
Let’s say I’m the author of a novel about a middle-aged woman who makes a daring river rafting trek. On Facebook, I could target people who like pages about river rafting. Or I could target people who are female and over the age of 40. Things get really powerful on Facebook when you target both of those audiences together—females over 40 who like pages about river rafting.
For that same hypothetical book, I’d target keywords on AMS. I could use the keyword “river rafting.” Or maybe “middle-aged female heroine.” But I can also target other books or authors that are similar. Say I find another book about a middle-aged woman who takes a road trip across Europe. That sounds like a similar book, so I could use that on AMS as one of my targets.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s sift through your brainstorming results.
Authors and Titles
Let’s start with the easy ones. Look back over your paper for authors or titles. For example, let’s say you have a science fiction comedy novel and you wrote down that you were influenced by Douglas Adams. You can use Douglas Adams as one of your target markets, and you could also write down The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or maybe you’re a more serious sci-fi writer and you’re influenced by the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That’s great; TV shows and movies count too.
To take this further, search on Facebook for official and fan-created pages for each of these authors or titles. Also search the books category on Amazon for the titles or authors. Sometimes, you’ll find other similar books this way that you didn’t know existed. Save any relevant titles and links to your document (or Trello board), then move on to the next step.
More Nebulous Concepts
What about all those places, things, and any other ideas you might have written down? These a little harder to target, but not impossible.
First, identify the items and get them sorted out in your document. Now take each one and do some web searches:
- Search Facebook for pages about the item.
- Search Amazon for books about the item. If you find a book that looks promising, also search Facebook for pages related to that book or author.
- When all else fails, search Google for other ideas that might relate to that item. Again, look on Amazon and Facebook for the related ideas to see if you can come up with anything.
You’re trying to get each of these concepts mapped into relevant Facebook pages so you can target them in an ad campaign. You’re also looking for Amazon books that have similar audiences as your own book that you can use in an AMS ad. If you can’t find a Facebook page or Amazon title to target, save that idea for another time.
You’ll also want to look at these more nebulous concepts and think about them in terms of keywords or keyphrases. Check out my article on Amazon keywords for more ideas on that.
Taking This Further
You should now have a big list of Facebook pages and Amazon titles that you could use as target audiences for an ad about your book. That’s great! But would you like some more ideas?
You can generate even more ideas by doing the free-writing exercise again, but this time ask yourself who reads your book. Ask who you wrote the book for in the first place. Once you’ve done the fifteen minute free-write, sort through those ideas and add them to your list of target audiences. Some of these might not be Facebook pages or books on Amazon, but if you get an age group, gender, or a hobby to target, that’s fantastic.
Choosing Your First Target Audience
Okay, so now you have a bunch of ideas. You could run ads for all of them, but you’d go broke! How do you decide which audience to target first?
Look back through your list and sort it into piles of Great Fit, Good Fit, and Poor Fit. Just go with your gut here.
Now look through your Great Fit pile and think about ways you might be able to combine items into one target audience. For example, if one audience is people who like the Redwall series and another is males between the ages of 13–16, put those together into one audience of males aged 13–16 who like Redwall. You might also look for Good Fit items you can combine with the Great Fit pile.
To choose one audience to start with, I’d recommend any of the combined target audiences you’ve created. If you don’t have any of those, pick your top two favorite Great Fit audiences and try them both.
What to Advertise?
Facebook ads work best when you give something away for free. Use this opportunity to build your mailing list and following. Check out my post about author platform building for more on setting up that system.
If you’re using Amazon Marketing Services, you’ll need to fill in book titles, authors, and keywords that your target audiences are searching for. It still helps to have a free book here, but since people are on Amazon to buy something, you can also advertise a normal paid book.
You’ll want to keep an eye on your ads to make sure they are actually generating sales or new mailing list sign-ups. It makes sense to spend very small amounts (maybe $5–10) on each ad in the beginning to see which ones perform best. Check in with your stats for each ad every week—you need to let your ads run for at least seven days to get good stats to evaluate. If an ad isn’t performing, stop running it. Make a new ad for the next audience on your list and keep testing until you find something that works.
I hope you now have a lot of ideas for target audiences. You may want to do this exercise for each of your books, especially if you write in multiple genres. Happy targeting!