A few weeks ago, my wife and I made the decision to buy a hot tub. It’s a little out of character for us, since we are not particularly ostentatious or prone to buying things that are – let’s be frank about it – expensive and more than a little frivolous. But we bought one anyway.

hot+tub+marketing+mark+dawson

As we were sitting in it for the first time last Friday night, we analysed the influences that had led us to the conclusion that we would like to have one after all.

1. The gym we used to visit had a row of hot tubs in its spa.
2. The chalet we stayed in when we went skiing this year had a hot tub.
3. A friend told us a mutual acquaintance had just bought a tub.
4. We’d seen an ad in a newspaper for a local hot tub company.
5. That company were demonstrating their hot tubs at a local shopping centre we visited with the kids a few weeks ago.
6. We saw a post from Facebook friends who had just installed a tub…
7. …and then we saw it at their house.

Why am I telling you all of this? What do hot tubs have to do with selling books? Because those subtle nudges that led to us buying one are the perfect illustrations of the Rule of Seven.

The Rule of Seven is a marketing theory originally developed in the movie industry during the golden age of Hollywood. It states that a potential customer (in our case, a reader) needs to be exposed to an advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.

The requirement for seven exposures is not written in stone, of course, but I’ve found the general maxim to hold true. The more times a potential reader can be exposed to my offer, the more likely they are to make a purchase (or sign up to my mailing list, or leave a review, whatever it is that we want them to do). Of course, it’s possible that more than seven touches might be needed to cut through all the noise in people’s channels of communication these days, but the principle holds.

Our marketing tools give us ample opportunity to rack up the touches. Let’s look at just some of the easiest ones to implement in the context of my most recent book launch:

1. Amazon Also Boughts – my launch strategy is designed to get my books into Also Boughts as quickly as possible.

2. Amazon Hot New Releases List (As above!)

3. Amazon mailshot to previous readers/genre fans – if you can tickle the algorithm just right, Amazon will email for you.

4. Mailing List email – emailing a self-selecting list is still the golden standard in online marketing.

5. A Call To Action in the front and back of previous books.

6. Facebook Video Ad – video views are ridiculously cheap on Facebook right now – often 1c per view. I spend $5 on ads every day even though they don’t often produce direct sales in themselves. Why do I do this? Because my target readers become accustomed to my branding, when they see my…

7. …“normal” Facebook Ads

You’ll see I’m focusing on Facebook for two of my touches. That won’t be a surprise to you—I’ve made it pretty plain that I think it’s the most powerful advertising platform available to writers at the moment (and, of course, I have a course on ads so, yes, I’m bound to say that…) But social media gives us the ability to touch the reader often, and, more than that, it allows us to touch the precise type of reader who is likely to convert with a sale without all seven touches.

Readers in our genre.

Readers who we know like the sort of writers to whom we are compared.

Seven might or might not be the magic number, but the more times you can get your message to your perfect reader the better. With carefully designed and precisely targeted social media content, you can deliver subtle content that can form a key part of your marketing strategy.

With that – to the tub!

MARK DAWSON AS FEATURED IN: