Psst. Over here.
Did you do as I asked?
Did you come alone?
I’m ready to tell the truth, if you’re ready to hear it. But we must be careful. You never know who might be listening.
Why the Cloak and Dagger?
Marketing is a different skill from writing. And just because you take to one like a fish to water does not mean you are going to have an easy time with the other.
For me, writing is something essential to my core character. It’s something that allows me to be fully myself. And, frankly, that makes me even worse at marketing than I would normally be. Because marketing is all about being someone you’re not. The salesman at the car lot is not actually your best friend. He just makes you feel that way, because sales is what he’s (hopefully) good at.
As such, many writers fare better when their marketing is a little more…underhanded. This requires subtlety, finesse, and—yes—stealth.
Operating from the Shadows
At first glance, stealth marketing seems like an oxymoron. Marketing needs to be as loud and visible as possible to work, right?
Yet stealth marketing campaigns have also proven effective in various situations. And, if I may be so bold, I think I know the reason why: stealth marketing lives in the same realm as another arcane form of marketing—a form sometimes called the most effective marketing of all.
You remember what that’s called, right?
That’s “word of mouth” for all you people who can’t display JPEGs in your web browser. And while it may be the most powerful form of marketing, it’s also the hardest to control. Many marketers won’t even try to manipulate it, as the alternatives are easier.
Still, nothing beats a good whisper campaign. And what are whispers if not a kind of stealth?
That’s why, I believe, stealth marketing is effective. It operates on a pseudo-personal level that imitates the operations of word-of-mouth advertising.
A Few Examples
I might point to a few famous stealth marketing campaigns to demonstrate the effectiveness of the practice. First thing to come to mind is the viral website released alongside The Blair Witch Project.
It was a terrible movie created in a terrible way, but it had the good fortune of being released in the early days of the World Wide Web, back when the internet was this mysterious monolith that people didn’t know what to do with but were sure that it was going to change the world.
The website created for the movie had a video teaser that teased and teased and teased in such a deliciously horrifying way. It was, in many ways, an early creepypasta, purporting to be a true story about a group of filmmakers who actually disappeared. And when young people stumbled onto the mysterious website, they couldn’t help but be curious.
A more hilarious example is the one Colgate instituted a number of years ago.
If you need more convincing, you need look no further than the Wienermobile.
These things speak to people not from their TV or from a billboard. It merely makes many other people point and go “look at that!”
Each one is a gamble, but what is life without a little risk?
My Stealth Marketing Campaign
I’ve been busy working in something that may generate interest in Advent 9. It’s the kind of thing I can’t talk about until it’s finished, so I’m not going to reveal it right now.
Still, it is an exciting project…if a bit time consuming. And, of course, pretty much everything I work on is kept on the down low until it’s finished and ready to be shown off. I went through the same thing when writing Advent 9. For years, the book was only teased.
Likewise, my next book, which I hope to release this year, is also being kept under wraps until it’s good and ready.
But my stealth marketing campaign won’t be hidden from view for nearly as long. Keep a look out for it sometime in the next few weeks.
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