One Marketing Idea That’s Fun, Easy, and Effective

by | Writing | 13 comments

“Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” — Seth Godin


I’m promoting my upcoming novel, but this idea can work to market other products.

A drawing for a gift basket of items related to your novel is easy and effective. Click to tweet.

I made 5 baskets for planned events.

Why it’s fun:

  1. Purchasing reasonably priced items is like a treasure hunt.
Woman's compact with pad of adhesive notes

Woman’s compact with pad of adhesive notes.

Example: In Calculated Risk, Cisney lives by sticky notes. I spotted sticky note dispensers in the shapes of a shiny heart, a purse, and a woman’s compact with a mirror.

  1. I invited a “crafty” friend for lunch. We spent the afternoon chatting and putting the baskets together, using her expertise in making them attractive.

Why it’s easy:

  1. Compared to researching how to write a press release or an effective ad, buying several things that remind you of your story is simple. Especially, if you purposely write easy-to-find things into your novel.

Why it’s effective:

  1. Store managers are happy to help you get the word out about your book with something that’ll draw customers into their shop.
  2. A basket at an event, such as a launch party, provides visuals for talking about your story. You don’t have to memorize a formal speech.
  3. A basket of goodies is eye-catching. It draws people to your book-signing table.
  4. Email addresses collected for winner notification are good for announcing your next novel or discounts on your books. Have a way people can decline receiving updates.
  5. A basket of goodies can work for you without you being present.

Example: My hairdresser displayed my book cover poster and basket for a drawing. So for a month, my basket will draw ladies to enter with their email addresses, pick up a free bookmark and pad of sticky notes with my website info, and take a flyer about my book signing and launch party.

A giveaway basket of items can work for you without you being present. Click to tweet.

Butterfly sporting words for a writer from my "crafty" friend.

Butterfly sporting words for a writer from my “crafty” friend.

How to make a giveaway basket of goodies. 

1. Brainstorm story events and items your characters use. For example, Cisney rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving with Nick’s family. I needed something to represent Thanksgiving.

2. Purchase 15 to 20 items. Dollar stores often have some quality items for a good price. I included at least three nice gifts women would enjoy, such as a bracelet, scented candle, and specialty hot cocoa mix.

3. Make tags that give a hint of how the items relate to the story and attach them to the items.

4. Arrange the goodies in an inexpensive basket lined with pretty tissue paper. Use colors from your book cover. Wrap the basket with transparent tulle so people can see the goodies. Tie it up and add something like a large butterfly to the bow.

5. Add your book to the basket for your personal events, such as a launch party. Best not to giveaway books at a bookstore that’s hosting you to sell books.

From the last book you read, what might be used as a goody in a giveaway basket?

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  1. Terri Gillespie

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! I did a gift bag for my online launch, and didn’t for the release party at the hair salon! GREAT INFO, thanks so much!!

  2. hopetolerdougherty

    Great ideas, Zoey! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Marcia A. Lahti

    What fun! For the book I’m reading now (only 30% into it), I’d find a Harley Davidson key chain and a bag of Oreo cookies. (The Reluctant Prophet, Nancy Rue) Choosing items for Francine River’s Bridge to Haven is harder. I think I might purchase a collection of small picture frames putting photos that relate to cars in the story, 1950’s Hollywood, Korean war, teens in a diner . . . an old Bible, a cross on a chain.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Those are excellent, Marcia. I especially like how you “squeezed” the frames with pictures of cars from the era out of a difficult book. Good example for why it’s good to stick some things purposely into your story, if you plan to do giveaway baskets.

  4. Zoe M. McCarthy

    I haven’t planned an online launch party, except for being on one of the meet-the-authors parties an author for my publisher organizes. A gift bag, as you mentioned, would work better for mailing than a basket. Thanks for sharing, Terri.

  5. Sandra Ardoin

    All great ideas, Zoe. I especially liked the idea of displaying the giveaway and email sign up sheet somewhere (like your hairdresser’s). I hadn’t thought to collect email addresses from those who enter the giveaways.

    The one thing to keep in mind in creating the baskets is the postage to mail them. You can spend two or three times as much on postage as you did for the basket.

  6. Marian Pellegrin Merritt

    Thanks for sharing, Zoe. I did a gift basket of Cajun items when Southern Fried Christmas released. I had Jambalaya mix with a recipe attached, Fleur de lis ceramic coasters, a paperback copy of the book, Mardi Gras beads, an apron with a Gumbo recipe on it. All fun things and all related to the book. Because it was on display at our local gift shop, I did collect email addresses for my newsletter as a requisite to enter. And a local person won so I didn’t have to mail! I like the idea of the hairdresser–it’s the perfect place even for bookmarks. Marketing is not my strong suit, so anytime there’s a way to make it fun, I’m in!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Marian, I don’t know how I missed your wonderful response. I guess I’m in the throes of my release. You did such a great job of creating a basket for your book. Thanks for giving us this example

  7. Cleo A. Lampos

    I am going to two craft sales and am making baskets with my teacher books it them hoping that they will sell for the holidays.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Cleo, I hope you have great success from your baskets. I like the idea of attending craft sales.


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