The Virtual Handshake Marketing Train is About to Leave the Station

How can you use online networks to turn a book by first-time authors into a bestseller?

We’ve spent two years researching how people can use online networks to become dramatically more successful. It would only be honest if we used ourselves as a case study. We are now gaining steam in the marketing and promotion of our new book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, with a planned launch date of July 15, 2005. By sharing our experience here, we hope to give you food for thought on how you can best market and publicize what you want to market.

A brief overview of the book for new visitors: The Virtual Handshake is the first mass market book on social software and virtual networks. The Virtual Handshake teaches executives, investment bankers, consultants, and other businesspeople how to use “social software” and online networks to find their next business partner, client, or job.

We’ve written below a brief outline of our marketing approach. If you have any other creative ideas on how to publicize the book, we would greatly welcome them.

We plan to reach out to our audiences via virtual communities, blogs, and all the other relevant social software tools we discuss in our book. Of course, we plan to tread lightly to make sure we are spreading the message to the right people, and respecting the integrity of the communities they have created.

Following is an outline of the marketing plan:

  • Mainstream Media Outreach —

Solicit book reviews and related articles from established media outlets. Long lead time publications (monthly business and technology magazines) are first, followed by weeklies and, closer to the sell date, daily newspapers and online outlets.

  • Influencer/Blogger Buzz Campaign —

Contact Influencers and provide them with copies of The Virtual Handshake to review. Among the influencers we are targeting are people from the fields of Entrepreneurship, Networking, Academe, Executive Recruiting, Sales, Financial Advising, and MBAs. Our goal is to reach the influencers for our target audiences, and have them present the value of the book in their own forum. If you are an influencer and would like to review the book, click here. Our model is the Silicon Valley 100. We are providing step-by-step instructions on how to earn extra income by publicizing the book on your blog or mailing list.

  • Online Communities —

We will approach both online community platforms (MSN Groups, MSN Spaces, LinkedIn, OpenBC, etc.) and targeted online communities (MBA alumni groups, etc.), to promote our book and establish links and information about The Virtual Handshake on their websites. In addition, we will reach out to the leaders of relevant online communities to encourage them to discuss the book.

  • Additional Marketing Activities —

Join blogger networks. Provide extensive free resources on our website: glossary, corporate directory, and a Reader’s Guide which requires you to prove you own the book to enter. Apply for business book awards. Publish a series of special interest articles, e.g., “Online Networks for the South Asian Diaspora”, to raise our visibility within certain special interest communities. Promote linking to our site, for search engine optimization purposes. Deliver keynote speeches at conferences. Are we missing anything major here?

  • Results —

This comprehensive marketing and publicity program is aimed at getting The Virtual Handshake in the hands of influencers, online and offline, and disseminating our message to the target audiences for the book. All of which will help us turn the book into a bestseller.

The marketing team for The Virtual Handshake is also beginning to come together. The lead on this project is Hunter Hoffmann, formerly of Hill and Knowlton and most recently Public Relations Manager for Government Liquidation, LLC (the U.S. military’s online auction provider). Hunter has secured hundreds of media placements in national and local media in his past positions, and will be managing a team of people this summer to promote The Virtual Handshake to traditional media, blogs and other virtual communities. Our team also includes Micaela “Mimi” Owusu and Chris Duncan. If you’d like to join the marketing/PR intern team, click here.

We will be updating the blog regularly over the next few months as the marketing program continues, and evolves. We look forward to your questions/comments/analysis.