Biz Tips: How To Royally FAIL Your First Author’s Giveaway.

Biz Tips: How To Royally FAIL Your First Author’s Giveaway.


How To Royally FAIL Your First Author’s Giveaway.

courtesy Pexels

Story Time!

I am a fiction author too.

Although I give marketing advice [and not nearly as often as I am supposed to], my heart is really in the sphere of writing adventures that transport us to a totally different pace and place of life.

I told you about how my last book did on Amazon a couple posts ago and since then I’ve been trying to juggle both sides of my life which includes running two of everything: two websites— one on WordPress and the other on GoDaddy — , two mailing lists, two appeals from two different audiences.

But really and truly, ever since I was able to actively compete in NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] and to do relatively well, my heart has really started leaning toward writing more fiction and actually taking a second wack at releasing a novel.

So about a week and a half ago as of today, I decided to do my very first giveaway in order to attract subscribers to my author’s mailing list.

I want to point out that because I didn’t know what was the best way to do this so I went online looking for ideas.

The possibilities are endless.

If I can find the link, I will update this story and let you in on it because the ideas really were great.

The one idea that caught my eye was the giving away of coupons as part of a competition.

Free money!

‘Who the heck is going to refuse that?’ I said to myself.

Step #1 To Failing Royally: Assuming Customer Preferences.

If you think you know people, you really don’t. Tastes alter as more needs arise. Question everything!

So, I decided that I was going to give away five $5 Starbucks coupons.

Well, actually it was the Starbucks card with money on it but you get the drift, right?

I set up my mailing list, did up my poster for Facebook and I waited. People were gonna flock to my site like ants to sugar.

And I had a primary domain website with one and a half sweet articles! Whoo! I was going to be best-selling in minutes!

I think that I put it up on the Tuesday night of the week because I wanted to wrap the entering part on Thursday/Friday at midnight and draw on Saturday.

On Wednesday when I checked back, I saw two sign ups.

You guys…JOY! I was over the moon.

Two whole sign-up on my first trip.

I know for other people that that’s slow but for me it meant that I was on my way. Thank you, Jesus!

I left it alone and checked it during the Wednesday.

Step #2 To Failing Royally: Resting On Your Laurels.

Small wins are wins nevertheless. But, never get comfortable until the goal is fully accomplished. Your race doesn’t end at the hand with the water cup in it.

Wednesday: —

Morning time — two.

Mid-morning — Still two.

Lunchtime — twenty-two….minus twenty.

Late evening — All of two.

Went to bed — pretty sure it was two because when I woke up on Thursday, it was very much two.

Now repeat that process for another day and try to place my face going from bright, to less bright, to dim, to dimmer throughout the day.

By the time you get to Friday morning, my face should be looking something like this in your head…

courtesy Google

I know.

But I shook that off because I was excited for my draw and the fact was that I’d gotten subscribers. That was cool within itself.

Oh crapola! I forgot to mention something!

In the welcome email that I sent out, I mentioned that if the number of subscribers fell beneath the amount of gift cards being given away, I would distribute the cards among the winners.

So, five and four would get one each, three would get one plus the cost of the two remaining [New gift card value = $5 + $(20/3)], two would get $10 each and split the one (or not. I really didn’t get that far as you’ll soon see), and the one person would get all.

So, day of the draw comes and I have two subscribers which is fine.

They were gonna share the spoils — $10 each. However, I get to the Starbucks website and Starbucks would not take my card.

Step #3 To Failing Royally: Poor/Little/No Research.

For me this is the overarching point of this whole experience but I cannot stress how important researching every element of your marketing campaign is. It allows you to create a plan, a backup plan and a backup plan for the backup plan as well as tiny but integral details to ensure success. Research is key!

Mind you, I’d already announced the results on Twitter and Facebook so [a small number of] people are aware including the winners.

I started panicking. I couldn’t give them their promised prizes!

Step #4 To Failing Royally: Panic.

This robs you completely of being able to come up with effective strategies to fix the problem at hand. It can also make you physically sick and make your body shut down if you don’t take a breath.

I would have to find it somewhere else and quick because they would have been checking their emails by then and realizing that they had no coupon links there.

Your girl started scouring the net for other links to Starbucks coupons.

Sidenote: Why is it so difficult to access Groupons, guys? Why are their so many invalid links too? It’s nuts.

I pop up on the Walmart site and lo-and-be-fricking-hold, I see a $10 Starbucks coupon. Solid! I was saved.

The bomb dropped that I would have to pay $12.50 for it but at that point I didn’t care.

I decided to test the waters by buying just one and if that worked, I would invest in the other.

Either that, or I wanted to send it one at a time. Whatever it was, I remember that I paid for one. Enters address, card information, hits ‘Proceed’. Success! One more to order and I would have been home fr — -

BOOM! ‘Your order cannot be completed as processed.’

What. The. Frig?

More panic sets in as I now have to scramble to find a different solution. I went back to my Google search and went page after page after page.

I finally went to this site called ‘MyGiftCoupon’. It had to be here or else I would have been PRESSED.

I don’t find a Starbucks coupon because apparently that website is for more technological mainstream sites so your iStore, your Amazon, your Netflix — that speed level.

So I was like ‘Okay. They’ll get a $10 Amazon coupon instead.’ Not what had been promised but it was a hell of a lot better than nothing or telling them ‘Aw shucks! Starbucks declined me. Better luck next time.’

I wasn’t about that ‘Failing Them’ Life. So I made my purchase with the notion of, again, buying one just as a test to make sure that it was going to go through. Success!

It actually went. I go to click off and some small, nasty, wicked voice tells me ‘Check the email address that you entered.’

I am sure y’all can guess what happened.

Step #5 To Failing Royally: Not Double Checking.

The tiniest mistakes can affect your whole campaign especially if the customer is the one who has to notice it first. Take the time to check and double check your work ever so often. Errors are expensive.

Yup. Yup. I sent it to the wrong address people.

The handle name of my author’s email ends in ‘books’ and I forgot the ‘books’ part. Yeah. At that ninety-ninth plus hour. So now I’m frustrated.

I shot a quick email to the person that I mistakenly sent the coupon number to and went back to by the other two.

Money wasted but hey! At this point, I just wanted to get them out.

I get the coupons and I composed a very well worded ‘I’m so sorry about this embarrassment’ letter to the winners of the competition. But at the end of it all, I ended up with $8.00, a migraine, and an overwhelming will to give right up.

Learning From My Mistakes.

Looking back on it now though, I obviously see where I went wrong in multiple places.

My execution was not well 1. advertised, 2. pushed, 3. organized, 4. researched. And really and truly, those are the very fundamental steps when taking on this or any marketing project.

You have to have a proper promotional campaign in order to inform people of your products’/blog’s/offerings’ existence.

It has to be properly pushed, well-edited and tweaked for perfection in order to achieve success.

Had I taken the time to do research, to double check, to stay clam, my campaign would have turned out much better than it is and chances are I would have had more subscribers than I have now.

And although my two guys were very understanding of the situation, I can’t help but think that there is some damage in their mind to my brand’s image. I have to go back now and find a way to repair that which may cost me more than I really needed to spend in the first place.

In any event, failing royally was a great life lesson. I can laugh now about it but I also am grateful and attentive to the lessons that I gathered from it all.

And when I do this the next time, being ready will be an understatement.

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How To Royally FAIL Your First Author’s Giveaway. was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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