“Writers Conference Tips: The 5 Print Materials You Should Bring” was written by Jessica Thiefels, founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency for mid-size B2B businesses outsourcing content marketing. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.
For many self-published authors, attending writers conferences is an essential part of not only their professional development, but their marketing strategy as well. Whether you’re in the final stretch before a new book release, or simply looking to connect with potential readers, the value of face-to-face interactions paired with tangible print materials can’t be underestimated.
If you’ve browsed writers conference tips before, you’ve probably seen suggestions to bring print marketing materials and conference swag. Why? Because it works!
While social media is important, data shows that printed content requires 21 percent less cognitive effort to read and process than digital content, according to Marketing Profs. It also leads to a 70 percent higher recall. And, when deciding whether or not to purchase, consumers find print marketing 34 percent more trustworthy than online advertisements.
To expand your network and develop an active audience of readers during this conference season, attend your next writers conference with these print materials in tow.
The 5 Must-Bring Print Materials for Your Next Writers Conference
For a creative nod to the literary theme of a writers conference, hand out bookmarks that advertise your book. Feature elements from the cover design so when they see it on the shelves or online, they’ll recognize your brand.
To get more from this simple print material, include your website. Combining print and digital in this way gives readers quick access to your information. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action (CTA) if appropriate as well, but remember that your call to action doesn’t have to be related to book sales.
As CJ McDaniel, publishing expert, suggests:
“Use your author bookmark to urge your readers to take a specific action, whether it’s signing up for your email list, joining a book club, or leaving an online review of your book.”
When you want to share more information than what a bookmark allows, consider a brochure. Jason Frueh, co-owner and lead developer of MyCreativeShop, explains the value of this print material: “Think of your brochure as a high-level introduction to your brand, covering the who, what, where and why.”
With plenty of space for images and text, you can share all the necessary information about you or your book. Use this as a tool to spark unique and memorable conversations at the conference, but remember that your brochure can elicit engagement well after you leave—it’s all about design. For example, Frueh suggests:
“Encourage customers [readers, editors, etc.] to follow you on social media by highlighting the icons for each platform. Don’t let them blend into the footer of your brochure. Use text like ‘Follow us!’ with an arrow icon to drive action.”
Don’t save all your print materials for the conference. Instead, make sure people know you’ll be there ahead of time with a direct mail campaign. In addition to a well-timed update on your social media channels, you can also send a postcard to bookstore owners, journalists, reviewers, librarians and other influencers to invite them to network in-person with you at the conference.
If you’re uncertain about this approach, HubSpot found that it generates more of a response than digital media, with 66 percent of direct mail being opened, as compared to less than 20 percent with email.
If you’re promoting yourself and your brand, include a high-quality photo of you in the design. Or, if your focus is on a recent book, be sure to incorporate the cover into the design as well. Finally, don’t forget to share relevant information about the conference and how to contact you via email, phone or social media to schedule a meeting.
Custom decals or stickers are popular with modern consumers—in particular, the millennial generation of 18- to 30-year-olds. “The trend’s success is all about recognizing and playing the nostalgia card with millennials, most of whom grew up meticulously decorating their caboodles in the golden age of stickers from Lisa Frank and Happy Bunny,” says Vox.
If your readers are millennials, this is a print material you don’t want to overlook. When designing stickers, keep these tips in mind from 99Designs:
- Make them pop with color. “Use energetic designs filled with vibrant colors.”
- Focus on messaging using big bold letters, unique typography and a catchy slogan or quip.
- Remember: shocking design—like something spooky or edgy—helps you stand out.
- Be serious if appropriate. “Some stickers do important jobs, like providing a service number or warning users about security; if yours does, get serious with your design.”
- Consider a retro or classic look to appeal to the nostalgic element.
5. Business Cards
You can never predict who you’ll meet at a conference—a well-known author with valuable connections, a publisher scouting for fresh talent, a literary blogger with an audience of thousands, or even a bibliophile in the pursuit of new books to read.
It’s critical that you’re both personable and professional when meeting these people and business cards are important for making that impression. However, a traditional business card only measures 3.5×2”, so you need to make an impact with limited space.
To do so, Kate Sullivan, book editor and marketer, suggests:
“My personal favorite [layout] is to put a list of your books on one side with your author website at the bottom, and then to put your contact information and tagline (e.g. Award-winning personal finance author) on the opposite side. This makes it easy to see exactly what you write, find where to buy it and [how to] get in touch.”
Use Print to Connect and Engage at Writers Conferences
These five print materials allow you to make the most of a writers conference. Be strategic with your design and messaging and make sure everyone you speak to leaves with something tangible. Your brand is more than a social media profile, so step outside of the box to get more value from your next event.
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