Posted On July 5, 2013 by Print This Post

Sharmeen Akbani Gangat: The Shocking Truth About Online Marketing

Today’s guest, Sharmeen Akbani Gangat, takes “marketing expert” to a whole new level. Read on, as she reveals the shocking truth about online marketing.

One of the buzzwords of creativity sales is online marketing. Artists and authors break a cold sweat over it: they struggle with social media, virtual blog tours, and you name it – without knowing the cold and harsh – almost shocking – truth about online marketing: that it is not any of that.

Rather, marketing (especially online marketing) is all and only about value-creation. Yes, you read it right: online marketing is about creating value. Massively and repeatedly. Besides and before the book or any other product.

This means, you need to know:

• What is valuable to your audience?
• How can you create that value for them?
These two questions are central to your value-creation strategy. Once you have it nailed, selling books will be a piece of cake because:
• Your brand name will sell your products – on its own, without much effort.
• Your super fans will buy from you – and even promote it for you.

So, What Is The Principle Behind Value-Creation?

It relies on the following premises:

• You are a service provider, not a product creator.
• The focus is on the audience, not you. And not even on your product.
• Your buyer’s perception determines your value, not the quality of your content.

This principle is in complete contrast to what you’re used to in the name of online marketing. Isn’t it?

In traditional online marketing:

• It is about value-communication, not value-creation.
• The focus in on you and your product.
• Audience is persuaded to buy what you have to offer.

Case Study In Online Marketing With Regards To Value-Creation:

The recent best example in this case has to be David Siteman Garland.
(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with David or any of his products in any whichever way. Whatever I am saying is based on personal observations and to drive home an example of what needs to be done.)

Those who don’t know him, David helps mediapreneurs dominate the online space. Through his online show, The Rise To The Top, where he interviews successful entrepreneurs on their business strategies and outcomes, he provides rich and practical information that entrepreneurs can apply to their own businesses. And, oh boy…he has some serious interviewing skills. He almost grills his guests. I would say he is the Barbara Walters of the online world. Therefore, it is no surprise that he has super fans. Including myself.

He probably didn’t know this until recently — because I never emailed him or commented on his shows. But, I was probably the first one to buy his new product before its launch (within 5 minutes of me learning about it) at a premium price without batting an eyelid. And, I didn’t even watch his sales video since I was already sold on the value he has had been providing for so long – without hard selling anything.

In the online space, it is all about perceptions and trust.

• Perceptions are developed instantaneously.
• Trust can be destroyed in split seconds.
• Buying decisions are made after knowing, liking, and trusting.

As An Artist, How Can You Create Value For Your Target Audience?

• Aim for something lasting – something that gives them more than just momentary informational or entertainment value  Create impact.
• Place a premium on solutions and experiences  Be a problem-solver-cum-entertainer.
• Demonstrate warmth and relatability  Build Connections, Not Followers.

What Is The Best Format To Communicate Value To Your Audience?

It can be through a blog, a web show, or simply through a newsletter. It does not need to be anything fancy. Whatever is simple and doable should work. But, it has to be consistent and not dependent on book launch dates. Remember, people sniff sales. Your value has to come from an overarching philosophy of writing, genre, or goals.
For instance, as a romance writer, you should be able to answer the following questions when looking to create value for your readers:

• Why do you write romance fiction?
• What do you want your readers to take away from your book/s?
• What is your romance message?

How Value-Creation Helps Your Creative Pursuits, Ambition, and Life?

It helps with the following four Cs – and in that order:

Career: You don’t want to be a one-book wonder. Writing is your career. Thus, you should be planning for books vs. a book – the one you’re writing next or looking to sell now.

Credibility: The publishers, agents, studios look for the credibility of the creator as much as the quality of the creative content.

Community: A strong and passionate community is the sign of a credible creator and a passionate value-provider.

Cash: Value builds sales and brings in the cash through your product line-up and other revenue streams such as speaking or coaching. There is no dearth of cash for a credible creator with a community backing.

Your Task:

Find out what your audience needs, and how you can help. This will jumpstart your online marketing and sales process.

Still Struggling?

Feel free to comment, ask, and share whatever you’re struggling with and looking to learn about promoting and profiting from your creative works.


Got a question for a marketing expert? Let’s hear it now!

On Monday, July 8, regular columnist RUTH HARRIS returns. Join us!



Sharmeen Akbani Gangat is a marketer who specializes in the publishing and entertainment industries. In her 12+ years of professional experience, she has sold millions of dollars worth of creative products: from radio shows and entertainment event sponsorships to everything in between. She is a certified filmmaker and has a master’s degree from Columbia University.
She is also the creator of the
Glocul Mag blog, where she teaches how to promote and profit from creativity. You can subscribe here to receive even more premier content and access – including a free, weekly, actionable tip that you can learn and apply on your own to receive maximum exposure and increase your work’s sales chances.
While people recognize her as a book marketer, most people do not know that she is the easiest person to sell a romance book to. Simply light up the dopamine-rich areas of her brain or hit her emotional buttons and she is a customer – for life.

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27 Responses to “Sharmeen Akbani Gangat: The Shocking Truth About Online Marketing”

  1. Yeah its a truth thanks
    I am impressed with your writing skills

    Posted by Video SEO Services | July 5, 2013, 6:52 am
  2. An excellent post! It’s so interesting to see the way you’ve broken down this nebulous concept of marketing oneself into simple points and steps. Value creation and making an impact. Love this. Thank you!

    Posted by Heather Webb | July 5, 2013, 7:29 am
  3. Morning Sharmeen!

    Excellent post!

    How, in today’s day and age, when it seems someone is selling their book from every corner, excellent writing blogs abound and everyone is shouting buy me! buy me! can we stand out from the crowd?


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | July 5, 2013, 8:57 am
    • Morning, Carrie!!! Firstly, thank you for liking the post. Secondly, it IS difficult but possible to stand out from the crowd. For that to happen, we must stop shouting buy me. Would the author prefer seeing such tweets in their Twitter/Facebook timelines or in their inboxes? I assume no, right? Then why do they expect their readers would? Coming back to the standing out from the crowd part, I recommend spending a good chunk of your time before starting your marketing campaign in understanding what your audience wants and how YOU can give them that. You’d be surprised to know that very few authors think along those lines. All they are concerned about is them and their books, not readers. And that shows, in their book sales.

      Posted by Sharmeen Akbani Gangat | July 5, 2013, 9:21 am
  4. Hi Sharmeen,

    Marketing requires time and finesse. Is it better to hire a professional?

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | July 5, 2013, 9:00 am
  5. Mary, you might want to consider hiring a professional if you think you need help. Just be mindful of the value you’re getting from what the professionals are offering. I recommend conducting a simple cost-benefit analysis. In case you don’t know how to perform that, one of my blog post talks it. Here is the link to it:

    Good luck!!!

    Posted by Sharmeen Akbani Gangat | July 5, 2013, 9:27 am
  6. Hi Sharmeen – I’m so impressed with all you’ve accomplished! I was especially impressed to read about the cold call pitch that enabled you to work on UNTV’s promotional video marketing package for World Summit. Thanks for a great blog! I bookmarked it, but I’m also taking notes.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 5, 2013, 9:40 am
  7. Sharmeen – I agree with you about not shouting “Buy me!” So many authors send me messages by email, on Facebook, on Twitter and even on LinkedIn, all basically hawking their books. It can be as annoying as political robocalls and telemarketers on the phone.

    I don’t care how much I like the author or how wonderful their books are, I’d rather they showcase the book(s) on their own blogs, Facebook pages, etc. and let me make my own buying decisions.

    (And, I should mention, I do buy a LOT of books. I bought one the other day that was mentioned in a post here, because I liked the excerpt.)

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 5, 2013, 9:44 am
    • Exactly…I can’t agree more with you on this. Let readers make their own decisions. I don’t understand the thought behind those buy-my-book tweets. How can authors assume that anybody who chances by their timeline would be interested in buying their book? For them, they are a spammer, and they are more likely to unfollow them. Not only do they not make a sale, they also lose a connection, plus credibility. Had they built relations, they may have pointed to their target audience. But, in haste and out of desperation, they lose opportunities.

      Posted by Sharmeen Akbani Gangat | July 5, 2013, 9:53 am
  8. Aww..thank you so much, Becke! You made my day (even the weekend!;)). The UNTV pitch is also my proudest accomplishment, considering that it helped me realize my true calling — and that the right pitch can make all the difference!

    Posted by Sharmeen Akbani Gangat | July 5, 2013, 9:47 am
  9. A practical question. I use my Facebook page as my primary, ongoing interface. Unfortunately, Facebook no longer delivers all the content to those who have actively “liked” me, limiting my reach and ability to create an ongoing community. Any thoughts on how to circumvent this? (I don’t think the world really needs another blog!)

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | July 5, 2013, 10:05 am
    • Blythe, I’m afraid this is the problem we encounter when we solely rely on social media. Do you have an email list? See, have you ever thought what might happen to your community if Facebook shuts down or makes some silly changes like the one you mentioned? Yes, the world doesn’t need another blog, but you have to decide how you will capture the email addresses of your community members if you haven’t already done so. This way, your reach will never be limited and dependent on third part providers (including social media).

      Posted by Sharmeen Akbani Gangat | July 5, 2013, 10:19 am
  10. I love this approach. I try to keep in mind what works on ME when I’m in reader mode, to see what makes me respond to certain books/authors. I’m definitely going to ponder the questions you’ve got above. Great info!

    Posted by Donna Cummings | July 5, 2013, 10:12 am
  11. If you have trouble with the link in Sharmeen’s post, try this:

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 5, 2013, 11:30 am
  12. The basic concept is great, but could you give some specific examples of how a romance writer might add value to the customer?

    Posted by Kris Bock | July 5, 2013, 11:05 pm


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