R.L. Stine

Sent by Jonathan Stark on December 1st, 2019

If you have kids under the age of 30 (or you yourself are under 30) you have almost certainly heard of R.L. Stine. If not, here’s a quick summary that I cobbled together from Wikipedia:

R.L. Stine is an American novelist, short story writer, television producer, screenwriter, and executive editor. Stine has been referred to as the “Stephen King of children’s literature” and is the author of hundreds of horror fiction novels, including the books in the Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room series. As of 2008, Stine’s books have sold over 400 million copies. According to Forbes List of the 40 best-paid Entertainers of 1996–97, Stine placed 36th with an income of $41 million for the fiscal year. In three consecutive years during the 1990s, USA Today named Stine as America’s number one best-selling author.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do, so when I heard that Stine released a Masterclass, I immediately binge watched it. I was expecting a bunch of helpful tips and tricks, and I was not disappointed. But what I wasn’t expecting was to stumble across a marketing thread that will be of interest to y’all here on the list.

Throughout the 28 lesson masterclass, Stine comes back again and again to the importance of knowing precisely who he is writing for, and understanding his audience as much as humanly possible.

In one of the lessons, he mentions that he devotes a significant portion of his real-life schedule to meeting with his readers in person - e.g., at school talks, book signings, trade shows, and so on.

Although he doesn’t label it as such, what Stine is doing at these visits is market research, plain and simple. He’s getting to know his target market so he can empathize with them, because if he doesn’t “get it right” they won’t “buy it” as he says in the video.

When he says “buy it” he means “consider the story to be credible” but it also works literally; if he loses touch with his audience, his audience will probably stop buying his books.

Here’s the thing…

The same dynamic exists if you’re selling services instead of books. If you don’t know who your target audience is, you won’t know what to write, so whatever you do write will be weak and nobody will “buy it” in the literal sense.

Probably the quickest thing you can do to increase the quantity and quality of your leads is to simply decide who your target market is and articulate it confidently across all of your marketing materials.

It’s really not rocket science.

Yours,

—J