Under The Influencer

In my recent efforts to promote Old Money, New Woman, I’ve looked into advertising and publicity strategies, many on the digital frontier.

I have royalties coming in every month from book sales, obviously. The conundrum that I face, with every other author and business owner on the planet, is how to maximize marketing efforts without wasting money.

The blunt equation is: will an advertising dollar spent here, on a particular platform, bring in more than a dollar in revenue? If it doesn’t, I’ve wasted my dollar. To get an idea of how wasting a dollar affects me, just recall a television drama you’ve watched in which the paramedics lean over a man, slap the paddles on his chest, and yell, “Clear!”

Okay, maybe I don’t react that poorly, but I don’t like wasting money.

So I’ve done a little research, and the information I’ve found–from people who are trying to get me to spend money on advertising, no less–is disturbing.

First, let me explain: I’m trying to target millennials, a slippery group if there ever was one. I want to help young people before, not after, they face some of the bigger choices in their lives, before they make mistakes.

The landscape I face is daunting. A person in this age group has to see an ad an average of 7 times before they consider buying the product or service advertised. They are also more inclined to listen to an ‘influencer’ as much or more as their own circle of friends when it comes to purchasing a product or service.

That first statistic, I’m sure, is worrying for business owners and advertisers alike. How do you reach people cost effectively if you have to get their attention 7 times before they even think of buying your product?

The second fact is simply mind boggling. An ‘influencer’ is just a paid commercial spokesperson who is hawking something, usually on social media, in exchange for money. (Be very wary when the media manipulates words: it’s a warning sign.)

I have a word for a person who listens to the advice of an ‘influencer’ over the opinions of their friends. That word is ‘idiot’.

Your friends, dear millennial, may also be idiots, but at least they know you and probably want what’s best for you most of the time. An influencer is a shill, a fairly archaic term which remains appropriate in this case.

(I like the word ‘shill’ for its brevity and its resonance. I love a word that sounds like its meaning. Abbreviation, on the other hand, does not sound like its meaning. It should be ‘abby’, in my opinion. A long word should not mean a shorter word, but that’s beside the point.)

Like many people, I’m concerned about the insidious effects of social media on the thought processes and attention spans of all people, not just young people. I’ve tried to less the damage in my own life by retreating, restraining, and refining.

I’ve retreating from the amount of time I’m online. I’ve restrained myself from ‘browsing’: I go online for a purpose, usually work, and close the laptop after I’ve accomplished that purpose. And I’ve refined my communications protocols, i.e., who can reach me and how I reach out.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve unsubscribed from mailing lists, curtailed the amount of time I spend watching the news (NY Times, WaPo, and The Guardian are primary sources), and generally stepped back from texts and WhatsApp.

The phone is turned on at 10 a.m. and is turned off at 9 p.m. I look at my phone no more than 6 times a day. I don’t look at it or respond to messages during meals. If friends want to spend time with me, they can email and we’ll set a time to talk, either on the phone or in person. Otherwise, color me fairly unavailable. This has increased my productivity, I believe (the workload lately has been unbelievable, anyway.) It has also forced others to sit up and pay attention: I’m not always around.

I’d be interested to hear how you’ve put boundaries up on the digital intrusion.

Also, what advertising do you respond to, if any?

And, if you were in my position, how would you reach out to readers?


  • BGT



25 thoughts on “Under The Influencer

  1. Hello Byron.

    I’ve followed your blog for sometime after purchasing your book. I’m not your target audience but I have been told that millennials are very much interested in podcasts. They are more likely going to listen to a podcast while commuting to and from work or exercising than they would follow a blog. Something to consider although I know from friends who maintain a podcast that it involves a significant amount of work.



  2. Thank you for trying to bring light to this important issue, Byron. Our cell phones have turned in to those radio tracking collars they use on animals in the wild. If family try to call me & I don’t immediately answer they fly into a panic. My husband and I turn ours off at about 7-8 p.m.

    Perhaps you need a Youtube (Byron’s daily/or weekly bite of wisdom) channel or perhaps contact some people who do to interview you or even people with podcasts? The influencers can be allies.
    If you go to people who are already like-minded it will help but perhaps more so if you go to sites that are a bit different than yours? Sites such as the Gentleman’s Gazette. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gentleman%27s+gazette
    There are those who wish to dress better and elevate themselves for business and a better crowd with whom they may socialize. People often think theirs is the only reality. They cannot fathom any other way of life. I have heard good advice from some of the most unlikely sources. Perhaps someone on the Joe Rogan show (VERY different from yours) needs to hear about the Old Money way? https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=joe+rogan Steo even further outside your comfort zone and 1. Start talking to anyone and everyone within 3 ft of your elbow. 2. People with blogs, vlogs, and podcasts are always in need of content. Good luck! I’m looking forward to reading more about this marketing adventure of yours.

  3. I may be a bit old school on this, but the best advertising that I respond to is personal endorsement, as in someone I trust recommends something in person, face to face. I realize that would be a bit challenging for you selling your books.

    The target reader for Old Money New Woman may be the millennials, so you need to get the book in front of the people they would trust. Like Mom or the cool Aunt. And then moms and cool aunts and friends of the family, with their best interests in mind get the book into the millennials’ hands.

    I mentioned your book during a book club and a couple of the ladies bought it. I suggested it was what I plan to give as graduation gifts to the girls, as a how to get it right the first time.

    Besides, there is no more powerful influencer than a determined mother. Wink, nod.

  4. In the earlier days of Facebook, I had no idea the amount of opposing force that my relationship with social media was applied to my attention span. I met an older guy who handed me a fairly short book, and it literally gave me a tension headache to focus long enough to reach the end of the second paragraph, page 1. I was exhausted… through the book down and grabbed my phone, ugh. That was a turning point, being on the older edge of the millennial group (I’m 37), I could still reflect on life before the internet and smart phones. After swinging back and forth many times over the next year between “deactivate your account” and “reactive”, I left Facebook (about 8 years ago), shut down nearly all others. I have a twitter account that I use for news about twice a month, no devices during meals, or active use during conversations. My life is far more rich, more simplistic, and less stressful than before. I now have a beautiful and carefully curated stack of books, two of which are yours :). And I have teenagers that must put their devices away at 7:30pm (not a big hit when compared to the peers, but their reading levels are amongst the highest in their school). I always say “tech should be the tool, not the carpenter”. So I hardly, if ever, use it for entertainment (other than background music).

    Being a graphic designer by profession, over 15 years, must advertisements get immediate rejection from me. With a little practice, one can see the end goal of a marketing plan through its presentation, and most of them scream “bring your money, and I’ll sell you a dream”. Again, I have a very particular eye, but I’m drawn to campaigns that project quality.

    If I were in your shoes, I’d research for a boutique PR or Marketing firm that can provide a track record and stay in line with your goals. I’d start there.

    Best Regards

  5. Byron,

    Perhaps like a few others, over time I have trained myself to visually tune out adverts as they are a distraction. If I go online, I go for content and then exit.

    Personally, I have never purchased anything online and do not see the need to do so in the future. In my family we are Scottish-Canadian frugal, but not cheap. We spend locally and only purchase top quality if a purchase in necessary. As we are now fourth generation Scottish-Canadian, and OMG, we can quietly survive forthcoming recessions.

    Also, in terms on television adverts, in my family we do not watch American television and especially news programmes. We find a lack civility on CNN for example. Newsreaders stepping on each others sentences which turns into an unseemly shoutfest. We will tune in to the CBC here to find out what is going on in Canada and the world. The CBC has adverts but again, we tune those out.

    Best, MKStC

  6. I’ve been an SEO for over 15 years now. It isn’t as easy as people think and it has perhaps only gotten harder and more technical, but I still think it is one of the best ways to reach an audience…I consider it one of if not the only truly “pull” marketing channels around and one of the purest “just in time” marketing vehicles. It also has one of the greatest values….it’s strength is on the content you create on your site, and therefore lives on and serves all of your readers, even after they’ve found you, which is not something that can be said for most other advertising channels.

    Regardless of channel, the best advice I can make is to utilize analytics to test and measure. Sometimes you never know which channel will perform best or which messages or methods will resonate.

    As for the 7 impressions….that isn’t new with digital, that has been that way for decades…maybe “forever.”

    Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat (offering to help, not trying to sell).

    As for myself, I’ve definitely been trying to be more aware of phone/media usage…awareness is always the first step. My wife and I are also trying to be aware of usage by our children and have contemplated having an “analog” night, in addition to limiting screen time. Hopefully we are doing better than most, but sure that we have a lot further to go.

    Like most things, the web and our digital world is neither good nor bad, it all comes down to how we use it. But what we must always remember is that, even more than ever, nearly every business and organization out there that has it’s own interest in our usage, whether to track our behavior, influence our decisions, etc. We live in a world of consumption (which can be read in many contexts), not just through our own consumption, but the consumption of us.


  7. 1) The influencer is you, Byron. You inspire people.

    2) Jordan Peterson captured a young audience. Besides his website and Youtube channel, he launched an online “School of Peterson” with podcasts. These forms of communication may be valuable to target millennials.

    3) patreon.com (“Add another source of income by giving new and exclusive content to your biggest fans.”)

    4) torproject.org (“Tor Browser isolates each website you visit so third-party trackers and ads can’t follow you. Any cookies automatically clear when you’re done browsing. So will your browsing history.”) Free and available for pc and mobile.

    5) To reach out to readers, one needs to define them as a group. Then, organise the online content in such way to create a deeper connection.

  8. In terms of digital intrusion, I have a filtering service and only the most important, My wife, son and job can get through. Like you my device is turned off from the time I leave the office until after breakfast the next day. I have no social media accounts. No Cable TV at all, you paying for things you are not using and the long form reality TV that has invaded American can be quite insulting to the viewers intelligence. Now on the other hand I do have internet which enables me to subscribe to such channels as the Criterion Channel and watch rare old movies from around the World, the internet allows me to listen to BBC radio 3 on my internet radio or research on how to fix a broken appliance. Also I can order groceries online and have them delivered to the house similar to the way my parents did in the 60’s/70’s. All my news comes from a News Paper the NYTimes. CNN is a bit too weird for me and I do hope Americans are more intelligent than get their news regarding the election off Facebook.

    Now in order to penetrate the millennial market, maybe have a streaming service that fully illustrates the topic being discussed. For example maybe an interview with a CPA on who to setup a personal budget, or how to set up a home library with a comfortable place for reading.

  9. Reducing the influence of the digital world on my own life? Deleted my Facebook account a year ago. Not really that interesting reconnecting with/staying connected to ghosts from the long (high school) past after several years. Twitter and Instagram? No, thanks.

    As a rule, I do not look at work-related email account about 5pm and do not check it during weekends. Nothing that cannot wait until Monday morning most of the time. Rarely look at my phone, rarely text (although I can when necessary), and I like it that way. I tell cashiers, salespeople, and dentist/doctor’s offices “No, thank you” to email and text reminders or marketing.

    That said, I spend considerable time online reading news, managing my two (hobby) blogs, and making purchases in lieu of traipsing to a mall somewhere. But my use of the digital world is for my own convenience, not for others.

    As for my response to online advertising, I almost never respond since even “targeted” stuff is aimed at the masses, and that’s not me.

    Where reaching (late) millennials is concerned, who knows? I struggle with a variation of this question myself as a university professor each semester. The battle always is trying to tailor the presentation of course material, in an engaging way, to very limited attention spans and average intellects in most cases if we are brutally honest about it.

    In general, shallow, superficial, and obsessed with (being like) trashy celebrity at the expense of curiosity about anything more substantial or less fleeting seems to be the rule. The are always a few exceptions, of course, but by and large, reaching this demographic is an uphill battle to which there are no easy answers. And from what I have read on the subject, it will only get worse.

    Best Regards,


  10. As a millenial myself just under the line of 30 I can very honestly say I don’t pay much attention to online advertising. I give little attention to influencers as I know they are basically paid spokesmen.

    I may be out of touch with my generation but I spend very little time on social media, I read vast amounts of news content but lately that has been decreasing too.

    I think it may be a byproduct of being an OMG but I give short shrift to various online content in general. People who care what influencers think are, in your words, idiots.


  11. If I want to buy something, I go looking for it. If it’s looking for me, there’s a good chance I don’t need it.

  12. I’m a (non-OMG) late millennial who just found your site yesterday searching “old money way of life.” I ran through your Old Money Book in an evening and am planning to re-read this weekend. What an invaluable resource – thank you. This summer I’ve finished books about Truman Capote’s “swans,” the Kennedys and the Mona Lisa exhibition at the National Gallery, some other OMG-focused fiction, and I wanted more. As for my social media habits, I don’t have Facebook, I generally only use Twitter for work, but I do enjoy Instagram, and use it as a way to find new books with which I might not have otherwise crossed paths. I do the same with artists, galleries, museums, beautiful buildings. I spend about 20 minutes a day with it and move on. I prefer to use online resources as tools and not pass times. But in print and online, I am very susceptible to advertising for events – ballet, dance, theater, festivals, lectures. Have you ever done a book tour? Or hosted book talks or salons?

    1. Thank you, Meg. And welcome. It sounds like you’ve really embraced the Old Money way of life. Good for you. (And my apologies to everyone for the delayed replies. I’ve been neck-deep in work.) I have not done a book tour in the traditional sense. I do occasional talks, usually at private homes or private clubs. I discuss Old Money values, for general audiences, and Old Money Secrets, for young ladies.

      Living in Paris kind of keeps me off the circuit, so to speak, but that may change in 2020. More opportunities seem to be popping up. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks again. – BGT

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