I'm a marketer at heart. Heck, I've got a fancy piece of printed paper on the wall that says I should know all about the topic. Top that off with 8 years of promotional marketing day job work, and I would say that I'm fully immersed in spreading the word on products and services.
Side note** Let me be clear that marketing is completely different from sales. I don't work in sales. Sales people will shove a product down your throat until you choke. I market or educate people about a product and then let them make their own decision. I won't spend time convincing them they need the product, the product just sells itself.
Now to the point of my post.
Traditional Marketing can work in the digital world. Everyone has to emerge from their computer reality at some point. I may sit in front of this life sucking, radiation leaching machine 8 hours/7 days a week, but I have to go to the grocery store, the bank, the post office and a myriad of other little chores that require interacting with folk. Reality Bites!
When I'm writing that check for the groceries it's the perfect time to whip out a pen with a book plastered all over it... might spark interest. If not the cashier, then the gal in line behind me with her 3 inch heels and mini, or the co-worker watching me jot down notes on Dr. Pepper stained paper at the Monday morning meeting. I'll get questions, and either I'll say "I don't know" or "Yeah, I read that book. This was a gift I got from the author and it was a great read." Boom! Conversation about your story is taking place and not a single person was on a computer.
Branding is everything and as an author everything should be branded. I've learned this through years of being in the marketing world. If somethings branded at some point you'll get the question. Especially if it's out of the norm and eye popping. Someone will want to know about that significant name you decided to wear, or the catchy slogan adorning your writing utensil. I don't officially have any pens with books on them *hint, hint* But if you send me one I would use it all the time.
Another reason I like the branding route is because as a voracious reader I'm always on the lookout for other readers. Heck, I got my bank teller addicted to new author Laurie London just because I noticed she had a hard cover of a Vampire dairies book. I brought up her interest in the series and then said "You should really check out a couple of authors who write paranormal romance." On we went from there.
She had a book, but imagine someone carrying around a notebook with the front cover a dead match for your book cover. How cool would that be? The conversations would fly.
Marketing in the digital world is typically cheap. A few tweet posts here and there, random lengthy spurt of blah about your latest on Facebook. Followed with the random giveaway. Problem is how many of those talking or participating in those marketing ploys are carrying the rabid monkey tactics into the real world. To get that carry over you need branding, and it needs to be on items of use- especially notebooks and pens. Bookmarks are cheap but notebooks and pens have a longer shelf life. I lose a bookmark once a month. My notebook goes everywhere with me and I always have at least 2 pens in my purse.
Bottom Line: By going outside the box and investing in branded items you will allow fans of your work to generate conversation without having to try. The return may not be huge numbers, but just one person can easily addict 3 more to the purchasing cause. I've been successful in doing that just by talking about stories; with uber insane enthusiasm I might add. What can I say I like books? The branded item will give your fans more confidence to discuss the novel because people will ask them about it, versus said fan having to strike up the conversation.