Monday, August 1, 2011

MARKETING MON: Strength in Numbers: 3 Ways Numbers Sell

I was going to write a Marketing Monday blog on banding together as an indie author community and using the power of our many-headed body to help everyone. But you know what? I do that every Friday with my Freebie Friday posts featuring other authors (never my own book, very much on purpose). Instead, I want to talk about a different use of "numbers" today. Selling numbers. Let's look at 3 ways numbers have power over your business success as an indie author.

1. Sales Numbers: How many do you have?

While I'm sure every indie author wants to know how they're doing, saleswise, and checks their sales numbers often, is that really helping them sell more books? I'm gonna say...not. In fact, it could send a new author into a stressful panic if their book's not living up to all of their hopes and dreams. Instead of worrying about how many times a day you can check your author reports for new sales, set an expectation for how many different ways each day you can sell your book as part of your daily routine.

Yes, just sell your book while you go about your business in the real world. How many different pitches have you developed? How many different ways can you present your book to a total stranger? How many times do you pitch your book to a total stranger in real life? Never mind typing a message on Facebook. I mean real world, sidewalks and coffeeshops and grocery stores and yes, the office where you work a day job to pay the bills.

Take one day and pitch your book to every person you meet (within reason, don't interrupt a meeting at work in your day job to pitch your book *grin* but do pitch it to anyone who walks into the break room for a cup of coffee while you're there). Count how many times you pitched your book. Ask yourself, did you use the same pitch every time? Repeating the same thing over and over again, you might lose your enthusiasm, feel as though you're trying and trying and just not getting anywhere.  Having more than one pitch to sell your book is just as important to you as it is to your potential customers.

Having more than one way to say the same thing helps keep you from getting "stale." The #1 best salesman for your book is you and if you cannot stay enthusiastic about your book, your likelihood of attracting new readers goes from slim to none. That's a zero (0). The more you practice pitching your book in the real world, the more comfortable you'll get with it. Try converting some of your best sales pitches into written pitches. Update your book's description online with all of your new salesmanship! After the cover art, your book's description is your #2 best sales tool.

2.  Numbers Sell

I don't always effectively communicate a strong sales pitch myself, but we're all learning together here, aren't we? So, I've learned over the years that one of the best ways to make any sales pitch more effective is to use numbers. For some weird reason, numbers sell. That is, the human mind somehow latches onto digits more readily than words.

Given we authors write words more often than numbers, it's kind of a challenge but I think we all know it's a simple truth. Five key reasons....three new methods...ten great answers. These are the kinds of phrases that catch a reader's eye, aren't they? Why? What is it about digits--even when they're spelled out ("ten" instead of "10") that works to engage a reader's mind so much better than words?

I have no scientific studies to point to here, so don't slam me asking for a reference to the proof, but I think it's because the numbers instantly set up a mental framework, an instinctive relationship between what you're reading and what is yet to come. At least, assuming you learned your numbers as a kid *smirk*

When there's a finite expectation of you're currently reading and where it's going, it seems easier to keep reading. A sales pitch (a book description on a bookseller's site or a query letter to an agent or publisher) should always start with a hook. When you're blogging--or selling your book outside your own world--try to use a structured pitch, one that has 3 parts, just like any book: a beginning, a middle and an end. Try to use a number in the beginning.

3. Tell me 3 times: Wait, didn't you just say that?

A sales pitch, like any presentation in the business world, should set up a "tell me three times" framework. Here's what I'm going to tell you. Here's what I have to tell you. Here's what I just told you. Repetition is one of the strongest elements of any great design, right after "Contrast" or "Conflict," depending on which camp you're in. Leading into your sales pitch with a mention of your book's genre, for instance, followed by a short description of the book itself, and rounded out with a connection to the genre again, will make the entire pitch more memorable. Your officemate might actually take that coffee back to their desk and look online to see more about your book. They might even read the free sample if you have one.

(Disclaimer: Webbiegrrl's Writings does not condone the use of company resources for personal business. Please connect your book's genre to the office somehow so your coworker can claim it was "research" when the boss looks over his shoulder and sees your book on the screen.)

As an example, let's say you wrote a thriller and a crime fiction mystery. You might open by asking your coworker if they like thrillers, then follow by telling them you've written 2 books, and the most-recent one is a thriller. It's about...[fill in your exciting pitch here]...and maybe close with how it was different to write a thriller than it was to do your first book in the crime fiction market but you had fun getting away from mystery writing and just scaring the readers out of their seats. Play with it, have fun with it. Repeat it.

Lather, rinse. No wait, back up, reverse that.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for the Tuesday Tip on Twitterspeak, the 5th and last entry in my Twitter Series. I'm not sure I'm really qualified to discuss the best ways to compose tweets, but I'll do my best to share what I've learned in the past couple of months.

If you have a book out and would like to offer it on a one-day-only freebie sale this Friday, August 5th, please feel free to submit it by clicking here and I'll try to include you in the feature. I'm going back to the 3-books-per-Friday limit but I only have 2 right now! You could be the Lucky Number Three!

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