Throughout my Monday Marketing blogs, I've discussed branding (as the concept applies to Indie Authors), from branding your tweets to staying true to the Company you want to keep. This series moves onto discuss what to do with the brand you've defined.
If you're just joining the Webbiegrrl blizzard, I'm going through The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, a not-new book by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which I believe is one of the best little books ever written on the subject of marketing. It's only about 1/4" thick in paperback, so if you haven't read it already, take 5 minutes to read it now. This weekly series discusses how these generic laws of marketing apply to Indie Authors specifically. Go ahead and catch up. I'll wait. Click through the jump-break when you're done. ^_^
All done? Let's review. This week we're on Law 9: the Law of Opposites, which states that the best strategy of the brand in slot #2 is to be whatever #1 is not--that is, the opposite of the leader. Whatever the leader promotes, #2 should promote something else, preferably the opposite. If #1 proclaims I am blue then #2 should proclaim, I am red. Making yourself different, makes you special and unique--and attractive to readers looking for something new!
In the book-buying world, "something new" is nearly always what people want, even if it doesn't look that way at a glance. While many new Indie Authors think it's "better" to just be another Stephanie Meyer lookalike, the reality is, the whole reason Twilight did so well is because it was completely different from every other vampire mythology that came before it. Let's dissect the Twilight success in Law 9 terms.
Bram Stoker's vampires are evil, threatening, ugly and vicious. Stephanie Meyer's are goody-two-shoes, caring and protective and humane, glittery little Hollywood starlets who endear themselves to our world. In other words, Stephanie Meyer's vamps are everything Bram Stoker's bloodsuckers are not. Personally, I don't like either one--or vampire mythologies at all--but if I had to choose, I'm totally on Team Jacob's camp. It's the washboard abs, what can I say? Then again I do enjoy a good bite on the side of my neck from time to time (heh). There's a reason these mythologies have lasted hundreds of years and are still being rewritten. They're basically appealing to the human psyche, but the human experience thrives on change. Much as we resist it in ourselves, we all crave something new, something different in our lives.
Be Your Own Unique + Special Snowflake
By dominating the market, saturating it with their own dominant message, the leader has unwittingly created a void for you to fill. What void? The niche which they do not. You need to identify it but bear in mind that you want to be unique and special--different--not just like the leader above you. The big question you probably have right now is How exactly do I do that without changing my brand that you just spent weeks telling me I had to define? Read on, MacDuff.
We learned in Law 7 (the Law of the Ladder) that the top 3 spots of any industry occupy nearly all of the market share in that industry. While genre fiction is going to have more than 3 leaders, (a Top 100 in each genre category, even!) the top 3 are going to hold most of the market share for that genre. That doesn't mean being in spot #8 is cause for alarm. I'd be thrilled to be #8 on Amazon in any category! However, you still have tens of thousands of others behind on you, clawing their way up and trying to take that #8 spot away from you. To everyone from #9 through #15,009, your #8 spot is "the leader" they want to claim out from under you.
So don't think in terms of #1 and #2. Think in terms of "higher on the ladder than you are right now." As the Law of the Ladder reminds us, our position on the ladder is always going to be proportionate to whomever is on the rungs above and below us--no matter what number rung we're on!
By restricting and focusing your attention on the rung directly above you, and applying the Law of Focus (Law 5), you can actually take over their rung on the ladder and climb up, one rung at a time. By becoming whatever the product on the rung above you is not--in the prospect's mind--you'll take a portion of their market share. As we learned, you only need a portion of their market share to move up to the next rung.
Don't worry about the rest of the market. Just focus on the customer's perception of your position on the ladder. Remember what the Law of the Mind (Law 3) tells us: it is only in the mind of the customer that our efforts will make a difference. The product ladders do not even exist outside the customer's mind and every customer has their own ladder in their own mind.
Companies like Amazon are worried about larger product ladders, encompassing all genres of fiction (in fact, all forms of products) but you need to focus exclusively on your customers. Remarkably, Amazon is applying the same psychological manipulators that you can apply, just on a different scale.
On the Psychology of Buying
There are some basic psychological concepts to understand when it comes to how and why people make buying decisions. First of all, it's a personal and subjective decision. That means, some people believe they are actually making a statement about themselves, personally, when they choose Product A instead of Product B. Likewise, some people (myself among them) like to be different just for the sake of not following trends and fads.
We'll buy Product C--or possibly Product B--but we avoid Product A because of the fact it is Product A, the leader. Therefore, giving us solid evidence of what A is and B is not actually sells us on Product B. It's not quite the same as negative campaigning in politics, as you are promoting Product B, not dissing Product A, but it is the same psychology politicians have applied in their own mud-slinging campaigns.
Now here's the kicker: most customers like to buy the #2 product instead of the #1 product so we can feel as though we're making up our own minds instead of doing what the advertisers tell us to do. It's the human drive for self-realization, the human need to identity and independence. None of us like feeling as though we're not "allowed" to make up our own minds, so giving your customers an option that feeds their need to choose something different empowers them and makes it easy to choose the unpopular #2 choice. It even makes the customer feel a little rebellious which can be a good thing in small doses.
Next in this series, Law 10, is the Law of Division. This will tie in more of the earlier material, so if you're just joining the series, review the earlier articles this week, before we talk about how to start applying them.
Because I know NaNoWriMo is coming up in just one more week, tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will focus on how to make your nano experience a successful one.
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