If you're just joining us, we're using one of the best little books on marketing ever written: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by two of the original Madison Avenue wizards. If you've never read this book, it's only about a 1/4" thick in paperback. Take 5 minutes to read it now then check the previous entries of this series to read how these laws apply to the Indie Publishing business.
This week's lesson is on the Law of Attributes, which states "For every product attribute, there is an opposite and equally-effective attribute." Related to the Law of Opposites (Law 9), this Immutable Law of Marketing zeroes in on an effective sales tool you can make your own secret weapon. As noted in Law 8 (Law of Duality), no matter where you are on the Product Ladder, your immediate competition is the book on the rung directly above you in the market. Your goal, as we learned in Law 9 (Law of Opposites) is to identify some attribute to your prospective readers (your potential customers) that makes you "new and different" (read: better) than the same old, same old that is your competition. Click through the jump break to learn more.
This is a psychological battle. You are at war, battling for a place in the customer's mind. You don't want to "take over" the competition's place. You want to "own" a single word or concept--a unique attribute--in the customer's mind. You want to own it first and exclusively. That one attribute is not your competition's, they already own that idea and are using it. The winning idea for you to use is you. It's your brand, your trademark. Your unique and special snowflake is your strongest attribute.
We Are Not Widgets
As Indie Authors, our self-esteem and self-image are directly tied to our marketing success. We are what is being marketed. One of the most-common mistakes made in marketing--whether widgets or books--is to try to copy the winners. You probably think If I can write a vampire story like Stephanie Meyer's, my sales will soar like the Twilight Series's. Wrong!
And just because J.K. Rowling has found financial success with Harry Potter's world, is definitely not an indication that you should copy the way she writes. She doesn't just write about kids at a magic school. She writes about world she created in her own mind. It's hers. She already owns it. You can never "be" J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer in the readers' minds. You can only be yourself. See that as the advantage it is! No one can copy you!
You might think But they figured out what works; I should just copy that and it'll work for me, too. Again, you'd be missing what they found unless you realize that what they each did was find themselves, their own unique voice--and they dared to write it. That's what you need to do. Have the courage to be you, and be convinced that you are unique and special enough.
As noted above, it is a little different for us writers who are selling our art, than it is for Kraft Foods or Motorola or General Motors. They're selling things. We're selling ourselves. Once you realize that, you'll stop wanting to be someone else and realize what enormous power you have at your disposal by embracing your voice and exploiting it for financial success.
You Are What You Say You Are
The reality is that in marketing, customers will believe what you tell them--unless or until you prove it untrue upon delivery. Tell the truth about yourself and it will get you to the bank. Exploit just how different you are and pure curiosity will sell your books. Keep trying to be "like" [fill in name of anyone who's not you], and you'll be selling that person's books, not your own.
If your competition has a unique attribute they've identified in order to sell books, guaranteed, you have a different one. Your success lies only in how effectively you can sell your attribute as the Next Best Thing. You don't have to put theirs down. You have to make yours as different from theirs.
In fact, it will be even more powerful if you make your unique and special attribute so different from your direct competition that you are the "opposite" of them. Again, this is easier to do with widgets than books, because you don't want to describe your book as so different as to make it sound like you belong in a totally different genre than you're in, but you want to choose adverbs that separate you from the herd.
Yes! Finally a good use for adverbs!! It's a writer's dream! Oh, and exclamation points. You can exclaim and excitedly note every last unique thing about your voice and your book. It's called selling. It's not the same as marketing but closely-related.
Whatever you say to sell your book needs to intrigue, not inform. You need to entice, not describe. You're not giving it all away (push), you're luring the reader in (pull). You need to become you, not your competition, in your reader's mind. That's what will make them click to buy your book not the other one. Read the descriptions and marketing blurbs your competition uses--then find something about yourself that is exactly the opposite and use that to sell yours. Don't write the opposite; write what you need to write, just sell the opposite.
Next week is Law 15, the Law of Candor, and it should be obvious after reading this week's entry that it will be closely-related to today's discussion about "being yourself."
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be a Nanowrimo roundup. Have you finished 50,000 words? Done more? Less? Tune in tomorrow to see what you can do now that the event is over.