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 my interpretations of how these laws apply to us and our business.
Today we're looking at Law 13: Sacrifice and I think it's timely this week falls just days before Thanksgiving because hopefully, you'll be in the right frame of mind to start thinking about what you have instead of what you have not. That is the key to understanding the Law of Sacrifice. There are 3 areas of Sacrifice: brand focus, target market, constantly changing to keep up with sudden shifts in the market.
The idea isn't new: No one can be all things to all people all the time. You have to choose your brand's focus, choose your target market, and choose your long-term strategy--then keep the Company you just created with those choices. Be "thankful" for your choices by being "faithful" to them. Click through the jump-break for more.
1. The Oh, Shiny! Effect
People--you, me, readers, reviewers, everyone--is affected by the next Shiny New Thing syndrome, some more than others. I don't tend to follow fads eagerly but I do notice them, and then there are some people who jump on the bandwagon in a heartbeat, hoping for a free ride. There are also many in between. Point is, no one is immune to the Oh, Shiny! effect, but you can sensitize yourself to it and make an informed choice next time something new and shiny comes along to distract you.
The point is, you have to stay focused, stay on path, not waver and not deliberately spread yourself so thin, you just vanish. From our reference book, we have the example of multi-national conglomerate, Kraft Foods, Inc. Pretty big multi-billion dollar corporation so you'd figure they're doing something right, yeah? Wrong.
Kraft Foods is a generalized brand that makes all kinds of things, including jams and jellies, but they only held 9% of the market (in 1993 when my edition of the book was released) while Smuckers (which at that time made only jams and jellies) held 35% of the market--four times the market share for specializing in one niche market! Smuckers has spent the last 20 years buying up companies but never once have they slapped the Smuckers name onto the products.
In fact, the book (from 1993) actually uses the phrase "...with a name like Smuckers, it has to be jelly or jam because that's all Smuckers makes." And today, the Smuckers slogan remains "With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good." Amazing? Not. It's proof that when it "ain't broke, you don't fix it." and it keeps working for you. Smuckers actually stuck it out and now owns other brand names: JIF peanut butter, Folgers coffee which actually competes with another Smuckers holding, Millstone coffee. They even bought the Pillsbury doughboy (pout) Check out some of the many other brands now owned by Smuckers) but note that the Smuckers brand, itself, is still associated first as a maker of jams and jellies. They own that "word" in the prospect's mind. When you hear the name Smuckers, you think jams and jellies.
In our Indie Author terms, the message reinforces the idea introduced last week: make a new author name for a new genre or you devalue the investment you already made into your original author name in your flagship genre. Since sales are tracked by exact name, creating a new name won't have any impact on your existing record and gives you a new opportunity to "be first" all over again. Take it!
2. Sacrificing Your Target for Your Market
The Law of Sacrifice not only warns against losing focus in an attempt to capture new sales, but also warns against misunderstanding the difference between your target and your market. This is a much-debated and oft-blogged-about topic in the Indie Author community just as the term "branding" gets tossed about and sliced adn diced by individuals according to their personal tastes. There is a reality, however, and while perception is everything, I'm a numbers grrl. I go with the real numbers that history has proven are truth.
I think everyone here can relate to this next example whether you're 25 or 50 (or older). Pepsi Cola decided to launch a new campaign in the 80s using the Law of Opposites and they did it very well.
Coca-Cola was "The Real Thing" so Pepsi was the "New Generation." Coke appealed with old-fashioned glass bottles implying their authenticity dated back to wagon-train days of discovering America. So Pepsi did the opposite.
Even if you didn't like Michael Jackson (how could you not love the King of Pop?), if you were alive when he had his spectacular mishap on the filming of a Pepsi commercial, you got the idea of Pepsi and pop music star inextricably linked in your mind.
The incident was all over the six o'clock news (back then, we did not yet have CNN's 24-hr news stations, so people actually tuned in at 6pm and again at 11pm to watch the news). It was a huge deal that a major music star had (a) endorsed a brand product and (b) been injured doing it. It even kind of helped blur that line between pop music stars and sports stars. Major impact on life in America. Pepsi Cola ads.
And it didn't stop there. Years later, Britney Spears had her own "mishap" and again, Pepsi became a "young kids' thing" in the news by being linked inextricably to the hottest piece of pop music news at that time. In addition to "making news headlines," the Pepsi ads in the 1980s when this Pepsi Generation campaign launched were so innovative, some of the Pepsi ads actually "premiered" as an event on MTV (that's what we had before YouTube *grin*). In fact, some of the Pepsi ads were so well-promoted they got better viewership than MTV's actual content. wisely, Pepsi has continued to use the same campaign and it is still working for them! Imagine that.
Guess what else? The target might be the "young kids" but the market includes everyone. Plenty of 50-year-old guys drink Pepsi because they want to feel like a 20-something.
3. The Only Constant is Change
Sacrifice #3 is constant change. Although it might feel like the right thing to do to change horses midstream and keep up with what the current best-selling author is doing, that's not always the best path to take. If you weren't convinced by the Pepsi Cola Company "New Generation" campaign still working 20 years later, you skimmed. Go back and read it again.
To be effective in business, you have to commit to the brand you've chosen, and not let your self-confidence waver just because ten people in some online forum said something else is better right now. Be focused, be faithful, be patient and persistent. That last--persistence--was recently heralded as a secret to success in this great little blog article by Tweep Mike Wells (@MikeWellsAuthor). Be sure to check it out--but only now that you've finished reading thi--Oooh, shiny!
Tomorrow I'll have another Nanowrimo tip for you on the Tuesday Tips blog. This is historically the hardest week of the month. Remember, none of that Oooh, shiny! business! Let's see what advice I can come up with to help you stay focused.