Welcome to my Monday Marketing blog and the ongoing series using of one of the best little books on marketing ever written: 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
If you've never read Ries and Trout's book, click on the book image now and get a copy. It's not very expensive, will take you 5 minutes to read. When I say "these guys wrote the book," this is the book I mean. Even though they're talking widgets sold by multi-national megacorporations like General Electric and Kraft, I've been looking at each of the 22 Laws and how it applies to our Indie Publishing industry.
Today we're discussing Law 16, the Law of Singularity. Unlike the Law of Exclusivity (Law 6), which was the first law not really applicable to Indie Publishing, the Law of Exclusivity is definitely one for us!
It states In any given situation, there will always be one action you can take which will glean more results than any other path you could choose. Writers are all about making the right choices, aren't we? Everytime a plot twists and turns, we have to choose which way to go. Why should it be any different when determining what marketing efforts will glean the best ROI (Return on Investment)? Click through the jump-break to find out how to identify and choose that path of greatest ROI.
There are lots of ROI's. Sometimes you invest money and want to see sales in return. Sometimes you invest time and want to see...well, sales in return ^_^ Yeah, the whole point of trying to sell books is to actually sell books, not to gain Twitter followers or blog "shares" on Facebook. You can spin your wheels trying to find the magic combination of time and effort but know this: trying harder is not the secret of marketing success.
Choosing the correct activity into which to pour your energies is the key--and then you must temper your efforts to market your work with your energies spent creating more of it. Although it's fun to play games on Facebook, that's not necessarily how you connect with prospective customers there. Nor is chatting with fellow writers in the writing-related Twitter hashtags going to get you new sales of your books (though it might help them with theirs GGG)
Of course, many Indie Authors argue that befriending fellow authors might get you RT'd more often which, in turn, might get you more sales if the quality of your tweets glean you click-throughs--you still need to have an effective pitch. Focus your energies not on where or how often you post, tweet or share a link, but rather on the context of the presentation.
Recall that perception is everything. How you present a book influences how the prospect sees it. The reader will make up her own mind and the prospect will or won't buy your book for his own reasons, but if you don't make an effective pitch, you've given up the sale before the prospect has even gotten involved in the decision-making process.
If you have actually written the single-best novel of the century and you promote is "another one just like the last one," why would anyone want to read it? This is not to say that you can write a lousy novel and, just by calling it a breakthrough novel, meet with guaranteed success by shouting your own accolades from the highest mountain (Buy my book! Buy my book! - still laughing at that one, @MelissaConway1). You have to deliver what you promise--but go ahead and promise the best book ever written, so long as you write it ^_^
This morning, I saw this blog discussing reader expectations. Lynette mistakenly calls this "branding" but (a) she's an agent/editor, not a marketer, and (b) she's got a good point: readers do have expectations and we consumers have been trained for years how to respond to certain terms. We hear the term "romance," as Lynette points out, and we form certain expectations. If the book turns out to be different than what we expected, we are disappointed. If we are a savvy Kindle customer, we might even return the book for our money back. That's not the ROI you want, in case you couldn't guess.
When you spin your wheels selling your wares, you want people to buy your book, read your book and enjoy your book--maybe even enough they feel compelled to write a review or tweet about your book, encouraging others to read it. That's the Holy Grail of a ROI for an Indie Author (an unsolicited reader recommendation). So how exactly do you get a reader hooked, converted from interested in reading your pitch to interested in paying for your book, and then inspired enough by the reader experience to write a review or recommendation? Working backwards, is easier to address.
3-Write a great book and readers will love it and recommend it. It's that simple.
2-Have a great cover image, blurb and product description and readers will want to buy your book.
1-How to hook a reader sufficiently they click through to your book's sales page....that is the question, and subject of today's Immutable Law of Marketing.
The Path of Least Expectation
The Law of Exclusivity advises against taking the "path of least resistance," or doing whatever everyone else is doing just because you think "It's proven to work for them, it should work for me." Instead, you can choose the "Path of Least Expectation," as it was called by military strategist, B. H. Liddel Hart (the man who masterminded the WW II attack on Normandy). The idea is that you look at your "enemy" (your direct competition is the book on the product ladder rung directly above you, recall from Law 7) and find their weakness, then exploit it. Yes, it sounds a little cutthroat but let's face it, if a customer only has $5.00 to spend, we all want it to be on our own book(s).
You need to make that single, bold stroke that strikes a prospective customer through the noisy masses of information out there and grabs their attention. As noted in the Law of the Mind (Law 3), you cannot worm your way into a customer's mind, you must crash through and take ownership. In publishing, this is called being a breakout author or writing the breakthrough novel. You grab their attention by doing something different, something unexpected.
Not sure what to do? Apply the Law of Focus and Law of Opposites to start and then use the Law of Perspective and pitch your book in 140 characters on Twitter, in 3 times that many (with your cover art included to help sell the click-through) on Facebook or Google+ and be sure to use reader sites like Goodreads, LibraryThing and Shelfari to present your book to pre-qualified audiences. That is the path of least resistance to take--where to sell--but be sure your pitch brands you as something new, something different. Especially, something different than your competition!
Tomorrow I'm going to discuss the new program at Amazon's Kindle Store (US only) called KDP Select. Mark Coker, the Founder of Smashwords, discussed this program in a featured column over at Huffington Post's site and reproduced that column on the Smashwords blog, so you can read up on it before tomorrow if you'd like to get a head start. The 100 or so comments on the Smashwords blog are where the real discussion and gems are hidden.
I've also got a little bit of an update on Scrivener and Outlining for the Organic Writer blog I wrote for last week's Tuesday Tip, so I might do a second, bonus tip blog. Depends on how much writing and editing I can get done today on Conditioned Response (my SciFi Thriller slated for release December 31, 2011).