I am not speaking about the Lost City of Kandor from the Superman stories :) Figured I should say that just in case anyone thought I was confused on how to spell the word. Today, I'm going to talk about speaking openly and honestly to your prospective customers -- and turning that into a marketing advantage.
For those just joining us, the Monday Marketing blogs have been serializing a review of one of the best little books on marketing ever written. One by one, I've reviewed how Ries and Trout's 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing apply to Indie Authors, with a specific eye toward the eBook marketing activity, since eBooks are such a bigger part of the marketing activity for Indies than are the DTBs.
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 once--and you'll read it a hundred times again, getting something new each time. I'm a good example since I got this book in the 90s and here I am, 20 years later, still finding new interpretations for the same lessons. This week's lesson, as I said, is on the Law of Candor. No super powers required. Just click through the jump break to find out how being up front about yourself and your product can be marketed as one of your finest strengths.
Why the Law of Candor Works
The Law of Candor states that when you admit a negative, the prospect (potential customer) will give you a positive response for it. People appreciate honesty. It makes them feel a connection with you when you trust them enough to be honest with them. In fact, when you admit a negative, customers assume it is the truth--otherwise, why would you admit it? When a customer knows the salesperson is lying, typically, they won't want to buy the product because somewhere in the back of their minds, they're wondering, "If they lied about this, what else are they lying about?"
Nothing could be worse for an Indie Author than for a reader to think we've pulled that kind of bait and switch. For example, our book covers must give some kind of indication as to what kind of story lies inside. Otherwise, how is a reader to know whether or not they want to buy that book? If we market ourselves as a mystery/suspense writer and then go off into a paranormal story, we haven't been honest with our readers--and they probably won't ever buy one of our books again because of it.
The Secret to Candor
Now here's the key to the Law of Candor: Since you cannot change a customer's mind once it's made up (see Laws 3 and 4), your marketing must be devoted to using ideas and concepts already in their mind. That is, if your product delivers a first impression, use your marketing opportunity to "rub it in," so to speak.
Last week, we discussed the Law of Attributes, and how finding one attribute which is opposite that of your direct competition (Law 9) can help you claim some of your competition's market share, maybe moving up one rung on the product ladder. The Law of Candor is not endorsing a mud-slinging campaign, but you can say "I am not ..." and fill in whatever they are, turning that difference into a positive.
Don't attempt to invoke the Law of Candor by putting down your competition. Do it by making your difference an appealing alternative. Mud-slinging isn't candor; it's back-stabbing and makes you an ugly person, not a likeable author. In fact, the only negative you can or should ever state, without risking alienation of your customer, is to state up front your own negative attribute. By doing so, instantly, you'll have opened up the mind of the prospect to hear what you have to say. They are immediately disarmed and intrigued. Now is the time to drive home the one word you want to own in their minds (Laws 5 and 6).
Logistics of Candor
First of all, whatever negative you choose to admit must be widely-perceived as a negative. If you feel it's a negative but your audience doesn't see it as anything relevant or bad at all, you cannot claim it as some great admission. Your admission of the negative must trigger instant agreement in your audience's mind.
Next, shift the negative into a positive by linking it to your "one word" or attribute and selling the idea that your attribute is going to benefit the reader or somehow fulfill their needs. Create the need, if you must, have your negative be that "one word" need and then fill it! Don't forget, you cannot be all things to all people (Law 13: Sacrifice) but you can be one thing to all people, even if that one thing is a negative. No, especially if that one thing is a negative!
Next week's Monday Marketing will look at Law 16: the Law of Singularity. Tomorrow I'll have another Tuesday Tip for you. Be sure to stop back around 10:00 AM Eastern Time to check it out (or follow me @webbiegrrl on Twitter to get a link tweeted when the blog is up).