One of the recurring themes throughout my discussions on marketing is the need to apply and reapply the Law of the Mind (Law 3) and the Law of Focus (Law 5). Collectively, these are called positioning tactics. This concept of positioning is something Ries and Trout coined and defined in the early 1980s. It is the concept of marketing that gave rise to the saying Perception is everything and it couldn't be more relevant than it is to Indie Publishers.
Because it's so fundamental to success in our business, I'm going to start a new series focused on Positioning. Click through the jump break to start learning more about it now.
One of the great misconceptions of the term is that it refers to jostling for position on the shelf, in the marketplace, in the rankings of a list. This is is not what positioning means. That old sales approach has never applied to marketing and yet persists to mislead new sellers arriving on the sales field.
The term actually refers to your marketing strategy. Your position is in the prospect's mind, not on the bookshelf. It is all about perception--the perception of the prospect (prospective customer). The decisions are made inside their mind not at your point of sale (POS) location. Your sales battle is won or lost before the prospect ever arrives at the POS. Positioning is when a prospect files you away in their mind as "meaning" something. What you mean to them is your position.
You cannot individually, hand-sell every last book, certainly not when you're trying to sell 100, 1000 or 10,000 books a month. You need your marketing efforts to do the sales for you. That subtle difference is the key to success. This is why a correct and strong marketing strategy is so critical.
Choosing the Right Strategy
First of all, know and accept that marketing is a moving target. You want this to be a moving target, to change as your sales increase. Otherwise, your marketing plan has or will become stagnant, obsolete, and useless. Sales are events. Marketing is a process.
A sale may be complete but you are never "done" marketing. Post-sales marketing is how you encourage future sales of additional products. A happy customer encountering your marketing, post-sale, will become more likely to buy again without additional sales efforts. So what strategy do you use for this magical process called marketing?
Start at the beginning, with Law Number 1. The best marketing strategy is to be first to come up with a new and unique idea. To be the first, to be the leader, to define something that did not yet exist until you created it.
Okay, I'll grant you that's pretty hard to do in fiction writing. It's been said that there are only about 5 stories known to human kind--and they've all been written thousands of times before. Your impossible mission, should you choose to take it, is to find a way to make your telling of one of those 5 worn-out stories a unique and special telling. You do not do this by copying others but rather, by finding your own voice--and then exploiting whatever it is that makes you different (Law of Opposites).
The basic approach of positioning is not necessarily to create something entirely new but rather to manipulate perception of what's already out there so as to make your product seem new. Repeat after me. Perception is everything.
Losing the Battle to Win the War
The prospect's mind, as a defense against the onslaught of information in today's over-communicated world, screens and rejects much of the information encountered. In general, a reader expects certain stories to appear under certain labels and expects them to unfold in a certain way. Your mission, should you choose to take it, is to anticipate--or even become--the unexpected (Law of Unpredictability). You don't have to make everything different, just one thing that can be yours and yours alone.
You cannot get the average person to listen to your entire sales pitch. Give up that battle. They might not even bother reading your entire book description before making their decision to buy or not to buy. They will probably sit still and listen when they come upon something new and different.
This is why "breaking news" gets so much attention even when it's not really "news." People expect it to be something they don't yet know, so they stop and pay attention for a minute to find out. That's also why your story, if positioned as something new and different and unique, will get attention long enough to close a sale. Assuming it is something new and different, of course ^)^
Because I really like this topic, I'm going to continue a series on it for as long as I can stand it or find source material. Of course, Ries and Trout provide a lot of source material so this could go on for a while.
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be about reviews on Amazon - a tip I saw over on Jeff Bennington's (@TweetTheBook) blog. Tune in tomorrow for more!
This weekend, since I haven't snippeted any free reads here on the Webbiegrrl blog for a long, long time, I plan to snippet out the sexy scene from the SciFi Thriller (yes, it has a Romantic SF bent to it, too).