Welcome back to the new marketing series on Positioning: the concept coined in 1969 by Al Ries and Jack Trout to describe the head space in a customer's mind that your competitors products occupy--and the head space you're trying to claim for your own books!
In the first 3 articles I reviewed the "over-simplified mind," the relationship between products and customer's perception of them, and the concept of "filtering perception" to climb the customer's product ladders. Today, we move onto the power of how you approach versus what you do when you get there because as the saying goes, you can't there from here.
Taking a Bull By the Horns...
...is a really good way to get killed. It is not, however, a good way to approach marketing, and definitely not the way to approach your customer's mind. You are not going to wrestle them to the ground until they surrender and begrudgingly buy your book. You are going to explode, fully-formed, inside their mind before they even saw you coming (Immutable Law 4). You're going to capture their imagination and keep them thinking about your book even when they're not reading it!
How can you do that when the Big Six (bulls) are horning in on the market and overwhelming customers with their own flash and pizzazz? By being everything they are not (Immutable Law 9). Your positioning efforts should be directed to establishing yourself in a position of leadership (Immutable Law 1), finding some way to describe yourself--you, the Author, are the brand, remember--that distinguishes you as not whatever the current #1 is identified by. Whatever makes them so popular, be not that. It's not always easy to figure out what, let alone how, to identify yourself with but it's always worth it once you get that one word and claim it as yours.
You might think There are too many books out there to get to #1 for long. This is true. The eBook market is about as unstable and "in flux" as any market has been--except microelectronics :) This is actually a GoodThing(tm). The lack of stability means that customers are expecting "change at any moment" and for you, this translates into "their minds are prepared for and open to change." Once you start seeing the situation this way, the fact the eBook market is as unpredictable as it is, pretty much makes it the best game in town.
The essential ingredient to getting into the customer's mind is to arrive first, before anyone else claims your concept. Choose your slogan, style, hashtag, avatar or whatever single concept you want--then stick with it. Drum it out everywhere you go, everytime you think. Make it as identifiable with you as your eye color or name. It will become even more identifiable with you than your name--if you play your cards right!
Cherchez le Creneau (Look for the opening)
The way into any situation that is already crowded is to look for an opening--and then fill it. I am Webbiegrrl. I did not coin the term "webbiegrrl." Aliza Sherman did. She no longer uses the name but her organization (with the same name) still has remnants surviving, scattered here or there. Aliza created the international Webbiegrrl organization for women on the web and working in web-related technologies. We women were outnumbered and we were not going to be outgunned as well.
But wait! Aliza wasn't the first one to do that! Stephanie Brail created the first woman-based web community called Spiderwoman. I think it was about a year before Aliza (who was a member of Spiderwoman), around 1994 back when Marc Andresson started putting pictures onto Tim Berners-Lee's WWW, and created the Mosaic web browser to display them--the moment said to be the launch of the web as we now know it. The Spiderwoman (SW) community was about 85% female/15% male. Aliza and Stephanie really went at it late 1995 or early 1996, battling it out for who had the #1 women-on-the-web group. I was a member of both organizations (I founded 3 chapters of Webbiegrrl, actually) and even back then, I was known as a prolific writer ((grin))
Stephanie went on to create Amazon City (another community for women
web warriors) and now she's a life coach; Aliza went on to found (then
quickly sell off; it was the dot com bubble bursting era, after all) a business called Cybergrrl. Aliza now consults as a digital strategist and
writes about being a working mom online (she's an indie author, too!)
When the Webbiegrrl group started failing (and Aliza washed her hands of it) I snatched up the name and started using it. I created a MySpace account (hey, this was a decade plus ago, cut me some slack!) and later, Twitter and Facebook and Google accounts. The name "Webbiegrrl" is now inextricably tied to the word "Writer" in my customers' minds because that's how I sign things (writing "Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer" everywhere I go). I started doing that back in 2006.
In 2007, I took a picture of my legs when I was glamming it up for Pearl Harbor Day and, as they say, the rest is history. I'll grant you my Legs avatar gets a lot of attention from men for no reason other than well, my legs, but the memorable avatar is inextricably tied to
"Webbiegrrl Writer," a female writer, who is an online webbietechguru
(not too sure about that one anymore! haha) and a writer. Oh did I say
that already? Yeah, well, the writer part carries double weight. It's my "thang." Since reopening this blog last June, I've been establishing (or re-establishing) myself as also being a marketing guru for the Indie Publishing community.
Today, I don't believe there's anyone out there using "Spiderwoman" anymore (which is sad; I loved Stephanie's SW concept) and as far as I know, I'm the #1 and only "Webbiegrrl Writer," but if you know of another Webbiegrrl Writer, please tell me! I'll walk these Legs on over and introduce her to my stillettos (haha, JKOC).
Whatever concept you pick for yourself, be sure to stick with it. Repetition will make it not fleeting, but lasting, in the minds of the prospective customers. Endorse and reinforce your new, unique category by promoting it as much (or more!) than you do yourself. It will become the new you in your customers' minds.
In next week's installment of the Positioning series, I'll discuss different types of creneaus--niches you can take over or create for yourself.
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will focus on another Facebook-ism.