|some image rights reserved by Paulo BrandÃ£|
The ideas are the same as in any other sales situation. You create a brand to sell products, the same way a store creates a category to sell brands.
For example, all brands of cereal are typically sold on the cereal aisle (or category) of a grocery store. All Thriller novels (theoretically) are in the Thriller category of a book store.
So what happens when you follow the Law of Category (Immutable Law of Branding 8 or Immutable Law of Marketing 2) and Law of Leadership (Immutable Law of Marketing 1) and spawn a new subgenre of Thriller that is uniquely you? To find out what happens next, click through the jump-break.
Competition Strengthens a Brand
Choice stimulates demand, though that might sound counter-intuitive on the surface. When customers have choices, they make comparisons. When there are no choices, how can a customer know yours is "better"? There needs to be another brand--a competitor--against which to compare it....and thus do the customers (not the brands) create a competition. Competition broadens a category by attracting yet more brands to enter it while allowing each individual brand in the competition to stay focused. And so we return to the original conclusion: competition strengthens a brand.
Now, of course, this only holds true if you're building and maintaining your brand according to the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors) and the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors) -- of which I've only covered half so far. The important Laws to learn and use, however, have been discussed already. Let me review.
To strengthen your brand in the midst of a competition, you simply need to focus (Immutable Law of Marketing Law 5) your message down to one word (or concept) so that you can apply the Laws of the Mind and Perception (Immutable Laws of Marketing 3 and 4) to claim a position in the mind of the consumer. When you do, you'll find that your brand narrows and as a result of narrowing, gains strength (Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors) Laws 1 and 2, Expansion and Contraction).
If you see a new category with a heated competition waging as a chance to violate the Law of Extension (Immutable Law of Marketing 12 or last week's Immutable Law of Branding 10), then you are about to deliberately weaken your brand in order to gain temporary and immediate market share in the new market. You cannot--and will not--maintain this new position. The smart thing to do is to apply the first 2 Immutable Laws of Branding we learned (Expansion and Contraction) to narrow your focus and be just one thing to all people.
Can There Ever Be Too Much Choice?
Short answer? Yes. The long answer, however, is no. The more brands, flavors and varieties there are in a category, the more likely the category is to suffer a bout of confusion and chaos. Consumers won't know what the differences are between one brand and the next, so the per-capita consumption of all products will go down. Why? Again, we turn to the Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 3 (Law of the Mind) and my Positioning series where it became clear that consumers prefer to have a "simplified mind." That is, they want to keep their selection process simple. If there's too much information to sort through, they won't bother. They'll just discard it all, collectively, and look for another category in which to shop, one with more distinct choices for them to select.
Chaos is not always bad, though. In fact, in Immutable Law of Marketing 17 (Law of Unpredictability), we learned that in the midst of chaos is when you'll find the "Golden Moment" to launch a new category and claim the top rung of the product ladder in the new category. Then what?
Remember Immutable Law of Marketing 8 (Law of Duality): every market is a 2-horse race. You only need to worry about one other major competitor. If you settle at the top--or even in #2 position--be happy and invite others to join your new category. There can never be too much chaos--on the ladder beneath you! Just keep your top rung position by focusing and narrowing and strengthening your brand, permeating all of your marketing messags with your brand and expanding the rest of the category with the chaos of others. Your focused, strong brand--by comparison--will become a clear and easy choice. The leader "by default."
And this is the crux of this week's Law of Fellowship. Inviting others to join you in your category will only benefit your sales.
How The Law of Fellowship Works
Take the area of any large US city where the car dealerships are located. You probably know exactly what area I mean no matter what city you're in (possibly even if you're outside the US) because they all "seem" to cluster together. That's not accidental. They know that competition will drive sales, so they co-locate on purpose. Take the street or block in any city (or even small town) where restaurants are lined up, one after another. They're doing the same thing. They know that competition will drive customers into their dining rooms. Why does this work?
First of all, in the physical world, a group of similar businesses will, collectively, attract more customers to the same geographic area as a lone business would. Each business benefits from their competitor's customers coming to the area in the first place. For Indie Authors, this translates to the "also bought" lists eTailers use to suggestively sell "like kind" eBooks after a consumer makes a purchase.
Second, because consumers can easily comparison-shop, they will--and by comparison shopping, they feel they are getting the best deal (not getting ripped off by anyone). For Indie Authors, this means if the consumer has a specific price-point in mind or wants a long book or short book, they can easily comparison-shop an entire category on most eTailer sites.This is why "tagging" and correctly categorizing your books is so critical to the correct branding and marketing of your Author Brand. If your books are not all branded in the same way (same type of book--not merely the same cover art style), then they will not end up clumped together in the same category to be shopped "collectively" by readers who browse categories.
Please note: readers who use dedicated eReading devices (like Kindle or Nook) have reported that their #1 method of finding new books is to browse categories.
Third, being co-located with your competition makes it easy to keep an eye on them and know what marketing strategies they're using--and then you know how and when to counter them! For Indie Authors, this translates to the sales rank and Top 100 lists we all watch like hawks--but do you know what to do when you see who's on the list above you? Now you do. Apply the Immutable Law of Marketing 8 (Law of Duality) and claim the next rung up on the product ladder in your category. Use the Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 14 (Law of Attributes) and Law 9 (Law of Opposites) to distinguish your brand from your competitor's.
Remember, you might choose your own category but the product ladder is created, managed and owned by the consumer (Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 7: Law of the Ladder). To get onto a new rung, you must change your marketing strategy so that the market message will persuade the consumer to move you--to a new ladder or a new rung. The key will almost always lie in narrowing your focus and strengthening your brand. Be "less" to all people and "more" of just one thing: you.
Tomorrow will be another Tuesday Tip and next week in the Branding Series, I'll look at Law 12: Law of the Generic. Review the last sentence of this week's Law and you'll have a head start on what to do to avoid making that mistake!
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