|some image rights reserved by Paulo BrandÃ£|
I've maintained his definition of "branding," however, as follows:
A brand is an idea in the mind of the consumer whose power lies in the ability to influence purchasing decisions.
Some truths never change. The key point is that the brand's only power is its power to influence. A brand can only influence when people know what it is, so defining your brand in clear and easy-to-understand terms is the critical step. The first step. Focus.
That's the (ahem) focus of today's entry in the series, the last chapter, Immutable Law of Branding 22 (for Indie Authors): "Singularity." In this chapter, Ries appears (to me) to be rehashing the idea of Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 5: Law of Focus. Because you can never focus your brand "too much," I'll revisit this discussion today and then do a recap of the entire series for you. Click through the jump break to begin.
Focus, To a Point
In the Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 5: Law of Focus, we discussed the new paradigm of book-selling: consumers buy books; we don't sell them. I explained to you the thesis behind the Law of Focus: If you can narrow your brand down to "one word" or a singular concept, the consumer will accept it into their minds more readily. This is called positioning yourself in their mind with that "one word."
After you own a position, the consumer--not you--will seek out the other 100,000 or so words of your novel to fill the position with all that makes you you. This is why it's important to choose the "one word" that actually does describe your brand--for all of your books, not just this one. You want your position inside the consumer's mind to be like a bookshelf they try to fill with everything you write and sell. Ideally, their demand will exceed your supply rate. This can only happen if there is one common thread--one word--connecting all of your products.
A Review of How to Find Your Brand's Focus
It may seem like I'm handing out a lot of great ideas without the practical, hands-on tools to implement your branding efforts. That's because branding is a very individual activity that only you can conduct for your self, your own Indie Author career. What I do for myself as "Sarah R. Yoffa" won't work for, say, what I do for "Marjorie F. Baldwin" (my SciFi pen name) nor will it necessarily apply to you. The key steps, however, aren't hard to figure out. Here are 3 to get you started.
1) Identify Your Category (Genre)
If you already know what category you write in--or want to be perceived by readers to be writing in--just name it. You might feel your true "voice" (aka "Author Brand") crosses genres or combines them. Consider naming a new genre and then inviting others to join you in this new category. How to invite others? Explain what it is in exciting terms--that is, tell other Indie Authors what you love most about the new genre you write in and actually ask/invite them to try writing a story in that genre to see if they like it.
Maybe run a contest or a blog where authors can get exposure for their writing if they contribute something in your newly-named genre. If fellow producers of fiction aren't writing what you write, you must take the intiative to spur them to do so. Why is that your job? You cannot be the leader in a category no one knows about and you cannot establish a new category alone. You must have competition for you to be discoverable--and to be the leader, you must be the first in the new category, the founder, leader, original.
2) Pick Your "one word" Then Stick to It
There has to be one word or concept -- a 2-word or 3-word phrase -- that accurately and uniquely identifies you and only you to the readership out there waiting to discover you. If you pick your word wisely (by narrowing your focus not crossing multiple genres on purpose just to "reach a wider audience") then your potential readers will be more aware of your ability to deliver what they want in direct proportion to the narrowness of your focus. That is, the more focused you are, the more likely your potential readers are to realize you--and only you--are providing those kinds of books. Once you start selling books, don't change marketing and promotion tactics based on what others tell you worked for them.
They're not you. If you promote the way they do, you're promoting their brand and allowing your own to die a slow and quiet death. Instead, choose a strategy based on your own long-term objectives and your own branding intentions. If you need ideas about what to do, at a task level, review the different marketing strategies presented in my series, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors), which is also available as an ebook or paperback for offline reference. Copy others' effective strategies if and only if they are exactly the same as what you already decided you wanted to do. Never copy anyone else's behavior blindly.
3) Don't Sell, Ask for the Sale to be Given
You have to pitch and you have to ask for the sale but you can't take what's not being offered. The biggest mistake made and hardest paradigm shift to achieve is when an Indie Author thinks they are selling to the customers. The customers are buying from you, not the other way around. If you truly don't see a difference in these opposing flows of intent and activity, then you need to read it again. Sales do not flow from you TO the customers; but rather, FROM customers to you. You do not push your books; they pull them.
You need to make yourself and your books known and discoverable--get them available anywhere and everywhere you possible can, in every last nook (pun intended) and don't limit yourself to either-or situations.
If your books are what a consumer wants to read, they'll seek you out. If your books change everytime you publish a new title--or if you only have one book and never follow up with a full selection all carrying the same branded flavor--your potential customers won't know you are what they want. You will possibly capture one sale by accident. You will miss out on followup sales of future titles on purpose.
This is the end of the series on branding. I'll begin random promotional tips and marketing ideas in two (2) weeks, on Monday, October 22, 2012. I'm taking next Monday off to get things set up for the changes coming. In tomorrow's Tuesday Tip I'll announce what those changes will entail and what opportunities there'll be for each of you. I think it's going to be a good change that many of you will welcome. I hope to see you tomorrow.
Thanks for stopping by!
Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer