I'm going to keeping talking about branding because defining a strong brand is the key to creating a position, and a position in the consumer's mind is the key to selling products. It's like a domino effect; if you miss one connection along the way, the process stops. Click through the jump-break to learn how to begin the chain of events.
Traditional marketing strategies are fairly straightforward: find out what consumers want and then give it to them, just make it "better, faster, cheaper" to use a saying from my rocket science past.
Traditional marketing focuses on products, not brands and certainly not categories of brands. The problem is, categories don't divide or diverge, spawning off new categories, unless or until there is a new brand for consumers to purchase. Why should you care about spawning off a new category? Being a leader in a category insures you a greater share of of the category's profits and it's much easier to be the leader when you're first.
So how do you get be first? Learn how by reading my book on marketing for Indie Authors (haha) or in short: be the one who creates the new category. By definition, the creator of a category is the first to arrive in it. (See Immutable Law of Branding 8 (for Indie Authors): Law of Category for more on spawning new categories).
Marketing Through Branding
If your primary activity is anticipating what the customer will want to buy in the future so you can provide it in time for them to buy it--at that moment when they actually want it--then you are constantly battling against the unpredictability of the market (See Immutable Law of Marketing 17 (for Indie Authors): Law of Unpredictability). No one can predict the future. Stop trying. Learn from the past and live in the now.
If you have defined a strong brand, then your brand will sell your products. If your readers are interested in you, the Author Brand, just as much or more than they are in any particular book you wrote in the past, then they will buy your future products simply because you wrote them. It's called a "must buy" author. Many readers have them. Not a lot of them, but a select few that come, stay for a few years, then go when they are replaced by "The Next Big Thing." It's likely half of you have one of these short lists yourself.
When readers buy an author's work, sight unseen, on the basis of their name--that is, their Brand Name, it's because the Author Brand is strong. If you want to build a successful Author Name Brand, step one is to be first. To be first, you must understand divergence--the spawning of new categories.
How Does Divergence Occur
Divergence is when a known category or grouping of something splits off - a parent has a child, a tree branches, a flower cross-pollinates and a new flower is born. Even in Digital Publishing (especially in digital publishing), new categories of books flare to life, fizzle and die. The new categories don't ever converge, even to save themselves. A category will diverge, branch off into 2 or more new categories, and either they thrive or they die.
Think about it for a second. You never see a tree where two branches converge and form a new, single branch (well, if you do, take a picture and post it to Twitter because it's gonna be downright weird and unusual). What you'll see is one really solid branch, spawning offshoots or smaller, fledgling branches. A tree branch will spawn new attempts only when it is healthy and robust--and needs more room to grow. This applies to book categories, too.
The time to spawn a new category of book, or to name a new genre, is when the current category you're in is strong and flourishing. In fact, when a category's competition peaks is the time to strike out on your own--and invite the competition to join you in a "quieter" category where everyone gets more of the pie (customers, sales) because there are fewer authors competing.
Divergence--or the spawning of a new category--will always happen when a category gets large and crowded. That's guaranteed by Immutable Law of Marketing 10 (for Indie Authors): Law of Division. The trick is to be the one to push the new category into existence, to draw attention to it, to name it. He who names it, OWNS it. As always, being first is the goal; being perceived as first is just as good ^)^
Next time I'll delve into another aspect of branding, but I'll be taking a week off to move residences (Yes, again! Hopefully, for
the last time until next spring.) I'll be back on Monday, November 19th
with a Monday Marketing look at competition, pros and cons. Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be a Nanowrimo special.
On Tuesday, November 20th, I'll be running a fabulous giveaway for my friend, Paranormal Romance Author, Regan Black. Be sure to check in on the Webbiegrrl Facebook Page and on Twitter @webbiegrrl for details of how to enter and what you could win. I'll have more for you over the next few days (in between packing and moving *haha*)
Thanks for stopping by!
Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer