Monday, November 19, 2012

MONDAY MARKETING Competition in Digital Publishing #indie #marketing #branding #pubtip @ReganBlack #giveaway

Last time we chatted about the "branching" effect of categories, the essence of the 10th Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors): Law of Division. If left to follow its natural course, a category will eventually divide into subcategories. The driving force behind division is actually competition--that is, healthy competition makes a category ripe to divide whereas lack of competition drives a category to stability and sometimes, worse, diminished activity. Click through the jump break to learn more about competition and categories.

The Law of Category, or Law 2 of the Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors) advises us to create a new category in which we can be the leader--establish it from scratch. Law 10, the Law of Division, tells us that we can create this new category when there is sufficient competition to support a spawning off of a small fragment of the audience. There must be sufficient competition, however, to follow you into the new category or you'll be alone, without competition and, therefore, without any comparative measures which consumers can use to choose you over your competition. In simple English, customers gotta have several choices or they'll choose nothing versus "the only choice." It's a sort of rebellion, asserting one's free will ^)^

Here's an example of how and when competition spawned not just one new category, but a veritable industry of new categories. One of the most competitive food categories is breakfast cereals. There used to be just two kinds: "hot" and "cold" cereal. Now there are a dozen or more subcategories of cold cereal (all natural, unprocessed, marshmallow puffs, uncoated, sugar-coated flakes, granola-like clusters, cereal with dried fruit - the list goes on!)

And there at least a handful of subcategories for the hot, as well: oatmeal, cream of wheat, porridge, grits, others I'm not thinking of right now. The demand for choices drove the "hot" and "cold" categories to divide.

Choices, or competition, are the key. Two competitors cannot successfully market the same choice within a category or there's no choice to be made. A consumer must be able to distinguish one brand's product from the other's. This is where Laws 9 and14 of the Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors) come in. Law 9, or the Law of Opposites, uses Law 14, the Law of Attributes, to identify which things are most-easily compared--and contrasted--with your competition.

When you make your brand clearly not whatever your competition is, then you are easily compared by consumers.

Only when there is a clear distinction between you and the competition can the customers choose you. When both brands appear to have the same product, customers will determine which brand survives and which simply dies a natural death--and one brand must die. Two identical (in the minds of the consumer) brands cannot co-exist, despite all the bumper stickers in the world.

Test Marketing & Competition
Some marketing professionals will consider test marketing--trying out a product in a small way to see if there's an interest for it before pouring time, energy and money into launching a new category in which to sell it. This is a mistake. The biggest problems with this approach are

(a) wasted time "testing" rather than delivering a market-ready product and
(b) tipping off your competition to your intended direction. If your competition launches the new category before you do, then they are first, not you.

According to Law 1 of the Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors), you want to be first. Being first automatically makes you the leader. In Digital Publishing, where time to market is so incredibly short, it becomes critical not to tip off your competition to anything. Besides, some of us Indie Authors are both prolific and fast. A slower Author might be better, but if they are late arriving in the market, they are not first, not the leader, and not able to avoid being compared to what's already out there. It's far better to be first - to be original.

Traditional marketing focuses on giving consumers what they want "better, faster, cheaper" as I noted last time. In our new and improved marketing strategy, however, we are focused more on being first, being the leader, being consistent and being narrowly focused on our brand's definition. Don't try to be everything to everyone or try to get every last word into the first book.

Focus on writing the best book you can in the time you have. The competition can never be you if you are unique--and every person is unique so as an Indie Author, being yourself makes you impossible to displace through traditional marketing methods.

Another problem with test marketing will be the overstimulation of demand. As noted, if you are not first to the marketplace, you'll be compared to what's already out. This is what happened when a trend flared into a fad, as was the case with the flood of Stephenie Meyer wannabes in the Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy market today. Rather than over-stimulating the demand for shiny vampire stories, new authors wanting to compete with Meyer should be trying to spawn a new subcategory for their own take on the vampire myth.

No one's going to stop another category split--only lack of trying. Maybe come up with a new spin instead of over-stimulating the demand some more. I've seen several vampire-zombie stories tossed around. They're not to my taste at all but I see a high interest in the combination. You could be the first to name the new category and if you are, you will own it. Be first. Be original. Be you.

What's Next....
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be a special Author Feature. I'll be interviewing Regan Black and announcing the winners in her giveaway of Paranormal Romantic Suspense books in the SHADOWS OF JUSTICE series. I'll also be releasing my review of Book 4 of the series, Tracking Shadows (heads up: I loved that book and rated it a "4 out of 5 stars")

If you haven't entered the giveaway yet, you have a few hours left until midnight tonight (Eastern Time/USA) to do so. Just click here to enter. You can enter as many times as you like but I'm pretty sure Rafflecopter filters out all but one entry from each email address for each day/date.

Next Week, I'll be moving the Tuesday Tip to Wednesday in a special Writers' Wednesday (Twitter hash #WW) featuring the "Next Big Thing" blog hop chain. I hope to see you then!


No comments: