Today, I'm going to talk about a favorite topic of Indie Authors: words. No word is ever taken alone and we Indie Authors rarely offer just one. Every word we offer, however, will be received by the listener or reader in a pre-existing context of their mind. Each word we choose carries connotations, a point I touched on last week. The key, therefore, is to use words that will create the connotations or perception to match your Author Brand, and thereby maintain your position -- or establish one if you're still working on getting inside your readers' minds.
What's amazing to me is that we writers don't choose our words more carefully. Click through the jump break for more on this puzzling phenomenon.
Content or Content-Marketing?
The fact that consumers only evaluate products against a context which pre-exists inside their minds has annoyed and perplexed marketers for generations. Al Ries came up with this term "positioning" which explains what the phenomenon is but it doesn't tell you what to do about it. Or not exactly.
As Indie Authors, we produce content, and then we try to conduct marketing activities to sell our content. But are we content-marketing? Do you even know what "content marketing" is? Here's a good definition from "The Content Marketing Institute" (talk about a selling site name!):
Content marketing is [...] creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a [...] target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers [...] without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we[...] deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information [they'll] reward us with their business and loyalty.
Sounds exactly like the goal of branding--but more actionable, more centered on the words we choose. As Indie Authors, we are in the golden position of having our product and our "content" being one and the same. We can deliver the content message and our product at the same time--and without using a "hard sell" approach.
Free sampling of a book is still the #1 most powerful sales tool after effective cover art. The strategy of "content marketing" is the reason why. If you are not providing a free sample or if your sample (the first part your book) is not well-written, your sales record will reflect the lack. If your sample is great and you offer it free but are still not getting sales, consider having the sample available in other places, too. Then add a link from those other places--Goodreads, your blog, wherever you can get someone to post an excerpt of your book--to a sales page.
You do still have to ask for the sale but you don't have to do it up front. In fact, it's best to pitch the brand, hooking the consumer's interest so they'll "pull" the sample on their own volition, and then have the link there to ask for the sale after they've enjoyed the freebie.
What's Next....Closing for the Haggim and Beyond
Right now, we're in the midst of the spring Jewish Haggim (High Holy Days). The Jewish calendar has a series of Haggim twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In the fall, Rosh Hashanah, Yom HaKippurim and Sukkot cover a period of about 3-1/2 weeks. In the spring, Purim, Pesach (Passover), Lag B'Omer and Shavot cover a period of about 10 weeks. Although I am not right-wing religious, I've decided to take some time out for spiritual reflection. I need to examine my life and life choices--plus, at the end of the Haggim (around Memorial Day) I'll have to move residences again. It seems like a good time to do a little focusing and re-evaluation.
On top of that I've been wanting to give the blog a major overhaul, moving the content off of Google's Blogger and onto a Wordpress site, since I already own one. When I do "come back online" it'll be with a new site and a new look. I hope I see you then, but I'll understand if many of you drop off the follower list. If you're already following me via the Webbiegrrl Writer Facebook Page, you don't have to do anything. If you're not, be sure to "like" the Page and pull down the "like" button to select "Show in Newsfeed" and you'll see my posts.
Thanks for stopping by!