Miserable Having to Market?

by Nancy Humphreys on April 9, 2013

These are the three basic steps in selling. Marketing is more complex and difficult than selling. When you market your services and/or book, you are attempting to sell to people you haven’t met yet and/or you don’t even know.

Marketing encompasses selling (as the last step). Here are three basic steps you can take before you get to the selling part of marketing: (1) define who you are, (2) identify your target market, and (3) create your brand.

Define who you are

Robert Middleton, marketing guru for self-employed people, including authors, and small business owners, recommends that you define your “unique competitive advantage.” Your unique competitive advantage is what makes you stand out from the crowd. To find your UCA you need to do research on your competition and then take a self-inventory. This step is vital for authors too. Write your book knowing what makes it unique.

When you research your competition, look not only at what they do, but at what they do not do. Are they not covering some aspect of what you write about or not providing specific services that you could? Be sure to include pricing in your examination of your competition.

For example, perhaps you were thinking of charging ninety-nine cents for your ebook? Consider this. The average cost of a best-selling ebook last week was $8.26. If you charge a dollar for your ebook, you’ll need to sell ten ebooks for every one ebook sold by a bestselling author.

After you’ve seen what competitors and/or other businesses like your own are doing, you can do a personal self inventory to see if you’ve missed anything in your research on others that you could be doing for your customers.

Identify your target market

But who are your customers? A maxim in business is that you can’t sell to everyone. This is even truer of Internet businesses. A big advantage of the Web is that it reaches a global audience. As a result, highly targeted sales can be made on the Internet to a much more widespread audience.

Created back in 1999, my first self-published books (actually 12-page booklets) called Brucemaps, sold particularly well to Springsteen fans coming from abroad to visit the US. These fans valued our help in finding places Bruce Springsteen had lived, worked, and sung in the US. One fan from Italy I recall graced our efforts in creating these custom-made maps with the words, “Your most excellent guide…”

Because the potential pool of buyers is so great on the Internet, you can pretty much find customers for anything. In No B.S. Price Strategy Jason Marrs discusses differences in pricing for women’s cotton briefs. Says Marrs, the same briefs can run between $1.50 to $450 online.

No you didn’t just see a giant typo. People from all walks of life use the Internet. That means the price-spread for goods and services is much wider on the Web than in a typical US shopping mall.

This is why targeting is key to success. You’ll need to identify the right group(s) for you to sell to. The more targeted you are, the more you’ll keep your marketing costs down and still run an effective advertising campaign.

Create your brand

Once you’ve identified your target audience(s) for your book or your business, how do you get their attention? You may be reaching out to prospects via advertising, social media like Twitter and Facebook, a newsletter, blog, or personal networking. You want all of these things to work together to help you meet your goals.

Oh yes, goals! Your mission statement should be about more than money – it should reflect who you are and what kind of customers you are looking to serve. If you haven’t created a business plan that’s complete with estimated costs and benchmarks, CPA, Michele Cagan’s Streetwise Business Plans offers everything you need to do to lay out a path for your business and/or your book to meet your expectations.

Once you have a plan, serious marketing of a professional service and/or book requires that you build a brand for yourself. A self-employed service provider helping others to better brand themselves is Patti DeNucci with her web site, newsletter, and book, The Intentional Networker.

A brand is used to establish trust. It should grab people’s attention. It ought to be pertinent to what you do. And you should be able to express it in just a few words and a single image. If you don’t build a a unique brand and work hard to gain customer trust, the only thing you’ll have to compete with other books or businesses is a low price. And that’s a losing strategy for the long run.

Here is the biggest tip I can give you on marketing. Begin setting up your marketing campaign LONG BEFORE you launch your book and/or small business. 

Marketing Your Book to Libraries Marketing Your Books to Libraries: An Insider's Guide for Authors by former librarian Nancy K. Humphreys includes: 
  • How to tell what kind of library to target
  • Types of librarians and books they order
  • Strategies to get past the "gatekeepers" who influence librarians
  • Right ways to approach librarians most likely to order your book

Learn more »

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