I wanna be like Apple (and Starbucks and Whole Foods)!
If you bought an iPhone during the last three months of 2014, you were one of 74.5 MILLION people who did so. That’s one iPhone sold every nine seconds for three straight months. I have an Android phone, but I’m surrounded by iPhone users and definitely see the value. Here’s the lesson most service providers can take from this: you don’t have to compete on price to succeed. In fact, competing on price can actually hurt your bottom line.
When it comes to book sales, there’s a definite range of prices the market will bear for your titles, depending on the genre, format (ebook vs. paperback vs. hardback vs. audiobook), competition, etc. I’ve seen people who’ve written long, self-published novels charging $25 per paperback book. The fact is that an average reader is unlikely to plunk down that kind of cash for an unknown author. However, for those who are selling ancillary products or services related to your books (if you’re not, you should be!), there’s probably room to think about raising your prices, or not setting them at the bottom to begin with.
In order to raise your prices, though, the first person who has to value your products or services is YOU. You cannot possibly sell something to someone else if you don’t believe in it. I remember a coaching session I had years ago when my coach and I discussed this issue for my business. I was reluctant to make the big leap in price she was suggesting, though I did eventually agree to it. She made me rehearse again and again saying out loud how much I charge for my services. I knew the value and expertise I bring to my author and public speaking clients, developed through years of hard work, research, trial-and-error – yet I was afraid that charging more would scare people away. It took many, many repetitions before I could get the words out without my sentence going up at the end, as if I was asking a question. Now, I am selective about my clients, and I ask – and get – what my services are worth.
Yep – there’s a tendency to want to charge less to get the client, particularly for people who are new in their businesses. You can do that, but competing on price is a no-win situation, because there will almost always be someone willing to charge a fraction less. Do you really want to be the low-price leader – the Walmart or Geiko of your industry? Or would you rather follow in the footsteps of Apple, Starbucks, and Whole Foods?
If this concept is new to you, here are a few questions to ask yourself. Do the research and be sure of the answers in order to get to a place where you know your value and are willing to ask for commensurate compensation.
- Who is the ideal prospect for your product or service?
- How will they use it?
- Will it fill a new need, or will it be replacing a product or service already in place?
- How does your prospect make his or her buying decisions?
- Which pain points does your product or service address for your prospect?
- What is your prospect’s opinion about others in your industry and their offerings?
- How do your industry colleagues promote, price, and sell their products or services?
Know your value. Listen to your prospects tell you what they need. Tell them how you can help them, ask whether they are ready to commit today, and then let them speak – even if it means an uncomfortably long silence.
There are millions of blog posts and books on sales that go into this stuff in much greater depth. Many authors, though, shy away from sales training because they don’t see themselves as salespeople. If you’re not selling and marketing your book, though, you probably have an expensive hobby on your hands.
Here’s to being more like Apple when we grow up!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
We’re one month into 2015 — are you READY? If you haven’t yet mapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com