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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Are your branding and marketing message cohesive?

A client recently forwarded me information about a relatively new book distribution company he was thinking about checking out. I did a cursory scan of the website and noticed an odd thing right off the bat: its use of this decorative font that, while pretty, is very difficult to read.

Coupled with the busy picture backdrop and the text that gets lost in that picture, it makes for a pretty unsuccessful sales page. That seems to be a preferred headline font throughout the site. Red Flag No. 1.

With that, I send this response to my client:

This may sound really peculiar, but I would doubt this company’s ability to deliver, just based on that crazy font they used for their headlines. It may be pretty, but it’s really difficult to read, which means it’s impractical. If that’s the choice for their own marketing, it causes me to question the rest of their planning and strategies.

That was when I decided to write this post. But first, I went back and delved a little deeper into IndieReader.

Among other things, it offers a service that promises to get books “in front of [as many as] 37,000 industry professionals.” Yes – that’s what that tiny line in the super curly fancy font says. No word on who the professionals are. Truly, the gal who answers the phone or the intern who reads the slush pile could be classified as an industry professional. Red Flag No. 2.

The third line on their service description page smartly plays to the author’s ego: Sure your friend may have downloaded the Kindle version of your book, but you know what you really want is to see your book in bookstores!

If you know anything about what it takes to get into a bookstore, one of your first questions should be about the return policy. When you sell books to a bookstore, they are essentially bought on consignment. That is, most bookstores require authors to accept the return of unsold books – meaning the authors have to buy them back from the store. Imagine how careful you’d be when sending your books off to the store – or how nicely they’d be packaged if they were being drop-shipped straight from the printer. The idea being that they’d arrive in pristine shape, ready to go on the shelf.

Now imagine a $10/hour college student pulling your unsold books off the same shelf – assuming they ever actually made it onto the shelf in the first place – and throwing them, willy-nilly, into a box that gets shipped back to you. Covers bent, pages torn – do they care? Not a whit. This is what is often involved in agreeing to a store’s return policy.

But when I clicked the link to See IR In-Store FAQs to learn more about how IndieReader deals with stores’ return policies, I was greeted with the following 404 error screen. Red Flag No. 3.

Now I don’t know anything more about this company than what I’ve written here. But based on what I’ve seen, I would not advise my client – or anyone, for that matter – to use them. At least not without a huge amount of due diligence, including insisting on talking to a half-dozen of their previous clients.

Most people think of branding as a logo – but it goes much further than that. Branding does involve your logo, but it also involves your tagline, your color scheme, the look and feel of your website, blog, social media, and marketing collateral. And most importantly, it is comprised of your promised deliverables – and then how you execute on that promise.

Are your branding decisions cohesive? Are they communicating the message you want them to convey to your readers, fans, visitors, and prospective buyers? If you’re known for writing paranormal thrillers today, but you direct people to an old website designed to sell your erotic poetry, they won’t stick around long enough to dig through and find the new books. If you’re promising to deliver excellent info about helping folks overcome addictions, you need to make sure nothing in your branding gives prospective readers/clients a reason to doubt you.

Whatever you’re writing, make sure that all of your marketing materials – both on- and offline – are coherent and represent you as well as possible.

Happy marketing!

Laura

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All about the alliteration…

As I was musing over ideas for today’s post, I started doodling and making notes about the random thoughts that popped into my head. As it turns out, three of those thoughts began with the letter P: planning, polarizing, and paying. So it doesn’t take a cryptographer to figure out how the rest of the post unfolded.

The thing is, there is power in word play. As Simon Smith notes in a post for Right Spot Media:

To some, the connection between a strong brand and the repetition of sounds might seem farfetched. But researchers have studied the impact of alliteration and found that it may indeed aid memorability. In fact, studies have shown that alliteration is such a powerful mnemonic that providing students with alliterative sentences can help them more easily learn a new language.

Consider some very popular name brands:

Best Buy

Dunkin’ Donuts

Krispy Kreme

PayPal

Volvo

Weight Watchers

Phillip Davis of SmallBusinessDelivered.com notes the efficacy of alliteration in branding small companies, as well:

We made use of this technique with one of our clients: Park Place Garage. Not only did the name have alliteration with the two Ps, but it also contained a double entendre (Park Place is both a place to park a car and a name associated with high end real estate).

So here’s my stab at an alliterative alphabet of writing- and marketing-related phrases. Some are even whole sentences unto themselves! One thing to note: alliterative sounds needn’t all contain the same letters. Also, you can carry the alliteration through internal syllables.

Authentic authors aspire to achieve astute audiences.

Bountiful branding builds your business.

Conscious consistent connection creates continuing contacts.

Drip e-mail develops dedicated devotees.

Editing enhances your exposition.

Funky freelancers fulfill fantasy niches.

Good graphics generate great get-up-and-go.

Hot headlines hit hard.

Internet interest is increasing by the hour.

Journalists justify juggling jewels and junk.

Clever keywords capture knowledgeable niches.

LinkedIn allows a legitimate look at one’s work life.

Messaging makes media move.

No longer neophytes, Larsson fans await the next new novel, unaware there will be no more.

Once you overcome the obstacles, Outlook offers many opportunities to achieve your e-mail objectives.

A promising platform is the first step to prestige.

Quixotic quips … quick questions … quite the quandary.

Readers are ready to reel in this old writer’s ruminations.

Sentence structure will set your essay to sink or swim.

Trendy taglines transform text without trickery.

Once uniquely useful, Facebook has become ubiquitous and unoriginal.

Vocal variety creates vibrancy.

WordPress wizards write regularly.

eXcellent designers employ eXtreme devices.

Youthful yearning is a customary storyline in YA fiction.

Zippy zingers zap the readerz’ eyeballz.

OK, tell me what you really think. At least I had fun with it! If you decide to try it yourself and come up with anything really outstanding, please come back and share it with us in the comment section below!

Happy alliterating –

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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“Is there a market for my book, or should I bury it at sea?”

This was the question a prospective client recently asked me about a book he’s already written. Whether it’s the optimist, the marketer, or the passionate communicator in me, I almost always feel there’s a market for an author’s book.

Let’s be outrageous for a moment and talk about the guy who’s writing a protocol manual for left-handed Chinese goatherds. Really? With more than 1.25 billion people in China, and most of those living in rural areas, there may actually be more of a market than you’d think. But then reality sets in, and you have to ask, what is the likelihood that a million Chinese goatherds will see a need for this fella’s new book – and more to the point, that we can get word to them about the book so that they will buy it? Probably kind of slim.

OK – that’s an extreme example … but it illustrates a great point. It’s essential that you know who your audience is BEFORE you start writing your book. The most challenging place in the world for a new author is having 39 crates of books in their garage, and no one waiting to buy them.

Who is your audience?

The answer to that question will go a long way in determining how marketable your book really is. But, that’s not the only factor. A second, equally important question is:

What is your goal for your book?

  • Do you want it to become a best-seller?
  • Are you looking to find a niche to develop a speaking/seminar business?
  • Is your goal to build your status as a credible expert in your industry?

There’s no right or wrong answer – just make sure you’re clear about the answer before you start writing your book or your marketing plan.

For example, I have a client who is working on a book about her experience living with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). While many books already exist on the subject, her audience is quite distinct: she’s writing to healthy people who likely have little to no accurate knowledge about the illness, with a goal of building support, research, and funding to find a cure. Although my client is putting a ton of effort and expense into this book, she readily admits that she will be happy to sell 200 copies. I think this book has the potential to sell many more than that, but my client knows her personal limitations (due to her illness), in terms of blogging, public speaking, and all the other things that would/could put the book in the hands of her target audience, and she’s fine with her small, but attainable goal.

Think about cable TV and the recent wave of every kind of specialty show imaginable. From power eating (“Man vs. Food”) to best beard competitions (“Whisker Wars”) and everything in between, the relative ease of creating video programming today is filling the cable stations with specialty shows to meet every taste.

The same is true for books – but to an even larger degree. Consumers are now aware that there’s an abundance of info out there tailored to THEIR SPECIFIC NEEDS, and they are hungry for it. The trick is to get your book with the answer to their problem into their hands. In order to do this, it makes sense to set aside the general topic that might – if the sun, moon, planets, and all the stars lined up – become a bestseller, and focus on the specialty audience.

No matter what or whom we’re talking about, from movies to chiropractors to books to financial planners, the consumer hankers after specialization.

— Susan Friedmann

Does a smaller audience mean you’ll sell fewer books? It might. But you might also spend a lot less money, time, and effort selling fewer books to an audience who has a real need for your information than by trying to make the whole world your audience and getting nowhere. Tailoring your book to a specialty group also opens up the door for you to write a second book, and a third, and a fourth… It opens the door for you to present seminars and webinars and workshops. It opens the door for you to build your expert status by demonstrating specialized knowledge on this particular subject matter.

Is there an audience for your book? Probably. How big it is and how you will reach them are the questions you need to answer before you take your next step.

Happy authoring!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Two things you can do next: (1) Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page and “LIKE” it if you like it. (2) Visit Laura’s other blog.

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Are you committed enough to your brand to TATTOO it onto your body?

I was at dinner with my sister and niece recently, and noticed a young woman at a nearby table with a tattoo of a snake winding around her shoulder. The lines were well defined, and the ink was obviously new. It was quite an elegant snake, mind you. But as I noticed it, I found myself wondering out loud, “How is she going to feel about that snake in 15 or 20 years?”

Tattooing has been practiced worldwide for centuries as a means of decorative body modification. According to Wikipedia, the earliest tattoos date to the Alps during the Neolithic era in the fourth-to-fifth millennium BC. Across the ages, people have gotten tattoos for many different reasons: rights of passage, marks of status, symbols of religious/spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, as sexual lures and/or marks of fertility, declarations of love, punishments, talismans, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves, and convicts. One thing is for sure: a tattoo is a commitment.

Speaking of commitments, you are committed to marketing and selling your book, and you recognize that your book is a business. Now your business has a brand, most likely accompanied by a logo. So here’s the question. Are you as committed to your brand as The Girl With the Snake Tattoo?

If you’re still in the process of designing your logo and building your brand, you’ll want to consider a few things:

  • Check out the logos of other businesses in your industry.
  • Focus on your core message.
  • Make your logo clean and functional.
  • Take your business name into consideration.
  • Illustrate the key benefit you offer.
  • Trendy looks will eventually become dated.
  • Use color advantageously.
  • Pay a designer to create an original logo for you.

Sometimes, when you build a brand people REALLY love, you don’t have to be the one to get the tattoo. Your loyal fans will take care of that for you. Seriously a Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers tattoo! These are the kinds of fans you want!

Personally, I’ve been toying with the idea of a tattoo for probably as long as Snake Girl has been alive. I may do it one day, even. A small, tasteful Celtic knot on my back or shoulder. Interesting, isn’t it? I love my logo, but you won’t find me getting a tattoo of it anytime soon.

So what are your takeaways from this perhaps seemingly far-flung topic of tattoos?

  1. Branding requires the right image both literally and figuratively.
  2. This image must appeal to your target market.
  3. Your brand is permanent, so choose wisely. Companies do rebrand, but such an undertaking usually involves great time, energy, and expense and is only done for a really good reason.
  4. Raving fans the kind who will tattoo a company’s brand on their bodies are awesome. How can you get YOUR fans to spread the word about you?

You don’t have to tattoo your book cover on your body to successfully market it, but you do need to give some consideration to the overall branding of your book(s), website, blog, print collateral, and other marketing materials. Make sure they are consistent and speak directly to your readers and prospective audience.

Happy brand-building!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Two things you can do next: (1) Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page and “LIKE” it if you like it. (2) Visit Laura’s other blog.

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