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What to do when times are tough

thirteen ways to improve your chances of surviving tough times

This question was posted to one of the discussion lists I monitor. I just brainstormed this question and here’s what came to mind.

When time are tough:

1. Re-evaluate everything, top to bottom. Identify who are you best customers, your best income streams, your best products, your best services, whatever you have. Get the data and stare at it really hard. Make sure you truly understand what happens in each marketing process you use so that you can identify why customers buy what you sell and what you can control and influence by what you do.

2. Focus on only the most important sources of income. Analyze them until you can visualize every step and communication that produces these sales. Make sure that you spend more time protecting these income streams than anything else you do.

3. Document what works best. Make sure you have a real foundation to believe in. Identify the successful repetitious processes carefully. Make sure they are reliable and produce known results. Once you know which processes are producing what income, make intelligent mature choices as to where to stay and what to let go. Then do it. Change how you operate.

4. Zero in on what works, with whom, and explore what you can do to a. get repeat orders, b. get larger orders, c. get expanded orders – all from the same people. Make sure you identify your most important target audience and stay focused like a laser on them. Forget trying to sell to the world. Focus on your crucial niche. Stay there and get known for real value.

5. Look for host beneficiary opportunities. If you sold to a HQ office, go back and see if you can get them to endorse a referral to all the branch offices. Look for the opportunities and be creative with business proposals to leverage who you know and have performed well for already. Then pitch and pitch some more.

6. Ask for referrals. If you have existing relationships, contact them and ask them who they know and then outreach to them with your best and freshest offer. If you don’t identify the people in your target who can buy the most the fastest. Then contact them one at a time

7. Stop spending generically. Spend surgically. Make sure that you can document what happens when you invest in a process. Make sure the metrics mean something. Learn to sell your product or service. Really and truly learn what it takes to be successful. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

8. Stop communicating generically. Communicate surgically. Identify what you say that turns people on. Use these messages. Use technology to repeat these messages. If you don’t know, test, test, test till you do. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

9. Drop almost everything that’s not producing serious reliable income. Focus only on the big ticket items or the ones that have tremendous potential if successful. The Long Tail only produces for people with lots of customers and the ability to sell and profit from lots of other people’s products. If you are not one of them, you have to focus on what produces solid income for you. Make choices that matter.

10. Same goes for your direct communications with people, your PR communications and your marketing messages. Identify what you did and what you said that turned media and people on. That message is probably laden with psychological activators. Re-use it. Repeat what you did till it stops working. Don’t break something that doesn’t need fixing. But let the data tell you what’s the right thing to do. Get the data.

11. Communicate with your customers like you never have before. Talk to them about what’s going on and how you can help. Get to know them and the personas they exemplify. Learn where they hang with and where they hang out when they get information that influences what they buy. Then go to those places and study how things are done.

12. Help the people you can help the most. Look at your customers. Consider that each one is representative of other people with similar interests and problems. This is part of the miracle of the microcosm. Solve the problems of one, and you have a solution for many others with the same problem. Identify the barriers people face. A barrier is an opportunity for problem solving.

13. Once you define a successful script for communicating, then you can use all the available technologies to get the word out and share your knowledge. Remember GIGO – Garbage in, Garbage out – can be replaced with MIMO – Magic in Magic Out.

Paul J. Krupin – Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message
http://www.DirectContactPR.com Paul@DirectContactPR.com
800-457-8746 509-545-2707
http://blog.directcontactpr.com/

Search Inside the Book ? Good or Bad for Book Sales?

Evaluates the "Search Inside the Book" technology and how it can affect book sales

An author on the Yahoo Self Publishing list asked:

>>I am planning on using this feature for my book, The Guru Next Door, A
>>Teacher’s Legacy but wanted to check with ya’ll first. Is there any
>> reason NOT to do this?

I was actually interviewed at the Book Expo America on this issue back in late May 2005. I was standing in the Google Booth having a fun discussion (argument maybe) with some Google reps not knowing that IDG News Service industry reporter Stacy Cowley was madly taking notes right next to me and then wrote it all up for PC World magazine. Here’s a link to the article which is still available online.

Google Woos Book Publishers
http://www.pcworld.com/article/121247/google_woos_book_publishers.html

What you have to realize is that the search inside the book feature gives people the ability to make a better buying decision based on a snippet of a search on a key word that you don’t know.

The effect on your book sales will be determined by what happens when people see inside your book. Will that help you sell books?

Maybe.

It’s a lot like what happens if someone goes to the bookstore and finds your book on the shelf. If someone picks it up and turns the pages, what happens?

That’s about the size of it only now they are browsing online.

The question as far as book sales go is this:

Will a buying decision be favored if the reader sees what’s inside?

If the answer is yes, then theoretically, sales are improved compared to buying decisions based on cover, reviews, and testimonials only.

If the answer is no, then it likely doesn’t help you sell books.

The answer is in some ways dependent on the content and style of writing, organization, presentation, font size, and other characteristics of the content inside of the book.

The answer is also dependent on what the Amazon searcher enters, and how they feel about your book after reading the snippet they receive.

You have control over of the features of the content and presentation of your book. You don’t have control over what the searcher sees.

You also don’t have control over what Amazon or Google let’s the reader see.

You can experience this effect on your own buying purchases if you actively use this feature and make these types of observations when shopping.

What happens when people pick up your book? You need to find out in person first. Then you can estimate what happens online.

You might want to test the book without the search inside the book for a month or two before you add in the feature and then compare what if anything happens.

To me this is a fairly crucial bit of decisionmaking. You may be a person who has placed a lot of effort and money into creating a book that people will find attractive enough to buy. You may have spent a lot on cover design and marketing. You may have used a professional copy editor and book designer when you created your book. If the quality and writing is high in person then the chances are a similar response will occur when someone uses the search inside the book feature.

But if you haven’t done these things, then a person who sees inside the book will be able to see the quality shortcomings up close and personal and these factors will have a serious impact on the buying decision.

So if the reaction of a person who actually gets their hands on your book is not a buy decision, then maybe the search inside the book will not be helpful to you.

Since search Inside the Book and Google Print were introduced, my early observations about the technology have been pretty well born out.

Quality sells. First impressions make a whole lot of difference. The snippet can make you or break you.

You’ll need to evaluate whether the feature helps you based on how people in your target audience make decisions when looking at books like yours.

How to write a best seller

How to write so that you achieve the action and response you want

On one of the discussion groups I participate in we’ve been talking about writing and selling.

Firmware replied:

> So enlighten us. How would we have recognized THE DA VINCI CODE,
> which really is a preposterous book, as a bestseller when it first
> started circulating in MS?

I’m a real student and believer in the science and psychology of communications, whether they be written oral, and visual. Words trigger interest and even action. Some words are more powerful and effective than others.

Write a check for $1000. How many words on the check? And you know what happens so it’s a reliable repeat action. We’ve built an entire economic system based on a promise to pay for value received. It’s really quite remarkable what a few well written words can do.

Words can motivate.

Look at the Declaration of Independence. Look at what a few carefully constructed words can do. Can you guess how many draft versions it took for Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to get it right?

You can learn how to write to produce action. You can test the words until they produce the response you seek.

Turns out that Dan Brown was one of my clients in the pre- Da Vinci Code days. I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements of the prequel, Angels and Demons. (Go and look if you have a copy!)

I and my family (two teenage girls mind you and a dietitian wife) loved that book because it’s a thought provoking book and a good action packed thriller. Preposterous? Fact or fiction, who cares? It’s a good book and it’s fun to read. That’s why it sells. It’s so enjoyable and provocative to read that stimulates discussion in the marketplace of ideas.

For any book an author writes that’s what will create and drive interest and sales. That’s the excellence in your writing that you need to instill and you’re not done until it happens.

But Dan was a poor starving writer of many books before he wrote the blockbuster. He and his wife Blythe worked very hard to achieve success. They worked and reworked those early writings till they had what it took to get the right publisher to take on their project.

I believe that you can design and even engineer results based on what you write. I see it in all the creative works produced by my clients day in day out. That’s what speechwriters do for politicians.

You have to pay attention to the people you are trying to motivate and please. You have to have a goal of triggering a certain action. You help the people you can help the most. You educate the people you can educate the most. You entertain the people you can entertain the most.

You do the very best you can. You don’t write and publish and then try to sell. This of course is what many authors do.

You write, test, test, test, and only when you know the action you get do you then seek to publish and sell.

You write and then revise, revise, revise and improve, improve and improve till you get the action you want when people look at what you’ve written.

You go the distance to where the snowball you’ve been pushing up the hill begins to move on it’s own.

You have to identify the pool of people you are aiming to please. If it’s cookbooks, it’s people who cook. If it’s science fiction, it’s people who read science fiction. If it’s top literary agents, then it’s top literary agents.

If you write a book and show it to 20 people in the right pool of people and ten of them truly rave about it, and it results in 60 people asking for it (since each convinced 3 other people they had to read it), then maybe it’s time to show it to ten agents.

But if you show it to 20 people, and you get a lukewarm response, then maybe you need to revise it and improve it till you get the raving response you need.

That’s how you recognize that you’re in the right position to publish and have a reasonable confidence of success.

Look at the story by Lynn Neary on NPR July 31, 2008 about Brunonia Barry launched her self-published novel, The Lace Reader, into the big leagues.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92934202

Pretty good illustration of the principles in my article The Magic of Business. Look at what she did with her first writings. Look at the effect her books had on the people they wanted to reach.

The interview indicates that they knew what they had to do. They sought to please their readers in the book clubs and the booksellers. Then they saw the agents fighting over the book, and even the publishing companies in the bidding war over the rights to the book.

You can set this as your goal and believe that you can do this. You have to hone you craft and writing skills, and also focus on taking your writings to the right people once you find out that your writing has the effect needs to have on people in the market place.

The beauty of testing in it the microcosm of wherever you are is that you can get the feedback you need and then revise, revise, revise till it really sings.

Then you can test it and test it and test it again so you prove reliably that it does indeed produce the action you want people to take when they read it.

And in a nation of 330 million people, the potential is huge.

And if you translate it into Chinese, there’s another 300 million waiting for you across the Pacific.

You start local and aim global.

The beauty of the opportunity of being alive today is that you get to try.

Do good book reviews always sell books?

discusses the differences between book reviews and feature stories as regards publicity and book sales

Do good book reviews always sell books? This question was posed on the Self Publishing list at Yahoo Groups

My experience is that a good review certainly helps sell books (or other products) but they don’t always sell that many. In fact, when I did a survey of book reviewers ten years ago, I recall Steve Wasserman, LA Times book reviewer writing me and expressing his perspective that ‘no reads what we write and they don’t believe us even when they do.”

My preference for my clients is to aim at feature stories because in my experience they typically result in the sale of more books than book reviews. That’s because instead of a typical book reviewer’s literary description of the book, the characters, the plot and maybe the target audience, instead you get in depth news and human interest, interesting and even galvanizing information about the author, the people he or she writes about or is writing for, helpful advice, and even dramatic personal or social action, and the bottom line is that these articles result in a much more effective personal engagement with the media audience at an emotional level. The bottom line is people are motivated more by feature stories than by book reviews.

So to get this type of coverage you have to pitch this sort of information. The news release you use must have more of the elements that people are interested in.

I’ve a few articles on my web site where I’ve discussed and strategized on this question a few times particularly in the context of writing a news release that gets an author or a publisher publicity that sells books: Here’s the one that identifies some rules for people who want to benefit from these tactics.

Cover letter or news release? Book review or feature story?
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=36

But don’t by any means think that publicity is the end all for book sales. It’s valuable for sure. It can be extremely powerful and help you in lots of ways.

Think about it. Realize that it has a role to play in marketing like everything else. And to be realistic about it think about what you do when you read newspapers, watch TV or listen to the radio.

When was the last time you read an article in the paper or in a magazine, that was so good you went to the store, grabbed the phone and dialed a toll free number, or went to the web and made a purchase?

That’s not to say it has no impact down the road. But look at what publicity does to immediate sales and realize that the effect may be attenuated and the type of message published by media (book review vs feature story).

The type of story makes a significant difference in how people respond and act. The galvanizing dramatic personal story captures more interest and attention than a dry, objective description every time.

I also think that feature stories are easier to generate and to get placed than book reviews or product reviews.

It doesn’t matter what the product is. When it comes to getting media coverage, the impact the message has on the hearts and minds of the people who read the article is what matters. And that’s why feature stories are more valuable than book reviews.

Recent case in point. It’s not publishing but it is high tech PR and it still illustrates the principles.

The national coverage feature story article in the paper this week about the Samsung Instinct available for $129 (the first serious Apple iPhone competitor on the market) is going to influence a lot of people when they make buying decisions these next few months.

What a wonderful triumph for the Sprint marketing department and their PR firm. And the phone goes on sale June 20 nationwide. Incredible timing.

But how many other articles will have that level of impact? Can you create a news release and release it to media so that you have an impact like that?

It’s not easy but it is something to aim for.