Can This One Little Word Help You Sell More Books?

Every marketer must overcome obstacles to making a sale. People don’t readily part with their money unless they are convinced to do so. In his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman’s states that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

Other research has shown that people make purchases on their emotions even though they think they are making a logical choice. Humans are driven by feelings. In order to get people to engage with you and your book, you must appeal to their emotions.

If you are only marketing the attributes of your book, your sales results may end up being lackluster. If, instead, you combine the attributes of your book with appealing to a reader’s emotions, you can have greater success with your book sales.

One way to appeal to people’s emotions is to give them a reason to act. In 1978, three Professors of Psychology at Harvard, published a research study about the power of the word “because“.

The professors had research participants request to break in on a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. The researchers had the people use three different, carefully worded requests to break in line:

  • Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

Interestingly, the first phrase achieved 60% compliance with the request. The second and third phrases achieved 93% and 94% compliance. The researchers concluded that using the word “because” and giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance.

Gregory Ciotti of copyblogger says that certain words hold more sway over our decision-making process than others. “Because” appears to be one of those words. Other words that have power in helping people make a decision to purchase are:

  • You
  • Free
  • Instantly
  • New

If you want to improve your book sales and persuade people to buy your book, try using the word “because”. In other words, give them a compelling reason to part with their money in exchange for a copy of your book.

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Photo courtesy of aykapog.

A Branding Lesson

We live in an ever-changing world. New people are born, others die. Businesses come and go. Technology continually grows, changing the way we interact with others and do business. New products are invented. And new books are written daily.

A Branding Lesson

One Christian book company has had to make the move to change their branding after developments in the United States outside the book industry began to impact the book company’s business.

For twenty years, Christianbook.com has operated under three distinct brands: Christian Book Distributors, CBD, and Christianbook.com. The company recently announced that they are moving all their brands to one brand: Christianbook.

The company made the following statement about their branding move:

Over the last 12 months, there has been a rise in popularity of a medicinally used product derived from the cannabis plant—cannabidiol, commonly referred to as “CBD.” Across the country, people see signs for “CBD sold here,” which creates brand confusion. In the past, a Google search for “CBD” would place our company at the top of the results page. Now “our CBD” is nowhere to be found in the search results, only sites for the cannabis product are listed, and paid ads are no longer allowed. As this wave of popularity over the “other CBD” is not likely to subside, we will stop referring to ourselves as “CBD” and will also drop the word “Distributors” from our company name. Going forward, we will operate under the name of “Christianbook.”

Christianbook is not alone. Any company that has been in business for a number of years has the potential to run into branding confusion. As our world grows—now 7.7 billion people, a growth of 54% in the past 30 years—so do the number of businesses, brands, and acronyms.

The lesson for small publishers and authors is not to hold too tightly to your brand.

As CBD became more widely known for the product derived from the cannabis plant than a Christian book company, changing their brand was the wise choice for Christianbook.  Wise authors and publishers will monitor their brand and be willing to make changes should a more popular similar name or acronym become more of an impediment to their brand than an asset.

Changing a brand does not destroy a business. In fact, sometimes it can help a business by bringing more attention to it. When a business changes their branding, it creates an opportunity for both media exposure and messaging to their audience.

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How’s That Working for You?

“How’s that working for you?” This little, yet powerful question was made popular by Phillip McGraw, of the Dr. Phil show.

Let me ask it of you, author. When it comes to social media, “How’s that working for you?”

How's That Working for You?

When I consult with authors, I frequently hear this phrase—or one similar:

“I’m on Facebook. I have a lot of followers. They like and comment on what I post, but people aren’t buying my book.”

In fact, studies show that, on average, 53% of people who follow brands (businesses) on social media don’t buy anything from them at all. They just want the content (the information) the brand shares.

Authors hear “build a platform” and jump into social media trying to gain an audience. Often, they gain followers, but get frustrated when they don’t see these followers convert to book sales.

One reason for this is that people are not in a buying frame of mind when they are browsing social media. It is much easier to sell someone a book or product when they are already “shopping”. Someone who is engaged in the shopping process is much easier to persuade to buy something than someone who is not thinking about buying a book or product.

This does not mean that you can’t or won’t ever sell a book to someone via social media, it just means that it is harder. This is why I tell authors to not just use one tool (social media) to market their books.

Social Media is not your only marketing tool.

Instead, social media should be used in conjunction with other marketing tools like:

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is about giving your audience useful information that has value for them. It is information that your target audience is thirsty for. It’s about creating blogs, articles, video, and audio that provides valuable information and insight for your audience. One study showed that 7 out of 10 consumers would rather learn about a product or company from interesting content than from an ad.

2. Email Marketing

Email is more effective at reaching consumers than social media. Emails prompt purchases at a rate of at least three times that of social media. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message. When people like the content you are creating, they will give you their email address in exchange for receiving more content directly. This gives you the opportunity to market your books directly to a group of interested people.

3. Media Interviews and Speaking Engagements

Speaking is one of the best ways to sell books because people buy books from authors they know and trust. Speaking to a group of people develops that trust and allows an audience to get to know you. Media interviews work similarly. After people hear you on the radio or a podcast, they feel they know you and are more likely to purchase your books.

Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

I will be teaching four continuing sessions on “You CAN Indie Publish & Market Your Book” at the upcoming Great Philly Christian Writers Conference in August. This seminar focuses both on how to publish your book as well as how to begin marketing your book—using more than social media. I invite you to attend the conference and get the information and knowledge you need to successfully publish and promote your books.

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Make the Most of Summer Reading Intentions

A large majority of American readers (80%) plan to put away their cell phones to focus on reading this summer, according to an independent survey of 1,500 reading adults commissioned by Barnes & Noble. Of those expressing the desire to make reading a priority, many have vowed not to look at their phones for between 30 minutes and two hours during each reading session.

Types of Books

Among the full sample of readers, 48% said they plan to read books in the mystery genre this summer, 37% in the history genre, 34% in the fantasy genre and 33% in the science fiction genre. Fifteen percent of summer readers said they plan to join a book club this summer, with seven percent saying they are already in a book club.

Sixty-nine percent of summer readers said they will most often read a print book. Nearly a quarter (24%) of summer readers will most often read a book on an electronic device, while seven percent will listen to an audiobook. Of those reading or listening on a device, 34% will use an e-Reader, 34% will use a cell phone and 32% will use a tablet.

Kids and Reading

The survey, conducted in early May by the market research company Atomik Research, also showed nearly 90% of parents with children between six- and 17-years old plan to ask their youngsters not to use electronic devices like cell phones and video games during certain periods of time during the summer.

In fact, 61% of parents surveyed said summer reading is very important to their families, and 70% said summer reading for their kids is just as important as reading during the school year. In a sign that reading is a shared activity in many households, 69% of parents said their families read together during the summer, with more than half of parents (55%) planning to read the same books as their children this summer so they can have a bonding experience.

Summer Reading

Parents also have high expectations of the number of books their children should read this summer.  Of the 1,500 readers surveyed, 38% hope to read one to three books this summer, while 37% hope to read four to six books. Among parents, 35% want their child/children to read four to six books this summer, 26% want them to read 10 or more books, and 25% want them to read one to three books.

Capitalize on Summer Reading

Following are two great ways you can capitalize on the readers’ effort to read more this summer:

1. Offer a summer sale on your books.

Summer is also a great time to offer a discount or coupon on your books. With readers making an effort to read more this summer, they need books to read and a sale or special can more them to purchase and read your book.

2. Host a summer reading program at your church.

As an author, you want to encourage reading. The more people read, the more likely it is that they will read your book(s). You can use the results from this survey to encourage your church library or church children’s ministry to run a summer reading program. Offer to help facilitate the program and donate some of your books for prizes for those who read a certain number of books over the summer. After all, as a Christian, you don’t just want to promote reading, you want to promote reading Christian books to bring hope and encouragement and draw people closer to God.

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Two Truths You Should Know About Social Media

81% of Americans now have a profile on at least one social media platform. Social media has become as integral to our lives as cars and telephones. If you are an author, you cannot afford to ignore social media.

In today’s world, you are expected to have a website on the Internet if you sell or provide any type of service. The Internet is the new Yellow Pages. This same expectation is now being extended to social media.

Two truths about social media

It is common for people to ask you for your phone number, email, or website URL. However, now I am running into more and more people who ask to connect with me on social media instead of wanting my phone number or email address.

For years, publishers and authors have been using social media to expand their reach and connect with their readers. Social media is still a great tool for doing these things. To use social media effectively, let these two truths to guide you.

1.  Expect to Spend Money for Exposure

The social media platform that you use controls your exposure. Every social media platform employs algorithms. These algorithms determine who sees what you post. In other words, every time you make a post on a social media site, not all your friends or followers see what you have posted.

In fact, the algorithms on these sites (especially Facebook) are designed to narrow your exposure to those friends, fans, and followers who interact with your posts the most. Thus, your reach becomes narrower and narrower until it only touches those people who already are invested in you and your books.

Through algorithms, each social media platform decides what content they want to highlight and bring people’s attention to. For example, Facebook has decided that they are going to focus more attention on Groups and Events moving forward. In addition, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all participated in censoring users based on various political and religious views.

social media

Facebook is especially notorious for their changing algorithms and decreasing post reach. On average, in 2012, any given Facebook Page post only reached roughly 16% of the Page’s fans. In 2019, that reach has plummeted to less than 6%.

Social media platforms make their money off of ads. To increase ad revenue, they have slowly decreased post exposure, creating a pay-to-play atmosphere. In other words, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses, artists, authors, and the like to make an impact on social media without spending money on marketing on these platforms. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank on social media ads to increase your exposure and experience some success.

2.  Video Is Dominating

According to Cisco, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic this year. Due to the increase in video consumption online, Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter are pushing videos. In other words, these social media sites give more exposure to videos than static posts.

Video, whether recorded or live-streamed, has become increasingly necessary to maintain a wide-reach on social media sites. Whether you like it or not, to remain visible on social media, you need to use some video.

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Are You Using the Right Social Media Channel?
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Are You Using Video?

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Photo courtesy of stevepb.