Have You Identified Your Target Audience?

If you aim at nothingyou will hit it every time.” ~Zig Ziglar

Are you aiming at a target audience? Or are you aiming at nothing?

When I consult for indie authors, I ask them to send me a list of their questions prior to the consultation so I can structure the time to best meet the author’s needs.

I have yet to have an author ask that I help her identify or refine her target audience. Most simply jump into questions about marketing. And yet, many have not spent any time distilling who the audience for their book is.

Here is the problem. You cannot develop an effective marketing plan without FIRST identifying your target audience. And, many indie authors fail to do just that.

Many marketing plans often fail for the following reasons:

  • Failure to identify target audience.
  • Failure to plan and execute marketing activities for multiple targets.
  • Failure to balance marketing activities to primary, secondary, and tertiary targets.

Think of your target audience as a target with a bull’s eye and expanding rings. The bull’s eye and each ring of the target represents a segment of your target audience.

A target audience is made up of a primary audience, a secondary audience and a tertiary audience. How does this look in practice?

With the recent growth in religious children’s book sales, let’s take a children’s picture book as an example. Let’s use a Christmas story picture book.

The primary target audience for this book would be children ages four to eight years of age who celebrate Christmas. However, children don’t buy books, so we need to include the parents in the primary target. Here is the breakdown of target audiences for a children’s Christmas picture book.

  • Primary Audience: Parents of children aged four to eight years who celebrate Christmas.
  • Secondary Audience: Grandparents and aunts and uncles of children aged four to eight years who celebrate Christmas who give Christmas-themed gifts.
  • Tertiary Audience: Churches, Christian preschools and elementary schools, and libraries.
  • Quaternary Audience: Collectors of all things Christmas.

Looking at this breakdown of audiences for the sample book, you can see that there are at least four distinct audiences for this book. Each audience requires a different marketing approach and strategy.

Identifying your target audience in this manner lets you prioritize your marketing efforts and expenditures. Of course, you will spend the most time and money on your primary audience. But you do not want to neglect your secondary and tertiary audiences.

Remember, the first step in creating a marketing plan is identifying your target audience. Only after you identify your target audience can you develop specific action steps to reach your audience.

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How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Do you remember these puzzles from your childhood (or maybe your kids’ childhood)? Which one is different?

Standing out from the crowd is important. With over one million self-published books produced every year, how do you stand out from the crowd?

The answer lies is not in drawing attention to yourself by standing out in an odd or strange way as in the above puzzle. Instead, you want to stand out in ways that are attractive and draw people to you and your book.

It’s not just your book that must stand out. Your marketing efforts also need to stand out in the crowd to attract attention.

After you have written a compelling book that is professionally edited and designed, your next step is to ensure that your marketing activities don’t just mimic what others are doing, but stand out from the crowd.

standing out from crowd

You can stand out from the crowd with the following three strategies:

1. Informative and Unique Content

Give away free content that ties into the theme of your book. This free content must also be unique and answer important questions or solve important problems your target audience faces. Share this content on your blog and in your social media posts. Offer some content in downloadable format for interested readers to receive in exchange for their email address. This helps build your email marketing database.

 2. Connect with Your Audience

Connection is about caring. We connect with others when we care about them. Care for your audience. Show up where these people hang out—be that on social media or in person. Talk to them. Rejoice when they rejoice, mourn when they mourn. Support their efforts and cheer them on. Most people crave authentic connection. Your audience will begin to trust you when they see that you are authentic.

3. Be Consistent

Many Indie authors start strong, but soon fizzle out. When results don’t roll in the way these authors expect, they turn their attention elsewhere. It takes at least a year to build a strong, loyal following. To stand out, you must show up consistently and add value to people’s lives.

In marketing and selling books, you want to be noticed in a good way, not because of appearing odd or strange. Show up, connect with your audience, and offer them great content. Stand out for the value you bring to people’s lives.

Related Posts:
Are You Showing Up?
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But, Can You Sell It?

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Photo courtesy of Anton Belitskiy.

Does Your Passion Need a New Spark?

Most Christians don’t start writing and publishing to get rich. Many Christian authors and publishers start publishing because they feel a calling or nudge from God.

Following God’s calling or nudging is a rewarding venture. However, sometimes are emotions get in the way. Discouragement, disappointment, and just sheer lack of energy can weigh us down and cause us to flounder and consider quitting.

passion needing spark

Often, when God calls us to do something, we burn with passion at the start the journey. Yet, over time, we can slowly lose this passion in the midst of roadblocks and the overwhelming number of tasks required. If you find that your candle is burning less brightly, that your passion has dimmed, you are not alone.

Consider the prophet Elijah. He was a man full of passion. He confronted the wicked King Ahab and told him that it would not rain on the land for three and a half years. Elijah prayed passionately and his prayers were answered. Yet, after those long grueling years, Elijah lost his passion. From Elijah’s story in I Kings 19, I see three activities he engaged in when his passion was spent.

1. Take Time to Rest

The first thing Elijah does is rest. He is tired. He is worn out. He gets alone and lies down under a broom tree. Here he sleeps for quite a while.

If you are weary, worn out, or burned out from the spiritual battle you have been engaging in, then I encourage you to rest. Build rest into your regular routine. We can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to have passion for our calling. We have physical bodies with physical limitations. We must take proper care of our bodies so we can continue fighting the good fight.

2. Get Regular Nourishment

Elijah received regular nourishment from God. First at the Brook Cherith, and then at the Widow’s home. But, when he has lost his passion and is worn out, God sends an angel to prepare food for him to eat. God knows that Elijah requires nourishment to continue.

We too, need regular nourishment, not just physical food for our bodies, but spiritual nourishment and intellectual nourishment. If you are writing and publishing books for God, you should be feasting regularly on God’s word and other teachings that help you improve your craft. You can never run dry if you take in more nourishment than you put out.

3. Seek God

When Elijah has lost his passion. When he is worn out and discouraged, he seeks God by traveling to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is where God spoke to Moses and gave the children of Israel the 10 commandments. It is a Holy Place.

When we seek God, he rewards us. God meets Elijah at Mount Horeb and speaks with him. God both adjusts Elijah’s expectations and gives him new marching orders. If you are flagging in passion, seek God. He will either adjust your expectations and renew your calling, or he may give you new marching orders.

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What Is Your Purpose?
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

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Photo courtesy of JefferyTurner.

New Record: One Million Self-Published Books

Over one million books (both print and ebooks) were self-published in the United States in 2017! This is an increase of 28% from 2016, where 879,587 books were self-published.

These figures come from Bowker, the agency that issues ISBN numbers. Each year, the agency releases a report showing how many ISBNs were assigned to each self-publishing platform or company. Since 2012, CreateSpace has led the pack. Bowker’s report reveals that in 2017, the number of ISBNs assigned to CreateSpace grew 50% from 500,000 in 2016 to 750,000 in 2017.

one million self publishing books

Did you catch that? Independent authors published three-quarters of a million books via CreateSpace last year!

This means that the competition for eyeballs for your books keeps growing. Remember, the reading rate has held steady since about 2012 while the number of self-published books has grown by an average of 21% each year.

Unlike the number of books published, the reading population has not grown 156% since 2012. This means more and more books are competing for reader’s attention—yours included.

It is no longer enough to just publish a book. In today’s book publishing and reading climate, you must be more than an author. You have to become a marketer to effectively sell your book.

Don’t expect someone to do the work for you. There are numerous people and companies out there willing to take a large amount of money from you with the promise of promoting your book. Sadly, most of these services render little result.

If you are an independent author, then I encourage you to embrace the idea that you are not just an author, but you must also be a marketer. It’s really not that difficult. A little education goes a long way.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) exists for just that reason—to provide information and tools for success in publishing to small publishers and independent authors. CSPA has numerous educational tools, as well as affordable cooperative marketing programs, to give you the information you need to market your books effectively.

For just $90 for a year-long membership with CSPA, you will have access to numerous on-demand seminars and a monthly newsletter all packed with marketing information. CSPA Members also have access to a Book Launch Marketing Checklist and a List of Radio and Podcast Media interviewing authors.

You can become a Member today and receive Membership through December 2019 on CSPA’s website. Once you join, you will have access to the numerous educational videos, reference guides, and checklist to help you become a better marketer to find more eyeballs for your books.

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Your Book: A Needle in a Haystack
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Photo courtesy of Laura Kapfer.

The #LoveYourBookstore Campaign

Retail is struggling. Just this year, Toys R Us went out of business. Claire’s, the jewelry chain store in 99 % of U.S. malls, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Many other retailers are also closing stores this year including: Sears, Macy’s, JC Penney, Walgreen, Gymboree, Gap and Dress Barn. Bookstores are also struggling. Every month, I read about more stores—both general market and Christian—closing.

#loveyourbookstore

Yet, retail stores are an important piece of the book-selling equation for authors and publishers. In recognition of the importance of bookstores and the need to do more to support bookstores, a number of book industry players have teamed up to launch #LoveYourBookstore challenge.

The #LoveYourBookstore challenge is designed to draw attention to all physical bookstores as the holiday shopping season begins. The challenge is a week long challenge that will run Saturday, November 10 through Friday, November 16. The challenge encourages readers (and authors) to go into a local bookstore and take a picture of either a book you are most excited to gift this holiday season or a book you want to receive as a gift.

Participants can then post their photos to Instagram or Twitter between November 10 and 16 with the hashtag #loveyourbookstore. Anyone making a post with this hashtag will be entered to win book-related prices.

I encourage all authors and small publishers to participate in the #LoveYourBookstore challenge. I have put it on my calendar and plan to participate.

This challenge presents a great way for all authors to get involved in not only promoting bookstores (whether they carry your books or not), it also helps promote reading and literacy.

 

 

I recently read an article on Generation Z and how this generation is not reading, instead they are watching videos to learn. One teenager was quoted in the article as saying, “Books are so old fashioned.”

We need both the printed word and videos. We retain information that we read differently than information that we hear. Studies have long shown that both reading and hearing the same information provides more pathways in the brain for greater retention of the material.

I hope that you will take part in the #LoveYourBookstore challenge next month. You can learn more about the program at www.loveyourbookstore.com.

Related Posts:
Why Christian Bookstores Are In Decline
Authors: Start Local
Promote Your Books as Christmas Gifts

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