Persuasion in an Age of Information Overload

We live in an age of information overload. The average person is bombarded with more information than they can retain every day.

Information scientists have found that, in 2011, American’s took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 (think pre- and post-internet). This is equivalent to 174 newspapers. During just leisure time, the average person processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day.

In order to persuade readers to buy your books, you have to cut through information overload. Getting your book to stand out amidst a sea of competing messages can be daunting. To improve your ability to persuade people to buy your book, focus on these three elements.

1. Message

Your message must stand out and grab attention. For your book, this means the message you are delivering through your book’s title, subtitle, blurbs, and your opening paragraph.

Some studies suggest that about four in every 10 book buyers bought their latest book based on its message. This means that your book’s cover is tremendously important in converting browsers to buyers. It’s not just the design or cover art, its the whole makeup and feel of your cover that is important. It’s the message that your title and cover art combined send.

2. Repetition

Studies show that people need to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they make a purchase decision. The same is true for your book. Repeat exposure is required to convert a browser to a buyer.

Interestingly, the higher the book’s price point, the more exposures are required. Even bargains require repeat exposures. A book priced under $2 through a daily deal discount email campaign needs an average of at least two exposures before a reader will purchase.

With digital marketing, repetition is achievable. Mentions of your book on blogs, social media, and in your email newsletter all help increase your ability to persuade your target audience to buy your book.

3. Availability

In an environment of information overload, we easily forget new information. Research shows that many consumers make near instant purchasing decisions based on their intuition. This means that the reader will attempt to make the purchase as soon as they decide.

If your book is not available where these people shop, they will move on to the next thing. This is why distribution is so important. A book needs to be available in as many outlets and channels as possible (not just on your website and Amazon). Distracted shoppers that cannot get what they want the moment they want it, move on.

The task of being heard amidst the noise of information overload seems daunting. Focus on your message, repetition of your message, and availability. Then watch what God will do.

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But, Can You Sell It?

“My story is perfect just the way it is.”

These words were spoken to me by an aspiring author. I was meeting with this lady on the request of a friend. This aspiring author had penned a lovely rhyming story for children aged three to six. She was seeking feedback and direction.

At the start of our meeting, the author informed me that she thought she should find herself a literary agent for the book. She asked me how she would go about finding one.
I let her know that I could give her information on finding a literary agent, but I could also save her some time by giving her some feedback on her story that would help her in securing the services of a literary agent. This is when she made the statement that her story was perfect.

I attempted to explain to this aspiring author, that while her story might be wonderful, a literary agent and a publisher look at potential books from a number of angles. One important thing they always consider is the sellability of a book. In other words, literary agents and publishers evaluate first and foremost whether people will buy the story or topic in the format presented.

To begin with, this author’s story was 1,600 words in length. I explained to her that this length was much too long for a picture book for her target age group. Therefore, for a literary agent to be willing to represent it, she would need to cut the story length.

This author then suggested that instead of one book, she would make it into a series of seven books. Again, I talked about the ability to sell a book. Selling one picture book is much easier than selling a set of seven picture books. Parents are more likely to invest in one book than in a set of seven.

Stuck on her original idea, this lady really did not want to change her story. Hence, she began to have the same thought as many authors: “Maybe I should just publish it myself.”

The truth of the matter is, sellability matters whether you publish a book yourself or someone else publishes the book.

Readers have expectations. They have expectations about how a picture book should read for their child’s age. They have expectations about the flow of a story. They have expectations about the layout of a book. A book needs to meet these expectations to sell well.

If you are publishing a book, ask yourself: Can I sell it? Will people buy it?

The answer to this makes all the difference.

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How to Improve Your Social Media Success

How much time do you spend on social media each day?

How much time should you spend to on social media for marketing purposes?

Every author struggles with knowing how much time to invest in social media. Social media is a time vortex. You can spend hours upon hours each week creating, publishing, monitoring and engaging with content on social media. The important question to ask yourself is whether you see a proportional return for the time you spend on social media.

 

Maybe you feel like you are wasting your time with social media. You are not having much engagement with your material and you are not seeing any return on your investment.

To ensure that you are not wasting your time on social media, first define your goal. Do you want:

  • To increase awareness of your books?
  • To increase engagement with a community of fans and readers?
  • To increase web traffic and book sales?

Know which one of these you want to focus on the most and then plan your strategy based on your goal.

Awareness

If you are looking for awareness on social media, then your goal is to post things that people will share. The more people share your content, the more people see you, increasing awareness. The type of posts that people are most likely to share are:

  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Storytelling
  • Educational

So, tailor your posts to these themes if you want to raise awareness.

Engagement

If you are seeking more engagement from your followers on social media, then tailor your posts to match those that people engage with the most. A recent study by Sprout Social showed the following:

  • 58% of people prefer visual content, specifically graphics, images and produced videos.
  • 90% of people are more likely to engage with company personality posts.
  • 50% of people are likely to engage with new product posts.
  • 31% are likely to engage with storytelling content.

Create posts that generate engagement. Ask questions, take polls, and share stories to encourage your fans and followers to comment on, react to, and even share your posts.

Web Traffic and Sales

To increase your web traffic and sales offer freebies that are available only through your website. Create incentives for people to come to your website in your posts. Use services like Pay with a Tweet that encourage people to get your freebie as well as share it wider on social media to increase your website traffic.

With as little as 30 minutes a day spent on social media, you can begin to see more success for your efforts as long as you stay focused and create content that engages people toward your goal.

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Photo courtesy of Alexa Suter.

Are You Making It Hard?

Recently, I went to Best Buy to help my teenage son buy a computer. He had worked hard and saved his money to buy a special gaming computer (he is a typical teen). We chose Best Buy because they had a sale on the computer and also offered a student discount. We went to our local Best Buy because I believe in supporting retail stores and because my son wanted his computer sooner rather than later.

As we were at the register ringing up the purchase, I inquired about the student discount. The sales clerk told me that I had to apply for the discount on their website. I asked him if we could do it in the store. He told me that I could use my cell phone to make a Best Buy account and apply for the student discount.

I asked the sales clerk what the point of coming into the store was if I had to “apply online” for this discount and the store did not offer a way for me to do this in-store (i.e. a kiosk with a computer for such purposes—or a store clerk willing to assist me in doing this). I pointed out that Best Buy was making it hard for me to make an in-store purchase, ensuring that I would, instead, make my next purchase online.

Retail stores in America are struggling. They are struggling because people are buying more online. But, they are also struggling because they are not providing good customer service. The Editor of Christian Retailing recently wrote that she stopped at a chain Christian bookstore to make a purchase. She asked the sales clerk where the biographies were located and was told “in the back of the store”. She contrasted this experience with shopping at Publix grocery store where the sales clerk will walk you to a specific aisle when asked about a product and point it out.

This whole experience made me think about building a platform and selling books. What are independent authors doing that might be “making it hard” for potential customers to give their email or buy a book? Here is my conclusion.

1. Buying Books

We make it hard for readers to buy our books when our books are only offered for sale in a few select places. Not everyone shops on Amazon. Some people actively avoid Amazon because of its practices. Others want to support Christians, and so prefer to buy books at Christian outlets. Still others want to support authors, thus preferring to purchase books directly from an author or publisher.

Are you books for sale in multiple channels? Can a reader easily find your book in his or her preferred shopping venue? If not, you are making it hard for people to buy your book.

2. Collecting Personal Data

Most authors are working on building a platform. This means that you are trying to collect email addresses so that you can communicate directly with readers and potential readers on a regular basis to build trust and increase loyalty. Collecting email addresses is great, but if you are asking too much information, you are making it hard and losing out.

Studies show that the more information you ask of people in exchange for a freebie, the greater the drop out rate. When building your email list, all you really need is a first name and an email. Don’t ask for more. Make it easy, not hard and you will grow your email list faster.

Are you making it hard? I hope not. Ease and convenience drive more sales.

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Photo courtesy of Vera Arsic.

Follow These Four Steps to Success

Success is defined as “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Before you can have “success” you have to define what it is for you. What goal do you want to accomplish?

Once you have set your goal, then follow these four steps to success—accomplishing that goal.

1. Set Specific Goals

A goal is something you are aiming for. If you want to publish a book or sell 1,000 copies of your book, this is your goal. To reach this goal, you need actionable steps consisting of smaller goals to move you toward your larger goal.

If you want to publish a book, your first actionable step or goal is to start writing. You can do this by making the goal that you will write 1,000 words a day for your book. If you want to sell 1,000 or more copies of your book, then your first actionable step goal might be to start blogging once a week or to develop a media kit or speaker kit.

Write your goals down. Tell them to other people. Doing this makes your goals more real and keeps you more accountable. A gentleman I know told me that he made a vow to God at a retreat that he would hold a block party in his neighborhood. The purpose was to get to know his neighbors so that he could start sharing the Gospel with these people. For years, he did not go anything about this vow. Then a new neighbor moved in next door and he told her that he wanted to host a block party. She got excited about the idea and together they hosted a block party. That block party ended up changing the life of a family in his neighborhood. However, it wasn’t until this gentleman began talking about his goal to others that he acted upon it and made it happen.

2. Ditch the Distractions

Once you make a plan with specific goals, then you have to set aside distractions so that you can focus on the tasks you have to do to reach your goal. Cell phones are a huge distraction. Studies show that, depending on age, people check their phone between 35 to 75 times each day. Do what you need to minimize distractions so you can focus. You can turn your phone off. You won’t miss much. I promise. Try it.

3. Be Persistent

Perseverance is required for success. Ninety percent of success is showing up on a regular basis. Show up day after day, do the job, and add value to people’s lives. Obstacles and distractions will come your way, but you can’t let them stop you from your goals. If you get off track, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the ring. Persistence is required. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.

4. Trust God to Help You

If you are doing what God has called you to do, if what you are doing brings Glory to God, and if your purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God, then you can trust that God will help you. He will provide what you need to accomplish your goal. According to Peter, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who has called us to his excellence and glory.

What’s your goal? Write it down. Then follow these four steps to help you have success—the accomplishment of your goal.

Do you have a goal you need to tell others so you start working on it? You can share it with me in the comments below.

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