Hope, Fear, and… Shopping for Books at Amazon

SHOPPING AT AMAZON

When browsing for a book (or other product) at Amazon, it’s amazing how much hope, fear, and other emotions factor into the shopping experience.

Whether you’re a customer, an author, or an Amazon seller, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to try to understand the psychology of Amazon sales.

Imagine yourself staring at a book detail page at Amazon.com, considering a book that caught your attention.

There are two types of criteria that may influence whether or not you purchase the book:

  • You may apply logical reasoning.
  • You may be influenced by your emotions.

For most customers, both aspects may factor into the purchase decision. Some customers generally rely much more on one aspect than the other.

It may not even be a conscious decision. Many people are influenced by emotional responses without even realizing it. Sometimes the emotional aspect is subtle. Sometimes it may impact us on a subconscious level.

Also, note that logical reasoning can’t decide everything. Sometimes, after a person who relies heavily on logic applies logic as far as he (or she) can take it, the person still isn’t sure. In that case, the person might use some emotional aspect to break the tie (or flip a coin).

If you’re a customer, you might learn to make wiser buying decisions by trying to understand how various aspects of the product page may influence you emotionally.

If you’re an author or an Amazon seller, you may wish to better understand how sales psychology may benefit you both short-term and long-term. (Note that what benefits you in the short-term may hurt in the long-term. They don’t always go hand in hand.)

A LITTLE SALES PSYCHOLOGY

Let’s break down an Amazon product page, considering how each element may influence a customer’s buying decision.

  • Book cover (or product photo). This may send a strong visual signal, but may also suggest subtle emotional responses. You might think that the main message should be “Look at me,” but it’s actually better for the signal to be “Wow, that looks appealing.” An effective image does more than this: the subtler messages can carry influence. A picture can send a “positive” signal, inspiring the customer be in a better emotional state. A picture can have a “professional” tone. It can strive to earn “trust.” It can say “I look like the type of product you’re looking for.”
  • Reviews. Many reviews (both good and bad) carry marketing influence. Good reviews play on customers’ hopes, while critical reviews play on customers’ fears. Most of the time, it isn’t intentional, but of course there are both good and bad reviews that have been written with the intent of playing on hopes or fears. As a customer, it’s a challenge to glean helpful information from reviews without being influenced on an emotional level. As an author or Amazon seller, you must consider that many customers are skeptical to some extent about customer reviews. One possible fear is that the seller recruited reviews, so if the first 20 reviews are all glowing and the last 10 reviews are mostly bad, that by itself may act to “confirm” a customer’s fear that the seller recruited good reviews for a not-so-good product. In addition to customer reviews, there may be quotes from editorial reviews, and there may be review quotes in the description or Look Inside. There is another important aspect of reviews: If a product page plays on customer hopes by making a product seem better than it actually is, customer reviews help to offset this marketing tactic. Reviews are a strong reason that all authors and sellers should focus on long-term success (writing a great book or delivering a great product helps to get favorable reviews in the long run).
  • Description. Marketing copy is one of the most challenging forms of writing—and the proof of its effectiveness isn’t when several people tell you how impressed they are with what you wrote, but in what percentage of customers who read it proceed to purchase the product. An effective product description must be concise because most customers won’t read a long description in full (and if the description is long, most customers won’t even bother to click the Read More link to see the remainder of it). The few sentences that customers can see before the Read More link appears is valuable real estate: There is so much an author or seller needs to accomplish with a minimum of words. In terms of marketing influence, sellers want to create “customer engagement,” “arouse curiosity,” “inspire interest,” and perhaps even “create a sense of urgency” (but you’re not supposed to mention limited-time offers or pricing here). But the description also needs to provide valuable information about what to expect from the book (or other product). It may also need to create a sense of professionalism and trust. It needs to help create appeal. On top of that, the words need to flow well, be a good fit for expectations, and avoid spelling and grammar mistakes. There is one thing that a description shouldn’t do: It shouldn’t give the story away.
  • Title. Even the title can carry emotional influence. Have you ever read a title that had a little jingle that you got a kick out of, maybe put you in a good mood? The title needs to reinforce the visual message that the book cover (or product phot) sends. With fiction books, very short titles tend to be more effective (1 to 3 words). That’s partly because the eye is drawn to a short title in search results, and partly because many customers just look at the first few words when looking at search results. A title can help to create appeal (or just the opposite). Appeal is an important criteria, since appeal helps to put the customer in a happier state when making a purchase decision.
  • Look Inside. This can be the most valuable real estate on the product page. The customer must already be interested in order to be looking inside. This means that every other aspect of the product page has done its job: Now it’s up to the Look Inside to close the deal. The Look Inside has one important job to do: It just needs to send the message, “This book is everything you hoped it would be—based on the cover, description, title, and reviews—and MORE.” If it sends that message, the customer will almost certainly Buy Now. (But again, if the rest of the book doesn’t live up to the expectations created by the Look Inside, this will be exposed in customer reviews, and fewer customers will Look Inside in the future.) The Look Inside contains visual elements and writing, both of which need to help deliver the right messages. As with the description, the Look Inside must engage the customer and arouse curiosity (but without giving the story away), and like the book cover, the Look Inside needs to send the right visual signals.
  • Bio. A biography (or about me) section is a chance to demonstrate expertise or knowledgeability, but it’s also a chance to show humanity, individuality, and professionalism. For authors, if you can write an interesting biography, that bodes well for having written an interesting story (since very often readers aren’t interested in biographies). A picture that accompanies the biography offers another opportunity to send the right visual message.
  • Colors. There is even a psychology for interpreting colors. For example, a good cover designer selects a color scheme that is appropriate for the subject matter or story. Certain colors are better for attracting males or females, some colors work better for romance while others work better for mystery, some colors suggest professionalism, and some colors convey emotions (like happy or sad). Amazon uses color in text labels, prices, stars, buttons, and other elements of a product page. The prices are in red, which not only stands out well against a white background but may aid in creating a buying impulse (many stores use red for one of these two reasons: let’s assume they are using it for contrast and to catch attention, and if it happens to help a little to create a buying impulse, it’s just a happy bonus for the store).

We humans don’t always make the best decisions. Even humans who spend their lives solving very difficult problems quite skillfully can be prone to making a stupid everyday decision.

If humans tended to be better decision-makers, a lot of successful talk-show hosts would be out of business!

So when you’re shopping for a product, try to think about how you might make a wiser purchase decision. Try to think of which factors may be trying to influence you emotionally. Try to force yourself to rely somewhat more on logical reasoning and somewhat less on emotions.

Or forget it… just act impulsively and enjoy the splurge. You know you want to. 😉

If you’re an author or Amazon seller, try to think about how your Amazon product pages might influence customers emotionally. Don’t try to think of ways that you might take advantage of this in the short run because such ploys tend to backfire in the long run (killing sales later): For example, if the product page plays on the customer’s hope that it’s the most amazing product ever, disappointed customers will post critical reviews (which will play on future customers’ fears) and will return the product (and Amazon uses customer satisfaction metrics in its algorithms).

So you don’t want to oversell a product, making it seem way better than it is. But you do want to make it sound as good as it is. If it does deliver on customer hopes, the product page should show this.

You can also think about how your product page delivers both visually and in words important messages, such as “professional,” “positive,” “trust,” “expertise,” “creative,” or a particular subject matter or topic (like “romance” or “country”).

What is your customer hoping to get from your product? Among these hopes, what does your product actually deliver? You want to show the customer that your product delivers on the right hopes, and you want to disclose when it doesn’t deliver on other hopes.

What does your customer fear he or she may get from your product? You need to apply a similar reasoning here.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Improved Amazon Subcategory Rank

Rank Subcategories

AMAZON SUBCATEGORY RANK

Subcategory ranks at Amazon now extend beyond the top 100 bestsellers in the subcategory.

This is a nice improvement, I think.

Customers see a Kindle sales rank of 500,000 at Amazon and wonder why it’s not selling much.

But how many of the better selling books are completely unrelated to the type of book that the customer is shopping for?

Maybe the book is in a special niche.

A book that ranks 500,000 overall might rank 150 in its subcategory.

When a customer sees 500,000 overall, it can deter sales a bit.

When a customer sees 1,000,000 overall, it can deter sales a lot. In fact, a book can sell once a week or so on average, but as soon as it reaches 1,000,000, often its sales diminish significantly, unless and until it gets a much-needed sale to return to the low 100,000’s. It’s the same book, same cover, same Look Inside, same description, same reviews… but that different sales rank changes some customers’ perceptions.

Not all. Some customers ignore sales rank. Some don’t know what it means. But some do understand sales rank.

But if the customer sees that the book ranks 150 in its subcategory, that has appeal.

So this is a nice change.

It’s one of many improvements that Amazon has made to product pages recently. Amazon has even improved Kindle Unlimited recently.

Amazon could take this a step further:

  • Don’t even show the overall rank unless it’s more likely to drive sales than deter sales.
  • Only show subcategory rank (and possibly category rank) unless overall sales rank will help with sales.

Authors can see overall sales rank from Author Central, so this really isn’t needed on the product pages.

Suppose a book is ranked 500,000 overall and 150 in its subcategory.

Until recently, it only looked like this on the product page:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,000 Paid in the Kindle Store

Now it looks like this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,000 Paid in the Kindle Store

#150 in Books > Category > Subcategory

I propose that it should look like this instead:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150 in Books > Category > Subcategory

In my opinion, this is more likely to drive sales.

Amazon has kind of shot itself in the foot with sales rank.

It used to be that a book selling once a day on average had a sales rank around 50,000.

This number is going up. It could have a sales rank around 200,000 now. Pretty soon, 500,000 might be selling once a day.

But people remember how it used to be. They remember that 500,000 used to be bad. It was bad when there were 1,000,000 Kindle books. But it’s pretty good now that there are 3,000,000 Kindle books.

Amazon doesn’t just want to sell the top 50,000 books. Amazon could improve its sales of books ranked 50,0001 to 3,000,000 by not showing its overall sales rank at all.

Just show the subcategory rank only, unless the overall rank is good enough to help sales. Don’t show customers ranks that are more likely to deter sales.

Yes, if they adopt my idea (doubtful, unless perhaps several others—maybe you—take the time to contact Amazon with the suggestion), customers would learn that if there is no overall rank, that book isn’t one of the top sellers. But they will see the subcategory rank and realize that it’s selling fairly well in its subcategory. They won’t know if the overall rank is 50,001 or 3,000,000 (but the subcategory rank will make it seem more like 50,001 than 3,000,000).

Anyway, it’s just a thought.

I’m a fan of the new subcategory ranks.

Amazon used to show subcategory rank only if the book was in the top 100 in its subcategory. Now subcategory extends way past 100.

I think this is a cool change.

You can probably expect to see continued changes to the product pages as Amazon further tests out ideas that may improve sales.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Big Bang, Inflation, Steady-State (Marketing Strategies)

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock

BOOK MARKETING STRATEGIES

One of the main book marketing strategies that I see focuses around a Big Bang.

Yet a book marketing strategy that focuses more on consistency may have better long-term potential.

There are benefits and disadvantages of each, which depend on the nature of the book and author.

And recent changes in the dynamic book publishing environment impact the decision for how to market.

BIG BANG

The Big Bang book marketing strategy focuses on driving as much traffic as possible to the book’s product page over a short period of time.

Pre-marketing and buzz-building are amped up for a powerful book launch with several early reviews and many early sales.

BookBub and related promotions are utilized to revitalize sales with additional Big Bangs throughout the year.

Email lists for a newsletter and online followings are grown to launch the next book with a Bigger Bang.

New content is released frequently to generate more Big Bangs.

STEADY-STATE

The steady-state book marketing strategy strives to fuel consistent sales.

Regular sales are favored more than sales spikes.

One main goal is to sustain sales long-term.

Another main goal is to reach a point where sales generate much on their own.

INFLATION

The inflation book strategy is similar to the steady-state strategy.

Emphasis is placed on long-term growth.

It’s not sufficient to sustain sales; the goal is to improve sales annually.

New content is released to help improve sales.

Branding, word-of-mouth, and long-term strategies are applied to generate future sales.

COMPARISON OF BOOK MARKETING STRATEGIES

Many successful indie fiction authors that I have met have used the Big Bang book marketing strategy quite effectively.

Traditional publishers often launch their books with a Big Bang.

I have drawn my success in nonfiction with the inflation book marketing strategy.

There are also popular authors who have earned their success with a combination of Big Bang and inflation strategies.

Personally, given a choice, I prefer sales consistency to sales spikes. That’s the key to long-term success.

You aren’t presented with a choice, though. For some books, a Big Bang is more attainable than sales consistency.

But if you can have both sales spikes and annual sales growth, you get the best of both worlds.

Furthermore, some recent changes in book publishing dynamics may shift the balance a little.

BIG BANG BENEFITS

If you succeed in generating many sales over a short time, your Amazon.com sales rank can really soar.

This improves your chances of landing on a hot new release or top 100 bestseller list (at least in a subcategory).

Some customers browse through the bestseller lists, so this is your one shot to reach those readers.

Frequent sales help give your book additional exposure through customers-also-bought lists, recommendations, etc.

In can take 100 to 1000 sales to get a review, so the sooner you get your sales, the sooner you get customer reviews.

You also get word-of-mouth exposure sooner, and you can build a fan club faster, which helps you release your new books.

If you have other similar books, a sales spike in one book can feed sales to your other books.

BIG BANG DRAWBACKS

It’s hard to maintain a stellar sales rank, which limits the benefits.

If you generate a lot of early reviews from an early sales spike, once the sales rank drops off, the review-to-sales-rank ratio may arouse customer suspicion. (But you can run new short-term promotions in the future to help revive your sales rank.)

Some of the popular methods of Big Bang book marketing, like BookBub and other advertisements, can be somewhat expensive, which makes Big Bang marketing riskier.

Amazon may have recently changed their algorithm to limit the long-term influence of sales spikes on sales rank.

If you could get many of those same sales distributed more evenly over a longer period (not that this is easy to do: a short-term promotion is easier), such sales consistency might have a better long-term impact on sales rank. (Analyzing which factors impact sales rank is complicated, though, and so this might not actually be quite the case.)

It can take a lot of work over a short period to create a high level of anticipation and to generate many early sales.

CONSISTENCY BENEFITS

Consistent sales over a long period lend better stability to your Amazon sales rank.

This may now also have a stronger long-term influence on your sales rank.

Customer reviews are more likely to seem aligned with sales rank at any given time.

Your book is less susceptible to one untimely influential review, technical problems beyond your control, etc.

If you invest in advertising, you can do it with a long-term promotional plan, risking less per month than with the short-term promotions involved in Big Bang marketing.

There is much long-term potential if you succeed in driving consistent sales over a long period.

Your first few books haven’t dropped off the chart when you release a new book, which makes it easier to help a new release feed sales to your older books.

You spread your work load out over a longer period.

CONSISTENCY DRAWBACKS

It takes very frequent sales to get the best exposure with bestseller and hot new release lists.

It’s not easy to generate consistent, long-term sales over a long period of time.

You need to find effective, long-term marketing strategies, and it takes dedication and patience to see them through.

Consistent sales over a long period often requires releasing new content periodically.

It takes longer to recover your investment, and more time to grow your sales.

While it would be great to achieve both, you do have to make some decisions that lean one way or the other.

For example, if you tell everyone you know about your new release at the same time, many are likely to buy it on the same day. But if you tell different groups on different days, you might get more consistent sales. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. (Though if your book will be on sale for a short period, why not be a nice guy or gal and let people you know in on the deal?)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Red Tuesday: Idea for Boosting * Your * 4th Quarter Book Sales

Fourth Quarter Pic

This idea came to me this morning. It has the potential to help you sell many books in the fourth quarter. It’s a simple idea; it’s free; and it will be easy. It just involves a little marketing, but, as you know, marketing is exactly the kind of work that can move books.

I’m not talking about marketing for a few sales. I see potential for a great deal of exposure.

THE PROBLEM: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge days for holiday shopping among retailers. However, booksellers probably won’t reduce the price of your book any more than usual, they probably won’t advertise your book as part of the sale, and you might even sell fewer books than normal because all of the customers are too busy buying electronics, toys, tools, and clothing.

You can discount your book significantly on these days and promote your sale to help stimulate some traffic during this time, but it probably won’t be any more effective than promoting your book this way on any other day of the year. In fact, it may be better to do this on some other day where you’re readers aren’t too busy shopping for other items.

THE IDEA: Thousands of authors participate in special one-day pricing of incredible discounts. We’ll call it Red Tuesday (a homophone with the past tense of what you do with a book). Actually, we’ll do it again just after Christmas, when everyone just got a new e-reader and still has holiday money to spend. We’ll call this one White Thursday (a play on “write,” perhaps).

It’s simple, really: Each author promotes his or her own discount while simultaneously promoting the huge event. You don’t do any more work than normal, but by being part of a huge group of authors involved in this, you can gain the enhanced publicity of the event as a whole.

For example, you would write, “Title of My Book will be 80% off as part of the Super Incredible Red Tuesday Extravaganza.” Take a moment to briefly describe what Red Tuesday is all about in addition to promoting your book. Link to the event page as well as to your book. Think of all the content you could post on your blog and social media regarding Red Tuesday, where you will also mention your own book’s participation in the event. Red Tuesday helps you with your marketing.

One author is really tiny. Together as a community, we can thrive.

All we need to do is spread the word and get super-mega-incredible participation among authors.

If we can get significant participation, it will open up many marketing opportunities that may otherwise elude us. Imagine the growth and buzz building up so large that the media takes notice. I have a list of other ideas below, and more will come. Together, we can help Red Tuesday go viral.

ELIGIBILITY: You just need to be an author who is willing to significantly discount your book on Red Tuesday and/or White Thursday. All authors are welcome, regardless of how you published, what you write, etc. (You don’t have to worry about your book being listed in an electronic catalog with an adult content book because we could always make separate catalogs for different kinds of books. At this point, there is no guarantee that there will be a catalog; that’s just one of the ideas below.)

If your book is already 99 cents, pretty much the only way to discount it is to make it free. However, many authors might want to just drop their prices, but not make them free. Why not allow for both? Any catalogs could easily come in separate editions for discounted titles and freebies. We could also feature the deepest discounts at the top to help catch interest in the program.

I have several e-books priced between $2.99 to $5.99. I’m thinking to drop all of the prices to 99 cents (except where the file size is so large that it prevents the e-book from being priced this low).

I also sell several paperbacks. These could be reduced, too. Or I could make a significant percent-off discount code for my CreateSpace eStore. Or I could sell them from my website at 50% off and take payments through PayPal.

The important thing is to make the book on sale during the promotion for a significant discount.

EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST: If you’re interested in this, please post a comment below to let us know. If there doesn’t appear to be interest, this idea will just slowly die out. The idea can only succeed through your participation. Please share the idea to help spread the news, so that we can find more authors who are willing to participate.

If there is plenty of initial interest, then we’ll move onto the next step and Red Tuesday may become a reality and a success.

We’re still in the planning stages. So if you have ideas, suggestions, comments, or concerns, this is a good time to express them. Nothing is set in stone yet.

There is no cost. You’re only commitment is to significantly lower your price for Red Tuesday and/or White Thursday. Any other work will strictly be voluntary. It would be wise for you to promote your discount and the event in order to help you get the most out of it.

MORE INFORMATION: As long as there continues to be significant interest, I’ll post information about Red Tuesday here on my blog. Please feel free to help spread the news – directly, by reblogging, or by creating your own posts about Red Tuesday.

If there is significant interest, I’ll send out a sign-up post on my blog, whereby authors can sign up. If you have a better idea for how to get authors to sign up besides just using the comments section of a sign-up post, please share your idea.

If several authors sign up, I will put up regular posts with information, ideas, suggestions, etc. here on my blog. Again, feel free to help spread this information.

DATES: In 2013, Black Friday is November 29 and Cyber Monday is December 2. Everyone is now exhausted from shopping. So my thought is to wait until Tuesday, December 10 to celebrate Red Tuesday. Then we’ll have White Thursday on January 3. (I liked White Wednesday better, but it falls on January 2, just a day after New Year’s.)

IDEAS: First we need to brand the concept of Red Tuesday. We’ll want to have a small number of images that we can all use with our blog posts and other Red Tuesday promotions. I can announce a contest to submit images for consideration. Then we’ll use the winning image to brand our image. Everyone should use this image with all of their Red Tuesday promotional materials.

We’ll also want to brand White Thursday (which will come about a month later). But we want White Thursday to be a surprise. We don’t want readers skipping Red Tuesday, knowing that White Thursday will come later. We want to generate huge exposure twice, not once. We’ll need a different image for White Thursday.

Some kind of catchy slogan, jingle, strapline, or something of this sort would be nice, too. I can solicit suggestions in a separate post.

Soon we’ll need to build a great deal of buzz and generate plenty of author participation. We can post and reblog about Red Tuesday to spread the word. Assuming this takes off, I’ll make a post in a couple of days with more ideas of how to help create buzz for this special day.

If we succeed in creating ample buzz for Red Tuesday, this may create additional marketing opportunities. Write an article about it and try to publish it in a relevant high-traffic zone. (Your article won’t go to waste because you can always post it to your bog if it doesn’t get used anywhere else.) We can try to get writers with a large following to write about Red Tuesday, and we can aim for a little media attention.

We can make a webpage specifically for the Red Tuesday event and everyone can link to it in all of their posts. If we’re able to make any electronic catalogs of books (volunteers can make this possible), we’ll post them on the event page and circulate them in others, too.

If many authors do a few small things in the way of promoting Red Tuesday, it will really add up. We all have different areas of expertise. If you’re a video whiz, for example, you can post a trailer on YouTube about Red Tuesday, and the rest of us can help get people to check it out. Remember, any marketing that you do voluntarily to promote Red Tuesday will also help you with your own book as a part of your promotion.

As we approach Red Tuesday, our marketing campaign should go nuts. Everyone should be posting and promoting in anticipation, and especially on Red Tuesday itself.

It’s very important to reduce your price in time, allowing for probable delays (which can be several hours or more – and may be longer if there is widespread participation) to get your book’s price reduced in time for the big event. Better early than late.

GREAT FOR READERS: Red Tuesday doesn’t just have the potential to benefit authors. It can greatly benefit readers, too. Red Tuesday would be a great day to stock up on books by all your favorite participating authors. It’s also a great day to buy books as gifts. There is ample reason for authors and readers alike to spread the word and make Red Tuesday a huge hit.

Sure, some readers will see Red Tuesday coming and try to hold off of buying books until Red Tuesday comes around. There will still be readers buying books before then. If your sales rank does slide somewhat going into Red Tuesday, just think what a potential avalanche of sales on Red Tuesday could do for it. The better you promote your discount and Red Tuesday and the more marketable your book, the better your chances of having a successful Red Tuesday.

NO GUARANTEES: There is no guarantee that this will improve your exposure or increase your sales. However, if participation is widespread, there is much potential for numerous authors to receive a marked boost in both exposure and sales. The more marketable your book (i.e. good content, appealing cover, effective blurb, well-formatted and -edited, attractive storyline and characterization, and good readability), the better the prospects for you to benefit from the promotion. Also, the more active participation we receive and the more effective we are, collectively, at marketing the event, the better the chances of success.

FINAL WORD: Ideas, comments, suggestions, and concerns are not only welcome, they are strongly encouraged. 🙂

We can be part of something much bigger than ourselves. The magic word is participation.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

You Might Be a Stat Junkie If…

Stats Pic

How often do you check your stats?

You might be a stat junkie if…

  • You bought a cell phone mainly to check your stats away from home.
  • You check a different device when nothing has changed just in case that might be the problem.
  • You can’t resist the temptation to check your stats during a movie. Especially, a good movie.
  • You actually spend more time during the day checking your stats than doing anything else.
  • Your spouse calls from the room, “Honey, are you checking your stats again?” And your spouse is right.
  • You checked your stats when you saw this post. Hey, they might have changed.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when the internet is down, when your cell phone doesn’t work, when the site needs maintenance, when the phone line is out, or when you otherwise can’t check your stats for few minutes.
  • You’re a member of Stat Checking Anonymous. Or, if having heard the name of this organization, you feel the need to join it, until you realize that it’s fictitious. Even worse, you feel like founding such a program because it should exist.
  • You hardly get any writing done because you spend so much time checking your stats.
  • You check your stats every time even the smallest thing doesn’t go your way, hoping the stats will make you happier.
  • You get out a calculator to see how many sales you’ve averaged per day, or to figure out how many more you need to get back on track.
  • You wish that you could receive an email every time a sale is made.
  • Your stats control your mood.
  • Your muse doesn’t come around anymore because you’re too busy checking your stats.
  • You’ve ever checked your stats twice in a row (or more) because you forgot what the number was as soon as you logged out.
  • You’ve ever cried because your stats disappointed you.
  • You’ve ever walked into a wall, tripped, or otherwise mis-stepped because you were checking your stats while walking.
  • You’ve ever bought your own product just to see the stats change. Then repeatedly became upset that haven’t changed yet.
  • You can’t go to sleep until you finally get that one last sale. And when it doesn’t come for many hours, you start begging for it. Out loud.

Related Posts:

1. I got this idea from Victoria Grefer’s recent post: http://crimsonleague.com/2013/09/15/bloggers-why-you-shouldnt-be-a-stat-junkie/

2. If you missed my previous clockwatcher post, you might enjoy this: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/authors-are-you-clockwatchers/

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

The Secret to Success: Marketing

Secrets

Whether we like it or not, almost everything comes down to marketing:

  • Resumes and cover letters, interviews, and references distinguish qualified candidates through marketing. Very rarely does a business actually give an interviewee a challenging test to assess mastery of desired skills. Who you know, how you look on paper, what others say about you, and how you handle yourself in person are highly important (provided that you meet the qualifications).
  • What you know doesn’t matter unless you succeed in marketing yourself as knowledgeable. You must have the knowledge to establish this as a long-term perception, but just having the knowledge by itself isn’t enough. The same is true for your skills set and your ability.
  • If you have a degree, experience, or training, you’re just one of many other candidates with a similar background. People like to work with someone they know personally or who has good recommendations, and they like to hire applicants who market themselves the right way.
  • Even diligence, motivation, and passion are marketable. Some people, for example, manage to seem busier than they really are.
  • People brand you by the style of clothing you choose to wear, the cut of your hair, the way you speak, how you smell, and how you accessorize. Everything you say, do, and wear can and will be used to establish your brand.
  • Those who excel at marketing a positive image about their talents, character, diligence, motivation, passion, and performance have a distinct advantage in life, whether they are selling products, offering services, applying for a job, going out on a date, looking for friends, bonding with family, and anything else in life.

You can argue that it shouldn’t be this way. But if you’re not going to change the way things are, then you’re just a philosopher.

You can pretend it isn’t this way. Surely, there are some exceptions to the rule, but you can’t completely avoid it.

Or you can accept what is and make the best of it. You don’t have to sell out to thrive, but you should understand the rules of the game and decide where you want to fit.

And you can understand why marketing is so important. For example, if you’re truly passionate about a job, wouldn’t you market yourself with the best possible resume and cover letter? Wouldn’t you take the time to research what employers expect? Wouldn’t you learn some tips for good interview techniques? Wouldn’t you have put the time and effort into mastering your trade and impressing people on the way?

Whether you’re applying to school, applying for a job, selling a product, selling a service, and most other things in life – personal or business – having the passion and motivation to learn how to market yourself and diligently work to do this effectively helps you stand out.

What you’re trying to market needs to be good in order to achieve long-term success, but how you go about marketing it can make a huge difference in perception and results.

Self-promotion doesn’t tend to be effective (but self-demotion may be). If you just walk around saying, “I’m the best there is,” it’s not going to work. Discovery is a better method. Let people find out, in natural ways (including conversations), things that distinguish you. Showing them (naturally) is better than telling them, and interacting in person is more effective than not.

Help to market others whom you know personally to be worthy of it (but don’t market people in ways that they don’t deserve – as this can harm your own reputation).

What people think about you, who you know, how you handle yourself, appearance, possessions, who you choose to interact with, what you do, how you react to adversity, and even the way you prepare things play important roles in branding your image (personal and business). Ideally, you want to emphasize your strengths and show improvement in your weaknesses (which also takes work on your part, not just marketing).

How would you like to be known (or not known)? Think about the things you do (not just your actions, and not just at work) and how they may affect this perception.

  • Jean is such a passionate artist. You should see the expression on his face when he’s painting.
  • Anne is incredibly well organized. She knows where everything is.
  • If it’s broken, send it to Bob.
  • Jennifer has been working on this presentation day and night for the past month.
  • Ted has an amazing way with words. He can articulate anything very precisely.

Beware of possible marketing mistakes than can have long-lasting effects. You don’t want to be branded in negative ways. You don’t want to be known for complaining, cheating, arrogance, being a jerk, whining, being too dependent, arguing, self-promotion, etc. One lousy action or statement can undo months of positive marketing.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers (Volume 2 on book marketing is now available)

$$ The Effect of Attitude on Sales $$

AttitudeAttitude plays a profound role in all aspects of sales, including:

  • The salesman in the store or on the phone. Attitude is most significant for the salesman, who often interacts thoroughly with the customer at the point-of-sale and may also deal with the customer again as a follow-up or regarding complaints.
  • Managers who most often interact with customers who have a complaint. It’s important to resolve the problem efficiently. An irate customer in the store can influence other buyers. An upset customer even has influence online. It can also be the difference between word-of-mouth sales and word-of-mouth negative advertising.
  • The cashier who writes up the sale or checks something on the register. Even when a different salesman has already convinced a customer to make a purchase, the deal isn’t sealed until the cashier completes the paperwork.
  • People like inventors and authors who have a product to sell, but who may not be selling the product directly. They personally interact with many of their potential customers through marketing techniques. These people must also deal with complaints through product reviews much like managers must deal with customer complaints.
  • Even an employee greeting people at the door, for example, can influence sales through attitude.

The ways that a poor attitude can spoil a sale are pretty obvious. Here are a few ways that attitudes can help facilitate sales:

  • Charm. The reality is that people don’t just look at price, value, and the quality of the product. Even though customers may only interact with a representative for a few minutes, while using the product for months or more, people prefer good service. When the customer receives good service at the point-of-sale, that bodes well for good service if the product has problems. When inventors or authors, for example, charms potential customers during personal interactions, the fact that they care about the customer suggests that the same care may have been put into the product. Buyers also tend to be impulsive, for which charm can make the difference.
  • Confidence. Representatives who show confidence sound knowledgeable. A customers is more apt to trust a confident salesperson. Lack of confidence leads to hesitation; doubt causes mistakes. Confidence helps to visualize and attain a positive outcome. The confidence of a representative can carry over to the customer, who wishes to be confident in the purchase decision. Bragging, on the other hand, tends to deter sales. It’s important to show confidence without seeming boastful.
  • Courtesy. People generally respond well to courtesy, and poorly to the lack thereof. Even small things, like holding a door open, can make a significant difference. Put the customer in a good frame of mind. All representatives need to show customers that they want their business. Without the customers, there would be no business.
  • Care. Customers like to feel special. Does it sound like a sales pitch? Was this rehearsed? Was the greeting or compliment mechanical, or did the representative really mean it? Going the extra mile shows the customer that the representative truly cares about the person, not just the sale. Inventors and authors, for example, are more likely to be successful in their interpersonal marketing endeavors when prospective buyers see their passion for the product and gauge that they care about their customers. Look the customer in the eye, address the customer by first name, and smile. Listen to what the customer says.
  • Calm. Stay calm, cool, and collected. Customer service and public relations frequently present new and difficult situations that challenge representatives to remain calm and in control of their emotions. Customers expect representatives to behave professionally. It just takes one individual, even in a minor capacity before or after a sale, with one unprofessional outburst to blow a deal.

Smile!

Be charming, confident, courteous, caring, and calm. Have a winning attitude. It’s almost like trying to get a date. 🙂

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers (Volumes 1 and 2)