Monday, 22 October 2012

Branding Part 1 - Introduction

Recently I spoke about the effects of spamming and how it is not exactly the best marketing option. This week I thought I would talk about branding. The problem was that the post kept on getting longer and longer until it reached about 3000 words and I still wasn't finished. So I decided to do it in three parts. 

Part one will be a brief introduction
Part two will be based on getting branding right
Part three will be about how to create a brand

So I would like to start with branding part 1. 

A brand is an identity in which the public will recognize a person or organization by. It’s like a personality created for the products and services. It can come in many forms, from a logo to the way in which a company interacts with its customers. But a brand is never the product; the brand connects the products with the person or organization.

Branding in terms of authors; can also come into many ways and authors, whether or not they realize it, are branding themselves every time they enter the public light. For example when you discuss something on Facebook you are portraying something about your personality. That may be the first interaction a perspective reader may see of you. If you are moaning about a recent reader review, complaining of the latest sales slump or even spamming the forums the reader will form a negative impression on you. However, if you join in the discussion on helping an author with a certain problem, a reader will see a positive side.

Of course branding can take many forms. Gordon Ramsey for instance has a distinct brand of being the chef who is bad tempered and (in my opinion) very nasty. Yet he is popular. I have seen a couple of authors who have gone down this route, but I have also seen the backlash that sometimes occurs from their posts. Very often in the writing circles they are not well received and I will discuss on a later post why I think that is.

Branding isn’t a one minute wonder. It will take time to develop your branding and it will need constant maintenance. But the effects can be astonishing. If you look at vacuum cleaners the best example of the positives of branding can be seen. Normally when people say they’ve got to vacuum the house, I hear them use the word ‘hoover’. Hoover is actually a company that built vacuum cleaners– yet it has been such a powerful brand and popular product (in the UK at least) that it has become synonymous with vacuuming. And the positives go beyond becoming the namesake for cleaning. Now a lot of people when needing a new vacuum cleaner will search the word Hoover and their products will come up first on the results page.

Another example is the use of Rudolph the red nose reindeer. Originally a creation for marketing purposes in America, he had nothing to do with Santa or the eight original reindeer beforehand. But his popularity was so great and he became such a great image for children that he has become part a main part of the Christmas legend and children leave him a carrot and glass of sherry on Christmas Eve to thank him for delivering their presents.

But what about the numbers in regards to authors. Well this we can look at in regards to the Forrester report that tracked the online sales path of customers that was recently released.

One of the most startling conclusions of the report is that less than 1% of sales are reported from links on social media. This is comparative to my post last week about spamming. Think of it like this, if you spam, you are targeting only 1% of buyers.

The most common way for online sales is the direct search. 20% of sales were tracked through that method. What do they mean by direct search? That is where a customer goes onto a e-shop and searches directly for a specific product. For an author, they will be either looking for your name or your book. Looking at the numbers that we did last week we can see how much of a difference that can make.

Book Junkies:
Estimated 275 regular readers

1% = 2 – 3 sales
20% = 55 sales

The Indie Exchange: Estimated 209 regular readers

1% = 1-2 sales
20% = 41-42 sales

Indie Author Group: Estimated 190 regular readers

1% = 1-2 sales
20% = 38 sales

Now people may consider that looking on those numbers that just posting the name of their book is a great idea. On Book Junkies 3 people will click directly and 55 people will search for their book on another site. But the Forrester report rebuts this all on its own. According to the report, 33% of consumers needed two or more sites of the product (or brand) before making a purchase. And this number rises if they have used an e-shop before to 48%.

The second most popular (16%) online buying path was by organic search. That is where a reader will search for “action thriller e-book” or something similar and just so happen to find your book. The next most common purchase path is paid searches (11%). That means the top three buying options account for 47% of all sales.

I am not someone who is going to use PPC (or paid searches) in my advertising campaigns. For the reasons why I won’t I will blog about at a later date. But a simple break down is that from certain research on PPC has found that conversion rates can be around 7.5% of clicks to sales with costs ranging from $0.32 to $1.24 per click. So with a 1 in every 14 clicks a sale, I would be spending $4.48 to $17.36 advertising to get one book sold. I am not even going to be selling my book for the lower figure – the margins are just not worth it.

My aim is to target the 20% of the people who will look for my product. For this I need to create an image that will be come across as likable. I try to be helpful, resourceful, accommodating and appreciative. The easiest way I can achieve two of those aims is by giving advice from my knowledge and experience, like I am doing now.

How many people know I have a Business degree and masters and was offered a PhD? But why am I telling you this now – because it is the same as branding. I didn’t tell you about my masters at the start or when we first interacted. I conveyed the knowledge that it gave me in something that was meaningful to you. I don’t pretend to know all. In fact when I give facts I spend hours looking them up. But I use what knowledge I have gained in order to create meaningful topics of discussion. And by doing so, I am completing two of my branding goals – helpful and resourceful.

When I am posting a review, one of the things that I do is allow the author a heads up on their review. Give them a last chance to back out before I post the review. Why? Because I want to be accommodating, I don’t want to post something that they will see as being negative marketing. If I did I would go against one of my principles, being helpful. So by doing this I am consistent with one of my branding images and fulfilling the other.

Also when I do guest posts I comment on the post thanking the blogger for their time and allowing me to post there. Every time someone posts on my blog, I comment and thank them for it. It’s not just a matter of manners it is fulfilling one of my branding goals of being gracious.

It is the same with your book. No one is going to buy from you if you say you have a great book. But if you show what you have learnt from writing that book or from being an author, readers will buy into you. The reader will possibly look you up, try to find other posts by you, visit your blog and so forth. This is great news as the Forrester report stated that 33% of new consumers have visited two sites with a product on before buying the product.

This is where branding really becomes important. Your brand has to be consistent across your marketing sphere. In other words; on Facebook, twitter, your blog, e-mail, etc you have to portray the same person. If you are a kind and gentle soul on one medium and then an aggressive pig on another your branding is fractured. You will be thought of as two faced, which generally isn’t a good thing and no-one will buy into you or your book.

If you get your branding right, it can benefit you by the bucket loads. By targeting the right people, you will get sales and then reviews. If those reviews are great; people who find your book by organic searchers will be more inclined to buy your book. As they review; online retailers are likely to put you higher up the search results, giving you greater exposure and more organic sales. Your branding has created a snowball effect.

Next time I will talk about getting your branding right and why that is so important.

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  1. Very informative. Thanks for sharing the knowledge, David. I'll look forward to your next post.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. The next post will be up next week or the week after. I am suppose to be on holiday next week, but I don't know if I will be able to or not yet.

  2. I'll keep an eye open for it, but make sure that you have fun too :)

    1. Thanks Edenmary, I will certainly try. Even have my sunglasses out ready. But something tells me the weather isn't going to play ball this time.


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