Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Branding - Part 3

Before hand I’ve been talking about the importance of the brand and the reason why getting the brand right is essential. Now I want to give a little practical advice and actually speak of the steps on creating an online brand. In my opinion there are two ways in which you create your brand – with your product and with your profile. Many people will see either one or the other, but not necessary both. That doesn’t mean that you can have two contrasting brand types, because there will be a small percentage of readers who will see both (normally your core fan group) and by having contrasting brands you could turn them away.

But before you can create your brand you need to understand what your readers would like from your brand. This is where research comes in key. It is simple to say as an author my readers want a well written book with a catchy storyline and sparkling cover. But that is what will get them interested in one book; it won’t get them to keep an eye on you. If you want readers to return to you time and time again, you need to go a little deeper than just your book being good.

Then once your research is done, you can concentrate on designing and building your brand. Down below is a list of what I think are the important steps in creating a consistent, manageable brand that will engage readers and develop loyalty among them.

1.       Research your readers
There is no point in not knowing who your readers are. If you write historical romance for instance, the readers are probably going to know something about that time period. The list of characteristics could be long. Try to imagine them and get a list of what other interests they have that complement your books. For instance with historical romance, do they like Jane Austin or BBC period dramas? It will work out great in future contact with them.
2.       Create a list of words you want to be associated with you.
This doesn’t have to be a long list. But they have to be something that you think you can achieve and define you, how you want to interact with your readers and your books. I decided upon six: helpful, resourceful, accommodating, appreciative, emotional and unpredictable.
3.       Decide upon how to achieve those
Each one of mine above I attempt to do in different ways. For example, being helpful and resourceful I attempt to do by posting these marketing tips; accommodating I fulfill with my review structure and with appreciative all I do is interact with those who post comments on my site.  With my books I use the last two. I concentrate my stories around a single core feeling and interlace other feelings around that more subtly. In Ghost Haunts I tap into several emotions and I spread them out in the stories. But I also like to do the unexpected; I like to keep readers on their toes. We’ll see if I have made that work soon I hope.
4.       Keep at it and be consistent
It is useless if you are approachable one day, but once you have made the sale and your reader has bought all your books you won’t return an e-mail. Or that you want to appear friendly but one day you go on and complain about the readers who aren’t posting reviews. You will destroy your image and create a whole new one based on one thing: bad behavior. Keep at it and your brand will solidify and readers will come back to you again and again.
5.       Interact with your readers
It is no good interacting with other authors all the time. The vast majority of authors spend most of their time writing. Some will read, but they probably have a very long reading list. Instead you should be talking to readers. Did you realize that 13% of return customers online do so through e-mail? Or that around 50% of online customers make a purchasing decision based on more than one interaction with the brand? So why don’t you interact with your readers. And don’t make it all about your book. Remember that list of interests I spoke about earlier? Now is the time to use it. Set up a google alert of that list and when a news article comes up related to it: inform your readers. Do this through facebook, twitter and your blog.
6.       Keep at it
Creating a brand is not an overnight success. It takes time and hard work. But by doing so, you will create a loyal following of readers and reach out to more people through the most successful marketing tool that an author can have: word of mouth.

And that concludes the “Branding series”. If you have enjoyed the series, please feel free to comment below.

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