Growing Pains: Part IV

Sometimes growing your business can happen from within your own, already existing customer base. Imagine your business as a tree trunk, the branches your customers and the leaves that come off of each branch a good or service bought from one of your customers. The more leaves on the tree, the better and healthier the tree. So how do we get a nice, full tree?

Young plant

Think about it, you already have someone who is interested in your goods or services, they have already decided you have a product worth purchasing, so the key is to keep providing them those quality products or services. Not only to you have to have a supply to both create and feed the demand, but you have to market that supply properly.

Let’s say we’re talking selling books. You have a loyal fan base already. That’s great. Make that work to your advantage. If you’re writing a series, make sure you keep an email list of those who have already purchased your first or second book in the series and alert them when the newest one is coming out. Maybe offer them a loyalty discount to show your appreciation for their support. Better yet, maybe you have older books that they don’t know about! Be sure to clue them in on past work you’ve done and how/where they can find or purchase that as well. That way, while you’re working on creating new material, you’re still able to move products you already have on hand.

Also, make sure you’re following your fans on social media and vice versa so that they can be in tune with developments in your writing and publishing stages. That way, they know you have a book coming out, you can build anticipation for it, and they’re excited to buy your next book. Be active on their pages, let them know that you are just another person who’s not too busy to keep up with their fans.

Keep in mind that the key to keeping a good customer relationship comes from after-sale support and contact. Ask your readers for feedback. Let them know that their opinions matter to you. After-sale support and contact may determine whether or not that customer will be a returning customer. When a customer feels that their business or opinions are valued by a business, they are more likely to support that business.

If you do offer other services, such as editing, formatting, marketing, etc. make that known to your customers. People who are already fans of your work, who find your books appealing or well-written, will most likely value your advice on how it is you produce a professional, quality book. Start by hosting free (or small-fee) webinars where you offer your advice with the option at the end to hire you personally for your services.

Thinking of your business as a living growing entity will remind you that you need to give it the proper care and attention it deserves so that it can continue to expand and grow stronger over time. Keep watering that tree, letting those leaves bask in the sunlight, and you will have shade and fresh air to breathe in for ages to come. Ignore it, or give it too little attention and you will watch it wither away and be left with a lifeless stump.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Growing Pains: Part III

Last week, we explored the ways in which you can specialize in certain key products and services you offer so as to streamline your business and “grow” your sales. This week, I’d like to speak to the ways in which you can expand upon your product line, if you’ve found that you’re comfortable with the level of work-sales ratio you’re receiving with your current products.

    If you plan to expand your product line, it is crucial that the products and services you add complement those you already provide. By this, I mean that you can see a connection between these things and that your marketing efforts can be used seamlessly between one and the other.

   Let’s say you’ve become a prolific self-published author. You’ve gone through the trial and error processes of editing, formatting, illustrating, marketing, etc etc. You’ve seen what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work. A complementary service you could offer–with this knowledge you’ve acquired–could be assisting other aspiring self-publishing authors.

  By offering copy-editing, formatting or marketing assistance, you would only further those skills for yourself as an author–so long as you didn’t let it replace the time you spend working on your own books.

     Or, let’s say you’ve found great marketing success is hosting events–book readings, poetry slams, etc. Maybe you’ve even found you have a certain knack for planning these kinds of events. Plenty of authors dread orchestrating such things, and you could use that skill to assist them, while simultaneously building your networking platform. A well-planned event is great marketing for you as an event planner, and it may even turn into great marketing for you as an author.

    Another option: you write children’s books and they’ve become rather popular. Consider branching out and creating book themed toys that model characters in your stories, children not only love interacting with illustrations in your stories, but they especially love being able to have tangible versions of your characters to play with in real life! How exciting would it be to have it be an option to add that toy during a check out of a purchase of your book?? This would be especially great during the holiday season.

  With any of these options for “growing your business,” always keep in mind what your priorities are, or what they should be. Don’t let your side projects take over or take you away from what you love. Put yourself and your work first always. Helping someone else market will only help you if you’ve made enough time to market for yourself first and foremost. Editing someone else’s work will only help you if your work is thoroughly edited and given the attention it deserves. Planning events for other authors should never take precedent over planning events of your own.

In summation, if you don’t have the time or energy to offer these other services, don’t. If you find yourself with extra time and motivation, by all means go for it! The sky is the limit!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Growing Pains: Part II

Continuing in the vein of growing your business or brand as an author, I want to talk about how you can hone in on what product or service it is you provide. As an author, your product is probably books, right? You might also offer other services though, such as freelance writing, editing, illustrating etc. Make a list of the products or services you supply and pick the most important item from each. It’s important to focus on the most important “thing” you want your business to be known for. Having too many options or services to market and sell will be overwhelming not only for you, but also for your customers.

growing pains marketing

The first step to ensuring you can expose your product or service to the marketplace is to, of course, market them. Marketing is definitely the dead horse we beat on this blog, but it is a crucial piece of being a self-published author. Here are some easy ways to market your book or writing services:

  • Social media! Use relevant hashtags (if you’re stumped, google relevant hashtags for ideas). Add and follow people and actively comment on their posts to get your name out there and encourage them to look on your page. Be active on forums, blogs, your website, etc.
  • Local events. Host local readings, poetry slams, etc. to network with other local authors.
  • Engage with those who already consume your products to ensure a good business/customer relation that will continue on in the future.

The next step is selling your product. Do you have a website where people can easily purchase your books or contact you for your services? Do your social media pages have links to your website? Do you have business cards to hand out at events?

You want there to be a certain ease of purchasing products for your customers. There’s nothing more annoying than a broken “purchase” link, or a giant “out of stock” next to your item. Make sure you have product to sell and make sure you have a means for people to buy it. If you go on tour, think about investing in a “square reader” for your iPhone so that if someone wants to buy your book and they don’t have cash you don’t lose that sale. Often someone will want to buy something on the spot, but if the opportunity passes, they will talk themselves out of it later or forget about it entirely, losing you a sale. Always be prepared to sell. This could be as simple as keeping books in your car or bag so that if you strike up a conversation with someone on the subway you have the opportunity to show them your work, or maybe even sell it.

Ultimately, once you’ve identified what you’re in the “business” of selling, it should be relatively easy to figure out how it is you can grow your business. Once you’ve nailed down who your customer base is and figured out how best to market to them, it’s time to streamline a way to sell your products and services to them.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Growing Pains.

Growing pains, we’ve all felt them. Growth is part of life, and for the next few weeks I want to explore the idea of how growth should also be part of your aim to create a better book marketing plan for yourself.

growing pains growth chart

It’s important to recognize that truly successful business grow over time. Sure, some people can “successfully” string together a bunch of separate marketing stunts and receive some boom and busts as far as sales go, but those businesses that build their brand and their audience or customer base over time will have a better chance at longevity and a consistent consumer base.

For example, a really trendy coffee shop with highly overpriced drinks may attract a few people who love that niche of pricey coffee and want a hip shot of a beautifully crafted milk-foam heart for their Instagram feed. However, the small, “homey” coffee shop with a staff that knows customers by name and creates a space where people feel welcome in the community is ultimately going to be the more successful of the two.

How do you become the more identifiable, welcoming coffee shop where everyone wants to go for the free WiFi, the delicious chai tea lattes, for every business meeting, slam poetry session and acoustic night?

  • Reach out to your fan base and let them know you appreciate their support.
  • Offer perks to loyal customers. Much like a “Buy 10 coffees, get one Free” punch card, send a loyal fan a copy of your book signed, on the house. Their more often to talk you up that way and recommend you to their friends based on your merit not only as an author, but as a person.
  • Coffee shops are the modern day salons, where people gather to talk about ideas, business plans, gossip, etc. You can recreate this as an author by involving yourself in the community you’re in. Do this by spending time at community film festivals, poetry slams or book readings, or do this online by participating in forums and being active on your blog and responding to comments on any and all social media forums. This makes you a relatable person that people want to support.

People ultimately want to identify with a business they support. That’s probably why businesses like Whole Foods plaster poster-sized images of regular Joe employees and local farmers on their walls–it makes people feel all warm and mushy inside and like their money is going to regular, hard-working people. This is more likely than not  just a master manipulation of the consumers by corporate conglomerates, but it’s brilliant marketing. That being said, I’ve worked for many local businesses, and the number of clients who come in and say, “I could have ordered this online, but I just love supporting local businesses,” is amazing.

Takeaways? Make yourself known locally. Be personable, interact with other authors, share ideas, go to writing groups. Also make yourself known online. Be active on social media, interact with readers, build your fan base. All these actions are seeds you plant that ultimately grow a more reliable marketing base. Attending one conference or even a year, or making one social media post a month won’t provide growth. Growth is a constant process that you must actively participate in.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com