By k | September 20, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Unless you have taken
the photos yourself,
bought the photos
from a photographer,
or purchased the photos
from a stock photo site,
don’t use them.

It is that simple.

Photography is art
and art is copyrighted
as soon as it is created.

Five years ago,
you might have gotten away
with using the photos.
It was difficult
for photographers
to monitor all of the internet.

Today, with image recognition software,
it is a mere click of a button.

Thinking of using random-sourced images
in your sales presentations?
Don’t.
Everyone has a phone.
Eventually the presentation
will be been recorded
and placed online.
Add an aggressive competitor
in that mix
and you have a very bad situation.

Stock photos often cost
pennies per image.
Don’t risk your brand
and a huge lawsuit for pennies.

Ensure you have permission
to use all images.

By k | September 19, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

One of my writing buddies
recently held a reader (customer) poll,
giving readers
a choice of two titles
for her next story (product).

Sounds like a great idea, right?

It wasn’t.

At first, readers were super excited.
They voted.
They asked friends to vote.
There was quite a bit
of buzz around this poll.

Results were tallied.
Approximately 60% of readers
loved Title A.
40% of readers
loved Title B.

My buddy announced that
Title A would be the book’s title…
…upsetting 40%
of her readership (customer base).

Think before hosting
polls and contests
that might influence
how customers feel about your products/services.

By k | September 18, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing, Sales

As a romance novel writer,
I sell fantasies.
I sell alternate realities,
worlds built around different concepts,
different ideas.

These worlds aren’t practical.
They’re not based in reality.
And, while many people THINK
they’d want to live in these worlds,
the reality is…
they truly wouldn’t want this.
It is doubtful they’d even survive.

Seth Godin
shares

“The irony, then,
is that people
who have been cut off
from clean water,
from things that actually work,
from the fruits of
a reality-based system
that changed everything—
these people are hungering for it,
want it for their children.

But for those that have
taken it for granted,
who have the luxury of using it
without understanding it,
the pendulum swings in the other direction,
seeking an emotional response
to economic and technical disconnects.

The more that reality-based thinking
has created a comfortable existence,
the more tempting it is
to ignore it and
embrace a nonsensical,
skeptical viewpoint instead.”

This, of course, explains
the success of Donald Trump.
He’s not selling reality.
He’s selling a fantasy,
a fantasy none of us truly want to live in.

Selling fantasies can be
a very successful strategy.

If your motto is
‘Do no harm,’
you might wish, however,
to clearly communicate
that it IS a fantasy.

By k | September 17, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I received an email
from a romance novel blogger,
asking me to sign
a petition that would be sent to publishers
encouraging more diversity
in romance novel characters.

Ummm…
Publishers aren’t necessary anymore.
If you want more diversity,
buy books with diversity
(they already exist).
Writers will see these books are profitable
and write more books with diverse characters.

It is that simple.
And it’s true in many industries.

There aren’t gatekeepers
and the market is fluid.
The only thing stopping many businesses
is sales.
(If there are enough sales,
business builders will find the other resources.)

If you truly want to see a change,
support that change with sales.

By k | September 16, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Part of my branding
for one of my pen names
is being the feel good writer,
the person people contact
when they want to be happy.

It’s a great branding to have.
Usually, I’m surrounded
by optimistic, happy
prospects and customers.

However,
I’m not always happy,
not always light and relaxed.

When something goes wrong
with my products,
I’m very serious.

When I make a promise,
I keep it.

When a customer
is experiencing a tragedy,
I’m there with a hug.

When it comes to quality,
I’m extremely uptight.

Just because
your brand is light and fluffy
doesn’t mean
you should always be cracking jokes.

And you should think seriously
before you become the clown.

As Seth Godin
shares

“The challenge,
as PT Barnum, Don Rickles
and the National Enquirer
have found,
is that while the suit
is easy to put on,
it’s almost impossible
to take it off.”

Know when to joke
and when to be serious.

By k | September 15, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

It is easier and less expensive
to sell products
to existing customers.

With so much competition,
how do we keep
these customers loyal to us?

We build our products
so we become
more valuable to them.

In the romance novel industry,
we, writers, often concentrate
on writing a series of connected books
for this exact reason.

Readers have the ability
to start reading the series
at any point.
I design my books
so the previous books
don’t have to be read first.

But if they DO start from the beginning,
they know things new readers don’t.
They know that
a phrase has an extra meaning.
They know that
an action will upset another character.
They know that
a tool has a secret purpose
and it is meaningful
that a character carries it.

Many companies are using
data they’ve collected
about their customers
to accomplish something similar.

Having autofills on forms
so returning customers
don’t have to re-enter their information
is one basic example
of providing value.

Suggesting products they might like
based on their past purchases
is another.

Build in reasons
for your existing customers
to remain loyal.

By k | September 14, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

My end objective
when I market is
to make a sale.

I’d love
to go straight
to the
‘Buy my product’ step.
That would be super easy.

But it isn’t effective.
People normally don’t buy
from people they don’t know.

So I have some intermediate steps
for folks who don’t know me.
I’ll give them a sample
of my product
or
I’ll ask them to Friend me
on Facebook.

After they’ve sampled my product,
THEN I might suggest
they buy it.
After we’ve chatted a while
on Facebook,
THEN I might mention
my product.

Neal Schaffer
shares some more
intermediate steps.

“If you want to generate leads,
that link goes maybe
to an e-book, a webinar
or a white paper.

If you want to make more sales,
that link maybe goes
to your product catalog
or a special discount
for Twitter followers.”

Consider easing your way
into sales
with intermediate steps.

By k | September 13, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

A bestselling romance writer
went on a blog rant.
It began with how,
when she started publishing,
there wasn’t an online reader community.

She started publishing
four short years ago.

The internet, of course,
tore her post to shreds.
And it should have.

This wasn’t merely ignorant.
It was disrespectful
to the people
who had built
the online reader communities
she sold her books to.

Everything builds.

We might think
we’ve created something new
all by ourselves
but our creation
was built on a base
of other people’s hard work.

Acknowledge that work.
Know what that work was.
Respect it.

If we’re fortunate,
years from now,
someone will build off our work.

By k | September 12, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I have a book releasing tomorrow.
I took risks yet again
with this book.
Readers could love it
or they could hate it.

Thinking about it
makes me a little
sick to my stomach.

Whenever I feel like this,
I know I’m doing work
that matters.

David Bowie
shared

“The other thing I would say is
that if you feel safe
in the area you’re working in,
you’re not working in the right area.

Always go a little further
into the water
than you feel you’re capable
of being in,
go a little out of your depth,
and when you don’t feel that
your feet are quite touching the bottom,
you’re just about
in the right place
to do something exciting.”

If you feel safe,
you’re not pushing yourself.
Take some risks.
Change the world.

By k | September 11, 2016 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

One of my books is releasing
on Tuesday.
Normally, I would promote it hard
today,
especially as Sunday
is THE best eBook sales day
of the week.

I’m not promoting it
at all.

Why?

Because many of my prospective customers
are American.
9/11 might be 15 years ago
but the pain, the grief is still intense.
It isn’t a day
to be promoting.
It isn’t a day for overt selling either.

We can do other things.
I plan to work on production
(i.e. writing the next book).
There are a thousand tasks
business builders can complete
that don’t involve prospects or customers.

If your market is the U.S.,
take the day off promoting and selling.