By k | January 21, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

I posted yesterday
about the benefits of
placing our products
in categories.

Which category
should we choose?

My buddy is publishing
a story about vampires in space.
Should it be placed in
the Science Fiction category
the vampire category?

Ideally, it should be placed in both.
But if we have to choose one,
choose the one
our target market
will associate with it.

When our customers recommend
this product,
will they refer to it as
“The Science Fiction Book”
“The Vampire Book”?

Put your product
where your ideal target market
will look for it.

By k | January 20, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

“This product is unlike
any product
you’ve ever seen!”

No. No. No. No.
I see this claim
at least once a day
in the Romance Novel world
and it rarely results
in sales.


Because we, humans,
like to put things
into boxes.
If that box isn’t apparent,
we put that thing
into the useless-to-us

This is why we hear claims
such as
“Like X, but different”
“A game changer in the Y industry”
“It will change the way
you view Z forever.”
This gives people a box,
an anchor,
a category.

Seth Godin

“We begin by
putting this new thing
into a category,
so we know
what to do with it,
how to store the concept.”

Place your innovation
in an existing category.

By k | January 19, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

I’ve been reading
report after report
about how books,
unique works of art,
will become commodities.
One will be replaceable
with another.

If books can become commodities,
any product can.

One solution?
Make the product an experience.

Disney is the master
of making movie releases

*Dave Hollis,
Disney’s Distribution Chief,

“We are creating
almost this fear
of missing out.

You can’t create that feeling
unless you make something
that has spectacle and action
…something where
[audiences] can’t settle for
just having the experience
on a tablet.”

Can you make your product
an experience?

*January 3, 2017

By k | January 18, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

We often have a plan
for our branding.
I know I did
when I first started
one of my pen names (brands).

Sometimes the target market
has a different branding
for us.

I fought the pen name’s different branding
for almost a year.
I didn’t win.
I finally accepted the market’s branding
and worked with it.
Now, I own it.

Carrie Fisher
had a similar branding issue.
It didn’t matter
what else she did.
She was always seen as Princess Leia.

Carrie Fisher

“I’ve been Princess Leia
all these years,
not just when
they remade the movie.
You know,
there’s no getting away from it,
so you’d better make peace with it.

And I was never at war with it.
I choose to see it as a positive
and I do see it as a positive now.”

Work with the branding
the market has given you.

By k | January 17, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

You start a company.
It fails (as first companies often do).
You start another.

People ask you ‘Why?’
‘Haven’t you gotten the entrepreneurial bug
out of your system?’
‘Haven’t you already done it?’

These questions are asked more often
when your first company was a success.

in Harper’s Bazaar,

“Does somebody ask
Steven Spielberg
why he’s still making movies?
Hasn’t he had enough success?
Hasn’t he made enough money?
Hasn’t he made a name for himself?

Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso
and say,
“Okay, you’re 80 years old.
Haven’t you painted enough paintings?”

I’m so tired of that question.
I just don’t understand it.
I’ll stop doing everything that I do
when I don’t want to do it anymore.
I’ll stop
when I run out of ideas.
I’ll stop
when you fucking kill me.
How about that?”

We build companies
because that is what we do.
It is our gift to the universe,
our way of making a difference.

There’s no stopping us.

Many of us will happily create products
until we die.

And that’s something
to be proud of,
to embrace.

By k | January 16, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

A Cover Artist recently posted
on social media
about a prospective client’s bio.
The client mentioned
in that bio
that she was a bestselling writer.
The cover artist mocked her
for that claim,
pointing out
that she’s never heard
of the writer.

I once attended an award ceremony
for Stephen King,
one of the best known
writers alive.
The ticket price for the ceremony
was extremely high.
At least five people at that event
asked me what Stephen King did.

That the cover artist
doesn’t know a big name
in her industry
doesn’t mean the writer isn’t a big name.
It means the cover artist is ignorant.

Confessing to that ignorance
won’t win the cover artist business.
Mocking that prospect
makes the cover artist look like a fool.

I read her post
and immediately deleted her
from my list of possible cover artists.

Know your prospects.
If you don’t know them,
at the very least,
don’t question their credentials
in public.

By k | January 15, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

A writing buddy
was concerned
about her sales.
She asked me
how to increase her readership.

I asked her
what she truly wanted
to increase
- her dollar sales
or her unit sales?

She thought
they were the same thing.
They’re not.

Increasing unit sales
can usually be done
by dropping price
to almost zero.

That tactic
would kill dollar sales
(and profitability).

Know your goal
you ask for help
achieving it.

She wanted to increase
unit sales.
All she cared about
was hitting a bestseller list.

By k | January 14, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

When I venture
into any new area,
whether it is a Facebook party
or a consulting gig
or dealing with a new customer,
I, first, observe
if that’s at all possible.

I get to a convention early
and watch a few panels
before I sit on a panel.

I tag along with a partner
when she deals with
a new-to-me customer
on another issue.

I spend some time
at a client
before suggesting change.

Anne Fannon,
director of WatPD,

“Be a cultural observer
during those first few days
and weeks.
The key task is
to figure out the social norms
and organizational culture
and how to be effective
in that context.”

Observe first.
Gain an understanding
of the situation.
THEN take action.

* The Fall 2016
Waterloo Magazine

By k | January 13, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Failure is part
of the entrepreneurial journey.
I fail often.

Techniques to
manage failure
should be part of
any business builder’s
skill set.

Christopher Reid,
serial entrepreneur,

“Everything at Sortable
is ultimately an experiment,
from a new algorithm
to a different hiring practice.

It might succeed
and it might fail.
If it succeeds,
we’ll try this.
If it fails,
we’ll try that.

You have to manage it.
Success is just
the process of managing failure.”

If you don’t know
how to manage failure,
put that on
your list of
skills to master in 2017.
Every entrepreneur needs
to learn this.

* The Fall 2016
Waterloo Magazine

By k | January 12, 2017 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I wrote a story
with a twist ending.
It surprised and delighted readers.

The follow up story
had a twist ending also.
It didn’t surprise readers
as much
because they were expecting it.

Randomly exceed promises
once, twice
and customers will expect
you to exceed your promise
the third time.

They won’t be surprised
or delighted.
You’ll have merely met
their expectations.

Seth Godin

“The productive professional
realizes that keeping promises
is often enough.
Randomly exceeding
those promises
is magical.

But the key is ‘randomly’.
Unexpected delight is priceless,
and something you can deliver on.”

Randomly exceed promises,
the emphasis on randomly.