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Boost Your Christian Book Sales, Learn the Four P’s of Marketing

04 Sep

Just like anything in life, if you want to reach a goal, you can’t just sit back, wait and expect something to just fall into your lap. You’ve been given gifts, talents and opportunities – you’ve got to use them to make a plan, a strategy, and make it happen.

So, where do you start? After clearly defining the basics about your book, such as identifying the target audience, your book’s selling position, competition, etc., you should now start to form marketing strategies, or the ways in which you will accomplish your marketing goals. Strategies can be broken down into four major categories: product, price, place and promotion. Collectively, they’re called the “Four P’s of Marketing.”

PRODUCT: It’s All About Presentation

First, when thinking about “product,” think about your book in the eyes of the reader. Sure, you may have a thrilling, enjoyable or inspirational story that will most likely change the reader’s life. But the truth is, there’s no way the reader could possibly know the impact of your book unless you convince them. You’ve got to present your book, i.e. your product, in a way so that it rises above the rest.

But how?

Start by constructing a persuasive and impressive product description to emphasize the unique selling position of your book. Why should someone read your book? Think back to those five marketing plan fundamentals to answer question such as: How do you wish to position your book within the targeted market? Is it going to help teens struggling with their faith? Will it unite cancer survivors? Is it an uplifting book for Christians in need of a laugh? The answer to these questions will shape how the customer views your book.

•TIP: Practice reciting an enticing 30-second description of your book in the best and most persuasive way possible. This will come in handy when bumping into friends and associates. Casual word of mouth marketing can be extremely effective, and it will help you stay focused on your marketing goals.

When considering the “product” aspect of your book, don’t forget about the “packaging.” Not the kind of packaging that protects something being delivered through the mail, but the packaging that uniquely identifies a product. All products have packaging, from the design on the outside of a soda pop can to the box that holds an iPod to the sticker on a banana; the package sets the tone and feeling about the quality and “attitude” of a product. For a book, the cover is just like the packaging of any other product. It highly impacts how customers perceive your book, and that’s the reason we’re here to help. EverFaith Press has professional cover designers and illustrators standing by to help with this extremely important decision.

Lastly, consider the overall quality of your book. Make sure that your text is thoroughly edited. Have other writers, friends or family read your work to catch typos and errors, or have your book professionally-edited through EverFaith Press.

Also, include materials to meet today’s book standards, such as an ISBN. You may also consider having the interior of your book professionally-formatted. The book layout specialists at EverFaith Press can design and format your book’s interior to ensure your book meets and exceeds the most current standards of modern design.

Don’t overlook the importance of a good product in your marketing campaign. Your message and unique voice is worth the extra time and effort to get it right.

PRICE: Finding the “Sweet Spot”

The second “p” of marketing, “price,” involves the general strategy employed when you price your book. EverFaith Press makes it simple for you to actually choose the price of your book through our book pricing guide. However, you still have a big decision to make regarding the overall selling price of your book, which determines how much royalty you earn. The concept is simple: The higher the selling price, the more you make per book.

But how do you decide?

First, look at the price of other comparative books in the market. If you haven’t already, conduct market research to determine the common prices of other books in the market. Spend an hour at a local bookstore and browse various online retailers at Christian bookstores and secular bookstores. Make sure that you note the size, length and subject matter of books as well, since these aspects influence the price.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with current pricing trends, the trick is to find the balance between a high royalty and a low selling cost to maximize profits. For example, if your selling price is low, you might sell more copies, but you may not earn your goal profit due to the low yield royalty. On the other hand, if your selling price is high, you might make a lot on each sale, but you might not sell as many copies because the high selling price will discourage more frugal buyers.

Find a price that works for you and remember your goals. If your goal is simply to sell as many books as possible, then a low royalty might be fine. But if your goal is to earn a certain amount of extra income, you’ll have to consider your selling price more carefully.

•TIP: Although you cannot change the Web or retail price of your book through EverFaith Press after your book is published, you can always purchase copies of your book at the author-discounted price and then resell the books at any price. This allows you to experiment to find the “sweet spot” on pricing your book when selling at events.

PLACE: Where Oh Where Has My Audience Gone?

Consider the best way to reach your targeted audience(s). Where can you find your audience(s)? This includes both cities and different types of selling channels. Are there certain magazines, newspapers, e-zines or catalogs that your targeted audience reads? What about television shows or radio stations? Where are they visiting on the Internet, such as Web sites or blogs, and which keywords are they using in their Internet searches to get there?

Identify specific locations where people in your niche audience(s) gather regularly or from where they receive their information, both online and in the physical world. Consider and list book clubs, churches, bible study classes, support groups, school clubs, libraries and church related meetings, such as social, organizational or membership. Make a list of conferences, seminars, conventions (Christian, book, writers, etc.), art fairs or book fairs that you could attend as speaker or member of the audience. List online locations where you can find your book’s audience, such as blogs, chat groups, forums, message boards, e-newsletters and e-zines, and social networking sites such as Shoutlife, Facebook and MySpace.

•TIP: Brainstorm a list of keywords associated with your book and your audience. Use tools like Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool to test your hypothesis. Once keywords are found, use them to search the Web to find specific Web sites and social networks that fit your niche audience.

In addition to places people congregate, you can also consider cities and regions. It is always best to choose locations with which you have a local tie in one way or another. Hometowns, cities you’ve lived or where family lives and the city where you when to college are great starts. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the locations you choose. For example, if you’re from New York City, then it is advantageous to choose this as a targeted location because you have local connections. However, even though it is your hometown, you’re at a disadvantage because the area is incredibly saturated with publications and releases, so your efforts could be lost in the crowd. Another example: you may want to focus on a city that perhaps you’ve never been to, but a location or historical icon in your book is associated with that particular city.

When reaching your targeted audience be sure to give them options that make finding and purchasing your book easier. Humans are creatures of habit, and they usually shop at certain stores for a reason, even if their only reason is “because that’s where I’ve always shopped.” You don’t want to force a reader to start shopping at a new store just to buy your book – bring the book to them. How? Make sure that you have distribution through the Ingram Book Network will allow your book to be listed in thousands of online retailers and available for order through brick-and-mortar retail outlets. EverFaith Press provides this listing automatically will every publishing package.

•TIP: If part of your marketing plan is to convince bookstore managers to physically stock your book on their shelves, you should consider purchasing Retail Return Insurance. It enables retailers to return your book if it doesn’t sell, so they feel more comfortable taking a chance on a lesser known title or author, and, at many stores, they will not even consider shelving a book unless it is returnable. If you can work it into your budget, you won’t regret it.

PROMOTION: Reaching Out and Touching Readers

“Promotion” is the fourth “P,” and involves selecting the specific advertising platforms, forms of media, promotional efforts, marketing products and networking avenues that you will use to spread the word about your book. Promotion is always ongoing, and your marketing plan should examine a number of different angles. Your promotional efforts should encompass various forms of media and utilize all kinds of channels, avenues and efforts, known as a “Marketing Mix.” There are traditional methods and promotional events you can arrange, but there are also many non-traditional areas just waiting for your Christian book.

When it comes to promotion, you’ve got options galore. But when planning, don’t forget about the basics, such as: who is your target audience? Where can you find them? What is your budget? These fundamental points should guide you when choosing your promotional strategies.

Consider all your promotional options from traditional elements such as seminars, book signings, readings and press releases to new marketing elements, such as online social networking, pay-per-click ads and e-zine article publishing. With a little research, you’re sure to find a combination of strategies that works for you.

•TIP: When dealing with media, retailers, and anyone else in the market, always remember to be professional, and always follow-up with your contacts. You cannot expect results without a follow-up effort. After distributing a press release to the media, contact them within a week or two, but be considerate of an organization’s right to turn you down. You can consider following up 90 days later with those who initially were not interested (unless told otherwise).

For an extensive list of promotional possibilities read the article, “17 Fundamental Ideas of How to Promote Your Christian Book” on our Web site.

Plot Your Marketing Strategies and Launch Your Plan into Action

The Four P’s of Marketing are essential in any marketing plan, but new ideas are always evolving, so keep your eyes open. Don’t forget to also sketch out a basic time-frame in which you will accomplish these tasks. Marketing and promotional efforts take time – time to manage, time to set up and time to complete. Be aware of how much time you have available to devote to your efforts and remember that things don’t happen overnight. Through patience and persistence, you will see ever-increasing, tangible results.

Now that you know the basics of how to create a marketing plan and strategies, it’s time to sit down and get started brainstorming ideas. By setting goals, staying focused, and utilizing the resources available to you through EverFaith Press, you’re sure to find success in your book marketing goals.

 

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