Promote A Book – Are You Positioned For Maximum Growth?

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positioned for growth

Promote A Book – Are You Positioned For Maximum Growth?

Positioning… it’s a good word. It has enough syllables to sound important and when it comes to marketing and when you want to promote a book, it gives off a connotation that things are being done right. However, many people do not know what it is or what it means? It’s like branding; many believe that branding is packaging and a logo. And while packaging and a logo both play a part in helping one to brand and position, it does neither in it of itself.

Al Ries and Jack Trout, in their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk (HarperBusiness, 1994) speak about the laws that would create one’s positioning: law #2, the Law of Category and law #7 the Law of the Ladder. I think that looking at these two will help to explain positioning well and will be critical to understand if you are planning to promote a book.

To respect intellectual property rights, I state first that the two examples I will use, Avis and Amazon, are the examples expressed by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their books. After all, Jim Rohn, noted public speaker and business philosopher, once said, “If it’s been said well, don’t try to re-state it; just give credit where credit is due.” So I give credit to Jim, Al and Jack!

Positioning, quite simply, is the “position” from where you will market your company and to promote a book. So, obviously being number one at what you do is the ultimate position, but that belongs to only one company. And, as Al and Jack said, “It always comes down to a two-horse race, #1 and #2; everyone else is a ‘me-too’ company.” With that said, let’s jump to law number seven, The Law of the Ladder to start.

In the law of the ladder, one must market from the rung on the ladder you are on. This is true if you are trying to promote a book, service or product. Since everyone likes to THINK they are THAT GOOD and aspire to be number one, often that is how they try to position themselves. In doing so, since the public is NOT dumb and they know who REALLY is number one, they dismiss you as a wannabe me-too company or author. In the Avis example, Avis tried for many years to close the gap between themselves and Budget Rent-A-Car, who is number one. Since the public knew Budget was number one, it never took Avis seriously enough for any significant growth to occur. However, when Avis realized that they were positioning themselves improperly and changed their positioning by changing their slogan to, “No. 2… We Try Harder,” they managed to close the gap.

But what if you’re not number two? What if you are just starting to promote a book and you are wondering “How can I promote my book?” Well these are great questions! After all, just like number one, the coveted position of number 2 only goes to one company as well. This is where the law of category comes in. If you can’t be number one (or number two), create a new category where you CAN be number one! That is what Amazon did. Amazon knew they could not overtake Barnes & Noble or Borders, who were entrenched as one and two, so they created the new category of “online bookstore.” This branded them and positioned them. They positioned themselves as the best bargain in books, online. People knew that their JIT (just in time) model meant a lower price, but you had to wait on shipping. Today, if you have an e-book reader, satisfaction is immediate (which Amazon pioneered as well). These points should not go unnoticed if you are trying to promote a book regardless if it is an e-book are the old fashion hard copy book.

Okay, so we know what positioning is, but how do we do it? How do I promote a book with the tens of thousands of other authors competing to promote a book as well? Another set of great questions (you are so full of questions)!

The best vehicle for this is Public Relations (PR). Why PR, you ask (again with the questions… keep them coming)? Well, I will answer your question with a question of my own. Would you rather be sold or would you rather have a conversation where you learn about a topic of interest and make your OWN decision on whether or not it is for you? If you were not the person trying to promote a book, but instead are looking to buy a book, do you want to make your own choice of book or do you want someone to make it for you?

If you chose making your own decision (I imagine that most of you want to make your own choices), then I would bet that you are a channel surfer/DVR/TiVo person who skips commercials. I will bet further that you are a web browser, pop-up ad blocker user and you would do anything in your power to be able to have the purveyors of SPAM (not the lunch meat, while you may want to do that to them too… just kidding) locked up and kept within a mile of any computer (or refrigerator). Guess what? You are not alone. So if that is how most people view advertising, how do you intend to get your message through to your public as you go about trying to promote a book, service or product?

What if (here’s a crazy idea) during your attempts to promote a book you were able to be invited, as a guest, into someone’s home and have someone who is trusted and respected by the inhabitants of the home, pat you on the back, call you an expert, and imply to those residents that you are likeable and trustworthy… that they should listen to you? What would that be worth to your company, book, product or service? That is what PR does through the power of the media. It is hands down the most effective way to promote a book; especially if you are an unknown or relatively new author.

While people may not like commercials, banner ads, pop-ups and SPAM, they LOVE their favorite talk show. Whether it’s Oprah trying to promote a new book or author, Montel Williams, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Alan Colmes or any other talk show host. When they are listening, THEY ARE LISTENING! Whatever these hosts may say carries weight with the listener, so when he or she says, “And today, joining us is (fill in your name) noted expert on (fill in your topic) and the author of the book (if you have a book)…” the audience comes to respect, like and trust you.

Plus, instead of 30 seconds to one minute on a TV or radio commercial (will most likely get TiVo’d and skipped), you get 5 to 20 minutes (depending on the medium) to be able to really discuss your message and promote a book, service or product. And, at the prices for one-minute commercials, it costs a fraction for a full comprehensive interview with the implied endorsement and attentive audience.

Finally, as Al Ries, in his book, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, states: “…advertising does not brand [or position], PR does; advertising supports the brand.” Then you will realize that you will be killing to birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking of course… no offense to the environmentalist or PETA reader). So save money, get positioned, be heard and liked, and get known as you try to promote a book, service or product. Start casting your stone!


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