From author Claire King:
Here are five questions for you. Answer fast. No need to write them down:
1) What is your favourite beer/wine/fizzy drink?
2) What toothpaste do you use?
3) How do you choose what films to watch?
4) If you could eat out tonight (at your own expense) where would you go?
5) What does the price of a book tell you?
Got the answers? Good, because today I want to talk about authors as brands. Not about your ‘social media strategy’ or how you wear your hair at book signings. No, I want to talk about what messages you want to send out about your work to people who might want to buy it.
I’m neither a publisher nor a book marketeer, but I do know something about brand management. Once upon a time I used to work for the people who made Pampers, Pringles, Head & Shoulders, Hugo Boss, Max Factor…
And what all those brands have in common is that they aim to stand out in some way. We call it product differentiation: They make your clothes softer, your shave closer, provide greater protection for your baby’s delicate bottom cheeks against the evil of poo. They bring health to your teeth and the appearance of health to your hair. It takes fewer sheets to wipe up a spill, or indeed to, well, wipe. In this way you are better served by the products, your life is made more comfortable or pleasurable in some way. This does not just happen because the TV commercial tells you so, but because a lot of clever people have been working hard for a long time in order to try and make it that way. It is product differentiation that leads you to be able to answer questions 1-4 above with anything other than “I don’t care, whatever is cheapest.” Did any of you say that, by the way?
. . . .
In the world of publishing, how do books differentiate themselves?
- Author credentials (she’s always really funny/moving, he’s famous, her books are always page-turners…)
- Publishing house credentials
- Literary prize endorsements
- Word of mouth
- Retailer credentials?
. . . .
People think they like choice, but in reality they don’t, not so much. Choice is complicated. Packed supermarket shelves are stressful and time consuming. Shopping where you have the choice between apples, oranges and peaches is far less stressful than a choice of a hundred different fruits. And when consumers are faced with a choice where they don’t have the information – or time – to decide, they tend to use price as a measure of quality.
There is an implied value in certain prices. If you see a packet of sausages on sale for 50 cents and another on sale for 4.00€, and you’ve never heard of the manufacturers, chances are you will make a leap of logic as to which will have the more quality ingredients. Which will taste the best. Which will not only satisfy your hunger but also nourish you. In general:
- Very low price = utter rubbish. Does not work, falls to bits.
- Low price = low quality. The thing works. Often sells in bulk.
- Mid price range = mid quality. Mass market. Nice. Towards the bottom end of this range are cheap brands, towards the top end are pricier ones.
- High Price = high quality. It’s durable, or niche, luxurious or has a monopoly on the market.
- Very high price = status symbol.
Link to the rest at Claire King