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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Marketing 101 - Product Part 1 (Revised)

What is a product?

Easy answer: anything that satisfies a customer need. So what need are you satisfying? If you write fiction you are satisfying the need of entertainment.  Now look at your genre. If you are going to write romance, you should understand what people need in a romance.  If you're writing science fiction, you had better understand their needs.  Each genre has to accomplish different goals but they have one thing in common: not understanding the motivation of the customer (e.g. the reader) will lead to bad word of mouth promotion.  It will likely also result in no repeat businesses.

So let's look at the process a reader goes through when choosing a book.  Originally I classified writing as a convenience good. These are goods that are purchased quickly and with little comparison.  Then I saw this definition and changed my mind.

"A category of consumer goods which are bought frequently, quickly and with a minimum of emotional involvement; the category includes staplesimpulse goods and emergency goods." 
Source: Marketing Information Centre Website

I think we can all admit that purchasing and reading a book is a very emotional investment. So how would marketers classify a work of fiction?

Novels are Classified as Shopping Goods

Here's a quote from The Encyclopedia Britannica

SECTION: Shopping goods
A second type of product is the shopping good, which usually requires a more involved selection process than convenience goods. A consumer usually compares a variety of attributes, including suitability, quality, price, and style. Homogeneous shopping goods are those that are similar in quality but different enough in other attributes (such as price, brand image, or style) to justify a search...

Customers will likely compare your book to many others before making the purchase decision. Why do you care?
Well, you need to know your competition if you want to stand out from them. For right or wrong people will judge a book by its cover. Spend the money and get decent, attractive, professional cover art.  Would people still by Coca Cola it was sold in mason jars?


There is a generally accepted ranged of prices for books.  Falling above or below that range will alter how customers think of your product.  To cheap is perceived as being a garbage or discount product.  Too high will dissuade them from the purchase.


And here's where the writing comes in.  As writers we often think this is the most important thing.  However, if you turn away readers with a bad cover and an inappropriate price they will never get to experience your style.

Having said that, your style is the most important thing to improve repeat business (e.g. buying your subsequent books) and encouraging the customer to speak well of your book.  Spend time making sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation is accurate.  Consider taking a few writing classes or at least join a writer's collective like Suckers Guild or the Independent Author's Network.

You will notice there is no need for "substance" here, only style.  I'm focused on helping you market your product, not win a Pulitzer.

It's Not Just The Book - Market Yourself

Whether you are looking to become a household name or simply want to encourage read loyalty, you also need to consider “person marketing”. This means you need to market yourself and not just your writing.

Now you know how your good is classified. In the next post we'll discuss how you can use this information.

What is Product Marketing?

Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

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