Eight Surefire Ways to Self-Market a New Book

You’ve written a book and had 250 copies printed, you’ve sold two to your in-laws – now what do you do to get the rest of your $1,000 investment back?

Here are some 8 proven methods to enhance your sales

1) The Chain Book – Start you own bookstore utilizing “The Chain Book”. In 1932, a starving author wrote a book about fisherman and a haddock. Although the book was beautiful he had no sales, so he decided to start a club to allow everyone to make money. To start with, he put 24 similarly broke author’s names on a list and sent them a letter explaining his new book club. He instructed them to send a copy of their book to the person whose name was on the top of the list. Then each person was to remove the name of the first person from the list, add their name to the bottom and send the new list to the others on the list. Within just a few weeks 6000 books would arrive at their door to start their own book store – if no one breaks the chain of the book club.
2) Start a Writers Workshop – Teach a class for the workshop and force the student to purchase your book as a textbook and then revise it annually, so it can’t be sold to the next years students. Include lots of blank pages for class notes.
3) Share your vision – Proclaim your own religion or philosophy, become tax exempt and claim your book was a vision from God to be distributed to the chosen as a bible. Share the good news for a small tax-deductible donation. Salvation available for the truly devout.
4) Christmas Book Club – contact a grocery store and sell them on the idea of using the book as a shopper’s premium. For each $50 spent in their store, the manager would put in an “Order” for a chapter of the book for that customer. (The number of chapters could be negotiated with the store). When the shopper attains all the chapters of the free book, the loose pages would be delivered to the store where a display of beautiful covers would be for sale to complete the offer.
5) Build a Busy Bee Book Club – Parents would bring the child to the store on his birthday, along with his friends, to build a special book. For $25, each child would be given a blank cover that could be filled with pages from your book. Of course the child could color and decorate their own book to their specific taste. Special fonts and binding would be available for a small extra cost. For very special children, paid craftsmen could build the book and a professionally colored covers could be installed. A special handwritten note would be included in the jacket telling them to have a happy birthday for an extra charge.
6) Limited Edition Copies – Obtain an “exclusive” list of customers from your local phone book.
Send each a letter explaining how they are part of a “select” group of people who have been invited to purchase a Limited Edition Copy of your book. Of course these books are signed and numbered by you and shipped directly to the customer for a premium price. Extra non-exclusive copies would also be available for use as Christmas or Birthday Gifts at a lower bargain price.
7) Plant a Tree and a Book in Lebanon – To help with the reforestation of Lebanon, you would pledge a percentage of your book sale profits to be used to plant Cedar trees in Lebanon. Explain with a lot of book sales, plenty of water, and two or three hundred years, a wooden ship building industry could start again because of these fine patrons.
8) School Book Fund Raisers – Busy students are happy students, put them on the team by sending them home with ten books, of which the parents must purchase 9 that can be resold for $8 each. The tenth book could be kept at home or used for a fun Christmas gift. Extra sets would be available for the student overachiever.

For other great ideas and promotional items, Clarence Holm will soon be releasing his latest book with pre-sale pricing now available. Contact Clarence for group pricing discounts.

To Increase Sales – Frozen Pizza Maker Cans the Brand

It might sound like a recipe for disaster, but a regional frozen pizza maker, whose pies were formerly known as Bernatello’s, has dropped that brand name in favor of pursuing an upscale clientele.

In a market where sales are declining nationally, studies have shown that customers are heading back to their favorite restaurants, instead of popping in a frozen pizza. It turns out that people prefer a fresher better tasting product. In order to compete, Bernatello’s Foods has had to increase the quality of their product to meet this new customer focus and downplay their former brand name.

Bernatello’s Foods has its’ roots in a small Minnesota Tavern where is began its’ corporate life in 1970 as “Bud’s Pizza”. In 1982 Marigold Foods purchased a 50% share and changed the name to Bernatello’s. From there it has grown to a multi-state venture employing about 400 people.

Now despite 10% annual growth and yearly sales of over $80 million the company has seen the writing on the wall and is dropping their name from the packaging to emphasize their new push to quality.

Despite competition from multi-national brand like Nestle’s Digiorno or Tombstone and regional giant Schwan’s Red Baron, local Bernatello’s continues to hold fast at #2 in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee markets.

So why should a small town agent care about this change of sales strategy, besides getting a good tip on where to get their next frozen snack.

This sales strategy should be a road map for a successful independent agent. By focusing on quality, sales can go up even in the face of national competition. Insurance agents need to understand that they will not be able to make their voice be heard over the billions of dollars being spent to build insurance brand names. In order to prosper you must rely on a value proposition of service, quality and dependability.

A newspaper article published in Business Horizons back in 1988, “The Service-Quality Puzzle” still rings true. “To earn a reputation for quality, an organization must meet-or exceed- customer expectations.” Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus is quoted as saying “The dollar bills the customer gets from the tellers in four banks are the same. What is different are the tellers.”

If insurance agents continue to sell based on price, they will fail to differentiate themselves from the other dollar bills. The surest way to avoid that is to emphasize quality and value. That recipe is the surest way yet to get a larger slice of the pie.

Chicken Soup For My Soul

More years ago than I like to admit, I was raised on a small grain farm in North Dakota. It was about 500 acres of sandy loam soil that needed more water then it got and required all 6 of the children to work hard with my parents to scratch out a sharecropper’s living. If I learned anything from the experience, it was the value of good food to fuel my body for a hard day of chores.

The only things we had in abundance on that farm were vegetables from our huge garden and mean old clucking hens. As one of the younger children in the family, it was my daily job to gather the eggs from the coop. Everyday I had to confront those same old clucks who were intent on guarding the eggs in their care. With most chickens, a simple waive of the hand would send them running, but these evil creatures fought me hard with their beaks and claws.

It’s no wonder my favorite soup was chicken!

Of course I’m not talking about the soup that comes out of a red & white can! I’m talking about a soup that’s thick with chicken and vegetables and had battleship sized dumplings floating on the top. A soup that started on Monday, simmered on Tuesday, and only by Wednesday was ready for the table. It was the type of soup that didn’t need crackers and was served as a meal to give you the energy to work hard all day long.

Years later I’m finding, the values I learned on the farm are still valid today. Number one is, nobody likes an old cluck and two, that there is a huge difference between quick and easy and real homemade quality. People understand and appreciate the time and effort it takes to expertly combine high quality ingredients to make a product that satisfies.

Introduce Your Pooka

Over 60 year ago Elwood P. Dowd introduced the world to Harvey, an invisible 6’ 3.5” pooka. For those that are not fans of eclectic motion pictures, a pooka is an invisible mystical Celtic creature who is drawn to societal oddballs. Elwood P. Dowg spends his day shuffling through life with his constant companion, whom he introduces to all that will listen at every occasion.

Harvey Jimmy Stewart

While the film has many great lines and scenes, one of the best is when Elwood sister, Veta explains to her daughter how anyone could possibly believe in an invisible rabbit.

“Myrtle Mae, you have a lot to learn and I hope you never learn it”.

Many independent insurance agents operate much like Elwood P. Dowd. They plod along through their live with their own “pooka” (In the case of these insurance agents a “value” proposition) In order to stay in business, they must convince customers of the existence of the invisible benefits of service. To flourish, they need to find and identify prospects that can see value. As with Elwood, the insurance agent soon finds that the world is divided between those that can believe and those that can’t.

Service and value may not seem to be able to blow away the competition, but their irresistible attraction will serve you well. As Elwood explained to Dr. Chumley,

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

Never be afraid to introduce your pooka. If you don’t truly believe, no one else will either.

Little Green Lizards

Have you noticed that direct writing insurance companies spend millions of dollars to create personalities that potential customers can relate to? The diversity of their characters is astonishing! Their Madison Avenue creations include little green lizards, mustached generals or 1950’s inspired sales clerks with names that drip homespun charm.

Why would they do that? It’s expensive to build advertising icons. According to David Srere of Siegel+Gale, a global strategic branding firm “Building a world-class brand doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a purposeful endeavor that is rooted in the fusion of disciplined, strategic thinking and unencumbered creativity.” Direct writing insurance companies apparently go through that effort because, while price of insurance is a factor, it is only one component of the sales experience. If price were the only thing that people cared about, insurance would be nothing less than a bidding war, with sales going only to the lowest priced policy.

Branding is built right into your independent insurance agency’s reputation. It was created through your participation in your city’s government, your schools and your church. It was built by your family’s deep commitment to the community. Your brand was built reflecting the care you show to your neighbors and customers. It grows with each purchase of Girl Scout Cookies, school calendars or sport jerseys. It is an advantage you’ve earned through a lifetime of consideration for doing things right.

To downplay your agency’s brand and instead rely on a price war with direct writing companies, willing to spend billions on creating a fictitious replica of you, doesn’t make sense! To build websites that rely on online quoting engines, would be tantamount to joining the people who bet millions that they can replace you with a caricature.

For agents to survive and flourish in today’s insurance marketplace, they need to embrace their advantage. They need to understand that price is not the answer to what insured’s are asking. Independent agents need to realize customers are looking for protection and your agency’s brand and reputation is a big part of that package.

Sure, price is a portion of the sale, but it is a small piece. Your customers want to buy the entire package; they want your judgment as to which company would be a good match for their needs. They want your assurance that when it comes time to report a claim, they will be treated fairly. They want to know that your company will be standing with them, like you have for years and years. 

Everyone Price Shops?

Recently I ran into a group of shoppers that defy the current trend in which buyers flock to the internet searching for the lowest price. Despite sticker prices that were 3 – 4 times lower, a wider range of products and free delivery being offered, they opted for something different. These shoppers not only were billed more for their purchase, they willingly chose to pay more than asked because of the expertise and service the received with the sale.

What strange country was I visiting?

Actually it was Dave’s Town Club, a tavern in Delano, MN.

Day after day in cities all over Minnesota, customers line up at similar taverns to pay many times over what they could buy a beer for at the local liquor off sale. Not only that, customers did that even though off sales offer by far, a much wider range of products that could later be consumed at your home in a comfortable chair with easy access to a refrigerator full of snacks.

Why do they do it? Is it the cleanliness of the bar? Is it the excellent cuisine? Perhaps it’s the fragrant smell of stale beer lingering through-out the century old building! Maybe it’s the excitement of driving home after two beers and noticing a state trooper in the rear view mirror.

The answer is Dave; actually Dave and his staff. People willingly pay more to have a beer brought to their table in this place. In fact, not only do they pay more, they really don’t look at the price until later in the evening when they settle up the tab. How much a drink costs is not a factor, people don’t mind paying a fair price.

Some come for the excitement, others come for companionship(?), some come out just for the event, but I guarantee you, none came because Dave has the cheapest price. People assume the price is fair because they know Dave. Dave is a good guy who lives in town, has kids in the local school, give’s money to the local scouts and marches in the 4th of July Parade. Dave is one of us.

So why is it different when it comes to insurance? The answer is – it isn’t! People will buy insurance locally for many of the same reasons. Price isn’t the most important factor in selling insurance, you are.

A customer may come in your door and list price as one of the reasons for shopping, but unless you make it an issue, the coverage you offer and the explanations you give will have much more to do with the sale than any price discussed. People assume the price will be fair, because they know you and your kids. They’ve seen you at the business expo, and they’ve seen you carrying Girl Scout cookies. You are a good guy (gal)

Who knows they may see you at Dave’s.

Abstract Art

– Clarence Holm
In the center of the heartland, in a city of acclaim,
Stands a business covering peril, insuring patrons with the same.
Teamed together are exposures, led by wind fed claims
Rising towers with brick upon them, compensation is their claim,
Thoughtful reparations from them, will build their lasting fame!
There are fledgling statisticians among them, who pull an abstract cart.
Their articulated presentations, spiraling graphs featuring endless art,
Teaming with data whirled their numerically optical heart.
“Statistics! They will save us!” Digitally droning the numbers that start
Logically selecting permutations challenging the facts
 Predicting everything, even our most secret pacts.
It seemed the market tried to warn them,
But misplaced ego colored their art.
Managed expenses kept on rising
And funds fell off the chart.
As the business faltered,
And fame fell away.
The market kept on shifting
The numbers dropped each day.
In the center of the heartland, in a city of acclaim,
A new business seeks fresh patrons looking all the same.
Teamed together are exposures, led by wind fed claims,
Rising towers with brick upon them, compensation is their claim,
Thoughtful reparations from them, will build their lasting fame!