I met a woman at a book publishing conference over the summer who really impressed me. She explained how people tend to fall into one of four types of learners and that once you know how to teach someone—based on their type—you are able to truly help them. These learning types tended to vary from one another by a certain degree, enough to the point that one would not be confused with another. Imagine if her work was used to help dissect the four types of consumers and how to sell to each type once you’ve identified their type? Imagine if you could write books in a way that keeps in mind the different learning styles out there? Imagine if the world could be chopped up and labeled so easily?
I tend to doubt the accuracy of any system that attempts to categorize and neatly separate people. There are always exceptions and there are often people who could fall into multiple categories. Still, that said it’s worth exploring if there are different types of consumers out there when it comes to books and if there’s a way to figure out how to sell to each of these types.
People buy books for all kinds of reasons and some are obvious. They like the genre or the particular author. They read a positive review. A friend recommended it. A book club chose it. They are buying a gift for someone.
But, within those reasons, choices still need to be made. What influences those choices?
Some will say it comes down to things like title and cover design or price or book length. Certainly these things factor into a purchasing decision, but what else appeals to or turns off potential consumers?
I think we buy books that we think:
We should read because they are popular
Will be just like something else we enjoyed
Will be so different from our usual fare
Will have key elements such as sex, adventure, or fantasy
Will be so different from the life we live
Will be useful
Is needed in our ives
If some of these things swirl around the heads of consumers, how do we, as authors, appeal to the consumer in a way that we convince them that we have exactly what they need, want or desire?
You have to appeal to multiple push-buttons of consumers. One line of your back cover copy might appeal to the person looking to suspend reality while another line may describe something that helps the potential reader identify with. And another line may reference some other sales point.
People will be sold to in different styles. Some pay attention to the facts while others buy on emotions. For some, content is king and for others it’s all about price and perceived value. Most people just want things made easy and convenient and will pay a premium for this. Others like to ask questions and mull over the least risky of decisions as if they were Hamlet.
You can say forget all of this and just sell the way you know, to your comfort level, to the type of consumer you can relate to. You are willing to risk losing sales if it brings you closer to winning over a certain percentage of sales by playing to your strengths.
Maybe a book should just sell itself. A reader should be able to determine in one minute whether a book is for them, based on key factors such as price, title, subject matter, writing style, and layout. But in order to get people to explore these things, one must call attention to their book. Your ad, blog post, tweet, Web copy, and press release must immediately get one’s attention and make them feel connected to your book. Choose your words carefully, for depending on what you say—and how you say it—you may appeal to many consumers or none at all. It depends on their learning style.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.
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