The Marketing and Sales Process for Authors

You’ve probably heard the term “marketing funnel”, what you’re about to discover is that the funnel concept is seriously flawed and results in confusing authors and business people alike. When properly applied a marketing and sales process will result in predictable results and will eliminate the “icky” feeling most people have around the act of selling.

In previous episodes of Saturday Secrets, I explored using the Marketing Pyramid approach to building you Author Platform. To recap the Marketing Pyramid consists of three frameworks:

  1. Foundations
  2. Systems
  3. Media

Additionally, the three elements that make up the Systems Framework are:

  1. Branding
  2. Marketing & Sales Process
  3. Tools to make it happen

The Marketing and Sales Process

Firstly, I want to debunk a few myths and explain a few truths around sales that causes all but the most seasoned “foot in the door” sales people to lay awake at night as they dread the next interaction with a prospect.

  1. Your publishing project will never be successful unless somebody buys your work. That’s right, a sale must occur,
  2. Sales don’t just happen by magic. Somebody must present a value proposition to a prospect and if they perceive the value they receive outweighs the cost then a sale will be made,
  3. The sales process shouldn’t be about high pressure tactics, spin or BS. You’re building an author platform here which requires a long-term view with repeat sales and referrals; none of which will occur with high pressure tactics,
  4. Marketing and sales are parts of one continues process despite most businesses treating them as two distinct activities,
  5. The “sales” effort required is directly proportional to the risk the buyer perceives. A low priced book say $20-$30 has a low perceived risk compared to a more complex publishing project such as a comprehensive online training course costing $2,000 and thus a book sale should require zero one on one effort by the author,

Funnel Thinking is Flawed
I first came across marketing and sales funnels back in the 1980’s and don’t know how long they had been around beforehand or who to blame for this dumb concept. However, I constantly see the flawed concept being peddled by scores of “so called” marketers. I say “so called” as I seriously doubt that they have ever operated a real and viable business in their life.

Take a look at the typical marketing and sales funnel

Leads somehow poor into the top, gravity takes over and eventually magic happens and a small number of leads turn into customers.

Imagine Henry Ford back in the early 1900’s using this approach to build the Model T. He would throw in engines, wheels, bodywork and mountains of other bits and pieces and as if by magic a finished car popped out the end. You don’t have to be Einstein to see that this is just plain stupid and wouldn’t work, so why then do people apply this same flawed thinking to their marketing and sales process?

The answer is simple, they don’t actually have a Marketing and Sales Process.

Five Reasons Why the Marketing and Sales Process is Important

  1. A well designed and executed marketing and sales process will take a potential customer on a “buyers journey”. This journey replicates the steps they want to go through to be convinced that your value proposition is something they are willing to invest in. By paralleling their journey your process will increase trust and make it easy for them to buy.
  2. Once your process is in place it makes it easy to measure the effectiveness of each step and enables easy tweaking to optimize return on investment (ROI)
  3. It will eliminate the need for any “icky” selling tactics.
  4. It’s easily replicable and scalable once your process has been fine tuned.
  5. The biggest of all is that, it’s what makes you money.

Now take a look at the three phases of Attract, Sell, WOW. When broken down you can immediately see that it’s an actual process which also, by design, it follows a typical “Buyers Journey”.

The WOW phase is were real long term success is made and clearly demonstrates why “funnel” thinking is flawed as funnels end at the sale point and don’t look to create long term sustainable relationship. Make it a process and add WOW to multiply your results 2x or 4x, I’ve know some authors who are achieving 10x results due to a well-executed WOW phase.

Let’s take a moment to consider each of the three phases of a marketing and sales process.

  1. Attract is the first element in a marketing and sales process and comprises 3 stages
    1. Target: This is your clearly defined target market and avatar but remember that it’s OK to have more than one target however it’s not OK to communicate with more than one at a time.
    2. Attract Interest: You need to work out were you’re most likely to encounter your target audience. Think about online AND offline locations.
    3. Collect leads: Capturing their contact details enables you to nurture relationships and underpins ongoing communication. Think lead magnets, sample chapters, book sales, online groups etc.
  2. Sell is the second element and is where a profitable long term relationship starts.
    1. Educate: This is where you communicate the value of your proposition to your prospect. With books, the back-cover blurb is the most important education tool however bigger ticket publishing projects usually require much more detail.
    2. Offer: With a book this is simply the price but with big programmes this will be more detailed and may even offer payment plans.
    3. Close: You will make more sales if you ask people to buy. Again, with a book it may be as simple as a “buy now” button on a webpage. Big programmes often require a one on one conversation so you need to prepare for this. The key thing to remember is that if your processes deals properly with all the previous steps, hard selling is unnecessary, your prospects will be looking for reasons to purchase…say good bye to that “icky” selling feeling for ever.
  3. WOW is the final element but the one that builds a sustainable platform and that brings in 2X, 4X or even 10X sales.
    1. Deliver and WOW: You’ve asked your new customer to take a leap of faith. Now it’s time to not only deliver but to over deliver. Your product must, as a minimum, meet all the promises you’ve made in the previous stages however if you over deliver you will exceed their expectations and build a customer relationship that will last a very long time. Some “no or low cost” things an author should consider include, fast fulfilment, add a bookmark, send a PDF containing some additional information, provide links to social connection points etc.
    2. Offer More: This is the reason you build an author platform. It’s 10 times cheaper and faster to sell something more to an existing client than a prospect. Time to get writing your next book, make an offer into a coaching program, build a tribe, create an online program, the options are limitless.
    3. Get Referrals: The lowest cost way to gaining new customers is via referrals from existing clients. Do this well and you will tap into your customer’s networks at no or low cost to you. In no time, you will be on the path to 2X, 4X or even 10X your results.

Key Takeaways for Your Marketing and Sales Process

  1. Follow the formula and it works,
  2. Measuring key inputs identifies improvement opportunities,
  3. Gives consistent and thus predictable results,
  4. Use automation to quickly and easily scale.

I know, building your Author Platform can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In coming episodes, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and low cost approach to building a solid platform that you can leverage for many years to come.

Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:
Your marketing and sales process is an important element in building your author platform and your subsequent success as an author. Rather than rushing out and investing in the latest tech toy, I always look to run the process manually at first otherwise you run a very grave risk of having tools that aren’t fit for your ideal process…but more on that in later articles.