For companies looking to generate new sales, one expert has an interesting, effective approach --- books.
More specifically, one book written by a senior manager, usually President or CEO, that is designed to display the firm's prowess in the target sector.
According to Victor Cheng, "it can be a powerful credibility building and revenue generating marketing tool. This approach can add to a firm's reputation within its sector and attract clients."
Cheng's company has criteria that they use to judge if a company is in the so called "sweet spot" for what it calls a "Bookmercial." This also happens to be the name of his firm:
Those five criteria are:
- Market Uniqueness. The first thing we look for in a client situation is whether or not the client offers its clients anything unique or special. Typically this involves provide a product or service that's unique in the marketplace. More commonly, it's developing a more specialized version of an existing product or service that's been tailored to a unique type of customer that's been previously ignored
When you have something unique to offer the marketplace, a Bookmercial can powerfully communicate and explain that difference in a way that's difficult to do in a 30 second commercial, 4 minute cold call, or 1 page email. Sometimes offerings that are unique are unique and different in deep and meaningful ways--something that requires a bit of an explanation to convey. This is where a Bookmercial can excel.
What a Bookmercial can NOT do is manufacture market uniqueness where none exists. A Bookmercial that does not ultimately present a unique solution to its reader is one that can't be effective. Uniqueness is critical to getting a Bookmercial to be effective.
- Solve A Problem Prospects Want Solved. Do your products and services solve a problem that your prospects care deeply about? It's impossible to sell a prospect a solution to a problem that he fundamentally does not want solved. Note there is a difference between a prospect caring about a problem vs. being aware of a problem. It's possible for a prospect to have low awareness of a problem, but still care about it once it's brought to his attention.
A Bookmercial can make prospects significantly more aware of their problems. But, a Bookmercial can not make them care about a problem they fundamentally have no interest in solving (whether they are aware of it or not).
Phrased differently, the marketer want to make sure the benefit of solving the problem is something the prospect cares a lot about--even if they aren't aware of their problems or don't fully appreciate how their problems are connected to the outcome they desire.
- Be A Genuine Expert. A big part of the value of a Bookmercial is that its positions the author as an obvious and credible expert in their industry. In many cases, our CEO clients have become THE expert in their industries--most often because they were the first to publish a book on their highly specialized area of expertise. When we work with clients, it's important that they are actually genuine experts in their fields.
With a Bookmercial, the company says it can work with a genuine expert to have him or her be perceived as the leading expert in the field. Staff cannot unfortunately take someone who does know know much and do the same. A Bookmercial is about helping marketplace perceptions catch up with what is already true.
In our experiments, creating a Bookmercial for someone who's not an expert just backfires. It sets high expectations among a client's marketplace that the client can't meet.
- Prospect's Purchasing Process is Research Oriented. A Bookmercial excels as a sales tool when selling complicated, confusing, high-priced products and services. It's largely overkill and not useful for selling low price, impulse purchase type items. You don't need a Bookmercial to sell toilet paper. You might need a Bookmercial to sell toilet paper manufacturing equipment that costs $1 million.
- Clear Objectives. While publishing a Bookmercial, or any book for that matter, is a nice ego boost (the autographs, people asking to take a photo with you), it's critical that a Bookmercial be designed around specific objectives and outcomes. One of the first things Bookmercial does with its clients on a new project is to tell them to forget about the book. They usually ask, "Tell us your vision of how life or business is different AFTER the book."
According to Cheng, the book is largely irrelevant. It's just a means to an end--a method of achieving an outcome that you want. All of our Bookmercial projects are custom designed to solve specific marketing challenges.
Client objectives have included:
- Establishing one's self as the #1 thought leader in a focused market segment
- Targeting an under-served customer segment with a new type of solution they haven't see before
- Enable us to access demographically specialized radio talk shows that we haven't previously been able to reach
- Increase revenues from my retail partners who aren't as good at sell our product as we are
- Increase our market's awareness of a very serious problem they will want to solve, but don't yet realize they have
- Publish a book to establish credibility as an expert and leverage that perception into publishing articles in my industry's trade journal
- Pre-condition prospects to perceive my sales force as value-added consultants instead of "salespeople"
The more research and information intensive the buying process is for the buyer, the more likely a Bookmercial will be effective. The reason is a Bookmercial is not really a brochure for your business.
A better way to think about it is it's the best buyer's guide in your industry that happens to feature your products and services as case studies and examples.
The goal with a Bookmercial is to publish the single most useful pre-purchase research tool in your industry. When all the prospects are coming to your Bookmercial to "learn what it is they know they don't know", your company ends up being the first one they consider.
Cheng makes the analogy that it's like the retail store Target rerouting all of Wal-Mart's traffic through the Target parking lot first.
If the prospects come to you first (primarily for knowledge, research, and guidance), when it comes time to look for product and services the majority also opt to go with your company.
For more details, go to http://www.bookmercial.com/