A Three-Step Program for Targeting Your Potential Customers
You can sell more of your books if you can answer two questions honestly. First, how often do people think about your book? Second, how often do people think about their problems and how to solve them? I think you will agree that people think more about themselves, how they can solve their problems, learn something, improve themselves or be entertained than they do about your book. However, if you can show them how they can help themselves through the content of your book, you are likely to increase your sales and revenue.
A three-step process can help you do that. It can organize your marketing efforts and focus them on the real reasons people purchase anything – to benefit themselves. And it provides a means for demonstrating to your audience the reasons why they should buy your book
Step One: Define your target reader. When asked who their target reader is, many authors reply, “I don’t know,” or “everybody who likes” their topic. Either answer can lead to problems. If your book is for everybody, how much could it cost you to reach them repetitively, if you could find a way to do so?
Consider Gloria Boileau’s title, Stop The Fear! Finding Peace in a Chaotic World, a book on ways to resolve fear. Everyone is afraid of something, at some level, but how can you tell “everyone” about your book and how it will help them? One way is to segment your target readers in categories, as described in my article Boost Your Bottom Line with Segmentation in the (Month) issue of the Independent. Using these techniques, Gloria might address the people who are afraid of flying, dying, being in a relationship, among other fears.
But you are marketing to people, not to segments, so who is the typical person in each segment who will actually purchase your book? If you can describe that individual and the problems that consume him or her, you can communicate the ways in which the content of your book can help them.
Continuing with the title Stop The Fear!, what if “soccer moms” were singled out as a target segment? These mothers might be fearful for the safety, health and future of their children. In this case, define the typical “mom” who will benefit by reading your book, in terms of age, education, life style and geography. Answer the following questions about the demographics of the target reader in each group, and then create a composite of the person to whom you will market.
What is her average level of education?
About how old is she?
How much money does she make?
To what ethnic or religious groups does she belong?
In what leisure activities do she participate or watch?
What magazines and newspapers does she read?
In what current events or issues is she most interested?
Is there a particular life event they are facing (e.g., divorce, retirement, childbirth)?
What makes her happy? Unhappy?
What are her problems or ponderous issues?
What organizations or associations does she join?
To what radio and television shows does she listen/watch?
Are there geographic concentrations of prospects?
How can you reach her?
The same concept applies to selling to special markets. Here, you should define the target industry, company, its products and person making or influencing the purchasing decision. Find out what problems the buyers (usually Product or Brand Managers) might experience selling their products, and how your content might help increase their companies’ revenue if used as a premium, gift or employee motivator.
Step Two: Create a PAR™ analysis. A PAR analysis is a brief description of the Problems relevant to your target readers, the Actions they can take to rectify their situations and the Results they can expect.
Use your research from Step One to list the problems facing your target prospects. For each problem (issue, situation, circumstance) facing them, think about how your content will show them how to take some action to resolve it. Then describe the results the reader can expect after taking that action. The outline looks like this:
Problem Action Results
The key is the Results column. This is the benefit that people get from reading your book. Rank these in order of importance to the reader, then communicate them in your publicity, advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, on your website and on your book’s rear cover. For example, let’s assume you are selling a book about how to get a job. Here is how the PAR analysis might unfold.
‘When do I use a functional resume or a chronological resume?”
Book has a checklist so the reader can decide exactly when each should be used
Reader is more likely to use the best tool at the right time and get a job more quickly
”What questions should I ask an interviewer?”
Book includes a list of sample questions to ask the interviewer
Reader is more likely to make a good impression and get a job offer faster
“How do I write a cover letter, narrowcast letter and thank you note?”
A formula used by advertising copywriters shows you how to write a variety of written job-search letters
Reader is more likely to write a persuasive letter that will enhance his or her chances of getting a job more quickly
Step Three: Use your PAR statements to develop a Benefit Statement. It is important to quickly and briefly tell potential readers how they will benefit by reading your book. There is a formula for writing your Benefit Statement in one-sentence that will describe the results target readers can expect to receive:
I help ------ (your target audience)
Who want ------ (problem they want to solve)
Get________ (results they want)
Using the PAR analysis above, your Benefit Statement for the job-search book might read:
“I help unemployed people who want practical answers to questions about finding a job, discover effective job-search techniques and get the best job quickly.”
Keep this statement in mind as you create your promotional material. Say it when people ask you what your book is about. Recite it on the air when the host asks you to briefly describe your book.
Another Practical use of a Benefit Statement
Your Benefit Statement is also useful in your telemarketing activities. When you call someone, one of two things will occur. The person will answer the phone or you will be transferred to voice mail.
In either case you must get the person’s attention and give a reason why he or she should listen to what you have to say. If a human answers, lead with your Benefit Statement and then ask if the person has time now to learn more. If you are transferred into voice mail, you must leave a pithy, provocative, benefit-laden message giving the person a reason to call you back. A sample format is:
1) Name and intro
2) Benefit Statement
3) Request for a return call
4) Contact information
5) A good time to call you
6) Thank you, Close
People buy for their reasons, not yours. These three steps can help you focus your attention where it belongs: on the needs of your prospects. Describe your target readers, conduct a PAR™ analysis, and write Benefit Statements for the typical prospects in each of your target segments and you should sell more books, more profitably.
is host of the National Special Sales Summit™ sponsored by Simon & Schuster, Publishers
Weekly and R. R. Bowker. Brian also conducts Book Marketing Monthly™ teleseminars. He is the author of Beyond
the Bookstore (a Publishers Weekly book) and The Marketing
Planning CD-ROM describing new ways to sell more books profitably to
special-sales buyers. Contact Brian at