Why does your work matter?
What experiences do you have to share with others and what value do you offer that only you can provide?
Because, if you can’t easily and clearly articulate your vision or the purpose behind your work, you will never be able to convey its importance to others. [CLICK TO TWEET]
It’s not enough just to be good at what you write. You need to be able to create an emotional connection with your reader – often before they’ve had a chance to read your book.
How you position your work, how you distinguish yourself from others in your field or genre, as well as how all your efforts are perceived or interpreted by your readers, can be the difference between a brand that’s fab, or one that fizzles.
When your brand is cohesive and well-articulated, your marketing initiatives will be too. Branding encompasses the foundational elements of marketing: visual identity, key messaging, brand personality, and competitive advantage.
– Brian Lischer
Effective branding is foundational to the development of your writer platform and audience-building efforts. The author who can tap into what their readers yearn for – and construct an entire experience around what they crave – is the author that earns the devoted fan base.
In this 3-part Author Branding Series we:
- Clarified what personal branding is, and why it’s essential to incorporate into your writing business if you want to stand out from the crowd.
- We covered the most common mistakes writers make when building their author brand
. Andin this final post, we focus on brand strategy and how you will connect your work and writing to the people who will be most inclined to read and appreciate it.
Brand Strategy: Develop a Tactical Plan to Guide You
Successful authors shape and manage readers’ perceptions by controlling the message. That’s why a powerful author brand is designed – not stumbled upon by accident. You must envelop readers in an experience, from the moment they come in contact with you, to after they buy, and beyond.
(If you already have an established author brand, use the following to revisit, review, and refine what you already have in place. Brands are not static, so an audit of your current brand strategy is a good way to ensure you’re still on track.)
Define, Build and Maintain an Unforgettable Author Brand
This is where you pull together the visual, written and in-person brand elements that support (or tie-in with) your brand story, the needs and desires of your readers, and your personal objectives for your writing career.
Get your free Author Brand Strategy Framework here:
Again, it’s not just what you say, but how you communicate your message to your audience that makes an impact.
It’s also important to note that there is a difference between brand and genre. Be careful not to over-invest in the stylings and look of one particular genre, unless you’re certain that it “fits” with your brand strategy and story longer term.
1 // Define (or refine) your author brand’s core identity.
There is no point in marketing and promoting a brand you have yet to crystallize, so your first step is to very clearly define your brand purpose and values. Only once you have this nailed down can you confidently promote – and have your readers champion – your brand.
- Purpose: The purpose of your author business, and the reason(s) you write what you write.
- Vision: Your vision statement outlines your objectives and what you want to be, do or have as your writing career evolves.
- Mission: What you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, whom you’re doing it for, and why it’s important.
- Values: The personal and professional principles upon which your work is founded. (What do you stand for?)
The easiest and simplest way to carve out your own unique space as an author is to be yourself.
Before you do anything to promote yourself or your work, you MUST be able to articulate why you write what you write, and who cares that you write it.
So to unpack that a little, knowing yourself is:
a) what you do: Write fiction or nonfiction, coach, speak, etc.
b) how you do it: your difference from your competitors – and in marketing speak, it’s your unique selling proposition, or what makes your work distinct from other writers in your field.
And c) why you do it: it’s why you get up at 5 am to squeeze in your daily word count, it is the meaning and message behind your work, it’s the transformation in your reader that you hope to evoke, and it’s the worldview that informs your author brand. (You may also include your inspiration and the promise you are making to your readers.)
And then, once you are super clear as to your reason for why you do what you do, it is much easier to share that vision with your potential readers and weave it through the rest of your marketing strategies.
2 // Identify your desired outcomes and strategic objectives.
It’s essential that you identify your goals and objectives. Everything you write or create should be moving you closer to these goals.
You need to know where you are trying to take your readers (the buyer’s journey) and create goals and objectives for your content that will move people to action.
Strategic objectives are the tangible author business goals that you plan to achieve. Your purpose, vision, and mission will guide your choices and by outlining your objectives, it will help you articulate what you want to achieve, how and when you will achieve it, and how much commitment it will take.
By focusing your time, energy and resources on those things that are most important to you, rather than being distracted by *all the things*, you’re more likely to reach the outcomes you desire.
You’ll also need to identify the metrics that show you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
Develop methods to collect and organize your data. Then, analyze trends that emerge from your findings, and do so on a regular basis.
- Your actual income vs. your goal income.
- Your expenses, including book production costs, website, and other online costs, marketing costs, etc.
- Your “competition”. It’s imperative to have a clear idea of what other authors in your niche or topic area are up to as well.
- Your marketing effectiveness. This lays the groundwork for future plans, and keeping track of results is the only way to improve your marketing efforts.
Analyze the intelligence you’ve collected, draw conclusions, and refine your strategies based on what you discover.
3 // Position your brand and highlight your value proposition.
What makes you attractive to readers? With all the potential distractions vying to grab a reader’s attention, you must be able to give people a reason to choose you.
Take what you’ve learned in section 1, and outline your unique areas of advantage or value, and clarify what makes you and your work different.
What is the experience you create, the desired impact you make or the benefit you bring?
Positioning is simply the place your brand (and books) occupy in the mind of your reader, and how that reader perceives your work as fulfilling their needs or desires.
How are you currently positioned in the market? Are you where you want to be, or do you need to make some changes to better reflect your unique value to readers?
Also, consider making a list of authors in your genre or topic area to evaluate how well they are meeting the needs and expectations of their readers.
Can you see some areas where they are falling short, or failing to deliver on their promises?
Given your particular strengths and talents, are you able to fill the gap?
In order for you to be able to claim a unique and defendable place in the market, you need to determine:
- What makes your work compelling – what differentiates you and your work and how well does that align with the wants, needs, and desires of the people you are reaching?
- How readers can discover your value – through their own experiences via short stories, a free ebook, sample chapters, your blog, social media interaction, or through word-of-mouth and other influencers.
Your author brand positioning will inform much of your business and marketing plans going forward, so it’s important you get it right.
4 // Discover your brand personality, voice, and narrative.
It’s your brand personality, voice and messaging that truly impact your brand’s engagement with readers.
Brand personality is the unique spectrum of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are intrinsic to a brand. Just like people, brands can be quirky, inspiring, roguish or stodgy – or anything in between.
And along with personality, your brand’s voice helps your readers identify and connect with you in a deeper way.
Your language, tone, and verbal style distinguish your brand from other authors in your genre or niche – ideally making your work immediately recognizable (whether via your marketing collateral, website and social media copy, or your books).
To pull everything together you must:
- Know who you are. Your brand purpose and values as in #1 above; what motivates you at the deepest levels?
- Know who you are talking to. Develop comprehensive and nuanced reader personas of your target audience.
- Know what to say and how to say it. This is not only your style and tone, but also messaging that is engaging and relatable.
Readers will sense misalignment if you’re trying to be something you’re not, so do the work to uncover your brand personality, your authentic voice, and tell a genuine brand story that resonates.
5 // Configure the ‘architecture’ of your author brand.
Your brand architecture is the clearly defined configuration of your books (genres), series, services or any speaking or workshop options that you offer.
Sub-brands – that target multiple genres and different pockets of readers with distinct colors, types of imagery, logos, different promises, and different positioning – are a possibility as you continue to grow your author brand over time.
You’ll need to determine (or plan ahead for) any additional markets and audiences you can tap into, additional platforms you can develop, or additional books or series you can write, going forward.
By adopting a distinct and logical brand architecture, you are better able to optimize your marketing efficiency, clarify the role of each area of your writing business and more importantly, control the way your readers discern your brand.
As you begin working on your brand architecture, consider the following:
- Will you be creating new books, series or additional items in the same category or topic area?
- Can you successfully create distance between various pen names and genres/topic areas to reach different target audiences?
- Do you have too many sub-brands or off-shoots or a lack of ‘daylight’ between sub-brands?
- Can readers distinguish your main author brand from your various sub-brands? (Have you differentiated between brand “you” and the genre you write in, for example?)
- Are your offerings in conflict (writing erotica and children’s books for example)? How will you handle discordant sub-brands?
- Can you afford the creative and time costs required to build and maintain each sub-brand?
The best brand architecture is built on a solid foundation of research into customer awareness, preference, and experience.
Consider both your readers’ needs and wants, as well as your own objectives when determining your author brand architecture.
Implement Your Brand Strategy
Once you’ve worked through these ideas and developed your author brand strategy, don’t just leave it on your hard drive.
Determine when and how you’ll begin implementing your brand strategy and create 30, 60 and 90-day action plans to get you there.
Questions? Comments? Please share them below.
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