How Left-Brainstorming Can Improve Book Marketing
A core axiom of non-bookstore marketing, where you sell books directly to corporations or associations, is that you are not selling your book, but the use of your content to solve a prospective customer’s problem. Showing your potential buyers how to do that may take a little creativity.
Brainstorming is key to finding new ways to solve your prospective customers’ problems and develop a new source of significant special-sales revenue.
For example, what if you have a book on dog care? You would probably consider a manufacturer of dog-food as a prospect. After talking with a product manager at one of those companies you learn that he or she wants to increase sales of their 20-pound bags of dog food. During a brainstorming session you come up with the idea of helping them solve their problem by placing a coupon in (or on) the bags offering a free download of your ebook to their customer. Voila. They sell more dog food and you have just sold 5,000 ebooks, since they will purchase the one-time-use codes in advance.
You may think, “So what. I don’t have a book on dog care.” Or, “My book is fiction and that won’t work.” If so, you are probably in analytic mode, not allowing your innate creativity to come through. Not everyone believes they are original thinkers, and they assume innovative problem solving is reserved for right-brain “creative types” who find ideas flowing liberally in a free-wheeling brainstorming session. In reality, we are all creative, but this trait is revealed in different ways.
Left-brainstorming is an alternative to traditional brainstorming that allows introverted, analytical types to unleash their innate creativity. Left-brainstorming deviates from right-brainstorming in one important way. It is initially conducted in solitude, encouraging more-systematic people to make valuable contributions in a comfortable way and write their ideas down prior to the meeting.
Ideas generated in a left-brainstorming session are usually targeted and concise for three reasons. First, analytical people tend to describe things in a pithier manner. Second, there is no prolonged discussion of the idea until later in the process. And finally, people are not intimidated since there is no opportunity for others to dismiss their ideas. As Charlie Brower says, “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip, and worried to death by a frown.”
After the period of seclusion, everyone gathers again to discuss their ideas. When a concept is presented, the piece of paper on which it was written is placed on a wall, grouped with others by topic. As the process unfolds, the initial concept is developed and honed so the end result is tailored to solve the initial challenge. The participants add to – or offer an alternative to -- others’ ideas, but in a less contentious environment.
Participants finally judge the applicability of ideas and eliminate those they feel are impractical. An explanation is given as to why an idea is being removed from consideration, so egos are less likely to be damaged.
Another benefit of this technique is that the problem-solving session can evolve over a longer period than traditional brainstorming. If the idea cards remain on the wall, people can contribute at different times. Those who were not in the original session can view the cards and offer their comments. If posted online, people from distant locations can also make suggestions, since the trail of ideas is visible and fluid.
There is no “one way” to come up with creative solutions to marketing challenges. No formula exists to unleash innovative thinking. Solutions to problems can arise at any time, through a brainstorming session or serendipity. The only block to coming up with new ideas is one’s belief that he or she is not creative. If you feel that way, seek those of similar ilk and try left-brainstorming. You may be surprised at the fun you can have doing what you previously thought was impossible.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."