The Customer Value Proposition: A New Twist on an Old Marketing Technique
There is a fairly common marketing concept that can help you write a better press release, perform more successfully on the air, and sell more books in large, non-returnable quantities to corporate buyers. It is called a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) and it is a concise way to clearly and quickly portray to prospective buyers how your content can benefit them.
This concept of communicating benefits to get people to buy your books is certainly not new, but its common implementation belies that fact. Publishers still send press releases with the headline, “We are proud to announce the publication of …” the common reaction to which is “so what,” as readers pass over it in search of something of more value to them.
There are two examples at the other extreme, too:
First are those who talk in positive but general terms that “this is the best (or greatest, or latest, or most unusual) book ever written on this topic.” Such hornblowing makes authors feel good but elicits a yawning response in buyers: “That’s nice, but what’s in it for me?”
Second, publishers simply list all the reasons why they think their books are good. They believe that if the list is long enough, the buyers will recognize the benefits and make a favorable decision. But each additional benefit is one more thing to possibly misunderstand and another item to search through when making a decision.
Both of these attempts to sell dilute what could be potentially strong buying motives. They erroneously presume that your prospects care about your book at all. It's unlikely they will until you give them a reason to do so. It also suggests that your list includes a benefit important to each prospect. And it assumes that your prospect is only considering whether or not to buy your book, which is rarely ever the case given the competition for customers' book-buying budgets and mindshare.
When corporate buyers are evaluating alternatives for a promotional campaign, there are usually a variety of forces competing for budget dollars. Alternatives could include:
- purchasing a competitive title
- writing the material themselves
- choosing a non-book promotional item, or
- not doing the campaign at all.
A CVP recognizes that your proposal must offer a significant point of difference relative to the next best alternative.
Communicate not just why your book is better than the next best alternative, but why it is best for this particular prospect. Unless you demonstrate and document your claims in terms of their relevance to potential buyers, your prospects will likely dismiss them as hype and the sale is lost.
The New Twist
Correct implementation of a CVP requires that you learn what is important to your prospective buyers before you customize your promotion to them. Instead of listing a variety of benefits, demonstrate that you grasp their critical issues. Communicate the unique value of your proposal, simply yet powerfully, conveying your understanding of your prospects’ priorities.
Complicating this process is the fact that different prospects have their own reasons and procedures for buying. Approach each prospect with an appeal to his or her unique needs. For example, retail buyers want increased store traffic, inventory turns and profit per square foot. Librarians and media producers do not. Nor do corporate buyers who want to know how your content can help them sell more of their products. Show each buying group that the information in your book can help them reach their objectives.
There is an advertising copywriter’s formula that will help you construct your CVP. The formula is the acronym AIDA and it can be applied to a press release, a performance on the air, an advertisement or a personal sales pitch. Each letter represents one step in creating your CVP.
Attention: Your opening remarks should get the positive attention of your prospects, alerting them that you understand their pain points and alluding to the fact that you have a potential solution. This could be delivered as a direct statement of a benefit, a newsworthy item of interest, advice or a question. Use the results column in the PAR statement I described in my May 10, 2011, blog posting as the basis for getting your prospect’s attention.
Example: “Several companies like yours have used this book as a promotional item to increase their sales. There are at least three ways you could use it to exceed your sales objectives, too.”
Interest: Now that you have your prospect’s attention, expand upon it with additional facts. Relate the general attention-getting statement to this prospect’s circumstances.
Example: “The first way has proven to be the most effective in increasing sales at the end of the year. Here is how we can do the same thing in your annual fourth-quarter marketing blitz.”
Desire: Expand upon the interest generated so far, introducing another benefit that could accrue by using your book in their upcoming marketing campaign.
Example: “As I mentioned before, companies have used this book to increase their sales. But in addition, their profits improved by over 10%. Here is a testimonial …”
Action: Finish with a summary of why your recommended course of action is the best choice for this prospect. Remind them that they agreed with each point you made that satisfied their criteria. Ask if there are any more questions. If not, ask for the order. Do not present it as a fait accompli, but as your recommendation for how to proceed.
Example: “I have a letter of agreement here, but we just need to fill in a few blanks. First, you wanted delivery of the 10,000 books in 8 weeks, correct?”
The concept of a customer value proposition is not new, but when implemented correctly it can be significantly more effective in convincing your prospects to make a favorable decision regarding your books. Make your prospects feel that you are truly interested in helping them succeed. Focus your message on the needs of each particular prospect and let them know you have their best interests at heart.
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."