Grow Your Marketing Part 6: Purchase Frequency
As mentioned earlier, when you think about making more money from writing, you probably think mainly of selling more books.
'Purchase Frequency' is what we could call this officially.
If you could get readers to buy twice as often, your income from book sales would obviously double.
To get that result requires constant, clever communication.
But, as a writer, how do you do this if you don’t have any idea of who your readers are?
When you look at writing as a business model, it is almost impossible to see how it can succeed. As we have said before:
1. Writers produce items which only have to be bought once but can be ‘used’ (read) multiple times by several people.
2. Due to the marketplace determination of a low price for each unit (book) sold, writers have to sell tens of thousands of copies to get anywhere near viability.
3. Because of the way books are sold, writers never know who their customers are and have no access to them after the sale.
To make money as a writer, you can’t do much about 1 or 2. It’s even hard to do something about 3, but to increase frequency of purchase, it would be a good idea to somehow get a buyer’s details from them as each purchase is made.
How do you accomplish this?
Two ways spring to mind:
i) sell your books only through your website, asking for contact details as part of the process and
ii) failing the above, sell your books only through social groups which can be contacted in a more general way but still directly.
Non-fiction writers already do this — you have probably encountered this yourself: you want to buy a book and are asked for your email address in order to get the book delivered. Of course, the author didn’t really need your email to deliver the book — they could just send you a link upon purchase. But by asking for it, they can now add you to their contact list. As each purchase occurs, this address database grows — a powerful resource, as we shall see.
It’s harder to imagine fiction writers doing this.
Like 1 and 2 above, the way fiction is sold is pretty much embedded in the society and in our heads: we buy books from bookshops or book websites, anonymously. We don’t expect to yield our contact details.
But in neglecting to acquire customers’ addresses, writers forgo one of the most potentially valuable resources they could have for making money.
Perhaps this is part of the model that will change over time. It’s hard to see anything else changing — books are never going to be things that we pay to read again, unlike tickets that we must buy again when we want to experience movies in a cinema for a second time; and the marketplace is unlikely to raise the price of an average book. But the channels through which we get our books, especially in such technologically advanced times? That might change.
If you have applied the steps described in detail in the book Crack Your Marketing, you should have the beginnings of a social media following already — that’s almost the equivalent of a database of email addresses, because it gives you pretty direct access to a group of people who are interested in you and your work.
If you have developed an effective author platform — also outlined in the same book — including a website, it’s possible that some readers at least would be willing to use it as a main channel for getting your books, which means that you have a means of collecting email addresses.
Why is this so important?
Think like a business person.
A strategic email marketing plan that brings leads and buyers back to offers and content again and again is the most effective way to double purchase frequency.
You need lots of addresses; you need lots of emails going out to those addresses.
Not just any old emails, either.
Every email you send should have one or more of five purposes:
1. It should remind them of who you are as a writer
2. It should be an Activation Offer — i.e. it should stimulate an impulse to buy
3. It should contain a channel to upsell the reader (to get them to buy more, or at least provide a line along which those who want more can travel)
4. It should find out more about what the reader wants
5. It should rejuvenate, inspire and reactivate those who have grown silent or ‘cold’.
How on earth do you put those together?