The One Question Your Marketing Materials Need to Answer

QuestionboxI’ve been in sales and publishing for a long time, so I’ve received lots of pitches over the years from people who want me to buy their books. I applaud anyone who takes the important step toward self-promotion. But chances are, I never bought your product. The other people you prodded probably didn’t, either — and I’m going to tell you why.

You never answered one simple question: What’s in it for me?

Before our customers buy our products — whether it’s a book, gadget, or service — that’s what they ask themselves, whether consciously or unconsciously. As salespeople, we need to be aware of this. We need to make sure we’re answering that question for customers, in all our marketing materials.

Here’s how.

Address Needs Directly
Let’s say you’re trying to sell me a book. Will your book increase my joy? If yes, how? Will your book decrease my pain? If yes, how?

It’s not enough to tell me I need to buy your book. I need to know why.

 Address Needs Concisely
We live in an “instant soup” society, filled with customers that want quick and easy solutions to their problems. Make it quick and easy for them to choose your product over another by addressing their needs in as few words as possible. Be clear. Be concise.

Know Your Language
What’s your approach? Are you going for price-based marketing or value-based marketing? That will affect your marketing language. Both have their time and place—but you need to know which identity you have and stick with it.

Walmart is one of the most common examples of a retailer that uses price-based marketing to sell its products, otherwise known as the “everyday low price.” Price-based marketing revolves around selling things for the cheapest price. You speak to a price-based audience with phrases such as “Have what you want for less” and “The affordable solution for thrifty consumers.”

Prada, by contrast, is a worldwide luxury retailer that uses value-based marketing. This revolves around selling things at a prices commensurate with the highest quality. You speak to a value-based audience with phrases such as “Sophistication and classical style for discerning women” and “Crafted with care for the distinguished gentleman.”

Think about that question: “What’s in it for me?” Is it the best price, or the best value? Obviously, the higher you price your book, the better your profit margin. But if the higher price doesn’t match your readers’ core values, then you won’t make the sale. These two things need to be in sync.

Decide who you are early on and then be true to that vision. Be consistent through and through.


Kim Staflund is the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the newly released Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors. She is also author of How to Publish a Bestselling Book…and Sell it Worldwide Based on Value, Not Price! released in 2014.


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