Traditional thinking has a powerful undertow. Well-meaning friends, colleagues or even family members may discourage you from “rocking the boat.” But in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, holding steady really means falling behind. Move, evaluate, adapt, strategize and move again. Act like a professional boxer as you bob and weave, looking for weak points in your adversaries’ strategies on which to launch your competitive attack.
Conduct a creative-thinking session to come up with new ways to tackle the challenge you have defined. Gather two or more people in a room and start thinking. Have some fun while you are at it. Use a chalkboard, flip chart or some means to record the ideas that is in plain view of all participants. Here are the Top Ten Ways to Make Your Creative Sessions More Productive.
- Stimulate as many responses as possible. Think quantity, not quality at this point. Do not judge any idea at the time it is offered, so people feel free to contribute.
- Ask questions beginning with "What if…?" What if you condensed the information in your book and made a series of booklets? What if you sold your book as a premium to corporations?
- Ask questions in a way that will stimulate multiple responses. If you say, "Where else can we sell this book?" then the first plausible idea will answer the question. Instead, ask, "In how many other markets can we sell this book?" This will generate other possible solutions such as discount stores, government agencies, book clubs or academic markets.
- Think about your ultimate consumers. Where do they seek the information in your book? In libraries? Then sell your books to librarians. Are your titles of interest to business travelers? Then sell your books in hotel gift shops or airport stores. Do they buy through catalogs? Then that is where your books should be. In how many ways can you make your books more accessible to prospective buyers?
- Take a broader view of your potential. The video program You’re On The Air trains authors to create and perform on television and radio shows. It also helped train civil engineers to perform on the air when they were called upon to do so as the local expert. How many other people can utilize the information in your books?
- Stop selling your books. Start selling the benefits that people receive from buying your books. Retail-store managers want increased traffic and profits. Demonstrate how your promotional efforts will drive people into their store. Librarians are not profit driven, but they want to help their patrons. What do your customers need and how can you help them meet their needs?
- Emulate successful people. When you hit a mental block, think about what others have done to sell millions of books. What would Patricia Cornwell, Malcolm Gladwell, or John Grisham do in your situation?
- Break the rules. Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield were told that a book of short, emotional, feel-good stories would never sell. Their Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold over 100 million copies. What obstacles are in your path, and how can they be removed or sidestepped?
- Just do something. When one author was asked how to be creative, he replied, "It’s simple, you just take something and do something to it. Then you do something else to it. Pretty soon you’ve got something."
- Use manipulation verbs to force you to think from a different perspective. How can you expand, combine, reduce or adapt your content?
For additional tips on organizing your thinking and uncovering ideas for growth, see our blog article Seven Ways to Find New Book Marketing Ideas.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books.