Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Less is More

Seth Godin ranks high on my list of virtual mentors. Last week he popped a short blip on his blog about scarcity. I think his best suggestions are the quick shots, and as usual, this one stuck with me.

The thing is, scarcity creates value. You can't get a Pepsi at McDonald's. By limiting choice, you can create value. Exclusivity is often underrated.

I can relate on so many levels with this statement. A Pepsi incident. A good friend of mine meets my husband and me at Hooters restaurant once a month, a routine we've done since 1992. Bet you didn't know Hope like's Three Mile Island Chicken Wings that much, did you? Anyway, my friend is single and always cracks jokes with the girls, many we've come to know. I'll call my friend Mike. Mike always asks for Diet Coke, his lifetime drink of choice. Hooters offers Diet Pepsi. The girls' reactions range from "Sorry, we don't have Diet Coke" to just bringing him the Diet Pepsi. He tries to convince them he can't drink Pepsi for some health reason, and it just becomes comical. Guess you have to be there. (Kinda paints us as strange, doesn't it? No life at all!)

ANYWAY, this last time, one of the girls got smart. When we arrived, she donned her jeans to hide the Hooters uniform and ran next door to an Applebee's and ordered a Diet Coke to go. So when Mike asked for Diet Coke, he got it!

Point is . . . trying to write for all people will not work. But when you specialize, choose your niche, pinpoint your favorite readers, you make a bigger splash. Look at that incident at Hooters. She catered to that customer, rather than treating him like the entire room of customers. That Hooter girl not only landed a huge tip (50% of the table's bill- did I say Mike is single and has an excellent job?), but I guarantee you she will talk about that escapade to the other Hooter girls, who will in turn do their best to provide "different" customer service to their patrons. And Mike will tell every person he knows about what that waitress did making them consider Hooters for their next outing. Hey, I'm blogging about it here, giving Hooters free advertising.

I often write about Kathryn Wall, a mstery writer with nine books under her belt, because I probably know more about her than most authors. She's here in South Carolina. She started writing her mysteries a decade ago, using the Hilton Head region of the state as her backdrop. She catered to Hilton Head people as customers, which included tourists that visited the gift shops. She didn't spread herself thin over the country, trying to be the best book for all people. A particular tourist happened to work for a top-shelf publisher.

A new member of my writing group mentioned she is published. She's written a romance and published through CreateSpace. She kept commenting about how the book catered to everyone, and her audience consisted of men and women, all ages, everywhere. I asked what was her targeted audience. She said everyone; she didn't want to single out a group. So I asked about her sales. She excitedly told me she'd sold thirty books in a year, and she was so pleased at the books' success. I let her have her moment, not wanting to be a witch, plus we were in the midst of ten people. One-on-one, we'd have had a chat similar to the this one - you can't be a writer for all people.

The examples are endless. Exclusivity can be the path to success.

Whether you write for magazines, novels or children's books, can you name your targeted audience?


Unknown said...

Somehow it seems to me only having read the book one could have the basis for an opinion.
I once met a theatre author in Mexico who only cared if a particular author liked his play.
Numbers of readers not necessarily determine the greatness of a book.

Barb Hodges said...

Thanks, Hope. I am now thinking about my targeted audience. I really never thought to pinpoint it but you have helped me to see the value in knowing. I just like writing my thoughts and observations. I like to encourage people to act upon something, to see something that is ordinary in a different way. I will get back to you when I figure it out:)

Susan Sundwall said...

Every time I query an agent or publisher for my mystery, I tell them exactly who my audience is. My query always gets me in the door with a request for the manuscript. So far, however, I've been turned around and nudged back out the door after that. Hmmm, I guess I've got more work to do!