How to Use Benefits to Boost Sales: CVP As It Should Be
by Brian Jud
A fairly common marketing concept can help you write better press releases, perform more successfully on the air, and sell more books in large, nonreturnable quantities to corporate buyers. It is called a Customer Value Proposition (CVP), and it lets you clearly and quickly show prospective buyers how your book can benefit them. But it is often misunderstood and therefore misused.
All too often, publishers still send press releases with headlines such as:
“We are proud to announce the publication of . . . ” (the reaction to which is, “So what?” as readers move on in search of something of value to them); or, “This is the best [or greatest, latest, most unusual] book ever written on this topic” (which may make authors feel good but elicits yawns from buyers—“That’s nice, but what’s in it for me?”)
Or publishers rely on press releases that list all the reasons they think their books are good, believing that if the list is long enough, people will recognize the benefits to them and decide to buy. But each listed benefit is one more thing for prospects to search through, looking for a benefit they value.
Using any of these practices reflects the following erroneous presumptions:
• Your prospects care about your book.
• The list of benefits that the book offers includes one that is important to each prospect.
• Your prospects are thinking only about whether to buy your book.
If you want to sell more books, you need to communicate why your book is best for a particular prospect. Unless you demonstrate and document your claims in terms of relevance to particular prospects, those claims will likely be dismissed as hype, and sales will be lost.
Customize Your Message in a CVP
Publishers sometimes think they are marketing when they send a press release, produce a flyer, or make a sales pitch. But they are not marketing successfully unless the promotional copy closes the loop so recipients understand the connection between their needs and what a book can do to help satisfy those needs.
So, the first step is to discover what is important to buyers in each market segment. For example, brick-and-mortar 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.
Then communicate with each segment, appealing to its particular needs. Customize your press releases, flyers, and sales pitches, producing versions that convey your understanding of specific prospects’ priorities and plainly state the relevance of your content.
An advertising copywriter’s formula will help you construct your CVP. AIDA—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action—can be applied to a press release, a performance on the air, a promotional flyer, or a personal sales pitch in a four-step process for creating a Customer Value Proposition.
1. Attention. Your opening should get the positive attention of your prospects, alerting them that you understand their pain and alluding to the fact that you have a potential solution. This information could be delivered as a direct statement of a benefit, as a newsworthy item of interest, as advice, or as a question.
For 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.”
One good tactic for finding the best attention-getters is using the “Results” column in the PAR statement that I described in “Make It Personal: A Three-Step Program for Increasing Sales,” available via ibpa-online.org.
2. Interest. Once you have your potential buyer’s attention, relate the opening statement to that prospect’s circumstances.
For example, “The first way has proven to be the most effective for increasing sales at the end of the year. Here is how it can do the same thing in your annual fourth-quarter marketing blitz.”
3. Desire.To expand on the interest generated so far, introduce another benefit the prospect could obtain by using your book in the upcoming marketing campaign.
For example, “As I mentioned, companies have used this book to increase their sales. But in addition, their profits improved by over 10 percent. Here is a testimonial . . . ”
4. Action. Finish with a summary about why your recommended course of action is the best choice for this prospect.
If you have been pitching in person, recall that the prospect agreed with each point you made that satisfied felt needs. Ask if there are any more questions. If there are none, ask for the order by presenting it as the logical next step.
For example: “We have agreed that points A, B, and C meet your needs, correct? I have a letter of agreement here, and we just need to fill in a few blanks. First, you wanted delivery of the 10,000 books in eight weeks, right?”
Implemented correctly, the Customer Value Proposition makes your potential customers feel that you are truly interested in helping them succeed. And when you focus your message on the needs of each prospect and let prospects know you have their best interests at heart, you can often convince them to buy your books.
Brian Jud, the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books, now offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in nonbookstore markets. For more information: P.O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; 860/675-1344; fax 860/673-7650; firstname.lastname@example.org or premiumbookcompany.com; @bookmarketing on Twitter.