Monday, July 11, 2016

Finding the Sweet Spot - Pointers on Closing the Deal at Summer Festivals and Craft Fairs

This past weekend I participated in Authorfest in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This is the second year for this festival and my second time participating. I have also sold my books at craft fairs and over time, I have learned one thing. If you want to sell your books, you have to find the sweet spot of emotion in each potential buyer.

I hate pushy sales people as much as the next person and when I first started selling at craft fairs and festivals, I waited for the customers to flock to my table. If I were a well-known author with a famous name that probably would have happened, but in my case not likely. After a so-so experience at a couple craft fairs I decided I needed to step it up.

You would think that my book Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin would be an auto-buy for anyone attending a book sale set next to the beach where the town's iconic Riviera Building is featured on my book cover. But not so much. I still had to sell the book to people and find that emotional connection for them to want to take my book home to read.

One of the perks of Authorfest is the wonderful view! The Riviera Bldg. is left of center
My table was situated along a sidewalk that sees a lot of walkers over the course of a sunny summer Saturday and it was also one of several first seller tables the walkers encountered if they approached from the west. 

I'm not a shy person, but the first few times I made my pitch it was a little nerve-wracking. However, each time it got easier and I tweaked it on the fly when I saw what worked. Of course you have to make this applicable to your own situation, but I've broken the pitch down into increments to give you a head start:

1. Know your target audience and begin to search the people approaching your location for those people. My main target group are women from approximately 20 years old and up. And out of that group, women from middle age and up narrows it down even more. 

2.  When I spotted a woman that fit my target audience, I watched for her to look over at my table and slow her pace as she took in the large sign with a picture of my book. 

3. At this point I asked if she would be interested in stories set in historical Lake Geneva. By now, she had usually stopped walking and answered one of three ways: "Yes" or "Maybe" or "Not really." 

4. I gave the not-really people my book mark that features my current books and they went on their way, but with those who answered "Yes" or "Maybe," I begin my sales pitch by telling them I'm the author of the book, which they were sometimes surprised to learn. Then I continued on with the following facts:

  • I grew up in Lake Geneva (which gives authentication to the story).
  • My story is a love story that also involves historical information woven in about what the town was like in the 1930s and how the community project of building the new recreation building on the lakeshore brought the people together.
  • That the Riviera Building is on the cover of my book, and how I learned a lot about life in the town during the Great Depression and prohibition that I never knew.
  • I mentioned  how hard I worked at research to make sure that the only stores and places named were ones that were there at that time  
About this point in the conversation I could tell if I had made an emotional connection with the person. And if I had, I'd found the sweet spot. At any point after this, they were usually reaching for their wallets. Note usually, because some still walked away.

Of course, if I were doing this in a different location or even selling a different book at that time, my pitch would different. But the key point I’ve learned is searching for that “sweet spot” where you make an emotional connection. It's something I see in their face or their eyes or in something they say in response to what I've said. 

At my book table at Authorfest
One man loved the history of the area but he was hesitant to buy a book that was a love story (Calling the book a love story, as opposed to a romance, works better with men). With him I stressed the town's history that is shown throughout the story and assured him the love story wasn’t the only element in the book. I even warned him what part of the story had the first kiss so he could skim when he got to that part. He laughed and bought the book.

I also learned I did right by setting the price point at a level that a majority of people considered reasonable to pay for a trade paperback book. I was told that other authors at the sale were selling their books as much as five dollars more then I was. This was not a strategical move on my part, but I do know that there is an invisible line that most book customers don't usually cross when considering an impulse purchase of a book. I try to stay below that line.

All in all, Saturday at the Authorfest was a successful day. I have no idea how it will be for me next year when I’ll have a new rodeo story to sell that is set in southern Illinois, but I'll still be looking for that sweet spot.

If you’re interested in Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin it is still available online at Amazon and other online stores. You can also purchase my other book, Thyme for Love, which I was also selling at Authorfest by clicking on the title of the book.

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