Build The Wall
I used to ghost write for other people in the fiction publishing world. Then I decided to go it alone because why get paid $50 for a short story when it’s so easy to put that story up and make more than that over the long run?
Anyway, I have a former client from that time period that I keep in touch with.
He’s having a problem in that he picked a niche because there was no competition.
Now, there’s competition. Namely, some other guy has come in, downloaded all the stories, put a unique spin on them and made his own versions.
These are newer material and readers are pretty fickle when it comes to loyalty when you’re writing steamy erotic shorts, which is the market we’re talking about here.
But this led me to think about something that nobody ever talks about, and that’s building walls around your stuff and otherwise saving yourself from being “copied.”
Seeing as it’s a big fear for 99% of everyone who thinks about business, let’s give it a quick once-over in this article.
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Build The Wall
Let’s talk about building a wall around your business. This works for anything from dropshipping (which heavily needs walls because your offer is the same or worse than everyone else’s) through to a service business or even a personal brand.
Essentially though, you need to give the appearance that you’re the best offer in town. This is how all businesses work from Tim the blogger through to Aston Martin.
It doesn’t matter if you are the best offer in town and a lot of that sort of stuff is subjective anyway – think the people who endlessly debate online about whether Apple is superior to Microsoft or Android or whatever.
But you have to have the best offer on the face of things.
That’s difficult to achieve when you’re selling the same things as everyone else at the same margins and at the same price. At this point, you have to increase the perceived value of your offer, as well as doing all the other things: scarcity, urgency, better guarantees.
But once you’ve done that, you don’t want to rely on perceived value forever.
The best way to get customers and keep them is to craft the superior offer.
To do that, you build walls around your business.
Once You’re Profitable, Add To Your Offer
The easiest wall to build is to make your offer better.
Whether that’s better shipping, freebies included, a better guarantee or higher quality products, this is where you set yourself apart.
In the short story business, the quickest way to do this is to offer bonuses, freebies and higher quality/better work.
I’d argue that creating series and more integrated works is better and a draw. Think about something like Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
Essentially, the interconnected works have created not only a means of selling a ton of short fiction, but also entire religious groups. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Lower Margins In The Short Term To Make Gains In The Long Term
All the wall building works on the above principle.
You boost your ad spend or cut into your profits so that you can build a brand and business.
People who dropship, for instance, should consider creating white label products. It’ll cost more to have the manufacturer put out something with your name on it, but that’s something that gives you a leg up over the competition in a way that they can’t easily replicate.
The same is true of general brand building. It costs and it’s a pain, but it means you’re setting standards that no name businesses have to match if they want to compete with you.
I have to cut this short as I have places to be.
The general principle is that as soon as you’re profitable, instead of spending the money on cocaine and hookers, you should put the money back into your business in order to set yourself apart from your competitors.
This is a rolling stone effect: the more walls you build, the harder it is to replicate your business model and copy it.
More on this at a later time – and I’ll talk in reference to books as well, because the intro probably teased the publishing folks amongst you.