The 5 Customers for Authors (and others, too)

By Kevin on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Are you thinking deeply enough about all the “buyers” of your products and services?

The Legendary Ray Bard, Bard Press

Earlier this week I attended a conference for authors organized by 800-CEO-Read. I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary publisher, Ray Bard. If you aren’t familiar with Ray, he’s the founder and CEO of Bard Press, with an amazing track record of publishing mega-hits like Wizard of Ads (Roy Williamson) and Little Red Book of Selling.

Ray explained that authors need to consider not just readers, but five different “customers” who all have to “buy” your book. They are:

1) Your personal reader network. This is your current social network of fans, readers, friends, families, clients, etc.

2) The bookstore browser. These are the folks that don’t know you, but might see your book at Barnes & Noble.

3) People who buy for others. This category includes professors picking your book for her students, company executives buying books for their employees, or people buying gifts for others.

4) The retail buyer. This isn’t the end consumer, but rather the “buyer” at Barnes & Noble or another book chain that has to decide whether or not to “buy” a quantity of your books and put them on the shelves.

5) The media. Will print, radio and TV “buy” your story. Will they think your book is interesting enough to put on the air.

As an author, I’ll never think about my projects in the same way again. For example, instead of thinking of a creative title and cover that might just appeal to the bookstore browser, I’ll think about a title that would be provocative enough to earn a TV spot.

Even if you aren’t an author, this can be a valuable exercise as you position your products and services. Sure there is your end-user customer. But who else do you need to sell to? Perhaps a trade magazine editor? An industry analyst? The purchasing department?

Think it through and leave nobody out and success will surely be written in your future.


Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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