Brand Identity

Please welcome guest author Peggy Jaeger to the Cafe.

Recently my darling daughter, who among other things is a product analyst, helped me with a marketing and promotional plan for my current books and the ones being released soon. I will admit, my head was spinning when all was said and done, but she helped me to home in on the areas where I needed the most guidance and direction. I am not a marketing person. I couldn’t sell water to a person dying of thirst, and the thought of self-promotion leaves me with hives over 99% of my body that even Benadryl can’t cure.

One very vital question she asked -among hundreds – was “Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to sell your books to?”

My first thought was “Romance readers,” but she quickly convinced me that was too broad an audience for what I write. And she’s correct. There are so many sub-genres of romantic fiction. I don’t, for instance, write paranormal, historical, erotica, or Y.A.  Those genres have tried and true readers and supporters and if I wrote in them I wouldn’t be able to do them any kind of justice.  What I do write is contemporary romance stories about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.  In fact, that’s my brand identity, something she pushed me to come up with to distinguish exactly what it is I write about. Most of the ages of my heroines fall between the 23 and 45 year old age group.  My stories are heartfelt, funny, and emotionally wrenching ones about the everlasting love every person wants and desires.

Her response was, “That’s your target audience; the readers who want to read that specific type of romance story. When they see your name on a book they’ll know what kind of story to expect.”

I swear the best gift God ever blessed me with was this child.

So the next question became, “what does your target audience want?” Again, the easy answer was “A happily ever after ending.” Darling daughter asked, “Is that all?”

Well, no. Of course not. Romance readers usually want to be raked over the coals emotionally, just as the hero and heroine are. They want to be entertained by the foibles and quirks of the characters. They want some physicality (read: SEX) between the two. The heat level on this varies from reader to reader. The reader demands to have the two main characters go through hell and high water before they realize everything that’s happened has led them to the exact moment when they know – know without doubt– they are meant to be together, no matter what, forever.

Her question to me was: “And is that what you give your reader?”  I scratched my head and said, “I think so.” “You need to be sure,” she replied with all the wisdom of a 25 year old. “If you’re not sure you’re giving your audience what they want, how will they know your book is right for them to read? And by read, I mean buy?”

Honestly, where did this genius child come from?

A thorough overview of what I’d had published so far and what was still being edited showed that, for the large part, I was writing what I claimed to be writing.  But I could see areas I needed to work on. First and foremost, I needed to make sure what I was writing was specific to my branding identity, because my daughter was correct. In it’s simplest terms, when you buy Coke, you expect to get Coke, not Dr. Pepper. If I market to readers who like contemporary romance featuring strong women, and then give them a heroine who is namby-pamby, weak, and TSTL ( too stupid to live!) I haven’t delivered what I promised and my readers will be disappointed and drop me.

Not a good way to sell books.

After we were finished – and mind you, this took a full Saturday and Sunday to accomplish -I was a mental wreck, my brain overloaded with all we’d gone over. But I was also spiritually and creatively charged. Narrowing and defining the scope of what I want to give the reader through my books has helped me outline and plot better, and subsequently, write in a much quicker and more focused fashion.  What started as a marketing strategy to help me promote my books, turned into a writing plan and methodology I can use for my entire career.

As writers, we simply want to write. It’s our passion. But if we want people to support our passion by buying our books, we need tools to help us do that. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say I’m in the majority of writers who never took a marketing, sales, or economics class in my scholastic career.  I never thought for one moment I would need promotional skills added to my long list of necessary life skills. Turns out I was wrong. Thankfully, I have a daughter who recognized the need for knowing these skills and has graciously helped maneuver me through the marketing mine-field I find myself in since my first book debuted.

Knowing all of this will greatly help when the next books are released. The information I learned is priceless…as is my darling daughter.

~  ~  ~

Skater's Waltz CoverFigure skater Tiffany Lennox is busy with rehearsals for an upcoming ice show when the only man she’s ever loved comes home after a two-year overseas stint. She needs him to see her for the woman she’s become and not the child he knew to ensure he stays home, this time, for good. With her.

For all his wanderlust and hunger for professional success, Cole Greer comes home wanting nothing more than to rest, relax and recover. He is delighted in being Tiffany’s hero and has a special place in his heart reserved for her. But faced with the oh-so-desirable woman she’s become, he starts questioning his determination to keep their relationship platonic.

When forced by the television network to go back on assignment, Cole – for the first time in his life – is torn between his career and his heart.

~   ~   ~

Peggy Jaeger Head ShotPeggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER’S WALTZ and THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, books 1 and 2 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.


Brand Identity — 12 Comments

  1. Man, I wish I had a marketing whiz in my family. I got stuck with a nurse and a journalist! I’m kidding about my daughters’ occupations of course, but having help with a marketing plan would be an absolute godsend. Maybe your daughter could open a side business helping clueless writers like me! Great post, Peggy. Thanks for being here today.

    • Jana – I know! I never even thought to ask her. SHe gave me 16 hours of her time as a birthday present. I thinks he should do a sideline business as well and I will be sure to pass along your comment to her. Maybe it’s the impetus she needs to do it. Take care.

    • Joanne – I know! after these comments, I’m going to try my hardest to convince her to offer her services for a fee. Hey, I would have paid her if it hadn’t been a present.

  2. Fantastic post, Peggy! I’m sharing this everywhere. When I read this quote: “I couldn’t sell water to a person dying of thirst, and the thought of self-promotion leaves me with hives over 99% of my body that even Benadryl can’t cure.” That is definitely me. *shivers* I love every aspect of this conversation between you and your daughter. I’ll be asking myself some of these questions this week.

    • Reese – than you so very much for your kind words. Sometimes it takes someone who is not a writer to be able to tell you exactly what you are missing – and my daughter certainly did that! Her advice was worth more to me than anything I’ve heard so far from people in the romance field. I am going to put it to use everyday.

  3. Loved this! I’m actually working on promotion and branding as well, and I feel like I’m in the deep end of the pool without a lifeguard! Nice to know I’m not the only one figuring this out. Very smart daughter…keep her!

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