Last week, I shared a failure – sort of. At least it started out that way. Admittedly, I’m a bit stubborn, but, in this case, a bit of luck made all the difference. For those of you who didn’t read the post on what went wrong with a business start-up, the short story is a rather long list of errors in judgment. The concept behind the initial company was flawed. Perhaps if we had been quicker to launch some of the issues would have never surfaced, but our strategy was off.
Delegating for small business success
With one partner on the opposite coast and the other some place special in her head, I decided to launch alone. It wasn’t a quick victory.
I hired an excellent graphic designer with a long history working for my (other) company to design a logo.
Given the potential liability, a corporate veil seemed wise, so went with the new rage (if I had to do it again I’d choose an S Corp). I settled on a name (BookConductors, LLC) and received Trademark approval.
I bought 1000 ISBNs (stubborn and optimistic).
Without my publishing savvy right-arm as anticipated, it seemed wise to test-drive the system on a non-client book. So I wrote one (while dealing with a nasty leg break).
I didn’t feel accomplished enough to pen one on the entrepreneurial front (these books were supposed to be about extremely successful operators – I had enough challenges just managing a few employees), so went with an established international following on the horse front. “Turning Challenging Horses Into Willing Partners” served as the premier title for the company.
It seemed wise to engage a book coach given the loss of my guru partner. The coach was wonderful (not cheap), although admittedly, I didn’t keep up with his task list effectively.
His single suggestion to increase the length of the book earned his fee. We brainstormed on ideas that resulted in a beauty. Why not include a section that drew from the experience and knowledge of other trainers from around the world? No one (I could find) had ever done this in a non-fiction horse book before.
The book cover was provided by a vendor with a good track record. The book continues to sell with poor company marketing support (to change in coming months). We published this as a Horse Sense and Cents® product (a BookConductors® title).
Horse Sense and Cents® now boasts more than a dozen titles.
Lucky discoveries shift entire business focus
What really launched surprising success for this brand was unexpected. After six months researching how to get an audio listed on the biggies (Inventing Your Horse Career – IYHC), such as iTunes and Amazon, it became apparent, as a small company, we couldn’t – until I found ACX.
ACX was a start-up designed to match authors (or publishers) with voice talent. Deals with iTunes, Amazon (Audible) and other online retailers agreeing to list all their titles provided perfect connections. This was seen as a means to an end – a distribution channel for the IYHC audio content already produced.
It became an unexpected profit center for all other aspects of the business.
To qualify, an Amazon listing was required. We had full-length book title proof there, but that would have meant a rather long process (particularly for the voice talent).
So, Horse Sense and Cents® started offering e-booklets (about 5000 words each) as Kindle products for $2.99 (we’re finding $3.99 is a better number, so will be adjusting).
We recorded our first ACX title “Reaching Alpha Horses” in December of 2012. What I discovered (surprisingly), is we were one of the first to offer audio for non-fiction horse books (we’ve since recorded the full length Turning book – our best audio seller to date).
Our audio titles are outpacing print and digital (Kindle, Nook, etc.) sales combined.
At the time, all I was looking for was a distribution channel for an audio product we had already created with no intention of going audio with print titles. What I found was a marvelous opportunity for not only sales, but also reach.
The audio title popularity seems to be pushing more print and digital sales. We’ll be doing a big holiday push for audio (and other) titles in the coming month and beyond.
Want to get a peek at the strategic marketing mix that will guide this effort? Come back tomorrow. You might be amazed how inexpensive products ($2.99 – $20) can add some big numbers to your bottom line. Now, look left – click on those easy to access share buttons. Then look down. Leave a comment and I will personally respond then go read your blog.