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Changing Problems into Opportunities:

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Pig Out Publications, a publisher of regional barbecue cookbooks, took a fairly substantial hit in 1995 with returns from bookstores and wholesalers at 25-30%. In 1996, they tried to control the returns by limiting the titles sold to bookstores and wholesalers to only the best sell-through titles. Returns still came in at 25-30%.

Company Reassesses Business Strategy

To fight back, President Karen Adler decided to develop a new business strategy. Her goal now was to become the world’s largest and most knowledgeable publisher and wholesaler of barbecue and grill books. Wholesale accounts, as well as direct consumers, would be guided to the best books to select for their needs and/or their stores.

Once this goal was clear . . . things started to fall into place. How?

  • 1. First, all titles that did not deal directly with barbecue and grilling were discontinued
  • 2. Next, the book returns policy was changed to nonreturnable. Bookstores and wholesalers were notified and most ceased to do further business with Pig Out. 
  • 3. The number of titles offered to the consumer and the barbecue industry was tripled. Pig Out’s inventory list went from 50 titles in 1996 to over 150 titles in stock in 1997. 
  • 4. The company’s mailing list was carefully reviewed and fine-tuned to focus on prime targets in the barbecue industry (barbecue stores, hearth and home shops, pool and patio shops, barbecue catalogs, sauce shops, etc.). 
  • 5. The first company catalog with color cover was developed and sent out to customers in March of 1997.

Advertising/Trade Show Presence Increased

Pig Out Publications was positioning itself to find new customers to replace the lost bookstore sales. To identify these customers, they boosted advertising in trade publications: On The Grill magazine, Chile Pepper Magazine, USA Smoke, The Backyard Barbecuer, etc. Niche trade shows were targeted and they exhibited at the Kansas City Barbeque Society trade show, the National Barbecue Association (NBBQA) trade show, and the Fiery Foods Show. For 1998, they plan to exhibit at the Hearth Productions Association Show as well.

Publisher Develops Higher Profile

In addition to the other adjustments, Ms. Adler’s personal presence in the barbecue market has increased. This includes writing the book review column for On the Grill magazine. She also contracted with Radio-TV Interview Report as a barbecue expert with 101 Brilliant Barbecue Tips! and has booked several radio show interviews. The company’s 800 number will be given out over the airwaves, of course. Most recently, she became a regional vice president for the NBBQA. Both Ms. Adler and Pig Out Publications are highlighted in NBBQA’s monthly trade newsletter and the membership directory.

Adjustments Bring Results

As a direct outcome of this fine-tuned approach, Pig Out Publications opens new accounts each week . . . and the accounts call them! In addition, because they know their line so well and take the time to discuss individual needs, these accounts call back and reorder.

So, with a renewed focus and help from John Kremer’s 1001 Marketing Ideas and Jay Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing, Pig Out Publications is now selling directly to its primary market, the barbecue industry. Sales are nonreturnable. Seasonality is no longer a negative factor because barbecue shops sell barbecue all year round. All this thanks to the book industry and its over-order-then-return policy, which led Pig Out Publications to develop new, improved ways of marketing their titles.

You can visit their website at www.barbecuen.com/pigout.

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