Start Selling Books as Promotional Items
by Brian Jud
Businesses of all sizes constitute a large, growing, and diverse universe of potential buyers for your books. They seek items to help them promote their goods and services, to reward their customers for purchasing from them, to motivate their employees, or to present as gifts to customers to build good will. Traditionally, businesses have used apparel, cameras, coffee mugs, food, electronic devices, and other items to reach these goals.
Recently, businesses have become interested in using books as promotional items—but so recently that you cannot begin the sales process assuming that buyers know the benefits of books as premiums and incentives. If you start by asking what their budget is and how many books they want, the likelihood of success is slim. Instead, you need to convince buyers that books are effective promotional items before getting them to consider purchasing a specific book of yours.
Facilitate this process by acting as a consultant, not as an author or publisher. Your initial goal is not getting an order; it is helping your prospects solve their marketing problems with a book instead of something else. Begin by explaining briefly that you believe you understand their needs and that information about past promotional campaigns will help you help them reach their goals. Then ask questions such as, What promotional campaigns have you implemented in the past? What worked and what didn’t? What would you like to accomplish in future promotional campaigns?
Once you have background information, demonstrate your value as a consultant by describing why using a book as a promotional item can create an incentive powerful enough to reward or modify behavior, without eroding profit margins.
The Beauties of Books for Promotion
A book makes a great promotional product for many reasons, including those highlighted below.
Books can serve many purposes. They can be used to reward, motivate, educate, or entertain employees, salespeople, customers, and dealers. Their broad appeal makes them useful as premiums, sales awards, corporate gifts, spirit awards, and safety awards.
Books can be customized for a company, not only by adding the company’s logo to the cover, but also by using its brand name or names throughout the text.
Books keep customers loyal. Keeping an existing customer is more profitable and less expensive than attracting a new customer. A book can boost loyalty, especially when a company’s customers typically use nobody else in its class—think, for instance, of a physicians’ group, a bank, or a real estate office.
Here is one example: Doctors who treat people with diabetes know that the patients are anxious about drastic changes in their lives, so the doctors might want to give the patients a cookbook featuring delicious recipes for diabetics. By adding a simple handwritten note on the inside cover, a doctor could make patients even more aware that they are in good hands and working with someone who is truly concerned about them.
Similarly, CPAs could offer a title on employment laws to new small-business clients; a bank could present customers with a book about options for saving on college tuition; and real estate agents might give clients a book about home decorating.
Books increase a company’s share of customer loyalty. When customers can buy from more than one seller frequently and in small amounts—think grocery stores and gas stations—companies can win a greater percentage of what’s in the customers’ wallets by providing a reason to purchase more of their products than of their competitors’.
For example, a small chain of children’s shoe stores could implement a punch-card program with every $25 spent worth one punch, and four punches entitling the child or parent to select a children’s book from a catalog or a list.
Books generate goodwill. If a firm enjoys a good reputation among its customers and the general public, its sales may increase. To build good will, a family-style restaurant chain could give free children’s books to kids in its area who get top grades. If the chain’s order was big enough, the chain could even have the book’s publisher insert a page with a congratulatory note from the chain and a page of coupons that the child’s family could use to eat at its branches.
Books are portable. A book with a company’s logo plainly visible can be taken—and seen—on planes, on the beach, and anyplace else that people congregate.
Books don’t seem like ads. Consumers are overwhelmed with advertising. Books provide a different way to convey a company’s strong points. Also, unlike TV or radio ads, a book provides a tangible medium for repeatedly communicating a promotional message.
Books are not easily damaged. This quality facilitates pass-along readership, further extending the reach of the message. And books cannot malfunction like some electronic products, break like glass, or deteriorate like food or flowers.
Books are cost-effective, offering better reach with a lower cost per impression. If a company gives out 1,000 books, it gets at least 1,000 known impressions. Then, too, costs can be low, since content in a book can be delivered in a variety of formats—perhaps as a booklet, a PDF document, a DVD, or a download for a portable reading device.
Books engage consumers. Readers get involved with their books for the entire time it takes to read them. This is important for building relationships.
Books facilitate reinforcement. Use of a book as a premium is easy to integrate with use of traditional media. This creates synergy and multiple impressions.
Books can be personalized with the author’s autograph, and sometimes even with inscriptions from the author using the names of individual employees or customers.
Books compliment the customer. A book as a premium tells a company’s customers that the company thinks highly of their intelligence.
The Bottom Line
Once you have convinced a buyer that books in general are versatile, profitable, and effective promotional items, you can move on to show the buyer why your title in particular is a good choice. Remember that buyers must believe that the information in your book will help sell more of their companies’ products or services. Show them how your book will to do that if you want to make a sale.
Brian Jud offers commission-only sales of nonfiction, fiction, children’s titles, and remainders to buyers in special markets. For more information, contact him via P.O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 860/675-1344 (phone); 860/270-0343 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org; or premiumbookcompany.com.