< back to full list of articles
4 x 4 Marketing

or Article Tags

Publishers make marketing decisions that are designed to facilitate sales. We publish books, distribute, price and promote them to entice people to buy our product so that we make a profit.

However, the book-buying public looks at this process differently. From their perspective, books are not sold, they are bought–which means that publishers will make more money if they make it easier for people to buy.

So what’s the best book marketing move then? Well, look at the fact that publishers want to make a profitable sale while readers want easily accessible information that they understand will help them and that costs as little as possible. A mutually beneficial solution can arise when you view book marketing as the process that occurs where bookselling and book-buying meet.

This concept may be easier to understand if you look at it as a decision-making matrix. Across the top of the matrix are the four areas under your control as marketing manager. These are the product, the places in which it is sold (distribution), its price, and the ways in which it is promoted. On the vertical axis are the stages in which the buyers will have some experience with your book.


The Marketing Decision Matrix

Product Place Price Promotion


As you fill in the matrix, you are forced to plan how you will design and implement marketing strategies where the needs of buyer and seller intersect. It requires you to think not just about publishing a book, but also about where you can create a positive experience for everyone involved.

For example, the product decisions are under your control. Since the first step in the buying process is the decision to purchase the product, does your book look appealing? Will people want to buy it? Next, is it in a size, weight, and shape that will minimize delivery costs and handling aggravation? How will people use your book? Will your user-friendly, spiral-bound cookbook annoy bookstore buyers? If so, you could produce a book with a readable spine that can also lie flat. And if you consider that your used books may end up on sale at Amazon.com, you can use that to your advantage by discreetly mentioning your other products throughout the text and including an order form for your additional titles.


Seeing through the End Users’ Eyes

Similarly, it pays to explore place options in a different way. Publishers think about whether they should use a distributor, a wholesaler, or both. But consumers do not care. When they need information on a topic, they seek it according to habit, maybe from online sources (only one of which is Amazon.com), or maybe at their local library, as well as or instead of at bookstores. And if you make the wrong place choices, you will then have to search for remainder dealers.

To price their books, publishers often use a multiple of their printing costs. Again, however, readers do not care about your costs. They’re interested in what they have to pay. You may decide to offer a discount and/or special terms for overnight delivery to entice readers to purchase. The most important result of your pricing decisions has to do with perceived value. If the reader feels the information or entertainment was worth the price, then you’ll be rewarded with positive word-of-mouth advertising.

Finally, promotion strategy is intimately related to the buying process. Point-of-purchase displays in bookstores are generally too expensive for independent publishers, although many stores will give you POP exposure to promote book-signings. Think of other ways to reach prospective buyers. Direct mail and sales literature may be considered POP displays, as may Web sites and trade show exhibits. Under some conditions, you may choose to give your books away in a flurry of media publicity.


Limitless Possibilities

Looking at the chart, there appear to be 16 possible marketing options in the Marketing Decision Matrix. However, in reality, these may be manipulated in an unlimited number of combinations. The product could take various forms, such as a book, a software package, or an audiocassette program. Each of these would require a different combination of distribution, pricing, and promotion. Similarly, your choice of market segment could dictate a unique distribution network that, in turn, affects the other variables. And each new combination yields different results under varying market conditions.

This makes the planning process similar to using a kaleidoscope. With a finite number of pieces, you can create an infinite number of combinations simply by rearranging them. As you manipulate your marketing pieces, think about how people buy and read your books, then plan to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

Sell something to someone who wants to buy and the process will be mutually beneficial.


Brian Jud is an author, speaker, seminar leader, book-marketing consultant, and creator of the Book Market-Mapä
directories for special sales. Contact Jud at P.O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 800/562-4357; brianjud@msn.com; or visit



Connect With Us

1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 204 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
P: 310-546-1818 F: 310-546-3939 E: info@IBPA-online.org
© Independent Book Publishers Association