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Marketing Insights

by Brian Jud

If you are looking for new ways to sell more books, and to sell them more profitably in today’s challenging economy, then IBPA’s 2009 Publishing University has what you want. Here’s a quick report on some of the new courses, new speakers, and new approaches, complete with tips you can use right now.

Improving the Bottom Line

Do your retail sales and returns bop up and down like the stock market? Dan Poynter (Para Publishing), Betsy Young (Sales & Marketing Director, Harvard Common Press), and I will show you how to smooth out the flow and turn your business around. Our How You Slice It session will teach you how to sell nonreturnable to willing buyers in new market segments.

The How You Slice It class offers six proven things you can do quickly to extend your core business and increase your revenue and profits. Here’s the top line. First, expand along the value chain with direct distribution to end users. Second, introduce new products and services. Third, utilize other distribution channels to move into a new niche. Fourth, enter new geographic regions in the United States or internationally. Fifth, address new customer segments by modifying a proven product. Sixth, acquire new products, distribution, or technologies to help you move into an adjacent market. Of course, the session will go into detail to help you implement these ideas.

Make Those Lemons into Lemonade

Is a book of yours struggling in the marketplace? If so, you need to join Bobbye Middendorf (Write Synergies Copywriting) and Dominique Raccah (Sourcebooks) as they host a new course at Publishing University, The Publisher’s Repair Kit. You will come away with new strategies, techniques, resources, and ideas. Their session will give you examples of ways other publishers have turned problem projects into opportunities for success.

Specifically, you will learn:

When is reshaping and revising content the best answer?

How can you apply cosmetic changes for a bigger bang?

What are the most effective ways to redirect marketing and promotion energies to gain visibility?

How do you leverage success to the next level?

The speakers will focus on turning troublesome projects around by rethinking, reevaluating, reshaping, and revising. And they will give you practical techniques for redirecting your resources and energies to get maximum return.

You can bring your specific problem titles to this class for an onsite evaluation.

Sweet Spots with Staying Power

Is your revenue lower than you’d like it to be? In Learn Marketing from the Inside Out, Carlene Sippola (Whole Person Associates), Frank Gromling (Ocean Publishing), and Sue Sylvia (Staircase Press) will explain how to raise revenues by thinking in certain ways.

For example, think about series, sequels, and spinoffs. Think both in-store and online. Then, learn how to hit your readers’ sweet spots and create a connection that keeps them coming back for more.

This session will show you how to write the best marketing plan first, and then produce a book that lives up to it. You may find that you have been marketing backward.

Manage the Distribution Mix

Did you ever wonder if you can get where you want to go? Davida Breier, marketing director of NBN Books, and her panel will show you how You Can Get There from Here.

This session will teach you how to reach your target audiences through the proper use of distributors, wholesalers, and commissioned reps. Maybe you need to expand your reach with an exclusive master distributor. Maybe you need to use wholesalers. Maybe you’d do best by keeping sales operations in-house. You may already know that each option has pros and cons; here’s where you’ll find out just what they are.

For example, you can improve the chances that stores will stock your books if you provide prospective distribution partners with the information they need to make the right buying decision. This includes descriptions of your target market, your promotion plans, your competition, and your author’s credentials (and don’t forget the nitty-gritty information about number of pages, price, ISBN, illustrations, index, and the like).

Another way to get sales up: Never think that once you have a distributor, your job is over. Publishers and distributors must each play their part for maximum success. And the publisher’s part has several components: communicate on a regular basis; share news of upcoming promotional events and success stories; let the distributor know when and where any author will be appearing; and provide everything the distributor needs to move more of your books through the pipeline.

Better Bulk Sales

Would you like to make better deals with corporate buyers? Then you’ll want to come to the session Marie Hergenroeder, director of special sales at NBN Books, and I are presenting on How to Negotiate Large-Quantity Sales.

Here’s a taste of the advice we plan to offer. Before you go into any negotiation, make a list of all the outcomes that would be acceptable to you. Then choose which of these alternatives would be the best one. Next, decide what are you willing to negotiate away—and what you are not willing to negotiate away—in return for that outcome. Your answers to these questions will help you find the outcome that you should seek.

Ways to Wow

Do you want your book to be an overnight success? Sue Sylvia (Staircase Press) and her panel will show you how that can happen with Marketing the “Wow Factor.”

This session will introduce a new concept: Climbing inside your readers’ heads to “be” your book.

How can you do that? By building a culture, selling more than a book, and creating buzz.

Where do you get inside your reader’s head? Online, in the retail space, and especially in places where no one expects you to be.

More Help with Marketing

Marketing classes at Publishing University 2009 will also include:

Creating a Living Brand: Building a Brand Strategy and Brand Loyalty in Your Market Segments. With more than 300,000 new titles published each year, you must have a solid brand to stand out. This course will teach you how to implement the brand strategies used by publishing successes such as Stephen King, Hay House, the Chicken Soup series, J.K. Rowling, and the Dummies guides.

Growing in Tough Economic Times. If you find your business hours increasingly occupied by belt tightening instead of new-title acquisition, then this class is just what the financial experts ordered to help you keep your forward momentum in the sluggish business climate.

Strategies for the Perfect Product Launch. Attend to learn creative yet proven and practical things you can do to ensure a more profitable and successful launch of any new title. A few examples: use test marketing to experiment with different covers; submit galleys to book clubs or catalogs; and get celebrity endorsements.

In short, while your competitors flounder and complain about the economy, you can be learning ways to increase your sales and promote your long-term growth.

Brian Jud is the leader of Publishing University’s marketing track. He also offers commission-only sales to buyers in special markets. For more information, contact him at P.O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 860/675-1344 (phone), 860/270-0343 (fax); brian@premiumbookcompany.com; or premiumbookcompany.com



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