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The Segmentation Strategy for a Better Bottom Line

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Some people looked at Goliath
and thought he was too big to hit. David looked at him and thought he was too
big to miss. You might look at the non-bookstore market for books and ask
yourself, “Is that market big enough to approach?” or “Is it too big?” The
answer to both questions is yes. A special-sales market of $14 to $16 billion
is big enough to reward attention, and it is also too big to tackle effectively
if you look at it as one gigantic entity. The solution is segmentation, which
helps you market your books where interested prospective buyers congregate in
special markets. This saves time, effort, and money—all valuable
commodities to the independent publisher.


The total non-bookstore market
comprises hundreds of minimarkets, each with varying degrees of suitability for
any given title. Your goal is to zero in on the smaller segments that contain
people with characteristics and buying motives appropriate for your books.


Non-bookstore market segments can
be segmented in a variety of ways. Here are some popular choices.


Perhaps the most
frequent means of dividing a market, demographic segmentation involves
characteristics such as income, age, and gender. In demographic terms, the
market for job-search books includes college students seeking entry-level
positions, unemployed people in their 50s or older with families and heavy
financial obligations, women returning to work after raising children,
minorities, blue-collar workers, immigrants, and others. People in these
various segments have different skills and aspirations; they need different
kinds of information, and they may look for job-search assistance in different
places. Accordingly, a basic book on how to get a job should be marketed
differently to each segment.


For the same
job-search title, college seniors can be a recurring source of revenue every
spring, regardless of general economic conditions. Tie-ins to a particular time
of the year or even a particular holiday work for many books. June is National
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, July is National Purposeful Parenting Month,
and September is Read-A-New Book Month. For a list of monthly and weekly
events, visit www.guestfinder.com/calendar.htm.


With a title like <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Skiing in Colorado
you might immediately think of sales via Colorado’s ski resorts. But when you
are thinking about geographic segmentation, don’t stop with a book’s setting.
Make a list of the places where people who might buy the book congregate.
Skiers come to Colorado from all over the world, and you might reach them
through ski shops, sporting-goods stores, or travel agents’ offices around the
country, and possibly also overseas.


As explained in
“It’s About Timing” (April 2006), segmenting customers in terms of
transactional history helps you enhance customer dialogue and generate repeat
sales by reaching prospective buyers with the appropriate message at the right
time. Transactional-segment categories might include first-time buyers,
customers who purchase frequently, and customers who buy in quantity.


Segmentation by
profit potential can help you decide where to invest resources. For instance,
if you were marketing a book priced at $15 to airport stores, which can return
unsold stock, you would have to sell 1,000 copies through a wholesaler taking a
60 percent discount off list to net $6,000. You would net the same amount by
selling only 400 of the same title at list price to attendees at your personal


To visualize segmentation and
prioritize marketing moves, draw a large circle to represent the total
non-bookstore market for your book. Inside that circle draw other circles for
each of the market segments where the book could compete. Make the size of each
circle reflect each segment’s sales potential in relation to the others.


The example below depicts segments
of the non-bookstore market for a children’s book. As you can see, its
publisher feels it will be able to sell more books to schools than to toy
stores or airport stores, and will probably spend more time marketing to
schools, moms’ groups, daycare centers, and government agencies than to the
other segments.


Use a graphic of this sort to plan
your marketing strategies in various kinds of segments. In this case, a
promotional blitz to moms’ groups, work-at-home parents, and PTAs could take
place during July (National Purposeful Parenting Month). Demographic segmentation
would mean creating different hooks for the traditional school and
home-schooling markets. Profit-potential segmentation would involve selling
books at list price at the back of the room after presentations. Transactional
segmentation could entail offering a special discount to first-time buyers at
daycare centers or children’s hospitals. Whichever segments make sense, the
bottom line will be an improved bottom line.


Brian Jud, host of the
National Special Sales Summit™ sponsored by Simon & Schuster, <span
class=8StoneSans>Publishers Weekly,
and R. R. Bowker, is also host of the Book Marketing Monthly™ teleseminars, and
author of Beyond the
Bookstore: The Marketing Planning CD-ROM
and the <span
class=8StoneSans>Proven Tips for Publishing
booklets. Editor of the <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Book Marketing Matters
newsletter and creator of the Special-Sales Profit Center, he is reachable via
P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 800/562-4357; brianjud@bookmarketing.com; and


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