Marketing Plan: II
Scope: This plan is to help Floricanto Press Authors understand the necessity of developing an individual marketing plan for their books, and specific guidance about what to include in that plan, and how to use it to increase book sales. From the outset, we would like you to assure us that this book will be used in Chicano related classes. Assuming that, here are notes of the plan.
“Know thy Adversary.” Literally thousands of new titles are published each year by thousands of publishers, in the US and abroad. It would be physically and economically impossible for a reader to obtain and read them all. So book buyers are making choices. Sometimes those choices are an impulse buy, other times it is a more premeditated act. But what’s certain is that book buyers are a finite group of people. Those people have a finite amount of leisure time. That leisure time has a finite portion of it allocated to leisure activities like reading. People with leisure time for reading have a finite amount of discretionary income to spend on books—far less available money than all the authors and publishers wish for them to spend on their books.
Clearly, you will not be the only party vying for the discretionary leisure dollars of book buyers. You have competition. The bulk of that competition will come from the major publishing houses that pump out the endless streams of commercial fiction and do everything in their power to ensure they don’t lose a cent of market share to any other publisher, large or small.
You have one clear competitive differentiation that most of the titles from the largest publishing houses don’t have—you represent something new. Since big houses only like to publish authors with proven track records and predictable sell-through rates, offering something new is becoming ever rarer. And therein exists your primary competitive opportunity against major houses.
Fortunately, without a Marketing Plan of their own, many high-quality authors, published by competent publishers will fall into the “put‘em out there and hope for the best” category, with little to no serious marketing be- hind them, and you will win and they will lose for the simple reason that more people will discover your book exists. But you’re still not in the clear. There will be those determined few authors who are creative and work very hard to ensure that their books get the attention they believe they deserve. And in those instances, you’ve got a real horse race. So how do you win?
Ah, now here’s something you have to talk about. Bear in mind that over the last several years there has been a distinct market polarization that has occurred among book retailers, not unlike what’s happened to many small town retailers falling at the hands of the behemoth of Wal-Mart. That is, the major book chains: Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and the like, have almost obliterated the “mom and pop” bookstores. God bless the little independents who have managed to stay alive and thrive.
Unfortunately, many small book retailers report that in order to stay alive, they’ve had to become the 7-11 convenience stores of books. They can only afford to carry the most active titles, and must sell those titles at extremely heavy discounts to have any hope of competing against the giants. And like Wal-Mart, the giants buy books from the major distributors or from the publishers directly in large volumes that the little guys simply can’t do. Therefore, the big chains can discount more heavily, and with sheer volume sales still make plenty of money. The little guys can’t, and as such, many have been forced to close their doors.
And what’s funny is that every author out there just wants to see his book on the shelf at one of those big retail chains. There’s nothing wrong with that ambition. For the new author, they may indeed see their book bought by the huge chains and perpetually kept in stock someday. But that day will only come when those huge chains believe that carrying your book in high volume is a good business decision, i.e. the sustained demand for it exists, and they live to serve that demand. Besides, obsessing over chain participation, in the context of a new author, misses a wonderful market opportunity. Think about it. Your book, by definition of being new, is something that the chains don’t have. It is therefore something that small to medium retailers could offer their customers as “something new and different.”
A similar competitive model has occurred in the fine wine industry. What are the main differences between “Grocery Store” wine and the wine found at a wine “Specialty Shop”? Answer: Variety, Quality, and Unique finds. Grocery stores typically don’t care about having a lot of wine business, per se. They just know that people want it, and will buy it elsewhere if they don’t carry it. So they carry the most popular pedestrian brands that sell by the truck load. Have the grocery stores put wine shops out of business? Nope! Wine shops are flourishing by offering new and unique varieties that can only be obtained in small quantities. Indeed, it’s a boutique business—but it’s a far cry from the Mini-mart/Gulp-n-Go approach.
Independent bookstores and small chains that discover the angle of offering “boutique/specialty” products have an exciting new opportunity to not merely stay alive, but to thrive in the shadow of the mega-chains. You have the opportunity to help them discover how to do that. Hint: this “education” will involve using some of the other tools in your Author Promotion Kit, e.g. Posters, Bookmarks, etc.
More Economical Product (for the Consumer)
Plain and simple, if you’re battling purely on price, you’ll lose. Not to mention, price does not promote author or brand loyalty. To even grapple with that Tar-Baby is to concede that your product is no better or different than your competition. It’s like buying batteries—they’re all the same, so what’s the cheapest?
Clearly, your Floricanto Press title isn’t the cheapest book on the shelf. But there are books on the shelf that cost as much or more, and that’s important to understand.
It’s the retailer’s choice to charge full list or to apply a discount. Just be assured that your book is in the “normal” range, price-wise, for books of its type. But its very type is what creates consideration of the next point—profitability for the retailer.
More Profitable Product (for the Retailer)
Just do the basic math of deducting the sales price from the wholesale price and you should notice something wonderful—more important than any other pricing consideration. And that is, the available income (sales price less wholesale price) to the book retailer for your book is more than the entire average MSRP of a typical mass-market paperback. Most mass-market paperbacks are still priced under $10.00. Your book has the potential to enable the retailer to earn $10.00 or more off your book. That retailer has to sell several paperbacks to earn the same money he gets from selling one copy of your book.
Shelf space also is a big factor in a retailer’s profitability calculations. If he can earn a minimum of three times the money off your book than from a paperback, occupying one slot on his shelf, that’s a fact worth pointing out. Now granted, the argument is going to be, “Yes, but why is anyone going to buy your title as opposed to the less expensive paperback?” Answer: because the customer was intrigued by the beautiful hi-res poster he saw in the window or on the wall and the attractive book display holding the Floricanto Press titles.
So the real question becomes, “How do you get enough consumers asking for your book to stimulate that ordering by the retailers?”
Pump up the Volume
In Sales & Marketing there is concept referred to as “the noise level.” Since there is so much selling and marketing and solicitations and offers and such going on simultaneously by so many parties, to the average Joe, it all turns into a bland “white noise,” much akin to static. It usually takes something uniquely head-turning and distinct to cause everyone to pause and go, “What was that?”
This is where intelligent creativity combined with sheer hustle comes into play. At the beginning of a marketing campaign you need to be thinking in terms of both quality and quantity. What will separate you from your competition will be well-coordinated waves of communications, repeated continually, louder and louder, until the culmination of it all generates a momentum that can’t be stopped.
Now what will work for you, and work well, are the following:
- A Constant Schedule of Book Signings. Libraries, Book stores, University bookstores, Community Groups, Conventions, Professional associations.
- Bookstore Visits (you don’t have to have a signing to target a bookstore!) Radio and TV Interviews.
- Editorial Coverage in Periodicals Favorable Reviews in the Press. http://nahj.org/
- Educational Events, such as conventions, conferences and Subject Matter Events Attendance Email and Fax Broadcasts.
- Postcard Campaign.
- Email campaign.
- Targeted Advertising (Online and Traditional)
- Engage professional associations in your promotion effort.
The real key to the idea of a coordinated campaign is that all, or most, of these elements are all happening at the same time—and don’t let up until the objective is achieved. Most of your competition will do one or two of these things sequentially, but if you do many or all of them, a lot, and then some more, the chances of people encountering the “repetition of message” aspect begins to kick in. Don’t forget Sales Axiom 101: Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em; Tell ‘em; then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.
Don’t be afraid to “borrow” good ideas. Look out for how your competition markets its products. If some- thing catches your eye, make a conscious effort to analyze why it did. Go to the bookstore, many of them, and just look around. What’s eye-catching? What’s compelling? Why is it compelling? Look at the Ads for books in magazines and newspapers. You may surprise yourself with a new idea of how to make more noise.
HOW TO REACH AND COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER
It’s your Marketing Plan. Our suggestions are what we feel will give you an excellent shot for success.
You will also find that the most work needs to be done at the beginning, to build your audience. Once it’s built, your efforts shift to maintaining it and developing it, which may or may not entail the same level of direct marketing activity. There is such a thing as market momentum. If you cultivate it, you don’t ever want to lose it, but it’s not the same as starting from scratch. Think of it like being on a diet or starting an exercise program. The worst part is always on the font-end.
OK, let’s talk about penetrating the market, and building your audience.
A Constant Schedule of Book Signings
Try to set yourself a goal of scheduling a minimum of two books signings per month. If you can get more, wonderful. If the store is enjoying any decent traffic at all, stay at the event until you’ve sold the majority of the books ordered for the event. Sell them all, if you can. But if there are a few leftovers, be sure to autograph them, and place an “Autographed Copy” sticker on them to help the retailer sell them after you’re gone.
High schools, Junior colleges, universities, conferences and conventions would be glad to have you as a speaker.
The main value of Book Signings is making you and your book the center of attention in a store that sells your product for a specific period of time. If executed properly, you’ll get the attention of virtually all book buyers at that store at that time. If you sell lots of books, you will make a friend out of the retailer, and therefore in- crease the likelihood of an invitation to come back and do it again. Be sure to help them with your posters; have your bookmarks made up, the works. Not all Book Signings are the same, and if you make yours a success, retailers remember things like that.
You don’t have to schedule a formal book signing event to stop by a bookstore, introduce your- self, and ask them to carry your book. The key to doing this is to give them an Introduction Kit. Your Introduction Kit will consist of your Book’s Flyer, Poster, Printed Reviews, a few Bookmarks, and a Dust-Jacket sample. The Dust-Jacket Sample can be a small reproduction of it from you own color printer on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, or you can actually take your PDF file (downloadable free from our website) and have it printed at Kinko’s full size. If you want to spend the money, you could even option- ally include a sample copy of your book (which could also be an eBook version burned onto a CD!). At a minimum have a copy of your book with you to show them what it looks like first-hand.
The idea of this event is to give them a professional business introduction to your book—inclusive of leave-behind collateral material that will intrigue them and make them want to offer such a product in their store. Offer them a book signing; but if they decline, make sure they at least have your Intro Kit.
Emphasize the fact that your book is 100% returnable and has a discount for retailers, and be sure you are familiar with our Return Policy (on the Booksellers page of the website) so you can discuss it if asked. Tell them how to order your book directly from us by having them call or fax orders to 1-800-528-3175 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org To build credibility, we suggest that you can also print a copy of our entire title Catalog (also found on the Booksellers Page of our website) and give it to them. This is also a kind service that benefits the rest of your fellow Authors, who hopefully are returning the favor which is to your benefit. If the Bookseller you meet has the means to access the Internet, show him our website, the Bookseller’s Page, and your book’s description page—making a point to show him the free downloadable resources in the Press Kit section to help promote your book’s sales in his store (Poster, Announcement Flyer, Book Signing Flyer, etc.).
Who says you can’t Rep your own book? You obviously care about it more than anyone else in the world, and are best equipped to tell someone why it’s great. Do it! If you’re up to it, try to shoot for a goal of visiting a minimum of four bookstores a week, and go during the week, if you can, reserving your weekends for Signings. If you can do more than four visits a week, great. I can assure you that direct “sales calls” will be infinitely more effective than phone calls in terms of generating excitement, and stimulating Book Signing engagements.
Radio and TV Interviews
Getting on Oprah and the late night talk shows is typically going to come from the assistance of a professional publicist, who has the contacts to make it happen. So don’t set your expectations on that level or nothing. There are many publicity opportunities in broadcast media you can avail yourself to directly, or again, have our marketing department tee it up on your behalf.
The key to getting on the radio and TV is a strong “Pitch” to a Program Producer. It’s the Producer’s job to find new topics and guests for informative and/or entertaining programs. You just need to help them understand that your book is what they’ve been looking for to fill a slot in an upcoming program. Doing that, short of hiring a publicist, requires you to do some more homework. Remember, if you get the opportunity to speak to a decision maker, make sure you have properly prepared yourself. Develop
a brief but compelling story, one that encourages an interested listener to ask questions. They hear hundreds of pitches, so if you are prepared, that gives you a positive leg up.
Target your local media first—Radio and TV. Your goal is to find out who the producer is of a particular program that interviews authors about their books. Once you know who that is, you need to contact them via telephone, FAX, email, letter—whatever it takes, to give them your Pitch.
Your Pitch will determine whether you get a Yes or No. For non-fiction, Pitches tend to be a little easier than fiction, because most non-fiction deals with a particular topic that’s easily defined and articulated. A book about gardening is just that. “Dear Producer of the morning show, I have recently had my collective biographical book published, entitled (Title), and tips in it like . . . (something cool) . . . would be of interest to your readers.” That’s not hard to grasp.
So when you go about constructing your Pitch about your book, think of it in terms of a producer looking for strong topic ideas to book guests for their shows. In other words, even though your appearance is designed to help you sell books, they really don’t care about that. You’re there to help them entertain and intrigue their viewers/listeners and increase their ratings, and therefore allow them to charge more for advertising time. You solve their problem first, they in turn help you solve yours—that’s how it works.
We encourage all Floricanto Press Authors to do additional research and investigation regarding putting strong Pitches together. Please contact Ralph Wolf, our COO and EVP of Sales and Operations for assistance, if you need it. In general shoot for:
- A Strong Hook. What fascinating topic does your book explore—in four words or less?
- Compelling Log Line. Tell me in 25 words or less what your book is all about?
- Market Applicability. Why are the viewers/listeners of the program you’re pitching going to like hearing about your book?
- Credibility. What reviews, blurbs, endorsements, etc. do you have to offer to lend credibility to your talent as a writer and this book in particular?
- Contact and Availability information.
Along with your pitch, make all your Introduction Kit materials available to them as well. And remember, for radio interviews, those interviews can often be conducted by telephone, so you can target radio stations all over the country, not just those in your physical town. You never have to leave the house!
Set yourself a goal of Pitching a minimum of eight (8) radio stations a month and scheduling at least one (1) radio interview per month. Remember your Hispanic radio journalist http://nahj.org/ Pitch all of your local TV stations, specifically the producers of local talk shows or morning shows that feature authors from time to time. Set a goal of scheduling at least one local TV interview within the first six months of your book’s release. If you get the TV interview, ask them for a copy of the tape, or at a minimum have all your family and friends video tape or TIVO it. Should you enjoy a successful TV interview in your local market, you can use that tape as part of your Pitch Package to TV producers in other markets that you can conveniently travel to. The same holds true for the radio interviews. You can use tapes of your radio interviews as part of your Pitches to TV program producers.