4 Pillars of Successful Book Marketing

Monday, June 04, 2018

Successful book marketing lies in giving prospective readers what they want to read. Figuring that out depends on four pillars: target market, customer needs, integrated marketing, and profitability.

1. Identify and Define Your Target Readers

No publisher can sell to “everybody,” attempting to operate successfully in every market. No title is for everybody, regardless of how perfect you think it is. Publishers do best when they define their target readers, group them in segments, and implement a tailored book marketing strategy.

A good example is a title about how to find a job. The author could say that everyone needs to get a job at some point, so the title is good for all adults. He or she might seek a heavy, broad promotional campaign selling the title’s detailed information on writing resumes and cover letters and conducting interviews successfully.

But the publisher with a marketing philosophy knows that the broad market of job-seeking adults is divided into a variety of target segments which could include college students, women, or blue-collar workers. Other niches that would be interested in buying career-oriented books include colleges, outplacement firms, and state governments. Instead of trying to target them all with the same book marketing campaign, you'll be more successful if you target each segment with a book marketing campaign specific to that segment's particular interests and needs.

2. Determine Your Prospective Customers’ Needs

The quick analysis above points out segments with widely varying needs. So, the obvious next step is to determine what those needs are. Let’s first look at the college market, which has various buyers with diverse needs.

  • College teachers are looking for books that could be used as textbooks or for supplementary material. They need information that is presented sequentially with discussion questions at the end of each chapter and perhaps an accompanying instructors guide.
  • Students need concise, clear, and inexpensive information that will give them the facts they need to find a job quickly.
  • Career placement officers need to increase the number of students at their college who graduate with jobs.
  • Alumni associations need to provide graduates with useful information that will increase the value of their alma mater and increase the size of donations to the school.
  • College bookstores want to make a profit selling books.

As you can see, buyers in any one segment have varying needs. Selling to all of them with the same literature and the same appeal will do little to increase your sales. Marketing to them, according to their individual needs, will have much better results. Understand the buyers in each of your target segments and market to them as individuals and you will sell more books.

Visit a bookstore or conduct a simple search on Amazon for other titles in your category and look at what they offer for the price. How is your title different and better and how can you demonstrate that difference to your various target buyers?

3. Conduct Integrated Marketing

All parts of the marketing process must be coordinated or the results will be diluted. In fact, there are four parts that must be integrated into your book marketing campaigns: the product and its distribution, price, and promotion.

  • Product. Your product may be a 6"x9" perfect bound, paperback book. But the packaging of the product depends on what it does for the buyer. You must decide if you are selling convenience, help, entertainment, information, etc. That is what the buyers need and helps determine format and what they are willing to pay.
  • Book Distribution. If you are selling your books through bookstores, a heavy sales campaign will sell very few books if they are not on the shelves in stores where your target readers shop (gift shops, supermarkets, discount stores). Consider where your target readers purchase books and make sure your book is available in those channels.
  • Pricing. Pricing under the selling concept usually entails matching competitors’ prices. Marketing considers what the reader is willing to pay for the value received. This may be more (or less) than competing titles.
  • Promotion. The thrust and content of your promotion (including social media, book publicity, advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, direct mail and media appearances) change according to your target segment, product differences, distribution strategy and pricing. The marketer plans how these will interact and support one another for maximum effectiveness.

4. Profitability

The marketer understands that profitability is important, but that it should not be the objective of his or her efforts. Instead, the emphasis is on "doing the right things" instead of "doing things right." The intuitive marketer will work at performing all the tasks well that will generate profits; and then profits will come.

There is a significant difference between selling and marketing. A heavy selling campaign will of course sell some books, but it will not have the long-term-revenue impact as a targeted marketing campaign. Know to whom you are selling, what is important to them, how you can integrate all the marketing elements and then place the emphasis on doing the right things. You will sell more books and become more profitable in the process.


Experts in the Publishing Industry

Brian Jud

Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and President of Book Marketing Works. He has over 25 years of publishing experience as a speaker, book marketing consultant, and the author of hundreds of articles and several books about selling books to non-bookstore buyers, including How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore.