Go Directly to Direct

Maybe you thought this was old news, but Brandweek reports on a survey by Direct Partners that found “e-mail is now the most popular form of direct response marketing. . . . E-mail is used primarily by 35% of companies compared to 25% which use traditional direct mail and 21% who use package, statement stuffers or free standing inserts.” We’re not talking spammers here. This was a survey of large U.S. corporations.

Other findings:
– 68% market to their prospect database
– 82% market to their customer database
– 57% said their direct response budget will remain the same this year compared to last, while 23% reported their budget would increase by 10% or higher
– 47% said that less than 10% of their marketing budget went to direct response media

With rocky times for retail, many book publishers are looking more closely at direct response. Tom Woll devotes a chapter to direct response marketing as well in Publishing for Profit, which I’ve been reviewing here chapter by chapter. His word to the wise comes in two basic points:

* Results must always be quantifiable.
* Results must be constantly tested and refined against a control.

Woll offers fairly detailed help in how to plan and analyze direct response (which can include e-mail, mail, telephone or other programs). He even thinks that

once you start tracking your sales and promotional efforts, you’ll become addicted to the numbers. Just because this method of marketing is so calculable and analytical it is a refreshing change from the vagaries and sometimes whimsical nature of trade sales. (p. 272)

Every publisher needs to find its own mix of trade, direct and special market sales that makes sense for its editorial program and its readership. For some, that might mean going directly to direct.

The Beautiful World of Publicity

Free is a very good price. That is one of the key advantages of publicity, as everyone in publishing knows.

Why does this work? Because, as our friend Tom Woll says in Publishing for Profit, book publishers “are information and content providers . . . [who] have the very material that these media outlets need for their own survival” (p. 207).
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Whither Christian Bookstores?

I suspect that many readers of this blog have already run into the excellent article in the latest issue of Christianity Today on the state of Christian bookstores. (Full disclosure: The article is written by Cindy Crosby, wife of IVP Associate Publisher for Sales and Marketing, Jeff Crosby.)

Obviously there have been big changes in the world of Christian retailing in the last ten years. As Crosby writes, “The CBA (formerly the Christian Booksellers Association), a Colorado Springs-based trade association for retailers, says that as recently as the mid-’80s it had 3,000 members of an estimated 4,000 Christian retail stores. Today CBA has 1,813 members of an estimated 2,800 stores.”

Competition from big box stores and the Internet have forced many out of business. But not all is doom and gloom. Many are thriving with creative strategies and programs. Check it out.

Is There No Accounting for Editors?

Perhaps the least number-oriented species of human being is that of editors.* Figures, subtotals, net present value, gross margin are as nothing in their sight. So should we just consign editors to the outer darkness of a numberless eternity? Is there to be no accounting for editors?
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The Dark Side of Platform

Be careful what you wish for.

Publishing is becoming like real estate. Only three things matter. Platform. Platform. Platform. It seems to be a requirement that to publish a book authors must be well-known or be on the speaking circuit or have a deep network of potential readers to tap into once the book is published. A high-platform author is the dream of every publisher. Or is it the nightmare?
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