Is there anybody out there? | It’s a rule in publishing that if a marketing brainstorming session goes on for long enough then someone will ask, “Shall we do a tote bag?” James Spackman, Publisher (Pursuit/Profile Books) and Consultant, discusses the tote topic, and the other forms of trade marketing.
Publishers spend a lot of money on trade marketing and get stuck in certain habits: totes are proof. So why do trade marketing? Rather obviously, to sell more books. There’s proofs, samples, totes, mugs, pens, cupcakes – or ‘gubbins’ at it is collectively known.
He asked one bookseller: how much send from a publisher goes straight in the recycling? More than you’d hope, really. The design and production of proofs make a real difference – they demonstrate conviction for the book, a certainty that it’s worth it. Design is a no brainer in the Instagram age: people share proofs online – a well designed, fancy proof could cost a fortune but it does work.
For contacting booksellers, make what you send small, personal and undemanding. They can get annoyed by large mailouts – there’s a pressure that comes with sending so much. Authors are another key part for booksellers: them visiting shops is a form of trade marketing, and authors developing relationships with booksellers is really important.
Twitter is an alternative: in one sense it’s free, unlike the majority of trade marketing, but on the other hand it’s very, very time consuming to do well.
Be visual! It’s good for sharing and online, showing a fab concept, and it can be expensive but it’s worth the value to both grab attention and catch eyes on social media. Involve retailers earlier and keep them well engaged with what you’re doing, don’t just dump stuff on them when you need them. Make it personal: people buy from people. Recommendations work best, and they’ll equip booksellers with the persuasive language to sell the book to customers.
A lot of trade marketing is done by habit rather wastefully, but the good stuff works. Perhaps trade marketing is actually our secret weapon.