Saturday, March 21, 2009

Things I learned about marketing from attending CBE

The past few days I have been in Dallas, Texas for the Christian Book Expo. The first of its kind and perhaps the last. While it is probably not appropriate for me to blast this fiasco here, there are things to be learned from it on marketing and the importance of getting it right.

1) Target marketing works better than scattershot marketing. So many times I hear authors say their book is for everyone. Everyone? Really? Moms and young people? Pastors and old men? Sassy singles and business execs? Not a lot in common, those groups, so no--your book cannot possibly be for everyone. Similiarly, setting up a convention in the middle of a big city just because it's in the Bible Belt and has thousands upon thousands of people to draw from...doesn't make those people want to attend. But situating a convention in a suburb of that Bible Belt town, in a smaller venue with easy in/out access, and a smaller list of major authors might be a stronger draw. You can target the college down the street, provide incentives to people for bringing a friend, have video eblasts sent to the pastors of the local churches helping them understand the concept, promote on the radio, have speakers on local radio for the weeks prior to the event talking it up, etc. All local people interested in what is happening in their own community.

2) The venue is important. A group of people in a smaller venue makes a different impression than the same amount of people in a cavernous convention hall. Enough said.

3) It's all in the details. From the signage out front to the workshop organization to the time frame of the event, it all matters. We make impressions on the people we are marketing to by the way our ad looks compared to others in the same magazine. Is our copy punchy and to the point? Can we tell the selling points of two books by the same author? How will a consumer know why those two non-fiction books are different if their covers look similiar? Every part of our marketing needs to be sharp and competitive. If the consumer does not understand the mission or the description in a few seconds...there is no point.

4) Never assume. Don't be presumptuous enough to assume that the consumer wants to attend your event or wants to read your book or wants to watch your movie. Why would they when there is so much competition for their time? Make your product so appealing that they cannot pass it up. Think about the price. Think about the economy. Think about felt need. Think about every detail of the cover or package. If you start to assume, then I believe that you start to fail. You get lazy and you get careless and scrappy marketing becomes a thing of the past.

5) Even at a bad event, it is worth the trip to spend quality face-time with your authors. They love the attention and deserve it. In the end, make the best of bad situations and realize that they could be publishing elsewhere, but aren't. Keep your authors happy.

And so we come to the end of the things I have learned while attending CBE. I like learning from other people's mistakes instead of my own. :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Giving thanks when thanks is due

I'm going to blatantly plagerize a friend of mine whose blog was titled this...Giving thanks when thanks is due. Not a new idea of course, but one that we often overlook. So I will give it a shot as these last few months have been hard and I have been wallowing in them.

My husband lost his beloved job. Now this wasn't any old job that people pick up in order to make ends meet. This was a job that he loved and could be described perhaps as a dream job. But it ended without a backwards glance and here we sit in the aftermath.

A friend's wife passed away who I spent lots of time with in my early married life. But now I wish I had known her better. I wish I had made time to call her in the past few years to hang out. I wish life hadn't gotten in the way.

The book industry that I adore is taking hits like every other industry. We have had to cut salaries and the office staff has takent to working in the warehouse every month to help out with overhead expenses. Marketing budgets are cut. It's losing it's sexy exterior and becoming another job sometimes. It's more important than ever to be creative and find new ways to promote, but it's hard. Risks are riskier these days.

My friend's idea was to bring back the gratefulness. To look at her life to see what she was grateful for and to make room for that in a consistent basis in her life. Perhaps it would change all of us if we stopped to that on a daily basis.

So here is my list for today:

1) My husband. Nothing makes my day better than to see his face when I walk in the door. I love it when he switches couches to sit right next to me and put his hand on my leg while we watch TV. I know that he is working so hard to find a job and I know that his perseverence will pay off. I love that he is the calm to my craziness. He consistently pursues me with a love that I can only hope to ever show him. He is my world.

2) My boy. Zach is a gift. There was a time when we didn't think we could have kids, then we did, but under such harrowing circumstances that we decided to not risk it again. He is truly and simply the second best thing that ever happened in my life. I love his wit and sense of humor (he does not get that from Dan--Ha!) and his sweet spirit and steadfastness. I can't wait to see what he does to make an impact on this world someday.

3) My sister. She calls and I always laugh. We think the same things at the same time. Then we say them in unison. I love her beautiful daughters with a passion that I never knew I would have for someone else's children. I want them to grow up to call me on the phone from college or from their own homes, just to chat. I love our differences and our shared experiences and our dreams.

4) The simple things. A cup of coffee at home now instead of Starbucks. Coupons. Free blogs. Magazine subscriptions. Mad Men on DVD. The sacred hour of Lost viewing with my hubby. Slow Saturday mornings of reading and lounging around in pj's. Cleaning out cabinets of long-ago lotion shopping splurges. An empty laundry basket. Laughing together. Dinner together at home around our table. Pride in how much money saved on a grocery trip.

All these things get lost in the business of our every day, but when one is forced to live life differently...these things again become important. I believe that I can feel changes in our family through this shared sense of loss. We are more empathetic to those in need. We hug tighter. We watch our words/anger/shouting simply stop before they begin. We are beginning to remember what is really important in life.

And for that I am truly grateful.