5 Case Studies in Reinventing Book Marketing

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A quick look at any marketing industry publication over the last few weeks will yield more than a few examples of how authors and publishers are getting smarter about marketing.  As more and more outlets compete for our attention, from blogs and new media to personal media, books must struggle to find their place.  Here are 5 smart case studies on how authors or publishers are fighting the free PDF and getting smarter about marketing their books:

  1. The Long Tail and Author Blogs – Book authors, particularly those of business books, have uncovered the power of blogs to amplify their voice, connect with readers and help promote their books.  Chris Anderson effectively took a concept from an article penned for Wired Magazine and collaborated with readers on his blog over more than a year to write The Long Tail.  Now his blog is providing a forum for him to respond to criticism and even ultimately help market the book further.  Guy Kawasaki also noted that after starting his blog, he saw sales of his books on Amazon rocket upward.  Bottom line: Author blogs provide a direct relationship between authors and readers that has an impact on sales.
  2. Seth Godin and the Big Moo – As one of the most innovative marketing thinkers out there, Seth applies his smarts to marketing every book he releases.  For The Big Moo, he launched a word of mouth marketing campaign that encouraged people to buy a case of 100 books for only $50 – and then distribute these pre-release books to colleagues.  The concept was an effective way to build buzz and get the books into the hands of influentials.  He also has some other great advice for authorsBottom line: Bestsellers are driven by influentials recommending the book to others.
  3. Amazon and the Browsing Experience – When it comes to new thinking on integrating the power of social media with the book buying experience, Amazon is consistently ahead of the pack.  From their pioneering of the "look inside" concept (which others are now reproducing) to their recent introduction of "Plogs", Amazon provides many ways for readers to learn about a book, discuss it, and ulimately buy it easily at a price below most local bookstores.  Bottom Line: Providing readers with detailed information and commentary about a book goes a long way to closing the deal.
  4. BuzzAgent and Penguin Books – In one of the more wide reaching signs that the book publishing industry is also willing to move beyond traditional marketing, Penguin has created the Penguin BuzzAgent Channel specifically for launching new books.  Through the channel, Penguin is able to get their new releases into the hands of BzzAgents, who will read the book and talk about it with others.  Best of all, the BuzzAgent model provides strong metrics and reporting to illustrate clearly the power of WOMBottom line: Measurable WOM campaigns provide transparency and often have stronger ROI than other marketing methods.
  5. Book "Trailers" with Online Video – This is a new concept that has gotten some interesting press this week, including a feature article in the NY Times (via MarketingVox).  Taking the concept of the book jacket description one step further, publishers are experimenting with using online video tell a short promotional story about a book to entice readers to open it.  While some may argue with the appropriateness of this tactic as it can unfairly hinder the imaginative qualities of books … with a new generation more accustomed to video messages than any other, this may be one of the only ways for books to capture attention.  Bottom line: As media fragments and attention spans reduce, integrated marketing ideas will help reach  audiences.

In addition to these strong case studies, there are also a number of other trends to watch, including product placement in books, the (accidental or scripted) reemergence of out of print books, bloggers will start to take content from their blogs to create books. As authors and the book publishing industry continue to find smart ways to reinvent themselves, watch for other industries (like music and radio) to start paying attention and copying their ideas.

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