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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 12 December 2017. In this issue:

Why independent bookstores are thriving despite of (because of?) Amazon

Thank you to The Scholarly Kitchen for this thoughtful and largely good news story. In his post David Crotty makes the point that the growth of the big bookstore chains (notably Borders) in the 1990s led to the closure of many independent bookstores. But Amazon’s relentless rise has largely been at the expense of those chains, rather than of the indies. Why? Because a good independent bookstore can deliver the personal service and environment that Amazon can’t. Specifically:
  • The genuine passion of good booksellers who can help customers dazzled by choice to find books they’ll love
  • The ability to ‘try before you buy’ in a way that no ‘look inside’ feature will ever entirely match, especially for illustrated books
  • The chance to meet authors in a relatively intimate setting
  • And perhaps also the satisfaction of supporting a local bookshop, given negative media stories of tax avoidance and poor working conditions in connection with Amazon.

Of course Amazon has itself now opened a series of bookstores across the US, and although this isn’t a neighbour that any bookstore would welcome it’s likely to be Barnes and Noble that is most directly impacted.
Read the article, and watch an interview with one indie bookseller in the US, on The Scholarly Kitchen website.

What percentage of your sales still come through ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstores? Assuming you publish printed books the chances are it’s pretty high, whatever the nature of your business. Knowing which retailers are supporting your list and working with them in partnership should be a key part of any marketing strategy, and is a topic always covered on our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget Workshop.


Cambridge University Press develops fabulous life-size personas

As I turned a corner in the Cambridge University Press offices last month I was greeted by the smile of someone leaning against a filing cabinet. It took a moment to realise that the smile belonged to a life-size cardboard cutout, and a little longer to find out that there were several of them standing around in the marketing department.

The ELT marketing team recently developed new personas for its Adult English Language Teaching list, to make its potential customers seem real and help the marketers to home in on the issues and preferences of actual teachers. Personas are an excellent way of doing this, but if you’re going to do them I wholeheartedly recommend representing them in life-size cutouts. That way they’re a permanent and tangible reminder of the profiles you’ve identified, and much more likely to genuinely inform planning and messaging than a report in a file.

An absolute rule of copywriting is to write to a person rather than about a product, and the natural extension of stepping away to think about a real reader before writing is the persona. Which is why they are always discussed on our Copywriting Workshop.

See some of the Cambridge personas on our Facebook page, The Marketability Grapevine.


With Christmas approaching we've earned a good flashmob

Everyone I talk to seems to have been exceptionally busy these last few months, and most of us are now hanging on for a bit of downtime to recharge the batteries over the Christmas period. I’m a sucker for a good flashmob and this one’s not only excellent but features Irish music (always guaranteed to lift the spirits) rather than the usual Christmas numbers. At less than 2 minutes I think you can probably give yourself a break to watch it about now.

Watch for yourself on YouTube.


Tip of the week: Here's a super-quick way to improve the impact of your copy

If you have a dense paragraph of specialist copy and no time to tackle it, try chopping it into three short paragraphs instead. Even if the copy’s unchanged, more people will look at it. Why? Because nobody reads paragraphs of marketing copy, but they will quickly scan each block for keywords.

Our Copywriting Workshop and Academic Marketing Workshops both cover this topic.




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