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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 31 August 2021. In this issue:

Popular words invented by authors, with thanks to Scholarly Kitchen

Nonce words are those invented for one-time use by authors. Some catch on to become neologisms, used more widely but still within the confines of their discipline. And some break free to become part of our daily vocabulary.

This entertaining video features some of them. William Shakespeare is prominent, as you’d expect. I especially like that he created new verbs out of nouns (gossiping, elbowed etc), something that continues today (Google, googled) but has always attracted criticism.

The Dr Seuss books gave us ‘nerd’. And Richard Dawkins gave us ‘mimeisthai’ to describe a bit of culture which spreads, which (thankfully) turned into ‘meme’.

If you find the origins and nuances of words fascinating you’ll enjoy this.
Watch the video on Scholarly Kitchen

How well do the words and tone you choose persuade your readers to respond? Find out more about our Copywriting Workshop


Hamnet’s ‘living billboard’ proves a hit (a palpable hit?)

Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020. Headline’s 18 month long marketing campaign for it now moves on to a ‘living billboard’ in London, in which the title is spelled out in a display of carnations, chrysanthemums, roses and hydrangeas. (The billboard will be watered regularly, in case you’re asking.)

The floral display doesn’t have any special significance to the novel that I can think of, but it is eye-catching and somehow tunes in well to the current zeitgeist – isn’t an uplifting public display of flowers in a relentless urban environment just what we need? It’s been working well at attracting attention and reminding passers by that the book is out there.
See the Hamnet billboard on The Bookseller’s twitter page

Quirky marketing will always get noticed, and is not restricted either to trade publishing or to those with big budgets. Excellent marketing on the cheap is at the heart of our Impressive Marketing Plans workshop.


The best marketing tactics? Quick wins and opportunity spotting

Anyone who’s got a few years of marketing under their belt knows that the most successful campaigns are usually the ones where a simple opportunity was capitalised on effectively (and often cheaply).

It’s tempting to assume that investing in a large-scale campaign will reap dividends, but achieving an acceptable return on investment on a big spend is far tougher.

Here is a personal checklist of how to identify quick wins for any title you need to promote:

  1. What skills does the author bring to the equation? If your author is engaged with followers or clients, giving talks, writing articles, or recording videos, ALL of these things give you a natural conduit to promote effectively to a ready audience.
  2. Does your author have influential contacts? A big name who might endorse their book, or tweet about it, a journalist who could make the difference between press coverage or not.
  3. Does your author have a proven record of success in the media, or in bookstore sales? A specialist author may be an expert commentator on national radio, for example. A trade author may be known by booksellers for being a warm and generous speaker at events. Both of these would give you a potential way in to coverage that is usually hard to achieve.
  4. Does your book lend itself well to extracts, whether quirky or interesting tweets or blog post length articles?
  5. Is it topical, or does it include new stats/findings that haven’t previously been published? These need to be relatable, but appealing angles/stories can be found even in the most specialist titles.
  6. Is the book illustrated? This doesn’t just mean with colour photographs – excellent infographics can be very appealing content for journalists.
  7. Can your title ‘piggy back’ on events or campaigns you’re running anyway? It’s good for your customers to be offered choice, so if you’re committed to a bigger event, try to make sure that all titles that are relevant to it are included in some way.
There are many more. The principle here is to look for the opportunities and focus your effort there, where your return is likely to be much higher. Be prepared for these to take your marketing plan in a totally different direction, such is their potential to deliver results.

All of our training workshops take a very pragmatic approach, they’re designed to help in the real world where time and money are both in short supply. In-company training is always tailored to your needs and a great way to get creative ideas flowing.

Find out more about in-company training (now available online)


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Parkruns have resumed, and with them another little bit of normal has been returned to us. We mark the occasion by sharing again a fascinating Guardian article about its origins which explains why success is measured by the slowest running times.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine.


Tip of the week: How to easily benchmark your email marketing stats

The sheer number of variables involved in email marketing make it very difficult to be confident that the benchmarks you set for your own campaigns are accurate. Most published reports focus on large scale consumer campaigns (often with a North American bias) and have little in common with small-scale specialist ones. But there are two ways you can safely establish benchmarks:

  1. Measure against your own email campaigns. Yes, I know, that’s so obvious it doesn’t count as a tip. But how well are you really doing this? This is the only source where you have access to absolutely everything your recipients are doing in receipt of your emails. Most marketers mean to scrutinise this stuff, but just don’t get round to it. It’s always fascinating when you do.
  2. Did you or any of your colleagues work for a competitor? What were your benchmarks then? I’m not suggesting you share sensitive analytics, but think about the top line stats and about trends and patterns associated with individual words, or A/B split tests, or changes in email volume or frequency. All of these are essential context to help you to establish benchmarks in which you can be confident.
Our Email Marketing Workshop lends itself especially well to an in-company course. We can start by reviewing your recent email reports for you and then consider how that translates into a stronger ongoing strategy.




Marketability (UK) Ltd

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Tel +44 (0)20 8977 2741