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The Marketability eBulletin

Our free resources currently comprise the fortnightly eBulletin, and a searchable archive of almost 1000 original articles that have been edited and archived for their continuing relevance.

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 3 September 2019. In this issue:

How do academics keep up with the literature? Eight share their experience in THE

If you don’t have a permanent ‘reading pile’ or folder of articles and reports you mean to read but rarely touch, I want to know your secret. Mostly we can get away without, albeit with moments of self-doubt or imposter syndrome. Now imagine that you’re an academic for whom keeping up with the field is an absolute requirement of the job.

In this article in THE, 8 academics share their personal experience of finding time to read given the other demands of their work and personal lives. It makes sobering but instructive reading and may make us stop to think again before we cheerfully base campaigns on all the riches we have to offer without alluding to the time required to read them all, or to the pressing question of why they should prioritise our content when they have infinite choices and almost zero time.

‘Our universities do not have the structural wherewithal to recognise reading as work. Academics are now accountable for what they produce, not what they consume – and what they produce must have a dollar value.’

‘I do much of my reading incidentally, via Twitter, while doing other things like cooking the dinner.’

‘I have given up searching databases and preprint servers. There is just too much content published.’

A highly recommended read (reality check) for anyone in academic publishing.

Read How can academics keep up with the literature? in THE.

If this challenge strikes a chord, our Academic Marketing Workshop could help.


UK research into the response to Pearson phasing out textbooks

In July Pearson announced its intention to phase our print textbooks in the US, with the UK to follow later. Independent research conducted immediately after the announcement in the UK to gauge likely response concludes, unsurprisingly, that it will be unpopular. But it also admits that if Pearson promotes the strategy well to overcome resistance that it could enhance their position as a global e-textbook leader.

‘If Pearson does roll out its plan to phase out textbooks in the UK, it will be forcing a change in behaviour, rather than reflecting demand.’

This, surely, is the whole point. Research will never, ever, accurately predict the future, because respondents are naturally resistant to change. There are times when dynamic companies need to force the issue to respond to the realities of market conditions (rather than to what customers say they want), and I suspect that this is one of them.

Decades ago when Sony conducted research prior to launching the revolutionary Sony Walkman, consumers rejected the idea of a portable music device as unnecessary. Sony learned from the data, but it didn’t stop them believing that this was technology that would be welcomed once it was available.

I am saddened, instinctively, by every nail in the printed book coffin. But I also recognise that radical steps need to be taken if the business of publishing is to survive in present market conditions. The success or otherwise of Pearson’s strategy will be down to how the company sells it to the academic community.

Read more about the research in The Bookseller.

Did you know that we offer in-company training in practical market research for publishers? Here’s a link to our focus groups course; a broader agenda also covering other methodologies is available too.


Is this marketing email offensive, or am I just not getting it?

Charlie Rapple from Kudos forwarded an email to me recently, saying it was ‘Possibly the weirdest/most disturbing marketing email I’ve ever received. I suspect there’s a popular culture reference here I’m not getting! The question is, did it work?’

We’re all familiar with the challenge of getting noticed in the inbox, and I’m all for radical approaches. But I’m also mindful of the price paid for getting it wrong, spam complaints and blocking which impact on sender reputation, and people unsubscribing because they find an email offensive.

I would LOVE to see the metrics for this campaign, but in the absence of this both Charlie and I would be curious to hear your reactions to it. Just email me on or use the contact us option anywhere on our website.

Here’s the email in question. The subject line was ‘I don’t know who you are’.

Our Email Marketing Workshop is designed to help you make good decisions about your own email content.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Collective nouns can be deeply satisfying. Here’s proof.
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  • Watch the wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

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Tip of the week: When you don’t have the luxury of ‘sleeping on’ your draft copy

The golden rule of writing copy one day, then sleeping on it before finalising it has been around as long as copywriting. But it isn’t always practical. It’s still essential that we put some space between writing and checking if we’re to view it in the necessary more objective light. Writing copy and sending it all in one session is inherently dangerous. Do something totally different in between, even if only for an hour. Go into a meeting. Nip out to get some lunch. You’ll always be glad you did as you spot those glaring literals when back at your desk.

If you’d like to sharpen up your copywriting skills, take a look at our Copywriting Workshop.





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