Public Domain: Finding The Right Campaign

Posted on April 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

How does a marketing campaign influence our reading habits? How does publicity and press coverage ensure that published work reaches its target audience? Our three panel speakers talk about the importance of creating a recognisable brand and discuss the importance of keeping up with digital developments to create a campaign that best suits your public domain.  

Our panellists were: Ana McLaughlin: Head of Marketing and Publicity at Michael O’Mara books, Ed Sexton: Marketing Manager at UBM and Claire Morrison: Marketing Manager at Headline.
Claire Morrison started off the evening’s talk by explaining the importance of creating a recognisable brand that can be associated with your campaign. Today’s consumer society is full of recognisable brands which instil comfort in the hearts of the buyers. We tend to favour one product over another, persuaded either by the advertisng and promotion, or we go along with what our friends tell us. I remember sitting in a cafe with my friend two years ago and being told about an author named ‘Stefanie Myer’, my friend had just finished reading the Twilight Saga and couldn’t stop talking about her. After our conversation I was hooked on the books! Of course not every recognisable brand is linked in with the vampire craze, but promotion and advertising play a vital role in the success of a books reception. Whether this is through talking to friends or following what’s on the Richard and Judy book club list, each mention helps to promote a recognisable brand which buyers will soon notice and pick up.
One major point which Claire was very keen to stress was the importance of doing your homework ­you can never do enough research! When you are representing an author you need to use every channel of information that is available to you. The editors that worked on the book will of course a wealth of knowledge readily available to them so it’s always worthwhile talking to them. If you think about how competitive the market is, you need to make sure that you are utilising every outlet that is available to you. .
Claire then moved on to give us a case study on a campaign that she had previously worked on. This provided a really good insight into how a whole marketing campaign actually works. The author: Karen Rose; a crime thriller writer whose prose is packed full of romance and passion. To start the campaign, a pamphlet was made which detailed the authors backlist and upcoming novels. This was a good tool for reference and enabled the next marketing strategies to be put into motion. For Rose, Claire and her team decided to start with digital panel displays in the London Underground. This made sure that readers would see the displays first thing in the morning. Next there were 20,000 samples of her book given away in WHSmiths. Knowing that the target audience for this genre were travellers on the tube it was important to approach them in the best possible way as it helps to strength your publications brand recognition. Next came the TV adverts on the SFX channels- a prime spot for readers of crime and thriller. With every marketing campaign, your product needs to have a Unique Selling Point – you need to know what makes your book different. For Karen Rose it was her writing style, she pushed the boundaries of the genre, breaking the rules of thriller writing. Her writing saw crime, passion and romance all mixed into the same plot – a genuine attraction for female readers. This was integrated into the marketing campaign and gave Rose a competitive edge in the market.
Digital and interactive resources can also be used as part of your marketing campaign. Now that social media has become a prominent part of our lives, it is a sure way to market and promote your publications. Some authors already have their own websites; Karen Rose used hers to run her own book trailers. If you communicate this information to your readers and keep them updated, they are more likely to stay with your marketing campaign. There are different ways to keep readers updated; through Facebook, Twitter and sending out email alerts. The top tip for going digital is to be involved. Keep your readers posted about your author/campaign and entice them with extracts from the book, attach competitions details at the end of your email, anything to make them feel involved. Email marketing has an open rate of 46% in the publishing market, it’s on-the-go communication, an easy tool for your campaign.
Leaving the digital world behind and moving onto publicity, our second speaker Ana McLaughlin spoke about the different kinds of campaigns that she’s covered. As head of marketing she holds a very busy schedule managing a variety of different titles at the same time.  Working with nonfiction makes the publicity for her books a lot harder as there isn’t a concrete brand image associated with each publication. However, like Claire, Ana was adamant on the importance of knowing your target audience.
What makes publicity different from marketing is that publicity isn’t actually paid for here, unlike marketing you’re essentially getting something for nothing. In effect the audience are the journalists and you need to tailor to their needs. So how do you get this publicity? And how do you ensure that you’re promoting your product in the best places? Here is where your planning and research comes in. When you are representing an author you need to make sure that you know absolutely everything about them. For instance, they may have a separate hobby away from writing that can be used in a publicity campaign. For example, did they used to write for an agony aunt column? If so, you can use this information to gain some publicity in a variety of magazines and bring the book to relate to the magazine readers. Working in publicity means being brave and creative and having enough confidence to plug your campaign where you can.
Ana had previously worked on a book called The Granddad’s Book, and explained that gaining the publicity for this wasn’t the easiest thing. If you think about it, there isn’t a national grandparent’s day that you can coincide the launch of your book with. Also, what kinds of social media sites do grandparents have access to? After a lot of thought, Ana explained that the best place they thought to pitch this book would be in lifestyle section of the Guardian magazine . The reason behind this came from looking at current social trends and seeing that in today’s society grandparents are becoming secondary carers for children. While mum and dad are hard at work, the grandparents are left to look after the children.  Once you managed to get this piece of coverage, there are other things you can do to keep the interest alive. Some examples that Ana passed on were putting  diary pages from the author/characters of the book in a magazine, or having quizzes about the subject are; this way people are constantly exposed to the content of your book and are always talking about it. If you do choose to set up a facebook group for your book, so readers can become ‘fans, you need to think of the benefit that will be accrued to them should they choose to join. In joining your group what are they going to get out of it? Maybe they could enter a competition, or win a day out with the author. It’s these things that are you need to think about; how are you going to promote your book and more importantly how are you going to keep your readers happy?
The evening’s talk was rounded up by Ed Sexton who approached the topic more in terms of a business tool. As marketing manager Ed is responsible for managing customer products and continually investing in innovative ideas that target his clientele.  In seeing a new marketing campaign as a business project, the first thing you must do is identify the reasons for going ahead with a project. Having previously set up a property social network, Ed passed on his business ethos, explaining what makes his marketing campaigns so successful. Before starting out on your campaign you need to answer a few questions: ‘What is the point of this campaign – identify the aims and objectives. In essence, ask yourself what you would like to achieve. Secondly, you need to analyse the current market:  ‘are there any similar products at the minute?’, ‘what are the general market trends?’ And finally, you need to locate your audience: ‘who are you marketing your campaign towards?’ and ‘how are you going to gain their interest?’ Each of these questions, Ed explained, can be answered by conducting a SWOT analysis. Here you identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your new campaign. When setting up a new social networking site for his company it was apparent that having an existing clientele would be a definite strength in this new project, whereas having to target customers that had previously been on the fence about subscribing to existing publications, and whose attention would be hard to win over, was identified as a definite weakness. Ed rounded up by emphasising (like the two speakers before him) that you need to use every avenue that’s available to you, take the information you gathered in your SWOT analysis, and create your marketing campaing from there.
The point that was stressed by all three speakers was the importance of knowing your target audience. In essence this seems to be the very function that marketing (and publicity) operate on. The way to ‘market’ to your audience is through promoting your product and raising the awareness of its presence. Social media sites are playing a growing role in the marketing and promotion of today’s publications. They encourage reader to be involved and help to build up a recognisable brand. And if people like Stephen Fry are sending out tweets then I think the rest of us should follow in suite!