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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Saving Time and Work for Retailers AND Building Business with Marketing


I learn amazing things by reading advertising, especially the ones known as advertorials. Advertorials are usually written by experts in their fields and are sometimes a bit arcane, but they can make me rethink what I am doing with my books for retailers. You can find advertorials in your local newspaper of in respected magazines like Time. Most media marks them clearly as "advertising" but the headlines usually feel more like great nonfiction topics.
The one I found in December was in a slick magazine called BookBusiness. It was paid for by a short-run printing company called Canon Solutions America. In it they talk about book for niche markets and niche markets have always fascinated me. I write for two of them—writers and retailers.

My point is that this is not a topic that is new to me. But this article made me think. The author (unknown) said “ . . . today you can get the same book with a different cover based on your preference. That’s only going to increase.” The idea of the same book with only one tweak—the book cover—may be slightly overstated, but it fits with what I’ve always said about marketing when I encourage my retail clients and friends to read my The Frugal Book Promoter and just substitute the words “books” and “author” for whatever branch of retailing they're in. I tell them, “Marketing is marketing is marketing" and I know they'll learn to write knockout query letters, media releases, media kits and I know that can make a difference in their business.

So,  instead of encouraging them to adjust, I should probably go back and replace those words with something appropriate to almost any niche market instead of expecting my faithful readers to do it for themselves. That might be the ticket to having a whole series of books—very nearly like the Dummy books that have done so well. After making those tweaks, I could slap on a new cover and reword the title and suddenly my “marketing is marketing” mantra makes more sense (and is easier) for a whole range—a whole new niche-- of readers!

The idea sure fits with my advice to plan your marketing campaign so the work you can do can be recycled. We retailers are not islands. We can only do so much on our own. After that, it’s either get more mileage out of what we do or start outsourcing like crazy. Actually, I kind of like both ideas.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for retailers--some of them sponsored by Gift Shop magazine. She brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives to that series of books. Learn more about the whole series of books at
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of 14 women of “San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.

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