IPG DMQ – Selling direct to consumers

Last week I attended the IPG’s Digital and Marketing Quarterly (@ipghq #ipgdmq), hosted at the offices of Faber and Faber. The theme of the event was selling direct to consumers and there was a great range of talks from experts in different fields of publishing.

The evening kicked off with Gareth Cuddy, CEO of Vearsa, who spoke about the promise and pitfalls of selling direct to consumers and the increase in “social” or “recommendation” based selling. He ran through a list of different platforms for selling books online and advised that publishers should not be afraid to outsource parts of their business where possible. Tech start-ups rely heavily on outsourcing and it works well for them!

This was followed by James Woolham, MD of F+W Media. He talked about how they have built a successful direct to consumer business based on a series of online craft brands and he demonstrated how publishers can build an interactive online community of fans and customers. It is not an expensive process but it does require time and commitment and the revenue gained will be far greater than any risks.

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Next up was Jaime Marshall (MD of Higher Education) and Katie Thorn (Marketing Director) at Macmillan. They gave an insight into the 3 categories of higher education books they publish and how best to market each category to their desired consumer. Selling to lecturers and students is both an art and a science and a blend of B2B and B2C tactics are required.

1. Core adoptable textbooks: The single source of reading for a course.

2. Recommended reading: Optional reading which doesn’t fit a whole module

3. ‘Trade’: Scaled out titles, generally sold in bookshops to trade consumers

The increase in tuition fees and the closing of campus bookshops has changed the landscape of academic bookselling. One way they have overcome the challenges is by partnering with John Smith & Son and setting up virtual campus bookstores online.

The evening finished off with Steve Bohme, Research Director at Nielsen, who spoke about the trends in book buying across different formats and the fact that eBook sales have slowed due to a slowdown in ownership of reading devices. He also urged publishers to think more resourcefully and creatively about how they make use of their data for marketing purposes.

Thanks to all the speakers for their contribution to a very interesting evening, full of useful tips and facts for selling direct to consumers.

The next DMQ is on 26th November.

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