DIRECT SALES: Never Mind the Big Etailers?
Seek new prospects. "Prospects are 56 percent of our new business," Jacobs says. They are gained both through insert cards in books and from database companies, which provide target models based on transaction information provided by Shambhala. "These are people we couldn't reach any other way," he adds.
Cultivate website visitors. Because of their direct marketing efforts, between 10 and 12 percent of total book sales go through Shambhala's own website, a percentage any book publisher would envy.
Sell at events. Especially for niche publishers, events can be an important channel for direct selling. Shambhala sells quite a few books at conferences, some of which they also participate in to find attendees and speakers who might want to become authors.
Develop yourself as a brand. It's hard for book publishers to do (especially in the trade space) because so much marketing focus is around individual authors, but Shambhala has successfully positioned itself as a trusted brand for legions of devoted fans who are more likely to be newsletter subscribers and website visitors.
Shambhala-produced travel packages and events with authors and consumers capitalize on brand loyalty—"…they [come] because it was Shambhala doing this," Jacobs notes—and help to strengthen connections. So does a focus on quality: Shambhala puts a lot of effort, money and time into its books, positioning itself as a boutique publisher.
Direct selling efforts are also marketing efforts. Jacobs talks about two levels of direct-to-consumer selling: direct sales through a website or catalog, and customers driven to other online sellers. While these orders are not as easily tracked as direct website sales, Jacobs notices a spike in sales of certain titles sold through sites like Powells and Amazon just after catalogs are emailed or shipped, which he considers a sort of quasi-direct sale, since those purchases are likely directly tied to the publisher's efforts. "[It's] direct, just not direct through our site," he says.