Launchpad: Marketing on Cruise Control
“The decision that we made was basically: It’s going to be a pretty hot topic,” says Baldacci. “We felt that the interest in Tom Cruise [was] going to be pretty high. And we strategized in such a way so that we’d be able to [give] accounts enough time to order the book.”
How close did they cut it?
“The book was going on sale Jan. 15, which means it should have come out in the catalog that we distributed in August of ’07,” explains Baldacci. “And we didn’t do that.”
They weren’t so much scared of the buzz, but that if they included the book in the catalog, they’d be giving other publishers too much time to beat them to market.
“The primary concern with coming out too early is that somebody throws a book together and gets it out there before us,” figures Baldacci. “If we say [in August], ‘In January we’re going to have a big Tom Cruise book coming from St. Martin’s Press, and it’s Andrew Morton doing it,’ and then somebody whips something together and gets it out there in November, the consumer goes to the store and goes, ‘Oh, here’s that Tom Cruise book I heard about.’”
Instead, St. Martin’s put the book in its December 2007 catalog, as well as an October sell sheet. Generally, accounts like a little more time; some even ask St. Martin’s for 10 to 11 months’ warning. “It did cost us a couple of promotions at certain accounts, but the trade-off, we felt, was better,” says Baldacci.
At the same time, St. Martin’s didn’t want to be too secretive. “We didn’t want to pull any shenanigans [with our accounts, by saying something like], ‘We’re publishing a book, you’re going to be really interested, you just have to order it.’ We were up front with what the topic was and who the author was, because we felt like there would be some heat. Our challenge was to just make sure all the heat landed at the same time.”