BEA Show Notes: Publishers Share Tips For Boosting Direct-to-Consumer Sales
Molly Koecher, vice president and general manager of Minnesota-based CarTech Inc. (for auto enthusiasts), Specialty Press (aviation) and Sunrise River Press (healthcare), brought retail and distribution for her three verticals in-house in 2010, working with a third-party fulfillment service. The verticals have gone from being marketed primarily through specialty bookstores, magazines, events and trade shows to an emphasis on SEO and website sales.
With the loss of brick-and-mortar retail and closing, in the past three years, of nearly 40 of 50 relevant niche magazines in which the company marketed books, CarTech found itself putting "all [its] eggs in one basket" as much of its business went to Amazon, Koecher said.
"We know our customers are out there. We just need to find another way to get to them besides Amazon," she said.
With a long-term goal of focusing on direct-to-consumer sales and lessening dependence on wholesalers and resellers, the publisher is revamping websites to offer new functionality and richer, more varied content to enthusiast audiences. The Cartechbooks.com site now includes news, blogs, tech tips and reader login to allow users to upload pictures of their cars.
Since the new Cartechbooks.com went live in November, the company has seen a 4 to 5 percent monthly increase in book sales from the site, Koecher said—this despite initially losing traffic due to the website changeover.
The other main focus for the publisher going forward is social media. A small staff has been hired and is being trained by consultants to build out social media marketing initiatives.
Overall, Koecher said, changes are driven by a cultural shift within the company toward staying "nimble and open-minded." This required, first, understanding all aspects of warehousing and distribution to decide how best to alter methods for direct-to-consumer selling. Emphasis was also put on watching how larger publishers have handled marketplace shifts. "I think for [smaller] publishers it's important to act but not react," she said. "Watch and learn."