D2C Isn’t Just About Selling, Says Hachette, Perseus & Rodale. It’s About Great Content.
One of the most experimental and exciting areas of book publishing right now, especially in the trade market, is direct-to-consumer marketing. It's a topic that has been discussed extensively here on Book Business, but it's worth a deeper dive as all of the Big Five and many mid-size and small publishers have launched experiments in this field. Book Business had the opportunity to hear three forward-thinking leaders from Perseus Books Group, Hachette, and Rodale Books on the topic at our Book Business Live event in March. They offered a variety of strategies to driving greater sales, but the big lesson was that D2C marketing is really about content marketing and relationship building.
Rick Joyce, chief marketing officer at Perseus Books Group, quickly got to the heart of the D2C marketing puzzle, contending that book publishers should not approach the strategy as salespeople. "Creating a direct relationship with consumers can be about selling your books, but it should mostly focus on a content area that people are passionate about." Publishing professionals don't have to learn a whole new skillset to sell books, Joyce added. They can leverage what they already do well, crafting great content, and utilize that to hook readers, form a relationship, and then sell more books.
"You have to think about your job as trying to put books in the path of people," said Joyce. "Not just books, either, but ideas, content, authors. If it's Mother's Day, readers need something for Mom. That's the perfect context to offer a great book to readers."
Hachette's SVP and director of marketing strategy Heather Fain views D2C marketing as a conversation. "For a long, long time the direct-to-consumer communication was: we tell you about a book, and you go buy it. Now we're really trying to use online marketing and social media marketing to have a genuine conversation and listen to what the readers says back." Fain emphasized that to do this, book publishers need dedicated staff to "tend the garden," and nurture these relationships.