The Prescription for a Healthy Marketing Campaign
Noreen Henson’s career path took a stop at Demos Medical Publishing three years ago after stints in television ad sales and with a few ad agencies. Demos has an extensive and successful line of references in neurology and rehabilitation medicine and is now expanding into the spine medicine and oncology professional markets. Its sales, Henson says, continue to increase steadily, and the New York City-based company—now in its 20th year—is finding new and improved channels to market its products. Henson, Demos’ marketing manager, talked with Book Business about the challenges and changes she has endured during her time in medical publishing, as well as the emerging force in marketing that is the Internet.
What interests you most about your job from day to day?
Henson: I love that the work I do challenges me, and that it is multifaceted and varied. I have been given a very unique opportunity at Demos in that we publish books for both physicians and other health care professionals as well as for people with disabilities and their families. We have two distinct product lines—a trade line and a professional line—that, while complementary, have very different marketing needs ….
We are established as a major publisher of high-quality references in neurology and rehabilitation medicine, and we are now expanding the professional list into spine medicine and oncology. This list depends heavily on more traditional marketing channels such as direct mail and exhibits.
Our line of patient-education trade titles, primarily dealing with neurologic diseases and disorders, as well as more general titles of interest to individuals with a wide range of disabilities, depends more on garnering reviews and press coverage in various media outlets, and our distributors getting the books onto bookstore shelves.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing marketing executives in today’s world of publishing and particularly medical publishing?
Henson: … The main challenge is publishing information more quickly to make sure it is current and relevant, especially in this fast-moving technological world of medical advances. And keeping up with electronic initiatives.
Is declining readership a concern in your markets?
Henson: Although booksellers in several market segments are facing declining book sales—as shifting demand, online publishing, increasing prices and the wealth of information available on the Internet for free all take effect—we have not seen these changes in the market adversely affect our sales. We have seen sales of both our patient-ed and our professional line increase greatly over the past couple of years.
The professional market is strong and … always hungry for the latest advances and developments, with immediate impact on physicians’ professional success and bottom line income. …
As far as our trade line goes, we have seen an increased demand for resources and materials relating to all aspects of health and medicine from disease-specific information, chronic medical conditions, therapies and coping strategies to disease prevention. Sales of our patient-education titles have steadily increased across the board in the past few years. I think the reason for this is threefold: The documented demographic trend of an aging U.S. population and the rise of chronic nonfatal conditions within this population; more sophisticated health consumers; and the rising number of family as caregivers in the United States.
I think that the Internet has affected our sales in a positive way. Online information can create demand for new books on specific topics that we might not have taken a chance on in years past, as we didn’t think they were big enough to market. People have become accustomed to turning to the Internet for quick, reliable information. And we have found that this just creates a more sophisticated health consumer that will then search out more information in the form of authoritative books on specific medical conditions to help supplement their needs.
Have any significant changes in marketing taken place throughout your career?
Henson: The biggest change in marketing that has taken place during my career is the electronic revolution in information delivery. In terms of marketing, as a company, we have really embraced the Internet as a sales tool. We reach out to customers through our e-mail newsletter, we send mass e-mail press releases to media lists … we conduct linking campaigns for all our titles. Linking campaigns achieve two things: They bring our site up in search engine rankings, and they get the word out to specific organizations, sites, blogs, etc., about a book that can be of use to their readership. We also take advantage of message boards and online communities devoted to relevant topics.
… We are only beginning to embrace multimedia formats with our products. We are releasing an interactive DVD for EEG training this fall. We currently carry exercise DVDs, and we recently released one of our books in a limited PDA format. We do offer our titles as e-books as well and sell them through companies like ebrary. But these initiatives are all just beginning. We are going to continue to experiment with different formats, platforms and electronic sales channels.
What else is key to a successful marketing campaign?
Henson: The key to a successful marketing campaign is to take advantage of as many marketing channels as is possible for the product you are introducing. A good direct mail campaign consists of clearly laid out pieces highlighting the titles, lucid, benefit-oriented copy, clear design that leads readers through the piece logically and systematically, simple and easy ordering forms, with specials on older titles or package price for complementary titles. Mailing lists are key, as is timeliness.
The majority of our e-mail marketing is done through our in-house “e-zine” subscriber database. To build this database we have run many promotions over the past few years. We have offered book giveaways through outside organizations that are relevant to the title we are using. We encourage our customers to sign up when ordering our products and when using our Web site. We do raffles at book shows and exhibits, again for book giveaways, and collect names for our e-zine. We advertise that certain specials and promotions, including book discounts, are only available to our subscribers. We have run blurbs about the e-zine in other health-related e-newsletters.
Can you detail a specific example of one of Demos’ marketing campaigns?
Henson: The book we are most excited about this year [to be released this fall] is “Brain Injury Medicine: Principles and Practice” by Nathan D. Zasler [and others]. It is a high-end medical book that we feel will become the standard in its industry. We introduced the book in direct mail pieces last year. We continue to hone in on both the neurology and rehabilitation market for this book through direct mail.
We also introduced the book through our wholesalers. We will be sending an e-mail announcement to our e-mail newsletter subscribers … [and] an e-mail blast out through a purchased list from the American Medical Association. We will contact all major brain injury
organizations and other professional
organizations that deal more tangentially with brain injury in order to make them aware of the book and offer them bulk sale opportunities for members. We conduct linking campaigns. Upon publication, we send free review copies to all major journals and trade magazines that cover brain-injury rehabilitation.
At this point we will then re-evaluate what is working, what is not, and re-analyze who has actually been purchasing the book. We may find audiences we did not contemplate having … we may find that a lot of lawyers are buying the book, as it is helpful for them in brain injury litigation cases. Or we may find it is very popular among neuropsychologists working in rehabilitation. We want to better understand our consumer and then create a campaign that speaks
directly to them. BB