Increase Sales With Self-Disruption: 5 Principles
Book sales are down and are heading farther and faster in that direction. The promotional products industry is growing at a 10% annual rate. In which market do you think you can make more money selling your books?
Sometimes a thought-provoking question that disrupts status-quo thinking is necessary to get you started on the path to selling your books in new ways and in new places. This concept of disruptive innovation purports that the most successful innovations upend existing practices to create new products, markets and opportunities. When a company pursues growth in a new market rather than an established one, the odds of success are six times higher and the revenue potential 20 times greater.
You do not have to abandon the traditional path of selling through bookstores to seek sales in uncharted territory. Seek dual distribution channels—through bookstores and non-bookstore markets. Think differently. Think creatively. Look for increased sales and revenue in non-bookstore markets. These could be sales through retail outlets such as gift shops, discount stores, catalogs or specialty stores. Or, they could be sales to corporations, associations, schools or the armed forces. Combined, these two markets represent a bookselling opportunity that is larger than the trade segment.
Here are five principles of self-disruption.
1) Find a need and fill it
It is difficult to find a topic on which books have not already been written. But it is easier to find a new buyer outside of bookstores. For instance, let’s say you have a title on properly caring for a dog. You could approach a dog-food manufacturer that wants to increase sales of its products. Convince it to place a coupon for a free copy of your book in bags of its dry dog food (or on the label of its canned products).
2) Ask yourself questions
When I published my first title, "Job Search 101," the book, "What Color is Your Parachute?" was the perennial category leader in bookstores. In order to reach my sales objectives, I asked myself, “Who else could use information about how to get a job?” The answer led me in a new direction—selling my books to college students, high school students and many states’ Departments of Labor.
3) The smaller your niche the greater your opportunity.
Explore smaller but perhaps more lucrative markets. For example, you might publish a book on nutrition and compete with hundreds of other titles on the same topic. But if you specialized on smaller groups—"Nutrition For Long Distance Runners" or "Nutrition For High-School Athletes"—you could compete in uncontested, potentially more lucrative segments.
4) Take action.
If you have reached a plateau, do something. Resurrect your backlist and try selling more books instead of publishing more books. Try selling to different buyers. Seek foreign sales. Investigate the sale of subsidiary rights. Look to selling your content in different forms such as ebooks or audio books.
5) Be flexible in your planning.
Marketing strategy, not book production, drives sales and revenue. Your mission statement should be cast in stone, but the ways in which you implement your plans to fulfill it should be flexible. According to a study by Amar Bhide, 70% of all successful businesses end up with a strategy different from the one they initially pursued
Traditional thinking has a powerful undertow. In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, holding steady really means falling behind. Move, evaluate, adapt, strategize and move again. As John D. Rockefeller said, “If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel worn paths of accepted success.”
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."