The Measure of Marketing
Publishing companies most often to track performance via financial measures such as changes in sales and revenue. But viewed in isolation, these metrics may have little connection to your long-term commercial success.
The problem with this process is it measures something you cannot control -- sales and revenue. If you could control them, then reaching goals would be a given. But you can only influence those metrics by the actions you take.
Publishers can significantly improve upon this process by asking several questions, such as, "Could sales have been higher? How? Did sales maximize my revenue and profit?" And if objectives were not achieved, "Why not?"
A simple two-step process can help can help publishers better measure their efforts and attain their revenue goals. Step One is to measure results, such as the change in book sales, revenue, and profits. In Step Two, evaluate the actions that caused the results. Finally eliminate or change what did not work, and continue doing more of what did.
Measure the Effect, Evaluate the Cause
Book marketing is a matter of cause and effect. When you create a quality, market-driven product, price it accurately, distribute it properly, and promote it consistently your sales, revenue and profit should increase. The cause is the marketing and the effect is the demonstrable change in your target metrics.
Begin by measuring the relative attainment of your goals, but use that result only as an indication that you are doing something effectively and efficiently -- or not. Measuring outcome is like reading a thermometer: it gives you information on current conditions. If you want to change the conditions you have to raise or lower the temperature setting on the thermostat.
To continue the metaphor, in order to change the reading on your marketing thermometer, you must reset the cause of the change -- your marketing efforts. For example, when entering a new market such as corporate sales, the initial goal is to find new prospects to whom you can sell. For example, you may set a goal of locating ten potential buyers in the next month.
What factors will help you find new prospects? Several include defining, segmenting and qualifying your target companies, networking, searching the Internet, and scouring directories.
If you do not have ten prospective buyers at the end of the 30-day period, the tendency is to assume the goal is too high. Instead, look at the actions taken to reach the goal. Are your target definitions correct? Did you spend too much time networking on Facebook instead of networking in-person at association meetings? Could you search different places on the Internet or find new directories? Evaluate the actions that caused the result and then make necessary corrections.
Your actions should have two qualities. First, they should be reproducible, meaning the implementation at one time is similar to that at a different time. Examples are telephone scripts and PowerPoint presentations that are honed through practice. They evolve to the point where execution can be replicated.
Second, actions should be predictive, demonstrating a causal relationship between the action and the outcome being measured. In other words, the effect of an action at one time will be similar to the result of the same action at a later time. Presenting a proposal and then negotiating the sale of your books reveals the predictive nature of marketing actions. Measuring unit sales, gross revenue or net profits represent neither reproducible nor predictive metrics.
How to Measure and Evaluate
Measuring the attainment of goals (or lack thereof) is an objective process that determines what happened. For example, you may have a specific number (ten) of prospects to find in a month. You compare the actual result with the proposed outcome and find yourself at, above, or below your goal. That is the first step.
Next, subjectively evaluate the cause to determine why the result happened. If your actual sales are below forecast, look at the quantity and quality of your actions. What can you do to increase your revenue? Could you publish your content as an ebook or booklet? Find new distribution partners? Enter different non-bookstore segments? Change your price or discount schedule? Do different, more, or better promotion? Here is a checklist to help you subjectively evaluate the causes of poor, good, and excellent results.
Poor Results Good Results Excellent Results
Product Driven Market driven Market driving
Mass-market orientation Segment oriented Customer oriented
Product focus Augmented Product Focus on solutions
Average product quality Better than average Excellent products
Average service quality Better than average Excellent service
Function oriented Process oriented Outcome oriented
Reacting to competition Matching competition Leading competition
Supplier exploitation Supplier preference Supplier partnership
Distribution exploitation Distributor support Distributor partnership
Price driven Quality driven Value driven
This two-step process may be applied to any cause-and-effect situation. For instance, if your authors are not appearing on as many media events as planned, maybe they need to change the way they approach producers. If they are getting on many shows but not selling books, perhaps they need to improve their performances by taking media training.
If you want to know the scale of a situation, gather and compare the numbers. If you are satisfied with your results, keep doing more of what you are already doing. If you are not satisfied, evaluate your actions and try something different. Remember that you cause the results, so look to where you have the most influence on them.
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."