The digital revolution has arguably had as radical an impact on marketing in the book industry as on media of delivery. As well as recommending sales materials and their best use, this chapter will set out the fundamentals of marketing support for exporting activity, and identify key new online opportunities.

Sales materials for sales people and customers

The steady migration of recent years from printed to digital marketing materials has taken on a new urgency and motivation with the rise of ecological considerations; and meanwhile the larger publishers have made six-figure annual savings by eliminating the despatch of monthly kits of printed jackets, information sheets and other materials to their trade customers, associate companies and educational institutions around the world.

Instead, publishers have developed three key tools:

  • Electronic sales kits for their representatives to use in presentations to customers, whether trade or institutional. These kits often include a portal to an electronic ordering facility linked directly to the system of the publisher’s UK warehousing distributor
  • Digital information packs to be emailed monthly, quarterly or seasonally to the customer base
  • Customised password-coded websites for international customers, whether trade or institutional: like the sales kits these sites give access to publication schedules, focus on and emphasise the titles that are likely to travel best into international markets, include editions produced especially for export, offer backlist subject-order-forms tailored to market needs, topical promotions, and include full metadata.

The costs of developing these facilities have come down, and their development requires only familiarity with standard software packages and not specialist technical skills. Electronic ordering is now commonplace, but set-up and running will need the advice and co-ordination of the distributor.

Even if discrete websites are not developed, a separate section for export within the main site will serve the purpose, as well as signalling to international customers that a publisher is serious about export and recognises its different requirements.

Lead times on making information available should be determined by a critical path where the timeline co-ordinates production schedules and pre-publication delivery times, as well as accommodating customer needs.

For certain categories of illustrated publication including children’s books (the experience of which goes beyond the textual to the visual, the tactile and even the olfactory) printed blads, sample pages and sections used for sales, marketing and publicity purposes can achieve an effect noticeably beyond the possibilities of digital.

A further useful tool is a customer newsletter. In a world of email tsunami where the delete button is constantly employed, individual emails about books or items of news should be avoided unless they contain urgent information about top-tier titles. A monthly newsletter draws together all the individual items into a single document which is much more likely to be read.

In that same context, a printed seasonal catalogue of new publications can still have great value: it stands out from the plethora of digital information and acts as a calling-card, drawing together and presenting the list conveniently, accessibly, and in a way that makes a clear statement of content, identity and design sensibility. Such catalogues can be both mailed and used to good effect in face-to-face meetings with publishing partners, customers, media representatives and other influencers.