There are two large markets in which to sell books. One is through bookstores (bricks and clicks) and the other to non-bookstore buyers. While that is correct, there is a better way to define the two opportunities for book sales. One is Business to Consumer (B2C) and the other is Business to Business (B2B). This distinction more accurately reflects the disparity.
You are already familiar with B2C marketing because it is conducted primarily through retailers, including bookstores, supermarkets, airport stores, discount stores, etc. You sell a standard product through a distribution chain that takes 55 – 70% of each sale. Your income per unit sold is fixed. The retailers display (not sell) your book on shelves surrounded by competitive books, mostly similarly priced. If you want to attain net sales of 10,000 books you must promote consistently, enticing 12,000 individuals to each purchase one (assuming a 20% return rate). And all sales are “one and done” meaning you have no knowledge of who the ultimate consumers are, removing the likelihood of selling additional products to them.
B2B marketing is very different from B2C marketing, but therein lies the chance to generate large, non-returnable, repetitive sales. B2B buyers are in non-retail segments such as corporations, associations, schools and the military. Here are some of the distinctions that define this opportunity.
There are no distribution chains, so you make the sales calls by phone (smile and dial) or in person (grin and grip). Not everyone has the time, desire or skills to do this, so there are sales reps/agents who can do it for you for a percentage of the sale. Authors who are more aggressive can find lists of potential buyers on sites such as https://www.manta.com/ (copy and paste this to your browser). Sort the list by industry and search for those companies that could use your content to solve a business problem.
For example, a local bank wanted to thank new clients for opening a saving account. It realized that an educated customer is a long-term customer, so we focused on young clients to insure years of good relationships. We developed a promotion geared towards high school and college graduates. The bank gave each a personal finance book as a business gift, customized with the bank’s logo as a gift for opening an account,. The book featured information on loans, investing and saving techniques as well as information on stocks, bonds and other investment vehicles. Over 7,000 books were sold on short discount. We sold the same concept to other banks in non-competitive geographical areas for additional sales.
This promotion demonstrates several other characteristics of B2B marketing. One person can purchase a large quantity of books on a non-returnable basis. Additionally, you are no longer selling a commodity product since the form is a variable. The buyer may wish to purchase your content in a printed book, an ebook, audiobook or other format. Also, since the price is negotiated your revenue per sales is not fixed. A sale of 7,000 books may be discounted by 60%, but you are still 10% more profitable than selling through a trade distributor, and the buyers pay the shipping charges. A satisfied buyer may purchase more of the original title or acquire your other titles for future promotional campaigns.
B2B marketing applies to retailers, too. We worked with a small chain of children’s shoe stores to implement a punch-card program where every $50 spent was worth one punch on the card. Each time a card was punched 4 times, the child or parent selected two books from those available on display. The theme was “We’ll take care of your child… from their head to their feet.” Over 4000 children’s books were sold, and moms loved this promotion. This also helped build their loyalty to the author’s other titles.
As you can see, book marketing is not an either/or proposition. Create a dual distribution strategy in which you sell through B2C retailers (including bookstores) and to B2B buyers. In both cases, sell your books to them in the ways in which they can use them, not in the way you want to sell them. Understand the customers of your customers, and help them reach their goals and you can sell increase your sales, revenues and profits
Brian Jud is the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books, the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org), and the administrator of Book Selling University (www.booksellinguniversity.com) Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com.