Publishing fashion and fashioning publishing
I came across Blue Marketing Books at the 2012 London Book Fair. Each of Blue Marketing’s books contain 22 tips. As the publisher of a series in which each title contains 53 ideas, I was intrigued to discover another number-based set of titles.
That is how I came across 22 marketing tips for fashion retailers (2012). Readers who know me will be amused to think of me reading such a book: I’m not a retailer and, across my lifetime, my fashion sense has been on a long march from non-existent to existent-but-decades-behind-the-times.
Regular readers of Monographer’s Blog, however, will be not be surprised: a central theme of this blog is the attempt to learn from creative industries. Indeed, the post on the role of the creative director (27 Sept 2012) drew directly on cases from the fashion industry.
22 marketing tips for fashion retailers is a dinky little book. The first 9 tips focus on the business model,
the basis for all successful marketing communication and the heart of a marketing policy. What if no-one can relate to your story?…Did you make a mistake in choosing your target group?…Any of these may be the basis for a failed marketing strategy.
Tips #10-21 focus on marketing communications, such as websites, e-mail newsletters, and print mailings. Tip #22 deals with constructing a schedule and monitoring results.
Not surprisingly, some of the tips have no application for publishing. For example, #18 (‘Stand out in the street’) deals with such things as signposts, flags, and facades, possesses no relevance to my own industry (as opposed to book retailing).
Similarly, though more controversially, in my view the passage on search engine optimisation (SEO) will have little relevance to most publishers. Readers are usually interested in books rather than publishers and the high rankings, and efficient internal search engines, of online retailers such as Amazon do the trick for publishers. Users searching for a specific publisher are likely to locate the site they need anyway – and such specific searching is becoming more important, compared to unfocused browsing, because of the transition in internet consumption from computers to phones.
But much of the advice in the book does carry across from one industry to another. For example, #1 (‘Excel in one area’) argues that
When you try to be everything to everyone, you make a false start. Direct your effort towards a clearly specified area of the market and do your utmost to shine in that area
Lack of focus or a lack of specialisation often leads to:
- not daring to make choices;
- the mistaken belief that ‘playing a broad range’ is the same as ‘playing it safe’.
Make a list of all the distinctive attributes and advantages which…[you offer]…They could be actual advantages or advantages as perceived by the customer. Do you have ten distinctive attributes? Delete at least eight.
I find this kind of approach works well at many of levels of publishing – from, say, discussing a proposal with an author to marketing textbooks.
The general orientation of the book (good marketing doesn’t necessarily require a large budget; don’t just do what other businesses do – learn from their mistakes) transfers between industries, as do many of the specific insights. For example, “Stop selling. Tell a story” and “Recent research has indicated that any envelope with a lump in it is likely to be opened” (though I’m not quite sure what to do with the latter insight!).
I particularly liked Tips #15 (‘Work together with complementary businesses’), #17 (‘Put some fun into paper mailings’), and # 8 (‘Develop future scenarios’).
The last-named of these advocates constructing four scenarios to consider – a positive scenario, a dream scenario, a negative scenario, and a doom scenario. The author is right to countenance “Don’t just think in dream scenarios”, though in my experience many micro-entrepreneurs also need to be reminded that they should allow themselves to consider the dream scenario, amongst others.