For many years, corporate buyers have been purchasing coffee mugs, apparel, and other items for promotional purposes. These are tools used to increase sales, encourage buyers to remain loyal to a product or to change their loyalty from competitors, and to reward employees. Until recently, there has been little awareness about using books to accomplish these goals. Therefore, you may first need to convince the buyers of the viability of using books as a promotional tool.
There are many reasons why a book makes a versatile and profitable promotional product. Primarily, there are millions of existing titles on an endless variety of topics, and if the appropriate title does not exist, it can be created and customized. Below is a list of additional reasons why books are superior to many other promotional items.
- Easy to redeem. A book can be delivered in a variety of formats, so the cost of the promotion can be reduced while providing consumers with the same content. For example, an eBook can be delivered quickly, reducing the consumer’s acquisition cost and the company’s shipping costs.
- Tasteful. Books are appropriate because they are classy. Their high-perceived value does not demean the sender or recipient. In a way, a book defines the taste of the giver. People like a premium that flatters their intelligence, and books do that.
- Flexible. Books have varied usage in that they can be used to reward, motivate, educate or entertain employees, salespeople, customers, and dealers. A title may also be coordinated with a season or holiday (think holiday cookbook).
- Customizable. Books can be customized to identify the provider by adding the corporate logo to the cover. A company could also replace the cover with one of leather to increase the impression of class. Or, you might ask the company’s president to write the foreword. Some companies may want to include a page of advertising or links to its related products and services. The content may also be tailored to fit a special occasion or season, to recognize service anniversaries, or celebrate a company landmark or anniversary.
- Portable. A book – with the sponsor’s logo, ad, or message plainly visible – can be taken everywhere. This could be on planes, trains, buses, to the beach or anywhere people congregate.
- Promote additional purchases. A book can create incremental demand, spurring purchases that might not otherwise be made. This is a common effect of multi-tiered promotional programs (silver, gold, platinum) where each higher tier requires more purchases.
- Create a sense of momentum. Even when status levels are not part of a program, a valued reward can lead consumers to increase the velocity of their purchases. The further along members are in a promotional program, the more motivated they become. Companies can encourage this by including the “first book free,” giving a little push to get the program moving.
- Personalized recognition. Another advantage of a book as a promotional product is that the seller can target promotions to individual customers or employees. This can be important in today’s workforce where three generations of employees could be working for the same firm. One item may not be effective motivating or rewarding a baby boomer as well as those in generation X and in generation Y.
- Author involvement. Take advantage of the combination of facts that people like to meet the author, and authors enjoy conducting book-signing events. For added impact, arrange an author appearance on the company’s premises or at a trade show.
- Test marketing. If the company is in a quandary as to which book to use as the focal product, it can test various covers and content to find out which is most likely to achieve the objective of the promotion.
- Effective. With media fragmentation, consumers are less loyal to mass media. With the saturation of ad messages, books as promotional products can be effective for communicating with people when they are more receptive.
- High touch. A book provides a tangible medium for repeatedly communicating an ad message. Books can be targeted for an entire family – or to individuals at any age in the family.
- Durable. Books are not easily damaged, which makes it more likely to be given to others to read (the “pass-along” factor), further extending the reach of the message.
- Longevity. Because of their durability, books – as well as your prospects’ ad messages — are permanent. The message is long lasting – unlike food or flowers. Also, books could appreciate over time and become a collector’s item
- Consumer engagement. Readers get involved with their book for the entire time it takes them to read it. Being user friendly is important for relationship building.
- ROI. A successful direct-marketing campaign may achieve a 3-5% response rate. But if the company gives out 1,000 books it gets at least 1,000 known impressions. With pass-along readership the reach of the message is multiplied. Books are cost effective, offering better reach with a lower cost per impression.
- Creative. Given the wide variety of titles available, you can easily customize a campaign for your prospects using a book as the centerpiece. A book can be created with a specific message or target in mind.
- Strategic. Books can create and solidify your prospect’s brand image and create customer interaction, further extending the impact of your potential buyer’s positioning statement.
- Reinforcing. If a book is used as a premium it can be easily integrated with traditional media. This creates synergy and multiple impressions.
Books provide a versatile, profitable and effective promotional item you can use to help corporate buyers reach their objectives. Once you convince them of the viability of books in general as promotional tools, then you must persuade them that yours is the one to choose.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore.