Print Is Not Disappearing

“The paperless society is about as plausible as the paperless bathroom.” ~Jesse Shera

The predictions of a paperless society have been around for decades. Back in 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted that the U.S. ebook market would surpass the printed book market in 2017. That fell far short of reality.

From 2012 to 2104, the sales of ebooks grew, but then instead of continuing to grow, ebook sales began to flatten and even decline in 2015. In 2017, unit sales of print books rose while unit sales of ebooks by traditional publishers fell 10% over 2016. For traditionally published books, ebook sales only made up 19% of all book sales in 2017. Author Earnings believes that ebook sales still account for about 25% of all book sales when indie published books are also taken into account.

It appears that print is not going way.

FedEx Office recently conducted a survey of consumers and small business owners about their preferences and purchasing habits regarding professional printing services. The survey, conducted by polling firm PSB, shows that consumers and small business owners prefer to use printed materials over digital. The study found:

  • Ninety percent of consumers and small business owners agreed that they “like to have the option to have printed materials” and preferred reading materials, most notably official documents and contracts, on paper versus on a screen.
  • The majority (90%) of consumers also agreed there will always be a need for printed materials and almost half (49%) said a world without paper would make them feel stressed or annoyed.

In fact, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently sent a notice out to Christian retailers that our 2018 Book Catalog was available to view online. In response, we received a number of emails from retailers requesting that we send them a print version of the catalog because they still preferred looking through print catalogs when making purchasing decisions.

Print is still popular. The shift to all digital has not yet surpassed print. As an Indie author or publisher, this means that print should still be part of your business strategy—both print books and print marketing materials.

Offering books in a variety of formats is a wise strategy, as is participating in both digital and print marketing. Is print still a part of your marketing strategy? Do you utilize:

  • Business cards
  • Print brochures
  • Bookmarks
  • Print catalogs
  • Print advertising?

If your print marketing efforts have fall by the wayside in favor of easier digital strategies, I encourage you to rethink your marketing efforts. A combination of both print and digital will reap the most benefits as we still operate in a world where people use both mediums.

Related Posts:
Print Is Still King
Will eBooks Kill Print Books? 
Societal Trends and the Print Book

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Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

I am a GenXer, a middle-child wedged between Baby Boomers and Millennials. I embody most of the Gen X characteristics including hard working, independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sadly, my generation is also known as the forgotten generation when it comes to marketing.

Few companies specifically target Generation X in their marketing efforts. Yet, if companies don’t speak to me in a way that I will listen, I won’t stand up and take notice of what they are offering.

Marketing is not a one size fits all program. Effective marketing takes knowing how to talk to each generation so they will listen. Following are some tips to effectively reach each generation with your marketing messages.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation makes up a significant portion of the purchasing public. Baby Boomers have longer attention spans than younger generations. After all, they did not grow up with the Internet and technology at their fingertips.

Baby Boomers are still tuned in to traditional marketing methods. As a result, radio and television ads and print ads in newspapers and magazine speak to this generation. In marketing to Baby Boomers, you can go into more depth with your information and even feature longer videos. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers are nearing or in retirement, so two big messages that this generation tunes into is how they can enjoy their leisure time and how they can save money to stretch their retirement funds.

Generation X

This generation, born between 1965 and 1980, is all about bargains. These people want to save money, time, and effort. So, in reaching this generation, offer coupons and ways for them to obtain your books and products without much effort or time invested on their part. This is a cross-over generation that can be reached through both traditional marketing and online marketing.

Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation is on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the texting generation. In fact, 100 percent of Millennials who own a smart phone communicate via text.

Millennials want content that is relevant and authentic. They like customized messages, not generic messages. Word-of-mouth is a driving influencer in Millennials purchases. Social proof—others talking positively about a product—is extremely important to this group. So, be sure to include testimonials in your marketing messages.

Generation Z

These are the new kids in town—those born after 1997. While young, this group is still a powerful buying force. These individuals are true digital natives. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This generation prefers to communicate through images rather than text. They are huge YouTube users. Use of video and images must be prominent in your marketing to reach this generation.

Generation Z is also the least churched generation in American history. This generation has grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.

Related Posts:
The Goal of Advertising
Millennials: A Substantial Market
Paper Is Not Going Away

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Are You In Compliance?

The Internet is all abuzz with news about the EU’s updated GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that goes into effect this month (May 2018). The concern for most Indie authors and small business owners is that they know and follow the regulations so they don’t get fined.

EU’s GDPR

GDPR is a European regulation, not a regulation for the United States. However, if you do business with people in Europe such as selling books directly to Europeans or sending marketing emails to people residing in Europe, then you must abide by the GDPR in your practices.

In a nutshell, the GDPR requires that you engage in “permission marketing”. This means that in order for you to send marketing communications to individuals in Europe, they must give you permission to register them in your database. In plain English this means that people must sign up for and agree to receive your email notifications. So, if you are already receiving permission from people to send them emails, basically you are in compliance with GDPR. To learn more about how GDPR effects authors with email lists, you can listen to a great podcast on the topic at: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-117.

US’s CAN-SPAM Act

In the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act regulates email marketing. Currently, the regulation does not require that you get recipients’ consent before sending them commercial emails. However, the CAN-SPAM Act does require that you provide an “opt out” to the recipient in the email and that you list your physical address in each email you send.

While the CAN-SPAM Act does not require that you receive people’s express permission to be added to your mailing list, it is best practice and strongly recommended.

The Issue with Customer Data

The GDPR is all about keeping customer data safe. After multiple data breaches (think about the recent Facebook data scandal), the governments around the world appear to be taking a strong stand on helping ensure that people’s personal data remains safe and that individuals remain in control of when and how their data is used.

Another big item in the news recently had to do with Google denying Concordia Publishing House the ability to enter a religious ad in the Google Ads program. At first, the issue looks like another censorship of religious freedom. However, upon closer inspection, the matter has to do with retargeting ads and this topic of customer data and how it is used.

Here is how retargeting works. Google tracks which sites you visit and then use this information to allow companies to show ads to people who have visited their website. In other words, if I view a certain book on Amazon, Google tracks that. Amazon can then pay Google to place an ad for the book I viewed in front of me when I am browsing the Internet. The idea is that the more exposure I receive to a product I have showed interest in, the more likely I am to purchase that product.

It turns out, Google does not allow expressly religious ads to be included in their retargeting program. They know that people’s data is sensitive, so their retargeting ad policy states:

“Advertisers can’t use identity and belief categories to target ads to users or to promote advertisers’ products or services.”

For a great in-depth explanation on why Google believes that identify and belief data is sensitive, you can read the article by Levi Nunnick at: https://medium.com/@levinunnink/no-google-is-not-attacking-cph-a20350e12453.

With GDPR, ad retargeting programs will need to get customers’ permission to show them retargeting ads since this involves their personal data.

Personal data and how it is used will continue to be an evolving area for anyone involved in collecting people’s data (including email addresses) for marketing purposes. I do not believe there is any reason for angst over this issue. Using best practices will help keep you in compliance with all laws.

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Book Buying Trends in Canada

Our northern neighbor Canada likes to emphasize that they are different from the United States. After all, Canadians are not “Americans”. The most popular sport in Canada is ice hockey. Canadians use the metric system. The legal drinking age in Canada is 18 years. Shoes are not worn inside the home. The quasi-national dish in Canada is poutine—fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy.

However, in many ways, Canadians are similar to Americans. After all, they speak English (for the most part). They drive their cars on the right side of the road. Both countries were founded on Judeo-Christian ethics. And Canadians read books, most of which are published in the United States. The top-selling books in the United States are often the top-selling titles in Canada as well.

I like to pay attention to the Canadian book market because I think it frequently mirrors the U.S. book market. A recent report on the Canadian book market by BookNet Canada reflects the input of over 2,000 book buyers and sales data from 4,700 book purchases.

In addition to breaking down sales performance for books in over 50 subject categories, BookNet’s report also covered what drives book purchase decisions and where Canadians buy books. Following are two nuggets from the study.

Book Purchase Decision Factors

The BookNet study asked respondents to identify the reason for their most recent book purchase (either for themselves or as a gift). Close to half of all respondents (55% for self-purchase and 46% for gift) reported that the reason they purchased the book was “reading for pleasure”. The second strongest book purchase motivator was self-help/improvement.

Interestingly, Canadians purchased more adult nonfiction books (32%) than adult fiction (26%) in 2017. While close to half of all books bought in Canada last year were children’s books (40%).

Where Canadians Buy Books

Online book purchases accounted for 52% of overall book sales in 2017, an increase of 5% over 2016. The most frequent brick-and-mortar place that Canadian residents purchased books was in retail chain stores, which made up 26% of book sales. Only 9% of book sales were made through bookstores in Canada in 2017.

The trend in Canada is clear, and the same trend is evident in the United States. The percentage of books purchased online continues to grow while the percentage of books purchased through bookstores continues to dwindle. As the percentage of books “discovered” in stores dwindles, your marketing focus must shift to aiming the majority of your promotional resources directly at your target audience and increasing online discovery of your books.

Related Posts:
Fresh Insight into Book Buying Behavior
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
Are Millennials Buying Your Books?

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Photo courtesy of Daniel Joseph Petty.

Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool?

“I’m not tech savvy. Are there other ways to market a book besides social media?”

This is a question I frequently encounter, mostly from mature authors, but once in a while from younger authors who feel that social media has not been productive for them. My standard answer is always, “Yes, there are many ways to market a book, and no author should put all of their eggs in one basket.”

Social media is just one tool in an author’s marketing toolbox. There are numerous tools in that toolbox. Over reliance on one tool is not good. After all, not all situations need a screwdriver.

One often overlooked marketing tool is using articles to promote your book. Articles are an excellent means of spreading your message and introducing readers to your books. Sadly, many authors are either unaware of the power of articles for promotion or they simply omit this influential tool.

In her book Articles, Articles, Articles, Linda Gilden walks authors and potential authors through everything they need to know to write and publish articles. From information on brainstorming ideas to formatting and writing an article to submitting an article for publication, Linda’s book is a comprehensive guide on writing articles. The book covers writing articles for print magazines, e-zines, and blogs.

This book includes some wise advice from author DiAnn Mills. She says, “When I finish and send in the first draft to the editor, the next thing I do I make a list of all the blogs and articles I can write that would help and assist a reader, but it is also woven in with the theme of my book.” Linda’s chapter on brainstorming ideas for articles expounds on this idea.

Linda reminds authors that you don’t have to limit yourself to just the area of the subject matter in your book. Linda encourages you to think outside the box. Once you have exhausted the specific area of your book’s coverage for articles, go wider. Is your book your own story of overcoming depression? Then you can also interview experts on the subject for articles. You can write a piece on rehab centers for Christians experiencing depression. You might even go niche and write an article on the special issues pastors face when struggling with depression.

The great thing about articles is that most publications allow you an author byline that lets you tell the publication’s readers a little about yourself. You can use your author byline to introduce people to your book. Linda points out in her book that articles can help you build your author platform by introducing you (and your book) to thousands upon thousands of readers.

If you are interested in using articles to promote your books, I suggest that you head on over to your favorite bookstore and purchase a copy of Linda Gilden’s book Articles, Articles, Articles. It gives you all the information you need to use this influential marketing tool to introduce more readers to your books.

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Photo courtesy of Hunter Haley.