Notes on promotion, at the book fair

Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair is made up of 36,000 square feet of books and the people who print and publish them. If you like books, or art, it’s a great place to be. Events are great temporary spaces and occasions to bring a group of people together (known in marketing as activation).

After reading the Cluetrain Manifesto, I’ve used the metaphor of a marketplace—like a mall, or a book fair—to think about marketing online. I noticed some nuanced promotion tactics, particular to in-person and physical books, which I am sure you could adapt into online promotion as well:

Ask me about: One team wrote prominent authors’ names on a piece of cardboard in permanent marker and stood it up at their booth. The names were like magnets, drawing the eyes of passersby who would pause in recognition. The top name was struck through, which made someone ask the question, “Why did you cross that author’s name off?” (They were out of stock—generally a good sign!)

Take one, take many: This call-to-action accompanied some one-page prints. “Take many” sounds like a simple addition, but it’s powerful because it adds a friendly, light, and generous tone for any people who might’ve been on the fence. If someone takes many, they can also give it out to their friends. (The tradeoff is it lowers scarcity, which is worth it if the message is more important.)

20% off: One publisher marked down their books 20% off if you bought it right there. It added an incentive to take action. This drove my buying intent right up, and I considered buying their products much more heavily than others.
Name inserts: One publisher put in inserts that extended above the book, like a bookmark, with the author’s last name in big letters. This insert contained one of their team member’s descriptions of the book, effectively a short review of why they liked it. It felt more encouraging to open the book, drawing the eye first to the insert, then naturally to the rest of the book.

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