Author: Julia Garvey
So Protein World’s controversial Beach Ready advert has now been officially banned. Finally.
But do you know the biggest mistake they made wasn’t to produce a misogynistic advert that objectifies women. It was to ignore Wheaton’s Law.
Wheaton’s Law was coined by US Trekkie actor Wil Wheaton when referring to how users should behave when online gaming. It’s a simple and effective mantra that can be applied to all walks of life. DON’T BE A DICK.
So when faced with the online backlash over their poster campaign, had Protein World applied Wheaton’s Law then they wouldn’t have issued tweets like this:
The resulting twitter storm went global and #growupharriet started trending.
When dealing with customer complaints and vocal dissenters, remember that how you act as a brand is going to have as big, if not bigger, impact on the outcome than your original actions. Applying Wheaton’s Law will enable you to ride the storm with dignity and bring your brand out the other side relatively unharmed.
Still you could argue that the Grow up Harriet debacle was the rocket that catapulted Protein World from a near-unknown diet product to a worldwide internet sensation. Even if it was for all the wrong reasons – no publicity is bad publicity, right?
I took part in a panel discussion on digital publishing for Women in Publishing last week, alongside the awesome Laura Summers and Rebecca Lefort. Below is a transcript of my presentation on the importance of the freemium model.
Sara O’Connor from Hot Key Books wrote in Futurebook last week why she is leaving publishing to go and work in tech. She still feels the ‘walls of resistance to digital’ within publishing, particularly coding
She called for a time when CEOs of publishing houses can code, when coding is no longer a taboo and publishers understand the power it can give them to create new and innovative products.
It’s an interesting parallel as I recently read an article that said Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo was the first to ask for her PC to be set up to code, that she has been able to move the company forward at such a pace precisely because she can code and understand the process behind her products.
Like Sara I have spent my career in publishing – mainly in education or STM publishing on the marketing side. Recently I started working with Gojimo, an EdTech startup who have developed a GCSE and A Level revision App.
Although I don’t code, I can appreciate the point that Sara is making. There is a very different mindset, and language set, working in EdTech than there is in traditional publishing. Even though we are both essentially creating content to provide to students, there is a world of difference between working for even a company as progressive as Rising Stars and Gojimo. And one key difference comes in the form of the freemium model.
What is the freemium model?
This took me a while to get my head around. Conversations went something like this. So the app is free, and the content is free – so how do we make any money? And the truth is, we don’t. Well not yet anyway.
Gojimo, like many tech companies, is funded by venture capital, which means in the first instance there isn’t the pressure to immediately turn a profit. However that doesn’t mean that the product is created without any thought to profit, it just means the business model is different.
The freemium business model enables us to build a great user base and then to monetise the product at a later date, once those users are hooked and coming back to us regularly.
Freemium becomes the cornerstone of user acquisition (or new customer acquisition as we would say in publishing).
With Gojimo this works by offering over 150,000 free revision quiz questions across a huge range of qualifications and subjects so that we become the only revision app you would ever need to use.
We make it easy for users to find us, to download or access the app (iOS, Android, web) and they don’t even need to register to get started. We have removed all the barriers that traditionally prevent people from discovering what a great product we have – price, sign up, access, discoverability. Then we have set up trigger points that, once reached, trigger an email or in app push notification in order to guide the user towards a purchase of premium content, which in our case are ebook study guides that we have licencsed from publishers such as OUP and Pearson.
Over time, our user base will get bigger, the range of content on offer will be broader and the revenues will be greater. But we rely on giving away content for free in the first instance in order to generate revenues down the line.
Ok so how can freemium work if I’m not an app developer?
A few years back I worked on the launch of EssentialCPD an online training delivery platform from Rising Stars and Guardian Teacher Network. EssentialCPD offers short courses for teachers to take online to aid their personal development. Our launch strategy involved creating one courses specifically that we could give away for free – a variation on the try before you buy model. But in actual fact that is just another form of freemium. We allowed customers to use the site and have access to a course for free for ever, not for a limited time (free trial). In this case we did require a sign up partly because the software is adaptive and needs to remember a user when they return, and partly because this is a high cost institutional sale and not a low cost consumer product like Gojimo. But the thinking behind it was the same. We then worked very hard at driving new customers to the free course and then instigated automated marketing to following up on them once they had completed the course.
PanMacmillan have recently introduced an extracts website which does exactly what it says on the tin. 10 minute extracts from all their new titles and a selection of their popular backlist, that you can access for free online. Read it , like it, buy it. It’s so beautiful it makes you wonder why nobody’s done it before. Far more engaging than a look inside, you actually feel as though you are reading the book proper and therefore far more likely to purchase at the end – it encourages you to read rather than just flick/browse through.
Self-published authors often give away the first book in a series for free via Amazon. Once hooked they are then able to sell the remaining titles in the series to readers at a higher than entry-level price. They have used the free title to gain loyal fans.
So will freemium work for you?
Ask yourself what you can give away for free that is representative of the product as a whole. Can you chunk it so that some of the product sits behind the paywall (as newspapers do) and the rest is available for free. Or can you create a lite version as many apps do, that gives users access to some of the content or features of your product but then they have to pay to unlock the rest.
Work out what you are trying to achieve? Is it user numbers, like Gojimo? Is it lead generation like EssentialCPD so you can then sell a high value product or service to the customer as with subscription services or school textbooks. In fact the inspection copy system that textbook and academic publishers have been using for decades is a form of freemium, giving lecturers and teachers a free copy of the book in order to decide whether or not to adopt it as a set text. These days we no longer need to supply a costly physical book but can give away ebooks or online access to the content. In return for valuable data on student numbers, personal contact details and information on what resources are currently being used, budgets etc. The data alone can be worth the cost of a free book.
Or do you want to build a loyal fan base as the self-published authors do.
Whichever way you go you need to have clear KPIs, analytics and a monetisation plan in place, even if the revenues don’t come until further down the line. Otherwise you are literally giving away your content for nothing.
I was asked recently by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency for some marketing advice she could pass on to her authors. I created a 2 page sheet for her and have summarised the key points below. So here are the 5 things I want my authors to do in order to help promote and sell their books.
- Have a website
This helps build ‘the author as brand’. You create a following and can showcase your work, particularly if you are published by different publishers. Your website will be the one place that pulls together all your work.
- Be active on Twitter
If you are an author with a big Twitter following then publishers see this as a ready-made audience and will look at you more favourably. And if you have a contract already then you can use social media to create word of mouth and generate interest.
- Have a Facebook page
It’s not essential to have a Facebook page as well but there are a lot of readers who aren’t on Twitter who will connect with you via Facebook. You can keep your personal life and your work life separate by setting up your author profile as a ‘page’ which is basically an account within an account.
- Be willing to do events
Once you have a book due for publication then you need to be prepared to do events. These don’t need to be scary and you can work with your publisher to build a programme with which you are comfortable.
- Be open to new ideas
Your publishers and agents may ask you to do a whole host of things you never imagined like judging competitions, or being interviewed by a book-tuber. If you are prepared to try anything (within reason) and make yourself available to your publisher then you will go far.
Remember, the publicity and marketing department are dealing with lots of authors. They want to work with those authors who make their life easier, and who are happy to throw themselves into things with enthusiasm. The more closely you work with your publisher, the more opportunities you will be offered, and the more books you will sell.
If you would like a copy of my Author’s Guide to Marketing then please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been pretty rubbish at updating my blog in recent months because I have been very busy with client work. A great problem to have from a work point of view, but not very good on the blogging front. So I got to thinking about ways around this problem.
Here are my top tips for how to blog when you are just too busy:
- Write a content schedule.Plan out your posts in advance and that way you are more likely to make time to get them done. You don’t have to come up with new ideas when you are already fully stretched.
- Write posts in advance. Once you have your content schedule it’s easy to identify those posts that are not time-specific and can be written in advance. If you have a quiet period try and get three or four posts written and ready to go, that way when you’re busy you can simply take one off the shelf.
- Imagine you are getting paid for it. If this were a client blog then there is no way I would ever miss a deadline. But because this is something I do for me, it is easy to put it off or prioritise other things. Give it a higher priority.
- Invite a guest blogger to write for you. Not as grand as you think, this could simply be someone you know or work with, or a fellow blogger who you think your readers would like to hear from. Then later you can return the favour.
- Short but sweet. Don’t be tempted to write a 500 word article once a month, better to write 50 words once a week. Remember a good blog entices readers in with regular, relevant updates (I know, I am guilty of not following this one). If you disappear for a month, so do your readers.
So there you have it, a few words of wisdom which I, for one, am going to try to follow for the next few months. Watch this space.
My tips on how to pick the best of the bunch.
- Like minded individuals
The best event in the world is worthless if the people you’re mixing with don’t share your interests. Obviously publishing-related events are top of my hit list, but don’t just confine yourself to your own industry – look for skills-based events (marketing) or interest based (education). That way you can widen your network and gain some left-field inspiration at the same time.
A good venue blends into the background. A great venue enhances the event and attracts people in. A poor venue detracts and can even ruin the whole thing. Obviously opinions will vary (personally I dislike The Club at the Ivy, not least of all for the eye-wateringly expensive drinks, but I might be in the minority on this one) but a poor layout, background noise and overcrowding can spoil even the best event.
- Wi-Fi / phone reception
If you can’t attend an event, the next best thing is to follow the conversation on Twitter. This is rendered useless without decent Wi-Fi or phone reception at the venue. Be wary of meetings in pub basements.
- A compelling reason to attend
A great speaker line-up can be the difference between turning up or going home to catch up on Coronation Street. Topical or exclusive subject matter will attract people with similar interests and make the networking itself easier and more enjoyable. Even if you get an attack of nerves and fail to meet a single new person, chances are you will have learned something new.
- Time and space to move and chat
Don’t forget the real reason you are there – to make new contacts. Choice of venue plays a part here – the ideal combination is a bar (Dutch courage), good lighting (you can’t mingle if you can’t see anyone) and space to move around. Check the schedule of the event – some include time for mingling before the speakers, some afterwards.
New to networking? Here are three events to try:
- Bookmachine– interesting speakers and socialising in equal measure
- Byte the Book– regularly has a good panel
- Tech Tuesday– the best venue (Shoreditch Hotel) and hospitality by far
We often talk about how digital marketing enables us to be fleet of foot, yet all too often we don’t actually take advantage of it. Yesterday Galore Park reminded me just how compelling timely marketing can be with this opportunistic email.
Why is it so good?
- Eye catching subject line which will resonate with their target audience
- Great copy that ties the newsworthy item with their product
- Link to a fuller report on the Galore Park website
- Clear layout and use of colour to draw the eye – you only need to read the red text to understand the message
- Strong call to action
- Ability to share with friends by email and Facebook to encourage wider reach
Overall this is a brilliant example of a savvy marketer who is in tune with their audience and recognises a golden sales opportunity when they hear one. The timing of the email is guaranteed to generate an uplift in open and click through rates – if they had waited a week the headline would have had far less impact.
My only comment is that knowing Galore Park as I do, their customer base is mainly independent schools. For this email to truly have impact they need to be targeting state schools (which, for all I know, they did). And back it up with strong social media messages to reach a wider audience and encourage debate around the issue.
An excellent reminder that we need to keep our ear to the ground and be prepared to act quickly to take advantage of marketing opportunities such as this.
The Futurebook conference purports to distill the latest thinking on the future of publishing. I haven’t been before but I would imagine that when it started this would have been groundbreaking stuff, shaking up the establishment and scaring the bejesus out of the delegates with predictions of the end of the world as we know it.
Well things have moved on. Digital publishing is now mainstream and speaker after speaker from Charlie Redmayne, George Walkley to Sara Lloyd stressed that ‘digital’ is now built in to all our jobs. Cut a ‘modern publisher’ in half and, like a stick of rock , you will see digital running right through to the core.
So in this changed landscape, does Futurebook still have something to teach us?
Well, yes, but probably in small nuggets rather than by the spade-full. To be honest I didn’t hear anything revolutionary, no big idea that blew my socks off – but there were several key inspirational points some of which I share below.
Charlie Redmayne talked a lot of sense.
Customer insight is key. As an industry we need the skills and understanding of how this dark art works in order to moved forward. As if to underline this point, Dead Good Books went on to win digital marketing campaign in the Innovation Awards – a website built around an understanding of the way consumers search and consume crime drama (both onscreen and in published format).
Kobo’s ‘erotica gate’ was the stand-out presentation. The right blend of wit, appropriate visuals and behind-the-scene insight to captivate the audience and demonstrate the extraordinary measures that had to be taken to eradicate inappropriate self-published ‘active erotica’ from their store without censoring the rest. And the incident served as a (unintentional?) demonstration of why we need publishers as intermediaries.
I came away with new respect for independent authors courtesy of Joanna Penn who dared to tell a room full of publishers how to market their titles. My initial ‘grandma to suck eggs’ opinion quickly disappeared when she made some very valid, and seldom implemented, points about driving online sign-ups using in-book advertising . She is also a great believer in the perma-free pricing model to help build an ongoing audience. I am not sure all authors and publishers will be as easy to convince as I was.
Disappointingly one entire session turned into a thinly veiled sales pitch by a couple of the presenters, and the big ideas session suffered from a lack of ideas that were, well, big. However the ever-entertaining Jamie Byng’s call to reduce output although not a new idea, gains extra traction in an digital landscape where we need extra time to fully exploit all avenues of content usage.
But the best call to action was Rebecca Smart’s ‘Why are we so bloody slow?’ Why do books take 12 months plus to produce – we need to be quicker. This held the most resonance for me and actually applies to the pace of change in the industry as well.
Many speakers were quick to point out that publishing has always been an industry of innovation, of change, of delivering new formats. But sometimes we are a bit slow off the mark doing so and are either forced (abolition of the NBA) or outwitted (Amazon). We need to look at our workflow and ask ourselves how we can deliver added-value to authors, and do it more quickly.
I write this stuck at Heathrow en route to the Frankfurt Book Fair with a 12 hour delay due to fog. The experience has reminded me that at times of crisis we are most likely to either be impressed or dismayed by our experience. Get it right and a business can win a customer for life; get it wrong and you can lose a customer forever.
The most frustrating aspect of any delay or problem is not knowing what is going on. Lufthansa had plenty of opportunities to keep their customers informed. When I first arrived at City Airport to find the screen simply said flight cancelled, to the 2.5 hours spent queuing at Heathrow for the replacement booking. One person at the head of the queue telling people which line to join does not count. A simple sign apologising for the delay and explaining the process or wait time would have gone a long way to making the process less painful.
Ask customers what they want
I was transferred by taxi to Heathrow at a cost to Lufthansa of £120. There were three of us in the cab. I would have been happy to take the tube (and quite frankly it would have been quicker) but nobody asked me how I wanted to make the journey.
Go the extra mile
I was given a £7 voucher to spend at the airport while I wait. But I will have missed two meals by the time I fly so that won’t really cover it. Thankfully someone came round with bottles of water, but only after I had been in the queue for 2 hours. It would have been great to have a bit more of that, a cup of coffee or even the chance to go to the loo without missing my spot in the queue.
Don’t annoy me
I know that when you pay for a business or first class ticket you are paying for the peace of mind that you will get exemplary service when things go wrong. But why does that have to be at the expense of the standard customer (who vastly outnumber the business class customer)? From the couple who jumped in front of me in the queue at City because they had business class tickets, to the separate ticket desk with no queue at Heathrow, these small slights only serve to make things worse. There has to be a way to prioritise best customers whilst still helping the rest. There is nothing worse than standing for hours in a queue looking at three business class check in desks that are completely empty. Surely one or two of these staff could help clear the main queue without inconveniencing business customers.
Having finally got my new booking I then had to go to a self-service terminal to check in and print out my ticket, then join another queue (estimated queuing time 1 hour by my reckoning) to drop my luggage. At that point I admitted defeat and have come to the pub for lunch before I brace myself to queue again. Simplify the system so I can rebook and drop baggage at the same time, or at the very least give me my ticket. If the current system can’t do that, then change the system.
Lufthansa cannot control the weather which may explain why they didn’t feel it was necessary to apologise for the delay. But the ticket staff could have empathised with me for the long delay and disruption to my plans. A simple human gesture would have made me feel much happier.
Don’t confuse me
Three of us went up to the desk at the same time, all three of us were offered different options for replacement flights. One got a free business class upgrade, whilst I was told that wasn’t possible. I was offered two connecting flights with an earlier arrival time, one person got a much later direct flight. When queried the two ticket agents argued amongst themselves as to which option was better. Then told me it was up to me. Well no it wasn’t because I wanted the earlier flight and free business upgrade thanks. One message, and a quick and smooth transaction was all I needed.
Don’t exploit my misery
Now stranded at Heathrow for another 7 hours the least I need is free wifi. But even that seems too much to ask. It is just adding insult to injury – get the basics right and don’t profit from other people’s misfortune. If wifi is chargeable then all delayed customers should be given a code for free unlimited access for the duration of their wait.
What can we learn from Lufthansa?
Airlines, service industries and retail are in the firing line as soon as things go wrong. Delays and mistakes in these industries are very visible and involve immediate and in-person contact with customers which hammer the issues home. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. Our customers suffer in silence. We don’t see the long line at the airport, the irate looks and the tired faces. We can only wonder why our customers are deserting us in droves.
When things go wrong, imagine what your customers would say to you if you met them in person, and what you can do to alleviate their pain quickly and simply. If you can communicate honestly, resolve the issue with one touch point and make the customer feel special then I am pretty certain you will have won a fan for life.
Last week I went to my neighbour’s 60th birthday party. It was a very civilised affair in the garden and I have seen Gill several times since and commented on what a lovely time we had.
Imagine my surprise and delight today to receive a handwritten ‘thank you’ note in the post from her.
This small, personal gesture made me feel really important and gave me with a warm glow of satisfaction long after I had read it.
This got me thinking whether I could do something similar for my customers.
It’s not just the quaint and slightly old fashioned use of a personal note (although that did much to cut through the electronic clutter of everyday life and make a big impression), it’s about making your customers feel special. A quick note of thanks, a telephone call or ‘something extra’ included with an order always goes down well. The Boden notebook I received in my parcel a while back springs to mind.
It doesn’t have to cost much, or anything at all, it’s just about taking the time to thank your customers for their support, and to make them feel valuable.
I recently came across the notion of the bookprint; the idea that the books you read leave a lasting and unique impression, much like a footprint.
So I thought I would create my own version of this – my professional bookprint focusing on the titles that I have read that have made the most impact on my working life.
Be different, be bold, make your product or service stand out ie be a purple cow, or you may as well go home. Simple, inspiring and hugely entertaining. Plus this introduced me to the wonderful Seth Godin and from there I moved on to his other classics such as Permission Marketing.
I came across this book when I was working at Gower and marketing the professional list. This book is like the in-box zero of its time, offering easy-to-use time management and productivity tips for getting to the bottom of your in-tray, prioritising tasks and getting more done in a day – tips that I still use.
Goal setting is a bit old hat now but I am a firm believer. Write it down and somehow it will come to pass – even big, impossible dreams can turn into a reality once you verbalise them on paper. In a moment of madness in my early 20s I wrote I wanted to build my own house – 15 years later I did just that. It’s some form of black art or Jedi mind trick – I have no idea how it works, but it just does.
It would be remiss of me not to mention this stalwart of titles. The first edition was published around the time of my first job at Blackwells and I still have my original, somewhat dated, well-thumbed copy. I can only hope that today’s edition includes some mention of the internet and social media because mine does not!
A recent addition this one. I am still reading this biography (it is taking time simply because it is too big to carry anywhere – why I didn’t buy it on Kindle I have no idea) but the vision of this man is quite literally awe-inspiring. Practically every chapter offers an ‘I never knew that’ insight. Highly recommended.
So that’s my professional bookprint – what’s yours?