Marketing Lessons and Three Inch Heels

Marketing Lessons and Three Inch Heels

Posted on June 28 by admin
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As I was walking down the street at lunch today, I noticed the woman in front of me was wearing a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. They were black with a three inch heel. Those of you who know your shoes will understand how I knew they were Louboutins. This French designer has branded his shoes by colouring the undersides bright red. It reminded me of the presentation I attended last Thursday at Book Summit, given by marketing guru Terry O’Reilly.

Entitled The Page and Persuasion: Discoverability in an Age of Abundance, Book Summit was a one-day conference examined ways for publishers and authors to connect with their audience, and to encourage sales. You may recognize Terry O’Reilly, of Pirate Radio & Television, and host of The Age of Persuasion heard on CBC Radio. Ah, to have a brain like that! He gave a very funny and insightful presentation on branding (with the added challenge of hammering going on in an office adjacent to the Fleck theatre for the first twenty minutes of his talk no less!)

O’Reilly looked at a variety of marketing campaigns including you guessed it, Christian Louboutin.  This shoe designer branded himself in a remarkable way – by drawing attention to the least noticed part of a shoe (aka painting the bottoms red). It is now a flirtatious signifier of his very elegant shoe collection. The big question was this – is a publisher better off branding the company or their authors? O’Reilly admitted that publishing is a unique industry. Coke or Pepsi can offer samples of their product to customers. With each taste test, each promotional can, they can entice customers to continue to buy their product knowing it will be the exact same product every time (heck, the one time Coke tried to introduce ‘New Coke’, the marketing campaign backfired so badly, they returned to the original formula after only 79 days on the market!)

In publishing, to use the product comparison, companies present 50-100 new one-time products per year (110 in Dundurn’s case!) that all need a unique marketing campaign. It made even Terry O’Reilly stop to ponder the logistics.  The answer that I came away with was this – publishers should brand the company first and foremost in order to build trust with consumers. Harlequin was an example, they are a niche publisher that everyone recognizes for their romance novels.  Using social media and other outlets, authors should do what they can to brand themselves (and their complete list of books. Not just the current title, but everything in their repertoire). Learn to use one aspect of social media well, and then branch out – aka, if you’re comfortable with blogging, use that medium until you have a following and then add Twitter, and so on. If you want to hear more great marketing ideas from Terry O’Reilly, you can follow him on Twitter @terryoinfluence, or you can check out Age of Persuasion on CBC Radio.