The following is a fictitious mini marketing plan I created for a publishing class while in university studying communication. I thought it would make a great sample of a mini marketing plan for businesses looking to develop one for themselves, especially book businesses!
IMPORTANT: You may not copy any part of this marketing plan for any reason – it is copyrighted!
The following is a marketing plan developed for a new collection of children’s bedtime stories called Goodnight Canada. The book is educational in that it exposes young children between ages four and seven to different cultural communities in Canada. It carries 10 stories from Inuit winter igloo games to Chinese checkers competitions and French maple tree farming. Indian Hindu priests tell the important lesson of ‘karma’ and the son of a Mexican piñata maker gives a papier-mâché giraffe to his imaginary ‘Oma’ on the Dutch celebration of Sinter Klaas.
A collection of stories meant to educate young children on Canada’s multicultural landscape is currently lacking in the marketplace. With funding opportunities available and the support of cultural organizations that support the role of reading in children’s lives, it was decided to proceed with a hardcover book that would fill this market need.
- Colourful illustrations that accord to the styles of cultures being written about.
- Educational in nature; includes details and histories of cultures that expose children to an anthropological view of Canada’s diverse population.
- While coming from different backgrounds, the book holds to a Canadian outlook, telling stories of characters from different cultures who live in Canada and interact with other Canadians of equally unique origins. Therefore, Canadian names of places, things and people are also mentioned alongside the cultural terms.
- Glossary of terms is included for words that are unique to cultures. In the text these words are underlined in order to indicate that a definition can be found at the back of the book.
- The book does not come in paperback (initially), which may cause sales to suffer if buyers perceive the hardcover price to be too expensive.
- Since the book is focused on Canadian characters, buyers may find it limited in scope, considering it solely Canadian, instead of ‘international’ in nature.
- All stories included are new, not based on traditional folktales, which may disappoint some.
- The book has potential to be turned into a TV series or converted to a script for school play productions, which will increase its exposure to buyers and create sub-rights sales.
- The book, because of its cultural nature, may attract attention and/or qualify for funding from organizations that support Canadian children’s literacy.
- The book will appear in spring, giving educators notification of the book’s release before the start of the school year and allowing ample time for availability in bookstores during the Christmas shopping season.
- A book such as this one has not been tried on the market before, making its survival uncertain.
- Since it reveals cultural stories not based on folklore, reviewers may find certain aspects offensive or stereotypical and label it that way in the media.
- Should sales exceed what is expected, completing a reprint in time may cause a loss in sales for the busy Christmas season.
- According to Lorimer and Barnes, “children’s sections of the chain’s stores lack knowledge of the many different titles that are published in Canada…Because the staff members are unable to provide credible guidance, book buyers are drifting toward mass-market products and away from the creative new titles that are the specialty of Canadian publishers” (2005, p. 240).
Marketing 5 Ps
Target market and positioning
The people expected to buy this book are educators and gift seekers. According to Lorimer and Barnes, “Most children’s book buyers have a university education, their average income is extremely high, and 80 percent are women” (2005, p. 243). In a study analyzed by Lorimer and Barnes, 76 per cent of children’s books are purchased as gifts, whether formal or informal (2005, p. 241). Only four per cent of buyers gave the reason that their book purchase was for “class, school, other.” This, however, does not necessarily imply that the book will not be purchased for educational reasons. The study done was conducted at retail bookstores whereas schools and libraries are likely to have other means of obtaining children’s books for their collections, such as a library jobber.
The book’s positioning will emphasize to its target market that it is unique and fresh, appetizing to all tastes and able to enlarge the view of young Canadians to see the many backgrounds of people that make up the diverse country of Canada.
Competition and the marketplace
A search on Amazon.com and Chapters.ca found that there is currently no similar book to Goodnight Canada on the market. The closest examples would be Storytellers’ rendezvous: Canadian stories to tell to children and it’s sequel, Storytellers’ Encore: More Canadian Stories to Tell to Children compiled by Aubrey et al.; This Land: An Anthology of Canadian Fiction by Kit Pearson; That’s Very Canadian!: An Exceptionally Interesting Report About All Things Canadian by Vivien Bowers and Dianne Eastman and Let’s Call it Canada: Amazing Stories of Canadian Place Names by Susan Hughes and Clive Dobson.
Though these are all collections of Canadian stories, none of them match exactly the idea behind Goodnight Canada. The Storytellers’ books do give insight into Canadian culture, but do not go beyond those cultures originating in Canada, and thus leave out communities that originated from another country and now contribute to Canada’s current cultural mosaic. These books are also outdated by at least 20 years. The other books, though Canadian in content, aim to socialize children into a more ‘historic’ view of Canadian culture. Thus, they also do not reflect the current landscape of Canada’s diverse peoples. With this in mind, in can be concluded that Goodnight Canada will fill a market need and capture a fresh audience.
At retail, the book will sell for $18.95. Most of the competition mentioned above are within the $20 to $30 range. This was believed to be a reasonable price to our target market – being economical yet still reflecting hardcover value – and would help sales for a new, untried series of Canadian stories. It was also considered that the market would be narrowly Canadian, and therefore a reasonable price was needed to ensure sales, since the book’s chances of being sold in markets outside the country were slim.
To save costs, the book’s spreads will alternate between colour and black and white. The print will go on 19 x 25 inch sized papers on a sheet-fed press. The size of the book will be 12 x 12 inches, leaving an offcut of 6.5 x 25 inches which can be used to print mini-posters that will advertise author readings used in promotion (Woodward, 2007, p. 93-94). Considering Canada’s small population and the narrow scope of the target market, the initial print run will be 1,000 copies.
Most promotion funding will be spent on in-store displays and materials. According to Lorimer and Barnes, most children’s book buying decisions are made in-store, with little knowledge of what the customer came in for (2005, p. 241). Therefore, attracting buyers at this stage of the decision-making process is deemed to be most important. In accordance with advice given by Lorimer and Barnes (2005, p. 250-251), spots in store windows will be purchased near the Christmas shopping season and bids to have the book placed face-out on shelves will be sought. Design choices to attract buyers will include a colourful and laminated cover, illustrations that match the cultural style of each story, plus an animated map of the world that will appear on the inside flap of the cover to demonstrate where characters in each story originated from. In addition, the following economical promotion methods will be carried out to aid sales.
Storytelling – bookstores, schools and libraries
Storytelling sessions will be arranged with local bookstores, schools and libraries. This is a cost-effective promotion tool, since the authors of Goodnight Canada will volunteer their time to entertain children about the book. Schools and libraries are usually on the lookout for these events, and offering to do the planning for them will be an added incentive. Mini-posters, coinciding with the advice given by Lorimer and Barnes (2007, p. 250-251), will be printed along with the print run of the books and will show artwork from Goodnight Canada. At the bottom of the posters a blank white box will indicate the time and place of the reading (the details will be filled out with a felt pen marker by the hosts). To help the hosts prepare for the event, the guidelines given by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, found at http://www.bookcentre.ca/authors/author_directory.shtml, will be included in a planning kit (with permission, of course). The planning kit will also contain a summary sheet and press release, an authors’ biographies sheet, mini-posters to advertise the event, teaching resources on cultural education, a publisher’s catalogue and order forms for convenient ordering of more books on the publisher’s list.
Book Week Festival
Goodnight Canada will be submitted as an entrant to the annual Canadian Children’s Book Week. This will aid in promoting the readings held at schools and public libraries. Since applicants wishing to participate in an author event are required to aid with costs involved, this will help relieve the burden of the marketing budget (TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, n.d.).
Green Thumb theatre productions
A partnering agreement and/or sub-rights sales will be sought with theatre organization Green Thumb. Green Thumb is a Canadian organization dedicated to educating young pupils on “social issues” by performing lessons as plays. The mission statement of Green Thumb closely matches the purpose of Goodnight Canada, reading as follows:
“Green Thumb Theatre creates and produces plays that explore social issues relevant to the lives of children, youth and young adults. We provide theatre that celebrates the language and stories of today’s generation and culture to stimulate empathy, debate and critical thinking” (Green Thumb, n.d.).
Green Thumb visits every school district in British Columbia and even tours throughout Canada and the U.S. (Green Thumb, n.d.). The stories in Goodnight Canada, being of practical and real-life nature, have potential to be turned into plays. With Green Thumb putting on productions of the cultural stories, the book will be even greater exposed.
Sales representatives will be educated on the current market trends of cultural education in Canada and will be sent to bookstores, schools, libraries and book fairs to promote the release of Goodnight Canada.
For both sell in and sell through purposes the title will be submitted to the Our Choice publication of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. This publication is viewed by educators and booksellers every year, and is published in the spring to allow books to be exposed to their audiences in time for the start of the school year in September (CCBC, 2003). Submissions for reviews will be given to publications dedicated to children’s books such as Canadian Children’s Literature (published by Canadian Book Review Annual) and Children’s Book News (published by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre). These publications are widely disseminated to our target market and are likely to influence buying decisions. When storytelling events are confirmed hosts, a press release and/or an entire media kit (depending on the size and scope of the event) will be sent to the area’s local newspapers. Follow-up calls will also be made to journalists or editors in charge of covering community news.
According to Lorimer, our “cultural memory” can be threatened by lack of “domestic production” (1996, p. 11). Though Canada’s cultural products are being faded out with the advent of mass market products that appeal to a more “international” taste, Lorimer points out that Canadians can be defensive against these patterns, even if sales statistics show otherwise (1996, p. 10-11). Therefore, a book like Goodnight Canada, though expected to be warmly welcomed by its target market, but will need a ‘push’ to ensure sales. Marketing efforts must thus help our audience realize the importance of Canadian cultural education, encouraging them to actively support the cause they are willing to defend.
CCBC. (2003). Our Choice. Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://www.bookcentre.ca/programs/ourchoice.shtml
CCBC. (2003). Canadian Children’s Book News. Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://www.bookcentre.ca/programs/booknews.shtml
CCBC. (2003). CCBC’s Online Directory of Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers Available for School and Library Visits. Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://www.bookcentre.ca/authors/author_directory.shtml
Green Thumb Theatre. (n.d.). Profile. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://www.greenthumb.bc.ca/who.asp
Lorimer, R. and Barnes, R. (2005). Book Reading, Purchasing, Marketing, and Title Production. In Lorimer, R. et al. (Ed.), Book Publishing 1 (pp. 220-256). Vancouver, BC: Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (CCSP) Press.
Lorimer, R. (1996). Research and industry (pp. 10-11). Vancouver: Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing.
Pitt, S. (n.d.). Canadian Children’s Literature. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://pages.interlog.com/~cbra/ccl/aboutccl.htm
TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. (n.d.). How to Apply. Retrieved November 13, 2007 from http://www.bookweek.ca/howtoapply.htm
Woodward, R. (2007). The Publishing Process: CMNS 372-4 Study Guide (pp.90-94). Burnaby, BC: Simon Fraser University.