How to Sell More Books

My philosophy on how to sell more of something is simple: you have to explain what it is, you have to make it look Go Set a Watchmandesirable, and you have to ensure that it creates an appropriate impact on your Customer.

At Buckingham Palace, the first year we opened to the public, interpretation was kept to a minimum in the Staterooms to avoid creating a museum atmosphere; so we made a huge display of guidebooks just before the ticketholders’ entrance, and presented them as an indispensable guide to the experience. The result – we sold a guidebook to every third visitor – a rate that was maintained for five straight years. One of my hobby-horses is that most visitor attractions fail to maximise sales of guidebooks because they don’t follow this simple approach.

The key principle is to get the timing right: at Buckingham Palace, visitors with tickets were in ‘peak anticipation’ mode, and therefore at their most receptive to what was a genuine value-add.

Whenever I’ve been involved in designing shops, cafes or visitor centres I’ve ensured that such signature products have pride of place, in a prime location with point of sale that is written from the Customer’s point of view.

In the publishing world, there is currently much hype around the new Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman”; publishedMarvellous Ways fifty-five years after To Kill a Mockingbird”, there is understandably great excitement that this previously ‘lost’ follow-up has at last appeared in print. If you go into Waterstones you will find both books everywhere, seemingly in every department (and on its website).

So Waterstones is following part of my philosophy. I’d suggest, however, that it is perhaps missing a trick. Its Customers are generally savvy enough to know that this is a great publishing event, and a must-read novel. So it’s reasonable to think that, if Waterstones adopted the supermarket approach (putting bread and milk at the back of the store, for example), it would not only capitalise on “Go Set a Watchman”, it would also give the thousands of other books that it sells a chance to be seen, and sold. (Over 180,000 new books are published every year in the UK alone!)

For example, the new novel by Sarah Winman, “A Year of Marvellous Ways”, is the follow-up to her acclaimed “When God Was a Rabbit”, yet it is hard to find it in Waterstones.

Its a Zoo SS SmThen again, you could discover a whole new way to communicate with your Team, Customers and even your family and friends, via my new book “It’s a Zoo Around Here”. Waterstones could learn a lot from this book – it explains the four principal communication styles, emphasising that successful sales and marketing is created using the language your Customers use: up to four languages, if appropriate. That’s why I think Waterstones is missing an opportunity with its current single focus, and single language, around “Go Set a Watchman”.

Read my recent post “Unlocking the Latent Profit in Your Business”

Find out more about designing profitable Customer Experiences here.

Its a Zoo SS SmBuy our simple, fun and practical guide, designed to help you and your Team become Zookeepers and dramatically improve your Communication outcomes!

Paperback. 100 pages. WEB PRICE £10 (RSP £15.99) + P&P

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