Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1-#8 here.


So, on to Principle #9… Pay attention to the bigger “customers.”


Allow me to share an example from my retail business…


In my online craft supply business, most of my customers are women needing craft supplies for their own hobbies, or moms buying products for their kids. But in between all those “ordinary” customers, who purchase occasionally and don’t spend too much money at one time, there are what I call the “big fish.” These are the polymer clay artists who create beautiful beads and sell them as jewelry, or the quilling artists you can commission to create a keepsake for you, or the schools and summer camps buying Perler Beads for their kids. We identify these big fish by the size of their order, or by a business name in their customer data.


These folks are important. Just one of them can easily purchase as much as eight or ten “regular” customers, and they are also “influencers.” When they send kids home with their Perler Bead creations, the kids want their parents to buy more. When people see Quilling, they want to give it a try.

How does all this relate to book marketing? Well, give it some thought. Who are the “big fish” for your book? Who are the influencers? I’m not talking simply about influential readers, like active bloggers and book reviewers, though these people are certainly important.


I’m talking about going up a level or two. Who influences the bookstores to carry your books? The sales reps. Who influences the customers to buy your books? The bookstore staff.


No doubt you’re focusing a good deal of marketing efforts on readers, trying to add them one at a time, through your website, through distributing bookmarks, and all the other things you do. How much time and effort do you put into marketing your book to the sales reps at your publishing house? To bookstores?


With these “big fish” efforts, don’t forget all the principles we’ve talked about in previous posts. You want to think creatively of benefits for these people. Make sure you’re not the “squeaky wheel” – always whining for more attention. Instead, earn their attention by the things that you can offer them. Things they need. Reach out and make contact, interact with them and feed them fabulous information that will help them sell your books, offer encouragement along the way and show your appreciation for what they do.


I’m going to leave the creativity to you. I’d challenge you to spend a little time thinking about these higher level influencers, and how you can best benefit them.


 Coming next month… Grow by expanding your product line.




One thought on “Marketing Lessons from the World of Retail

Marcia Washburn

May 6, 2010 - 10 : 31 : 16

Thanks for your very practical series. I’m filing the posts to refer to regularly as I hone my marketing skills.
Marcia in Colorado
Marcia Washburn
Building Tomorrow’s Generation


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