Copywriting Maven’s Marketing Makeover: BookClubClassics.com

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Kristen Galles wants to help book clubs tackle and appreciate good books, both classics and more recently due to customer interests, hot new titles. Until recently, Kristin was selling 2-3 kits per week but sales have seen a downturn. She’s looking for a tidy annual revenue.

  • Product Summary: Standard and Custom Kits for Book Clubs to help members tackle and appreciate the classics. Kits include questions, bookmarks, menu ideas, vocabulary lists, activities, etc.
  • Promotion Medium: Google AdWords primarily
  • Total Budget: $100/month
  • Creative Objectives: $25,000 annual revenue
  • Offer: None, sample kit is viewable from site
  • Target Audience: book clubs that focus on fiction, primarily female
  • Product Price: varies, starts at $10/$15 up to $25

WHAT WORKS:

Thoughtfully-prepared, high-quality product – You offer an excellent product for book clubs serious about exploring great literature and still have some fun. Nice variety of titles, too.

Personal experience and passion of the developer – Your passion for good books comes through loud and clear. Now put your relevant teaching experience upfront, too. Tell your prospects about you and why you’re the one to help book club leaders lead their clubs for $15. And do add a photo of yourself. (Your dog is cute but his photo won’t make folks feel comfy about spending their money with you.)

WHAT NEEDS WORK:

Direct your PPC prospects to a specific landing page (or series of landing pages) written and designed to close sales – You dilute the interest and momentum of your pricey PPC traffic the moment you direct them to your homepage rather than a sales-centric landing page. Review my Landing Page Series for a ton of good copy and design ideas to assist you in crafting landing pages that will help you close more sales with greater speed and efficiency. Suffice it to say, your current product pages are confusing to read and cluttered to look at. Taking this one recommendation to heart will make a world of difference to your overall response and revenue.

Strengthen your product value – When free information/resources are your main competition, you’ll need to pump up the value to get someone to pay from $10/$15 on up for a single book club kit. No one needs what you sell so you have to make your prospects want what you have to sell. To my mind, your copy needs to focus on the hassle of pulling all this info together solo and the high-value, low-cost benefit of letting an experienced, passionate literature diva pull it all together instead.

Too many choices, somewhat ill-defined – I was confused as to what was what and what each cost. I’d simplify the offerings. Standard, custom, questions with bulleted details for each along with the price.

MAVEN MULL-OVERS:

Embrace your marketing reality – There was a little bit of the disapproving teacher in your material to me, a sense of frustration with book clubs that focus too much on the social chit chat and not enough on serious book discussion. Add to that the further frustration that clubs tend to focus on popular rather than classic literature.

Reality Check: YOU CAN’T CHANGE THIS BEHAVIOR/MIND-SET. However, perhaps through a regular series of articles your own blog as well as distributed to other sites, you can nudge club leaders to consider a classic book once in a while. Support this with testimonials from leaders who have added classic works to their schedule and the wonderful response it had, etc. In the meantime, you might want to say what you’re about upfront with a little snob appeal – kits for clubs serious about literature or something along this line. You could do this nicely with a new tagline. (Or you could go with the flow and offer a serious AND chit-chat version for each title.)

Rethink your sales goals, look for larger markets with deeper pockets – Roughly speaking, you need to sell approximately 1,100 kits per year (92 kits per month) to meet your goals. That strikes me as unrealistic unless I’m woefully underestimating the size of the non-ad hoc book club market. How many formal, active book clubs are out there? How many books does each club cover in a 3, 6 or 12 month period? What’s your guestimation of clubs willing to part with a little $$ for guidance versus those who won’t? If there aren’t enough clubs with deep pockets and a willingness to spend, I don’t see how you can reach your sales/revenue goals.

So where are the bigger numbers with the bigger pockets? You’ve already identified high school teachers. As a high school literature teacher yourself, you are in a great position to reach colleagues in ways a non-teacher can’t. Play off your strengths to larger markets with bigger numbers. Work with relevant associations, perhaps the National Council of Teachers of English, to see where you can generate a little positive synergy.

Survey your current customers – Email a selection of your customer base, standard and custom, and get specifics on the benefits and features your customers like best. Rework your copy to better reflect these concepts and push them forward in your overall content.

Consider getting rid of the standard kits for book clubs and go right for the custom kit customer – If free is your toughest competition in the book club market, it strikes me that your best opportunity for a breakthrough is to focus on building super-duper custom kits filled with great stuff that would simply take too much time and effort to compile otherwise. Use your standard kits as an entree to test other markets – high school English/literature teachers, perhaps even adult-level ESOL/GED teachers who would appreciate imaginative approaches to teaching the classics. I’d also consider marketing to the Girl/Boy Scouts and similar teen service organizations for the low cost standard kits.

My thanks to Kristen for sharing her creative plan with me and Copyblogger, and for her donation to Heifer International.

Here’s your chance to be the Copywriting Maven’s next Creative Plan Makeover!

If you’ve got a product/service ready to launch but think it wouldn’t hurt to get an expert review … AND you’re willing to share the results with Copyblogger readers … AND you’re willing to spend a little coin with a great charity — then follow your click to Maven’s Creative Plan Makeover for all the details. (Please note that I’m booked for new gratis reviews until 5/31. If you’re interested in a private critique/makeover of your marketing plan or current landing page, please email me directly.)

About the Author: Roberta Rosenberg is The Copywriting Maven at MGP Direct, Inc.

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Comments

  1. Roberta,
    You always offer insightful, actionable ideas and tasks. I respect what you do so much. I am an avid reader. My book club at home in New Orleans, had a few simple rules. The important one though was, and still is , is that it is about the books not chit chat. We each had a 2-3 minute turn to offer whatever we wanted about the book. Then the discussion opened. This is an incredibly well read, well travelled bunch. Some with quite deep pockets. I cannot imagine any of us paying for a reader’s guide. The mediator is an independent bookseller.
    However what I could imaging is a customized selection of books and guides to read based on a theme, like a series that reaches across borders yet deals with a specific idea or event. Or some such thing. We seem to go through global and local, and just doggone good. Prize lists and all. And some clinkers too. :) Like bundling a package of foreign classics might work.
    I don’t know if that adds anything, but I hope so.

  2. @Janice – That sounds like a marvelous idea. Kristen, I hope you’re taking notes! :)

  3. you send me 5 subscription emails about this topic.
    is this your new way of attracting traffic?

  4. Rom, it must be a glitch with Feedblitz, our email provider. I’ve emailed support to see what’s happening.

  5. Thanks Roberta. I wish Kristen luck. It is obvious she has the bug for books too. :)

  6. Thanks for the comments! First, thank you Roberta — my business has picked up again since I implemented your suggestions!

    Janice — Believe it or not, right after I started my blog in November the second order I received for a custom kit was exactly what you suggested! A client ordered 5 kits based on the book The Things That Matter: What Six Classic Novels Teach Us About Life (the novels were Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Between the Acts). However, I didn’t think there would be a market for such a large order, so I’ve only been selling each kit separately. After reading your comment, I’m rethinking this!

    I would love to hear any other theme ideas you might have — BookClubClassics@q.com.

    Thanks again, Roberta!

  7. You’re spot on, but there’s a few other little things missing.

    Honestly, I think these kits are too cheap. Maybe great as a teaser or get-em-in strategy (with an email list to capture them), but you need something else at the $60 to $150 level to help with the price psychology, at the very least.

    To me, how much of a “kit” on classic literature can it be if it’s only $25? Try saying it’s on sale from normally $49 and see how that changes things.

    Because, yes, I can get this freely elsewhere, but it’s hard to understand. If you make it easy for me to learn how to read Robert Frost or Herman Melville or Homer, to me that’s worth $50. It doesn’t seem like you put a lot of effort into it if it’s only $25.

    You should also switch your perspective a bit. See if you can team up with someone selling classical music compilations, maybe stick a flier in their CD mailings or email list. Maybe put some fliers in art galleries and museums.

    People who appreciate classic art forms appreciate ALL classic art forms – or at least most.

  8. @Kristen – I love the feedback on how the suggestions made are popping sales in the right direction!

    @Trisha – Price testing is always a good idea. I also love your idea about pairing classic music and books. There’s a lot of good marketing synergy to be enjoyed here.

  9. I admit I skimmed the post but wanted to comment :) … It’s an interesting challenge but the marketing maths feel out of whack so it’s hard to develop a strategy off it that is realistic (that’s without considering the actual product and trying to quantify the potential market for this product).

    The $100 per month equates to 4.8% of budgeted revenue being allocated to advertising. For an established brand/product, this doesn’t feel too far off the mark. For a new product/brand trying to assert itself, I’d suggest upping the budget to 10-15% of budgeted revenue for the first year or two.

    AdWords should only be ONE part of the channel mix for this spend. Online businesses need to establish credibility so using other online and offline media/PR is critical to this.

    If you were to build a business around helping people build and manage successful book clubs with this product being one of a suite of products, you’ll widen your sphere of influence and increase your target audience. I feel you need to do the hard yards first before you can sit back and reap the rewards of a passive income stream…

  10. @Mark – I don’t disagree except to say that ultimately you have to have a large enough target market universe (that continually renews itself) to make any marketing/PR program work. In Kristen’s case, her primary target is book clubs. The challenge? Free, easily available material. Focus: Why paying for her kits makes good sense.

  11. @Roberta – Agree completely with the first 2 sentences but was confused by second half of your reply. You’re saying that the challenge is: Why should someone pay for her kits when there are free alternatives available? (BTW my comment re: marketing maths wasn’t about your suggestions but about the original info provided by business owner).

    If I’m on the same page with the challenge, then if the alternatives are of similar quality you can either build additional perceived value around the sale (additional tools, services, information, book subscriptions/discounts etc – see Edward de Bono’s “The 6 Value Medals”) or build a really solid brand out of the business/owner so that the purchase becomes emotionally driven but rationally supported (eg people who spend $1500 on a pram/stroller when a $200 option would suffice).

    Guess my quick key points are:
    – extend product portfolio (eg book club management tools)
    – create strong brand/personality outside of the website
    – increase transparency (who’s behind the website, what’s your story, can I trust you with my money, testimonials, etc)
    – consider long-term need to help people create new book clubs rather than just sell to existing book clubs (low hanging fruit)

    (I will say that the bookclub website is a really well put together site)

  12. @Kristen- I’ll put some thought into it…several ideas came rolling right out, but let me sift through.
    The idea is to ( Brian’s going to love this) re-purpose the use of classics. Make connections. Invigorate discussions that make ideas we have long loved resonate with relevance. I will email you. Or you can contact me through my site.
    @Mark and Roberta- you two are nailing a primary concern that I have in launching any venture. Scale. Practically speaking do the numbers work? And is there a sweet spot number in marketing effort dollars that tips the venture into success?

  13. @Mark – Your points are all well-taken and essential to the long-term growth of Kristen’s business as well as any other. Except, and this is probably coming from the discussions we’re having about copy/creative value at Copywriting Maven as well as Copywriter Underground in that the perceived value of information/content today – even specialized or enhanced – is being degraded. (If it’s on the internet, it must be free, right?”) I see this happening even in B2B info marketing.

    I think Kristen – and any of us who ply the online waters selling info – need to create strategies that will overcome “I can get this free” mindset with clear, practical value that prospects will understand and desire, because they lack the time or expertise to get or make it for themselves. Your suggestions speak to exactly my point.

    Just another way of looking at the challenge :)

  14. @Mark -thank you for giving me another opportunity to play with the “black pencil”, one of my favorite sites in spite of what Dean says. :)
    @Roberta- isn’t your advice to Kristen geared toward just that, creating perceived value, something the free stuff doesn’t have? A navigator with a more valuable map? I will scoot over to Maven to see if you’ve posted any of the creative value discussions.

  15. Thank you!! I just got home and am taking many, many notes! I really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me out!

    When I first started this venture — my plan was to “re-purpose” the classics since we really don’t have the life experience to appreciate them in high school, and I thought they would be so good for book clubs, but wanted to help readers out who might be intimidated (and there weren’t many free guides available or that were sufficient for the classics). So, I spent all summer creating kits — which take about 30-40 hours to create (each).

    To my surprise, what ended up happening was I started to get orders for what tend to be “hot” book club books (contemporary) — even though there were already free guides available! Originally I hadn’t planned on competing w/ “free”!

    So, I have been trying to shift my thinking the past few months. I am really not good at marketing — which is why I’ve only tried AdWords so far (which bring in 2-7 orders a week, but the conversion rate isn’t great).

    @Trish — I am intrigued to try your price psychology idea! I do think the kits are worth more, but I was thinking a lower price would encourage people to give the kits a try w/o too much of an investment. I look forward to experimenting!

    @Mark — I love your ideas and look forward to brainstorming ways to extend my product portfolio! I really should branch out w/ my advertising, too… Thanks for the kind words, too!

    Thank you for all of the help, everyone!

  16. I think another great target market for this could be the home schooling community. It’s a large and ever-increasing customer base, one that is (I assume) eager to purchase study aids such as these.

  17. @Jamie – great idea! This market universe is huge, and as you said, growing.

  18. @ Jamie — Thanks, Jamie! You are so right! I’m actually planning to launch a curriculum site this summer (in an attempt to better market the classic kits) and I hadn’t thought about home-schooling — terrific idea!