How market development activities inform the editorial process
By Erica DeLuca, Executive Marketing Manager
A marketer wears many different uniforms. From the classic suits and dresses worn by the 1960s Madison Avenue advertisers and marketers in the hit show Mad Men, to the more casual designer jeans, sneakers, and rumpled suit coats worn by the creative geniuses working for some of today’s top marketing firms, the attire of the average marketing manager has changed over time and varies greatly from field to field. If there was an outfit associated with today’s college textbook marketing manager it might include a sharp suit, comfortable shoes meant for hours of standing and walking around campus, and t-shirt saying, “I speak for the instructors.”
The college marketing manager represents the voice of the instructors. One of the many roles that a college marketing manager plays is liaison between our authors and the editors who create our products and the market (in our case, the college instructor) who adopt them. Especially in the early, pre-publication developmental stages of a first edition text book or resource the college marketing manager’s role is to plan and conduct marketing development activities that gather feedback from the market which will inform the writing and editorial process. Some typical market development activities include:
Focus groups consist of anywhere from 6-20 instructors who convene mainly at academic conferences to discuss a project that is in development. Strengths and possible weaknesses of the project are discussed, as well as decision dynamics and market conditions that might affect the book post-publication.
Advisory boards, made up of dozens of instructors from various types of institutions, provide ongoing feedback on all areas of the products, from content, to messaging and design.
Class testing provides an opportunity for instructors to test out a chapter or two of the book in their classroom with actual students to gather feedback about how it compares with the competing textbook that is currently in use. This activity is unique in that it introduces the student voice into the process, later providing student feedback that is invaluable to instructors who are making the important decision of which textbook to use in their course.
Pre-Pub Editorial MD outreach activities involve market surveys that target specific competitors and result not only in quality sales leads, but also produce solid lists of pre-qualified editorial reviewers.
Through activities like these, marketers in today’s college textbook publishing industry build a community of instructors around the book and ensure that the voice of the customer is heard and their needs are being met.