10.12.2010

On Being Bookish (Or, how you can use best seller lists as market research in moments of desperation)

MW Are You There Vodka It's Me Chelsea

First, I should warn you I plan to talk a lot about books and reading this month. In fact, I shall officially declare this Amy Mac Reading Month. Or maybe Amy Mac Book Month. Or maybe Amy Is Procrastinating By Trying To Name A Month After Herself Month. Anywho …

Effective marketing, in its simplest form, is understanding what your target audience wants and communicating how your product fills that need. If we could take a gander at the marketing research budgets for advertising big-spenders like Apple, Amazon, and The Coca-Cola Company, I assure you we’d begin imagining the wonderful things we could do with that massive sum of money (for example, retire to a secluded beach and focus on perfecting our ability to do nearly nothing all day. But I digress….)

Most small businesses and non-profits don’t have an enormous chunk of cash to throw at learning the intricate mental workings of a 30-something stay-at-home mom who decides which detergent to buy, how much to spend at Christmas, and which type of vehicle to purchase to keep her family safe on the road.

Analyzing The New York Times Bestseller lists can be a superior way to home in on general trends. For example, a quick peek at the bestsellers for 2009 tells me:

  • We gravitate toward the inspirational (The Last Lecture)
  • We’re always searching for the edge for success in business and life (Outliers)
  • We’re examining and growing our faith (The Shack, Have a Little Faith)
  • Based on the number of zombie and vampire-related books, we like to be spooked (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies)
  • We enjoy revisiting our youth by sharing our kids’ books (Harry Potter, Twilight, Diary of a Wimpy Kid)

Pinpointing what an audience is reading and why tells you a lot about what motivates them to buy, and translating a book trend into a marketing opportunity is easier than you think. For example, if I owned a home design boutique, I would load up on inspirational quotes on wall hangings and throw pillows (the non-cheesy kind, of course), I’d lean heavily toward religious symbolism for the holiday season, and I might display a few items that provide a little retro-flashback to when my target audience was growing up.

But only after I’d cleared out all the scary vampire and zombie creatures from Halloween.

Check out what is flying off the shelves at your local bookstore and use what you learn to incorporate a few ideas into your marketing plan. You can thank me later for saving you $8 kazillion on marketing research.

Xo- Amy Mac

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