Thursday, July 27, 2006

Publisher finds Novel Way to Court Romance Novelists

What do you do when your audience is in danger of falling out of love with your product? Try to figure out what they want and find a new way of providing it for them.

That’s the strategy Harper Collins and its Avon Books imprint developed in the face of depressing market research compiled by Simba Information that revealed a dramatic drop in sales for the romance novel from $1.4 billion in 2005 to $1.34 billion in 2006. The reason? Supermarkets’ expansion of their women’s fiction offering to reflect an increased diversity in the genre.

Pushed for a way to find new talent, Harper Collins teamed up with consumer content generator, to develop an eight week contest for romance novel fans.

Avon Books also used the contest to promote its established authors. To generate revenue, Avon Books and Harper Collins sold advertising space for the website, <>.

In the contest, users voted for one of six story premises and then were asked to submit six chapters for the book. Each was voted on by a panel consisting of fans and established authors until the six chapters were published as an e-book.

The contest website will remain open for the long term part of the strategy – to provide new ways for advertisers to reach users by developing a two-way dialogue with companies and the legions of romance novel fans.

If you are losing customers, don’t let them go without fighting for them. Don’t be afraid to be creative with advertising and marketing ideas. If you remember what attracted customers to your business in the first place you’ll have a solid base for your campaign to woo them back and you’ll build a stronger business.

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