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DBF Trade Day 2017: Interview with Niamh Murray, Marketing Director of Profile Books and Serpent’s Tail, Part 3

In preparation for her keynote appearance at the Dublin Book Festival’s Trade Day, Niamh Murray offers some information regarding marketing strategy and branding. Stay tuned for more insights leading up to Trade Day!


What do you feel are some of the biggest mistakes publishers make in their marketing strategy?

Lazy copy and weak visuals. There’s still too much of this happening. We spend so much time planning the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of a campaign that sometimes the ‘what’ gets pushed to one side. Partly because we as an industry tend to have low budgets and good design, if outsourced, is not cheap, but also partly due to lack of investment in training. Another big mistake – trying to be the ‘next’ – Girl on a Train etc. It’s a game of diminishing returns and readers tire of lookalikes quickly.


How does your marketing strategy change from one book or author to another?

There’s a core of things we do for most books: at Profile / Serpent’s Tail, every book gets a publicity campaign and every book gets some social media. And we also champion things that start out with no budget but we sense a wave of enthusiasm for in-house. If these titles start to build momentum we’ll sometimes re-allocate resources and find some money to support; or sometimes it can be more appropriate to do ‘free’* campaigns on social media. We definitely spend more time on lead titles (more planning meetings involving sales, marketing and publicity staff for a start) and produce more ‘stuff’ for leads – whether that’s traditional sell-in material like samplers, proofs and presenters; packs to send to Instagrammers and Booktubers; guerrilla campaigns for books we want to bring to the streets; outdoor and digital campaigns and lots more. The one thing that doesn’t change is that we always start with the book and the author – the tone and the voice, the setting and the characters – by reading and highlighting key passages and visual motifs. We always build the campaign around the book and try not to repeat ourselves too often or simply do what we see the major houses doing.


*Of course nothing’s really free.

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