This report concerns a small retail company called “The Book Club”. It is a family-run business that primarily deals in publishing and selling the literature of the science fiction and fantasy genres. However, due to heavy competition, the Club has been struggling and underperforming. As such, the organization has decided to address its lack of an online presence as well as a customer engagement mechanism. In particular, the owners have identified SEO as well as email and social network marketing as potential areas of interest. The purpose of the report is to develop an online marketing presence for the company and evaluate its opportunities.
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Operation Marketing Environment
The film suffers from a lack of business due to its inability to engage customers in long-term relationships. As such, an assumption can be made that it has sufficient materials and machinery, but it may lack money, and its markets are possibly too narrow. The firm’s tendency to only accept two varieties of submissions for publication and retail may be damaging to its overall appeal. However, according to Wright, De Massis, Scholes, Hughes, and Kotlar (2016), its employees are likely highly committed. As such, the company probably has sufficient resources to expand and sustain its operations during an influx of customers.
The Club’s target markets likely encompass all populations, as science fiction and fantasy can be adapted to most people’s tastes. According to Flood (2019), sales of fiction written in Europe, particularly science fiction and fantasy, are increasing in the United Kingdom. As such, there are opportunities available to the firm if it is able to increase its popularity with customers. The market is not saturated, and it is showing considerable growth, representing the opportunity for significant profits to publishers. As such, if the Club can identify the most effective ways to attract potential customers, it is likely to see a substantial increase in business.
The most numerous category of prolific Internet users, particularly those who use social networks regularly, is most likely young adults. According to “Share of respondents” (n.d.), engagement percentages decrease as the respondents’ age grows, with people aged 16 through 44 being the most active at over 80%. As such, an expansion into social networks is likely to attract significant amounts of new customers to the company, possibly creating prolonged relationships. Both the target market and the selected expansion method appear to be appropriate choices and offer significant potential.
Porter’s Five Forces
- Competitive rivalry is considerable in the literature market, as shown by the firm’s lacking performance. There are numerous participants in the literature market, both local and international. The eBooks and physical books sold by each company adhere to similar standards.
- Suppliers typically have relatively low power, as publishers can choose from a variety of writers. It is possible to print old classical works, but “How long copyright lasts” (n.d.) defines the period as seventy years since the last author’s death. Thus, copyright is still in force for most popular authors.
- The buyer power is generally low in the literature industry due to the nature of the product. However, it should be noted that consumers can obtain eBooks from English-using publishers all over the world without difficulty, which makes their power with regard to that product significantly higher.
- The threat of substitution is significant in the literature business due to the existence of various alternative media. Rowe (2018) highlights the rising popularity of audiobooks, and Plunkett (2016) notes the high acclaim of the Game of Thrones adaptation. The literature industry has to compete with these rising alternatives.
- The threat of new entry is somewhat low in the publishing market. Physical book producers would have to obtain the appropriate equipment, which is uncommon and expensive. As such, the high barriers discourage entry and secure the market.
The family-run nature of the business may attract writers and customers who dislike the depersonalized corporate structure of larger publishing firms.
The small size of the company and the closeness of its workers enable quick adaptation and decision-making.
Sells physical books as well as eBooks, appealing to different categories and interests of consumers.
The small size of the company means it has limited outreach, reducing its attractiveness to authors who expect their works to be sold to numerous people.
The small selection of genres limits the appeal of the Club to consumers and means it is going to ignore significant contract opportunities in other categories of fiction.
The fiction market in the UK is displaying fast growth, particularly with regards to the two genres favored by the Club.
The popularity of foreign literature is rising, enabling the company to establish contracts with well-known authors outside of the UK and publish profitable books without significant risk.
The market is highly competitive, with numerous other publishers creating a problematic situation for the Club.
The popularity of audiobooks and live-action adaptations is rising, and the firm does not deal in the first and strongly overlaps with the second in terms of genres.
- Specific: Design and build an online presence for the company, including a website, email marketing campaign, and a social network promotion
- Measurable: The rate of engagement and quantity of purchases should increase.
- Achievable: web design and marketing skills are necessary, the tools are freely available, the necessary budget is minimal.
- Relevant: Online engagement is proving to a highly effective customer attraction and retention strategy.
- Time-oriented: The designs should be finalized and implemented within 2 months of the beginning of the program.
Niche and Target Market
As detailed above, the niche of the marketing campaign would be the two genres preferred by the Club. The target market would be young adults, although the company’s product can appeal to all age and social categories. Due to the online nature of the expansion and the ability of the company to offer eBooks, the location becomes irrelevant. Literature is a hobby that appeals to a broad variety of people. However, the particular niche market for the Club will be people who have attained higher education and work in non-physical occupations or are working towards a degree.
Positioning and Differentiation
The firm will position itself as an enthusiast outlet, where each work of literature is curated and carefully selected before the choice to publish it is made. The marketing will focus on the trait of “quality over quantity” to distinguish itself from larger publishers, where the quality control may be less personal. As such, the company will differentiate itself as one where book lovers discover literature they like and share it with others who have a similar hobby. It will attempt to establish a dedicated consumer base that shares similar tastes to the owners and cater to their interests in return for continued loyalty.
The existence and distribution of eBooks by the company imply that a website already exists. As such, a domain name is registered already, and it was likely chosen without regard for techniques such as search engine optimization. However, the company can purchase several other domains that would include keywords as explained by Lukito, Lukito, and Arifin (2015), and redirect the user to the main website. The strategy can increase the popularity of the site by making it appear in the search results more often, in positions that are closer to the top of the list.
SEO approaches should incorporate a variety of considerations and changes to the design and content of the website. The correct choice of keywords is essential, and, according to Rautiainen (2017), they should “have a connection to the product or service in question” (20). Thus, appropriate terms for The Book Club would include “book”, “eBook”, “fantasy”, “science fiction”, and long-tail keywords would be the names of the authors published by the company. Furthermore, Rautiainen (2017) notes that Google AdWords’ keyword planner can be helpful in the generation of attractive combinations, and Google Trends can be used to determine the popularity of a search query. Active and informed use of these tools can help the company adjust to various situations and stay ahead of the competition.
Social Media Strategy
Small companies have to follow different strategies from their large corporate counterparts, as they do not rely on brand strength and recognition. According to Karimi and Naghibi (2015), “in small firms, marketing is used for immediate needs and little attention is paid to plans and strategies” (93). The primary goal of social media marketing should be exposure and research into the tastes of the target market. The people responsible for the campaign should seek to engage individual people and provide real-time, personalized service. The efforts will increase customer loyalty and satisfaction while enabling data gathering on the preferences and opinions of the target market.
The Book Club should capitalize on the primary economic advantages of social media advertising. In particular, Vlachvei and Notta (2015) note that the approach reduces advertisement and customer retention costs and enables the company to listen to conversations. There is no need to hire a dedicated marketer, as he or she would not represent the values of the company entirely. Due to the amount of information that can be found on the Internet when one wants, it is best to have a representative of the company working on marketing. A deviation from what is known about the firm can be discovered and seen as dishonest regardless of whether it was intentional.
It is advisable that the firm owner use his personal accounts to represent the firm, as the approach enables improved engagement and understanding on both sides. Ollier-Malaterre and Rothbard (2015) provide several examples of successful CEO accounts that take professional or personal approaches and establish a significant audience. However, a careless attitude and insufficient content curation can lead to backlash and an overall adverse effect on the company, and the user should be aware of the possibility. The overall goal should be to establish the owner’s personality and attract a consumer base of people who share similar sentiments and tastes. They would then purchase the books sold by the company, find them enjoyable, and continue engaging with the company.
Email Marketing Campaign
The nature of the Club’s business makes an email marketing approach highly desirable and potentially effective. As the firm would foster an atmosphere of closeness and mutual trust with the customers, they would be inclined to accept an email subscription. The information therein could be personalized and tailored to a high degree, catering to the specific interests of a person and possibly offering suggestions. According to Mogos and Acatrinei (2015), the necessary data can be gathered through analytics of a variety of consumer behaviors, such as purchases and time spent on the website. Nevertheless, it is possible to offer preliminary suggestions based on the available research into email marketing.
Email subscriptions should be strictly opt-in, offered after purchases, and on authors’ pages on the company website. The user should be able to mark a particular author or book series as an object of interest. The messages should be directly related to the customer’s preferences and prior purchases. This quality would allow the content to be highly personalised, which would improve reception and engagement significantly (Sahni, Wheeler, and Chintagunta, 2016). In effect, the emails would remind the customers that a book they are interested in is now available and potentially offer them suggestions based on their and others’ preferences. The messages would be beneficial and helpful, and the customers would be unlikely to have obtained the product elsewhere but likely to be interested in the new entries.
The design of an email message also plays a vital role in its treatment by the recipient. According to Budac (2016), many people will just delete a message if it does not display correctly on a smartphone screen. As such, flexible and adaptable layouts are essential to improved penetration and popularity of the campaign. Furthermore, the text contents should be concise and contain explicit calls to action, as the traits create points of concentrated interest for consumers and allow them to find relevant information quickly (Budac, 2016). If the campaign follows these rules, it is likely to succeed and improve customer engagement and retention.
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The evaluation of the success of different approaches is an essential part of marketing. The notion is particularly true in the digital environment, where detailed information can be gathered automatically. Gregory (2018) indicates overall traffic, traffic by source, conversion rate, and social reach as well as engagement as valuable metrics for a website and a social media campaign. These numbers allow the firm to evaluate whether more consumers visit the website and purchase books as well as whether the social media campaign is attracting new customers. The activities can then be adjusted to address areas that may be underperforming and improve the overall attractiveness of the site.
The email campaign utilizes a different set of indicators, though traffic by source and conversion rate still play a significant role. Cross (2018) names the open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate as the essential statistics in this case. If people are not reading the emails, reading them but not taking action, or choosing to unsubscribe, the engagement strategy is not functioning correctly and requires adjustment. As subscriptions to the feed are opt-in and based on the users’ interests, there is no reason for them to provide a false email, rendering statistics such as delivery and bounce rate mostly meaningless.
Information and Process Development
The company’s products are a blend of fantasy, which traditionally takes place in medieval settings, and science fiction, which takes place in highly advanced communities. The style of the website should reflect this duality, using different forms and color schemes in sections that are dedicated to specific genres. General pages that feature both categories should represent a mix of the two attributes by displaying them alongside each other. It is possible to express the essential characteristics through subtle suggestions, such as vines growing over a bright, even surface. The growth indicates nature and age, traits associated with fantasy, while abundant metallic surfaces are a common characteristic of science fiction.
The use of colors is central to the setting of the website’s atmosphere, which significantly affects the customer’s behaviors. According to Amara (2016), the structural and sensory components are essential to the construction of a website. However, the use of animations or sounds would be excessive for a bookstore site, as reading is usually a quiet and relaxing hobby. As such, colors are the primary tool that manipulates the user’s sensory perception. If they are chosen to represent the store’s values and arranged in a fashion that highlights functional design components and complements the structure, the customer’s satisfaction will increase.
It is also beneficial to take the cultural context of the environment where the company operates into account. The United Kingdom is a country with a rich and long history, and The Book Club can be considered a representation of that culture as a small family business. Moura, Singh, and Chun (2016) suggest that cultural compatibility between the user and the website improves the perception of the design and allows for more in-depth evaluation. As such, the portal should avoid using standard designs and attempt to use creative approaches that would emphasize its advantages and appeal to the target market.
Decisions and Ideas
The decision has been made to orient the appeal and products of The Book Club toward a particular category of people with similar tastes and emphasizes curation and quality. It was based on Blue Ocean thinking as described by “What is Blue Ocean Strategy?” (n.d.). The firm is going to have difficulty competing with larger publishers who are able to afford larger marketing budgets and produce more books. Furthermore, as it does not create the books it publishes and may not be able to gain access to the works of renowned authors, it cannot guarantee a consistent output that appeals to everyone. However, if a niche of particular readers whose tastes align with those of the people running the business can be found, they can be turned into profitable returning customers.
The Club should utilize social media for advertising and building relationships with consumers in the short term. Shabbir, Ghazi, and Mehmood (2016) identify these goals as the primary aims of small businesses, as they do not have the reach or marketing power to amass large followings. As such, strategic goals are mostly meaningless, as the company does not expect to undergo significant growth or notable changes in the future. The purpose of social media engagement should be to promote the Club via word of mouth and attract new customers, while email marketing should help retain existing ones and ensure repeat visits and purchases.
An improved approach to SEO as well as social media and email marketing campaigns should increase the sales of The Book Club’s products due to the growth of the relevant market. The optimization measures should use the appropriate long-tail keywords in addition to tools such as Google AdSense and Trends to improve the service’s search engine positions. The social media campaign should focus on engaging customers and growing the company’s reach without a long-term strategy. The email promotions should be strictly opt-in and notify the customers about topics they explicitly expressed an interest in, with the addition of suggestions possible once enough data is gathered for analysis.
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