Monday, March 16, 2015

Will You Spend Your Tax Refund On Books?

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer (yes, larger than Amazon) and the nation's largest employer, is doing something really smart, on a number of levels, when it announced people can get their tax refunds in cash, free of fees, at 3,000 of its stores.  Gee, where do you think they may spend some of that money?

Wal-Mart, according tot he Times, "Wal-Mart teamed up with Green Dot, a company known for re-loadable prepaid cards, to bring mobile checking accounts to its shoppers... Wal-Mart already offered tax-preparation services and the option to cash refund checks at its stores.  As part of the new service, it is aligning with a Green Dot business called Tax Products Group, and the Republic Bank and Trust Company, two providers of tax-related financial products.  Those companies have more than 25,000 tax-preparation locations in Wal-Mart stores and elsewhere."

Genius, just genius.  Here's more good news: Some of that money can be spent on books, which are sold at Wal-Mart.  Maybe we take it a step further and Barnes and Noble partners with the government and tax preparers to get refunds sent to their stores.  Why not?

Whatever Wal-Mart can do, B&N can too, and in this case should!

What if book publishers aligned themselves so that when refunds are mailed out, they come with coupons to purchase books?  The publishers could capitalize on reaching those with expendable funds and the government can defray mailing costs by getting a fee from the publishers to include the coupons.

Maybe this can be done with paychecks.  When checks are handed out to employees, give them vouchers to buy books.  If money is direct-deposited, maybe sponsored emails from HR are sent on pay day to remind employees their funds are available and go buy some books!

Wal-Mart gets my "Marketing Play of the Year Award" vote for what they just pulled off. Instead of being like Amazon and trying to branch into Hollywood, telecommunications, or other sectors as the manufacturer of products or services, it simply remains a retailer, albeit a savvy one.

This move was so unusual it got major media attention.  You can't buy such positive press!

Barnes & Noble needs to think like Wal-Mart and do something to partner with the government or other powerful entities to get foot traffic to its stores.  Maybe B&N can offer other government service, like passport renewal or birth certificate registration.  They may even sell some books!


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer.  You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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