Friday, April 1, 2016

Test-Driving Books At The Auto Show

Promoting and marketing a book has its challenges and rewards. The other day I attended The Auto Show in New York City with my two kids.  I got to see how another industry markets itself and take a few lessons that are applicable to selling books.

Okay, so there’s a big difference between a car and a book, but that doesn’t mean you can’t copy what works in another world.

Here’s what I saw:

Appeal To A Segment
Each car company displayed its fleet in a way that it thought would appeal to a certain kind of buyer.  Some appealed to the technology side and energy-efficient car buyers.  Others appealed to power, speed and “coolness” factors.  Books can appeal to different kinds of readers just by the way they are titled, depicted on the front cover, and written up on the back cover.

Be Unique
Some cars were really cutting edge.  One car, to be introduced within a year, will sell for only $6,800, seat two people, weigh 1,250 pounds and get 84 mpg.  Another car was a collector’s item – worth $20 million – as it is one of seven ever made, back in 1968. Books can be unique in their style, design, size and weight too.

Though the allure of a car may naturally draw you in, nothing is more convincing than a beautiful salesperson giving you facts and colorful descriptions about that car.  Books may sit on a shelf but if the author can do a booksigning, he or she can hand-sell it to the crowd.

It’s interesting to see how cars, which can only differentiate from each other by so much, can find a way to stick out.  There’s a lot more variety in books, as each one is different than the other.  With cars there are hundreds of models to choose from -- not millions.

I noticed Tesla didn’t have a booth, which I thought was a huge mistake.  Every big brand was on display. Too bad they didn’t showcase monster trucks.  Those big tanks are cool.

A few of the cars caught my eye, like the $86,000 Corvette.  That will be my mid-life crisis car.  Other cars, like the Volvo, looked good too.  Some look like what James Bond might ride in.

I may drive a Mazda, but I’m not oblivious to the cool cars out there.  Mazda displayed a race car.  No, that’s not the model that I drive.

Interestingly, consumers like me pay to go to the show.  But it’s really just a giant showroom, where everyone is selling their car.  It’s like paying for a T-shirt that promotes a product, like Coke. There were few things being handed out or given away.  I also noticed few other industry-related companies were there beyond car and truck companies.  I didn’t see any car magazines, gas companies, or bank auto loan representatives.

One worker said 70% of all show attendees plan to buy a car in the coming few months.  A hoard of attractive women in clingy outfits were retained by all of the displaying car companies to sell these cars.

The coolest thing there was the Jeep obstacle course.  But the 45-minute wait dissuaded me. Still, it was one of the few things participants could do – other than test-sit in a parked model.  They showed just how tough and flexible the Jeep is – huge inclines, rough turns, and different terrains made for a good challenge to drivers.  I don’t know that authors have an equivalency to a test-drive other than to read a section of their book aloud.

Cars and books may be very different from each other but The Auto Show makes it obvious that everything could benefit from hand-selling.

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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 © 2016

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