Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair (KLIBF) is the most awaited event of the year by booklovers. Due to the MCO and pandemic, it has been postponed since 2020 by the organizers. In 2021, they organized an online version of KLIBF. But the revenue hardly matches the physical ones. Most of the players in the book industry including publishers and distributors were hit severely without this KLIBF.
Imagine getting 3 months’ revenue within 10 days.
This is the event where publishers can sell directly to their customers. Interaction and engagement happened between authors, readers as well as among business channels including bookstores and distributors. As a marketer, what can we observe from the trend this time?
Consumers want a physical shopping experience again
In the digital age, people are accustomed to the online shopping experience. It is good for the e-commerce business. Since the MCO has been lifted, we saw a decline in e-commerce. People have started going out again. Brick and mortar businesses started to pick up their revenues. By attending a book fair like this, it gives back the missing experience of the readers. They can touch the books, flip through the pages and even enjoy the smell of freshly printed books.
Integrating online and offline marketing
Running ads and getting the conversion data right in front of you is such a blessing. You know which ad works and which one is not. But how do you measure the conversion from online to the cashier? It is not a secret ingredient anymore. You can either include the promotional code in the ads or simply ask the customer to show the poster or voucher from their phone.
From here, you know how many customers have seen the ads on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube. Don’t underestimate the power of social media influencers and content creators. Harness their influence and audience to bring your marketing strategy to the next level.
Know Your Audience
Marketing is all about knowing your audience. This is the chance to finally talk to your customer in person. If the customer is not in hurry, you can always ask them simple questions such as:
- Where are you coming from?
- What is your profession?
- Why did you purchase this book?
- How do you know about our booth?
- What do you think we should improve?
Getting feedback from customers is a must for a business to ensure growth and brand loyalty. Don’t forget to smile and thank them for their time.
Sales and offering
It is not a book fair if there are no special discounts. People come to book fairs to grab deals and offers. Make sure before throwing any discount, you calculate your profit and cash flow. How low can you sell the book? What is your profit margin? Most publishers will make a clearance sale on slow moving stocks. This is where you can get cheap books as low as RM1-2. If you do not plan on giving a discount, you can also offer free gifts to the customers.
Let’s look at how these big brands have captured the mind of their customers. Any business should focus on the brand as they grow. Apple, Mcdonald’s, Starbucks and Petronas to name a few. Among Malaysian publishers, people recognize PTS, IMAN Publication, Karangkraf and others. Local chained bookstores including Popular, MPH, Bookxcess and Borders. Book publishers and bookstores must have a good relationship as they both need each other to strive in this challenging economy.
Again, having a recognizable and distinguish brand is very important. Customers will remember your brand at the top of their mind when visiting the book fair. Each traffic will have the potential to convert into sales.
If you have been to any trade and exhibition events, you will notice how rigid most booth setup is. However, if you have the capacity to get more booths, you can design the whole layout of your space. You are no longer restricted to the cubicle. One of the spacious booths in KLIBF is IMAN Shoppe Bookstore. I’d recommend you to visit their booth and experience it yourself.
How do they do it?
They don’t have the booth structure. All the books are on the shelf on the wall. Visitors can scan which book they would like to get from far. There are no obstacles or shelves that obstructed their view, apart from the other visitors themselves. The red carpet guided the way for the visitors to walk from the entrance to the cashier.
Closing the deal
Some of the visitors might already have a list of books to buy. Even though you have displayed all the posters and the promotion, they might not notice it. The promoter can let the visitors know what is the ongoing promotion. You also can mention the scarcity of the books, which might be out of stock soon. Always make sure that the queue at the cashier counter is under control. Otherwise, our potential customer might be abandon their cart or return the book on the shelf.
These are the 7 things that marketers can learn from attending a book fair like this. We really hope that this event can be part of the reading culture in Malaysia. Books will always be relevant despite people can enjoy the free content on the internet.