We’re focusing on retailing topics this month at TOC, and when it comes to digital sales, one of a publisher’s highest priorities should be building a strong direct channel. The shift from print to digital means publishers can be less reliant on retailers. Retailers are still an important partner, of course, but the direct channel brings many additional benefits. For example, establishing a direct sales channel is the best way to learn what your customers really want, and Logos Bible Software has done a terrific job on that front. I recently spoke with Logos president & CEO Bob Pritchett (@BobPritchett) about his company’s strategy of placing so much emphasis on their direct channel.
Key points from the full video interview (below) include:
- Direct doesn’t just mean “online” — In addition to their highly successful e-commerce site Logos direct channel includes in-person sales at conferences as well as via a good old-fashioned phone sales team. [Discussed at 00:50.]
- Selling the network, not the book — This is an innovative approach Logos has pioneered where they take a more holistic approach to their sales efforts and help customers understand the benefit of the entire Logos library, not just an individual title. [Discussed at 1:55.]
- Customer engagement is the key — Don’t assume that if you simply put up an e-commerce site customers will start buying from you. Logos has made significant investments to establish customer dialog and build community. Direct sales are great but sometimes just getting insightful customer feedback is even more valuable. [Discussed at 4:30.]
- Logos made the shift from retailers to direct — And so can you! Retail represented about 80% of Logos sales initially but Bob realized the changing landscape meant he needed to focus more on the direct channel. As physical bookstores diversify their product mix with gifts and other goods it’s time for publishers to diversify their channel mix as well. [Discussed at 5:50.]
- Can anyone beat Amazon now? — Bob says “absolutely”, and he’s an Amazon Prime member. He points out the advantage of the in-person experience and focusing on more specialty merchandising. He also notes the Ancestry example, where their content is offered as an online service rather than a book through a retailer. [Discussed at 6:52.]
- Downward pricing pressure — In many ways, publishers are their own worst enemy when it comes to the race to zero. One answer is to look at selling in different ways. [Discussed at 9:17.]
- Subscription models — Monthly access to a broad library of digital content is likely to be a much more attractive for many publishers and consumers going forward. The sampling and discovery options with this approach are enticing. The cable TV model, where you get basic channels and pay more for certain packages, is also one we can learn from. [Discussed at 15:09.]
You can view the entire interview in the following video.