What Ad Agencies Could Do Back Then, We Can Do Now

Focus group testing and segmentation are hallmarks of ad agency work, or at least so says my reading of David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man (and my “Mad Men” obsession). A few publishers experimented with this in previous decades – e.g. creating different covers for each US region and seeing which one sold best. But never has it been easier to simply ask readers what they like before we launch the product. Book covers, reading group guide content, even book content can be tested using cheap or free online tools. Sure, there are tragedy-of-the-commons pitfalls to avoid, but it’s worth experimenting with, right?

One great place to start: the #followreader discussion on Twitter currently underway. Readers, booksellers, publicists all talking about how they pick the books they read. We know word of mouth is paramount above advertising and reviews, but what about little things like the packaging of Advance Reader Copies? Read on to find out…


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