SHARJAH, UAE: The ‘Publishers Club’, a virtual discussion initiative jointly organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ),has recently held its first session shining light on how publishers can leverage technology driven marketing techniques and social media platforms to drive their businesses.
The virtual series is a part of SBA’s ongoing efforts to support and advance the publishing sector by bringing together industry professionals on a unified platform to present effective solutions for both common and unique issues being faced by businesses since the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic outbreak.
The inaugural session was held via the Zoom video conferencing platform and moderated by Dr Emad Eldeen Elakehal, Founder and Director of the UK and Egypt-based ibiidi Publishing.
Kicking off the session, guest speaker Magdy Mohamed Abdalla Ibrahim, Chairman of Mahy for Publishing & Distribution, said whileCovid-19had severely disrupted the publishing sector, it had also pushed industry professionals tothink of innovative solutions and ensure business continuity.
“Studies have revealed that there are around 380 million internet users in the Arab world, and if a publisher can attractjust 10 percent of them, he would have a large customer base. So, the internet provides great opportunities for publishers and authors to market their offerings and advance their businesses successfully,” he added.
Ibrahim noted that there are some basics that they should follow for their businesses to succeed. “The most important one is having a clear vision to increase the customer base, because it is a very competitive market. There is a need to advance marketing methods, develop databases which includethe publisher’s data alongside their offerings, in addition to storing information about existing clients and potential ones. The wide outreach of online paid advertising platforms can beeffectively leveraged to lure thousands of readers to the publisher.”
Pointing out that the internet offered access to bigger markets at relatively lower costs, Ibrahim said: “Emails can be a useful and robust tool for publishers to send marketing material and flyers to millions of users at the click of a button for free, in contrast to physically sending them via post. It also helps in ensuring a direct communication channel with your customers.”
He also advocated using social media influencers to promote business. “A single picture of a famous football player reading a book has contributed tothe sale of millions of copies of the title. This highlights the importance of influencers in promoting books just like any other product. However, the publisher should select the right influencer to deliver to the intended audience.”
“While the publishers’ job is to bring books to the reader, authors must pitch in to promote their work as well. Many believe that their job is only to write, which is no longer tenable. They need to present themselves to their reader and the intended audience, and play a role in marketing their work personally,” he added.
Concluding the session, Ibrahim emphasised that it is critical that publishers establish a strong online presence to strengthen their business, “When a reader finds an author or a publisher on social media, it helps build a relationship between them. A lot of readers talk about and discuss online the books they are reading. This helps in creating an environment where readers, publishers and authors meet and start a conversationwhich is beneficial to all parties,not only in gaining more insight and knowledge but also in contributingto the advancement of the publishing sector.”