What kind of sales strategy allows a title of a book to inhibit sales?
You may be all in favor of “telling it like it is,” but shouldn’t that be confined to the pages inside, and not on the spine?
I remember delivering a synopsis several years ago at the First Friday Book Synopsis of a book entitled The No Asshole Rule by Dr. Robert Sutton (Business Plus, 2007) . It actually came from an article the author wrote for the Harvard Business Review. It is the correct term. The book, and all of its advice, was clearly about one of them. I always thought the book was really good. It’s not the kind of title, however, you would carry with you during the day, or display on your shelf. You probably wouldn’t want people to know you are reading it. The Park City Club, where we hold the First Friday Book Synopsis, would not even publish the title in its advance publicity in its monthly magazine. People asked me in advance how I would handle the term. I said, I would only say, “A_H_,” and hope I would not slip up. I never did, especially at client sites, and I never have. That took concentration and focus. Why a good book would deliberately cut sales because of an unsavory title is strange to me.
So, here’s another one, released on March 3, 2015. It’s called Moody Bitches, by Dr. Judy Holland (Penguin Press). It’s all about what happens to women when they go off their medications. Do you really want to carry that book around with you?
These aren’t the only ones. I can’t possibly reproduce these titles here. We would lose our license. But, if you will click here, you will see 40 more titles and book covers that will make you wonder how the titles ever got through the planning stage by any marketing professionals. I have to admit that as I went through this site, I gasped and laughed. You will too.
But, how does this happen? Why deliberately inhibit sales by offending consumers, or making them afraid to show others they own the book?
I have to admit this is one reason to read a book on your tablet or phone. No one knows what you’re reading!
Overall, deliberately cutting sales so you can have an offending title is not too bright of an idea in my view.
We’re less than a month away from the release of Jack and Suzy Welch‘s newest work, The Real Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career (Harper Business, 2015). It is a certain best-seller, and pre-orders for the book are rocking the online outlets. Considering their personal backgrounds, perhaps you join me in being perplexed that even before its release, the book ranks #11 in the Amazon.com best-selling list in Business Ethics.
“Say what?” If you don’t know the story, here is a brief account. Suffice it to say that much more detail is available to you through the Internet. Jack’s second wife, Jane Beasley, found out about an affair between Suzy Wetlaufer and Welch. At the time, Suzy was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. Beasley delivered this information to the publication, and Wetlaufer was forced to resign in early 2002 after admitting to having been involved in an affair with Welch while preparing an interview with him for HBR. Personal and professional ethics? This did not turn out too badly for Beasley. While Welch had crafted a prenupital agreement, she had insisted on a ten-year time limit for its enforceability, and therefore, left the marriage with around $180 million of Welch’s money. That interview was never published. Suzy and Jack married in 2004.
This is not their first co-authored book. Randy Mayeux presented their first one, Winning (Harper Business, 2005) at the First Friday Book Synopsis. It reached # 1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal business best-selling lists. We did not present their next co-authored work, Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today (Harper Business, 2006).
They both have another single-authored book. Randy presented a synopsis of Jack: Straight from the Gut (Business Plus, 2003). In 2010, Suzy wrote 10-10-10: A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love, at Work, and with Your Family (Scribner). Randy gave that synopsis to several of our Creative Communication Network clients. I remember that audiences we delivered that synopsis to were not exactly thrilled at the quality of information transferred. In fact, at the Fort Worth Club, our event planner remarked that she wished she would have selected another book. Maybe her reputation backfired on that one. Of course, she didn’t write that one way to get unstuck is to have an affair with a famous married man. It certainly worked for her.
Note that both of these authors are very competent and successful. History will likely write Jack as the most successful CEO in American history. His style and substance led General Electric to a fast and furious climb to the top of elite and powerful businesses. All the labels, such as “Neutron Jack,” are applicable. His decisions were profound and effective. And, he believed in lifelong learning and professional development, even teaching courses on-site at the GE Learning Center. Many CEO’s don’t even know their company has a learning center, let alone take the time to go teach in it. Suzy’s role at one of the most prestigious business publications gave her strong credibility, as did her work experience at Bain.
Considering their reputation, most likely, this one will also fly to the top. It is not out of the question that you might hear a synopsis of this at our event. In fact, many of our regular attendees may push us very hard to present it. It will be exciting to see what the sub-topics will be from the Table of Contents. Only time will tell whether this one is heavier on style than substance. The title alone is appealing.
But, ethics? Is this really the best resource?