Book Marketing Case Study—A Little Spark by Chris Parsons

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Marketing children’s books to schools and teachers • Using QR codes to provide access to supplemental content • Includes links to teacher and parent guides
Book Marketing Case Study-A Little Spark by Chris Parsons

Book Marketing Case Study—A Little Spark by Chris Parsons

AuthorImprints consulting client Chris Parsons believes “children's literature is a powerful force to shape and nurture the minds of tomorrow's leaders.” Because of that, he quit his job as an executive in a large technology company to create Zuroam Media, publisher of the children’s book A Little Spark.

In this case study interview, Chris talks about supplementing the usual print and eBook editions to include music, as well as an enhanced audiobook—an audiobook with a soundtrack. Most importantly, Chris shares his experience creating guides for teachers and parents, and working with teachers and schools to get the book accepted as a teaching tool. (Links to these resources are included.)

Chris, a key audience for your book is teachers, so you created resources they could use with students.

1. What was your experience getting the book adopted by schools and teachers?

We are in the early stages of working with teachers and schools. As part of our market test of the book (music, audio, lessons) two years ago, we had a teacher reach out to see if she could use the book in her Grade 1 class. We worked with the teacher to create a pilot program (12 lessons, activities, classroom posters, etc.).

The pilot turned out to be very successful, and we established a teacher advisory group to help build out the program; we are launching our first pilot schools in the fall. Getting books, or in our case, a program, adopted in schools is very difficult. Each school district is different and as such requires “selling” at all levels. You also need to understand the curriculums used by each district and be able to align your content (book or program) as a complement to those curriculums. Here is our current Teacher Guide.

2. Did you provide parents with the same resources? 

Most of the material created to support the Be That Spark school program is available online to parents. There is a Parent’s Guide on the website (bethatspark.com) which provides an overview of the book and all the related resources, including the Resource Library—activities, videos, related articles, and much more. The Resource Library is linked on the home page along with a two-minute video, “About the Book.” Feedback from parents has been very positive. They create their own approach for experiencing the book with their kids.

3. After the success of your pilot, how did you approach other schools?

Armed with the successful pilot, we created the marketing material needed to approach other schools. Marketing to schools requires a lot of time, but in the long term it can pay off and become a consistent source of sales. The other opportunity is to partner with companies who currently supply schools with books and various programs; they know how (and who) to sell/partner with these institutions. We have had several discussions with these companies and expect to create several partnerships that could accelerate our marketing effort in this very important marketplace.

Music and the audiobook were a significant focus for your book. 

4. What have you learned about marketing the music via QR codes?

A Little Spark is a family read-aloud fully illustrated chapter book, complete with soundtrack and audiobook. There are beautiful illustrations to help bring the text to life, an audiobook with delightful performances of each character, and an album of songs that can be accessed through QR codes. The music and audio come as part of the book or can be bought separately on most music and audiobook platforms.

Customers (and their children) love the music and use the QR codes throughout the book to listen to it. They also use the link on the inside cover to download (and share) the full soundtrack and complete audiobook. We actively market the A Little Spark music on all our platforms, and we have incredible musicians who actively market the music on their platforms as well.

5. Can you share how well the audiobook sells vs. the eBook and print book formats?

Our focus has been entirely on print book formats. The audiobook and eBook formats are available, but we do not expect them to generate a lot of incremental sales. Given the interactive nature of the book, we feel it works best with the hardcover version—the QR codes and website content enable a great experience for the family.

6. What’s been your most successful marketing strategy so far?

We have used several different approaches as part of our overall marketing strategy, including advertising on Facebook and Amazon, building very active social media platforms, partnering with influencers, and supporting our brand by writing related articles for various parenting platforms (Red Tricycle, Thrive Global, etc.) We are also very active on the PR front, participating in a variety of podcast, radio, and TV interviews.

Our most successful strategies to date have been the development of new channels of distribution, like with our approach to schools and our recently announced partnership with Discovery Toys. That partnership has been great—they love the book, the music, and its message. They are selling lots of books. Here is the Discovery Toys press release.

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