James Patterson is a popular crime fiction author with a unique business strategy: he produces approximately 3 times more books annually than comparable authors and employs unconventional advertising tactics. Pattersons unique writing style and use of co-authors to write more books has proven to be successful, generating annual book sales of $120 million. Using his advertising background, Patterson has turned his name as an author into a well-known brand. Patterson built his empire by finding a successful method and using it consistently.Each of his books is written in his signature style” short chapters, minimally descriptive text, and suspenseful endings ” and Patterson relies on designated readers to critique his works-in-progress to ensure that optimal books are produced. As a result, readers trust that Pattersons books will meet their expectations. There are many channels through which books are distributed.
For best-seller fiction, the top three channels are mass merchandisers and price clubs, large-chain bookstores, and book clubs, selling 34%, 25%, and 20% of unit sales, respectively.The increasing popularity of book clubs has attracted the interest of Patterson and his publisher. Authors receive lower royalty payments though book club purchases than other channels. However, book clubs also expose new readers to an author in a way that other channels do not. Patterson realizes that the best way to advertise a book and generate interest from new readers is to create buzz marketing if information starts in several groups, it will spread farther through word-of-mouth than if the information starts in a single group.
Patterson would like to create this type of buzz marketing to reach new readers with his own brand. James Pattersons brand has many strengths. Pattersons unique style of writing is recognizable to readers and is consistently well-received. He follows an unswerving process to produce a successful book, using the previously mentioned writing style, book format and co-authors.
The triumph of this method has been verified by consumers: after buying one brand item, 38% of Pattersons readers bought another Patterson book; only 28% of consumers are repeat buyers of comparable authors books.Pattersons willingness to collaborate with co-authors has allowed him to produce a higher quantity of books without compromising quality, and his marketing experience has enabled him to spread book release information to a wide audience and generate interest in his books several months after the initial excitement has died off. Patterson has the advantage of maintaining a large base of loyal customers to whom he may introduce his new works; each new release is almost guaranteed to be a hit. His large annual revenue enables him to employ unconventional methods of advertising, such as television commercials and billboards.
After building his own brand, Patterson also has the benefit of readers who trust the quality of each new book. This is proven the book club statistics: out of all comparable authors, the percentage of consumers who had bought at least one Patterson book, as a portion of all consumers in the market, was highest. Out of individual consumer spending on all brands, the percentage spent on Pattersons brand was also higher than on other authors. Internally, Pattersons writing style could potentially be a limitation in that it contains very little variety.If a reader does not prefer this particular style, he will most likely not purchase any of Pattersons books. Although Patterson has a consistent fan base, the majority of his readers have already read some of his previous books. While maintaining his current readers, he has limited potential to reach new readers.
Patterson is also at somewhat of a disadvantage because his name is less recognized than those of comparable authors. Out of his readers that read books of all genres, often those that have reached the best-sellers list, only 54% knew his name, compared to 90% and 8% who knew the names of John Grisham and Tom Clancy, respectively.While readers recognized Pattersons book titles and liked his books as much as those from Grisham and Clancy, they were less aware of Patterson himself. There are several opportunities available for Patterson. First, his genre of popular fiction has significantly higher consumer demand than other genres. In 2001, 53. 6% of books purchased in the United States were popular fiction the second highest, nonfiction religious, made up only 9.
5% of consumer demand. From 1997 to 2001, consumer demand for popular fiction consistently increased.Regardless of writing style or name recognition, Patterson is already producing the type of books that the majority of readers will buy. The rising popularity of books sold though mass merchants and book clubs is also an opportunity to reach new readers.
Since books are more affordable to the public and frequently sent to new readers, more readers are exposed to Pattersons books. For one book club, Bookspan, 22% of members had bought at least one of Pattersons books. This puts them in the category of previous buyers, who are more likely to buy Pattersons other books.This also increases the number of people who have read Pattersons books and will then be able to spread their opinions to acquaintances, creating word-of-mouth advertising.
In some aspects, however, the rise of book clubs is a threat to Pattersons brand. Out of all book distribution channels, book club sales are least profitable for an author. For Pattersons category of books, Best-seller Fiction, 20% of unit sales come from book clubs, and for these units, Pattersons profit is less than that of a unit sold in a bookstore or other channel. As mentioned previously, Pattersons lack of name recognition with readers is also a shortcoming.Because consumers often buy products with which they are the most familiar, authors with more recognizable names are at an advantage. Lastly, most of Pattersons brand recognition was within the crime fiction genre.
When consumers read mostly within this genre, they are unlikely to inform new readers about Patterson they will communicate with their peers, readers with similar tastes who are generally already familiar Pattersons books. Fellow readers may bond about a shared appreciation for Patterson, but this does not expand the number of new readers or create buzz marketing.