What does the Oreo cookie have to do with your book marketing campaign?
OK – we SELDOM post more than once in a day, but this is too juicy to wait on…
What’s at the top of the news today – Super Tuesday? Nope. The Oreo cookie turns 100 years old today. Thanks to my friend Nancy Sanders of Three Dog Marketing for reminding me of this esteemed occasion. According to the Alaska Dispatch, “That makes ‘Milk’s favorite cookie’ older than the sinking of the Titanic (by a month), women’s voting rights, and the Russian Revolution, just to name a few.” More than 490 billion Oreos have been sold in the cookie’s first 100 years, making it the best-selling cookie of the 20th century, by far – so much so that it really has become a food icon in American culture.
What does all of this mean to you, as a book marketer? Lots. Here are seven marketing lessons to take from the simple Oreo cookie.
CREATE A SPECIAL EDITION! To celebrate the big 1-0-0, Nabisco has released a limited edition Birthday Cake Oreo with a simpler design that resembles the original and rainbow sprinkles in the crème center. You certainly can’t wait for your 100th anniversary, but find other reasons to create a special edition for your book. If you’ve printed only soft-cover copies, perhaps issuing a special hardbound version is in order for select audiences. One author I know is releasing a music CD with his novel because music features heavily in his book.
TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO USE IT. One of the most famous aspects of Oreo is the conversation regarding people’s preference for eating it. Do you pull it apart, eat the stuffing side first, or dunk it in milk whole? Well, how about giving your audience ideas about how to use your book? Tell them who the potential readers are. Suggest different uses for the book. For example, a historical novel could be used as ancillary reading material in a college history class.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! The Zap2It blog reports, “Fifty percent of Oreo eaters pull the cookies apart first, with women twisting the top off more than men.” Those are some amazing metrics. How does Nabisco know this about Oreo? They ask. The do focus groups. They watch people eat Oreos. How well do you know your readers? What do they like about your books? What would they like to see more of? How do they prefer to follow you … blog, social media, website?
BE WILLING TO ADAPT. In deference to health concerns, Oreo’s crème filling went from being produced with lard to using non-trans fat oils. We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. If your marketing strategy isn’t working, don’t give up – reevaluate! And be flexible enough to change gears, if necessary. Of course, give your campaign time to work first. If you’re looking for significant success before you’ve given it six months, making a change could be premature.
THE NAME MATTERS! It would be hard to argue that Oreo’s name didn’t have a lot to do with its success. The sandwich cookie Hydrox, which many incorrectly consider to be an Oreo knockoff, beat Oreo to market by 3-and-a-half years. As the Alaska Dispatch notes, “According to YouPet.com, Oreo is the seventh most popular cat name in the United States, just behind Shadow, Tigger, and Baby.” Give your book title some consideration – including actual market research, if possible. Test a few titles with people both familiar and unfamiliar with your topic.
VARIETY SELLS! You’ve probably seen the orange crème filling in the Halloween versions, Peppermint Oreos at the holidays, and of course, Double Stuf Oreos. Japan even has a green tea flavor! Katharine Shilcutt of Houston Press claims that the Berry Burst Ice Cream and Strawberry Milkshake flavored Oreos are the same product with different packaging. How can you do the same with your book? If it’s nonfiction, does it lend itself to smaller booklets aimed at particular segments of your broader market? Could a long novel be better pared down to several shorter novellas, for increased eBook sales?
THROW A PARTY! The Chicago affiliate of CBS reports that “Nabisco … threw a 100th birthday party [for Oreo] on Michigan Avenue … complete with a dancing cookie, a flash mob, and a speed licking party to see who was the fastest at removing the crème filling from between the Oreo’s cookie wafers.” Don’t wait to sell 100 copies or 1,000 copies – throw a party to launch your book before you sell any copies! And take a page from the speed-licking contest book. What sort of contest can you hold to make your launch fun, memorable, and buzz-worthy?
If you’re not inspired yet, get your SBM* hat on and take some inspiration from these other mentions of the Oreo Centennial:
- Detroit Free Press offers 5 ways to honor Oreo’s 100th birthday.
- The Fox Kansas City affiliate shares 10 fun (unusual?) ways to serve Oreos.
* Savvy Book Marketer
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