Bay Area News Group: 5 tips for creating a sports championship instant book

When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2014 in a momentous seventh-game victory — making them the U.S. baseball champions — we were ready. In fact, we were armed with a virtual storefront, an instant book, front-page memorabilia, special sections and more —all in anticipation of that final, winning play.

If you asked us to choose the offering that set us apart, it would be our instant book, Triple Crowned, featuring content from the winning season. Why? Simply put, we took into account effort versus results and envisioned the highest ROI for the book sales.

The goal for our 2014 World Series instant book was straightforward: to produce a high-quality keepsake product for Giants fans in our marketing area and beyond. We wanted to match, or beat, the sales of our 2012 World Series book, and to equal, or surpass market share in a highly competitive space. 

Our strategy included running a strong ad campaign from October through December 2014, using our own assets coupled with trade media assets to find and target fans. We used digital through our owned and operated news sites, including homepage takeover, sliding billboards, and IAB ad units.

We also used mobile through our affiliate display network; Google search keyword and display network; promotional mentions on partner radio; e-mail blasts to subscribers and targeted non-subscribers; and print daily ROP ads.

Tactically, we worked to create promotions — holiday packages and themed creatives — and match them to continuous and optimised digital and print marketing plans targeted by age, demo, geography, and competitor’s sites.

Three months into the campaign, we were appearing across channels and on top-10 lists for non-fiction book sales.

Why did people buy it? Quality. 

Finding a trusted publisher is key. The quick turnaround necessary to publish a book immediately after a win could easily lead to a lower quality product. A good publisher, however, will work with you and your editorial team months in advance — anticipating the win and planning the cover, title, and content long before your team wins.

Quality builds trust and reputation among subscribers and non-subscribers. Amazon ratings and consumer reviews help to sell future books and a good product means fewer returns and higher revenue share for your company.

Triple Crowned has achieved our key performance indicators, beating 2012’s book sales, leading the market on top-seller lists, and receiving great reviews from readers. 

Now, months later, we are fortunate enough to be celebrating the Golden State Warriors National Basketball Association (NBA) finals win. We are taking what worked from the World Series promotions and refining those elements.

With these two events in mind, I offer you our top 5 best practices for creating an instant book: 

  1. Find a publisher four to eight weeks in advance when you know your team is in the running for the win. Shop around and ask for recommendations from peers in the industry.

  2. Engage your newspaper’s marketing lead, sports editor, and publisher to outline the book.

  3. Create a marketing plan and book your media in advance to save time the night and day after the win. You can cancel if your team loses. Use all of your resources across channels and don’t stop marketing after only two weeks. Be creative and plan promotions.

  4. Build the creatives in advance with a mock book cover for the day after the win until you get the official image from the publisher.

  5. Track your results and optimise your plan to take advantage of what is working. Be proactive; set expectations and goals; and carefully track sales, revenue, and market share. 

In the week since the Warriors win, we’re already beating the World Series book sales for just one week out.

About Erika Brown

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