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. Patterson’s 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 Patterson’s 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 Patterson’s “brand” has many strengths. Patterson’s 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 Patterson’s readers bought another Patterson book; only 28% of consumers are repeat buyers of comparable authors’ books. Patterson’s 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 Patterson’s brand was also higher than on other authors.
Internally, Patterson’s 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 Patterson’s 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...