menu

Advertising

Ostensibly 'giving something back', the new interactive site is also a perfectly positioned platform to sell millions of ebooks.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 23 june 2011

Powered by Guardian.co.uk
This article titled “Pottermore gives away JK Rowling’s marketing genius” was written by Sam Jordison, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 23rd June 2011 16.03 UTC

Imagine, if you will, the perfect 21st-century marketing campaign. First, you’d probably want to start with a teaser. Perhaps a little clue somewhere that will lead people to a branded “coming soon” webpage that will attract 100,000s of Twitter followers within hours. A day or so later, you’d tell a story guaranteeing you blanket press coverage surrounding your product. You’d want to use that free advertising to direct millions of people to your own corner of the web, where you would extract their email address and build up their sense of anticipation and excitement by telling them that something “unique” will be happening there soon. This unique thing will then enable you to tease out further demographic details from the website’s visitors. You will also be able to flood them with information about a brand new and reasonably priced range of products which cost you next to nothing to produce and which will garner you (at a rough estimate) several gazillion pounds sterling. On the way, you’ll also be able to slip in some advertising for the products you already have out on the market, not to mention reminding everyone that (as luck has it) you also have a film coming out in a month too. Yes, Pottermore.com is a stroke of genius.

Once again, JK Rowling and her marketing team have left the rest of the publishing world standing while she blazes a trail into the record books. I’ll eat my hardback copy of The Deathly Hallows if the Harry Potters aren’t the fastest-selling ebooks in history by the end of this year – and I can only tip my hat in admiration.

First, there’s the simplicity and brilliance of the marketing campaign outlined above. Then, there is the clever way the Rowling machine has ensured fans new and old will want to visit the new, ebook-selling platform by offering them what sounds like a genuinely enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Is there a Harry Potter devotee anywhere who isn’t just a little curious about advertised nuggets such as the story of “Professor McGonagall’s love for a Muggle as a young woman” or how Mr and Mrs Dursley met? What Potter fan wouldn’t want to answer a Rowling-devised questionnaire to sort them into the relevant wizarding house, or go through the process of finding the right wand? It’s also easy to imagine that millions (and I don’t use that figure loosely) will want to add their own contributions to the site. It promises to be an excellent interactive experience – just the sort of thing to give you a warm glow and put you in the right frame of mind to start buying.

The significance of the way in which these ebooks are being sold, meanwhile, cannot be overstated. Pottermore.com has allowed Rowling to neatly sidestep the middle man (Amazon), maintain complete control over pricing, scoop up nearly all the profits from royalties, and keep all the sales information and the further marketing opportunities that offers to herself. She will also more than likely do all of that at a price and quality that will leave her customers almost as delighted as her publishers (who remain on board) and her accountants. She’s even found a neat solution to the problem of copyright theft by using a digital watermarking system that links the identity of the purchaser to an individual ebook. There will be none of the sour taste and technical glitches associated with DRM software, and no punitive lawsuits – but there will be a real inducement to actually buy the book and an added element of shame for all who steal it. Wired magazine has called this “publishing’s Radiohead moment”. But it’s more than that. It’s publishing’s new Harry Potter moment. The Hogwarts’ Express money train is riding back into town.

The most impressive thing of all, though, is the way Rowling has managed to present the whole thing as an act of altruism. “I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new generation,” she says. This isn’t necessarily hogwash: at this stage in her fantastically lucrative career, money presumably isn’t the driving force for Rowling and there’s every chance that she does love the fans who have made her so successful. Yes, it would be refreshing if she just admitted she was once again going to bewitch parents and children alike into emptying out their pockets. It also would be quite pleasing if she were to openly celebrate the fact that she has one of the finest marketing teams on the planet behind her. But to do so would be bad marketing. Everyone knows the most important rule of selling is to convince the sucker who’s paying that you’re doing them a favour …

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Advertising
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Today

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Today

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Today

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Daniel Hirschmann

Entrepreneur, Technology Maker, Educator

Syndicated Today

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Today

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Today

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Yesterday

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Today

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Today

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Today

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Today

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design Today

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Today

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Today

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.