Nelson, the world's largest Christian publisher, invited its top 100 accounts to something they called Open House. From April 10 to 12th, those accounts were treated to an all-expense-paid series of seminars and events at Nashville's Music City Sheraton.
Yesterday's Publishers Weekly had a story in their "Trends" section on Nelson's first Open House. The article reported that 240 retailers attended that program.
At Open House, many attendees expressed surprise at the low-key, no-sell approach. There were no exhibits, no sales appointments and no product presentations, aside from a few five- to seven-minute video clips sprinkled throughout the seminars. Though most of the sessions and events showcased Nelson authors like John Maxwell, Max Lucado and Donald Miller, there were also presenters who are not on the publisher’s roster.
Hyatt's 45-minute presentation to the group is available on YouTube in five parts. I watched it at 6:00 this morning here. It's a masterful combination of Hyatt's personal testimony of faith, a motivational speech about Christian retailing in today's market and a look at where Thomas Nelson is headed.
Among the things he said:
. . .the economy is forcing everyone to make tough, but good decisions . . . in a recession, you're forced to prioritize . . . we realized for example in our fiscal year just ended March 31st . . . we did over 700 new titles last year . . . a small drop in an ocean of over 250,000 new titles introduced into the U.S. every year . . . We don't need more books, we need better books.
We found that . . . 23% of our new titles last year drove 90% of our revenue . . . So we've made the decision to cut our new title introduction in half . . . We can do that with hardly sacrificing any revenue and increasing the focus on the books we continue to do . . .
In a recession you're forced to allocate resources, and it's a good thing . . . Another thing we did, we took the Pareto Principle, 80/20 principle, and we also applied it to our accounts, and we found that overall over the whole company less than 4% of our accounts were driving 90% of the revenue . . . And yet we spend a lot of our time servicing the smaller accounts . . . We'd better be giving our best time and our best resources to people . . . that represent the majority of our business. And that's really what this weekend has been all about.
It's also forcing us to make tough decisions about our marketing activities. We don't need fancier marketing. We don't need glitzier marketing. I don't even think we need more marketing. What we need is marketing that drives sell-through. Period. And that's how we're evaluating everything that we do today.
Take a look at Hyatt's presentation. It's a skillful blend of inspiration, hard facts, motivation and a look at the future of publishing.