Doc Martyn’s Soul: The Final Post
It seems strange, but here I am heading into my last week at UNP. Three and a half years ago I arrived on my first day with ideas a plenty but no real concept of what I would find or what was expected of me. I walked into a marketing room full of experienced and professional staff who knew what they were doing and who did it well. I can only imagine their reactions. I do know that I knew I had a lot to learn and that I had to do it quickly. Thankfully, I have been blessed to work with an incredible team; they have pushed and pulled, agreed and disagreed, and encouraged and supported me throughout my time here. They have shown remarkable trust in me when new ideas have been suggested. They have been willing to try things that were different and unfamiliar. They have grown in many ways and have helped me grow in even more. Rosemary, Tish, Rob, and Erica have all been here for longer than me and will continue past my tenure with UNP. I am proud to have added the fresh, new faces of John, Tayler, Anna, and Alissa to the team. Each and every one of them brings their own unique perspective to the marketing of UNP’s books; I could not have asked for a better group of people.
I’ve been reflecting on all the things we’ve tried over the past few years. As a team, we have radically altered the seasonal catalogue, bringing it into line with new marketing best-practices while continuing to receive the highest praise from those who use it on a regular basis as a tool to sell our books. We’ve revamped subject catalogues, taking advantage of technology to produce a series of catalogues that can be created, altered, and suited to their particular audience in efficient and effective ways. We’ve dealt with reduced marketing budgets and yet seen three years of year-on-year growth in sales, culminating in the best year ever for UNP. We’ve tried regional and special sales—with mixed results, but with knowledge gained of what does and doesn’t work. We’ve shaken up longstanding partnerships with sales rep groups and have seen the benefits in even better relationships with indie bookstores and other sales channels. We’ve initiated new email campaign strategies that focus not just on announcing new books but on identifying and targeting specific audiences for each and every book. We’ve dealt with the impact of a still-new-partnership with JPS and the acquisition of Potomac Books, learning new markets, coming to understand different subject areas, and finding ways to market and sell these disparate books. We’ve added to the publicity team, started new publicity trips to Washington, DC, and dramatically improved our social marketing and our blog. Our longstanding relationships with national media have grown to offer us unprecedented access to opinion makers and thought leaders in the book world and beyond. We’ve opened up new avenues of communication with our authors, offering them earlier and better channels to the marketing team than they’ve ever had before. We’ve adopted new advertising practices to ensure that we’re getting the best value for the dollars we spend. We’ve overhauled our approach to exhibits, in terms of how we look, what we do when we’re at a conference, and which shows and conferences we attend. We’ve been the only university press to take space at BookCon in NYC and we have received high praise from the industry for doing so. Overall, we’ve strived to be thought leaders in the UP book marketing world at all times, and I think we’ve succeeded.
That list of changes is only part of what we have achieved and what we’re continuing to attempt. It’s pretty amazing to see it written down and know the hard work that each and every member of the team has given to make these things happen in such a short time. A few hundred words in a list of things done doesn’t do justice to the people who make them happen, but I hope it gives a small indication of the incredible attitude, skill, and knowledge they possess. None of it would have come to pass without this fine group of professionals. I’m truly grateful to have worked with each and every one of them.
On a more personal note, this wonderful group of Marketeers—as we have dubbed ourselves—deserve my thanks, appreciation, and humility for teaching me how to be better at my job, how to be a better person, for holding me up when things were hard, and for celebrating with me when things went well. Rosemary, thank you for your never-ending ideas, willingness to embrace new things, and for challenging me to be better than I thought possible. Rob, thank you for bringing an infectious sense of positivity, laughter, and humility to the whole messy business of selling books. Tish, thank you for your undying professionalism and perfection in the face of so many challenges; it is a standard to which I can only dream of coming close. Erica, thank you for taking time to think about things thrown at you and therefore offering a considered opinion when all around is chaos. John, thank you for quickly developing a new marketing aesthetic so sorely needed. Tayler, thank you for finding the best in every situation. Anna, thank you for bringing a quirky sense of humor to the team. Alissa, thank you for persevering with us from student to temp and now to full-time marketer.
I’m leaving for pastures new but I know that the grass on this side of the fence will remain bright, green, and full of marketing brilliance as long as you are all here. Perhaps this tear of sadness that I feel will drop to the ground and be my very small gift to you, feeding that grass for just a little while longer. Goodbye my cheap-and-cheerful Marketeers. I will miss you all.
–Martyn (soon to be tweeting from Ithaca, New York)