I was recently invited for a panel discussion on marketing by FICCI during PubliCon 2017. Keeping a larger audience in mind, I try today to explain the changing roles of marketers in the academic and professional publishing space but I am sure that similar thoughts can also be applied by marketers operating in other categories of books like children, trade and fiction et al with some improvisation.

Ages ago, Marketing in Publishing was largely viewed as an awareness and promotion function, often managed by a single person or two who would coordinate with external designers and vendors to get the product creatives designed and printed. Fast track to 2017 and voila - you have a modern marketer who thinks big, thinks strategically and leverages technology with smart content to not only educate and delight his customers but also to turn them into his/ her brand advocates.

As Publishers have started reinventing their business models and proposition, Marketing too has undergone a significant transformation from a transactional and conventional printbased promotion approach to a more strategic and modern technology driven approach. Marketers today have access to much better and measurable tools and techniques that can help them reach their customers directly, and engage and influence them better

. This direct access to customers holds tremendous power and benefit in a market where historically distribution supply chain bottlenecks and lack of sufficient endusers’ content consumption data have posed significant challenges for the publishers in the past. Marketing today is a full-fledged and independent function in most publishing companies and has come of age from being viewed as a passive support function to a more active demand and revenue generating function.

Few key questions that a modern marketer needs to address today to succeed in his/her role are:

* What is the big need that our company and products are going to fulfil or the big problem that our products are going to solve? Do you understand the needs and aspirations of your customers well enough? Can you spot opportunities in problems?

* How big and pervasive that need or problem is? Can you assess the size of an opportunity that emerges from a common or extensive problem?

* Would customers be willing to pay a price to fulfil their need or solve their problem? Do you understand the intensity of pain or problem and the price that customers would be willing to pay you?

* What’s your unique or distinct value proposition? How are your customers’ needs being met with presently and do you have a strong enough proposition to make them switch over to your product or solution? What’s your wow factor? How do you deliver an outstanding customer experience?

* What are the trends and patterns in my industry, and the industries that my products and solutions cater to that can be converted into opportunities? Can you see or draw patterns out of seemingly unconnected data and information to identify the opportunities that could be addressed through your existing or new products and solutions.

*How do your demonstrate a strong measurable return on your marketing investments? How do you create platforms, build networks and implement tools and techniques that help increase your sales and accelerate your customer acquisition rate? How do you create a more favourable environment for your sales people to sell more, sell fast and sell profitably?

* What’s your big picture story? What’s the larger purpose of your organization? What should you do to grow the size of your addressable market apart from winning more share from your competitors? How do you make a positive and lasting impact on your customers and society?

Answering these questions successfully would help a marketer get clarity, build consensus and positively influence the larger business strategy thereby making a robust impact both within the organization and in the marketplace.