Small business marketing can include profits with audio products

It’s been an expensive learning opportunity for me as we launched into the audio products mix about a year ago with the Inventing Your Horse Career CD Series through Horse Sense and Cents® (it’s half off now at $120 for the 9 CD set until remaining inventory is gone). Technology purchases, production, manufacturing, warehousing and fulfillment costs exceeded sales revenue on this one. Fortunately, I’m happy to share lessons learned to help you do it better. This includes some great small business marketing finds that are also filling coffers as we use these tools to promote.

Where I hit a wall with the Inventing Your Horse Career Series (relative to our subsequent decision to make this available through MP3 downloads), was in getting this product listed on Amazon, iTunes, etc. Six months later, I’ve basically discovered with this one, until we finish the transcription of the content and get it live on Kindle, it’s not likely to happen.

Bringing home an OTTB audio book offeringAfter a mountain of research, I discovered ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange). It’s a young company, so understandably, not well known. This is an interesting resource that pairs voice talent with publishers (in fee-for-service or royalty-share arrangements). What’s more valuable in what they offer is the connections they’ve made with the monster online retail entities. Get into their system, follow the requirements laid out to keep things moving, pass the quality control process and they’ll automatically take care of getting you listed on sites that are otherwise often inaccessible to the little guys. This is huge in terms of exposure and sales potential as they also have membership base with incentives to purchase your products.

I’m excited to have two e-booklet titles live now as audio options and sales already coming in with little marketing support from Horse Sense and Cents®. We’re just finishing final edits on our full-length title, Turning Challenging Horses into Willing Partners. It will be interesting to see if we get a similar response to a longer tome. Our e-booklets are about 5000 words and involve approximately 30 minutes of audio content. If you want to check out the two recently released products (it’s been so much fun working with the voice talent and seeing sales come in), here’s the Reaching Alpha Horses on iTunes and Bringing Home an off-the-track Thoroughbred on Amazon via Audible. Of course, if you’re compelled to make a purchase while you’re there, I’d sure appreciate it. Note the less expensive Kindle Edition ($2.99) and feel free to purchase that instead – or as well.

Eleven tips for working with ACX:

  1. Your title (print, Kindle, etc.) must be already listed on Amazon to access ACX services.
  2. Payment options include fee-for-service or royalty share. I haven’t tried the former yet, but like the idea of engaging others who have a stake in sales success. If you choose royalty share, you’ll likely be looking at about 25% of net sales (approximately 50% to ACX and 25% to the talent).
  3. If you’re working with voiceover talent, it’s best to encourage them to use direct e-mail communications early. You need to provide an e-mail address to your vendor and ask them to move off ACX for this to happen. ACX has an e-mail function, but it’s a bit clubby.
  4. Customer service is great. I’ve had some issues and replies are sent within 24 hours.
  5. You must follow instructions through the approval process for titles to move forward. It’s not complicated, but pay attention because if you don’t click the correct buttons or respond as required, your title will be halted.
  6. Cover art needs to be square. This must be uploaded as specified before your title can be processed through their quality control system.
  7. During busy times, it can take a month or more for your title to be processed. We experienced this with the OTTB project.
  8. You must complete a W-9 form to be paid.
  9. Right now, this service is only available in the United States.
  10. Populating your titles in Amazon, iTunes, etc. is automatic. Once the quality test and approval process is complete, ACX does this for you.
  11. There are many ways you can use the ACX system to further promote your title and/or earn additional income (guilty of not yet exploring these).

Some may shirk when looking at the royalty share percentages. You can always do a fee-for-service arrangement if you think you have the next big thing. It’s unlikely the demand you imagine will materialize. Regardless, the exposure you gain (whether you do a pay as you go or upfront money exchange) by capitalizing on a resource that’s already tapped into the places you can’t access, can be huge. I don’t get statements from Kindle until sales exceed $100 (this means net after they deduct their percentage), so it’s hard to know how e-booklet sales are going day-to-day. From almost real-time sales counts (they lag a day or three) on audio files available through ACX, it looks like we’re getting more sales from the audio offerings – at more than twice the price. I wouldn’t have introduced this offering without a support team. Interestingly, I found adding a Kindle Edition to the print book offering on our first full-length title actually increased sales demand for the hard copy book. Time will tell, but I suspect more formats will equal more sales on all fronts. So, it’s gravy when the primary objective of all these titles was small business marketing. How cool is it when you find ways to get paid for the promotional efforts you put out there?

Do you have questions about incorporating audio products into your marketing and revenue mix? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll try to provide an answer, if I have one. Also, if you liked this article, please take a moment to click on the share buttons to the left of this post. It’s made easy for you to do so – and even comment if you wish, or share on more than one site. Thanks!

2 responses to “Small business marketing can include profits with audio products”

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey through this process and sharing your insights, Nanette. Glad you are having success with the new model, sounds like a great one to explore in the future!

  2. It’s been an exciting, albeit challenging journey, Minette, but this is a great resource to check out (and frankly, I’m not one to give high praise too often). I think it could be a great product extension strategy for what you are trying to do.

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