IPG goes Virtual at this years Spring Conference - Day 1 Summary


What an incredible day one of the IPG Virtual conference. The team at IPG led by the brilliant, Bridget Shine, has once again outdone itself by delivering the first virtual conference to the members of IPG.

Inspired were delighted to be invited to exhibit vitually and be part of this moment. 

During the first day we saw many different presentations but a clear message was given that publishers now have to be very agile and prepared to adapt, fast as they see unpredictable revenues coming in and seeing huge deficits in other areas. Publishers are already incredibly agile and good at that already which is a relief!

The biggest challenges we’ve faced as publishers definitely are within supply chains. It’s been awful for the retail landscape not just in the UK but across the whole world. Even Amazon had 5 days where nothing was ordered or sent out for the books side.

Highlights of the day include some really honest accounts of that journey from Nigel Newton, CEO of Bloomsbury  who, noted some unexpected growth in their digital products and ebooks  and disastrous decline in academic print books. Rebecca Smart shared her reflections on building strategy right now and how, as publishers, there really is little difference between the issues we are all facing whether you are large or small they are the same. What she said was crucial was to ensure the books you publish have Heart, Edge, Purpose and Wit!

Both agreed that marketing and publicity techniques and methods are key right now so try and find that story. Everyone loves a strong a narrative and being told a story well, so find it and sell it and your books will still fly!

The glimmer on the horizon of book shops opening on 15th June brought both hope and fear of mass returns but we remain positive until then as we have been lucky to have April and May without returns so sales have not been terrible so far.

We learnt from Will Atkinson of Atlantic Books and Sarah Braybrooke, of Scribe Books that Trade publishers are not stopping acquiring. There are even more submissions and what they need to do is be agile, and try and turn these relevant projects round quickly. The independents are using the furloughing scheme but talking directly with individuals about this and making sure that they understand it is for the long term health of the company.  

Trade’s challenge and concern for the immediate future is missing the more intense creative input without being in one room all together but we must work round this and keep pushing our businesses forward.  

Our stand-out session of the day has to be ‘How to stay Productive’, presented by the very smart disrupter Mark Leruste. So much so we’ll send round our top 10 tips on his advice on staying positive and productive at home during COVID 19 as they were super inspiring and will change the way your approach your day to make you more productive in your own way.

Audio and marketing landscapes as well as value to all publisher’s top line has changed dramatically. Sales have naturally been affected during this pandemic, and we were reminded to stick with the 3-stage model: pre-sale; sale; and sell-through - Andrew Sauerwine left us with a key message to understand your consumer, echoed by the session on agile marketing with Alison Middle and Louise Dickins from Kogan Page. Sales and Marketing sit hand in hand and if we can be customer driven; flexible and creative and measurable and accountable, using data to input back into our strategies, and do this quickly - the engagement will increase and our customers will see true value. We will make sure we share some content on these top tips as well as how you can develop your own audio books in almost every sector.

Later on in the day we also found the advice from employment lawyer, Jane Mann who gave us her top ten actions to safeguarding your employees in your return to the office. Again we found some really practical tips here so have written up that 10 point plan and will share this with you in a separate blog.

 So Day One of  a whole new world of virtual conferencing and we  LOVED it! We have desperately missed physically seeing you all and our usual jokes, laughs and chats. It’s made us look forward to seeing you again as soon as is safe to do so.

A huge thank you to IPG though for pulling a wonderful day 1 of the conference, see you all tomorrow! Now where is that virtual bar?