At Penguin Random House, we recognize that our book buyers are individuals with a wide range of intersectional identities. Those identities—formed within the social and political constructs of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, and even geography—help inform their experiences and drive many of their choices. While many factors affect consumer behavior, PRH understands cultural identity is an important touchstone as we seek to better understand the needs of our readers.
To effectively market our authors and their books to more and more readers, we’ve added a team of multicultural marketing experts across the company to help our editors, publicists, designers, and marketers forge new and lasting relationships with our country’s growing multicultural communities.
For those who don’t know, multicultural marketing is the practice of targeting and connecting with consumers from a specific culture, typically one outside of the country’s majority culture.
Meet the newest member of our team: Susette Brooks, director of multicultural marketing for Penguin Publishing Group. Susette collaborates with marketing, advertising, and publicity teams across PPG’s imprints to maximize market reach in all channels. She advises teams during campaign development on inclusive marketing strategies; identifies opportunities for targeting, positioning, and messaging; and reviews plans, messaging, and other business decisions, always considering customer and marketplace impact.
Susette, tell us about your experience.
My experience is wide-ranging, starting with my fourteen-year (and counting) career in the New Jersey Army National Guard. I’ve held several military jobs, but now I manage a team of soldier-journalists who use multimedia narrative to tell the army story. I’ve also led public relations and marketing campaigns for an elected official, a journalism nonprofit, a college, a library, and a literary magazine. While those experiences all seem very different, the strategy for each was the same: Focus on the needs of the audience and articulate how our product or service would meet those needs.
What brought you to PRH?
Besides loving to read and having an MFA in creative writing, I am fascinated by the challenge of articulating the value of hundreds of different books, rather than a finite number of consumer products, to multicultural readers. Also, books provide the ultimate gifts of self-discovery and self-actualization, and I believe all readers deserve those gifts.
Is multicultural marketing just a trend?
Absolutely not. First, we live in a rapidly growing multicultural society. What we considered the mainstream a decade ago is going to look entirely different in 2050, according to census data, so we should take heed and think more strategically about how to reach and connect with different readers. Also, we must get better at recognizing and learning from each other’s differences. We inherently understand the cultural differences between our work friends and our college friends. But do we fully understand how, for example, the experiences of our queer friends of color might impact their perspectives and thus their consumer habits? I tend to think we have a lot more to learn.
What are the three most important tips that authors should know?
- Identify your audience. Whether you are an author with a small platform or an exponential following, it’s important to know who your built-in audience is. Study the analytics on your website and social media platforms to understand your audience’s demographics and which content they respond best to.
- Get to know your audience. Read your comments, follow social media conversations, and subscribe to newsletters from research organizations, such as Pew Research Center, to better understand who your audience is, what motivates them, and what their needs are. It’s important to reiterate here that cultural identity can motivate some of your audience’s choices; therefore, cultural awareness is a vital component of connecting with readers.
- Reach your audience. Now that you have gathered this information about your audience, you should have a heightened awareness of their desires and motivations. While your end goal may be to sell more books, I recommend you focus on how to build relationships with your audience and create content that meets their needs. The key is to keep your audience coming back to your work again and again.
We agree with Susette: Multicultural marketing and outreach is not a trend, which is why, in the next few months, we will be featuring other multicultural marketing experts around PRH in the newsletter. They will offer their unique approaches to this field and give you insight into how to adapt their multicultural outreach strategies to help grow your platforms.