Just doing the accounts... • 31 July 2008 • The SnowBlog
Just doing the accounts...
...and one invoice stands out. It's for 587.50 - not a small sum, indeed greater than my monthly salary - and it's for promotional support for a work of fiction published this summer. Promotional support, to the uninitiated, is the amount of money a publisher pays to a retailer to cover the costs of promoting a title. You and I both know that whilst it does cover some of the costs, it's a rather blunt instrument (it's a flat rate, so it's not like retailers calculate the actual costs each time). This particular invoice covers one week's front of store promotion in a chain retailer.
Having worked in retail for most of my adult life, I know that it's impossible to get all stores to do what you want them to do, at the right time. And for a promotion that lasts only a week, a retailer would have to be pretty world class to get all the stock in the right place, displayed correctly, stickered correctly and on sale. I bet that only half the stores were running the promotion on Day 1. I bet that 30% of stores never had the stock out at all.
What am I saying? I don't really know. I'm not ever going to stop supporting retailers - they make our business viable - they are our cherished customers. And having worked in most retail functions, including stores, I have every sympathy with the challenges they face. I guess all I'm saying is that 587.50 is a lot of money, but I don't think we'll necessarily have got what we paid for. Remember my story about Xmas 2006, where we experienced 19% promotional compliance? (i.e. stock was only visible in 19% of the places it should have been.) Our business can flourish on the trading terms we have down on paper. It's just real life that gets in the way sometimes.