Marketing experts say entrepreneurs need a plan and good public relations

The Book Bandit mascot greets students in front of the Barnes & Noble on Main Street, Newark. Founder Jim Jannuzzio chose a racoon to serve as the animal mascot for his app.

By Michael J Mika
Special to Delaware Business Times

Jim Jannuzzio chose a racoon to serve as the animal mascot for his two-year-old BookBandit app.
He didn’t spend money in traditional market research efforts to determine what animal would best represent his unique idea of getting better deals for textbook. Instead, he decided to research the market and see what animals had not yet been taken.

“I said there’s got to be an animal that hasn’t been used by somebody. I saw the racoon, the little mask that made him look like a bandit,” he said.

And BookBandit was born. The concept allows students to download the app and buy and sell books directly with each other or from a variety of online bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Chegg or

How about a traditional written marketing plan?

“No, not in writing,” Jannuzzio, president and founder of BookBandit, said. “We typically go through the game plans a week at a time. This week its boots on the ground, handing out fliers at Wilmington University and West Chester.”

Jannuzzio, finishing his senior year at UD, and many new entrepreneurs are using next-gen marketing ideas that are generically defined as aligning marketing and advertising efforts to the needs of today’s consumer in a digital world. He uses techniques like social media, crowd-funding, product ambassadors and constant interaction with his customers on digital platforms. He’s even donned the BookBandit racoon costume to hand out fliers in student areas on campus.

A check with two Delaware marketing professionals confirm that any marketing plan is a good one, as long as there is a strategy connected with measurable goals.

“There definitely is a need for year-long marketing plan,” Dana Dobson, a public relations consultant and founder of Dana Dobson Public Relations, said. “Editorial calendars make it crystal clear who they are and what key messaging will be. But the plan also needs to be flexible.”

Donna Duffy, CEO and founder of 3E Marketing Solutions, advises clients to make sure to test the market as they go through a marketing plan. “The ‘build it and they will come’ model is just not realistic. A new tool, algorithm can change the whole thing. If your finger is not on that pulse point then you’re not able to shift.”

DBT asked the two women, who’ve both presented TEDx talks in the past year, to share some other tips about ways to thrive in today’s changing consumer-centric world.

Dana Dobson, CEO, Dana Dobson public relations

• “Make websites journalist-friendly. They ought to have a place where reporters and PR media can go to get key personnel, company background, high-res images of the product. I notice that a lot of people don’t have a one-click website to a page that gives relevant information about the company, instead they
offer too many sales messages.”

• “I would encourage people who may still be comfortable with the mode of “push-push brag, brag,” school of marketing and sales to focus more on the information that their customer would want. Use the social media to be informative.

• “Know your audience well. Know how they consume information. Do research to find out who they are, because in today’s digital age it all has to be focused on them. The riches are in the niches, no such thing as a general audience anymore.”
Donna Duffy, CEO and Founder, 3E Marketing Solutions

• “Relationships trump everything. We’re going to have all these digital ways that will help do things in a more automated fashion. Nobody’s clicking a button and dropping 20 grand. That comes from building the relationship.”

• “Do you know who you’re talking to? If they tell me everybody, I’m going to know they don’t know their market well. What is the value proposition? Do you know how your solutions will deal with your client’s pain points and how will you craft that messaging and where will that messaging go?”

• Don’t confuse marketing with sales. “Marketing is a conversation, and sales is the close and the beginning of another conversation. Nurturing potential clients with continual messages will continue to build the trust — the bridge — so that by the time they get to the close, they’re ready. I’ve proven my trust. They can see that I’ve got something that will help them.”

So far, Jannuzzio is happy with the results of his strategy. Book Bandit is now selling books in 27 states and last month the team launched a new more intuitive website, which Jannuzzio said makes the order process faster.

He also launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to raise more capital to fund operations for the next year. Top priorities include adding 20 more book vendors to the inventory and providing a years’ worth of marketing through Google Ad Words.

His marketing advice to others? “Get after it. If you want to get your brand out there, you’ve got to be hands-on in the market.”

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