A Change in Our Trade Show Strategy

Today, we announced that we will no longer be participating in the two major trade shows in our industry: Book Expo America (BEA) or the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). As I said in our press release, we have been discussing this move for some time. In fact, it’s a conversation we have had every year since I have been at Nelson (ten years).

next exit, the future

But the current economic downturn is forcing us to re-evaluate every marketing dollar we spend. This is not the reason for our shift in strategy, but it is the catalyst. The reality is that these trade shows provide very little return to us on a hugely significant investment.

Why have we made this decision now? Last weekend, we hosted our inaugural Open House at the Music City Sheraton in Nashville, Tennessee. Our top 100 Christian retail accounts attended the two-day, two-night conference. These 100 accounts represent about 1,400 store fronts.

Our goal was to arm participants with a better understanding of industry trends and merchandising strategies, while inspiring their relationships with God. The event also allowed for renewing friendships with other retailers and the Thomas Nelson family.

At the Thursday evening “3:16 Celebration” at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Max Lucado and friends, Sandi Patty, Jaci Velasquez, Travis Cottrell, and Heather Headley presented the timeless truth of John 3:16 through beautiful worship music and inspiring messages of God’s grace.

During Friday’s “ReThinking” sessions, world-class speakers John Maxwell, Tony Jeary, Michele Miller and the Disney Institute’s Tom Madden, equipped retailers with practical advice on how to increase their effectiveness as leaders and marketers.

On Saturday morning I spoke on the topic of “Ten Reasons I Am Still Excited about Christian Retail.” Andy Andrews concluded the event with an inspirational and honest session on “ReThinking Possibilities.” It was a great finish to a great conference.

Based on feedback from the attendees, the event was a tremendous success. Of the attendees surveyed, every single one said that they intended to participate in future Open House events. Ninety-five percent said their businesses would be strengthened by the event.

For example, Tim Way, Divisional Merchant Manager for Family Christian Stores (more than 300 stores nationwide), said,

Thomas Nelson’s Open House was one of the best Christian retail events I have attended in my 25 years in the industry. The sessions gave me highly practical information I can use right now. Additionally, I came away spiritually uplifted and encouraged.

Steve Potratz, owner and founder of the Parable Group (more than 200 stores nationwide), said,

The program was absolutely top notch and the fellowship was great. Most of all, the commitment demonstrated by Thomas Nelson to the Christian retail channel was clear and very encouraging.

Historically, trade shows have played an important role in publishing and bookselling. I have attended scores of them and have very fond memories of connecting with customers, authors, and the media. But the market has changed. Dramatically. We simply can no longer justify the enormous costs associated with these trade shows. Having inaugurated our own event, it’s time for us to leave the past behind and step into the future.

We intend to make Open House an annual event for our key Christian retail accounts. Amazingly, our top 100 Christian retail accounts generate more than 80% of our revenue in this channel. Therefore, we must be intentional and strategic in how we connect with them. Open House provides us with a better way to invest in our future and theirs.

If you work in the industry or are in the media, you may have additional questions. I have compiled a Q & A page here.

Update: The news media is now covering our announcement. I thought I’d provide a little commentary here:

The Tennessean: They got the strategy-thing right, and they put it in the headline. Unfortunately, they said that the shift in strategy was the result of the economic downturn. Not exactly. That was merely the catalyst that led to us re-evaluating our participation in these shows.

Also, the Tennessean interviewed my friend Rolf Zettersten, publisher of FaithWords, for the article. He says he’s having a good year and “won’t contemplate making such a dramatic change.” I don’t know what having a good year’s got to do with it, but I can certainly understand why small publishers, who don’t have the kind of routine, face-to-face contact with their accounts that we have, would want to stay involved.

The Bookseller: This is a UK-based trade publication. Like the Tennessean, they said that our decision was based on “economic pressures.” Maybe we shouldn’t have led with that in the press release or maybe we should have made it more clear. Regardless, I approved every word, and there’s no opportunity for a do-over.

On a positive note, they provided very little commentary and simply repeated my quotes. They also linked back to my blog, which is great.

Macworld: No, they didn’t specifically mention Thomas Nelson. However, the same day we made our announcement, in an article entitled “Apple Takes a Trade Show Pass,” the editor noted, “In confirming its decision not to have a booth at NAB, the company [Apple] said it was ‘participating in fewer trade shows every year, because often there are better ways for us to reach our customers.’”

The Bookseller: Evidently our announcement created quite a stir at the London Book Fair. I have been exchanging email messages with the editor of the Bookseller this morning.

He wanted to know what our decision meant with regard to the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs. He even called a few minutes ago to make sure he had the story straight. I told him, “We attend numerous international shows. We will evaluate these on a case-by-case basis. We will continue to attend them, so long as they enable us to connect meaningfully with our customers in the most economical way possible. Currently, we plan to continue participating in both the London Book Fair and Frankfurt.”

Publishers Weekly: This article is fair and accurate. Lynn Garrett, the reporter, nailed it. She does a great job of getting to the story behind the story and setting our decision in a larger context.

CBA Official Response: Evidently, CBA sent this out last evening. I wasn’t on the list. I didn’t know about it until someone from the media mentioned it to me this morning and then forwarded the email to me.

I certainly appreciate Bill Anderson’s heart. He is obviously reminding people of the value of ICRS and hoping that others don’t follow our lead.

I won’t comment further other than to say I have fond memories of all the conventions I have attended through the years. I am simply posting Bill’s comments here for the sake of presenting the other side of the argument.

I will post more later as other stories are published.

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  • http://www.allennoakes.com Allen Noakes

    I think this is a bold, but needed move. Times are changing and you have to focus on what really works. Bravo and hats off!!

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    I see the reasoning, Mike, but from an author’s viewpoint, I’m so disappointed. ICRS is when I count on seeing your smiling face, hugging Mr. Superman Arnold, seeing Ami, Jen, all my peeps from Nelson. ICRS has been such a great place to connect.

    But not worth the money. I do see that. I’ll just have to make sure I get to Nashville once a year!

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Colleen,

    I will miss that, too. You must come see us!

    Mike

  • Luci Swindoll

    Picasso once said, “You have to begin drawing to know what you want to draw”. I’ve always loved that, and look at all he drew. One may like his work or hate it but the truth is, he never stopped experimenting and learning as he went along in life. And this is one of my favorite things about you, Mike. Your heart is open to new ideas, ways and means, challenges and opportunities. All kinds of doors open to people like you. Don’t ever stop drawing!

  • John Young

    Congratulations on having a focused event with direct benefit to a captive audience as you pulled off. What you didn’t say is how much money you’ll save. From air and suites for authors to banquet dinners and receptions, to booths and travel expense on your staff plus those dandy booth costs and registration fees you might want to guard that info anyway. But we’ve watched ICRS grow into a blur of more things to do and more people to see than possible. We’ve seen conflicts of somebody missing the Baker dinner for the Tyndale program and people come enthused and leave flat out worn out.
    Ask any retailer and they’ll say they need hits not hype and we still live in an overpublished world where the message of most books isn’t maximized but chocked by competition often from the same publisher.
    And don’t even start on peer pressure. Every pub feeling pressure to equal if not outdo each other just for “take home buzz.”
    Under our breath many called it the “cba circus” because of all the events and drama. Maybe this is the beginning of “dialing it back a notch” and attendees not having to get a Cliff Notes version of it all because there was too much anyway.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Luci, thanks for your kind words. You are a blessing!

    John, you obviously understand the dynamics!

  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    This is what Seth Godin refers to in “The Dip.” Do you know when to quit something? When it’s not working for you, and when it has no chance of working for you.

    I think pulling back, focusing, and simplifying is always a great choice. I commend this decision whole-heartedly, and am praying that it will be a catalyst for the industry!

    Way to be a great example!

  • Ted Dekker

    Interesting move, Mike. Smart. The kind of thinking that keeps Thomas Nelson on the cutting edge. The costs of making your presence felt in the shows is surely far greater than most can appreciate. I commend your business acumen, and your stewardship of my novels.

    As an author, however, I feel the pain already. Read my latest blog at teddekker.com for a glimpse into my writing world but let me summarize by saying that ICRS is the one time of the year that I get to climb out of my captivity to words and images and see faces. Real people. Retailers. It has been fuel to my writing soul and critical to my wife’s engagement in my career.

    The older I get, the more I realize that our journey is our destination in so many ways. Although hiding in a dungeon, taking head trips through imaginary worlds, stewarding the mysteries of God through story is immensely satisfying on one level, on a human level it drains us mere mortals. We need relationship that extends beyond emails and contracts and manuscripts.

    Naturally, there’s church, family, friends etc. But I’m talking about the isolated writing life. In a small way, events like ICRS have succeeded in pulling me out of my isolation for a few days each year.

    Hmmmm…..

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Ted,

    Thanks for your kind words. I also agree that writers need a place to connect face-to-face. I think that the new Christian Book Expo (CBE) will do this and more. It will also create greater visibility with the reading public, since it is a public book fair. To see what we envision, read my blog post on the Guadalajara Book Fair.

    Blessings,

    Mike

  • http://www.laridian.com Craig Rairdin

    As a fellow Christian publisher (albeit a fraction of your size) I’ve been attending CBA/ICRS for almost twenty years. If I may be so bold, I’ve always felt that Thomas Nelson over-invested in these conventions. You guys always had one of the biggest (if not the biggest) booths and were always expanding your presence when others were looking at the quantity of business generated by those shows and pulling back. Frankly, we never understood it.

    ICRS is not the selling opportunity it used to be (apparently it was in the years before I started attending — at least that’s what everyone says) but it is always a good opportunity to make connections with fellow publishers, authors, artists, distributors, and of course (to a lesser degree) retailers. Nelson might make a similar statement without completely pulling out by having a 20′ x 20′ booth and taking just the people who need to make connections there. That is, fewer sales people and more editors, marketeers, licensing dept managers, etc.

    Anyway it’s an interesting move and perhaps it will prod CBA into re-thinking what it’s doing. I think bookseller conventions may be going the way of the tent revival meeting. They seem somewhat anachronistic in these highly connected, Web-enabled times.

    Craig Rairdin
    President
    Laridian, Inc.

  • Neon Java

    I agree particularly with this comment from Craig Rairdin, “…but [the conference] is always a good opportunity to make connections with fellow publishers, authors, artists, distributors, and of course (to a lesser degree) retailers. Nelson might make a similar statement without completely pulling out by having a 20′ x 20′ booth and taking just the people who need to make connections there. That is, fewer sales people and more editors, marketeers, licensing dept managers, etc.”

    The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, an association that is key to my firm’s clientele, holds an annual winter gathering that is the most intense, focused schmooze-fest I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in (not counting film festivals). From the very determined and deliberate field intelligence we do in the hallways OUTSIDE the seminars and in the Starbucks NEAR the hotel to the “talent showcases” that we attack with a specific strategy, I have dollars-and-cents proof even before we leave the conference city, we made the trip worth our while.

    However, it wasn’t like that the first year we attended. Nope, we bought into the whole, bloated, over-ripe agenda APAP had — workshops, roundtables, exhibits, luncheons, ad nauseum. Three-quarters into our first day, during a coffee break from the various workshops and whatnots we’d signed up for (“Oh yes, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet the other attendees!” — only true if you waved at them from across a U-shaped table), my colleagues and I agreed: we were ditching the workshops to patrol the hallways, cafes, and lounges to invite people to an “open bar” at Starbucks that evening.

    (1) Take control of your convention and conference experiences, shape them to suit your needs and goals.

    (2) Each of our team members (4 of us) represents a different focus, communication style, and expertise.

    (3) Develop a white-hot focus for the information, people, and experiences you need from the event. What’s the plan? What’s the payload?

    (4) If you are authentic and generous — as willing to make connections for others as you are eager to get connected — your personalized “treasure map” for navigating these industrial-sized events can lead you to bounty.

    (5) If an event’s organizers ask for feedback, give it, give lots of it. They can’t improve their events without knowing what works/what doesn’t for the attendees.

    NOTHING beats an industry convention for broad spectrum and niche market intelligence-gathering, people-reading, reputation-building, and bond-strengthening, true. But to extract what we need from those events and earn a laudable rate of return on the investment of time, attention, and money, we learned the hard way to build our own lifeboat.

  • http://olivetree.com Drew Haninger

    We have also found that ICRS is not as valuable as it once was in increasing retail sales rather a venue to meet authors, editors and content providers. However, the Christian trade would benefit having at least a toned-down Nelson presence since we are all in this industry together as Christians and business-men. Would not the licensing staff want to meet with licensees such as Olive Tree and others?

  • Randy C Greene

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,

    “You don’t know me and I don’t know you.” That is the thought that occurred to me after reading the announcement from Thomas Nelson that it would not be attending ICRS in July, and then going to your web page and reading your explanation. And now I do not expect that we will ever meet, at least here on earth. Why? Because I, along with my wife, own and operate one of those small independent Christian bookstores that does not sell enough Thomas Nelson books to merit an invitation to your sales meeting. And I do not anticipate that we will ever reach a point where we will get the invite. Certainly, selling enough Thomas Nelson to get earn an invite to your party is not on our list of goals for this year. But this decision by Thomas Nelson is just another in a trend that I have observed in Christian retail since my wife and I opened our store five years ago. A trend I call “conformance to the world”.

    I’m sure there was a lot of thought that went into this decision. I’m sure there are some time-tested business principles that support the decision. I would not be surprised if there was not some Scriptural support cited to justify this decision. (Perhaps something about trees not bearing fruit). But surely there must have been someone involved in the process of making this decision who suggested that this seems awfully elitist, exclusionary, even selfish to pass on an opportunity to be present at the largest gathering of Christian retailers, so instead you could wine and dine your top selling sacred and secular outlets. Surely someone must have suggested alternatives like reducing the size of your booth space or cutting back on other expenses. Those suggestions must have been rejected because Thomas Nelson deemed fellowship with a few key accounts more worthy of your time and money than mingling with the masses.

    Or could there be another reason why consideration to downsizing your display was rejected? I have found the competition among booksellers to earn the prize of the best display to be somewhat silly. But if Thomas Nelson were to reduce its size at the show and have only a meager presence one could imagine the buzz on the show floor that hard times must have come to Thomas Nelson. Was it pride that led Thomas Nelson to pick up its marbles and go home?

    Perhaps. But as I scan your blog page and see all the quotes from such spiritual luminaries as Jack Welch, Albert Einstein, George Patton and Wayne Gretsky it occurs to me that this decision was made because Thomas Nelson measures the merit of doing something by the bottom line, return for your dollar, bang for your buck. After all, money is the truest measure of success isn’t it? This quote found in your Q&A page convinces me that Thomas Nelson thinks the measure of best is measured solely by financial criteria. Am I wrong? We are the only publisher in America who has hosted its own conference for the sole purpose of making the best Christian retailers better. We paid all of their expenses. We tried to give without expecting anything in return. We had no show room. We didn’t ask for orders. We simply tried to inspire and educate, believing that if we invested in these retailers it would be good for them, good for the channel, and good for us.

    Forgive me for my cynicism, but you are willing to give without expecting anything in return but only for the retailers who gave the most sales to Thomas Nelson. How sacrificial? Or should I say superficial.

    If my rant here seems as if it is “bitter”, don’t worry I have my God and my gun to cling to as I live in my small town. But really, it would be easy to pass off my remarks as the tirade of a small store owner who is just annoyed that he didn’t get an invite to our party. But I hope I am not the only one who, rather than heap praise on Thomas Nelson for your courageous and visionary decision, instead speaks the truth in love, albeit sarcastic in tone. The Truth is Thomas Nelson made this decision for its own selfish profit-minded reasons because in Christian retail it is everyman for himself. (Now I definitely won’t get invited to your party.)

    Randy C. Greene

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Randy,

    Thank you for taking the time to reach out and express your concerns.

    Thomas Nelson does care about your business and we will continue to service your account via our telephone reps. We are very proud of our extensive field and telephone sales force. They do a wonderful job servicing the needs of our accounts, large and small.

    I understand that you are frustrated that you will not be able to meet with Thomas Nelson at ICRS. Unfortunately, we cannot justify the enormous expense of attending and exhibiting at this show. It just is not an effective use of our marketing dollars, especially in light of the fact that fewer and fewer retailers are attending the show.

    We will continue to attend smaller conferences like the Gathering of Church Bookstores each spring. We can exhibit at these shows for a fraction of the cost and spend the money we save developing great products and driving sell-through at the retail level.

    I am sorry that you think our only motive is financial. I could try to convince you otherwise, but, alas, it appears you have already come to a conclusion.

    May the Lord continue to bless you as you serve Him.

    Mike

  • http://www.beyondJEMS.wordpress.com Amy Halleran

    Mike: That is a wonderful response to a retailer’s clear frustration. Showing such class & repose is indicative of what I suspect to be your true character and Thomas Nelson’s philosopy of doing business.

    Quick critics often do not take the time to evaluate from multiple viewpoints. But they do allow you another opportunity to witness to the masses on the truth.

    PS. Like Randy, you don’t know me either, but I am a friend of Mindy’s and I really enjoy reading your blog.

  • http://www.rachelhauck.com Rachel Hauck

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve had a day to mull this over and while I have some of the same sentiments as Colleen and Ted, I also see what Nelson is trying to achieve.

    We live in a world where companies and people are less and less willing to change and take risks, break “out of the box.” It’s good to see Thomas Nelson is a pioneering company… still.

    I’m excited about the prospects of the Book Expo.

    I pray God will continue to give you and your team wisdom to lead Thomas Nelson and the publishing industry.

    Rachel

  • Randy C Greene

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,

    Whew! I must say I was relieved to read your response to my posting. I had feared that in addition to segregating itself from small independent Christian bookstores, Thomas Nelson was also abandoning church bookstores. Thank goodness Thomas Nelson sees the wisdom of attending the Gathering of Church Bookstores. Okay. Enough with the sarcasm.
    It has been suggested that my tirade was that of a frustrated retailer quick to criticize. But from where I sit, Christian retailers have been to slow to criticize when it is justified. Let me give an example of where my wife and I did not speak out when we should have. Last year we attended ICRS and were excited to learn of the release of Max Lucado’s new book 3:16. After we read the prerelease copy we both thought this is a book we will feature and strongly recommend in our store. We often have customers ask for recommendations for books on a particular topic. One such inquiry is whether we could recommend a book to give to a friend or relative that is searching and maybe ready to make a decision for Christ. We immediately recognized that 3:16 would be a great recommendation. In fact I have on several occasions done just that. Then my wife goes to Sam’s Club to buy supplies for our Friday night coffeehouse and sees 3:16 for a price well below what we can purchase it for. Does that lead to frustration? Sure. But it goes deeper than that. Based on a secular standard; dollars, units sold, market share, best seller listings are valid criteria for Thomas Nelson to consider as to how to distribute this book. But is a secular standard the only standard that matters? I submit that, like a pebble in a pond, the decision to allow a book to be sold in a warehouse chain in the same year it is published for a heavily discounted price has harmful consequences to the distribution of Christian resources. First, the questions I identified above that lead to a recommendation for purchase simply do not happen in a secular warehouse store. Second, a warehouse store does not carry the depth or breadth of Christian resources that could truly meet the needs of saints and seekers. (I recently had a guest in our store come in looking for a specific best selling inspirational book that he intended to give to his wife who was dealing with issues of depression. I suggested that instead he consider Beth Moore’s Get Out of That Pit. He sat down and reviewed the book and agreed it was exactly what he was looking for.) Finally, by allowing bargain basement pricing of a new release customers who shop in Sam’s Club and an independent Christian bookstore come to see the resources in the Christian bookstore as overpriced, even when we are heavily discounting the book off the retail price to be competitive. We have a gift supplier who distributes in the secular and sacred markets and insists that their products are not to be discounted in order to maintain their brand. The key is that they price the product for all outlets at a fair price. I recognize that books and gifts are two different creatures, but aren’t Christian books of infinitely greater value than what can be found on a pallet at Sam’s Club?

    The reason I felt compelled to write my first posting is that I objected to being marketed as to why a decision to not participate at all, in an industry wide event, was good for the industry. I do not begrudge Thomas Nelson the right to make decisions that are in its best interest. But I do object to being spun. Perhaps Thomas Nelson’s decision will lead CBA to do some introspection that will benefit the industry? Perhaps Thomas Nelson has voiced concerns in years past about problems with the trade show that went unheard? Perhaps Thomas Nelson thinks the future of selling of Christian books is not in the retailers who attend ICRS? Why not say that?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Randy,

    First of all, I don’t think I’m “spinning it.” Anyone who knows me, knows that I am pretty straight-forward. I tell it like I see it. If you disagree, fine. No problem. But I don’t think it advances the conversation, to attack my motives. As you said in your original post, you don’t know me.

    Yes, we did voice our concerns to CBA. Many publishers did. However, not enough changed from our perspective to warrant our continued involvement. That’s fine; I’m sure CBA had its reasons. But we have to account for what we do, not what it does. We decided there are better ways to use our time and money. It’s that simple.

    As I explained previously, we are calling on the top 600 accounts face-to-face, four times a year. We call on the next 600 accounts by phone 10–12 times a year. This accounts for 98% of our revenue in this channel. So why do we need to go to ICRS to see accounts we already see on a regular basis?

    Perhaps you could argue that we should go so that we can service the 2% we don’t see. Is that good stewardship? I don’t think so. The fact is that very few of these accounts can even afford to come to ICRS. The show is not only expensive for suppliers, it is very expensive for retailers, especially the smaller ones. We found that with a handful of exceptions, we were seeing retailers at ICRS that we were already seeing on a regular basis.

    In your original post, you suggested that our decision “seems awfully elitist, exclusionary, even selfish.” Again, I disagree. Every manager must assess how he allocates resources. For example, on a personal level, I give my family more time than my friends. I give my friends more time than I give acquaintances. And, I give acquaintances more time than I give strangers.

    It that “elitist, exclusionary, or selfish”? I don’t think so. It’s simply the recognition that my time is a finite resource, and I can’t allocate it equally and be a good steward. I must determine my priorities and then invest accordingly.

    But don’t you do the exact same thing yourself? In your store, do you give the exact same shelf space to every product category—bibles, books, music, and gifts? Do you give the same shelf space or merchandising focus to Max Lucado that you give to a first-time author? Do you give the exact same space to every publisher? Do you spend the exact same time with every sales rep? If you don’t, is that “elitist, exclusionary, or selfish”?

    Since you want to frame this in a spiritual context, let’s talk about Jesus. He had three years and more to do than he could possibly get done. But instead of spending the bulk of his time with the multitudes, he set his priorities. He focused first on his three closest disciples (i.e., Peter, James, and John), then the other nine disciples, then the seventy, then—and only then—on the multitudes. Did this make him “elitist, exclusionary, or selfish”?

    The same could be said of the Apostle Paul who told Timothy “the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Focusing on everyone in the exact same way is a strategy for failure. It’s true for me. And it’s true for you.

    With regard to Sam’s Club pricing, we cannot dictate pricing. It’s illegal. Moreover, we cannot control whether or not they price something as a “loss leader” in order to drive traffic, which clearly the clubs sometimes want to do. Even when they are not doing this, they operate on razor-thin margins. But just to be clear, we do not give them an unfair advantage. The discounts they buy at are available to any account that wants to buy in that volume.

    Also, for the sake of clarification, Christian retail is VERY important to us. It is still our single largest sales channel. In fact, it is twice as big as the next largest channel. We understand that and continue to allocate our resources accordingly. We have over 40 dedicated people servicing this channel. That is almost four times as much as any other channel.

    The Christian Retail Channel is and will continue to be an important priority. However, since our resources are finite, we must allocate them disproportionately to be successful in our mission. You may disagree with how we are running our business or with our decision regarding trade shows. Again, that’s fine. But in the end, after much internal and external dialog, we believe we have chosen the right strategy.

    Time will tell.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    Ages ago, for a couple of years, I managed a large Christian retail chain bookstore. And after that, I migrated into the Christian music industry as a promoter and manager. And now, I work with the church world.

    A consistent requirement I have seen in all three avenues (even though the retail and music industries are for profit, and churches are not) is regardless of your position in any of these industries–as a publisher, musician, store owner or pastor–we are ALL accountable for our actions to God. (Romans 3:19).

    God has placed Michael in a position of authority over a very significant company within Christian publishing. And as such, I am sure he does not take his position lightly. Regardless if TN is a for-profit business, I believe he looks at each dollar as something to be a steward of, knowing that his decisions have Kingdom impact.

    As a store owner, you have the same responsibility that can and will be expressed in different ways.

    And as an author, I realize how the decisions both a publisher and a store owner make will influence the audience God has entrusted me.

    And I realize within this His sovereignty. In both the seemingly small (which book do I face out?) and in the seemingly big decisions (not attending a convention).

    Please excuse the pep-rally talk, but we are ALL in this together. And that relationship requires providing an abundance of trust and grace.

    If we can accomplish that, I truly do believe we ALL will have the impact God has for us.

  • Bryan Brock

    Mike,
    Thanks so much for all the information you have posted about your decision. As one of your small retailers, I will certainly miss TN at ICRS and would have liked to have seen you at least attend with a smaller presence. While getting a phone call from a rep is fine – it just is not the same as seeing the marketing that you will be doing for books, talking face to face with sales reps and authors and previewing galleys.

    That said, I was wondering if you could answer a question? What led to the decision to spend money on CBE in Dallas rather than ICRS? It seems to me that the two decisions are related and that TN has decided CBE is where to invest time and money. If that is the case, then it would seem that TN has decided to invest more in direct to consumer avenues. Will you be selling books at CBE? How will attendees at CBE be directed to local bookstores if at all? What is your opinion of direct to consumer sales vs. retailer sales? Is this a direction TN is heading in?

    Again, thanks for the information you have posted!

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com Ron Edmondson

    This is an interesting post and the comments. I admire you Michael for your candid response. You could easily avoid all this by not blogging so openly. You obviously have a busy schedule and plenty to occupy your time. I appreciate your approachable nature.

    The world is changing. Every market and every organization is facing changes. In the church world we are having to reevaluate everything also. I blogged recently about church buildings and church services. If we are going to be in an ever-changing world then we must be ever-changing. Change is always hard. The best things in life, however, are never easy. Thanks for being willing to make hard decisions. Your example as a leader in the short time I’ve followed you has been a great encouragement to me.

  • Pingback: Why I Am (Still) Excited About Christian Retail | Michael Hyatt()

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  • Akila

    Dear Michael,

    A quick question – Do you consider trade shows as part of “customer acquision” (new customers) or “customer retention” (existing customers)?

    Thanks,
    Akila

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      In our industry, there aren’t too many new customers, so we definitely don’t see it as customer acquisition. But I think it depends on the company and the nature of the trade show.

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