Strategy for Growth

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “You can’t make a living selling beer tasting notebooks,” then let me tell you, I have some news for you: You’re right! Actually, there is oh so much more to Barrel Aged Books than just that. So what is my plan? First, let’s look at the main three product differentiation I plan to have with The Ultimate Beer Journal and it’s associated properties:

  • Elegant and attractive design (i.e. the included infographics)
  • Refillable pages (via the tcoils add-on)
  • Eco-friendly products (recycled, earth friendly, locally sourced materials)
  • Region & city specific versions (starting with Chicago)
  • Gamification & micro-rewards (in the regional books)

Within the realm of beer journals, this gives me plenty of room to expand the business already. I can continue to refine and develop the design elements and sell them as independent properties: posters, postcards, etc. I can design cool page concepts or upgraded versions of pages to be refilled.

Regional Expansion

Clearly the most opportunity lies in the region specific versions of the book. There are over 3500 breweries in the U.S. and another 2,000 opening in the next few years. The Chicago Beer Journal only includes about 50-60 breweries. That leaves a lot of regions unexplored if I expand at an average of 50-60 breweries per region. We’re talking 70+ regions. Let’s say there are only 50 regions. And let’s say we only make $200 in sponsorship “profit” per sponsor per 1,000 books released. Now let’s say we only get a total of 10 sponsors per book. And let’s say we only sell an average of 2,000 books per year. Oh, and our profit per book is only $2. Those numbers are all pretty conservative and well below what my goals would be if I were to expand into 50 regions. Well, that adds up to $200,000 in profit per year. Not a shabby sum of money, right?

For the immediate future, my initial growth plans for The Ultimate Beer Journal are to expand it into multiple regions – and rapidly. After all, if this concept does prove itself well, others are going to be hot on my heels to replicate it. This means I need to have a plan for growth from the very beginning that includes hiring people, securing additional capital funding for expansions, and appropriately managing my own time to oversee the operation.

And I have some aggressive goals: My goal for 2015 is to expand into 10 new regions by immediately leveraging every dime of profits for expansion. Going into 2016 I would like to have The Ultimate Beer Journal launching in 25 new regions (that is two per month, by the way), and in 2017 I would like to max out regional expansion. That is very aggressive and rapid growth you might say. But I believe this is obtainable because I am developing a system from the beginning that can easily apply the “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle if I simply hire and teach it to other motivated individuals. In other words, regional expansion of The Ultimate Beer Journal won’t rely on my own ingenuity and oversight. It is something I can, in a way, franchise out to others who wouldn’t mind a share in the revenues.

New Book Topics

Here is where things get fun. Hopefully by now you’ve realized that I don’t want to just publish books about beer. I could go the route of some of my competitors and do tasting books about other food and drink (wine, cigars, coffee, cheese, whisky, etc.). But, let’s look back at what my areas of product differentiation are: design, refillable pages, eco-friendly, region specific books, and gamification. Can I really do a region specific book about coffee in the United States? Maybe I could do one about wine, but pretty much all of the wines in the U.S. are grown in the same few regions. I’m not opposed to doing general tasting books for these products – and I may do them. I’m just not excited about it. I don’t see that as the real growth opportunity.

If I want to leverage my product differentiation for growth and profit I’m going to have to look into new areas. And I am going to do what I did for the first product idea: Look at my own needs.

I actually have about seven ideas for books related to food and drink that you may like. I am going to share just one with you: A recipe book. Not just a recipe book, a recipe system. Now, there are hundreds of recipe books out there. There are dozens of recipe writing books and systems out there. So, if I am going to compete in this area I am going to have to leverage the design, refillable aspects, eco-friendliness, regional aspects, and gamification of this book to a strong advantage. And I am already sketching out some ideas and looking for collaborators that would do just that: offer unique and useful selling points that would make this recipe book the ULTIMATE Recipe Book. And, how cool would it be to have some regional versions baked in along the way (along with some cool games and “quests” for baking and cooking that challenged book owners to try new recipes)?

So, now you don’t have to wonder anymore. That is where I would like to see things go with Barrel Aged Books someday. There is a lot of room for growth. And I plan on relentlessly pursuing every opportunity. And hopefully, I can bring in enough income to create a few jobs along the way (for those of you wondering, I subscribe to the idea of employing as many people as your profit allows, not as few as your production needs call for). And maybe, if I’m lucky, if I’m smart, and if I’m tenacious, Barrel Aged Books will become its own sort of mini publishing empire.

Coming up next: We’re Making a Movie! – What on earth am I doing investing $1000 into a three minute promo video and how is that going to help me sell books?