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Building a Sales & Marketing Strategy for a new Open Access Higher Education Portfolio

PCG is helping UCL Press to launch its new Publishing Programme – November 2022

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For the last two years, the Publishing Consultancy Group (PCG) has been delighted to deliver ongoing support to UCL Press.

UCL Press is recognised as one of the leading Open Access (OA) publishers in the world with a  mission to achieve maximum global reach for their publications across a range of key research interests, with a particular focus on Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

2020 saw the soft launch of a Higher Education (HE) OA textbook publishing programme –  a significant evolution in the UCL Press publishing portfolio.

UCL Press asked PCG to help them to develop a strategy which focussed on the:

  • Approaches traditional HE publishers employ when launching, selling and marketing textbook content.
  • ‘Go To Market’ considerations when launching an OA publishing programme.

PCG was able to provide advice from a team experienced in helping publishers rapidly and successfully penetrate traditional HE and developing OA markets through clear Sales, Marketing and Customer Engagement processes.  A team with proven success at growing revenues and improving market share.

This case study illustrates PCG’s ‘Programme of Work’ and demonstrates how we structured and delivered our response.

PCG’s Approach

PCG employed the step-by-step approach below:

Step 1 –  Audit.

We conducted an audit of UCL Press’s current performance against their stated goals to identify areas for development and the changes that would be required when adding a HE textbook programme to an OA scholarly publishing model. 

Step 2 –  Deliverables.

  • UK Higher Education Textbook Sector Insights Report – this report provided UCL with market intelligence, including emerging trends and how these impact content providers operating within the sector.
  • Traditional Higher Education Content Dissemination Survey – traditional HE textbook channels to market present a relatively complex supply network with multiple possible purchasing and access models for students and institutions.  Our report detailed Print, Digital, Library and International channels to market and the key operators within each.  Our research included in-depth interviews with leaders from various businesses working in this area to provide a fully up-to-date analysis of the sector’s direction of travel and their response to OA textbooks.
  • Traditional Higher Education Sales and Marketing Approaches Survey – our report introduced how traditional HE publishers operate Sales and Marketing functions within their respective businesses and how these could be adapted to an OA setting. The core approaches and respective strategies were captured for UCL Press and a set of recommendations were made.
  • Set of Open Access Market Launch Strategic Recommendations – we provided a detailed assessment of OA channels to market as identified by PCG,  the technical requirements of providers and any supplementary opportunities available, key competitors for OA textbooks, and the key principles of an OA textbook adoption model.

Detailed guidance for UCL Press was provided by PCG across:

  1. Strategic alignment between UCL Press and the University.
  2. Optimising resource & organisational structure.
  3. CVP, brand story and brand tools.
  4. Go to market readiness for each textbook.
  5. Social media strategy.
  6. Website customer data capture and funnel optimisation.
  7. Sales and marketing performance tracking.
  8. Aggregator agreements and set-up.
  9. Early prospecting to key potential partners.
  10. Maximise the value that UCL Press textbook’ authors can bring.


Step 3 –  Ongoing Partnership.  PCG and UCL Press have built a long-lasting and collaborative partnership.  PCG has continued to help UCL Press realise the full potential of this exciting initiative delivered through additional commissioned projects including:

  • Building the Foundations of Sales & Marketing – defining UCL Press’s sales and marketing requirements with a report recommending 10 key ‘foundation laying’ goals to deliver as part of its launch programme.  Achieving these 10 goals will position the team to be able to then deliver the Go To Market Plan, crafted by PCG.  PCG created a practical Go to Market Timeline and Checklist Tool to support the UCL team’s delivery.
  • Marketing enablement and brand presence management for eJournals – PCG have also provided strategic consulting, marketing workshops and marketing campaign execution support to another team within the Press; our work has spanned Launching New Products, Value Proposition Creation, Measuring Marketing Impact and Digital Marketing Strategy and Execution.

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Simon and PCG on our plans for developing an open-access textbook publishing programme.  Simon took the time to listen carefully to the brief and presented us with detailed plans for his approach for our input before proceeding. He brought in expert colleagues to cover particular areas of the work and scheduled regular catch-ups along the way.  This considered and thoughtful approach ensured that the reports we received covered everything we needed, and we now have detailed information and plans for a marketing and dissemination strategy that will help us as we develop our programme.  It was a pleasure to work with Simon and his colleagues and we would recommend PCG highly.”

Lara Speicher – Head of Publishing, UCL Press.

Other Happy PCG Clients

PCG has commissioned Amazon Optimisation projects for the below clients.  Some very kind words about our services can be found here:  Publishing Consultancy Group Testimonials.

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Kogan Page is a leading independent publisher of award-winning business books from global experts, academics and specialist professionals, helping organizations and individuals thrive in the evolving business world.

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CloudPublish was founded with a modern approach to design and technology, and a mission to help Publishers get their content to as many people as possible, as easily as possible – with impact.

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MetaComet Systems is the world’s most trusted name in royalty management for companies. We pioneer automated solutions that make it easy and fast for businesses to calculate and distribute their royalties.


The world’s first Oxbridge preparation school.

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The world’s most respected provider of global best practice. ITIL®, PRINCE2® and MSP®.


Blackwell UK, also known as Blackwell’s and Blackwell Group, is a British academic book retailer and library supply service owned by Waterstones. It was founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, after whom the chain is named, on Broad Street, Oxford.

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