3 S.R. Johannes: Get a clue and do a marketing plan

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Get a clue and do a marketing plan

Everyone needs a plan.

Even you writing "pantsers" need a plan for marketing. Throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks is a waste of time.

Here are some basic steps on how to get started on creating the right plan for your book?

1) What is your overall goal? 
This can be in the # of books you sell or the * of responses you get on a mailing? You book's ranking? You need to set a goal for yourself and your book. It gives you something to focus on and everything you do in your planning should target that goal.

2) What is your budget? 
You HAVE to invest in marketing. Even if your publishing house does. That does not mean you have to go bankrupt doing it. Maybe it is 10 or 20% of your signing bonus. Maybe it's a percentage of your sales a a self pubbed author. Whatever it is - use it wisely. You can be smart about it and there is a lot you can do on your own - making connections, ezine interviews, bookmarkers, business cards, stationary, articles, press releases, blogs Facebook and MySpace. Save your money for things that matter like high-quality brochures, professional web sites, and ads, book trailers, podcasts, phone calls, etc.

3) Who is your target audience(s)?
Think about your market. Don't just think of kids as by age. That is over 70 million people. You need to think in segments. There are many categories you can target with your marketing if you know how to break it down. Try and choose 3-5 categories. You will market to them differently.

For example: lets say you have a YA historical mystery book that is set in NYC in the 1920s. Your target audiences could be:

  • teens who love mysteries
  • regional NYC
  • regional where you live (always do this one - local places love local authors)
  • any group that promotes anything in the 20s - retro groups etc.
  • historical places (museums/societies/clubs ect)

4) What are the channels for each? How do you reach these targets?
Different markets use different channels to communicate. Think about that for each audience. It might be print advertising, Public Relations, publicity, direct marketing, direct mail, trade show exhibiting.

  • Create a excel spreadsheet that has a worksheet for each target audience you identify. 
  • Then Google, Google Google that subject (ie historical societies, history clubs, retro clubs, retro teens etc) and list all the contacts you can come up with. ezines, websites, clubs, organizations...anything you can find.
  • What is their basic need? How can YOU help THEM?
  • Then rank them 1 - 5 with 1 being the best mediums and 5 being the lowest.
  • Always pitch 
5) Where do you start?
Start with the most obvious target segment. first teens who love mysteries, then maybe your local area, then maybe historical places, then many NYC and so on. Make a place to dive into each segment sequentially.

6) Come up with a Pitch
Come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (what do you offer them.  Please do not call to discuss your book (zzzzzzzz). Think about what would benefit them! An article, a school visit to teach kids something, a discount. Whatever it is. Go into it offering benefits not asking for purchases. You may have to tailor it. ie mystery places - pitch a story on how to write mysteries. a history place - pitch teaching kids about writing on history or research etc. You can't pitch the same thing to everyone.

7) How can you contact all these resources? 
Start with the biggest group. Use one pitch. Contact personally - either by email or phone. Touch each contact at least 3 times (ie email, phone, and follow-up mailing). Take it in chunks so you don't spend 10 hours a day calling. Try and make 5 contacts a day at first and see how it goes. Change it up as you go to be sure it is effective. If you aren't getting any bites - regroup.

8) Which market/channel is effective? 
You will have some hits and some misses. Keep track of what works and what doesn't. Revise your plan every year.

Other tips
Create your own story to appeal to different markets and channels
If you ever write an article for any ezine or newsletter (etc), ALWAYS ask for a tagline. Promote your book in the tagline (XXX is author of. you can reach her at www.)
emarketing should be a huge part of your marketing plan
Follow up! Never assume the answer is No. Keep following up with contacts. At least 3 times. But don't be annoying.
Offer discounts and extras. Buy your books and sell them at a discount to beat bookstores. Or offer free bookmarks etc.
Partner with a charity or organization to cross-promote and give some proceeds to them
Cross promote with other authors on team tours.

Marketing plans are hard. Expect to fail some and succeed some. Don't be afraid to adjust as you go.

As always. feel free to ask questions in comments!


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Oh wow, this is amazing! The trick, as always, is actually taking these steps (as opposed to thinking about them, as I tend to do). Great stuff!

Shelley Sly said...

Thank you for this post! I've bookmarked it for later. I don't have a publishing contract and still can't decide which route of publishing is best for me, but I think this applies to everything. Very helpful!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am totally bookmarking all of these brilliant posts for the day I'm lucky enough to need them! LOL. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is awesome as usual. I'm going to add this to my file of marketing tips. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Great tips, Shelli! The one that sticks out most for me is:

"You can't pitch the same thing to everyone."

...so true and so important. :)

Valia Lind said...

Wow this article is fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing! I'm definitely putting this wesbite on a permanent reading list!! I might have questions in the future :-)

Kimberlee Turley said...

Great advice in this post!

I'm bookmarking this and will be referring to it frequently.

Joan said...

Great tips, Shelli. It's never too soon to prepare. We can't start yesterday. Your plan is on my bulletin board. Tomorrow, here we come!

Jean Oram said...

I like how you've broken down the audience. Very good point.

Do you ever find that three follow ups irritates people? I think I'd find that a bit much, personally. Two would be okay for sure as sometimes I'm still thinking about it.

I see in your comment on leaving a comment to leave your link: www.jeanoram.com/blog is my link BTW. (Have you considered adding the option for folks to add their name and URL under the choose an identity?)

khariel☎ said...

Appreciate the hard work and thought behind the post.
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Xander Lawson said...

They may be basic, but no marketing strategies would ever flourish without them. After all, what good is a house without a foundation?