Building a following is hard work. Anyone who says else wise is either lying or Taylor Swift. Having studied marketing in graduate school and worked several years in the Dell marketing department, I’ll be the first to tell you marketing is no easy feat.
There are, however, more effective ways to build a following. In this post, I’ll teach you how to craft a marketing strategy for your book.
The best time to start marketing your book is now—whatever stage that may be for you. It doesn’t matter if you only have a wisp of an outline or just secured the same agent as J.K. Rowling. The sooner you start, the better with before publication being best.
Let’s start with the big picture.
What’s your strategy?
Remember freshman marketing 101?
Neither do I. I think the professor might have been impeccably dressed in a sweater vest but that’s about it.
Fortunately, I had graduate school to remind me. While there are hundreds of marketing tools I could geek out over, I think by the end of the analysis you’d be passed out with your hands around your fourth failed cup of coffee. So if I had to pick one tool it would be… drum roll…the Five Ps!
Don’t remember what the Five Ps are?
No problem. They are: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, and PARTY! Ok, so maybe the last was added by me. When you’re done with your marketing strategy you should definitely find a way to celebrate though.
These are all valuable things to consider at different stages of your marketing plan. For now, let’s focus on placement and promotion. But first, let’s take care of some housekeeping.
What’s your budget?
Not the B word! I can hear some of you moaning. Isn’t the budget supposed to be managed by my nonexistent financial planner or spouse?
Nope. This must be managed by the strategic marketing director—aka you.
Before you can do anything, you need to know what you realistically can spend. As much fun as getting an astronaut to plummet to earth with a go pro and your book in hand would be, that would probably wipe your savings…and then some.
Don’t have a budget? That’s ok.
There are lots of ways to do things for cheap to free. Just make sure you go into your planning knowing exactly how much you’re willing to spend.
Once you have your budget locked down, it’s time to get to work. All of your strategy will stem from how you answer this question.
No, you cannot answer “everyone.”
I know, your book is going to be a best seller and everyone will want to read it. That’s awesome! In the meantime, there’s a budget that will only go so far. You’re going to have to select the type of individuals most likely to buy your book and market to them only.
Take some time really thinking about who your readers are. What are they like? Where do they go? What do they spend time and money on? The deeper the understanding you have of your readers, the clearer the next steps will be.
What are your goals?
At Dell, I get to work on forming part of our digital strategy. One big thing I’ve learned from my experience is how easy it is to skip this step and how devastating the consequences can be.
Hopefully you’ve heard of SMART goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time specific. When you set goals, make sure they meet all of these criteria. Now let’s take a look at the 2 Ps we talked about earlier and apply SMART goals to them.
Placement in this context means where you’re going to be selling your book.
Will this be available on Kindle? Audible? Will you be using CreateSpace? Will you have hardback copies? Are you trying to get your book into physical bookstores? Basically, where will people go to buy your book?
This ties back to your target audience. Based on what you know about your readers, where would be the best place to offer your book? Are they in the gym working out? Would an audio book be best for them? Are they tweens on vacation with their iPad?
Make sure you’re not just selecting places to offer your book at random. Eventually it might make sense to offer it on all platforms but starting off, and with limited budget, select the most important ones. Once you’ve thought about all these questions you can start setting goals for yourself.
Promotion in this context is going to be everything from social media, to paid campaigns, to physical posters, or attending events. We’ll talk more later about how to do some of these promotional events successfully. For now, decide which ones are going to be key for your book based on what you know about your readers.
“Marketing success is about engaging your customers where they want to be engaged, providing a dialogue, and finding ways to deliver the information and services they need in the way they want to consume them.” Carol Wolicki, VP of marketing at RedPoint Global.
I love this quote because Carol nails it on the head. Everything is about the customer. Your marketing strategy should revolved around them. What’s best for them? What sort of promotions will appeal to them? Everything stems from that. Including your goals. Finally…
How will you track and measure success?
Not evaluating your success is like getting up in the morning and going into work without checking the mirror. Hair sticking up at odd angles? Tooth paste all over your chin? You’ll never know! Same goes for your marketing strategy. Without measuring success, you’ll never know if what you’re doing is working or crazy off.
How do you track your success? First of all, by regularly taking a quick peek at your goals. Does it look like you’re going to be able to reach them? If not, why not? What can you change?
Some more important questions to ask are:
- How often will you measure success?
- What will you be measuring?
- How often will you measure it?
Know the answers to these questions and make sure you follow through on what needs to be done. That’s the only way you’re going to stay on track and meet your goals.
Candace signing off after a road trip from Oklahoma City to Austin.