Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Seekerville Welcomes Guest Blogger Sarah Ladd
Your First Marketing Plan: Why Every New Author Needs One and How to Get Started
You have a website. You post to Facebook. You tweet. You even have a one sheet and a tag line.
But…do you have a plan?
If you answered yes to that question, GREAT!
If you answered no, then pull up a chair and grab a cup of java. I have some information that might help you in your writing career.
So, you may be asking yourself the following question: If I am not published, why do I need to worry about marketing? The answer is very simple: You need to establish your brand.
Now, if you ask ten different marketing professionals what a brand is, you will likely get ten different answers. From my ten-plus years in the marketing field, I define an author’s brand as their “reputation” in the marketplace. Many new authors make the mistake of believing that their brand is their tagline or the way their website looks. But dig deeper. What are other writers saying about your work? What do agents think when they hear your name?
Believe it or not, you can influence the answers to these questions, even before you are published. And how do you do that? You need to execute a well-developed marketing plan!
So, let’s get started.
Think of your marketing plan as your roadmap to establishing your brand. I believe there are eight basic components that must be included in every basic marketing plan. You can add elements as needed, but the points outlined below will get you headed in the right direction.
#1: Current Situation Analysis
In order to decide where you want to go with your marketing, you must first have a clear understanding of where you are now. Write two or three sentences about your current marketing initiatives. Do you have a blog? Do you post to Facebook? Do you tweet? Outlining all of your current marketing and communications initiatives will help you identify what areas are already working and in which areas you need to grow.
#2: Marketing Plan Objectives
Spend a few minutes thinking about what you want your marketing to do for you. Do you want to attract an agent? Do you want to increase your exposure through guest blogging? Do you want to broaden your networking base by increasing the number of Facebook friends you have? Write down at least three.
#3: Measurable Outcomes
How will you know if you are making progress towards your marketing objectives? In order to help define marketing success, you need to assign a numerical measure to each objective … even if you are just getting started. Here’s why: Let’s say one of your marketing objectives is to broaden your networking base by increasing the number of your Facebook followers. That’s great, but in order to gauge success, you need a numerical goal. So a measurable outcome could be “increase my Facebook followers by 50 people in six months.” When you tie a number to an objective, you now have a goal and a timeline. At the end of six months you will know whether or not you have been successful and then, if necessary, you can reevaluate your strategies.
#4: Who’s Your Audience?
Your marketing messaging must be personal and relevant in order to have maximum impact, and having a clearly defined audience is the first step. Jot down your primary and secondary audiences. Your audiences can be broad or narrow: other Christian writers, potential readers, agents, etc. This may seem like a trivial step, but it will help you as you define marketing strategies and tactics in #8.
#5: Find Your Focus
What are three things you want the audiences you identified in #4 to know about you? Write those down. They can be as simple as adjectives that describe your writing or as complex as mission statements. This is also the appropriate time to think about your tagline. The key messages/concepts you identify in this step will lay the framework for the messaging you use in your marketing initiatives.
Ah, money. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your marketing plan up and running, but you will probably need to spend a little. At minimum, you will probably need to pay a website hosting fee and have business cards printed to distribute at writing events. Keep track of these expenditures. Doing so will help you evaluate what you have done in the past and decide which expenditures have been effective.
#7: Timeline & Marketing Editorial Calendar
Dedicate a calendar specifically to your professional marketing. When and how often are you going to post to Facebook? When are you guest blogging? When are you going to update your website? Not only will a marketing calendar keep your communication initiatives from falling through the cracks, but it will also help you establish your marketing editorial calendar.
#8: Overarching Strategies and Marketing Tactics
This is the fun part, folks. This is where the rubber meets the marketing road. Think of “overarching strategies” as marketing buckets or channels. These strategies should be broad. Examples of overarching strategies could be “utilize social media to increase author awareness” or “use writing organization memberships to strengthen writing network” or “develop print collateral to reinforce author brand”.
A marketing tactic is the specific action you take to support each strategy. For example, if your strategy is to “utilize social media to increase your author awareness,” then the tactics could be (1) post to Facebook at least three times a week, (2) comment on at least five other author’s posts, and (3) friend at least two new people a week, (4) tweet twice a week, etc. Try to have at least three tactics to support each strategy. (BONUS TIP: Now that you know how often you will need to perform a tactic to support your overarching strategy, you can plan ahead and mark those dates in your editorial calendar. See how they are all related?)
This all may sound like a lot, but don’t worry. You may need to think about these concepts/questions for a few days or weeks, and that is okay. Keep in mind that your marketing plan will change and grow as you move through the different stages of your writing career. I have a download that may help you on your marketing journey. Visit my website at www.sarahladd.com and go to the resources page to help you get your marketing plan started on the right foot.
In parting, I have a few “rules” I want to leave you with:
Keep it consistent.
One of the worst things you can do to your marketing reputation is to be inconsistent. Don’t tweet five times in one week and then not tweet for three weeks. This is when your editorial marketing calendar/timeline will help you.
Keep it current.
Your marketing plan is not a “one and done” document. Visit your marketing plan every few months. What is working? What isn’t? What needs to be tweaked? It’s okay to change your goals. Remember – your marketing plan is a working document and will continue to develop as your writing career grows.
Keep it separate.
This rule applies mostly to social media, especially Facebook. Consider having an author page instead of using your personal page for both personal and professional updates. Remember … if social media is one of your overarching marketing strategies, then you are using it to help establish your brand, your “reputation” in the professional marketplace. Be intentional with your posts.
Thanks for letting me visit with you all today. Best of luck in your writing … and in your marketing endeavors!
Sarah Ladd lives in Indiana and shares her life with her amazing husband and sweet daughter. She had more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts. Sarah writes historical romance. Recently, her book Heiress of Winterwood won the Historical Romance category of the 2011 Genesis Contest and was the overall winner for the 2011 Touched by Love contest.
In honor of Sarah's visit with us, Seekerville is giving away a Seekerville surprise book package to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.