In my previous two articles (Six Rules for Creating a Solid Book Marketing Strategy and Book Marketing Choreography) I described how to create marketing strategies and then organize your actions into a functional plan. The next step on your path to book-marketing success is to do everything you planned to do (implement).
Your preparation thus far is analogous to what tracks are to a train. They keep the train heading towards its destination but they do not propel it forward. Similarly, your strategies and plan are your GPS that keep you on track to reach your objectives, but it is up to you to perform the actions, creating the power for forward motion.
Implement a synergistic mix of actions
Synchronize your efforts so all parts of your plan — product, pricing, distribution and promotion – work together to enhance your results.
- Product actions. Publish your content in the form sought by your target readers. This could be a printed book, an ebook, a booklet or other form.
- Pricing actions. Based on your pricing strategy (a high, skimming price or a low, penetration price) price each product form for optimum profitability.
- Distribution actions. There are two basic ways to reach your target buyers; consider using both paths. One is retail. This requires a network of distributors and/or wholesalers. Submit your proposal to the potential distribution partners best suited to your target segments (bookstores, libraries, discount stores, gift shops, supermarkets). Books sold through retailers are typically returnable. The other course is selling directly to buyers in corporations, associations, schools and government agencies. Find your prospective buyers, prioritize them and begin the selling process. These sales are generally non-returnable.
- Promotion actions. Tailor a unique marketing approach to each segment. For example, support retail sales using a coordinated schedule of media appearances, social networking, advertising, reviews, sales promotion and other mass-marketing techniques. Non-retail selling is more targeted. Perform niche marketing with direct mail (email or snail mail), trade shows, telephone marketing and face-to-face selling.
Recognize that some promotion creates exposure of your book (media appearances, publicity) and some generate sales (direct marketing, personal selling). In addition, some have short-term impact (library tours, store events) while others are effective over the long term (social media, blogging, networking). Balance your promotion portfolio with actions that expose prospective buyers to your message with those that deliver sales over the long run.
Perform within your budget
View the money you spend on promotion as an investment, not an expense. If you spend $X0,000 promoting your books, expect a return greater than that amount ($XY,000). Two factors influence that return.
- Mix free promotional actions with those that have higher out-of-pocket costs. Examples of free tools are participating in discussion groups, social media, publicity, testimonials, blogging, media appearances and niche reviews. Low-cost devices include awards, paid reviews, podcasts, sales promotion, sales literature and launch parties. Higher-cost promotional tools include your website, a trailer, utilizing the services of a publicist, participating in trade shows, media training and niche advertising. Balance your budget by including actions in each category.
- Choose those promotional tools that give you the best return on your investment. But cost should not be the sole criterion against which you evaluate your return. From my experience, some promotional actions have a low return on the time and money expended. Examples are store events, podcasts, awards, media tours and store events. Others have a higher ROI. In this category I include sponsorships, media training, direct marketing, editing, cover design and prospecting for people who can buy in large, non-returnable quantities. Still others have a cumulative impact and are difficult to measure their ROI in the short term. These include networking, publicity, media appearances, articles and trade shows.
You may not have the time, skill or desire to perform some of these actions. If that is the case, hire people who can do certain activities for you. Utilize the expertise of people who can implement some actions for you and do the rest yourself.
Regardless of who does it, evaluate all actions to measure their impact on your goals. If some are not performing to expectations, change them. If they are having a positive impact on your sales, stay the course. How to do that? I’ll show you in the fourth and final article in this series.
This is the third in a four part series on book marketing. The first post appeared on October 14, 2014 and outlined Six Rules for Creating a Solid Book Marketing Strategy. The second post on October 28, 2014, talked about Book Marketing Choreography. Look for the fourth post, The Measure of Marketing, the week November 24, 2014.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (formerly SPAN) and host of the APSS Book Selling University. He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books.