Avoid the Christopher Columbus Method of Planning
Some independent publishers use what I like to refer to as the Christopher Columbus method of planning:
- They do not know where they are going.
- When they get there they do not know where they are.
- And when they return, they do not know where they have been.
This is not a good way to run a business.
You can avoid this situation by writing a strategic, functional plan to market your books. Your plan should identify the most promising business opportunities. It should clarify your goals and the procedures you will use to move toward them efficiently. And it should integrate all the elements of a complete promotional mix into a strategic program to launch coordinated action. For a view of a new planning formula, look through these “ize”s.
Recognize. A basic premise for successful marketing is to find a need and fill it. You do this by researching three major areas.
- First, discover what product opportunities exist.
- Second, learn the demographics and psychographics of your prospective customers.
- Finally, determine your potential market’s size, growth and competitive status in each segment in which you compete.
Crystallize. According to a proverb, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. But what if that step is in the wrong direction? Start your trek by deciding where you want to go. Write a specific objective and the date by which you will accomplish it.
Strategize. With your destination etched in your mind, begin to plan how you will reach it. Start by creating strategies in each of the Four Ps of marketing:
Should your product be a printed book, an ebook or a DVD? Will you market it to retailers through the traditional distributor/wholesaler channels (bricks and clicks) or directly to non-retail buyers in corporations, schools and associations? Answers to these questions will dictate your distribution network and discounts which in turn impact your pricing strategy. Finally, describe how you will coordinate the elements of your promotion mix by manipulating your advertising, publicity, sales promotion and personal selling strategies.
Capitalize. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of actions you can take to market your book. However, most publishers do not have unlimited funds to perform them all. Therefore, you have to create your financial statements to determine how to allocate your existing money as well as when and how much you will need to borrow.
Energize. Without action, planning only gives the illusion of progress. Now it is time to put your plan into action. Marketing a book successfully requires perpetual promotion and it is up to you to do it. Perform each step according to the way you planned it.
Scrutinize. Action is not synonymous with accomplishment. You may be busy promoting your book but you may not be getting closer to your goal. Periodically assess your progress and make any changes that are necessary. Know where you are at all times.
Realize. This planning formula organizes and directs your thinking and actions to best exploit available opportunities. It coordinates and unifies your efforts to make your budget more efficient. And it helps you regain your bearings and look back to see how far you have come.
Decide where you are and where you want to go. Then set your course for smooth sailing toward a new world of publishing success.