Marketing Choreography (Better Known as Planning)
A good marketing strategy defines how you will enter new markets (as described in my blog "Marketing Strategy Rules"). The next step is to decide the best way to implement that strategy, and then organize your actions to facilitate implementation. That is the process of planning.
Do not think of the word plan as a noun -- a weighty document valued by page count. Instead, think of it as a verb: a functional, dynamic series of actions that keeps you moving ahead. It can simply be a checklist of actions you can implement to fulfill your strategies and reach your objectives.
Still, some publishers eschew planning for a variety of reasons. Here are the three questions I am most frequently asked about planning.
Why should I spend time planning instead of doing?
There are many positives to planning if you think of it as a process and regularly adjust your checklist to exploit opportunities as they arise. Here are a few benefits to consider.
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Make sure your first step is heading you in the right direction.
- Planning maximizes your efficiency and effectiveness as you implement your intended actions. Your checklist gives you an answer to the question, "What is the best use of my time right now?"
- As you implement your actions, other ideas come to mind. This may help you complete a task more effectively than how you originally intended.
- Planning makes budgeting more precise, as you get a good feel for the cost of each action.
- Planning helps you make the best use of your resources of time, money, and attitude as you utilize each more effectively.
- Planning forces you to consider the interaction among your prospects, products, place, pricing, and promotion decisions.
What form should a plan take?
The best form for your plan is one that is easy for you to use. It could simply be a brief description of your strategies with an action checklist following each. At the beginning of each month, make lists of things you will do during each of the forthcoming weeks. Then create an easy-to-use list of things to do at the beginning of each week.
Why plan if I don't know what is going to happen in the future?
Market chaos is probably the best reason to create your action list. As you perform your tasks, you come up with innovative ways to implement each based on your evolving circumstances. You cannot accurately predict every nuance or change, but your prepared alternatives can help you deal effectively with whatever happens.
Do not be deterred by the fog of the future. As you plan for the upcoming year, options become clearer. Your forecast of revenue and expenses for the next 12 months could be detailed monthly. Your plan for the following two to three years could list quarterly predictions. Each year your planning becomes easier as you fine tune your existing action plans based upon your relative progress and business environment.
The marketing-planning process is similar to using a kaleidoscope. There are a finite number of pieces, but you can create an infinite number of combinations simply by rearranging them. Manipulate available data until you feel comfortable with a given plan, and then take action. As you proceed, new information will be added to the mix and you can re-evaluate your direction and progress. But each turn will give you new ideas and bring you closer to your ultimate, long-term objectives.
 For a sample weekly planning guide go to www.bookapss.org/planpocketguide.doc. Print it out as a two-sided document and fold it in thirds to fit easily in you pocket or purse. Customize it to your circumstances and goals. Complete a new one every week as a constant reminder of things you can do.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."