How to Create Marketing Plans
by Tom Woll
In the realm of business, marketing differs from sales because it concentrates on a multidirectional push–pull effort that takes customers’ needs into account and aims to fulfill those needs. Sales, on the other hand, concentrates on pushing products into stores; it is more one-dimensional in terms of direction and effort.
Many excellent titles cover book marketing and offer marketing ideas. My premise—
and I say this categorically—is that you can never do too much marketing on behalf
of a book. You can spend too much money on marketing, but you can never do too much of it.
Many publishers, both large and small, find it helpful to set targets for their marketing efforts. These targets should be carefully defined in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. For instance, publishers’ targets might include completing a certain number of phone calls to journalists and/or reviewers every day; sending out one feature story each week;blogging for half an hour each day and otherwise using the Internet to stimulate interest and demand on a set schedule. Using such targets assures consistency in marketing efforts and builds overall marketing momentum and visibility, both for a particular book and for a publisher’s whole program. It’s a strategy that makes sense and that every publisher should use.
Marketing costs—including the expenses entailed by selling and promotion—should amount to about 13 to 16 percent of net sales. This is in accord with generally accepted percentages at most profitable publishing companies.
The Plan’s Parts
Once you’ve committed to a consistent marketing effort, you must plan and budget for it. In addition, you must make sure that everyone on staff who needs to know what marketing plans are can find the information quickly.
I recommend creating a marketing plan for every book. The plan should include:
• a marketing budget
• sales goals for years one and two
• specific marketing targets for this book
• marketing strategy for the book
• publicity strategy for the book, with specifics about:
– bound galleys/advance review copies (ARCs) for prepublication reviewers
– review copies for print-on-paper and/or electronic editions
– publicity releases
– blogs related to your book’s subject
– author tours and interviews
– feature story coverage
– press parties; publication parties and other events
• information from author questionnaires
• book exhibit plans
• advertising plans
• plans for author seminars, lectures, speaking engagements
• Internet strategy including:
– video trailer plans
– social networking plans
– a specific Web site or specific Web pages for the book
• in-store promotion plans
• library promotion plans
• wholesaler promotion plans
• textbook and/or school adoption plans, if applicable
• plans for special sales (aka nontraditional sales) prospects in outlets such as
hardware stores, lawn and garden shops, and health food stores
• plans for subrights sales prospects
• plans for premium sales prospects
• plans for mail order/catalog sales prospects
• plans for Internet retailer sales prospects
• other plans
As you can see from the length of this list, sales and marketing issues are numerous, and they must be addressed as early in the publishing cycle as possible. Money you spend that doesn’t result in a coordinated plan and the effective sale of books will be squandered.
Focusing the marketing plan is critical to success. If you’ve clearly defined your editorial niche, then the marketing you do for one book should help the marketing you do for others on your list. For example, if you are selling gardening books, the media lists and Internet sites you use to generate publicity for one gardening book can be used for others you are publishing, which saves time and effort. If you have done a successful in-store promotion on one book with certain accounts, those accounts will be more inclined to do promotions with you on another book in the same subject area. If you do your research and compile a list of mail order catalogs and Internet vendors for one title and you are successful with some of them,you will probably be welcome to contact these buyers again about subsequent books of a similar nature.
While all these things can be accomplished with a variety of books on eclectic subjects, focusing saves time, money, and energy. I highly recommend it.
Tom Woll is president of Cross River Publishing Consultants in Katonah, NY, which provides a full range of consulting services to publishers of all sizes. He can be reached at 914/232-6708 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is derived from the fourth edition of his book Publishing for Profit. To order, call 800/888-4741 or visit chicagoreviewpress.com.