All authors need to do some form of marketing to get their books out there. But there’s a difference between generic marketing and strategic marketing for authors. Here’s what strategic marketing is, why it’s important, and how authors can put together a strategic marketing plan for their unique needs.
What Is Strategic Marketing and Why Should I Use It?
According to BusinessDictionary.com, strategic marketing is “Identification of one or more sustainable competitive advantages a firm has in the markets it serves (or intends to serve), and allocation of resources to exploit them.”
As its name implies, strategic marketing means marketing with thought and purpose. By mapping out your marketing plans early, and having clear and consistent goals related to it, you can figure out how to allot your time and money appropriately. You can make sure your marketing work is always laddering up to a marketing goal. You can prevent yourself from getting pulled off track on opportunities that come your way but that may be outside your target.
Doing all of this starts by putting together a strategic marketing plan.
What Goes Into a Strategic Marketing Plan?
All types of businesses put together strategic marketing plans. According to TheBalance.com, these are the five steps that go into a strategic marketing plan for any business.
- Company Positioning (Where are you now? What hold do you have on your field?)
- Goals and Strategies (What would you consider a success? Where do you want to go?)
- Market Opportunities (What markets are out there for you to target? Who is already reaching those markets?)
- Target Market Defined (What does that market want? How can you differentiate yourself from what else is out there?)
- Marketing Budget (How much do you have to invest in your marketing — both in terms of money and manpower?)
How Do We Turn This Strategic Marketing Plan Into Strategic Marketing for Authors?
Let’s translate those five pieces above into author speak. Here are questions for you to ask yourself as you put this plan together.
1. Author Positioning
- Are you already known by some in your field?
- Do you have relationships with publishers, agents, booksellers, etc…
- Do you have a blog that people follow already? An email list?
2. Goals and Strategies
- Is your primary goal for your first book to be a bestseller?
- Do you plan to publish future books and build an audience for those?
- Do you want to build a platform to get yourself out there as an author, speaker, coach, etc…?
3. Market Opportunities
- Who does your book speak to? What age/race/gender?
- Are there platforms that already speak to these audiences?
- Who do you know that can reach them?
4. Target Market Defined
- What research is out there about your target market and what they’re looking for?
- How can you meet their needs in a way that no one else currently is?
5. Marketing Budget
- How much money do you have to spend on marketing?
- How much time do you have to spend on marketing?
- What resources are at your disposal to help?
So What Would Strategic Marketing for Authors Look Like?
I’m going to create an example here. Obviously, you would customize this for yourself based on your book.
But for the sake of this exercise, let’s say you’re writing a self-help book for middle-aged people looking to reinvent themselves. You might put together a strategic marketing plan that has an outline sort of like this.
Target Market: Men and women ages 45-55
I want to….
- Become a successful author, speaker and life coach for this audience
- Sell 100,000 copies of the first book
- Build enough of an email list to sell future books and get other work speaking/coaching on the site
Ways to reach that audience:
- This age bracket spends a lot of time on Facebook, so creating a Facebook presence is essential.
- A formal author website with a blog is also important for me. Many people are actively searching for information on reinventing themselves, and having an active blog can drive that traffic to my site and lead to book sales and list building.
- This age group also includes some empty nesters or divorcees who join book clubs and community groups, so I should invest some time in off-line efforts in these areas.
- This age group is also generally avid readers of publications like HuffPost, so I will reach out to HuffPost and similar organizations about potentially becoming a regular blogger.
- Many of the women in this age group spend time on GoodReads, so I should create a profile there.
Meeting their needs:
This book is different from any other services out there that help with reinventing yourself because XYZ. Research shows that people in this situation really want help with X, but everything else that’s out there is only doing Y. I need to brand myself and my book as the only resource that meets this particular need. So I need a tagline on my website that clearly spells out what makes me and my book unique. And that should also be on my business card, and part of my elevator pitch.
I have about $3,000 available to invest in marketing. Based on the information above, I will divide it as follows:
- $1,000 for author website development
- $500 on Facebook ads
- $500 on Google ads
- $1,000 on a press kit/press release
I also only want to spend five hours a week on marketing. With that in mind, I will:
- Spend one hour a week blogging (both on my site and on other sites that reach my target audience)
- Spend one hour a week on scheduling Facebook posts and responding to Facebook comments
- Spend one hour a week on GoodReads (starting conversations, joining groups, etc…)
- Spend one hour a week reaching out to locals in my community that might have book groups, support groups, etc…
- Leave my last hour per week for any miscellaneous marketing needs that may come up
The End Goal of Your “Strategic Marketing for Authors” Plan
By mapping out what your needs and goals are, and how you can position yourself to reach your target audience, you can make sure all your time, effort and money are being distributed appropriately. For example, after putting this marketing plan together, you know that Twitter, for example, is not a good place to invest your time and money. Having this mapped out and ready will prevent you from making costly marketing mistakes in the future.