Even the professionals get it wrong sometimes. A recent article featured in "MSN Money Magazine" provides a glimpse of several marketing schemes that went awry. Here were some of my favorites:
Doritos flavored Mountain Dew
Caffeine infused underwear that was supposed to promote weight loss.
Olive Garden's "Never Ending Pasta Deal". (For $100 the buyer would receive a card they could use for as much pasta, breadsticks and soft drinks as they could eat in a 7 week time frame.)
You may also remember the numerous desperate attempts by the now defunct Blockbuster Video Stores as they struggled to compete with the new kid on the block, the price-cutting, Redbox. I remember one of the marketing promotions was a "no penalty" return. It didn't matter if you kept the video for a day or three weeks at a time. You would incur no extra fee. Sounded great. But how do you make money when your product isn't returned and you have nothing to rent?
I still laugh at the problems that surrounded that promotion along with the three ideas listed above. From our vantage point the errors seem obvious. The problem is, however, that each of these ideas passed through several steps of approval up to top executives before they were rolled out to the public. Someone at a high level bought into it and thought these were good ideas.
And that's the rub. When it comes to marketing and promotion, you have to think outside the box, (which each of these did) but not so far outside that it becomes ridiculous. What sounds like a good idea to you in rolling out your book, your new product or your new message, may resonate with you in the heat of the moment or brainstorming session, but is it really a good idea? How can you be sure?
Test the Marketplace:
We've all seen the recent "Launch" products or "7 Steps to a Bestseller", templates, seminars and guidelines. There are definitely tips you can glean from these products and seminars, but again if they worked consistently, wouldn't EVERY book hit the best-seller list?
So what can YOU do to plan for success? Here are 3-4 recommended tips as you make your plan for 2015:
Create your marketing plan and be willing to invest both time and money into your launch. Think outside the box. Tie your release to a current event, a holiday promotion or idea that will increase your range of power. Discuss it with a business-savvy individual who is not afraid to be honest with you.
Launch well. Put together your marketing pieces in advance (your press release, your blog, your FB posts and ads and your tweets and release them at the same time. Make a splash not a trickle.
Adjust quickly. If you're not getting the results you want. Adjust what you are doing. Especially in the age of social media, if you aren't getting a good response, adjust your timing, your target audience, your message. Then relaunch. Keep working and adjusting until you see something take hold.
Invest. I understand that most authors have small budgets for their books. Some have no budgets. But if you truly believe you have a message worth writing down, then it should also be worth some monetary investment to do it with excellence that reflects in the finished product (more on this next week) as well as a marketing plan. Trust me that it is worth delaying the release of your product until you can do it well. Once a lackluster book is released with no marketing plan, it is done. You can't ever redeem that first time launch again. And you can never sell it to a publisher or literary agent after that because your lack of results will seal your fate.
Be consistent. Keep writing, promoting, marketing, "liking" and sharing. If you're not doing something daily, who else will?
Build your Resume. It's never been easier to get published than it is in today's electronic age. After you become familiar with a specific e-zine, pick an excerpt from your book that you believe will connect with their audience, create a short 1000 word article, include a short bio with a link back to your website and submit it. (Guidelines for submission are almost always available on the website. Follow them.) Be willing to adjust and submit again, and again to various outlets if need be, until it is accepted.
As we go into 2015, ask yourself, "Were you content with your results from 2014?" If not then remember that failing to plan, is planning to fail. Take time to consult and create a plan that will allow your message to shine, introduce your work to a new audience and take off.