Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Whether or not you have a book to sell right now, you probably have reason to build a platform and gather a “tribe.” Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole team of people with whom to brainstorm, exchange ideas, discuss successes and failures, and share encouragement?
You can have your own marketing team — and it’s simpler than you might think.
Most of you are familiar with the concept of a writers’ group or critique group, even if you’re not part of one. Your marketing team works the same way. You gather a small group of individuals who meet regularly to discuss each others’ projects, but from a marketing standpoint rather than focusing on the writing.
Here are some ideas for creating this kind of group:
1. Keep the group small and manageable — I suggest 3 to 8 people.
2. Hold your meetings online using a video-chat platform such as Google+ or Skype.
3. Start by inviting one or two people to join you. Get it set up and have a few meetings before deciding whether to invite more members.
4. Be extremely selective in choosing your group members. Once you invite someone to join, it would be awkward to disinvite them.
5. Gather people who are creative, proactive, good at sharing ideas, and are a fit personality-wise.
6. Discuss what your group’s goals will be, and what you’d like to accomplish in your meetings.
7. Find ways to help each other in concrete ways, beyond simply sharing ideas. Allow members to operate in their areas of strength.
8. Create an agenda for each meeting. Google docs is helpful for this, since each member can access it and add to it.
9. It’s best if your group has a leader; if you don’t have one, designate a member to lead each meeting.
10. Let everyone suggest topics for future discussion.
11. Here are some meeting ideas to get you started:
- Have each person bring one creative marketing idea they’ve heard about or used recently.
- Designate a topic to explore in-depth (for example, “How to get the most out of Goodreads”) and have each person be prepared to discuss one aspect.
- Have a meeting dedicated to goal setting for each member, or have everyone bring a list of short and long term goals for discussion.
- Brainstorm marketing ideas for one person’s specific project or current need.
12. Use an online scheduling tool, since setting up meetings with four or more people can be challenging. Doodle.com works great.
What would be some advantages of having a team like this? What might be the pitfalls? Do you belong to any sort of similar group?
Great post, Rachelle. I’m sure you’ve started a lot of thinking and planning, and have planted the seeds of success.
* The only thing I’d add is that any specific project should have a hard, do-not-exceed budget, and that suggestions should have an estimated cost associated with them.
Good point about the budget, Andrew. Many might go into it with no thought whatsoever to the $$$.
Love this. When my business partner and I started our business, we knew we had a good product but we needed to get it out there. Everywhere we turned, people in our industry were all marketing themselves the same. We decided to do things a little different but wanted to make sense of what we were doing. We learned from our failures and invested heavily in the areas that worked. We are now up to 32 full time employees and have multiple contractors. One of the greatest marketing tools you can have is your product. If you have spent a ton of time and money marketing your product and haven’t developed customer base (tribe) you might want to spend a little more time making your product marketable. Just my two cents….Jason
More than two cents, Jason . . . thanks for your two grand.
Very very true… this is why we often tell authors, “Your book is your best marketing tool.” Like you said, work hard on the product first. Make it the best it can be. Then marketing it becomes so much easier.
This is such a great idea! One big advantage is that each member of the group brings their unique perspective into the mix. They can share ideas other members may not have thought of.
*I’m not a member of a group like this, but I hope one day, I can be a part of one.
You should start one, Jeanne. 🙂
This is a great idea. Two heads are better than one. What you don’t know, I might. I’m not part of a group like this either. But like Jeanne, one day I hope to be. What stage of the writing career would you recommend forming a group like this? I keep thinking things like this don’t apply to me much since I don’t have an agent.
It’s definitely important for writers to focus on their writing, primarily, when they’re unpublished and even unagented. But if you have the time, it’s never too soon to form a group that can help you grow a following and handle social media better.
Damon J. Gray
If I were forced to choose between one highly-paid, expert marketeer, and a group of four or five unpaid, but motivated novices, I’d choose the latter. I suspect all of us have seen what happens when such a group begins a discussion that evolves into a wild brainstorming session. The ideas begin flowing like water over Niagara Falls. There is tremendous value in what happens as one idea spawns another, and creativity takes over the room.
I love learning about new tools like Doodle. Never heard of it, Thanks for that tip Rachelle.
A couple ore thoughts –
* You can use the acrostic ‘GIVE’ to cover a marketing plan’s life:
G – GENERATE – Generate the most complete plan possible, down to the smallest details. It’s more work going in, but makes the plan more professional and easier to implement. Having to go back and tinker is wasteful.
I – IMPLEMENT – The plan should include the mechanism and schedule for implementation, and the actual implementation has to be done decisively, with no “uh, let’s change this”moments allowed.
V – VALIDATE – You should have a plan for validating the plan’s performance besides ‘units sold’. Sales could take a sudden rise from word-of-mouth, the product’s gaining sudden relevance due to current events, or the Piggyback Effect (such as Amazon’s algorithms’ mentioning your product in the ‘you might also be interested in’ banner. At a minimum, assuming you’re using a website for marketing, you should correlate units sold to website visits.
E – EVALUATE – Take the pulse of your marketing plan regularly, and when it seems to be going stale, don’t hesitate to pull the plug and start a new one. You should always have at least one marketing plan ready to use, in reserve.
* Your team should include at least one person from the target demographic, and preferably more. What appeals to one demo will be anathema to another, and sometimes this has to be done deliberately.
– As an example, Arrow, which had marketed shirts to more mature audiences, decided during the 70s to reach out to a younger clientele. They chose an ad campaign with the tagline, “If you’re fat and forty, forget it.” It did bring in the hip and groovy, and it was a slap in the face to a large proportion of their customer base, a calculated risk which did seem to pay off. Here’s a link to one of the variations of the Arrow ad: When the Pinterest page comes up it will be in the top left.
Here’s something I read that may be the genesis for someone’s marketing plan, or at least for some discussion:
“We’re too poor to buy cheap things.”
* Development of this can lead down a couple of roads:
– Purchaser’s pride
– Your product’s ‘durability’ and retained intrinsic value over time
I love this idea, Rachelle! I’m actually in market as an indie with my first and will be with my second in 20 days. I’ve figured out a lot, but there is so much more to the business side of being a novelist than I have my arms around!
Traditional or indie, we have to be the main marketer, so I hope you write a lot more about this topic.
I’ve considered having a prayer support team but not a marketing-focused team. Great topic. Love the idea and group topic suggestions.Thanks, Rachelle.
Thank you for the practical advice. My little marketing team is wonderful, but I probably haven’t led them well. I shall become more intentional with these suggestions and tools.
Thanks, Rachelle, this is a wonderful idea.
Mary Kay Moody
Great suggestion, Rachelle. Likely I am not the only one slightly intimidated by the marketing aspects. Pooling talent and enthusiasm will undoubtedly expand the creativity. Good ideas from the crew here too ~ include budget, someone from target audience, Andrew’s acrostic ~ GIVE. Thanks to all!