Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Your Marketing Needs Your Support!

Visibly Media Marketing | Tucson Festival of Books | chicken sandwichesSupporting your own marketing is a demonstation of believing what you’re selling. Business owners: did you know your marketing needs your support? Not just those of your staff, contractors, or suppliers, but also your own? Yet, all too often, business owners find themselves limited on time and make choices about their marketing they may come to regret. Let me give you an example:

This past weekend I attended the Tucson Festival Of Books with my author, Keith Mueller, to meet fans and sell his new book, “Journey To The Black City”. We were handed a hot pink flier from one of the food purveyors; on it was a short menu of choices and prices for food and drinks, and a short paragraph at the top written for those stuck in their booths: send a text to their number (on the flier) with your order and booth number, and they would bring it to you.

What a great idea! We could stay in our booth and talk with new fans, sell his book, and still get food and water! I put this new concept to the test around 11:15 Saturday and ordered 2 bottles of water. I received a reply straightaway, confirming and indicating someone would deliver right away. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, this is where the good news stops. Keith and I waited almost 3 hours, then gave up on the idea someone was coming by. We had actually left the booth, one at a time, picked up lunch and drinks, and came back during this time. Ultimately we decided if this person did finally show up, we would politely decline the order.

What are the takeaways here?

  1. Support your effort(s). Whether it be in print, blog, video or social media, your business should support your efforts, period. In this case, the food purveyor should have hired more help to meet a potentially critical demand, and clearly failed to do so. I don’t know if anyone else tried to order anything from this tent, but, if they did, hopefully they got it in a timely manner.
  2. Get buy-in. Give your employees a copy of your ad or flier and make them aware of what the special is, especially when it’s time-sensitive (both in delivery and over a certain number of days). Make your expectations clear.
  3. Stock up. If you’re offering a tangible good, like a sandwich, make sure you have enough supplies to make enough sandwiches, plus extra for buffer. Additionally, in this case, the business owner should have hired at least 10 temporary workers to run deliveries during the festival.
  4. Roll up your sleeves. If you’re short-handed, dig in and do some of the work yourself. If you’ve run low on supplies, go pick up more. Not only will your employees thank you, your customers will know you really care about the quality and timeliness you advertised.
  5. Own your word. Stand by and deliver what you’ve promised. This is so critical, yet so overlooked, and goes directly to supporting your plan. Protect your business’ – and your own – credibility.
  6. Do a “lessons learned” sit-down with everyone involved. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. Make needed adjustments before trying again.

Business owners may be in the business of risk, but strategic planning can help reduce the amount of risk involved. If this local eaterie can learn from its mistakes and try again in the 2018 Festival, they stand to make more money by capitalizing on both need and demand with a captive audience. That is, of course, assuming the other food purveyors don’t pick up on this idea first.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Image courtesy of a Fox News article.

Lessons Learned From Traditional Book Publishing

First article in this series, as I’m sure I’ll learn more!

love of booksAuthors marketing themselves has taken a turn I didn’t see coming. How many of you thought that, as an author, if you were published “traditionally”, 1) you made it, and 2) they handle all your marketing and PR? I also thought this would be the case, and in the higher, higher ends of publishing this may be the case, but from what I’ve learned so far, definitely not the case.

I’ve been working with a self-published author on his book series marketing since September 2014. He needed a website, branded social media channels and a branded hashtag, timely press releases, and some print marketing materials — including copies of his book(s). In June 2014, before I started his marketing, my team and I built his website and social media pages. We built his business card, a bookmark, and a postcard for handing out during book signing events, speaking gigs, and expos/seminars. We built and maintained his author pages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and goodreads.

My goal from the beginning was to get him in front of a traditional publisher. True, marketing and selling his ebook was taking longer, and his editor and I arrived at the intelligent conclusion that, if we were able to land him with a publisher, his book would have a better chance of being sold to more people.

Not necessarily the case.

Through the entities my author was following on his Twitter account, around August 2015 I was notified of a publisher accepting submissions, with or without agent representation. I quickly looked up the publisher’s contact information and called, only to find out she was in a meeting and would call me back. Thinking this was pretty typical, I left my contact information and updated my author and his editor. I was surprised and very pleased when the publisher called me back same day and asked about my inquiry. One month later, my author signed a contract with this publisher.

What was inside the contract surprised me.

My author was expected to have a website, a social media presence, and author pages on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble; printed marketing could be built around the new cover design. What I and my team did as a normal course of our marketing business was now a necessity — imagine that!

The story doesn’t end here, however. The publisher’s contract also stated the expectation of him to help market his new book series on the local level. That includes appearances/speaking gigs, book signings, seminars/expos, timely press releases, and social media postings. This helps what marketing the publisher will handle on the national and international levels.

What were my lessons learned up to this point?

  1. Follow my marketing gut. We knew building his presence was necessary for his success, particularly in the channels we decided to use. This gave my author a “thumbs up”, basically; he appeared more prepared for the coming marketing challenge.
  2. Read the contract. One of the jobs of a literary agent is to act as the go-between for the author and pubisher. Once we had a copy of the contract and expectations, not only did I read through it and ask questions, so did my author’s lawyer. This completes the team cycle for my author, and he was able to sign his contract with confidence.
  3. Be a social media coach. My author hired my company for his marketing, both offline and online. That meant posting and engaging on social media as well. In part of my commitment to his success, I am also coaching him on a couple of the social platforms and how he can use them from his mobile device. He is now empowered to take control of some of his social media and be an active partner, helping his own cause.
  4. Question everything! Even though he has signed a contract with a publisher, my author is still my client. He still needs the marketing and has retained me now as his agent. This allows me to contact the publisher on his behalf and ask questions that will help us both market him more effectively.
  5. Communicate often. This may be a d’oh! type of statement, but you would be surprised at how many book marketers don’t communicate often with either their author or the publisher. When I schedule my author for a local appearance or expo, I tell the publisher everything. This lets her know what we are actively doing on the local level and how well it worked. I also keep two lists in Excel: one for bookstores requesting an advance copy to read (this is typical, folks) and one for local book reviewers. At the end of each month the publisher gets an updated copy of both, so again she can see and measure our efforts.
  6. Capture the info! We built a landing page just for the new book and included a short capture form link. When visitors click the link, they are asked to give their name and email, as well as a human verification. That’s it! Now we can build a newsletter that lets these followers know when his book is ready to purchase, as well as in-person events and advance notice of future works.

More lessons will be coming soon, and I’ll post as I learn them. If you are an author or book publisher and would like to share what you have learned, please add your comments below. Thank you!

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

6 Tips For Branding Your Business In Print

The corner where Marketing Ave. meets Strategy St.These days a business owner has so much work, both in and on their business, on their plate, it is nearly impossible to keep up with it all! “Who cares what my brochure looks like, or that I printed myself; I just have to get the word out about my business,” or, “Nobody cares if my business card was printed off my inkjet, everybody’s doing it,” become common thoughts. Yet this is the one area a business owner should pay strict attention.

Each printed marketing piece is like a receptionist for your business. Each piece is a “leave behind” to remind your contact of your conversation and offering. These pieces need to outshine your competition’s marketing to keep you and your business top of mind. All pieces need to be coordinated (not cookie-cutter!) and pulled together by one very important element: your logo.

Branding your business, in print or online, does not start and stop with your logo. Your logo is absolutely an important identifying mark to your clients, absolutely. This is where most business owners stop. Color, your choice of fonts, the style and voice of your copy, and images used — all play an important role in creating, positioning and maintaining your branding message, and should be considered carefully.

Here are my 6 tips for branding your business in print:

  1. Logo matters. Use your logo to identify your business but don’t stop there! Use the colors in your logo to play up prices, headlines, and important call-to-action areas. If the font in your logo is a serif, consider using it in headlines and switch to a sans-serif for body copy. This reinforces what people see visually: this marketing piece comes from your company and not your competitor’s.
  2. Style matters. If you are known to your clients as somewhat formal, keep this consistency in your blog and other marketing materials. If you use contractions, write with contractions. If your presence is a bit laid back, be less formal. Also, be very aware of your target market and audience. What do they normally see from your industry vs. what are they expecting to see from your industry? For example, if you are a marketing company, create something professional that demonstrates both creativity and confidence; don’t settle for a template that may look cool but may not truly represent your business.
  3. Images matter. Be picky about the photos and artwork you use to associate your audience with your business. If you don’t have pictures you own, hire a photographer or graphic designer to create pieces you can use in all your marketing. If you choose to buy photos and artwork, pay close attention to the EULA (end user license agreement) and the repurchase information. DO NOT just right-click on an image you see in Google Images and take it; this is not a good source for 3 reasons: 1) low resolution; 2) did the poster have permission to post the picture you are taking; 3) taking without permission is theft. If you are buying a font, again, read the EULA and follow the rules on using your new font.
  4. Image matters. Take pride in how your company is viewed. If you participate in an expo, ask the organizers if they have a page on their website that advertises your company. If they do, ask for the link and find out what they are saying about your company. Make sure what is used you can live up to and is current. If the expo offers visitors to scan a QR code, scan it yourself and find out where the code takes the visitor. Keep your marketing materials and personal appearance professional at all times.
  5. Marks matter. Your logo is not your only identifying business mark. A QR code and hashtag can also identify your business, both online and offline. Create a QR code that leads to an action, such as filling out a short form. For a hashtag, avoid acronyms unless it makes sense for your business. Focus on using your business name, whole or in part. Consider using your business name as initials and combining with a product or service you offer.
  6. Paper matters. The paper stock you use for your marketing materials leaves an impression. Make sure it leaves the right impression. It’s okay if you have to print a small run of business cards onto Avery perforated paper stock — just don’t do this in place of quality printing. VistaPrint is a good substitute for a local printer. Check with your local chamber of commerce for print shops, and ask which one they would recommend. Ask your colleagues where they get their printing done. The advantage to using a local shop is in the potential for a discount with an established relationship, and the ability to do a press check during the printing process.

Remember: the single most important element in branding your business is people. Think about it. Do you shop at a certain store because of the brand’s name, or because you like to say hi to your favorite clerk? People do business with people, not brands or logos. Forge relationships with people, and encourage your employees to do the same.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.