I Only Have "-ize" for You
By Brian Jud

Too many independent publishers use the Christopher Columbus method of planning. They do not know where they are going. When they get there they do not know where they are. And when they return, they do not know where they have been. This is not a good way to run a business.

You can avoid this situation by writing a strategic, functional plan to market your books. Your plan should identify the most promising business opportunities. It should clarify your goals and the procedures you will use to move toward them efficiently. And it should integrate all the elements of a complete promotional mix into a strategic program to launch coordinated action. For a view of a new planning formula, look through these "ize."

Recognize. A basic premise for successful marketing is to find a need and fill it. You do this by researching three major areas. First, discover what product opportunities exist. Second, learn the demographics and psychographics of your prospective customers. Finally, determine your potential market's size, growth and competitive status.

Crystallize. According to a proverb, a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. But what if that step is in the wrong direction?  Start your trek by deciding where you want to go. Write a specific objective and the date by which you will accomplish it.

Strategize. With your destination etched in your mind, begin to plan how you will reach it. Start by creating strategies in each of the Four Ps of marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. Should your product be a book, an audio package or a video program? Will you market it through the traditional distributor/wholesaler channels or directly to selected niches? Answers to these questions will dictate your distribution network and discounts which in turn impact your pricing strategy. Finally, describe how you will coordinate the elements of your promotion mix by manipulating your advertising, publicity, sales promotion and personal selling strategies.

Once you determine your general strategies you must plan the specific actions you will take in each of the four strategic areas. If your product is to be a book, what size, color and shape will make it most saleable? At what price? Which distributors will you contact? To which reviewers will you send galleys or review copies? What will be in your press kit, and to what television and radio stations will you send it? Which trade shows will you attend? Will you conduct a direct mail campaign?

Capitalize. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of actions you can take to market your book. However, most publishers do not have unlimited funds to perform them all. Therefore, you have to create your financial statements to determine how to allocate your existing money as well as when and how much you will need to borrow.

This is a good time to review your entire marketing program. If expected revenue will not cover your planned expenditures and no outside funds are available, what tactics will you eliminate and what impact will they have on your income? For example, if you eliminate a planned direct-mail campaign, you will also have to reduce your earnings by the amount you forecasted that program would generate. And do not forget to account for returned books.

Energize. Without action, planning only gives the illusion of progress. Now it is time to put
your plan into action. Marketing a book successfully requires perpetual promotion and it is up to you to do it. Perform each step according to the way you planned it.

Scrutinize. Action is not synonymous with accomplishment. You may be busy promoting your book but you may not be getting closer to your goal. Periodically assess your progress and make any changes that are necessary. Know where you are at all times.

Realize. This planning formula organizes and directs your thinking and actions to best exploit available opportunities. It coordinates and unifies your efforts to make your budget more efficient. And it helps you regain your bearings and look back to see how far you have come.

Decide where you are and where you want to go. Then set your course for smooth sailing toward a new world of publishing success.