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Instructions for Creating Your

Marketing Plan

Brought to you by Brian Jud and Book Marketing Works, LLC

For more information on increasing your sales in non-bookstore markets, including the new Publishers Weekly book Beyond the Bookstore, go to www.bookmarketing.com

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A marketing plan may be your most important tool for selling successfully in special-sales markets. The table below provides step-by-step instructions that will help you create a practical marketing plan. Brief directions are found in the left-hand column. These also refer you to the appropriate Strategy in Beyond the Bookstore™ (a Publishers Weekly book, by Brian Jud) where you can find even more assistance.

Read the instructions for each step, and then write your response in the gray text block in the right-hand column. Use as much space as you need. After you have completed all the requested information, go to the end of the page and click "Complete Plan Ready to Print." Here you will find your text in the form of a complete marketing plan, ready for printing.

Step-by-step instructions are found in this column. Read each section and then respond in the column to the right. Insert your copy in the gray text block in response to the directions in the column to the left.

Write the name of your company here:

Write your address here:

Insert the dates for which this plan covers:

From:  To:
The introduction of your marketing plan will provide an executive summary of your entire document. In addition, it will highlight the mission and objectives of your business in order to establish the context in which your marketing plan will be implemented.
1.1 Mission
Your mission statement is a two or three-sentence answer to two questions. First, "What business are we in?" This may initially seem obvious because you are a producer and supplier of books.

Second, "Who are we trying to serve?" Create a profile of the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of your content.

For example, the mission statement for Book Marketing Works is: “Become the leading and most respected brand-name entity that provides high quality, pragmatic sales and marketing resources that continually enhance a publisher’s efforts to generate more revenue and profits for its titles.”

See Strategy # 13 in Beyond the Bookstore for more instructions on writing your mission statement.
1.2 Executive summary
Briefly describe the history of your publishing firm. In addition, include the business structure (corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited partnership), names of owners and any significant events since it began.

Summarize your product lines, distribution strategies, pricing strategies and your existing and planned promotional campaign. Describe your target markets and a profile of prospective customers in each.

Even if you are the only person who will see your plan, this summary will give you a frequent reminder of the task you have set for yourself. Make it brief and motivating, something to which you can refer on a regular basis.
2) The MARKET ANALYSIS section of your marketing plan provides a detailed description of the current marketplace in which you compete, including the specific niches. Describe your customers, potential customers and competition.
2.1 Market Definition
Analyze the publishing industry as it impacts your business. Show the growth rate of your various sub-segments of the book market, in terms of units and dollars. Update this regularly.
2.2 Market Segmentation
Given the industry situation you described in 2.1, in which specific market niches do you intend to compete, and what is the expected potential of each. For example, if your overall market is Children’s Books, you may choose to market to segments such as bookstores, libraries, schools or corporations. Talk about the current size and geographical scope of each as well as their growth rate and potential. Use units and/or dollars to characterize each niche.

Specific data may be found in libraries, journals, trade press, directories, government publications, focus groups and books. The documented use of facts and statistics will add to the credibility of your marketing plan.
2.3 Competition
Analyze competitive titles. Gather information and keep abreast of the competitions' activities in relation to new products, pricing, distribution systems and promotional programs. This information will assist in your development of new titles. Competitive data will also enable you to create promotional material that will position the title properly.

A simple way to uncover competitive information is through a visit to Amazon.com. Here, a quick search will provide you with titles, authors and prices as well as reviews of each competitive title.

Include a discussion of your qualitative conclusions. List your primary competitors and what you are doing to close the gap between your business and theirs, or to widen your lead.
3) Your EXISTING MARKETING ORGANIZATION. Given the market situation you described above, how will you organize your marketing strategies to maximize your competitive strengths? Describe your present products and services, channels of distribution, pricing philosophy and promotions. See Chapters One, Five and Six of Beyond the Bookstore for more instructions on completing this section.
3.1 Description Of Your Current Marketing Capabilities
This portion of your plan defines the present status of your marketing capabilities. Describe the products and services you offer. Do the same for your existing channels of distribution and the promotional programs you have in place.
4) ISSUES AND OPPORTUNTIES. In the context of the information you have analyzed thus far, what are your significant strengths and weaknesses? Next, what opportunities do you expect to create or exploit, and what threats do you foresee and how will you combat them?
4.1 Strengths
Tell the strong points of your line of products and services as well as your business itself. A strength could be as straightforward as the quality of your production or marketing prowess, or subtler examples such as an exclusive URL or the respect your titles create in the minds of your customers.
4.2 Weaknesses
It is sometimes difficult to describe your areas of weakness, but an awareness of them can help you correct them. Objectively describe areas in need of improvement, such as company reputation and track record, technological hurdles, and obstacles to clear understanding of the customer's fundamental needs.
4.3 Opportunities
Describe the opportunities that exist in the marketplace and market niches in which you have chosen to compete. Present these opportunities realistically, using facts and statistics to substantiate them.
4.4 Threats
This section highlights the inherent or potential risks or hazards you see in the marketplace. As you describe each, the focus should not be gloom and doom, but rather the critical issues that could be menacing to your position.
This section funnels the data and analysis from the preceding analysis into your objectives. Concise writing and presentation in this section will help you focus on your goals.

The purpose of objectives is to divide your long-term vision into attainable goals. Traditional business planning requires that objectives be written, functional, measurable, specific and time-oriented. However, objectives must be more than that or they simply remain good intentions.

For example, an objective might be stated as, "Increase our sales." A more desirable objective would be, "Increase our annual sales by X%, and profits by Y% over 2003's performance." See Strategy # 14 in Beyond the Bookstore< for more tips on writing your goals.
5.1 Financial Objectives
Since you know your sales forecast, distribution discounts, and expected returns, the next step is to specify the net income you expect to receive for the planning period.

Financial goals might include but certainly are not limited to the following: sales volume, cost, gross margin, net profit, cash flow, and ROI.
5.2 Marketing Objectives
Set goals in each of the four area of marketing: product, distribution, price and promotion. Describe how you will seek new titles to bring to market (or new markets for existing titles), different distribution channels, unique ways to offer price incentives while maintaining your margins, and original ways to promote your titles above the ever-increasing clutter of competitive advertising, sales promotions and publicity.

Examples might include, but should not be limited to, the following: new market segments, sales volume, market share (in each niche), total units per purchase by customer or niche, average dollar amount per order, rate of repeat purchase and number of new title introductions.
5.3 Innovation Objectives
Creativity must be applied to find new titles to bring to market (or new markets for existing titles), different distribution channels, ways to offer price incentives while maintaining your margins and original ways to promote your titles above the ever-increasing clutter of competitive advertising, sales and publicity.
6) GENERAL MARKETING STRATEGIES. This section presents your overall approach to accomplishing your mission and objectives in each of five key dimensions referred to here as: Positioning, Product, Price, Promotion and Place (distribution).

Outline your game plan for organizing these variables. If you have more than one target market segment, then you might have one game plan for all the segments or you may have tailored a market strategy for each different target segment.
6.1 Positioning
Positioning establishes the desired perception of your titles relative to the competition. In other words, what should be the first thing that comes to your customers’ minds when they think of your titles? For example, when most people think of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, heartwarming stories immediately come to their minds.

Your positioning statement could change for every market segment. In this space, explain the image your product line creates (or should create) in the minds of people in your target market.

See Strategy # 24 in Beyond the Bookstore for tips on defining your title’s position for various niches.
6.2 Product and packaging
In special-sales marketing, buyers are more concerned with the content of your book than with its form. Describe how people want your content delivered and how you will provide it to them as such (book, booklet, DVD, spiral-bound workbook).

See Strategy # 17 in Beyond the Bookstore for tips on developing a product strategy.
6.3 Pricing strategy
Discuss the incentives and discounts you might offer to stimulate demand.

See Strategy # 32 in Beyond the Bookstore for tips on pricing your books profitably.
6.4 Distribution Strategy
Describe all the methods you will use to make your books available and accessible to the target customers in:

Special Distribution (discount stores, airport stores, supermarkets, book fairs)

Commercial Sales (companies, associations, schools, government agencies)

Niche Markets (gift shops; specialty stores, museums, book clubs, catalogs)
6.5 Promotion Strategy
How will you promote your titles and persuade customers to buy your books?
7) SPECIFIC MARKETING PROGRAMS. This is the action part of your marketing plan and tells the reader what marketing actions you will take to fulfill your strategies and reach your objectives. Discuss your specific plans for developing your product lines, building your distribution, enhancing your pricing strategies and creating new promotions your titles.
7.1 Product Line Tactics
What new products will you introduce? To what target markets will they be directed? How will you preserve product quality? For which titles will you perform test marketing?

The packaging for one title may be different for various target segments. For instance, you may decide to release a title in hard cover for the library market, in soft cover for bookstores and in a small, 4” x 6” size for gift markets.
7.2 Pricing Tactics
Distribution discounts and the costs of production and marketing are two of the components to consider when pricing your books. Describe pricing incentives you may offer. For instance, if you choose a competitive pricing strategy you might differentiate your titles by offering coupons or refunds.
7.3 Distribution Tactics
Who are the specific partners you will use to distribute your books in each market segment? What are their terms? Who will pay shipping? What fees will they charge for placement in their catalogs? In what time period will you be paid? What percent of sales do you expect to be returned?

Be specific about how you will reach Special Distribution prospects, Commercial Sales buyers and potential customers in Niche Markets.
7.4 General Promotion Tactics
Tell how your promotional plan will be different for each title and author.
7.4.1 Personal Selling
List the actions, dates, and people responsible for each personal selling program, such as making personal sales calls on prospective customers, networking at trade shows, making personal presentations and conducting events at retail stores.
7.4.2 Direct Marketing Tactics
List each direct marketing-related action that you plan to implement.
7.4.3 Sales Promotion Tactics
Describe each sales promotion-related action that you expect to take.
7.4.4 Publicity
How will you apply publicity and public relations to reach your objectives? Types of programs might include press releases, press kits, reviews and media performances. Will you engage a professional publicist? Will you write and send out a press release on your new special products and services?
7.4.5 Advertising Programs
Explain the advertising-related actions that you will perform, listing the actions, dates, and people responsible for each advertising program.
8) DEVELOP CONTINGENCY PLANS. This presents contingency plans designed to protect the critical strategies of your plan from the associated risks that you have identified in the "Threats" section. The contingency plans basically tell the reader what you will do if things do not go according to plan. A contingency plan minimizes risk by addressing the following issues:
8.1 Set Up Monitoring Operations so problems are revealed more quickly. Watch marketplace and financial results, as well as analyzing the implications of any changes.
8.2 Define Alternative Plans Of Action in advance so that minimal time and energy is spent on deciding what to do after the problem is recognized. Action plans are proactive responses to business or program problems rather than reactive ones.