What's Your Plan?

Most business folks spend their days being nibbled to death by ducks.

You want to print the meeting agenda but the printer is out of ink.

Your website manager still hasn't updated your bio.

That new client postpones their call. Again.

The prospect can't meet for lunch at noon so would 1:30 work? Or next Friday?

The path to success requires relentless focus on what's important but that's hard to do with mallards and drakes nipping at your heels.

To Stay on Track, You Need a Track

If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably never get there, and even if you do you won't know it.

In the frantic scramble of the average entrepreneur's workday, marketing your book is one of the first things to fall through the cracks. If it's not a priority, it won't get done, and if it's not part of the plan it won't be a priority.

The Plan

You need to have your own plan, of course, but here is the big picture for a business person who has written a book to support their business:

  1. People engage your services because
  2. they read your book after
  3. they followed your blog, Twitter feed, and other social media when
  4. they saw your insightful generous comment on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, or another blog, which happened because
  5. it was on your schedule.

Getting Started

My father used to tell the story of little Billy, who told the teacher he was late because he ran beside his bicycle all the way to school. When she asked why he did that, he said "Because I didn't have time to stop and get on."

Make the time to stop and get on the bike. You'll lose a few minutes now, and gain them back manifold in the coming weeks and months.

Write down your plan. Even if, at first, it's as vague as my list above, write it down. What's the path someone will take from total stranger to client?

Until you have that, you're flailing in the dark.

Once you do have it, you're ready to create a formal marketing plan.

If you need help with that, or even with the informal plan that comes first, give Sue a holler. We love helping folks figure out social media.

I Can't Spend All My Time Marketing!

And you don't have to. You shouldn't. Marketing, rather than being a flood of information about you and yours, should be a steady drip, drip, drip, like watering a delicate plant, not hosing down an elephant.

I've spent my adult life working with automation and efficiency using computers so any time there's a task with repeatable steps, I look for a way to make those repeating parts automatic. It allows me to spend my time on the unique bits, the parts I can do better than a computer because they require creativity or special knowledge.

Automating and scheduling your online marketing is smart. Create messages (that's the 'unique to you' bit) and schedule them in a single monthly session. (We use and recommend Hootsuite but there are a number of social media automation tools available.)

You still have to check in daily to interact with the real human beings who touch your social media messages, but you don't have to be online 24/7 to keep your message (remember those 80/20 principles, both of them) in front of potential readers and fans.

The Super Bowl is Over. Let's Get Back to Marketing.

Every year we notice a slump from the beginning of December through the weekend of the Super Bowl. In December, everyone spends their money on things other than business expenses. Then, in January, everyone stops spending altogether.

We've learned over the years that December is the natural time for us to spend a week off work, analyzing the year's activities, what worked well and why, and planning for the coming year. We set business and personal goals, then follow up all year long, monthly, quarterly, and again at year end.

We've also learned that expending effort marketing in January can be a complete waste of timeā€”if we do it wrong. January is the time to keep it very personal, stay on people's radar, share freely, to make our marketing message "We understand you're not ready right now, but when you are, we'll be ready, too, and here's why we might be a good match when it's time." (That's not as succinct as I'd like.)

It's the Tuesday after the big game, and things are going to get back to normal. That means marketing can serve not just to stay on folks' radar, but to educate and attract, moving the right people toward our offerings, turning into the fun and games of doing business. (If you're not having fun marketing your book and your business, let's talk, shall we?)

Prewriting (#4 of 6 Tools to Get You Writing)

#4 of 6 tools to get you writing instead of whimpering in the fetal position on the closet floor.

Another mistake we make is to assume that what flows from our pen must be finished product. Logically, we know this makes no sense. There's always a bit of re-writing before the proofreading and editing. We would never expect others to deliver perfection without practice.

Whether it's the next chapter in your novel or a page of marketing copy for your website, it can help to sit down and intentionally scribble the ugliest, roughest draft you can imagine. Make it your plan to write something so simple, so messy, so basic, so ugly, that you can't possibly use it. This is just a note to yourself about what you're planning to think about considering writing.

This is much like the trick I use to get myself to do household chores. If a picture needs hanging, next time I see the hammer I lay it on the floor where the picture is to be hung. Then when I run across the box of nails, I set that in place. If the picture needs a hanger attached to it, that goes in the pile as well. Eventually I walk past, look at this instant picture hanging kit sitting on the floor, and realize that it will take almost no effort to finish the task. It gets done.

The hardest part about writing is writing. Not the polishing, the formatting, the editing. Just starting. Just putting down the few words that say what we really mean.

Prewriting is a way to start ugly and simple and just get something down on paper.

Once the task is started, sometimes the compulsion to continue is overwhelming.

That's okay too.

Up next: SMART Goals