When the Execution of Your Plan Falls Short, It Might Be Time for a New Plan
By Peter Lyle DeHaan
In the book-publishing community, it’s no secret that most authors would rather write than promote their work. In this regard, I am like most authors. Yes, some writers are extroverts and love the activities around launching and promoting a book. Most, however, are introverts like me.
Add to this the sage advice to “Do what only you can do, and have others do the rest.”
Outsource Sales and Marketing
That’s why I chose to outsource the sales and marketing of my books.
At various times over the years, I’ve hired a book promotion specialist, a book launch team manager, an online ad agency, a book marketing assistant, a social media manager, and an SEO expert. They comprised my marketing tactics.
None produced a positive return on investment, and many produced no return at all. Yet during this time I shelled out tens of thousands of dollars and sold few books for my investment.
That’s when I realized I had two choices: don’t do any book promotion or do it myself. Reluctantly, I decided to do it myself, all the while knowing this would detract from my writing schedule and reduce my output.
I looked at the conventional book promotion strategies of traditional book publishers, all the while suspecting that much of it no longer applied in today’s rapidly changing publishing landscape. I made a list.
I also added what leading indie-published authors were doing. Some of the items seem doable and others turned my stomach; just thinking about them made me nauseous.
Yes, Maybe, and No Marketing Tactics
I divided the items into three categories: yes, maybe, and no. This resulted in a list of marketing tactics I was open to do, a second list of activities I was willing to do if needed, and a final list of tasks I was unwilling to do, the nonnegotiables.
With clarity in place, I set about developing a book marketing strategy that would tap into my “yes list” and avoid my “no list.” I’m currently implementing my new marketing plan, and it’s producing results.
Consider the lessons we can learn from my development of marketing tactics tailored to my personality, ability, and willingness.
Imagine you’re a sales and marketing manager whose strategy hinges on your sales staff making cold calls to move prospects into the sales funnel.
Unfortunately, your team struggles making cold calls and resists doing so, even to the point of engaging in passive-aggressive behavior. Repeated efforts to give them needed training and supportive encouragement have failed. And your threats have gone unheeded.
You have two alternatives.
One consideration is to replace your sales team with employees willing to engage in cold calls. The other possibility is to look at your existing team’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a strategy around them. (Maintaining the status quo isn’t an acceptable solution.)
Though a fire-them-all-and-start-over approach may tempt you, I encourage a more enlightened solution of keeping them employed and working with them to tailor a more conducive sales and marketing strategy.
This path is even more important if you struggle to find qualified employees in the first place.
Though I doubt your issue is over making cold calls (does anyone do that anymore?), look for a disconnect between your marketing strategy and your team’s adherence.
If you can correct this misalignment through retraining them or changing your management style, great.
Otherwise, evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a fresh sales and marketing plan, one tailored to what they do best and avoids what they struggle with or do poorly.
I did this for my book sales, and you can do it for your team too.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.
He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.