I originally published this post at my Suddenly Marketing blog, but I think it has a lot of relevance for writers and authors as well as for entrepreneurs. In today’s publishing world, authors are brands – like it or not. Whether you’re hoping to sell a lot of books through indie channels, or attract the attention of a traditional publisher, you will need to do some marketing – branding, platform development, social media engagement, and digital PR. It can be overwhelming. Most of us hardly have time to do our creative work, never mind being responsible for hawking it via a marketing plan. This post delivers a little reality check. Marketing is just like writing – you reach your goals one step, one day, one task at a time. There’s no magic – just getting it done – little-by-little, however you can.
Are you feeling so overwhelmed by the marketing you think you should be doing that you don’t do any marketing at all?
Do you start to gear up to tackle one marketing task and then realize that it’s connected to something else that’s connected to something else that’s connected to something else, and then you give up?
Does the very word “marketing” give you a case of vertigo?
You’re not alone.
I hear these kinds of things all the time from people who want to take charge of their marketing, but just don’t know where to start. I don’t blame them. I’ve been at this gig for a decade now, and even I feel overwhelmed now and again. There is just so much to take in – new strategies, new technology, new tactics. I subscribe to over a hundred marketing blogs just to try and keep up with what’s happening in this crazy marketing landscape.
So, how do you get unstuck?
I am a big believer in strategy. When you put together a strong, sensible strategy, all that gooey stuff that was confusing the heck out of you suddenly becomes clear. When you have a plan that’s built on goals, resources, and ability, you can stop stressing about what to do and just get on with doing it. Yep – I really like a good strategy. In fact I’m very excited that I’ll soon be unveiling a whole new Suddenly Marketing that delivers a unique way to think about and approach your marketing strategy, BUT…
I totally understand that for some people (especially solopreneurs who are wearing six different hats and working eighteen hours a day), it’s not feasible to carve out the time (or budget) to dedicate to brand development and marketing strategy. Believe me – I get that. The “new” Suddenly Marketing has been in the works for THREE YEARS. (No, I’m not kidding.)
SO … I’d like to offer you a get out of jail free card:
Just. Start. Marketing.
I know, I know – sounds like empty advice, right? It’s not.
In a perfect world, each of us would have the luxury of time and money to spend developing a seriously well thought out and buttoned up plan. However, the world I live in is anything but perfect. I’m guessing your address isn’t in Perfectsville either.
Here’s what you do:
- Stop beating yourself up.
- Step back and take a deep breath.
- Know that a plan is a good thing.
- Start to cultivate a geeky love for a good plan.
- But, while you’re waiting for time to sit down and craft that plan, pick a marketing task and do it.
Don’t overthink. Don’t overanalyze. For the sake of all that’s holy to you, don’t compare your marketing to anyone else’s marketing. There will be plenty of time for that later. For now, you just want to get your “marketing legs” under you, so to speak.
Your goal is not marketing brilliance, it’s marketing momentum.
You know that if you want to read a book, you have to read one page at a time.
You know that if you want to have six-pack abs, you have to do one crunch at a time.
You know that if you want to amass million dollars, you have save one dollar at a time.
Marketing is no different.
Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Just start.
The best thing about this non-strategy strategy is that it gets you doing something. It gets you experimenting. You’ll be learning a lot: what works, what doesn’t, what you’re good at, what you never want to do again. The more you talk about your business, the more you’ll understand how to talk about your business. The more you talk to your customers, the more you’ll understand your customers and their needs.
Pick one thing.
Start today. What one thing can you do to kick start your marketing momentum?
- Join a LinkedIn (or Quora or Focus or …) group and answer a question
- Write one blog post
- Write one guest blog post
- Unleash your blogging honey badger
- Update your “About” page
- Update your LinkedIn profile
- Brainstorm topics for your next three months of blog posts
- Brainstorm the stories behind your brand
- Retweet some posts to your Twitter followers
- Make a list of your favorite brands
- Make a list of your least favorite brands
- Make a mindmap of your brand’s purpose
- Make a mindmap of what your customers say about you
- Go on vacation
- Offer to speak to a local group or class
- Have coffee with a colleague
- Install sharing tools on your blog
- Sign up for an email service (like Mailchimp)
- Read a few blog posts – on marketing or your competitors
- Face your marketing fears
- Set up a new social media account – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Take yourself for a walk and rediscover your enthusiasm
Each of these is a valid and valuable marketing task. Don’t worry about whether you’re picking the “right” thing or the “smartest” thing or the “most important” thing. Just pick something and do it. Read that first page. Do that first crunch. Save that first dollar. Before you know it, you’ll be building up your marketing momentum and then the sky’s the limit.
What keeps you from tackling your marketing monsters? Which tasks do you fear most? Which do you kinda-sorta-almost enjoy? What are your marketing goals between now and the end of the year?
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Image Credit: Angela Cirrone Smith