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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Killer Campaign: Marketing Calendar

Day 2: Left Behind & Loving It
This is a topic that is generally discussed at the beginning of the year, but that doesn't mean we can't be mavericks and create a marketing calendar this very minute.

A marketing calendar is your datebook for every event and promo task you give yourself throughout the year. Need to design a bookmark? Jot it down. Want to do a book signing? Call your local bookstores and commit yourself to a date. Did someone email you to do an interview. Set the date and put it in ink.

Every time you have a job specific to promoting you or your book, record it either in print or electronically. This serves two purposes

• It keeps you focused on the tasks at hand so that everything gets accomplished in a timely manner.

• The goals you set reinforces your long range writing plans.

A marketing calendar reveals the big picture as well as the steps you took to get there. Your planner can be as defined or as flexible as you need it to be. The key to a successful calendar is creating one that keeps you moving forward in whatever guise it takes.

The Big Picture

Where do you want to be in 12 months? In 5 years? In 10 years?

No one is going to see this but you, so here's your chance to dream big. This is where I set the horizon line and decide what I want to accomplish and when.

That's the easy part. *g* But it serves a very important purpose. In order to get where you're going, you need a bird's eye view of your road map.

The work begins when you break it down and write out the steps required to make it to your benchmarks--the actual calendar.

If you find you can't plan that far ahead, break it down into goals you can manage comfortably. Last year, I had several major eye surgeries that knocked me out of the picture for months at a time. I still had a book to get out so I carved out only the most important duties I felt were necessary.

No matter how big the challenge you set, it can be accomplished in bits and batches. That's the beauty of a calendar. It keeps you on target and on a timeline.

There are a couple of formats you can use to build your calendar. If you prefer the feel of paper in your hands, buy a standard office calendar, sometimes called a wall planner. You can buy them with or without dates so you can start your planning at any time of the year.

You can also build your own calendar with a template using Word. Google also has a calendar if you prefer to work online.

I prefer to use Microsoft Outlook for my calendar. Not only can I post detailed information for each day, it can also set reminders for you--something I use a lot. I don't know about you, but I need that poke in the ribs.

When we talk about marketing planners, we're focusing on those things that will broaden, enhance and promote our work and brand.

What Goes In

Your calendar might include things like online classes, advertising or book signings. And you'll find the closer you get to your book's release the more jam packed your calendar will be.

A page from my calendar for the last week of April 2009 had me:

• guest blogging nearly every day of that week to coincide with Touch Of Fire's release.

• scheduling articles to appear in two different ezines

• showing up early at my local writers' group to mix and mingle

• Advertising on The Romance Studio

• Updating my website

• Making sure I had a worthy topic or guest blogger on my blog for every day leading up to the book's release

• Giving totally different interviews to two highly trafficked blogs

I could (and should) have done more, but I had a full time day job and a long harrowing commute everyday. What I accomplished in that week was nothing short of Herculean. I checked that calendar regularly and my reminders would start popping up days and sometimes weeks before the actual event or task was due so that I'd be prepared.

So what is considered calendar material? What do you put on your to-do list?

Everyone will be different, depending on personality and style. For instance, despite my brave show, I'm painfully shy. If you look up the word 'introvert', you'll see a picture of me in dark sunglasses (hiding behind a BIG dog).

For this reason I prefer to work behind the scenes whenever possible. I'll take the limelight if I have to, but it's not my preferred method for promoting myself.

The bird's eye view for my marketing plan for 2009 includes only the things I'm comfortable doing. For instance, you won't catch me holding chats. They just don't work for me. But I adore writing articles (my first love) and I like being helpful, so I find myself volunteering a lot. (We'll talk more about this on Friday.)

This Killer Campaign series began from the overview page of my marketing calendar. I listed every promotional event or venue I could think of, and then I whittled it down to the things I thought I could do well.

There's no law that says you have to do a book signing, but if it's something you truly enjoy, use it to your advantage.

The other thing I place on my marketing calendar is Continuing Education. Even though it may not directly affect your promotional efforts, I've found classes, workshops, lectures and participating in forums greatly expands my networking circles. I've made good friends from these encounters. They've not only invited me on their blogs and groups, but they've also introduced me to other well known authors and editors.

I edit the newsletter for OWW, Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy and Horror. That was a direct result from networking through a writing forum. My favorite part of that job is interviewing and getting to know some fascinating authors, editors and agents.

It's definitely been worth my time and it's something I enjoy doing.

To give you an idea of the kind of tasks I gave myself for 2009, here's a truncated list of items from my marketing calendar (in no particular order). Most, I've already implemented, a couple are on the launch pad.

• interviews
• send out ARCs
• contests
• guest blogging
• hosting guest bloggers
• contributing to forums on a regular basis
• advertising
• website
• update blog
• contribute regularly to forums
• create a newsletter
• join MySpace, Twitter
• give a lecture
• take a class
• go to local conferences
• volunteer at local writers' group
• order business cards
• podcast
• hold a live workshop
• book launch party

So how about you? What would you put on your marketing to-do list?

For more articles in the Killer Campaign series, go here.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --

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Mike Keyton said...

Do you still twitter?
How useful did/do you find it?

Maria Zannini said...

I tweet only on occasion. I don't think I'm a prime candidate for Twitter.

If I get a bit of news that I think might be useful to pass on, I'll post it, but for the most part I don't have time to write, let alone read all the people who post. --and some of them post a LOT.

I know it's only 140 characters but it adds up when you post a couple of dozen times a day. I don't know how they do it.

So short answer: I think it's useful, but not very good for writer productivity.

Though adding good Tweeters (?) can be helpful. Some agents and editors do post the occasional request and that gets terrific responses.

Sherri said...

I'm not published, not even sure I have the desire to be, but I keep a blog and am on Facebook and for me that meets my networking needs for now. I'm a calendar junkie though and have everything on there that keeps me sane, LOL.

I'm loving your series though and can see its applications in other areas as well.

Maria Zannini said...

That's so good to hear, Sherri. Calendars keep me organized, and I'll take all the help I can get.

And you're right, it's not just for writing either.

Shelley Munro said...

I buy a calendar at the start of each year to keep myself organized with promo/marketing etc
I like the hard copy with the calendar since it's really easy to refer to.

Maria - I've been resisting Twitter, mainly because I'd rather spend the time writing. I have trouble keeping up as it is. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Shelley,

I hear you. I like Twitter because it has offered some good information, but it's too much of a time sink for me.

PS I was SURE you used a calendar. You are the most organized person I know!