Letters from the Real World: Duh. Or, Classic Marketing 101 Mistake

By Cait Reynolds
Carol and Me. AKA Truth and Trouble.

Carol and Me. AKA Truth and Trouble.

Um, yeah. I feel really dumb right now, and I’m cringing just a little at the thought of the “I-trained-you-better-than-this” amused look Carol – my lifelong public relations and marketing mentor, friend, honorary Mom – will give me when she reads this.

Carol was the toughest, smartest marketing professional I’ve ever known. When I worked for her, she drilled strategic thinking into me like a marine corps sergeant, and she showed me not the just how of publicity, but the why which is the key to everything.  I have tried to follow the TRUTHS OF CAROL for my marketing and publicity.

Except I made a totally stupid newbie mistake. I panicked, and I rushed. I tried to launch a InstaTweetFacePinTumbTubeGoogleReads all at once.

First of all, let’s get this out there: I was baptized by fire in the inferno of the Dot Com years. I rode the boom up at the tender age of 22 and the bust down at the withered, cynical age of 30. There was a time in the summer of 1999 where you couldn’t go to lunch because you were afraid of missing a “paradigm shift.”

Carol and I worked on public relations teams that would take our clients from public launch to filing initial IPO papers in 8 weeks. Multiply by 4-6 clients at a time. Repeat.

The point is, all of this was par for the course in good marketing strategy, no matter what your industry. However, the difference of technology and Dot Com fever meant that time was of the essence.

This is not to say that a sense of urgency isn’t a good thing. More than ever, we devour content at the speed of light. Urgency, consistency, and constancy are winning principles in any marketing endeavor.

Where I and a lot of other new authors (yes, I am dragging others down with me) make a key mistake is trying to apply urgency to everything all at once. 

There is a hierarchy to what you need to do and which social media you need to use as you get up and running. I have discovered this the hard way because there are only so many hours in the day, and this probably slowed some of the progress I had hoped to make in these first two quarters.

You have time.

I didn’t realize that. It doesn’t all have to be done at once. Here are the basic TRUTHS OF CAROL that I am ashamed to admit I had forgotten.

Good marketing plans are constructed with layers that build over time.

Good marketing plans are also realistic as to playing to personal strengths, scope, and impact over time.

Good marketing plans are based on good market research.

Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have all the time in the world, and you do need to set deadlines and goals in order to motivate, achieve, and move forward. However, you may not need to unleash your InstaTweetFacePinTumbTubeGoogleReads all at one go.

I tried, and I couldn’t even get up enough momentum to fail spectacularly. I failed mediocrely. My trial and mostly error did form a kind of double-blind study of the research I had done to learn how to promote my books. Here are some of my lessons learned.

1. Focus on getting your website set up and looking nice. Get the technical stuff worked out. 

2. Do your homework and try some things before committing to your first three social media. Play around with Pinterest. Too overwhelming? Try Tumblr. Too juvenile? Try Instagram. No good at photography? Try Twitter….

3. Pick 2-3 social media to focus on primarily for your first year.

Example: I use Facebook and Twitter, and I hope to get Pinterest up to speed as a marketing tool in Q3-4

4. Decide on 2 more social media for the following year.

Example: In 2015, I will be using YouTube and Tumblr for more marketing. (Bonus: by giving myself time to relax and not stress about getting up and running with these outlets, I actually have come up with some really creative projects to do that don’t involve the usual cut/paste/spam content).

5. Decide what you are not good at or not interested in. Be honest.

Example: I am not an inspired photographer. Instagram will just never be my thing. I accept that. Also, I’m too distractible and impatient to do well in a GoodReads or Shelfari discussion group. It is highly unlikely I will be successful trying to use those sites because I will be naturally inclined to avoid them or procrastinate.

You don’t have to follow this. But, if you felt overwhelmed like I did when I started down this road, this could be a good way to both get yourself going and to keep your sanity.

Also, by narrowing your focus in the beginning, you can concentrate on writing more books while putting out quality promotional material. Balancing writing and promo was one other major stumbling block for me as I got started, and I’m only just getting right side up now.

So, here’s to a more organized, prolific Q3 with a stronger, more strategic marketing strategy!

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