January is the perfect time of year for authors, speakers, small businesses and entrepreneurs to take stock of how their brand strategy for 2009 performed against expectations. Taking a hard look at the four pillars of branding; voice, visuals, value and variation, ask yourself how your brand delivered in 2009 based on your business goals and was 2009 profitable?
You voice is your message or your promise. Your visuals are the physical manifestation of your promise, the look that inspires and compliments your message and promise. Your value is what you offer and your variation is how you differentiate yourself from the all others in your area of expertise. How are you unique and what special offer do you have that causes clients or customers to choose you and your product over the competition?
However painful, an honest evaluation will set you up for success in 2010. Ask yourself “What worked for me in 2009 and will that continue to work in 2010 or do I need to evolve that strategy to a higher lever?” Then ask yourself “What underperformed or just plain didn’t work in 2009 that I’ll need to drop from my strategy in order to make room, physically and psychologically, for new and innovative strategies? What must I replace that is no longer worth additional investment of my time and money?”
For authors, this often means deciding which of the many platform building strategies are working and which are not? You might be spending a great deal of time with social media and not enough time writing your next project. You may need to bring new balance to that mix. Or you might need to rev up your platform building by spending more time developing a good mailing list in anticipation of the publication of your book.
A great exercise is to put together a month by month plan with real goals attached to it. By way of example, let’s say an author is publishing a book in June of 2010. Their plan for the first couple of months of 2010 might look like this:
- Set up a Twitter profile, a Facebook profile and Facebook Fan page, a LinkedIn profile and a YouTube Channel.
- Spend 15 minutes every morning finding and following people who are interested in books, publishing, reading, the arts or my area of expertise on Twitter. Follow everyone who follows me, even if they don’t seem to be a natural fit with my goals at this time. I never know who will be following them and what their interests might be. The goal with Twitter is to cast a wide net. My Twitter follower goal for January is 1,000.
- Attract 500 new fans to my Facebook Fan page by posting a combination of links to articles of interest to my desired fan base, short posts about my writing process, photos of my speaking engagements, and once a month teleseminar and/or newsletter.
- Add 500 people to my e-mail list by creating a weekly inspirational or tip oriented e-newsletter that would provide information directly related to my area of expertise and would be added value for my readers.
- Write two articles to submit to print or magazines that cover my area of expertise and that would link back to or reference my Facebook page or my website or my e-newsletter.
- Research list of speaking engagements for my summer or fall tour or for on-going promotion of my work throughout the year.
- Attract 500 new fans to my Facebook Fan page (see January for ideas)
- Add 1,000 people to newsletter mailing list by creating a contest and offering a desirable prize such as a Kindle, Nook or something readers might enjoy. The modest amount of money spent on the prize can pay dividends in new fans and word of mouth buzz.
- Send out first newsletter and include links to all of my social media sites, announce any upcoming speaking engagements, give readers a reason to want to hear from me again.
- Write two additional articles for magazines and syndicate January’s articles if they were not already published by any outlet. There are many syndication services such as http://ezinearticles.com who will broadcast your articles. The goal here is to create awareness of my name, book topic and to whet the appetite of readers for my upcoming book.
- Contact speaking engagements that fit into summer or tour timetable.
- Write non-time sensitive Op Ed piece and “bank it” until Spring.
- Attract 500 new fans to my Facebook Fan page
- Add 1,000 people to newsletter mailing list by creating a “refer your friends” promotion. Offer something special to current subscribers who encourage two or more friends to sign up for the newsletter.
- Send out second newsletter. Engage my newsletter readers with polls, questions about future topics they might enjoy reading from me and create a sense of community by giving them insider information about me personally, my book and a look inside my life as a writer.
- Write two additional articles for magazines and syndicate any articles that have not yet been published from the previous month.
- Install the Slideshare application on my LinkedIn profile and create a powerpoint presentation about my upcoming book, making sure that it’s not an advertisement, but actually has value to a wider audience. Give facts, figures, interesting snipets. Post the powerpoint using Slideshare.
- Write one additional non-time sensitive Op Ed piece and “bank it” for submission to newspapers in the Spring.
- Attract 500 new fans to my Facebook Fan page. Make sure I’ve installed the Selective Twitter application on my page so that all my Facebook posts are broadcast to my Twitter profile as well.
- Add 1,500 people to newsletter mailing list. Use my Facebook Fan page to talk about articles in my previous newsletters and invite people to sign up for the newsletter by installing an opt in box on your Facebook Fan page if I have not done so already.
- Send out third newsletter. Invite people to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
- Firm up speaking engagement tour.
- Contact bookstores in those towns to arrange bookseller for back of room sales.
- Connect with a publicist who can book radio, tv and print in those towns.
- Post 4-5 short personal videos to my YouTube Channel to give potential readers a taste of my personality, book, speaking style and what they can expect if they choose to buy my book. Again, these are not commercials. These are personal windows to allow the reader to get to know me.
- Attract 500 new fans to Facebook Fan page.
- Add 1,500 people to newsletter mailing list.
- Send out the next newsletter with all tour dates and locations.
- Create an Event through Facebook Fan Page and alert everyone on my list to upcoming tour dates and locations.
- Create an Event on LinkedIn with the same information.
- Put all of my social media platforms to work full force in getting the word out about these live events.
- Launch my book with the personal appearances and ask all my friends, fans and followers to help me spread the word.
- Post, Tweet and e-mail several times per week, if not everyday, during launch month and create the impression that I am everywhere at every moment. Attract new readers to my work by giving my writing away – in small samples – through social media.
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Now, of course, this is not a comprehensive marketing plan and every book marketing plan needs to be unique, but you get the idea. Put actual goals and numbers to your strategy to help you keep on track, and be realistic about what you can do yourself and when you need to bring others in to help you.
Remember, your trying to create a conversation, a massive conversation, about YOU and your brand. Do you have additional ideas for creating your brand strategy goals for 2010. Let’s share those ideas with one another here.