Creating a Marketing Mission Statement
In my past life (the one that paid the bills) I was a department head. It was a position requiring more head than heart. Now retired, I have begun to pursue a lifelong interest in writing. This began quite simply. My mother was a poet and I was fortunate enough to be the keeper of her efforts after she passed. More to honor and make known her achievements to the family than to sell books, my first effort was to introduce and comment on a selection of her best poetry. The self-published book, LIFE LINES, A Selection of Poetry Written by Helen Corrigan Iekel, was the result.
From that beginning, friends encouraged me to write more. In a labor of love and words sprung from the heart, not the head, I followed with The Candles of My Life, a biographical sketch of the life of Helen Corrigan Iekel, and House with a Heart, the story of the pioneer family that built my childhood home.
We have all heard and know intuitively that marketing our books is a very different task than writing. When we write, we often reach into our inner self to find the best words. We write from the heart with no particular heart for the work needed to later seek out interested readers. To boot, as self-published authors we can expect little help from publishers.
As a result, in this age of computers and search engines, we look for internet sites that will guide us in our marketing efforts. What is the right combination of these marketing tips that will encourage the sale of my book? While this approach certainly makes sense, there is so much more to a successful marketing plan than applying 10 or 12 bulleted suggestions.
So, while my writing comes from my heart, I know that my marketing efforts must come from my head. This takes me back to my days as a department head and the approaches that were necessary to carry out successful programs.
Two important and visible devices seem indispensable to me:
- A clear mission statement
- A tactile manifestation of the effort.
What is a mission statement? It is a thought-out set of words that identify what we are trying to accomplish AND, once in place, continues to remind us over time. As an author I need to clearly understand what it was that I wrote and to whom I was writing. Though the business world would opt for a concise statement with few words, in this instance it would be much longer.
I call it my Introduction and it would consider answers to the following questions:
- What is the story about?
- Where does it take place?
- Why did I choose this topic?
- What, if anything, is unique about this story?
Having settled on a clear mission statement (Introduction) the author should determine and list, in bullet form, his/her Objectives. You had a reason for writing this particular story. Surely one was to sell books, but to whom? Are there other reasons you chose this topic (the people involved, the setting, the timeframe)? These two elements of your marketing plan, combined, will provide you with a much clearer idea of your target markets and the action items that will be needed to reach those markets.
In the end, the self-published author will have created a simple loose-leaf binder that identifies each target market and provides plenty of blank lines on which the author can (sooner or later) jot down all the possible outlets, materials and methods of distribution. This marketing plan (an intellectually developed tool) becomes your workbook. It is visible, preferably with an interesting cover page. It reminds and motivates you to keep on selling your treasured work. The part that came from the heart.