Before Building A Marketing Plan – The 4 Questions You Must Ask Yourself

By Guest Author, Monique McCullough

Analogy warning: I am going to take this analogy way too far, but it is completely relevant, I promise!

We recently built a tree house for the kidlets. That is a loose term because it is not actually in a tree; rather it is set among the trees. As such, it had to have a foundation. This tree house is for real: there are joists and footers and cement and hinges and lag bolts and lots of little strange components that I never knew existed.

Lots of people remark on its cute factor and it definitely is “cute.” But the “cute stuff” were the easy add-ons that came at the end. If it wasn’t for everything UNDERNEATH, there would be nothing “cute!”

I thought the boring foundation stage would never end: there were cement blocks leveled and re-leveled, chunky wood posts adjusted and strapped, and hundreds of wood screws and bolts painstakingly drilled and hammered during nap times. It took FOREVER to get everything square, but now the floor is level and the doors are plumb. That enables all the “cute” stuff to stay put and not blow away with the wind (well, we hope…we did just have the remnants of a hurricane come through and it held up…so that’s good).

ANYWAY, of course by now you know where this is going.

If you are serious about your work, and hope that your work doesn’t blow away with the wind or time, then you are going to have to invest some energy into the “nuts and bolts” (haha pun intended!) of setting your marketing plan. Today we will focus on the importance of the foundation…and the FOUR questions that will help get your blueprint set:

1. What is at the core of your brand/you/your book/your publishing company?

Get out a large piece of paper (this is easy when you have kids…there are large bits of random paper everywhere). Write out what is close to your heart. Take your time. Write words, phrases, quotes, draw pictures, get creative (you are a writer after all!). What makes you feel REALLY good? What are you REALLY comfortable with? What are your passions? Spend lots of time on this question. It sets the stage for success.

2. What are the extras/side notes of your brand?

What are some ancillary topics/themes/genres/tidbits that are relevant to your work? What are some riskier items? For example, are you a memoir writer but also want to share some recipes? Then recipes would go here! If you are a food writer, then recipes would presumably be your main core (in #1).

3. How much time can you realistically devote to your marketing efforts?

How much time does that leave you to actually write? This may seem like an easy measurable answer, and it should be. The challenge is being honest with yourself. Time flies and there are no shortage of us who are always “crazy busy.” Even if you are a romance writer on the shores of some idyllic Irish paradise, you still have only 24 hours in a day. How much time can you devote to your marketing and still be sane? This will help determine your priorities and which tools to use.

4. And, finally, what does success look like for YOU?

In 6 months and in 6 years? Have a vision! It might not come true, but at least have some idea of what you are looking to achieve. This is your check and balance. When you are not sure which tools to use, you will come back to this vision. This is your guiding light, so make sure you get a clear picture of how you will define success. It can change, but envisioning success is half the battle. So really spend some time doing the homework above, and in the next post we will talk about the bolts and the screws and some tools that are used to put your plan into action. I told you I would take this analogy way too far.

Meet Monique McCullough

Hometown Guest Author Headshot

Monique McCullough is a former marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company. She gleefully jumped off the corporate ladder to stay home with her two small children. Monique now works from home writing children’s books. She is the author of the popular children’s picture book Color Me Georgi and is releasing her second book on November 25th.


You can follow her on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads or Pinterest @anothersouth

About Becky Robinson

Becky is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, the founder of Hometown Reads, and a champion of the #ReadLocal Movement.

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What People Are Saying

  • Hi! I’m new to Hometown Reads and found this so helpful & informative I shared it with my Solstice Publishing Authors Group. Thank you!

  • Ms. McCullough,
    Your tree house image caught my immediate attention. Once again, I was back in Washington State in my daughter’s backyard. There, near her vegetable garden, stood the beautiful, polished tree house which my son-in-law built for his sons(my grandsons). It will remain the loveliest tree house I’ve ever seen (in person)!

    So, your analogy is quite welcome. Reading your article is most helpful and I will take time to re-read it often. But for now, the last part stands out for me and I pause to ask myself: “What is my vision going forward?” This is especially timely today, for I just got off a phone call where someone told me: “I see where you are going with your vision.” This, as he is helping out with a special project.

    Really? I’d be interested in hearing what you see.

    It reminds me to pause and seriously reflect on my vision. Yes, it’s time to rethink and re-plan. Envisioning success will be a balm for me as I have just ‘agonized’ over marketing strategies. Thankfully, I am networking with others who have great ideas!

    Thank you!

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