Shawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD
Develop Your Connection Plan (aka Marketing Plan)
I always thought of marketing as a four-letter word. I still do, even though I’ve gone through several certification programs on social and digital marketing and I know how to do it. It was hard enough marketing my organizing services, but I froze when it came to marketing my books. Until I started thinking of it as CONNECTING with my readers rather than marketing to buyers. My marketing plan became a connection plan and things got easier.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll expand on the basic Connection Plan, with the next newsletter focusing on understanding your Ideal Reader and the following newsletter on building your Author Platform. We’ll even get to a more detailed content calendar in a later email. But for now, let’s focus on developing your connection plan.
There are three things to consider:
1. Your definition of success for your book
1. Define Success
A connection plan starts with how you define success for your book. What will success look like for you?
▢ A book to offer at speaking engagements
▢ Be seen as the expert in your field
▢ Change the focus of your business
▢ Help those who may not be able to hire you
▢ Another tool for your clients to use
▢ An eBook to offer
▢ Passive income
▢ Grow your business
▢ Increase visibility for you and your business
▢ The first book in a series
If your sole desire is to have a bestseller or to become rich from the sale of this one book, you will need a lot more than this newsletter and I have to offer. If, however, your definition of success is one of the above listed items or something similar, then let’s continue. Write your definition down. Return to it again and again when you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or just tired. This definition of success—your definition of success—is the first key piece to your connection plan.
2. Your Comfort Level
Next, identify how you prefer to connect with people. Which of these activities are you most or pretty comfortable in doing?
▢ Social Media posting
▢ Press Releases
▢ Telling everyone you meet
If you picked more than one, identify the top, most preferred (and most fun) way that you enjoy connecting to your customers, audience, and potential readers. The intent is not to push you out of your comfort zone (initially), but to use your current strengths and willingness to start getting the word out. As you become more comfortable talking about your book to your natural audience, you can then add additional connection points, and then more, and even more.
It’s no longer viable to think “write it and they will come.” You will need to connect to potential readers and possible buyers through multiple channels. So, start with the channels you enjoy, then build from there.
One last point on connecting with your readers at your comfort level—consistency. Don’t over commit to a grand plan. Start with one (or with what you’re already doing) and then build from there. If you want to offer your potential readers an email, start with once a month rather than weekly. If you want to post a video on YouTube, TikTok, or reels, how often will you be able to do this realistically? What can you commit to doing over the next three months? For the next 12 months?
3. Your Reader’s Location
Finally, begin to locate your prospective readers. I say begin because one of the challenges to getting the word out is reaching the audience you want. Another challenge can be reaching an audience you didn’t know you would have. We’ll cover several of the challenges to identifying your ideal reader in the next newsletter. But for now, answer the following questions to the best of your ability. Get your ideas and thoughts down now, regardless of how much detail you have or don’t have. We’ll collect more information and move forward together.
Identify your reader’s location.
Who is your intended reader(s)? ______________________________________________
Where are they? Where do they get their information and ideas? (Which social media are they on? Do they read a particular magazine, belong to an association? What do they search for on the internet? What webinars do they watch? Do they attend conferences, etc?) ________________________________________________________
Why are they on those platforms and not others? ________________________________________________________
When are they on those platforms? ________________________________________________________
How do they learn? How do they want to be communicated with? ________________________________________________________
If you’re like me and expect to answer these questions in detail from the beginning, then become frustrated and give up, don’t. Answering these questions is an ongoing process. You will estimate, guess, theorize. Then you will need to spend some time evaluating and verifying. Refine your answers. Redefine your target. And move closer to your goal. It’s not a one-stop answer and bam! you’re successful. It’s an ongoing journey you take to move closer and closer to achieving your goal of reaching one more reader.
Your Connection Plan
Once you’ve answered these three key points (your definition of success, your comfort level, and your reader’s location) you have a start on your CONNECTION plan. Use it to move forward and learn what works, what doesn’t and what you enjoy best. Use it to build your skills and expand your comfort zone. Use it as your base to grow from.
Here’s what my first connection plan included:
Success: I want to learn how to sell more books, then actually sell more books.
Preference: Writing blogs & newsletters. But I’d rather advertise than market.
Reader location: searching on Amazon.
Now it’s time to build your Connection Plan
So… what's your connection plan?
You’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world.