by Sarah Hamaker, reluctant marketer
Marketing takes time, and for us writers, that’s usually time away from our writing. With marketing a necessary part of our writing business, we need to ensure we are marketing smart and not spinning our wheels on things that don’t generate results. Here are the top 5 marketing mistakes that can waste our time and drain our creativity.
- Not figuring out the return on investment. This goes hand-in-hand with setting a marketing goal, but is a different way to measure success. We all need to know what we’d like our return on investment (ROI) to be for each marketing effort or task. Some marketing ideas don’t cost us anything but time, while others have time and money price tags. Both are precious commodities to a writer, so we must carefully evaluate the time and financial outlay for each marketing idea to see if it’s the right fit for us.
- Free lunches. Yes, we all love our fans and talking about our books in various forums, but we must be careful not to give away too much just because it might be considered a marketing opportunity. For example, speaking engagements that don’t pay but allow you to sell books should be evaluated by how many books you think you will sell (or have sold at similar events in the past). The same for guest blogs and other writing opportunities—lay the cost to you (time, effort) against your ROI/marketing goal for gratis requests. Take only those that align with your overall marketing goals and kindly turn down the rest.
- Not following up. How many times do we send off the marketing letter or email and forget to check back with the person later? This is one of the biggest mistakes I found myself making—I would send off an awesome marketing pitch for a speaking engagement, for example, and then neglect to follow up a few weeks later. Everyone’s busy, and it often takes repeated exposure to garner a response. I’ve started putting reminders in my online calendar to follow up after I’ve sent an initial request, making this task easier to implement.
- Lack of patience. We often ditch marketing efforts before they’ve had a chance to get off the ground because we don’t see any positive results or achieve our goal immediately. Sometimes, we might need to tweak the approach or readjust our end goal, but most of the time, we lack the wherewithal to stick with something over the long-term. There’s a reason snow balls get larger when they roll down hills—momentum builds both slowly and quickly.
- Discouragement. Marketing can be tough, especially if you don’t immediately see tangible results, but it’s important to remember that marketing is more than just one event or task. It’s a series of little things that grows as it goes. We should think about marketing as developing relationships with people and vendors and bookstores. We might not connect with our first effort, but repeated exposure in a professional manner will help forge a relationship that will bear fruit.