Last week I covered the first three steps of Kevin Stirtz’ “Smart Marketing System”, focusing on a marketing plan’s Goals, Market and Message, and this week I’ll take a look at the final two pieces of this simple but apparently often confounding puzzle:
1. The GOALS or objectives you want to accomplish
2. The MARKET you want to reach
3. The MESSAGE you want to deliver to your market
4. The MONEY you are willing to spend to deliver your message
5. The MEDIA you will use to deliver your message
Money and Media, of course, are pretty much inseparable, with the former usually dictating the latter, and they’re also the two aspects of a marketing plan most comics publishers seem to approach like a game of darts with Previews ads in the Bullseye, if not representing the entire dartboard.
Simple Fact #1: You have to spend money to make money.
There are many basic marketing efforts publishers can implement at little or no cost, and most of them are relative no-brainers that aren’t going to set them apart from the real competition, but will at least give the impression that they’re a legitimate publisher with a shot at still being around a couple of years from now.
1) Professionally designed logos and trade dress.
2) A non-Flash Web site, with a regularly updated blog; separate landing pages for each title and creator, with links to reviews and interviews; PDF and JPG samples of all titles, current, upcoming and backlist; publisher and creator contact information; release schedules and retailers list; viral downloadables, ie: wallpaper, screensavers, AIM icons, signature banners, podcasts, etc.
3) A PowerPoint presentation promoting the publisher’s niche in the marketplace (actual and/or hoped for); titles — current, upcoming and backlist; creators, awards, reviews, press, etc.
4) Basic marketing materials, ie: business cards, booth signage, brochures, postcards, pins, pens, etc.
5) Well-written, informational press releases with a specific call-to-action.
If a publisher doesn’t have these five items taken care of before they solicit their first publication to Diamond (or Ingram, or Bookazine, or whomever), they’re simply not ready for prime time. These items, alongside other fundamentals like contracting with a printer and securing ISBNs, represent the most basic aspects that separate the hobbyist from the professional, and without them, your chances for profitability are pretty slim.
And what’s the primary goal of marketing? Profitability.
So, that’s the no-brainer, stop-reading-now-if-you-don’t-have-them-in-order stuff. What about the fun stuff? The display ads in Previews, Wizard, and Entertainment Weekly; the 20×20 trade show booth; the local radio and TV commercials; the t-shirts, hats and private label beer?
All things in time, grasshopper.
Simple Fact #2: Wax on, wax off.
Taking nothing for granted, we have to focus on the fundamentals first. For most publishers, these No-Brainer items represent a significant investment in both time and money, and are the most likely things to be overlooked or half-assed in the rush to the printer.
If you flip through the back of the current issue of Previews, I’d wager that more than half of the publishers soliciting material there don’t have all five of these items covered. Even Marvel and DC screw up the informational press release, and almost every publishers’ Web site is lacking at least one or two of the items needed to maximize their usefulness as an effective marketing tool in the Google Era. This applies to mass market publishers, too, many of whom have Web sites that were conceived and designed back in the 20th Century and have not been updated since.
Next week, I’ll break down these Marketing No-Brainers, showing why they are the most important step in determining the Money and Media portion of our Simple Plan, the crude oil that, once refined, will become the high octane fuel that drives our profit-making marketing machine forward.