“The real discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” -Marcel Proust
It’s extremely difficult to market effectively if you don’t have a plan. You can do it but it will cost you more than you ever imagined in time and money. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but that’s probably not where you want to be if you’re looking to grow your business.
Even with a plan, you can be off. Not seeing what your market is really thinking or how all the disparate tools come together to form a good mix and message can have you feeling like you’re spinning your wheels. Chances are, if you can’t easily visualize how it all comes together in the end, you have a bad plan.
Almost two decades ago, I started a publishing company with two collaborators. Our plan was to create a voice for small business owners (particularly woman) who had built great companies. There were multiple benefits for all involved, especially the clients.
This was (shortly) before the advent of the so-called “self-publishing houses” we see in large numbers offering digitally available written tomes today. There was no Kindle.
We (I) did an extensive business plan that included detailed marketing and financial benchmarks and projections.
Our team offered a good mix to tackle this initiative together. One gal had a successful publishing company, although with a different market. She had an established relationship with LSI, which could get us available to 18,000 bookstores across the U.S. She was a visionary and a delight.
Another (claimed) she had the talent and knowledge to do book design.
I brought a marketing, media, public relations, sales and writing background to the mix.
What I saw was so much more than books, with a company that could also provide a myriad of service and support on the back end.
8 don’t do Murphy’s Law mistakes
A bunch of things went wrong we didn’t foresee.
- We didn’t move fast enough. Ridiculous time was spent agreeing on a name (we never really did), deciding roles, deliberating the minutia and being inclusive. In hindsight, it would have been better to simply delegate the big tasks, not sweat the small stuff and come back as a group to approve or amend what the others had done – fast.
- During the year(s) we spent deciding how to launch an idea capitalizing on technology few knew about or had access to, availability changed. We didn’t foresee the landscape morphing so quickly.
- Most successful business women don’t have the time to even be interviewed for content, let alone, write a book. Even scheduling time for 20 minute interviews was put off for months.
- We didn’t effectively communicate our vision (prospects got stuck on books) to the intended audience.
- Too much focus was put on revenue coming into our respective companies rather than crafting strategies to bolster the new entity. This also created price models that were unrealistic. We had targeted a market segment that had no clue about the costs of book production yet didn’t consider how we might provide a low cost option with an upsell.
- Our belief that successful business owners would seek to add “book author” (even if it was ghosted) to credentials was flawed. We knew these women were at a point in their life where they wanted to give back in some pretty big ways to the next generation (we did do some market research), but what we came to learn is (shockingly – probably should have asked this question) most weren’t readers.
- While prospects were extremely focused on finding ways to help younger women avoid the mistakes they had made and benefit from their older wisdom, they found a book too impersonal.
- One of the partners went off to California to take care of her mom. The other went off the deep end.
There were other issues, but those are the highlights.
Onto the next century
I launched BookConductors, LLC in 2001 with a logo, a Trademark and an idea. It’s taken me 13 years to figure out how to craft the right plan. It went where no creative molecule of my mind had ever gone before. I didn’t see this coming.
Stay tuned tomorrow and beyond to find out the circuitous and strange route this company took to find strategic success today. Oh – and please share the love with the buttons to the right of this post and by adding a comment (or question), if the spirit moves you, below.