Writing a Marketing Plan
Here at the SYP, we’re always looking for new and exciting ways to help our members connect and progress. Earlier this year, the London Committee launched a series of monthly, skills-focussed evening workshops. Ranging from coding and SEO management to cover design, booktubing, and event planning, the idea is to provide initial practical training in key areas related to publishing that can be applied in the (future) workplace.
Our May workshop was hosted by the fantastic Claire Morrison (@novelmarketing), Senior Marketing Manager at DK, who shared valuable insights into how to create marketing campaigns that pack a punch. She talked us through the planning stages of a campaign, explained how to set objectives, highlighted the importance of clever budgeting and identifying a book’s target market, and provided tips on how to go about segmenting your audience. For the practical part of the session, participants were asked to team up and develop their own campaign ideas for a relaunch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm – each team on a different budget.
We caught up with Claire after the workshop for more tips and tricks on how to run a campaign that has everyone talking:
Do you prefer to have a budget as the first step of your plan, or to come up with an idea which you then need to make work within a specific budget?
That’s a hard one. I like to know the budget because I like details and it helps me plan. However, when I brainstorm I don’t allow a budget to be a constraint. I encourage my team to be creative and then we will try to find a way to make it happen – if they can!
What are the main challenges of allocating a marketing budget for a campaign?
The biggest challenge I’ve come across at all publishers I’ve worked at (but I think it’s probably all companies!) is balancing the internal expectations with what budget is available. I worked at one publisher where nearly every time I presented a plan I was told to find more money and that meant taking it away from other books. It was a hard juggling act. It’s about communicating early on if the book is a lead or not and what that means for spend and marketing time spent on the book.
How closely do you work with the book's publicist when pulling together marketing plans?
Very. We are a team. A marketing campaign is not independent from the whole publishing plan. There is no marketing plan without the book, publicity and sales. It’s a team effort to drive sales and brand awareness together.
How long before the book’s publication date do you start planning your campaigns?
As far in advance as possible. However, as DK develops many of the books in-house (they don’t arrive as a manuscript), sometimes our books are still developing all the way up to going to print so we probably have less time than narrative fiction and non-fiction publishers. Sometimes books drop in last minute so you start as soon as you hear about it, which may be less than six months before publication.
Do you use any marketing tools when confirming your plans?
Tools are used throughout the campaign. For the planning part it’s about looking at Bookscan and any consumer data that’s available and learning from previous campaigns. Then, throughout the campaign, we use tools such as our email system reporting function, social media listening tools, Google Analytics and, again, Bookscan.
How much does the author of the book factor into your marketing plan?
A lot! It obviously depends on the author, where they are based, and what they are comfortable doing. Many of our authors work really hard for us. Two DK authors who I’ve been working closely with this year are Jemma Westing, author of Out of the Box, and Steve Mould, author of How to Be a Scientist. They have both been amazing. We produce videos with them, had them do huge hands-on events and support us on social media, and generally worked with them to get any ideas on the books as they wrote them and are experts. On the other hand, I don’t let not having an author hold me, or the campaign, back.
How much time do you spend creating marketing plans? And how do you balance this with other aspects of your role?
I was discussing this with my boss recently and I have to admit I’m rubbish at working this out. I think that the more senior you get the harder it becomes to make sure you are spending time on your marketing plans. I have three members of staff – one in India – plus I’m also working on internal projects and represent DK at events such as at the PA’s Children’s Book Group, so there is a lot to do. However marketing plans and implementing the campaign is why I’m at DK so I love it when I’ve got the time at my desk to plan and get things done. Also, a plan will depend on many things such as the budget and the sales expectations so it’s a hard one to answer.
Where do you gather inspiration from when creating a campaign?
Everywhere. The publishing team, the book itself, my colleagues, inspiration from seeing what I like (or don’t like) in other campaigns within publishing and outside of the industry, from my experience of speaking to our readers (kids, parents, librarians, booksellers), from looking at new technology, to going to events… it’s really no one particular place!
Can you name a marketing campaign you've spotted recently that really stood out?
The adverts I love at the moment are ones that are funny or quirky, such as the Three giraffamingo advert. The McDonald’s American menu adverts are brilliant as they really capture how a great lunch can make your day while you are at work (although it’s not going to make me eat at McDonald’s!). I’m also loving the Harry Potter 20 Years campaign by Bloomsbury. I love the creative and the copylines. The whole thing from the design of the books to the advertising has been so fantastically done.
Interview by Sonali Dutta.