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Building Your Marketing Team

Nov 10, 2007
Spending money on marketing is never easy, but it's worse when you hire a marketing team and don't understand how to work with them. There aren't any books on this, nor are there a lot of resources dedicated to working with a publicity or marketing person.

While we spend a lot of time educating our authors on how best to use us, we still find that some folks don't maximize this. At a recent team meeting, we all discussed the fact that authors fully engaged in their own success have the best experience. Whether it's with us or with another firm, an engaged author is a successful author. Also, an informed author generally has a better experience with his or her marketing firm.

Maximize their work: find out how you can maximize your work. By this I mean are there things you can be doing, or not doing as the case may be, to help them maximize their efforts? Can you be adding content to your website, or do you need publicity shots taken? Do they offer any training for their authors, classes or otherwise, that you can participate in? Sometimes getting your money's worth from a pr firm isn't always putting them to work for you. Often they are a wealth of information themselves, tap into that if you can!

Respect their contacts: unless otherwise noted in your contract, your marketing person's contacts most often don't belong to you. If having access to this data is important, mention it to your marketing person up front so there's no post-contract negotiation

Do your homework: if your marketing firm gives you things to do, by all means do them! If they're asking for your contribution, there's probably a good reason for it. If you're not sure what that reason is, by all means ask them.

Surprises aren't good when it comes to your campaign: while it's a nice surprise to find out that Oprah called wanting you on her show, it's less fun to find out that your campaign went over budget by $2,000. Get *all* fees in writing up front, and make sure and confirm (in writing) that any additional fees will get prior approval from you. Over the years I've spoken to numerous authors who have gotten sticker shock. They've started out with a small dollar amount on their campaign, only to find out that everything was extra; emails, faxes, calls, pitches. I wish I were joking.

Know what your non-negotiables are: I met one of our authors today for coffee, Myles Reed, author of Fishing for Love on the Net. We were talking about non-negotiables in dating and I realized that the same is true for hiring anyone on your team. You need to define what you do and don't want before someone decides for you. For example, if you want a pr person who's local, then don't bother calling companies in another state. Figuring out what you do and don't want will really help you to narrow your choices before you sign on the dotted line.

Ask them how you can best work with them: when a new client comes on board we generally have a few group calls with them, we introduce them to the team and get them going. This is a great time to share your schedule, the things you can and can't deliver on and ask them to do the same. When can you expect updates?

Communication is important: we often tread a fine line between communicating and over-communication. Over the years we've managed to find a healthy balance, but it hasn't been easy. Let's face it, when you pay someone for something you want to know they're working on your behalf. Find out right up front how often you'll be hearing from them and in what form. Also, find out the best ways to access them. For most of us at AME, we have different work schedules and programs we're managing. I travel a lot so reaching me via email is often best. I have my blackberry and can respond almost immediately. Learn the best way to communicate with your pr person, and if you need someone right away and they're not around, get the name of someone else to call.

Leave entitlement at the door: this doesn't necessarily apply to working with your marketing team, but it's a good general rule to remember. Being an author doesn't entitle you to immediate success. You might nod your head knowing this, but you'd be surprised how many times I hear from editors, agents, and other pr folk that the quickest way for an author to undermine his or her own success is to subscribe to entitlement.

Get your money's worth: more than anything, you want to know that you're getting your money's worth from your campaign. Make sure you understand the details of what your pr person is doing for you and how they plan to do it. Don't allow your marketing team to bat around nebulous terminology. Get the facts and get them in writing. Be clear on what you're getting. Often I'll see authors hire pr firms not really knowing what they're doing. This isn't all the author's fault, actually, as some marketing/pr firms like to throw out fancy language to impress potential clients. Ixnay the fancy language and get to the meat of what they're doing and what you can expect.

After the party's over: so what do you do when your contract ends? Don't just go away and thank them for their hard work! Ask the marketing team how you can best maximize what they've done for you. Nearly all of our programs come with follow-up ideas, suggestions for future promotion (most of these ideas can be implemented by the authors on their own). If your pr team doesn't have any follow-up suggestions in their final update, ask for them. Find out how you can best use the momentum they've created for you.
About the Author
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a book marketing and media relations expert whose company has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Visit AME.
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