|Staff selling IITA promotional items during Open Day 2010 (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)|
Here's an overview of the promotional process as I see it:
I. Create and develop: Come up with your idea. Produce a workable prototype. Write your book. Have in hand whatever it is that you will be promoting.
II. Believe in your product: Once you've got your product/book to the final stage ready to promote, then believe in it! If you don't believe in it strongly enough you'd better go back to tweak it until you do believe in it. Why would anyone believe in what you've got to offer if you don't believe in it with all your heart, mind, and soul. Also, believe in yourself--this is sometimes the most difficult part.
III. Dream into doing something: Visualize how you might get this product on the market and how it might be marketed to success. Dream productively, but don't waste too much time with idle pipedreams. Dreams can hold you back if you let them consume you. Instead, dream enough to inspire you and propel you forward.
IV. Research your promotional steps and venues: After the dream, focus on the realities. Investigate everything you need to do with promotion and the channels you will need to pursue. Read books and trade magazines, explore the internet, and talk to people who know. Ask questions and seek advice. Get all the knowledge you can arm yourself with before heading out into the fray.
V. Plan your course of action and strategize: Take the knowledge you have gained and map out your strategy. Write out a plan of action and schedule everything so you can approach your targets in logical progression. Don't try to schedule too much at once. A steady long range promotion is usually better than a big bang that fizzles quickly and uses all of your resources at one time.
VI. Act!: Once you're fired up and have your plan laid out, then act on it. Only stop if absolutely necessary. If you've planned appropriately then things should go just fine. Don't let setbacks throw you off course. If you have alternate plans and detours built into your schedule then you should be able to deal with any changes. Have a mind for improvisation as well. Once you're underway, don't lose momentum.
VII. Get others interested: Now that you're fired up and a powerhouse of promotional force in action, draw others into the excitement. Tell others what you are doing and find out what they can do to help you promote. Word of mouth is the best promotion you can find. When others are talking then more ears are listening. Don't forget the blog action such as tours and reviews. This step can also be started earlier or combined with previous actions
VIII. Stay motivated: Don't get discouraged if things don't start out well or start dragging. Take breaks if you need to, but keep stoking the fire of enthusiasm. Don't forget that what you are promoting is something that you believe in and want others to know about. Align yourself with people who will help boost your spirits and keep you motivated. Avoid the negative forces that will hold you back. Keep smiling and hold your head high.
IX. Follow-up and evaluate: After a reasonable period--the first month for example--stop for a session at home or in your office to look behind you to see what you've accomplished. This step should actually be built into your strategic plan. If you have milestones to help measure your progress then it becomes easier to evaluate what you've done. Be sure to follow-up with those you have contacted to see how their role in the promotion is playing out. Call on those who expressed previous interest but were noncommittal to see if they are willing to help now. Don't let the groundwork you've laid behind you get overgrown with the weeds of time. Keep the past contacts up to date and evaluate the present to see where to go next.
X. Review and renew: After you've done your evaluation of efforts so far, it's time to review the data and renew your enthusiasm. This is where you start asking the questions about what is working and what is not. Answer honestly and don't be afraid to ask others what they think. Don't lie dormant too long. If you're not happy about the success so far then it's time to forge onward. Start back at step one and plan your new strategy. By this time you're probably a pro at promoting and the job is much easier.
What steps have I left out? What steps might you eliminate or rely on others to do? Have you approached promotional matters in this way or have you taken a different approach?