A short-term marketing campaign is a series of strategies designed to reach a goal in a defined period of time, and include projects such as book launches. A short-term campaign has four definite phases: planning, pre-launch, launch, and follow-through.
Campaign marketing is often misunderstood. Sometimes people believe a short-term campaign is a waste of time because, well, it’s short. However, if you build awareness going into a campaign, the momentum can boost your results, and a follow-up will keep your campaign on the horizon. Without the four stages, your campaigns may just be seen as a rude interruption.
Before we dive in, let’s look at some of the characteristics of campaigns.
You can break posting frequency rules during a campaign.
If your fans see you as a friend, they will cut you some slack during short-term campaigns. If you have a one-day event and let your fans know, you can post more often on your social media outlets promoting the event without danger of losing loyal fans. People know you are going to sell at some point, and they don’t mind you doing so provided you are giving them enough valuable content to balance out the selling.
Campaigns can reap benefits besides sales.
If your campaigns have contests or giveaways, you can tie participation to an action such as commenting, using a hashtag, or asking people to like a post that promotes your email sign-up. Contests can bring new fans to your page or increases email sign-ups for free books. Just make sure to follow the contest rules on every social media channel. Book launches also give you opportunities to promote other books, especially if they are part of a series. Think creatively about how you can use a campaign to help reach other long-term goals.
Campaigns need above average value for maximum impact.
“What’s in it for me” should be evident to your fans. I have one client who runs two thank-you campaigns every year with a goal of increasing her social media numbers—one around the December holiday season for her Facebook group and another in July for fans of her Facebook page. The two events have multiple prize packages given away around a theme where participants have to take a social action (comment, like a post, add to a Pinterest board, etc) to enter the daily giveaways. It’s the highest time of engagement on both of her pages.
Campaigns that have a successful pre-launch have a better chance of success.
Campaign success is accelerated if you step on the gas pedal leading up to the launch. It’s all about momentum. Build anticipation before an event and people will be primed to take an action. The pre-launch phase needs to be short in proportion to the entire campaign length. I’ve done successful book pre-launches that were only ten days out. The key to success is planning.
The Four Phases of Short-Term Campaigns
1. The Planning Phase. When planning a short-term campaign, start with a calendar. I suggest you plan all your launches and short-term campaigns on an annual cycle, if possible. Whether you have a planning calendar application or just use a spreadsheet or Word doc, an annual plan makes sure your campaigns will not overlap and burn out your fans. They need a break from selling messages. However, that doesn’t mean you never sell anything outside a campaign. Since campaigns elevate the noise level on your social media channels, you need to give people spans of time to feel normal before you start again.
After you have chosen your campaign dates for the year, work backwards on the calendar to know when planning and pre-launch phases should begin. This might sound daunting at first, but using this system will reap rewards once you get started. Using a calendar to book your campaigns will help ensure that your marketing is manageable.
Your planning phase is the most important of all phases. If I am doing a book launch, I start working on the planning phase three months or more ahead of time. Even though I usually don’t start a pre-launch until a month before the launch, I design, write, and put together everything I will need during the planning phase. I will spend chunks of time here and there to get the work done so I can keep writing, blogging, and doing life. Once I have a template for a campaign, it is easy to judge how long tasks will take the next time. The first time is always the hardest.
During your planning phase you will put together all your graphics, draft all your email blasts, put together a book page on your website, send inquiries out to potential reviewers, secure endorsements from influencers, enlist a launch team, and have all your tactics scheduled on the calendar for pre-launch, launch, and follow-through. Just remember that the calendar is a work in progress; stuff happens and you’ll have to rethink the timeline.
How much time you spend on planning is dictated by the size of your campaign. If you’re just starting out, I recommend keeping it simple.
2. The Pre-Launch Phase. A pre-launch starts anywhere from ten days to one month or more before a book launch. Keep in mind this phase is about building momentum. There are a number of proven strategies authors have used during pre-launch, including giveaways and contests on social media channel, preorders, guest appearances on other author blogs, email blasts, and so on.
If you’ve prepared well, the rocket should take off smoothly. Once you push the launch button, the phase becomes more about monitoring and gauging feedback to see if adjustments need to be made in what you’ve already set up.
3. The Launch Phase. Here are some examples of launch phase activities:
- Fulfill your guest blog and podcast responsibilities on the launch calendar. Promote your appearances and publicly thank your hosts afterwards.
- Mail out prizes awarded during pre-launch.
- Monitor ads and promotions to track upticks in sales, making allowances for a promotion’s life. For instance, tweets have almost no extended life. Even when they are shared, their life expectancy is still low. Repetition and well-written posts are the keys to more life. Podcasts, guest blogs, and interviews have more life because they are not necessarily accessed in real time.
- Check to make sure review team members have posted their reviews and send personal thank-yous to those that have.
- Adjust the frequency of planned social media posts if necessary.
- Check up on your social media street team to make sure they have plenty of content and images to share. Set up a website page ahead of time where they can download content.
- Be present regularly on your social media channels to answer questions and thank fans for their support.
- Keep writing and doing life.
Be mindful of all the new followers, subscribers, and loyal fans you have gained. If your launch went as planned, you should have heightened engagement and increased numbers on your social channels and email list in the two or three weeks following the launch. By the time your follow-up starts, your social media posting frequencies should have returned to normal, but now you need to add another piece to your marketing mix: introducing yourself to new followers.
4. The Follow-Up Phase. Remember that new followers need nurturing to stay invested, so have some “wow’ content ready for the follow-up period. This is also a key time to show value to your loyal fans so new followers can see how much you appreciate your supporters. If you have done giveaways during the launch, I recommend sending a written thank-you note with each gift you mail out, asking winners to post a picture on your Facebook page or group when they receive their goodies in the mail. I also recommend using a mix of content during this time that may include the following tactics:
- Produce short video thank-yous to dedicated fans who helped you launch your book. You can use your phone to produce these and post them on your Facebook page and also on Twitter. Make sure you tag the person in the video so they see them.
- Don’t forget to thank those people who hosted guest posts and podcasts with a public shout-out on social media and a link recommending their blog.
- Review excerpts from fans are good post-launch social media. You can drop these into Canva templates and make them into an image.
- Give shout-outs on your social media channels to new followers.
- If you made social media cover photos promoting your book launch, change the cover to reflect that the book is now the latest release.
- Remind your advance reader team to post reviews.
- Stay vigilant when replying to messages on your primary social media channel.
At some point during the follow-up, business will return to “normal” and you’ll probably be well into writing your next book. Just remember, your work is not done. In his book 20,000 Days And Counting, author Robert Smith says, “You never really cross the finish line. Accomplishing a big goal (like writing a book) isn’t the finish line, it’s the new starting line.”
Chris Syme is a 20-year veteran of the communications and marketing industry and is the founder of CKSyme Media Group. She is an author and speaker on the topics of social media marketing and reputation management. She is a former university media relations professional and crisis management consultant for college athletic departments, businesses, and sports event venues. Chris also co-hosts the popular Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast with her daughter, USA Today bestselling author R.L. (Becca) Syme.