On Thursday, November 5, LDSPPA hosted its first monthly member call. We had a great discussion on marketing—a topic many members have expressed interest in. The call was facilitated by Patrick Dunshee, who has an impressive background in advertising in publishing and other industries.

We kicked off the call by discussing the components of a marketing plan. These steps are applicable whether you’re the president of a publishing company or are a blogger trying to increase your audience. Here are the steps:

  • Identify the pain points: What are you/your company facing in terms of marketing your products/services or otherwise achieving your publishing goals?
  • Identify your objectives/what you want to achieve: What goals do you want to achieve—particularly those that the pain point could prevent you from achieving?
  • Determine what you need to do to achieve the objectives: What steps do you need to take to overcome the pain points and make your goals a reality?
  • Drill down to really understand the audience: Understanding your audience is essential for effective marketing. Here are some questions to ask:
    1.   What are the characteristics of your audience (age, interests, education level, etc.)
    2.   How do they obtain/consume information?
    3.   Why do they consume the type of information you’re publishing?
    4.   What motivates them?
    5.   How can you better reach your audience and met their needs?

Patrick emphasized the importance of being inquisitive. By asking questions, you’ll come to understand your audience. You can even become an expert whom other people look to for guidance. By understanding your audience, you’re better prepared to develop marketing messages that appeal to audience members and that meet their needs.

  • Develop tactics and metrics:
    1.   What message do you want to share with your audience? The message should match the audience’s interests and indicate that your products/services will meet their needs.
    2.  When will you share this message? (E.g., what time of day? day of the week?)
    3.   Which marketing channel is best for presenting your message? (To answer that question, identify which channels your audience members regularly use and for what purposes.)
    4.   How will you measure performance and attainment of your objectives? (E.g., audience engagement? A/B testing?)

To make these concepts more concrete, we applied them to a magazine Patrick published to coincide with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He saw the magazine as a great opportunity, but he also recognized a considerable pain point: he didn’t have the knowledge needed to successfully produce an Olympics-focused magazine. So, to achieve his objective of profitability, he started asking questions and researching. He talked to others who had published magazines to go along with previous Olympic Games. He found that none of these magazines had been successful, so he asked the publishers what had gone wrong. By understanding the downfalls of these magazines, Patrick was able to avoid them when working on his magazine.

Patrick also asked a lot of questions to understand his two audiences: (1) advertisers to solicit for magazine content and (2) readers. He had to understand both of these audiences to make the magazine successful. To understand an audience, it’s helpful to think like the members of the audience. For example, what content would the magazine readers be interested in based on their demographics? Which advertisers offered the products and services that would be of interest to the readers? Patrick used everything he learned to inform decisions regarding tactics and metrics. 

Members on the call also discussed a pain point that has resulted from using Amazon and other intermediary companies to sell products. While selling through these companies can be beneficial, doing so removes direct contact with customers. In turn, it can be difficult to engage with customers and control the customer experience. To address this pain point, one publishing company has turned to social media to interact with customers, understand them better, and build the company’s brand. The publisher also uses Amazon’s seller tools to obtain customer data, which provides insight on who the publisher’s customers are.

We also briefly discussed big data. Big data lets us make correlations and identify trends, providing great insight about a specific target audience. Patrick predicted big data will become more available to the publishing industry in the years to come, so stay tuned!

The information everyone shared during the call was fantastic—and applicable to all areas of publishing. So, if you weren’t able to join us on the call, make sure to listen to the recording. We hope you’ll be able to join us on next month’s call, Thursday, December 3, at 5:00 p.m. MST. Look for more details in the coming weeks.