Last time, we talked about a very theoretical concept; which was the line. This week, I want to talk about some concepts and tools I recommend you start thinking about.

Sales Funnel

Pretty sure I’ve talked about it before, but when you’re building out your promotional strategy, make sure to consider where along the sales funnel you’re reaching people and what the goal of your promotion is.

Some promotional tactics (above the line stuff) are much, much better at doing brand awareness. Heck, even some kinds of below the line advertising (promotional posts, banner ads on websites) are more towards the brand awareness side than actual sales click-through.


Before you start working out what promotional strategies you intend to use, you need to know your budget. 

You can promote without a budget. It is harder, often more difficult to increase reach, but it is viable.

Knowing your budget (or lack of one) will allow you to work out what you can or should do. However, if you do have a budget; I’d seriously point you to my 10% rule. In short, always reserve a small amount for off the wall ideas. 

You never know when they might work out.

Understanding your Customers

Hopefully, you’ve already done this part up in the SWOT analysis. Knowing your customers (or potential customers) is key to promotions, but it’s also key to understanding your business. When you’re looking at building out your understanding  of customers, there’s a few things you can do:

– use tried and tested demographic information (age, sex, education, spoken languages, relationship status, jobs and job responsibilities, etc.)

– understand key customer interest information (interests, TV series they watch, books they read, music they listen to, etc.)

– build out buyer personas (think of how you’d describe the various customer segments that you have)

– media consumption methods

Knowing this, will let you narrow down your customers and promotional methods.

Promotional Calendar

Lastly, I want you to build out a promotional calendar. Grab all your books (or series) and set them down one side. Then, across the top of the calendar columns, the months.

Now, you can start inputting the various methods that you’re going to use for the various series. Thing you want to consider when building a promotional calendar is:

– the danger of overlapping promotions. For example, if you have 3 series, promoting all 3 in the same month will be expensive, create a huge spike in sales (hopefully) and mess up benchmarks. If a promotion has a tendency to ‘roll over’ to other series, you won’t be able to tell if you’re running all 3 ‘blast’ promos at the same time.

– on-going and ‘blast’ promotions. For example, Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads are pretty much on-going promotional methods. You turn them on, you tweak for optimisation, but you shouldn’t be turning them off if you’re doing well (especially for book 1’s).  On the other hand, newsletter promo sites are often ‘blast’ promos. The e-mail newsletter goes out, sales spike, but you don’t have another promo continuing at the same time.

– coinciding promo sales with promo periods. This is pretty basic, but if you have only 5 days for ‘cheap’ or promo sales (e.g. if you are in KU); you need to know when those are when you get them ‘refreshed’. Not knowing that can cause problems.

– new release months and promos set-up for those release months. Maybe you have book 4 coming out of your on-going series. If that’s the case, having a promo of book 1 a few days before or during the release of book 4 might make sense to drum up interest and/or drive sales to your books by working with the rank increase.

– benchmark months are important too. Just because you can run promos all the time, doesn’t mean you should. It can be just as useful and important to have a few ‘quiet’ months, so that you can benchmark what your new ‘base’ of sales are. 

This is important as well if you’ve started turning on a lot of on-going promotions and know they are doing okay, but aren’t sure what your ‘base’ sales are without blast promotions, without releases, etc.

Having a few quiet months can give you that period, where you can tell that your new ‘base’ is $2,000 on that $300 ad spend.

– seasonal / annual bias and other events. You might want to consider how certain periods can affect your sales. Certain books sell better during the summer periods, others in winter. You can also check against the promos that trad publishers do (often they gear up towards the fall / winter season, so it might be better to avoid it depending on your genre); etc. 

Heck, even your competitors in the niche might be important. If there’s a single dominant author, you might want to avoid releasing when they do.

– lastly, you’ll want to consider cashflow when creating your promos. If you have low or high sales months (i.e. release months), you might want to consider how that’ll affect your ability to pay for your promotions as well as what you can do to bolster low sales months up (and generate a more consistent flow of revenue). That is, if you want or care about that.

By the way, along with the promotional calendar, I also use a simple Google Calendar that is much more specific about changes. So I might put on the Google Calendar the date I put something on pre-order, the date I change a blurb, the date I switched up my ad copy or when I started A/B testing multiple ads.

Having both a general calendar and specific calendars are important, especially when you start looking 3/4 years in the future.

Alright, that’s it for concepts I think. Next post, the ‘basic’ building blocks for promotional tools for an indie author (as I see it).

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