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I mentioned last week that I was inviting a couple of friends around for a “Plank marketing brainstorming”, and I promised to report back.  Well, it was a terrific success, and I can highly recommend the concept.  Not much to organise: I bought some nice sausage rolls and crisps from M&S (rule one: never poison guests with own mediocre cooking), selected some wine and juice, propped our old cork bathmat up against the wall in the lounge, and wrote down each called-out idea on a sticky and stuck it on the bathmat.  The key rules of brainstorming are that all ideas – no matter how impractical or batty – are recorded, and that no idea is assessed or judged at this stage.  What you want is free-wheeling free association of ideas.

And that’s what we got.  I introduced the books and the concept of the series very briefly and then, in just over an hour, we generated 58 separate marketing ideas.  I have now transcribed them all into a document, just listed without ranking or sorting.  I will mull them for a couple of days, and then start planning.  Some will naturally group together – for instance, “contact online book clubs” and “contact overseas book clubs” will require similar research and approaches.  Others have a date-specific element to them, such as “take stall at Cambridge Folk Festival”.  Ideally I would like to take one idea (or group of ideas) a week and see what I can do with it.  Some will prove impractical (is it likely that Amazon would share any information it has on the profile of the buyers of my books?) and others might turn out to be batty – but if I get even a fifth to lead somewhere, well, that’s  dozen more exciting marketing ideas than I had this time last week.