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I’m going to ask you a question now and I want you to be really honest. How have you felt about planning your time these last twelve months?
And I’m talking particularly about the way you plan your time around your marketing efforts in your business. Have you felt like you know exactly what you’re doing? You know how everything fits together? You know how you’re spending every minute? Or do you feel like you’re juggling a big load of plates that are covered in oil and you’re desperately trying to hold them up in the air, but they’re slipping through your fingers and crashing on the ground spectacularly?
Well, I’ve been there. I know how that can feel. And honestly, if that’s happening to you, it’s probably because you’re trying to do too much and you’re not focused on the things that are going to move the needle in your business. So how do you get around that?
Well, there really is only one way to stop feeling that overwhelmed, and that is to create a simple marketing plan.
Now I get it. A marketing plan does not sound sexy. There are far more exciting-sounding things you could be spending your precious time on. But really and truly, just spending an hour or two on just getting really clear on how you’re going to spend your time around marketing your business and about finding your ideal customers – that’s going to pay so many dividends later on. It’s not only worth it, but really, it’s the only way to avoid that marketing overwhelm, and also the only way to get really solid results.
Because let’s face it, when we are small business owners, we do juggle all the hats, we juggle everything. Now we get all the advice saying that we need to do Instagram Reels, we need to do Facebook, we need to do Pinterest, we need to do PR. And they’re all totally amazing ways to get customers to our business. But here’s the thing. We feel like we should be doing all of them.
How many times have you felt guilty for not doing more of them? But in reality, to put this in perspective, when you think about big companies that do all of them, they have not only one person doing marketing, but they have a whole team of people covering all these marketing channels. So you can understand, if we are small business owners trying to do everything, then it’s just not going to work. Plain and simple.
You need to be super focused on how you’re spending your time, the platforms where you need to spend your time, and how you are making that work in your business.
But I get it. Marketing plans, they sound pretty boring. They sound a little bit complicated. The word ‘marketing’ straight away just sounds a bit complicated. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. It really doesn’t have to be that way.
Which is why I’ve come up with a formula for creating your perfect marketing plan. It’s really simple, and I’m going to take you through it now so that you can be super prepared in 2022 to create your very own marketing plan and just really be super clear on what to do in your business to market it effectively and how you’re going to do that. And that will lead to less overwhelm. It will lead to you saving time because you won’t be going down endless blind alleys. And it will also get you better results because you are so super focused. So what’s my perfect formula for a super simple marketing plan?
It is this. It’s simply FANS. That’s fans – like something that cools you down ‘fan’ with S on the end, so FANS. And each of those letters, F-A-N-S stands for a different part of your marketing plan.
There are four sections in FANS. So first of all, we’re going to start with F, which stands for FOUNDATION.
Very simply, this means that you have to have a strong foundation, make sure your brand is consistent and well thought out. Your foundation is always the best place to start because we all know we need a solid base if we want to build something that lasts. And as a business, it’s your brand that’s your foundation. It’s where all the rest of your business sits. It includes your very reason for being in the first place.
And when you know your brand well, it also makes decision-making 100 times easier going forward.
Now, I know there are so many negative connotations with brand amongst the artistic community. I know people don’t want to turn into that faceless corporate brand by calling themselves a brand. And you won’t. You can be a small brand and not be anything like that.
But here’s the thing. You can’t not be a brand.
That’s impossible, because a brand is simply a feeling that someone has about you and your business. And that’s what makes it powerful, because it’s what connects you to people having a purpose and having values, having things you stand for that makes up your brand. That is what people buy into. When people buy handmade earrings from you or people buy a pen from you, they’re not buying from you because they want a pen or because they want earrings. They’re buying because they want to buy a little piece of your story. And that story is all tied up with your brand. So knowing what your brand is is really important to market your business effectively.
In regards to your brand, you should know things like your ‘purpose’. So for example, if you made beautiful pens, your purpose is not making beautiful pens. Your purpose is probably going to be something like making people’s working days more uplifted and making them brighter through your beautiful pens.
The pen is not the purpose. The pen is the result of the purpose.
And then another part of your brand is your values. So your values are things like what you stand for. Are you passionate about sustainability? Is community your passion? Are you passionate about handmade items, all those kinds of things? It’s kind of like the different facets of your personality, of your business. And you need to be really clear on all those things before you really can market effectively.
Other pillars of your brand you need are who your ideal customer is. Who are you talking to? Is your ideal customer a 22-year-old guy? Or maybe it’s, I don’t know, a 38-year-old mum of two. The clearer you are on who your products are aimed at, the better you will be able to market to them. When you come down the line making decisions about things like where you’re going to talk about yourself, all those things come into play.
And obviously the very last part of the brand is your brand identity and your tone of voice.
And your brand identity is what a lot of people refer to as the brand. So that’s your logo, your colors, all those kinds of things. That’s the visual part of the brand that you see. That is not your whole brand. That is just the visual part of your brand. Your brand makes up your purpose, your values, your vision, your ideal customer, and your brand identity. The brand identity is just a little bit, you see.
So if you think about it like an iceberg, your color palette and your logo is a bit above the surface, everything else underneath.
So the vision and the values, et cetera, that’s all going on underneath. And that’s a really important thing to get clear on before you move to the other parts of your marketing plan. So first of all, you need to look at your foundation, your brand, make sure you know your vision, your values, your purpose, who you are, your customer is, and how that manifests itself visually in your logo and in your colors. And then when you know all that, then you are clear on your foundation. Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that, but in a nutshell, that’s what it is.
So then you move on to the second part of the marketing plan, which was A for ‘ATTRACT’.
Now, this is the bit that most people focus on to the exclusion of everything else. This is the main bit that everybody does. And they try to do all the things here in this space. We hear advice on how we’ve got to be on Instagram and now we’ve got to buy Instagram Reels. We’ve got to be on Instagram stories. We’ve got to do IGTV, we’ve got to do Facebook. Don’t forget about Pinterest and how good is getting press coverage? And before we know it, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. But the type of way we should attract our customers depends on the type of business you have and who your ideal customers are and where they hang out.
So going back to that foundation piece, who are your ideal customers, and who are you trying to sell to? There are so many different types of platforms that you can put yourself out there on that you can’t do them all. So when you’re starting out in particular, I would be really focused about where you want to spend your time, really think about who your ideal customer is, where are they hanging out and go for that. And I would make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
I would go for two different ways of putting yourself out there. One should be an online way and one should be a real-life way.
So when I say online, I mean social media platforms, maybe a blog, improving your SEO, all those different ways that you can get yourself out there online. I would pick one of those and then also think about places in real life. So maybe you sell in a shop that’s in real life, maybe you go to an event regularly that again, is promoting yourself. You are attracting new customers and getting yourself out there. So what you need to do is find one online way of attracting customers, one in real-life way, attracting new customers, and make sure you pick ones that really align with your brand and your ideal customer.
Now, there’s no point in hanging out in Facebook if you know your ideal customer isn’t there, there’s no point spending hours and hours perfecting Instagram reels. If you know your ideal customer isn’t there, there’s no point in going down to the local market down the road if you know your ideal customers aren’t there and you’ve got quite a high-priced product. Maybe you local market is a low-cost market and maybe that’s just not where your customers are.
You need to think really carefully and be honest with yourself about where your customers are, first of all, but also what aligns with your brand.
So there’s no point in going to a mass-market craft fair that features very low-priced products if you are a highly skilled artisan that has to charge high prices for your product because that’s just not going to fit. So think very carefully about where you want to spend your time and think of one online place and one in real-life place where you can promote and attract.
Now, the third part of the marketing puzzle Is N for NURTURE.
I’m really passionate about this because this is the part of the marketing plan that so many people miss out. People aren’t nurturing their own customers and they are finding it a lot harder to sell. Because in all honesty, the easiest people to sell to are our existing customers. It’s been proven that existing customers are the easiest ones to sell to. They already know, like, and trust you. They’ve warmed up to your brand and to your products. They love you already. Those are the people that you want to focus on. You need to be nurturing them.
The chances are when someone sees you on Instagram for the first time, they might like what you do, but they might not trust you or know you enough to buy your products. You need to find a way that you can nurture them so that when they are ready to buy from you, they are there and they know about you and they’ve built a relationship with you.
This is a part that so many people miss out on because they’re just constantly trying to find new customers. New customers. And the thing is, they’re finding all these new customers on Instagram, but they’re never building the relationship to a strong enough point where someone wants to buy. So you are making life ten times harder for yourself. Because yes, some people will buy straight away. There’s no doubt about it. Some people are more impulsive and instinctive, but other people take time to warm up. So by not getting to know people and getting to know your customers and letting your customers get to know you, you’re missing out on a lot of business and a really valuable kind of relationship as well.
So how do you nurture people then?
What is the magic ingredient, you ask? Well, in one word, email. Now, don’t turn off the podcast. Don’t turn off the podcast because I know what people think about email. I know that people are reluctant to email people because they think it’s going to turn people off. But in all reality, it won’t. It honestly won’t. That is just your mind, your limiting beliefs speaking to you because of fear.
Because frankly, it’s vulnerable, isn’t it? It’s vulnerable. You put yourself out there in someone’s inbox and that is truly a vulnerable experience because their inbox is very personal to them. And by putting yourself out there into their inbox, that’s kind of really waving your hand up in the air and saying, I’m here and leaving you open for rejection. There are all sorts of excuses people come up with. I haven’t got the time. I don’t want to annoy people. In reality, if you are emailing your perfect customers with the perfect email to tell them about yourself, then you are not going to turn them off. You are only going to warm them up to you and your brand.
And in all honesty, it doesn’t have to take that long. I send an email every week and it takes me half an hour. An hour? Absolutely max. Every week. How much time do I spend on Instagram? A lot more time than that. And I don’t get the results that I get from sales by email.
Email can be so rewarding.
It’s about building a community and it’s something that you need to do if you want to be serious about creating a business where you’re selling to people, whether you’re selling online or in real life. Because even if you go to events now, people aren’t necessarily wanting to buy straightaway. They go to events as a searching exercise and they will really like to keep in contact with you and then maybe buy at a different time when it’s right for them.
Maybe when they’ve got a gift to buy, maybe when they trust you more. Just at the right time for them to buy. So don’t think of your email as something that you’re bugging someone with. Think of it as a service you’re offering to your customers, a service that you are providing for free for them to get to know you and to build a community with you. And there is so much power in that. But it really is an important part of that marketing plan and ultimately we will sell more.
I know people that I’ve taught to send emails and they’re sending them regularly. They are selling more. People I know in the pandemic who thrived are the people who were emailing their customers.
Every single person I know that did well in the pandemic, it was because they had an email list and existing client list.
The people that struggled are the people that probably only sold in person, didn’t have an online presence and didn’t have an email list. So really and truly, having an email list is an absolute game-changer. And if I can tell you to do one thing at this podcast is to go away and set up your email list. To build it and to regularly email people. You need to build an email list and regularly email people and just change your perspective on it. Think about it as serving your audience. Providing a free service for people not only about your products but about your brand. It’s wider than your product. If you are that company, a business that makes these beautiful pens to improve people’s working lives, then your emails could be focused on all sorts of tips on how to make your working day better.
Your brand is wider than a product. When you’re sending emails, you’re not going to be constantly plugging products on them. You need to think about it in a wider way. And that’s why I love email. It can just be such a powerful, powerful tool not only for selling but for connection with your audience. And I know people now that were scared to email and now they love sending emails so much that they send them every week and they are regularly getting responses to their emails and really connecting with their audience, which is such a joy to see. It really is.
And then the last part of the marketing plan very simply is S for SELL.
So if you’ve been going a while, you might not be thinking about how you sell because it’s something that’s built up over time. It’s just the way you do things. So you know you sell in X number of shops. You know you sell in X number of online places. But have you ever stopped to really think about how things are doing?
When was the last time you did a ‘Happy Dance Audit’, for example?
A ‘Happy Dance Audit’ is my way of saying when have you looked to see how much you’re selling? Because when we sell, we do a happy dance, right? How happy does selling on different platforms make you in terms of experience and in terms of sales and go back and review that, because ultimately selling is obviously a really important part of your marketing plan because depending on where you are going to sell, depends on the rest of your marketing plan and how it joins up.
But if you are going to really go big on Instagram, then you might want to think about selling on an Instagram shop. If you are starting out and you don’t have a huge audience, then you might want to think about selling on an online marketplace like Etsy or Not on the High Street. All these things come together to inform your decision. And that’s why where you sell and the selling platforms you choose are such an important part of the marketing plan, because it’s that customer journey through from people experiencing your brand, your foundation, being attracted to you, to be nurtured by you on your email list to reaching your sales platform.
You’ve got to think about it as a customer journey.
And that’s why I structured the marketing plan formula in that way. So you need to have a think, do a happy dance audit. Where do you sell the most? Where do you like selling the most? And be really focused on it. If somewhere doesn’t work for you, then just cast it off, finish it. Don’t use it anymore. Don’t sell there anymore. Because everywhere is going to take a certain amount of admin. You’ve got to make sure you protect your time. If something isn’t working for you, then review it regularly. Then don’t do it anymore. That’s really simple.
So what kinds of platforms do you have? Do you have online? You have different places you can sell. You may have a website, you might sell on an online marketplace, you might sell directly through a social media platform wherever you want to sell. That’s fine. You don’t have to have a website. I would advise you to have a website in the long term for brand presence. But you don’t have to have a website you sell from.
But what I would advise is that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
And when I say that. I mean, that you need to make sure you have a combination of an online platform, just like the attraction streams, you need to make sure that you have an online platform and an in real life platform that you sell from. And the reason for this is really simple. The two work together really well. During the pandemic, there are so many people that were only selling in shops, galleries selling at markets and didn’t have anywhere you could buy from them online.
They really struggled because all of a sudden the shops were closed.
They had no way of people buying from them online. And as time has gone on, people have gotten more and more used to, especially since the pandemic, people have got more and more used to buying online. People want to be able to buy online. They want that flexibility. You need to have an online presence somewhere, whether it’s a website, whether it’s an Etsy shop, whether it’s an online marketplace. You need to decide whether that’s right for you.
And deciding on that will be a personal decision because you might pay more commission to sell through an online marketplace, but then they might do a lot of the marketing admin for you and draw an audience already. You might decide to have a website because you want more control over your brand. It really is a personal decision. But what you really need to make sure is that there’s somewhere for you online and in real life that you are selling.
And I say in real life too because online is brilliant and it’s a brilliant tool, but it doesn’t replace that experience, particularly if you sell handmade products of people touching and feeling your things and products and getting to know you as a person and chatting to you.
So you need to think about somewhere you can sell in real life, whether that is at a market, whether that is in a shop or a Gallery, wherever that is, where someone can come and experience your products in the flesh, so to speak.
That’s the last part of the marketing plan formula – SELL. You need to think about somewhere that you can sell online and somewhere that you can sell in real life.
And that’s it. That’s very simply your marketing plan. So I’ll just go over it again. You’ve got FANS. That’s how you want to structure your marketing plan. That’s the journey the customer takes through discovering your brand, through to buying from you. They experience the foundation, which is your brand, that’s your vision, that’s your purpose, that’s your values, that’s what you stand for, that’s who your ideal customer is. And that also informs your brand visual. So your logo and your colors, that’s foundation.
You need to think about how you’re going to attract people. You need to find a way of attracting people both online and in real life to get the best of both worlds. And that might be through social media, PR, word of mouth is a really strong one. All those different ways of attracting your ideal customers. Now that’s really important. Your ideal customers to your business and you want to repel the people that aren’t the right people for you. So think very carefully about where you want to attract people to make the most of your time.
Then we move on to N for nurture.
And that’s simply to set up your email list. So when you meet those people and you attract them, you want to be pointing them constantly to your email list, which is the way you serve your customers. You are serving them for free! Do not think about it as ‘bugging’ them, you are serving them. And it’s also a really powerful way to connect with your audience, to remind them you exist and to sell to them as well. Make sure you get people to sign up to your list and then send them emails regularly. It’s very simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just keep it really simple. You just need a way to contact your customers and you need to email them regularly about whatever you want to talk to them about that’s related to your brand. It doesn’t just have to be selling constantly.
And then the last piece of that marketing plan puzzle – SELL. Simply think about where you’re going to be selling. Where can people buy your products online and in real life? What is the best fit for your business? If you have been trading a while and you have different platforms, are they still working for you? Can you do a ‘Happy Dance Audit’ and work out which platforms make you happy, both in terms of sales and in terms of experience? Those are the ones you want to go for.
And what you want to do is write it all down on a marketing plan, which is very simple – I use just an A4 sheet of paper.
Write it all down and make it visible where you’re going to see it every day. And those are the things that you need to focus on going forward. That’s what’s going to make you less overwhelmed. That’s what’s going to save you time, and that’s what’s going to drive better results in your business.