We creative-types aren’t always the most organized.
A few descriptive words come to mind: scatter-brained, flaky, over-worked, stressed, spread-too-thin, and so on.
Basically, we wish we could just make our stuff, and let the marketing figure itself out.
But of course, that’s not how it works in the real world. You can’t just make a thing, put it in your web store or Etsy shop, and cross your fingers hoping that people buy.
Maybe sometimes they will, but even if that’s the case, you’re still be missing out on a lot of potential business opportunities by not working on your marketing.
So when things aren’t automatically selling, you start to panic. You engage in a hap-hazard “marketing strategy” that usually consists of the following: list a new item, post it on Facebook, post it on twitter, post it on Instagram, maybe write a blog post about it, pin it to a Pinterest board, check everything you just posted, wonder why none of this is working, rinse, and repeat.
When I first started selling my jewelry on Etsy, this is exactly the sort of “marketing” I did for my shop. Needless to say, it didn’t really work.
All this kind of online marketing does is create a lot of extra work and stress for you, and not a lot of results or sales at the end of the day. You feel like a hamster spinning its wheel, and not really getting anywhere in your business. Maybe you conclude that you’re just not good at the “marketing stuff” so you go back to what you know what you’re good at, the making stuff, and return to hoping that random strangers will simply find you organically on the internet and make a purchase.
So what’s the solution? How can you effectively market your business while still leaving you with enough time to actually make your products and get everything else you need to do done?
The answer is systematizing.
I know that sounds like a boring, dry, business word, but here me out, okay?
All systematizing means is creating the basic blueprint, or template, for plugging in your marketing plan and -pulling it out every time you are ready to craft a new one.
When you plan your marketing ahead of time, you are allowing yourself to strategically reach your potential customers in the ways best suited to them, and you can pre-schedule and prep all of your content ahead of time. When you have a system in place you can feel prepared and relaxed even during the busiest of shopping seasons.
Pick a Theme
Essentially, I begin my marketing system by defining a central theme for a certain time period. For example, this past month theme was back to school, and I marketing around this theme throughout August. Having a general theme in mind makes it significantly easier to fill out the rest of the campaign details surrounding it.
Define Your Audience
Once you have a theme or product line in mind that you are going to be marketing, and have checked your calendar to figure out the best time you want to market it, the next most important thing for you to do is define WHO you are going to be marketing to. Nothing will make you feel more scattered than feeling like you are sending out random marketing messages to the universe and hoping that your right people find them. Instead, you want to define who your ideal customers are, and take your marketing to them.
For example, when I market around back-to-school, it makes sense that I would be targeting students, teachers, and so on. Sending out back to school messages to retired women in their 60s doesn’t make a lot of sense–unless of course they are buying for their grandchildren.
Get Clear on What Makes You Different
Next, and this is very important, you want to consider what your points of differentiation are concerning the actual products you are trying to sell. There are probably a lot of things that make your products different from the masses so the important thing to do here is pick which of those things are going to be of the most value to your target audience, and make sense for you to emphasize during this particular campaign. For example, if you are planning your holiday marketing around gift-giving, you may want to focus on why your products will make unique and cherished gifts, rather than on your price point or the materials you use to craft them.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
Once you have those important factors decided, the next step is to brainstorm potential content ideas that will flesh out your campaign. Considering the amount of time your campaign will be running, consider how many blog posts, e-mail newsletters, and social media posts you’ll want to create around it. Other marketing could include reaching out to press, potential partners for cross-promotion, and so on. The options are really limitless, and that’s why writing all of your ideas down will keep you from becoming too overwhelmed.
Set a Schedule
After you have a general outline of your marketing campaign all laid out on a single piece of paper, it’s a lot easier to then open up your planning calendar*, and start putting in specific tasks for specific days. For example, you may post your first blog post and Facebook update during week one, send out your e-mail newsletter and host an Instagram giveaway during week two, and set up a twitter chat around your campaign on week three. It’s all entirely up to you. Having the dates plotted out, you can then begin crafting your materials and storing or scheduling them so they are ready to go out when their time comes – and you get to breathe a little easier, knowing it’s all taken care of.
Now you get to work on your favorite part: the actual making of the things.
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*The Rock 2016 panning calendar is coming soon. Sooner than usual, because I personally wanted an upgraded version for this year’s holiday season, and I have a feeling you could use one too. To be among the first notified of its existence, be sure to subscribe for e-mail updates.