Facebook marketing tips for creative businesses

Facebook is a great marketing tool for small businesses. It is one of the most visited websites in the world and perfect for engaging with customers and attracting new ones. From ads to Facebook groups, Facebook has lots of tools that you can use.

Create a business page

A business page is a great way to communicate directly with your target audience. People follow your page because they want to…and want to see more about you and your business. Having a business page also means you get access to Facebook insights, which give useful information about your followers and how they interact with your page.

It’s important to add a profile and cover photo that reflects what your business does. Use high-quality images, as they will in some instances, be the first impression you make on your audience.

Customise your page as much as you can – include your business name, address, and contact information. You can add your website URL, business hours and details of your products. There is even the option of having a Facebook shop for your products.

Use keywords throughout that tell your followers, readers, and Facebook what your page and business is all about.

Tell your story – there’s a section where you can write more about your business, so tell your audience what makes your business unique, how your products provide solutions for them, how you got started. Keep it real and relatable.

Invite people to like your business page. Most of us do this when we first set up a business page, but it’s worth doing it again every few months. Each week I also go through the posts I’ve put up and look at who has liked each post. If someone has liked my post, but are not followers, I invite them.

Be consistent

As with any business strategy, it’s important to be consistent on your social media pages, and Facebook is no exception. Post regularly – as frequently as you can, but once a day at a minimum. If you post regularly every day, your followers will start to recognise that you’re posting every day and will engage more, as they get to know you.

Whilst it’s great to post regularly, if you post the same kind of post every day, your followers will get bored with your content. Use a mixture of posts and avoid using posts to sell your products every day. It’s good to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% engage, entertain, educate, and inspire and 20% to promote and you’re your products. You can share behind the scenes information and photos, tell a bit of your story; entertain with funny memes or ‘fill in the blanks;’ educate your audience about your products or a process you follow. For example, if you’re an artist, you could show a series of posts that show a painting from sketch stage to finished article. Or you could give hints and tips about an aspect of your creative business – a sewing tip or, if you make cakes – a ‘how-to’ video is popular. Click here to see other ideas for posts on Facebook.

Facebook’s algorithm encourages engagement, so try and post something that gets a conversation going. It’s good to remember that it is social media, and we need to be social. Don’t forget to reply to comments and to any private messages promptly.

Ask your audience

As well as asking questions or writing engaging posts that promote a conversation, you can also ask your audience to tag their friends. This can work well, particularly with inspirational quotes. When you post a meaningful post, ask your audience to tag someone who might need to hear the advice the post gives.

You could do a post that just says you are sending out a hug to anyone who needs it today – we all know that sometimes, we just do! Then say, ‘tag a friend who’d like a hug today.’

‘Small Business Saturday’ posts work well too. Ask your followers to share links to their favourite small businesses, or to tell you a bit about their small business and to put a link. Make sure that you visit every single business that comments and puts a link on this post. Click on their business link and like some of their posts and post a couple of comments too – this helps them out with the Algorithm, as well as helping your business.

Facebook Ads

Now, this is something I haven’t felt the need to use, but it does seem to work well for some businesses. If you’re having trouble reaching your target audience, you can do an ad fairly cheaply. You can then target a specific audience by location, age, gender, and interests. There’s also an analytics tool to help you understand which ads drive interest and sales.

Facebook insights

I briefly mentioned this earlier, but this is a useful tool. I check my insights once a week, usually on a Sunday afternoon when I’m scrolling through my feed. Your insights tell you how many people engage with each of your posts and how many people each post reaches. You can look at which kind of posts are the most popular, which helps you decide what to post in the following week.

If you think that posting on social media takes up too much of your time, you can use Facebook’s publishing tools to schedule your posts in advance. And you can batch-make posts. I batch-make my posts for the following week every Friday or Saturday. I don’t like to schedule my posts as I like to be able to be available to reply as quickly as possible. But I have scheduled posts when I’ve been away on holiday.

Start your own Facebook group/join one

Having your own Facebook group will help you build a community around your products or services and can help make your brand more visible. It’s a great way to connect with your customers.

It’s also invaluable to join a good networking group with your target audience or with peers. I belong to a few groups – some are specifically for marketing people where trends etc. are discussed and others are networking with other like-minded businesses. I enjoy both, but I do have my favourites! This is a great way to get your business more well-known, but again, you need to be able to give time every day to network and comment on group posts, as well as interact with other businesses. I’ve met loads of lovely people this way and have bought lots of things from some of the small businesses in those groups.

Facebook features

As well as just posting every day, try out some of the features that are regularly being rolled out.

Facebook Live

Go live to engage with your audience in real time. Your followers will get a notification that you’re ‘live’ and can tune in to watch you. Once you have finished your live, you’re given an option to save a recording of your live so followers who haven’t tuned in can watch it later. Your live video then becomes a post on your page.

Facebook Live can be up to four hours long! Now, I’m not saying do a four-hour video, but you should try and aim for at least 10 minutes. The longer you’re live, the more discoverable your stream will be.

Facebook Video

If you’re not brave enough to go live with video, you can record a video. This way you can edit out anything you don’t like or start again if you hate it! Video content really makes a difference to your figure and video tends to be much more popular that posts. The thing I’ve noticed with video is that when you post it, you get some likes and views, but then suddenly a few weeks later, your figures on that video jump up as it’s shown to people. I’m not sure why, but it’s obviously something to do with the Algorithm!

You can use video to teach your audience something – a step-by-step tutorial, or a how-to video. Again, aim for at least 10 minutes. If you’re teaching your audience something, they’ll stay for as long as your video is engaging!

Facebook Stories

When you post a story, it stays on your feed for 24 hours. Again, stories get more traction and seem to reach more people than posts, so it’s a good idea to include them in your marketing strategy.

PLEASE NOTE: Avoid using video as a sales pitch. People tune in to find out more about you and your business, not to be sold to. I’ve made this mistake – I’m sure lots of us have, but I’ve found the videos that are more popular are ones where I’m being social and ‘having a chat.’

Create a plan

As with anything, what you post on Facebook should be part of your marketing strategy or plan. I try and plan my content a month in advance, so I know what I’m going to do and when. I also make note of any special days for each quarter, so I can plan posts around that – for example, Valentine’s Day or Easter.

I hope that you have found this post useful – if you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post or send me a message.

Why an email list is important for small businesses

When you first start your small business, probably the last thing on your mind is setting up an email subscription list. You’re more about getting your business set up, selling, and getting to grips with basic marketing and social media. But setting up your own email list is crucial to a small business and can seriously help you grow your business.

Social media is great and is a growing medium for small businesses. But, as lots of us have realised over the past year, the algorithm can make it difficult to keep consistency and, at the end of the day, you don’t own your social media account, and it can be closed at any point without any consultation with you.

If you have your own email subscription list of customers, it belongs to you. You own it, you run it and it isn’t going to suddenly disappear overnight, or a new algorithm suddenly do something you weren’t expecting.

Some stats

Email marketing is totally worth your time and investment because, as well as being cost-effective, it gives you the power to reach your customers in a place that most of them visit every day – their email inbox.

Let’s look at a few stats…

According to MarketingSherpa, 91% of adults like to receive promotional emails from the companies they buy from. And, according to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping your business get new customers.

Why use email marketing?

If you’re a small business, you probably have social media accounts. You post daily, targeting your ideal client. But your posts will be aimed at a large number of people. Email marketing is aimed at a specific group of people – those that choose to opt-in to your email, so you can make your emails much more personal and targeted. You know you’re talking to an audience that are already on board with what you offer.

You can also further segment that audience and send more targeted information based on their personal preferences. And email is more personal, you can write to your audience in a more friendly and personal way, so they really feel valued. It makes for excellent customer service!

We all get email spam every day, but if a person has opted into your email, they’ve given you permission to email them. This makes it legal, and they know what they’re signing up for. Now, I’ve signed up to email lists before and within a few months, have unsubscribed. The reason? Because they bombard me with constant emails, trying to sell me their latest ‘whatever.’ And not just one or two emails along the same subject line but loads – every day – for weeks! I hate this, so it’s not something I advise! I have a subscription for my business, but I only send a couple of emails when someone signs up – then I do a monthly email newsletter. To me, that’s enough…you may or may not agree!

Brand Recognition

Email marketing is great for your brand. Each email can be branded with your colours or images. But not just that, you can give your subscribers valuable content, helping them solve their problems – be it around marketing (like I do) or around a product or service you offer. If you are consistent with your content, your subscribers will begin to recognise your emails and even start to look forward to receiving them.

You can also use your email to get feedback on your products or services. You can ask them if they like the content you send, or if there is something else they’d like to see – or would they like to learn something different from you?

This will not only make your subscribers feel important and make them feel that you care, but also will give you new ideas for content and possibly even ideas for new products or services.

Budget-friendly

Email marketing is budget friendly. You can start your email using a site such as MailChimp or Mailerlite. Both have free versions for up to 1000 or so subscribers, which is a perfect start for your business, with no financial outlay.

The bigger businesses can afford to spend time and money on advertising space, but when you first start out with your small business, you won’t have that luxury. Email marketing is the perfect choice to get you in front of a genuinely interested audience.

The other good thing is that once you have set up your initial subscription email and follow up emails, it can be automated, so you just need to have the link on your social media pages or website with the sign up and your hosting site does everything else for you. It does require a bit of time commitment to set it up, but it is worth it. Then you can write your monthly, weekly, or whatever email when you have time and schedule it to go out when you want it to.

The other good thing about a hosting site is that you have the relevant stats to help you. You can see who opens your emails, and whether they click on any links.

Traffic to your website

As well as being a great way to connect to your customers, email marketing is also great for getting increased traffic to your website. You can include links to your blog posts, and of course to your website, where you sell your products or services.

Be seen as an expert in your field

Email marketing can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. Your customers have subscribed because they want to hear from you. They like the content you send them. For example, if your audience love what you do on social media, they will sign up for your email because they’ll want to hear more.

You can use your email content to establish yourself as an expert. You can ask questions and use the email to answer them, giving solutions to all your subscribers, who may have the same problem or question.

You can talk in more detail about what you do and offer and show more clearly the solutions that you provide.

Perks

Everyone likes something for nothing! And we all like to belong to a group and feel that we are valued or special. I belong to quite a few groups on social media, but there are only a few I feel really connected to. Your customers want to feel that connection too, so you can use your email to build relationships and build excitement around what you do.

You can offer exclusive deals to your subscribers – perks of belonging to your ‘group.’ We all love a freebie or a special deal, so make sure that you thank you subscribers by offering them something unique that they won’t get from other areas – such as your social media pages.

For example, when people sign up to my email list, I give them a free guide to help with their marketing. Once they sign up, they are then given a special code, which gives them access to a hidden part of my website, where they can get lots of freebie downloads, checklists, workbooks – all aimed to help them with their marketing.

If you are a product-based business, you could offer your subscribers a 20% off voucher or a free gift in return for signing up.

This kind of offer is called a lead magnet – it attracts customers to sign up and could then be potential regular customers.

Test the water

Another benefit is that you can test the water for new products, services or even just ideas for new products or services. You can ask for an opinion or ask what really interests your audience.

It could be that you are going to have a stall at a big event, or you are running an online event. You can ask your email subscribers what they think…and you can use your email to advertise these events so that your audience know where you will be and can come along and meet you in person…be it via Zoom or face to face.

Conclusion

Email marketing reaches your audience no matter where they are in the world – it goes to their personal devices. So, no matter what time zone they’re in, your email will reach your audience 24/7.

It’s easy to set up and manage, and you will be reaching your ideal audience because they WANT to be contacted.

You own your email list, and it won’t be affected by algorithms.

It’s personal, so you can segment your audience, and send them more detailed information. It’s much more personal than social media.

And it helps you sell your products or services and encourage traffic to your website, blog, or online shop.

What are you waiting for? Make this year, the year you set up yours and start reaching your ideal clients on a more personal basis.

8 Key factors for successful goal achievement

As a marketer, I always talk about goal setting and how important it is to achieve what you want. But, in order to accomplish your goals, you can’t just set them and expect them to happen. It’s about thinking carefully about what you want to achieve…and then work out what you need to do to get there. Each goal needs hard work and goals need to have specific steps to follow.

So, it’s important to set goals that will actually make a difference to your business and help you push your business forward, be that achieving more customers, selling more products or goals set around gaining more engagement or followers on social media.

Set goals that motivate

It’s crucial to have goals that motivate you. Motivation is what will help you achieve them. Make sure that your goals are focused specifically on what you want from your business. Each goal needs you to commit to them so that you can make them a reality.

When writing down your goals, include a sentence about why each goal is valuable to your business and important to you. If I asked you to share your goals with me, could you convince me that each one is worthwhile? You need to know your ‘why.’

SMART Goals

I’ve talked about SMART goals in previous blogs and on social media, but it’s a valuable way to make sure your goals are viable.

They should all be…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

For example, if you have a goal that is to ‘lose weight in 2022’. This is not a SMART goal. If it were SMART, it would say…

I will lose 2 stone by Christmas 2022 and will weigh myself once a month to keep on track.

This is specific (2 stone); Measurable, (as you can easily keep track using scales to measure how you are doing against your goal; Attainable, (2 stone in a year is perfectly achievable); Relevant, (because this is where you want your weight to be and can give the focus to your goal with a sensible timeline); Timely (12 months to lose 2 stone is timely, as it is a goal of losing less then 1lb per month).

Write your goals down

When you write them down, it makes them real and holds you accountable. You can’t forget about them if you write them down.

Be positive with the language you use when writing down your goals. Don’t use words like, ‘I would like to ….’ Use positive language, such as ‘I will…’  

Keep your goals somewhere visible so you can refer to them on a regular basis. It’s no good writing them in a word document, saving it and not looking at it again until the end of the year.

Set deadlines for your goals

You may have a goal that can be achieved within a month or two – set a deadline for each of your goals, or at least a deadline for achieving part of them. This helps to keep you accountable. If your deadlines are realistic, then you know that you will be able to achieve them with a bit or hard work and dedication.

Have an action plan

Once you have written down your goals, now spend some time thinking about exactly how you will achieve that specifically. If a goal is particularly big, you could break it down into more manageable chunks, or mini goals. Your action plan is your step-by-step guide, so you know exactly what you need to do. It gives you a structure to follow.

Put reminders in your diary

Once you have your action plan, go to your diary, and make regular time slots each month to review how you are doing. This enables you to tweak your goals if you need to and to ensure you are keeping on track. This will help you avoid the overwhelm and the last-minute panic at the end of the year.

Think about obstacles

Have a good look at your goals. Can you foresee any obstacles that would stop you from achieving them? This is a kind of risk assessment. What might stand in your way? And how will you overcome that?

Celebrate your small wins

With every goal, there will be small wins along the way. When you achieve a goal, or even achieve some of the small steps to that goal, celebrate! It’s hard to stick to your goals 23/7 and there will be times when you go way off course or procrastinate…or you might succumb to imposter syndrome. These can all help to scupper your plans, so be aware of these things. When you do achieve something small and celebrate, it will motivate you more to carry on achieving the bigger picture.

Conclusion

Setting goals is about seeing what we want for ourselves and our businesses in the future. I find goal setting an exciting venture, not a chore. If I work hard, I can achieve them and so my business will be more successful.

It’s important to be motivated and yes, EXCITED about where you want to take your business. All you need to do is to prioritise your time, energy and focus to make sure that you have a relevant action plan, with formal steps or a path to achieving what you want.

Be committed, believe in yourself and what you can achieve, take yourself out of your comfort zone…and most of all be confident.

I’ve always told myself and my children that they can achieve anything they want to – there are just blank pages ahead and it’s up to them to fill them with what they want. They just need to focus and go for it. Be confident, and with a sustainable action plan, you can achieve whatever you want.

Once you have this plan in place and you can see it working, you will always want to have one in place for your business.

As always, if you need my help and would like to have a 1:1 session on setting your goals and pulling together an action plan for your business, please contact me.

How to conduct your small business annual review

If you haven’t already thought about what you want your business to achieve in 2022, now is the time to review the past year, so you can plan for next year.

It’s a bit like having your annual performance review when you work for an employer, only you conduct it on your small business. When you run your own business, you need to keep track of so many things, it’s normal for things to sometimes slide. But as we are getting close to the end of 2021, it’s important to be thinking about what your goals will be for next year and how you’re going to achieve that. But you can’t do that until you know how you’ve done this year.

Your business performance review should cover everything your business has been through over the past 12 months and include your successes as well as those not so successful moments.

Look at your 2021 goals

Did you write down your goals last year? If you did, did you achieve what you set out to do?

This is the time to look at both your short term goals for last year – and the more long-term goals to see where you are. You could ask questions such as:

  • What went well in 2021?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What did you learn from the things that didn’t go so well?
  • Did you learn any new skills or take any courses?
  • How can you repeat the successes you had for next year?
  • How can you avoid any mistakes you made this year?

If you employ anyone, such as VA, it’s time to have a conversation with them and ask them the same questions. You can brainstorm ideas, give, and receive constructive criticism for improvements and come up with a few good goals for 2022.

Look at your business practices

All of us small business owners offer either a service or products to our customers. This is the time to look at how your business practices are working…and if you are aiming all your sales/content etc. to the right audience.

  • Look at your customers. Do you know what your customers’ pain points are? Do you know what your customers’ needs are?
    Once you know this, you can identify how your business is going to provide solutions.
  • Are you giving your customers a good service? If you set your standards high at the beginning of the year, are you still delivering the same standard of service at the end of the year?
  • Are your products or services good value for money?
  • Look at feedback and reviews from your customers so you can identify what products or services were most popular and why.
    If you can identify why a particular product or service is so popular, you can look at how you can replicate that in 2022.

Look at the financials

We all hate looking at our figures, but it’s important to make financial evaluations to determine where you are…if you’re making a profit etc.

Cash flow is the obvious one. You take money in; you pay money out. Sales and expenses are important to understand how you’ve done this year. Compare your sales and expenses to the previous year and see where there are improvements, or losses. Doing this, you’ll be able to have an idea of what you might be able to do next year.

What do you pay out? All businesses must pay out to buy materials, stock, stationery etc. Are you getting the best deals for those items? Have they increased in price this year? Do you need to take that into account for next year? You might need to raise or lower your prices to compensate.

Look at your business insurance. This is often overlooked. Does it cover you for everything you need to be covered for or do you need to have a conversation with your financial adviser?

Are all your relevant licenses and safety certificates up to date?

Expansion – As your business grows, you may have to think about expansion. Do you need to take on an assistant? Do you need bigger premises? Do you need to have a larger stock to cover your increasing client base?

If you are expanding quickly, now is the time to be thinking about employing an accountant ready for those all important, but pain in the wotsit tax returns.

Look at all your social media data

This might seem obvious, but if you’re on social media, it’s really important to look at all your insights for the year. Here are the areas that are worth looking at:

Engagement – yes, you might be getting loads of ‘likes’ on your content, but does it actually get followers to click on your website, or your profile. And do you get sales from those clicks?

You can use this information to help you look at your marketing strategy for next year.

Location – you can see where your followers are from in your insights. We often assume our most engaged followers are local and buy from us. You might be surprised…and if you find you have a following from another country or area, you can customise your content accordingly.

Feedback/Reviews – You will be able to see if any customers have left reviews or feedback on social media, but what about all the other people you’ve sold to this year. If you haven’t had complaints from them, you can assume that they must have been happy with your product or services. You could send out a survey to ask questions about your products or services. If a customer has bought a specific item, ask them what they liked about it. If you put a clause in the survey to say that you can use comments on your website or for promotion – any complimentary reviews you get, you can use. (I still always check if it’s OK to use anyway, but worth including the wording.)

You could offer an incentive to reply, such a 10% off voucher to use in January. This is a brilliant way to get more replies as people just love getting something for nothing – a freebie or money-off voucher.

Take note of any feedback you get and act upon it. If there is a criticism, ask more questions so you can understand what a problem might be – you may be able to solve it simply and quickly with a tweak to your products or services.

Visibility – Where did your customers find you? Did they discover your business on social media? Did they come across you on a Google Search? Was it a personal referral or something else?

This is useful data as you know which areas to work on and you can see which area works best. Every business is different, so what works well for one, won’t work well for another.

Market analysis   

When you first started in business, did you do a business plan or marketing plan? If you did, you will have conducted research into your ideal market. However, this can change so quickly, so it’s always worth including this in your review.

  • This is where you’ll look at your customers’ needs and how you can best serve them. Have your customers’ needs changed since the last time you looked?
  • Look at your existing customers – what do they like/dislike. Is there something they need that you can supply – or do they have a problem that you can solve?

Check out your competitors

This is always worth doing to see what they are up to and how you can compete.

  • Can you offer something unique, that they don’t offer?
  • Is your customer service up to scratch?
  • Look at why your customers choose you over your competitors and make sure you include something around this advantage in your marketing plan for next year.

Celebrate your successes

The point of doing a review is to find out how your business has done against the plans and goals you set. But it’s also important to celebrate all your hard work. Shout about any wins you’ve had and let your customers know how successful your business has been.

You could share the highlights of your year in a social media post for example. Then also give your audience a little teaser about what’s to come in the New Year.

Your 2022 strategy

Once you have completed your 2021 review and have all the data, you’ll be in a better position to know what works well for your business and what doesn’t.

With this in mind, you can now go on to plan your business and marketing strategy for 2022.

If you have some big or challenging goals you want to aim for, why not think about breaking them down into more manageable chunks?

Good luck with your marketing planning and strategy. If you would like a free marketing strategy workbook, that takes you through your marketing plan, step-by-step, please click on the link below and sign up to my monthly marketing tips email. You will receive your free workbook into your inbox.

As always, if you need any help, please feel free to contact me…my inbox is always open.

What is imposter syndrome and how to beat it

Over the past 12 months, I’ve seen and heard more and more about imposter syndrome. I have experienced it myself – I think we all have – but I didn’t know there was an actual name for it! Once I knew that this was an actual ‘thing,’ I was able to look at it and put it into some sort of perspective.

If you suffer with imposter syndrome, I hope that this blog post helps you.

What is imposter syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, the definition of imposter syndrome is…

“A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve all they have achieved.”

This might be on the extreme side of imposter syndrome, but I understand the sentiment. It is REAL and everybody has experienced it in one way or another. There are some who feel that their success is due to ‘a stroke of good luck’ or good timing. And it can pop up when you least expect it.

I think for me, it reared its ugly head about a year after I started my own business. I had emigrated to a different country, but I worked online in my own language. I was doing well and had a few clients who I regularly wrote articles or blogs for. Then I started looking at other articles and other peoples’ work online and started to feel that I didn’t measure up. This worried me and I thought that my clients would be thinking ‘who does she think she is?’ I started to doubt my own ability, even though I knew that I was competent and knew what I was talking about! This feeling creeps up on you and dents your confidence.

Does this sound familiar?

How can you deal with imposter syndrome?

I’ve since realised that imposter syndrome is a real thing and can have a devastating effect on you and your business, BUT I also recognise that it is unavoidable. The reason you suffer from it is because you are pushing yourself to do better, pushing your business to grow, and working hard to make a success of what you do.

If I look back to when I started my business in 2013, I knew that I still had a lot to learn, and I knew that I would make mistakes, and that there was a likelihood that I wouldn’t succeed. It wasn’t that I wasn’t going to succeed, it might just be that I wouldn’t get it right the first time…and I didn’t!

But do you know what? That gets better as you progress in your business, and your confidence grows in what you can do.

Now, I feel that I know my business inside out. I know that I can help my clients and that they like and appreciate what I do.    

OK, so there are a couple of things you can do to deal with this monster.

  • Understand that imposter syndrome is a normal feeling to have – you are going to have these feeling when you are growing your business. Try and embrace those feelings. They mean that you are pushing yourself to newer and better things.
  • Take a good look at what you’re doing at the moment – are you doing a good job? Do your clients like what you do? You’ll find that the answer is ‘yes’, so you can then recognise your feelings as those of imposter syndrome and choose to not let it affect you and your business growth.
  • There will be things that you don’t know or that you still need to learn about. Give yourself a break! We can always learn more about what we do. Be honest with yourself about what you do know and don’t concentrate on what you don’t know. Now, I don’t mean that you ignore what you don’t know – of course it’s important to recognise that, so you can continue to grow, but try and focus on the experience you do have and what you’re proud of.
  • Sometimes you just need to let go of being a perfectionist, as this can feed your imposter syndrome tendencies. If you set yourself really high, ‘perfectionist’ standards, you will be putting yourself under a lot of pressure to achieve them. This is when self-doubt can creep in, so try and set yourself standards or goals in chunks that are more achievable.  
  • If you keep a record of your successes, with details of what you did to get there, you can refer to this when you feel that imposter monster looming. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your wins, no matter how big or how small

Imposter Syndrome Survey

Kajabi, an industry-leading knowledge platform has released a first of its kind study on the impact of imposter syndrome on entrepreneurs and small business owners. They recognised that it could keep businesses from reaching their potential and wanted to find out how businesses deal with these feelings.

Over 600 entrepreneurs and small business owners took part. Here are some of the overall findings:

  • 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners experience imposter syndrome
  • Male entrepreneurs tend to experience more intense feelings of imposter syndrome compared to women.
  • Many entrepreneurs are worried about being ‘found out’ for lack of knowledge or ability
  • Some business owners felt that their success was due to luck.
  • Small business owners tend to compare themselves to and feel less intelligent than those around them.
  • After being recognised for an achievement, many entrepreneurs doubt they can repeat their successes.
  • Many entrepreneurs tend to discount the importance of their work.
  • Many of the respondents are disappointed in their current accomplishments and think they should have done more by now.

Orlando Baeza, CMO of Kajabi commented, “Imposter syndrome can be such a heavy subject and barrier to success for many people. And since it’s perceived as taboo by many, people dealing with imposter syndrome simply don’t feel comfortable talking about their struggles with it.

The biggest downside is feeling isolated and as though you don’t have a community to turn to or resources for how to move past it.”

Kajabi observed that imposter syndrome can be a real barrier for small business professionals, especially those who take big risks in the name of pursuing their dreams.

If you’re interested in reading the fully survey results, you can go to their website

Conclusion

We all know that imposter syndrome exists. We know what it feels like and that we are not the only ones who suffer from it.

I hope that now you understand a bit more about it, that you can recognise it for what it is and learn ways to deal with it, and to not let it rule the roost.

16 Tips to beat the Facebook algorithm

This is the most frustrating thing about being on social media – the algorithm. It seems to me that it is constantly changing and always throwing up something new to deter our audiences and our posts! But there are ways to try and beat it.

What is the Facebook Algorithm?

Very basically, the algorithm looks at decides which posts everyone sees every time they check on their newsfeed…and also the order that those posts show up.

Facebook tells us that there are several layers to the algorithm, and the machine learns how to predict which posts will be the most valuable and meaningful to individuals over the long term. Gobbledegook!

What this means in simple language with that Facebook does not present posts to you in chronological order. It looks at the posts available and then puts them out in descending order of interest for each user. We don’t know exactly how it decides what to show us, and more importantly, what NOT to show us, but this process happens every single time we log in. But we do know that its aim is to keep us scrolling so that we see more ads!

For small business brands, this means that if you want more organic reach, you need to post content that people will engage with. What you post will depend on what your business is…and what you want to achieve with your posts.

Facebook content

What are your goals for your posts? Is it to get followers to visit your website or your online shop? It might be that you want people to sign up to your email subscription. And sometimes, it might just mean you want to engage with your audience and get to know them better.

If you want people to visit your website or online shop, content needs to be valuable. Blog posts with helpful information for example, or interactive guides and video content.

To get more people to your shop, you could give them features that make their shopping experience more enjoyable. This could be in the form of vibrant images, buyer testimonials and, if you make something, a video showing you making something from start to finish. You can do the same with images – showing a step-by-step process. For example, if you are an artist, you can show your work progressing over the course of a week, with a series of photos. This is great as it encourages your audience to look for you every day to see how the work is coming along.

If you want your audience to sign up to your email or newsletter, make sure that you make the content of your email appealing and give little tasters on your Facebook post about what they can expect, which will encourage them to join you.

Start a conversation

Get your audience talking to you and to each other on your posts. Social engagement is one of the key areas that will help your posts rank higher, and so be shown to more of your followers.

Encourage conversations by asking questions. The way you interact with your followers in conversations needs to be genuine and encourage two-way interaction for a couple of replies.

You can use several strategies to start conversations. As I said, you can ask questions. You can also be funny or entertaining – talk about something current or share something that you have seen that you find amusing.

You might be someone who likes to share interesting or inspiring facts or topics – or maybe something a little bit controversial. All these posts will spark interest and get noticed by the algorithm.

Keep your audience in mind

When you are crafting your posts, always think about your target audience and write it with them in mind. What do they like to see? What topics do they engage with? What kind of images to they like?

Local content is also good – if you have something going on in your area, and you have followers locally to you, talk about an event that is happening that they might be interested in. If you’re a creative who makes things, it could be sharing a market or stall you are setting up for a weekend event. Don’t just advertise the event – make sure you take photos and post them in real time to encourage people to engage and even pop along and meet you.

Facebook insights

This leads nicely into insights. How do you know who is following you? Where are they from? What kind of posts are popular?

To help you beat the algorithm, you need to know how your content performs and who your audience is. Your insights will tell you what works best and what doesn’t work; they show you your top ranking and bottom ranking posts, what time of day is best for your engagement and where your audience are from – the demographics.

It’s well worth tracking your insights on at least a weekly basis, so you can decide how best you can beat the algorithm.

Timing is everything!

From your insights you can see what time is best for you to post – it makes sense to post your content when you target audience is online.

It’s best to post at your peak engagement times – this might not be at the same time every day…and will not be at the same time as other businesses. If you’re really not sure what time is best for you, try posting at various times of day and track your posts’ performance over a week – then you’ll be able to see on your insights when is the peak time for your business.

Banned content

This is something that I’m sure we’ve all experienced. Facebook deems that certain content is not suitable or goes against their standards. This includes fake news, anything that makes health claims or misleading information, for example, you’re guaranteed to lose weight.

Sometimes it feels like you are being targeted – I know I felt like this when I had a few posts banned and I really wasn’t sure why. I appealed and Facebook did reply to say why – it turned out it was a particular word that I used in my caption description!

Video

Facebook loves video content, so this will be pushed as a priority, so things like ‘lives’ and pre-recorded video will be shown to more of your followers. This kind of content doesn’t have to be perfect or need to use professional equipment; you can simply use your phone.

User generated content

UGC, or user generated content is as it says on the packet. It’s content which is generated by your customers – this could be in the form of a video from a customer showing how they use your product, a photo of a customer with your product, or maybe a podcast where your product is discussed. In fact, anything that your customers or followers produce for you about you or your products.

Be consistent

I often see marketers advocate the need to post every single day…or even several times a day in order to engage your audience. This is not necessarily true for all brands. You will know what works best for you and your business. I always post every morning on Facebook, but I don’t post on Instagram until late afternoon/early evening, as my analysis of my insights tell me that’s the best time. I rarely post on a Sunday, but when I do, it doesn’t make that much difference to the engagement I get, so it can be a bit hit and miss.

However, you do decide to post, ensure that you post consistently. So, if you post seven days a week at 8am, stick with that if your insights tell you that’s the best time of day. Your customers will learn what time you post and will expect to see your posts at that time.

If you decide you only post three times a week, that’s fine too…so long as you post consistently. Consistency is what wins the race!

Facebook groups

I’m sure that all of us are members of Facebook groups. I belong to several groups and post regularly on at least two of them every day. Facebook likes groups and they do push the advertising of groups.

At their 2019 F9 Conference, Facebook said that people “might see more content from groups in their newsfeed.”

This means that it is recommended that you join relevant Facebook groups. By relevant, I mean groups that are relevant to your business and your brand. It’s not usually encouraged to be all ‘salesy’ in groups, but normally the admins will have different things happening on each day of the week. So, you could be joining in with engagement and conversations on an ‘Introduce yourself Monday’ post, or a group admin might ask for posts around specific themes, such as the recent ones I’m seeing – show me something that you sell or offer beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet. You can get really creative with this and make it fit your business! There will be posts to share your blog, share a link to your shop or website. These posts not only help small businesses, but they also get conversations started, help participants meet other, like-minded people, as well as educate and solve problems.

The only thing I would really advise against is to join in with ‘follow for follow’ posts. In my opinion, these serve no purpose whatsoever. You will pick up new follows and likes, but they won’t necessarily be your target audience and if they’re not, they won’t engage with your posts and so will ultimately affect your algorithm as it will show followers that don’t engage. I avoid these at all costs.

Engagement bait

Facebook absolutely hates engagement baiting. Although it’s not advised to explicitly ask for comments, such as ‘comment below,’ you can ask for comments by using open-ended questions. This works well if you use polls.

Facebook also sees ‘follow for follow’ as engagement bait, so if you do get involved with these, your algorithm will suffer.

Keep your posts unique

Producing unique posts every single day of the week is difficult to do. It’s something I hear all the time as a marketer – ‘I’ve run out of content,’ or ‘I don’t have any more ideas for posts.’

There are lots of ways to help you with unique posts.

Repurposing content you’ve posted before or elsewhere is one of them. If you write a weekly blog for example, you can get loads of posts from that content. It could be a list of tips, a video, a podcast, or using images to illustrate a point you’ve made in your blog. You can also look at relevant quotes around the subject you’ve blogged about.

Other places to get inspiration for posts are website such as Pinterest, Ask the public, Quora, Reddit and BuzzSumo to name a few. You just log into these websites and write a question in the search box relating to your niche or business. There will be loads of ideas or questions that pop up. You can use this to write blogs, content for posts etc. You can also see commonly asked questions about your niche, and see what pain points your target audience has – use this to your advantage and answer those questions using your products or services.

Get verified on Facebook

You should aim to have around 500 followers before trying to get officially verified. Being verified just proves to your audience that you a bona fide business. There are so many fake businesses and accounts out there, this is a way to prove you are authentic. Because of this, Facebook do make you jump through a few hoops to get this status.

But when your page is verified, you’ll receive a blue checkmark or tick next to your name.

Verification is free and you’ll need to provide a cover photo, a profile photo, a name that follows Facebook’s guidelines and content posted to the account. Visitors must be allowed to follow you and you must also provide a government issued I.D, such as a driving license or passport. You’ll also be asked to provide a document with a watermark, for pages not representing a person (so representing a business). This would be a company utility bill or tax document for example. Here’s a link to the relevant Facebook article that tells you exactly what to do to get verified.

Hashtags

We all know about hashtags these days and they are used on every post on Instagram. But hashtags can also be good for your marketing success if you use them on Facebook. Using hashtags helps you to connect and reach people you haven’t reached before when they search for related topics.

Always keep your hashtags relevant to your post and relevant to your brand. Don’t overuse them – you don’t need to have them on every single post and only use a few. You can use the same hashtags that you use on Instagram or Twitter, and you can create your own hashtag that is relevant to your business if you want to.

Always reply to your audience

This is obvious, but always reply to messages. Always reply to comments made on your posts and reply to any questions asked. It’s important to let your followers know that they are being heard and that their comments are valuable.

It also shows your followers that you are genuine and that you care about what they have to say.

Paying for advertising

Facebook ads are relatively low cost and can really help you target a particular audience. I have had mixed experience with ads, and don’t tend to need to use them, but I know lots of businesses who find paid ads invaluable to getting more customers and helping them to grow their business.

Conclusion

Facebook is one of the easiest social media platforms to use and has the highest number of members. As a business, it’s crucial to establish your presence on Facebook, understand who your customers and target audience are…and how to reach them. Facebook does help you with this through insights.

Although the algorithm and its constant changes can be very frustrating, Facebook is still one of the best ways to connect with your target audience. It’s important to just try and keep on top of all the changes and adapt your posts and habits accordingly.

But the way to beat the algorithm is to be consistent, have meaningful conversations, post a variety of posts including video, and give your audience great value by being interactive and interested in what they have to say when they connect and interact with you.

I really hope this has helped you understand the algorithm a bit more. Which tip is your favourite? And what’s the one thing you’ll take away from this blog post?

How to tell a good story for your business

We see stories wherever we look, and the bigger corporates have understood the benefits of telling their story for years, as part of their marketing strategy. As a small business, we often forget about this little gem. But it really helps us connect with our audiences and instill trust.

Stories help us understand the world around us. They are a way to help your audience understand more about you, without being overwhelmed by the details about your products. They help show the ‘authentic you,’ so that your customers will be more interested in what you have to say about your products.

Why should you tell your story?

By nature, people are nosy and curious – they like to know about the person they are buying from.

Marketing your business is a real challenge in today’s online world, and there is so much competition, so you need to be able to stand out in the crowd.

Storytelling creates a fabulous connection with your audience. Sharing your experiences helps to encourage and help others and brings your brand to life. It conveys the purpose of your business and what you stand for and helps make your products more appealing.

Content marketing

Content marketing is what helps you to sell your products. You need to release the magic that you put into your products, be it artwork, crafts, photography etc. You are creating a story around you and around your work.

It’s an incredibly competitive out there, so your unique storytelling is what will set you apart from your peers. You might think, if your products are very visual (such as paintings or photography) that your pictures will sell themselves – surely, if people like what you do, they will buy it. Of course, this may be true for a small percentage of your audience. They will see something that resonates with them, or you may sell something that they are particularly looking for and have searched for. But sadly, when people are looking online, it’s easy to scroll past something that would actually resonate with them if they knew more about it…and about you. This is where the importance of storytelling comes in. People remember stories, you want to convince them to love your work as much as you do. They need to feel your passion and understand the reasons why you do what you do – this creates a real connection between you and your audience.

Know your audience

The first thing to think about is your audience. Do you know who your target audience are? I’m not going to go into detail about how to identify your target audience and building a buyer persona, but if you click on these links, you can see previous blog posts where I have gone into detail about this.

How to identify your target audience

How to create your buyer persona

It’s really important to know your audience, so you know how to approach them and what kind of content will make them look at your products.

How to tell your story – the monomyth

There are lots of ways to tell your story. In this blog, I’m going to look at the Monomyth, which is just one concept.

Joseph Campbell, an American author, who worked on mythology produced the idea of the Monomyth.

He said that most myths contain some common elements – heroes start out as lowly mortals; they receive some sort of call to adventure and divine assistance to get started. They encounter obstacles along the way, go through a transformation and return to where they started as a hero, changed for the better in most cases.

An example

I’m going to use Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ as an example.

Bilbo Baggins was just a normal hobbit, with a peaceful life, living in the rural Shire. One day, the wizard, Gandalf, calls on him to persuade him to join Thorin and his twelve dwarves to recover their stolen treasure, which is being guarded by the dragon, Smaug.

So, although he initially resisted, Bilbo embarks on a fantastic adventure, where he stares death in the face and returns a stronger, wiser hobbit, and is the hero of the story.

When you are telling your story, the Monomyth is a great way to structure it. If you do this well, you will get and keep your audience’s attention. There are lots of people who have different concepts about the Monomyth, but I like the remarkably simple version and its structure.

The Monomyth

Let’s start at the beginning…your calling

Like Bilbo Baggins, at some point you felt the calling to do what you do. It might have been a slow realisation that your hobby could be more than just a passing interest. It might be that it’s been a lifelong passion that you felt you could no longer ignore. It could be that you express your beliefs and interests through your work and that you’re getting a message out there.

Whatever it is that brought you to where you are today – these are the things you should use to introduce yourself to your audience.

Talk about what inspires you…is there a meaning or reason behind what you do?

The idea for this part of the Monomyth is to excite and enthuse your audience. You might feel that your reasoning behind what you do is quite mundane, but to your followers, it will be interesting.

The obstacles

The next part of the Monomyth is the obstacles.

  • People love to hear how you overcome obstacles or opposition
  • Your audience what to talk to you and hear about your processes – for example, if you make something or paint, how do you start on a new piece? People love to see a work in progress too, so showing the process in a step-by-step series of posts is a great idea to engage your audience.
  • Talk about the difficulties and how you overcame them.

Good old Bilbo faced danger and adversity to fulfil his mission. What were the obstacles that you faced? You may not have had a great tragedy in your life, (I hope you haven’t), but everyone, no matter what they do, meets adversity or resistance at some point when creating their work.

Some ideas might be…

  • Dealing with health issues
  • Figuring out how to make or do something that was very technically challenging
  • Coming up with funding – how do you fund what you do?
  • Struggling to communicate what is really happening behind what you do
  • Struggling against a system that puts you at a financial disadvantage

For example, we’ve been experiencing one of the worst global pandemics in years and the world basically shut down. How did that affect you and your business? I know it had an affect on my business and on the businesses of several friends.

Did anything you have experienced during lockdown, or during the pandemic, that inspired you and your work?

You might have a story about going into a dark place, where you really struggled to do anything. How did you cope with that? What did you do to pull yourself out of the abyss? I know this sounds a bit dramatic…but you get the picture.

Emerging triumphant

At some time or other, when you are in a creative mode, frantically getting everything down or done that you can, you emerge from your whirl of creativity. This is where you want to sell your products.

It could be that you have an online shop, a physical location, or sell on social media. However, you do it, this is the time to start asking for a sale, via advertising or posting about your actual products.

Make sure that you use a good product description to help your sales.

The returning hero/heroine

Finally, you have success, and like Bilbo Baggins, you are the hero/heroine of the story. When you sell something, share your victories with your friends and family – no matter how big or small. Celebrate your wins! Write about it on social media, on your website or in your blog or email. Be proud of what you’ve achieved…and don’t forget to thank your audience.

You’ve worked hard to get that achievement and you need to show your passion and excitement for your success.

Conclusion

That’s the Monomyth – in a nutshell! It is just one way to tell your story, but it works well as a structure and can give you something to aim for. Put yourself at the centre of your story and share your journey.

Your audience will love to see you progress and will enjoy celebrating your wins with you. Storytelling is a great way to develop your personal brand and to portray the ‘real you’ to your audience. Good luck!

If you’d like to get more marketing tips delivered to your inbox, please sign up to my email subscription. It’s completely free and you get a free marketing strategy workbook as a thank you for signing up. You also get ‘member only’ access to a restricted area of my website, where you will find lots of free resources to help you market your small business.

Writing great product descriptions

A well thought out and written product description can be very powerful. It can move your customers to buy from you, or at least make them sit up and take notice of your products. Having a great product description is as important as having fabulous images or an amazing website. Your descriptions contribute to your customers’ experience and also contributes to the credibility of your online shop or products.

The most common mistake that most people make is that they simply describe their products, as in what it is. This leaves your audience a bit flat – they can see what it is you’re selling. They want to understand the unique value proposition of your product, or how it gives a solution to a problem they have.

What makes a good product description?

An effective description describes the features and benefits of your product to your customer. The aim of your description is to provide the customer with information that compels them to want to buy it immediately.

This involves writing persuasive copy and answering these questions…

  • What problem does your product solve?
  • What do your customers gain from using your product?
  • What separates your products from others on the market?

You also need to think about SEO, (search engine optimisation), such as relevant keywords that you think your customers will use when searching for products like yours. If you get the right keywords, you’ll get more visitors …and more sales. Google will then recognise that you’re getting lots of visitors and so your online shop or website will rank higher.

The three rules to selling online

There are three basic rules to selling online…

People don’t like to be ‘sold to,’ they like to buy. If they are being sold to, then the seller is in control – if they choose to buy, they are in control. So, what you need to do is tempt your audience by solving a problem or helping them achieve a goal.

Appeal to their emotions, so they WANT to buy your products. I’m sure you’ll have heard the acronym, FOMO – the fear of missing out. This is a good example of appealing to people’s emotions. It’s not one that I’m particularly comfortable with – a good example is phone companies – they use this tactic to encourage us to buy the latest mobile phone, with all the latest technology and gadgets. The truth is, the phone you have is probably good enough for what you want, but they make you WANT to have the newer version.

You don’t have to use this hard-hitting tactic. You can use your copy to highlight the problems that your audience faces and how your product solves that. Make them feel good about the solution.

Your customers will want to have a logical reason or a rationale for buying your product – not just the emotional one. This is where your product specifications or good customer service comes in. This alone won’t sell your product, but it helps your customer feel good about the decision to buy from you.

If you think about the ads you see on TV…for fast food delivery for example. They tempt their audience in with the kind of food they know their target audience likes. They tell them that whenever they fancy a particular meal, they can get it immediately. They don’t have to go out in the cold, drive to the shop, queue for ages whilst their food is prepared, then get it home without the food getting cold. NO, you can order and have it delivered, hot and ready to eat – in your own home, on your sofa, in front of your TV.

We all know that this is more expensive, but we do it anyway, because the adverts make you WANT to.

Once they’ve set the scene, you have the specifications – what food is available, what side orders you can have, what drinks you can order, and even desserts. And you’re given the website address to order it from.

OK, I’ll give you some examples for the smaller businesses.

Jane is an artist. She sells her artwork in the form of one-off original paintings.

What will tempt her target audience? What problem is she solving for them?

Buying original artwork is an emotional buy. Your audience need to feel a connection to it – it needs to speak to them. Whether you sell landscapes or wild seascapes, wildlife, or flowers, you need to know your audience and what makes them tick.

If your artwork is one of a kind, your audience may be drawn to that because no one else will own that same painting. It makes them feel unique and valued, especially if you do commissions, so they can ask for what they want.

If you do pet or family portraits, emotion plays a big part in the decision to buy an original.

It might be that you have regular buyers who just love your work and are building a collection. They will want your latest creation as it will complete their collection.

If you paint pictures of a particular place, such as a beach that has a popular feature, or a castle that people can book for a wedding, the emotion to sell here is that they can have a little piece of a memory they have of that place hanging on their wall. They may have childhood memories of that beach that they want to capture forever in their home.

Once you know what the emotional part is, you can connect with your potential buyers by selling the benefits, for example, the feeling the painting evokes, such as joy from a memory of childhood.

The features would be the size of the painting and the materials you use to create it. You need to weave these together.

Let’s take the beach example – the feature in the painting is a lighthouse. I come from Burnham on Sea in Somerset, where there is a lighthouse on nine legs, so I’m going to use that – it reminds me of my childhood and walking the family dog with my Mum, come rain or shine.

Example 1

Burnham on Sea beach with lighthouse.

38cm X 55cm

£30

Example 2

Burnham on Sea beach, featuring the famous lighthouse.

If you have ever holidayed in this popular West Country seaside resort, you couldn’t fail to notice the iconic 36 feet high, white wooden lighthouse, which stands on nine vertical pillars.

If you’ve walked the short distance from the pier to the lighthouse, this painting will bring back many peaceful memories of this regal, yet tranquil setting; the slight breeze with the taste of salt in the air, the sea rolling gently in, and the soft, yellow sand underfoot.

This oil on canvas, is just £30 and measures 38cm X 55cm.

OK, so I know I’ve gone a bit over the top with my description, but you get the idea – paint a picture of your painting with words to entice your buyers in. Spark their imagination – help stimulate their senses.

Let’s have a look at a different example…

Alice makes jewellery. She uses silver wire to make her pieces and incorporates gemstones with the silver.

Example 1

Silver and amethyst gemstone ring.

£10.99 plus postage.

Select your size from the dropdown box.

Example 2

Hand crafted delicate, silver ring, adorned with a stunning purple amethyst quartz gemstone. The spiritual meaning of amethyst is healing, tranquillity and calm. Amethyst has been used throughout history to expel feelings of anger, frustration, or fury from your body.

It is also the traditional gift for the 33rd wedding anniversary. The colour purple has been linked with nobility and is a regal colour, so it has that certain luxurious quality.

Available in many different sizes, this ring is £10.99 plus postage. A little bit of luxury without breaking the bank.

Again, I may have over-exaggerated the description to get my point across, but I hope you now have a better understanding and I hope this article has given you some clarity about how to write a good product description.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email or message on social media.

Next time

As well as describing your product on your online shop or website, you should also use social media to point your audience to your website. On social media, you could talk more about your journey or story. How did you come to paint or make jewellery? What inspired you to start? Why do you use the material you use?

Storytelling will be the subject of my next blog, so hope you will tune in next time!

In the meantime, you could subscribe to my monthly email, which gives you valuable tips for marketing your small business, as well as ‘member only’ access to lots of free marketing resources to help you with your marketing.

Create an effective Christmas Marketing Strategy in 16 steps

An effective marketing campaign will engage new or potential customers, boost your sales, and build and strengthen relationships with your existing customers.

Your customers are primed and ready to start spending, so make sure you are not missing out on the action. Although we’re already just into November, there will be plenty of customers out there; some will already have done most of their shopping and will be looking for last minute bits; at the other end of the spectrum, (like me), some won’t even have thought about Christmas shopping yet, so will be looking avidly over the next few weeks.

Planning your marketing strategy for the holiday season will ensure your business grows and puts you in a great place to start the New Year.

So how do you get started? It’s simple…

Define your SMART goals

I know, everyone talks about goal setting, but for this time of year, (or in fact any time of year), goals are what keeps your business growing, learning, and improving. These goals need to be specific for your Christmas campaign and SMART, (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). LINK

For example, your main goal might be that you want more sales. Your SMART goal would be, ‘To increase my sales and profits between now and the end of 2021 by 20%, compared to the same time last year.’

This is specific, it’s definitely achievable, it’s relevant as it’s Christmas and people typically spend more money, and it’s timely, for the same reason – it’s a holiday time when people are spending more.

Once you have your goals in place, so you know what you’re aiming for, now you can think about the marketing – HOW are you going to achieve those goals?

Here are a few ideas that could help ramp up your sales this year…

Customise your packaging

Having customised packaging is important for your brand and creates a great ‘unboxing’ or ‘unopening’ experience for your customers…and it’s all about the customer experience! If you have unique packaging with the name of your business, it adds a bit of class and feels more luxurious to your customers.

Exclusivity

Following on from customising your packaging, you could produce a special Christmas edition of your product, and your packaging could reflect this.

Create an online catalogue

Christmas is the perfect time to revise and refresh your marketing materials. With the many great, free resources available these days, creating a digital or online catalogue is relatively easy to do. Canva is one tool you can use to help you do this…and they have some very professional templates.

I remember my children browsing through the Argos catalogue and putting circles around the things they’d like for Christmas or birthday. But with printed catalogues almost outdated, digital is still very much what people want. Good photos of your products are necessary for this and can show off your products in a very professional way. With digital catalogue you can also make each image a link to the relevant product page on your website or online shop. This makes buying and browsing so easy for your customers.

You can market your catalogue on your website from a tab, in a blog, in your email list and on social media, as well as on your Google My Business page, which will give you the best chance of getting those sales.

Remarketing

What’s this? You see it all the time, but probably don’t realise it. Whenever you go onto Amazon to look for something. If, for example I go onto Amazon and look for Organic Shampoo. When I click on a product I’m interested in, there’s always something else that pops up. Underneath the item I’m looking at, it will say ‘Consider a similar item’ and point me to something similar. They always have a section too, that says ‘Frequently bought together’… and for the purpose of this example, it shows me conditioner and a body wash from the same brand.

This is remarketing – giving other ideas around the same theme…and even the same product from a different organic shampoo company.

Collaboration

Collaboration is about teaming up with another small business that would complement your business. For example, if you sell luxury coffee, you could team up with a small business that makes coffee mugs or insulated mugs. You then both promote each other’s business. If you sell coffee, you could say that with an insulated mug, people can now enjoy the luxury of a good coffee on the go. You get the idea!

Once you have a collaboration, this can carry over from Christmas into the New Year and include other holidays. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship!

Have a cut-off date

Bear in mind, that there are many postage deadlines in the lead up to Christmas, so if you offer postage on your items, ensure that you have a cut-off date to ensure that your customers get your products before the big day. If a customer lives near you, you could let them collect up to Christmas Eve, but if you must post locally, it will take longer. If you ship worldwide, that cut-off date will be sooner. Just keep this in mind and don’t make promises you can’t keep as that is very damaging to your business.

You could also consider offering free shipping – people are willing to pay a bit more for a product if they get free shipping, so it’s well worth thinking about.

Your opening hours

Don’t forget to update your website, social media, and Google My Business page to show your opening hours over the Christmas period, so you don’t disappoint any potential customers.

Have a stock of your products

This is really obvious but ensure that your most popular products are in stock. You don’t want to run out and have to turn people away or have to email to say that you don’t have a product they’ve ordered on your website or online shop.

Use your email list

If you have a list of email subscribers via your blog or website, use this to advertise your products too. You don’t have to be pushy and salesy, as I know a lot of us don’t like to do that, but you can point your subscribers to your promotional campaign or exclusive offers.

As they subscribe to your regular email, you could even offer them a special discount code.

Don’t forget to ensure that your email marketing for November and December uses festive imagery to ensure you are getting your readers into the spirit of things!

What does your product do for your audience?

This is the age-old, sell the solution, not the product. The most successful products will always focus on the customer – and showing how that product benefits the life of the potential user. What problems does it solve?

Let’s go back to the coffee example. Your luxury coffee might be organic – why is this important to your audience? How does it enhance their life? You could say it energises and enriches your mind, keeping you focussed on the important things in life. If your product has a specific ingredient that you want to advertise, give the benefits of that ingredient and why it is so good. It could be that it’s a good choice for the planet because of the way it’s produced.

Again, you get the idea, any product has its selling point.

Create bundles

This is an amazing way to sell your products. Simply bundle some of them together. For example, buy luxury coffee and a festive mug together at a slightly cheaper price than if they were sold individually. The benefits of bundling items together are that customers see them as a bargain – a bundle increases the perceived value of an item. If you couple this with your bespoke packaging, your customers have superb gift ideas. If you also add free shipping to bundled items, this will make it even more attractive.

Create ideas with a gift guide

This is a simple idea that can help your sales. All you have to do is to create a guide of ideas using your products. It’s a collection of your products that will make good presents…and give ideas as to who they could be for and why.

For example, it could be ‘Gifts for men’ or ‘Gifts for the coffee lover,’ ‘Gifts for Mum or for your best friend.’ Then include the items you sell that are relevant to men, coffee lovers, friends etc. Create a landing page, which is easily done in Mailerlite for example, which displays your products in one place. You can them promote that landing page on your website, in your email, blog or on your social media sites.

It’s about suggesting who your products might be suitable for and marketing them as such.

Keep on top of your images

Log into your website and have a look at it from a customer’s perspective. They need to know that you’ve got a festive promotion, or a gift guide, or online catalogue. Make sure that there is something bold, front, and centre on your homepage to advertise the fact, with links to the relevant pages or products on your shop.

Change the images on your product pages to show your products with a more festive theme.

If you’re on social media, update your cover pages to advertise your festive products and ensure that you have some great images on Google My Business. You could update your profile picture to you in party mode or wearing a Santa hat – depending on what you do!

This is time consuming, but absolutely worth it for the sales you will generate.

Keywords

Just as you update your imagery, also update your keywords to include what you’re doing this Christmas. Here’s a few suggestions…

  • Christmas gifts
  • Christmas gifts for men/coffee lover/best friend/Mum
  • Buy Christmas decorations
  • DIY Christmas decorations
  • DIY Christmas decorations for kids
  • Festive food

This does require some research to ensure you get the right keywords or hashtags for you and your business and products. Once you have them, use them on your posts, on your website, blog, and social media.

Offer gift cards

Whilst most of us like to look for that perfect gift for our loved one, there will be customers out there who just don’t know what they want to buy. This is the ideal person to sell a gift card to – they can spend what they like and the person they buy for can choose exactly what they’d like from your product range.

If you do offer a gift card, make sure there is a simple graphic on your homepage, or a link to a landing page, specifically dedicated to gift cards in your online shop or web page.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

These two days are your best friends when it comes to selling your products for Christmas. These two events are heavily advertised on TV, all over the internet and social media. If you don’t join in, you will lose out on some fabulous sales.

The other joy these days bring, is that it will really set your business up for Christmas sales. If someone has bought something from you at a reduced rate on Black Friday, they will know your business and may think of you when buying their last-minute Christmas gifts. But there are other things you can do to encourage this…

  • Offer a special 10% off discount for the rest of the year, for anyone who buys from you on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
  • Add in a little free gift
  • Offer free postage
  • Tell them that if they recommend you to friends and family, by sharing your post and one of their friends buys from you, they get a free gift, or 20% off their next purchase from you

Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t the only days each year that your business can use to get seen and sell more. Here are a few more in November and December.

  • Small business Saturday – 27th November
  • St Nicholas Day – 6th December
  • Free shipping day – 14th December
  • Panic Saturday – 18th December

There are many others throughout the year too.

Finally, finally…

Don’t forget that elusive time of year – between Christmas and New Year. It always feels a bit like limbo land, but as a lot of the ‘January’ sales start on Boxing Day in the UK, it’s a great time to continue pushing for sales. People are happy, they’ve eaten and drunk too much, they have a bit of money in their pockets…and time on their hands to scroll through social media on their phones. If you have an ad on your page, or a post pinned to the top of your page, saying your sale starts now, you will be seen by your customers and followers.

You could do a ‘flash sale’ with a ‘Santa didn’t get me what I wanted’ type title! Have heavily discounted items that you want to move quickly.

If you still have Christmas themed products, heavily discount them selling for a ‘Buy now for next Christmas.’

Then in the New Year, you’re ready to launch your new range of products or services starting anew.

Don’t forget that the aim of a Christmas campaign is to have satisfied, happy customers, who will want to come back to buy from you again in the New Year. And make your brand stand out in the crowd, so people remember you and your business. I hope this has helped you plan your campaign.

Let me know how you get on with yours.