Is your business suffering from the summer slump?

How is it nearly the end of August already – and what a weird, hot summer it’s been. For most of us, it’s also meant rising prices, fuel costs going through the roof and everyone seems to be tightening their belts.

The summer slump is a real problem for some businesses, and usually this simply means that time in summer when business seems to drop off. You don’t get so much engagement on your social media pages, sales disappear, and generally, everything seems to grind to a blinding halt.

The main reason for this is that in general, people just stop paying attention to the things they normally do. The children are off school and need to be entertained, the weather is nicer so they’re thinking about BBQs and social gatherings with family and friends. They are also thinking about going away on holiday, (especially now the restrictions of Covid are virtually over). Add to that the rising cost of living, and for some, the slump has been more of a reality than usual.

This year, more than ever, small businesses are telling me that they are experiencing a real slump in their sales.

So, do you just wait for things to pick up by themselves? Or do you want to be proactive and do something about it? There are still some things you can do to ensure that your business is still being seen.

Here are some things that might help:

Don’t stop doing what you normally do

This seems obvious, but it’s important to still have your business out there. If you post once or twice a day on social media, continue doing that. Be consistent, just like you always have.

If you publish a weekly or monthly blog, do it, even if you don’t get much engagement.

If you send out an email newsletter, absolutely still do this. The tips that follow will help you with the sort of things you can talk about.

Look at starting a new inbound marketing campaign

What do I mean by this?

Create a new campaign on your social media or email, to attract customers. You do this by tailoring your content to what they need, problems they need to solve, and forms relationships with your followers.

The old way of mass marketing just doesn’t seem to be as effective anymore. Things like pop-up ads and the hard sell are more likely to put people off these days. So, it’s a softer approach you’re after.

Get going with educating your current and potential customers about your products or services. Use email, direct mail, and social media posts/stories/reels/video to teach your audience more about your products or services and how you can help solve some of their problems.

Go ‘live’

Hold a live event or a series of events highlighting what you do best. Include details of your best sellers, and don’t forget to include testimonials or case studies to help you. Success stories always sell.

Focus on your customers

This is a good way to look at how you can serve your existing customers better. Look at whether your customers use your product or service to its full capacity. Look at feedback to find out if there are any needs that your product isn’t meeting that could be tweaked in future. You can do this simply by messaging your customers and asking for their opinion. People like to be involved, so ask if there’s anything you can improve on, or if there is anything you don’t yet provide that you could provide in future.

Ask for referrals

This speaks for itself, but whilst you’re quiet, you can ask for a referral – and maybe offer a discount if the person they recommend buys from you.

Ask for testimonials. You may get regular testimonials, but some people just don’t think to give them, so there’s no harm in asking.

Join a networking group

There are so many groups on social media that you can join. It just takes a little bit of time to engage with the other businesses in the group. Look at other businesses, engage with their posts by commenting. You might find something you’d like to buy. This is a great way to build genuine relationships with other like-minded people.

If you have any local in-person networking events, try to get along and introduce yourself. Face-to-face events are great for networking in real time. Make sure you are armed with a stock of business cards to give out and ensure that you listen to other businesses and what they have to say, as well as talking about your own!

Share your schedule

If you are going on holiday in the summer, tell your clients about it beforehand. Encourage them to place orders before you go, so they get their orders in good time. Scarcity sells, so don’t miss out on this one.

If you know that you have customers who buy Autumn items from you, such as Halloween products, contact them early and show them your range, asking if they’d like to order early to beat the rush.

Invest in you

When your business is quiet, it’s a good time to learn new things or develop new skills. Or, just to brush up on what you already know. Book a coaching session to help you with a specific part of your business, sign up to a few webinars, or look at a short course that will help you grow your business further.

If you have sales material, presentations, case studies, welcome pack, an automated email newsletter, or a website, now is the time to review them and update them, so they are all current and nothing is out of date.

When you have done that, you can do a couple of launch posts to show your new-look website or landing page.

Update your Facebook cover and your profile photo. And spend some time thinking about your brand and how you can better show your brand in your social media posts.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas to help you beat that summer slump. Doing some of these things will make you feel more proactive, and you’ll be raring to go once the summer is over and we are into autumn.

I hope that you have all had a fabulous August, have enjoyed time with family and friends, enjoyed the gorgeous weather, (even if it was a tad too hot at times) and are looking forward to launching into autumn with renewed vigour.

Take your marketing from mediocre to marvellous

The one thing that most small business owners have in common is the dream about what their business has the potential to grow into. They want it to be a success and know they can do it if they work hard.

However, sometimes it’s hard to focus on what is important and you sometimes lose the focus on the future and how to keep moving forward. How many times do you find yourself wondering if it’s all worthwhile? How often do you feel like just jacking it all in and doing something else?

You know that in this digital age, especially since Covid raised its ugly head and everyone had to find more innovative ways to reach their customers, that having quality content online that engages your audience is crucial. But that really is only half the picture. You also need to ensure your audience is exposed to this content, and that means building a successful content strategy beyond social media posts.

This week’s blog looks at how you can work ON your business, NOT IN your business, and take it from mediocre to marvellous.

Resolve your mediocre marketing

Mediocre is quite a depressing place to be in marketing. Lots of businesses pay more attention to how they look than what they’re saying, or how they’re saying it. I’m not saying everyone does this, of course, but instead of focusing on what makes us unique, we are all guilty at some time or other of saying what people expect us to say or do.

So, what can you do to resolve your mediocre marketing?

All small businesses have lots of balls in the air. Not only do lots of you have a family to look after, but you also have everyday things to keep on top of too. Some of you are running your small business as a side hustle, as well as holding down a full-time job, and you can find yourself being pulled in all directions. This can lead to a mindset of ‘hoping for the best,’ which in turn can lead to you being unproductive – and it’s exhausting!

One of the answers is to work smarter instead of harder. Here are some things to think about:

Have a plan

If you read my blog regularly, you will know what I’m going to say; you need a marketing plan.

At this point, you might just switch off. Is it because you find the thought of having to plan a bit overwhelming? It’s probably the last thing you want to hear…again!

But not having a marketing plan makes your job harder and juggling all the harder to handle.

If you have a marketing plan, you can focus on the things that are necessary. In ‘The Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022, reported by CoSchedule, it was found that people who have a plan to market their business are 313% more likely to report success than those who don’t.

And, although it may seem very overwhelming, it really isn’t.

What should a marketing plan contain?

For starters, it doesn’t have to be 100 pages long – that won’t help you at all. It needs to be clear and short, realistic, and repeatable, as well as easy to understand so you can tweak it as you see fit in future months.

It needs to show:

  • Your Vision/Mission statement
  • The four Ps – products, pricing, place (where you’re going to sell what you do), and promotion (how you’re going to sell your products or services).
  • Market analysis – look at your competitors
  • Target market – who you are aiming your products/services at
  • Your goals or objectives
  • Your promotion strategies
  • What budget you have if any
  • How you’re going to measure the success of your plan

If you would like a simple to follow marketing plan, sign up to my email and receive your free ‘Marketing your small business workbook.’ This will help you get on the right track.

Don’t try to do too much

Trying to do too much can also cause you to do less. For example, I know businesses that are on five or six social media channels. It’s good if you have the time to manage them all, but my experience is that you’re likely to lose your motivation and abandon them one by one.

Trying to be seen everywhere is not easy to maintain long term, especially if your business is just you. So, I would always advise to focus on just a couple of social media, or online channels and do them well.

Be consistent, add plenty of value to your customers and have a goal – what you expect to achieve from your social media activity.

One of those online channels doesn’t have to be social media – it could be email marketing. To build a lucrative email list, it’s advised to have a lead magnet that entices people into subscribing to your email. I realise that email isn’t for everyone, but if your business is steadily growing, you engage with your audience regularly online, (and may be finding this is taking up too much of your time), the next option is to create an email subscription, where you can talk directly to your customers every week or month.  

  

Not everyone is your audience

I know I’ve posted about this recently on my social media pages, but one mistake that lots of small businesses make is to try to sell to everyone. Not everyone is your target audience, and by trying to target everyone, you risk selling to no one.

You need to know your audience, build a couple of buyer personas and tailor everything to them.

Don’t spend too much money

The word ‘budget’ is something guaranteed to send fear into most small businesses hearts. It’s not one of our favourite words, but it is important. Having a budget, no matter how small, can help your business.

There are so many digital marketing apps it is all too easy to keep subscribing to new apps. But while they might be individually cheap, they add up.

Look very carefully at what you spend your money on. Do you spend a lot on app or analytics tools? I do subscribe to Canva, and it’s worth every penny as I use it every day, but I have recently stopped subscribing to a few, as they were just a waste of money.

It is worth spending money on things you will use and will help you make your business more successful.

Here are a few ideas on what you can spend your marketing budget on:

  • A website (some people prefer to spend on things like Etsy or Shopify rather than a website as lots of the marketing can be done for you, but I feel it’s better to have your own website with built-in e-commerce, as you own it yourself
  • A registered domain
  • Training – so you learn more about things associated with your business
  • Paid ads – this needs very careful consideration to get the right kind of ad
  • If you are service based, you might want to invest in scheduling and measurement tools
  • Hire some professional help, such as a marketing coach, someone to help you with your business/marketing/social media strategy, or someone who can build your website, write blog posts, or set up your email marketing.

Don’t forget about your existing customers

Did you know that your existing customers are your biggest sales opportunity? Happy customers are loyal customers and are five times more likely to buy from again, and four times more likely to act as referrals.

Looking after your existing customers is worth the effort as losing customers who are no longer engaged or hear from you, are more costly. It’s harder to find new customers than it is to keep existing ones.

Keep your customers engaged with your business by offering them gifts, or discounts, listen to their feedback and act on it, or maybe think about creating some sort of loyalty programme.

Stay up to date with technology

This is a hard one, but most of what you do as a small business will be routine. There will be some daily tasks that need to be done to keep your business running smoothly. The more effective you become in completing these tasks, the more time you must work more on your business. For example, instead of physically posting on social media every day, batch make your content for the week and schedule it. You then only have to do this once a week.

Keeping up with the latest tools you can use to help you can ultimately save you time and money.

Mix up your marketing activity

Check out your insights on social media to find out what kind of posts work best for you and what doesn’t. Change the type of posts you do, try, and include things like reels and video, as well as short and long posts. Post your blog articles, and remember to use posts that entertain, educate, engage, and inspire your target audience, as well as selling posts.

Take a step back

In this article, I’m not telling you what to do, but what I am trying to encourage is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It gives you time to assess what works and what doesn’t work for you.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing the same things, just because that’s the way you’ve always done it, or because that’s what everyone else does. But in business, time is precious and it’s good to remember to:

  • Create a clear marketing plan so you can focus on essential activities
  • Only concentrate on the social media platform that you love and that you enjoy
  • Sell to a targeted audience rather than trying to sell to everyone
  • Make your budget work for you in the most efficient way
  • Make your existing customers your priority. They will be the ones to buy more, give reviews, and are more likely to refer you to their friends and family

This is basically what a marketing strategy is all about and will help your business go from mediocre to marvellous! If you need help in pulling together your strategy, please feel free to take advantage of my free 30-minute discovery call, where I can give you some tips to help your business

Why is it important to understand your target audience?

You have a small business, you write beautifully crafted content, you engage on social media – but you’re still not selling. Why?

When you have a business, the ultimate decision about whether they are going to buy from you or not lies with your customers or potential customers. You can do as much as you possibly can to persuade people to buy your products or services, but without a strategy that provides personalised experiences for your ideal customer, you’re not likely to make many sales.

When you know who your target audience is and have a comprehensive understanding of who you’re talking to, you can create the right kind of content to attract that target audience. By having your own small business, you are competing with hundreds of other businesses who do the same as you, so having a marketing strategy is imperative to stopping your messages falling on deaf ears!

Why does your target audience matter?

I’d say that knowing your target audience is the most important part of your marketing strategy, for these reasons:

  • If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. You don’t want to appeal generally to everyone out there, you need to appeal strongly to a specific group of people who are likely to want to do business with you…people you have a connection with.
  • If you know exactly who your audience are, you know what their pain points, or problems are. You can see their problems from their perspective and what obstacles they need to overcome to solve those problems. Then you can think about how your business can provide those solutions with your products or services.
  • Knowing your audience’s problems, you can work out how to market the solutions you have to their problems. You can show them how the features and benefits of your products/services can help them and why you are best suited to do that.
  • When you are creating content and forming new relationships with potential customers, you need to be able to speak their language. By this, I mean using the same terms and phrases that they use to describe their problems. Then you can build relationships by using that language to show that your business can solve those problems.
  • You target audience can also teach you how you can create better products and services that suit them best. You can use the understanding you have of their problems, along with any feedback

How do you identify your target audience?

Identifying your target market is all about three things: Demographics, Geographics and Psychographics. 

Demographics

  • What is their age and gender?
  • Are they married or living together?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • If you know what they do for a living, what is their rough income?
  • Do they own their own home?


You can usually gain demographic information from your existing customers by simply talking to them. Social media accounts can also give you relevant demographic information. If your customers are on Facebook, for example, you can usually see information like date of birth, relationship status – people seem to love to share about their lives on social media, so you will probably see if they have children or grandchildren, what they do for a living etc.

  • You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says, “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.”  This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.
  • Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.
  • If you’re not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business. 

Geographics

This is the simplest – where do your target market live? Are they local to you? Just in a particular region? In the same country, but miles away – nationwide? Or international – in other countries?

Psychographics – why customers buy what they do

If demographics look at who your customers are, psychographics take you a bit further into their lives to find out why they buy the things they do. What motivates them and what makes them tick.

Psychographics include things like:

  • Interests
  • Activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Personality
  • Spending habits
  • Lifestyle choices

If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …

Buyer persona 

Let’s say you’ve done your research, and this is what you have discovered…

Demographic data

  • Female, aged 40 – 55
  • Married with children
  • Household income around £45,000
  • Stay at home Mum who works part-time

Psychographic data

  • Interested in health and fitness
  • Likes to be eco-friendly
  • Is an active member on Facebook and Pinterest
  • Likes socialising with her small group of friends
  • Loves cooking

This demonstrates the difference between the two sets of data and why it’s important to gain both – you have more insight into what your customers might like. Then you can look at your products to see what would interest this kind of customer.

How do you make this relate to your business…and therefore your marketing? I’ll share some examples…

If you have a crafting business, for example, and your crafting activities were soap making or candle making, you’d know that this customer likes natural ingredients that are environmentally friendly and safe for children, so that could be part of your marketing angle.

If you are in the catering industry, making cakes or preserves, she might be interested in special birthday cakes for her family or in your preserves and pickles that use natural ingredients.

Her children are likely to have birthday parties and her friends are likely to have children of a similar age, so anything you make from a crafting perspective may be of interest – bunting for parties, toys, jewellery, etc. And as she enjoys socialising with her small group of friends, she may be interested in hosting an at-home party to buy your craft products.

Where to find her

Once you have this data, you’ll also know where to find her and this is especially important. She may attend local fitness clubs or gyms; she may visit a local spa; she will enjoy lunches out at restaurants or bars with her group of friends. This is where you could leave your flyers and business cards.

Now you know what your customer looks like and what she’s interested in, you can tailor blogs to suit her, you can make products you know she’ll like, and you can find out if she has any particular problem that your products can solve. 

How do your customers like to buy their products?

These days, I would hazard a guess that most of your customers will want to look at products/services online before they buy. They have such a wide choice that it’s important you make yours stand out. People spend their commute to work, breaks, lunch hour, evenings and weekends online, usually browsing through social media sites or looking for something specific. If you are not on these platforms then your products/services will not be found.

Selling online

Social Media is a great way to promote your products or services and to advertise what you do. But you also must bear in mind that not everyone is on social media. If your target market is in the older age bracket, they may prefer not to be on social media, so you will have to reach them another way.

Even though they don’t do social media, your target audience probably still uses the internet to search for things they want. You could set up an online shop.

A website is a crucial business tool – you can link it to your Social Media sites and vice versa. A website can help you reach a wider audience – it gives you a shop front that is open 24/7 – you can even sell when you are sleeping, and you can sell to anyone in the world!

You can put more information about yourself and your business and products or services that you can on social media and, if you have an online shop, you can point your customers to that site. Whatever you choose to do, there is always a marketing technique to support it. If you have a website, you can also choose to add a blog, which could also be a fabulous tool to write about your individual products or services … just another way to get your name/business out there.

I hope this article has given you the inspiration and information to dig deep into your target audience in more detail. I know that once you have all the relevant information, you’ll stand a much better chance of marketing your products or services in the right way…and get those sales.

Share this post to help other small businesses just like you.

The Art of Persuasion

What is the art of persuasion? It is the ability to get others to see things as you see them, and it’s a key need for businesses of any size. From encouraging your customers to buy your products or services, to showing how your products or services are NEEDED by your target audience, the power of persuasion is key. And this is where marketing your business comes in.

I’ve recently read an article about Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, who wrote a book called ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ in 1984. This feels like a long time ago now, but the ideas and principles he talks about in his book are even more relevant today, from a business perspective, than they were back then. In fact, the book and its principles has been hailed as crucial to marketing, especially around the area of converting people to customers. So, I thought I’d investigate this further, as I’d never heard of him.

Cialdini’s ‘6 principles of influence’ are:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment/consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity

Do some of these sound familiar? Social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ back then, but we all know the term ‘social proof’ these days from our dealings with social media.

More than 30 years after publication, these six principles have been adapted to Internet Marketing, specifically around conversion rates. So, let’s dive in!

Reciprocity

This is about giving something to get a little something in return. According to Cialdini, this first principle of persuasion states that human beings are wired to return favours and pay back debts – to treat others as they’ve treated us. For example, if someone sends us a Christmas or Birthday card, we feel that we have to reciprocate – it’s almost a sense of social obligation.

But it is possible to use the desire to reciprocate to influence the behaviour of others. To do this, you need to give someone an unexpected gift – the value of the gift is unimportant, it’s about the act of giving. So, how does this work in business?

I’m not suggesting that you give all your customers a gift and expect something in return, it’s about the principle. For example, you have an email that you want people to sign up to – if you offer an incentive, some sort of gift or freebie, this will encourage them to sign up. If you write a regular blog and give really valuable information to your audience, when you put a call to action at the end asking them to sign up to your email, they are more likely to do so as they enjoy your blog and would like to hear from your more regularly.

Similarly, if you share consistent, regular, useful content, then when you launch a specific course, publish a book, or talk about your coaching, people are more likely to sign up.

Commitment

This is around people wanting their beliefs to be consistent with their values. For example, if someone thinks of themselves as a healthy, fit person, they are more likely to eat and do things that would be deemed as healthy.

So, from a business point of view, if you can convince potential customers to act a certain way, or think a certain way, they’ll be more likely to do that again in the future. For example, if you take cake into work for your co-workers and get a huge, positive response telling you how delicious it is, you’re likely to do that again – and eventually become known as the ‘cake baker.’

You can do this with business. I’ll use the email example again. If someone signs up to your email newsletter to get the freebie that you are offering, they will receive your weekly or monthly emails. Once they have signed up, they’ll likely start seeing themselves as customers and will eventually convert to a customer. All I would say about this is that it’s very important you don’t take advantage of them and manipulate the situation.

Consensus – Social Proof

This is evident on social media. It’s about feeling validated based on what other people are doing. We are all basically unsure of ourselves and identify with the people around us. If you work in an office and your co-workers offer to stay late to help with something urgent, it’s very likely that you’ll do the same.

If you see a restaurant advertised by a photo of their food photographed by one of your friends, with a caption saying how lovely it was – it’s extremely likely that you’ll want to try it too.

We humans are social by nature and generally feel the need to conform to the groups we belong to. This can also be used in business.

Here’s a great example. Hotel guests have the right to clean towels every day, but the cost of laundering is huge, so hotel owners would prefer it if their guests reused their towels. It has been found that a simple sign that says, ‘8 out of 10 hotel guests choose to reuse their towels’ is more effective and persuasive than a sign that says, ‘Reusing your towels helps the environment.’.

Authority

Generally speaking, it’s the tendency of humans to obey figures of authority – even if they’re not right. If someone wears a uniform, it’s even more likely we’ll accept what that person says – for example, police officer, Dr, nurse.

That’s why a lot of big brands bring in celebrities to advertise their products or services. Celebrities are influencers – they have an influence on the fans that follow them. And you’ll see toothpaste advertised by someone in a white coat pretending to be a dentist – but we don’t challenge that, we just accept it.

People who are authoritative, credible, and knowledgeable experts in their particular field are more influential and persuasive than those who are not. Cialdini recognised that the reason for this is that authority and credibility are some of the core building blocks of trust, so when we trust people we are more likely to follow them.

From a business perspective, building trust and credibility with your customers is crucial, but it’s also possible to build some of that authority and credibility through the recommendations of your satisfied customers. So, always a good idea to ask for a recommendation or review. And if you give them a recommendation, it’s very likely they’ll reciprocate and recommend you!

Do you see how that works?!

Liking

Does it really matter if you like someone or not? According to Cialdini, it affects the chances of you being influenced by that individual. It’s human nature that we’ll be much more likely to like people who pay us compliments, or like those who have similar interests to us.

This is something that marketing campaigns definitely take advantage of. The people they use in their ads are specifically chosen to appeal to their target market. The more the potential customer identifies with and likes the person, the more likely they are to be influenced by them.

To make this work in business, you simply need to be liked by those around you…networking helps with this, and we do it without even thinking about it. We see small businesses that we like and automatically pay compliments and start building relationships. But this does take time, you need to nurture and build those relationships before you can try to influence anyone.

I think out of all six powers of persuasion, this was the one that, once analysed, I was most surprised by! This is something most of us do in normal everyday lives.

Scarcity

Scarcity is about believing something is in short supply…so you want it more.

We’ve probably all been taken in by this one at some time or other. It’s that FOMO thing (fear of missing out). We’re more likely to buy something if we’re told it’s the ‘last one available’ or if a special deal is about to end soon.

Companies use this all the time. I’ve seen it most recently on a popular airline site. I was persuaded to buy my seat now, as the prices are likely to go up later – a kind of ‘lock into this price now’! It’s a great marketing ploy!

However, I would avoid doing this if it’s fake. Customers will see through you if you’re offering limited supplies or expiring discounts if you do this often.

Conclusion

These six principles that illustrate the art of persuasion can help us with small, practical, and even cost-free changes that can lead to big differences in our ability to influence and persuade others in an ethical way – so long as they are not abused!

How to market an online course

If you’re planning to create an online course, or even if you’ve already created your online course, you will need to have a robust marketing strategy in place to help you promote it to your target audience.

Before you create your online course

The first strategy really comes into play before you create your course. It’s important to know who you are aiming it at (your target market). So, how do you know this? Think about your ideal client and create a buyer persona.

So, you know who they are and what they do, how old they are, what motivates them and what interests do they have?

Create as many as you need as there may be different types of customers that you have in mind for your course.  

You can refer to these buyer personas when you’re creating your marketing content – it helps to know who your ideal client is, so you can tailor your content specifically to them.

What is your USP (unique selling point)?

Go into Google and look at courses that currently exist, that are based around the subject matter that you want to cover in your course. Make notes of what is included in those courses and how they are presented. Is there anything that they’ve missed? Are there any aspects that they’ve included that you wouldn’t?

Is there anything in the courses of your competitors that you think you could cover better or add more value to? Can you add in extra topics that your competitor doesn’t cover?

Putting a course out there means giving loads of value to the people that sign up. They want it to be jam packed with value, so they know that they’re not wasting their time and money.

Doing this kind of research will lead you to your USP…what is your USP? What is it that you do different to your competitors? What is the one thing that makes your business better than your competitors?

Once you know what that is, you can add it to your marketing messages. And the good thing is that when someone asks you what makes your course so special – or different to XXXX’s course, you have the answer!

Get information up front

Before you start making your course, you need to know if it is something that your audience want! It might be something you want to create, or something you think people will want. But, until you ask them, you don’t really know!

The best way to find this out is to ask! If you have an email list, or an audience on your blog, you can ask them what they’d be interested in learning about – you could send a survey to your email list. You can also ask people on your social media sites, or in the networking groups you belong to. Then create your course around what they want – not what you think they want.

Get to work

Once you know who your audience are and what they want, you can create your course. There’s just a little bit more research to do – what keywords or phrases will people type in to look for your course? You can research similar courses to yours, or you can use a keyword tool to look at the most popular keywords related to your subject. Then you can include those keywords in your title.

Once you are armed with all this information, it’s time to think about preselling your course. You need to treat your online course like a product launch…because basically that’s what it is.

Coming soon!

You want to try and create a buzz around your course, and one way is to create a ‘coming soon’ page. If you treat it the same way that you would treat a new product, you can’t go far wrong by building excitement and a buzz around the launch. You could just do a ‘coming soon’ page on your website, without giving away too much information…just the basic information! Then say that more details will be posted soon.

You can also use your social media pages to start some teaser information about your course. Don’t just talk about yourself and the course though – make sure that you give some valuable information to get your audience’s interest. For example, you could give away a checklist or cheat sheet that is linked to the information in your course.

You could set up a ‘sign up to show your interest’ page, either on your website, or on a hosting site, such as Mailerlite. When someone signs up to show interest, they get your freebie and an email that tells them a little bit more about the course. Then you have their email and can send them more details about the course as they become available.

If you run your own Facebook group, you can promote it there too.

You might send links to interesting articles you’ve found online about similar subjects to yours – you don’t have to just use your own content.

Start a podcast

You could start a podcast to highlight your expertise in your subject and talk about things related to your course material. Podcasts are great for interviews, so if you have done a course before, or have been running a pilot course with a targeted group of people, you could interview one of them to ask what they got from it.

If you do a podcast though, in the same way with anything that you give away, make sure that you don’t use the same information/subject matter that you’ll be using in your course, as they won’t be happy if your online course that they pay for, is the same content as the stuff you’ve been giving away for free!

Connect with your audience via an online webinar

In the same way as you can create a podcast, you can also run regular webinars…or even a one-off online webinar. You can pre-record these and cover some of the things you know that your audience struggles with – and give a solution to some of their pain points. Again, make the subject matter different to the course content you’re creating.

Running these kind of presentations gives your audience an idea of what you’re like to work with. You’ll no doubt get questions, which may give you ideas to include in your online course. It will also give you feedback, which you can use to show the value you give your audience. This all helps give credibility to your business.

Into the launch phase!

Now you’ve done the ‘coming soon’ stuff, which may have gone on for a couple of months or more, now is the time to promote the course date and more details.

You can still use all the things you used pre-launch, such as podcast, social media, your blog, or email newsletter, or even a webinar. Now is the time to ramp up the communications.

Paid Ads

Paid Ads can be an effective way to advertise your online course. Even a simple Facebook post boost can help with this kind of content. You can target them to a specific audience, they don’t have to cost a lot and you can track their success. I can’t specifically say, with hand on heart, that paid Ads are worth it or that they work, as I have never felt the need to use them myself. But it is something I will try when I do decide to create my own online course.

You just have to make sure that you factor in the cost of these Ads, as they can be quite expensive. Just make sure that whichever platform you use for Ads, that it is a platform that your target audience uses.

Team up with others

Another good way to get your course out there is to team up or buddy up with other businesses…preferably not businesses who do the same as you, but those that you know and like – you need to like or be interested in the kind of things your buddy posts in order for this to be successful – otherwise it’s just the same as doing like for like, or follow for follow, which really doesn’t work.

So, ask people who you regularly interact with and agree to like, comment on, and share their posts or stories, as well as doing shout outs to each other.

This helps you, but could also lead to partnerships in the future, especially if the business you partner up with does something that complements your business. They may even be able to be a guest speaker on your course, or be an interviewee on your podcast, blog, or webinar. The possibilities with partnerships is endless.

Teaser Mini Course

Earlier I talked about a teaser on social media for preselling. Another idea would be to create a mini teaser course, just a few weeks before your main course goes live.

This is a free short course that gives people a taste of what you do and the value you give. At the end of the teaser mini course, you can give the option to sign up to your paid course, where they can find out much more and get even more value from you.

The other thing about creating a mini course, is that the audience that sign up will realise how little they actually know about your niche and will be wanting to know more.

Offer a discount

You can also use a discount offer to entice people to sign up. For example, the first three people to sign up get 50% off – or whatever figure you decide to go for.

Create a sales page

You’ve done your ‘coming soon’ page; now it’s time to create your course sales page or landing page. A landing page is a page on your website, or on a hosting site like Mailerlite, that is dedicated to purely selling your online course. This is where you can go to town with advertising what, specifically your course will cover.

Talk about the benefits of the course – what’s in it for your audience? What problems does your course solve? What will your audience go away knowing that they didn’t know before? How will it help them or their business in future?

Include testimonials from those who did your mini course or those who have listened to your podcast, read your blogs, or have commented on your newsletter. You may have feedback from the survey you sent out that you can use. Just remember to always ask permission from the person who gave the feedback if you’re going to use it to advertise your course.

Make sure that the content of your course is really clear, so your audience know exactly what they’re signing up for.

And, don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action), such as a button saying, ‘YES, SIGN ME UP NOW!’ Always make it short and snappy and make it sound urgent, like you mustn’t wait to sign up – do it now!

Passive Income

Courses

Your online course may be a course where you are very hands-on and run individual sessions over a period of weeks or months. However, if you record a course with individual modules, you can put it on an online hosting channel, such as Udemy, which is an online learning platform (a marketplace to sell and buy courses online). You make money on this platform by uploading your course and selling it. It’s a free service for those uploading courses and can help you achieve passive income. It won’t make you millions, but it will help give you credibility and the possibility of a regular passive income.

Students on Udemy generally take courses to improve their job-related skills. I have used it several times for course on various social media channels to help me understand them better. The good thing is that you can upload a course on any subject you can think of. I’ve seen everything from cupcake decorating, to car maintenance, interior design to computer skills. There’s something for everyone and courses start from around £15. I’ve even got courses free of charge and have had some great deals during January sales.

eBooks

As well as making passive income from your online course, you could also write a related eBook and sell it on your website, or even upload it to Amazon or a similar book selling site.

Conclusion

Now it’s time for you to get started! Do your research, do a presale ‘coming soon’ campaign, choose the best strategy for you and just do it!

Let me know if you found this post useful and, as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  

Small Business Market Trends for 2022

The last couple of years has taken all businesses on one heck of a ride. From being plunged into lockdown with a global pandemic, to the current economic uncertainty, with prices rising and competition fierce.

Every small business out there deserves a huge round of applause for persevering and, in my experience from what I’ve seen on various social media groups, remaining optimistic with a ‘never give up’ attitude.

Over the past couple of years, we have all seen a shift in working from home and lots of new small businesses have sprung up. Some of them from just having more time to work on their hobby…with the realisation it could become more than that.

So, as we start to make our way through 2022, what are the marketing trends going to be this year, that as a small business, you should be aware of?

Online business service

First, the obvious one! Online search traffic has soared since lockdown, with more people than ever shopping online. More people are supporting small businesses, and like the fact they can order gifts for themselves and their loved ones at a very reasonable price, from someone who gives a bespoke, personal service. Reviews I’ve seen from the small businesses I follow all speak of excellent customer service; how the business owner has gone above and beyond to help their customers. This is the kind of service that you don’t get from some of the bigger stores when you order online…it’s more, ‘get your order in and get on with it.’ But a small business will take the time to wrap your order personally, will include a personal note, and will take the time to message you. This all adds to that all important, customer experience; the kind of experience that makes them trust you and come back for more.

Social Media and Instagram

This might seem like another obvious one, but social media is still the best way for you to get your products or services out to your target market.

Facebook is still the leader and continues to be the best platform for small business marketing.

According to https://www.oberlo.ca/blog/facebook-statistics, Facebook has 2.8 billion monthly active users (from 2021 figures). It also has 1.84 billion users that are visiting Facebook daily, using one of Facebook’s core products – Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. This is quite mind-blowing!

But Instagram is also part of those figures, and whilst Facebook remains the most popular, Instagram is starting to creep up in terms of popularity. According to figures published by theverge.com, fewer young people use Facebook. From 2019-2021, the percentage of teenagers on Facebook fell by 13% and Facebook itself, is projecting that will drop to 45% by 2023. So, Facebook’s average user is getting older.

This is where Instagram comes in. Instagram is experiencing a steady growth and over 70% of their users are under the age of 35. So, what does that mean for you as a small business?

You are missing a trick if your business is not on Instagram as this trend is set to continue into 2022.

OK, I hear you say, ‘but how can I market my business on Instagram?’ I know from experience how daunting it can be to start a new social media channel and know how to make it successful. Overall, the same principles apply, but there are some things you can do to help your business more.

Reputation Marketing

Reputation Marketing is a strategy to use your customer reviews to promote the reputation of your business in creative ways.

Storytelling is a big part of this, sharing stories of the work you’ve done alongside the reviews you get for a particular item. You can share screenshots of reviews or put images of your products with the review as a caption. Reviews are also good for your brand awareness and social proof.

Social proof is becoming a must – it is estimated that 80% of users go to Instagram for help in making decisions on what they buy from local businesses.    

Instagram SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Is there even such a thing? Previously Instagram only allowed users to search for content by hashtags, location tags, usernames, and profile names. In late 2020, Instagram put in place Instagram keyword searching. You can take advantage of this in three ways:

  1. You can search for your target audience or customers. It’s great for finding new people to interact with, start conversations, and build relationships with. This does mean you need to know your audience and know what kind of interests they have outside of your brand, so you know what keywords and phrases to search for.
  2. It also helps your ideal customer find you. If you use specific keywords in your captions, keywords that you know your customers will search for, it makes it easier for them to find you.
  3. It’s also great for conducting market research or looking at your competitors. With this search tool, you can look up your competitor’s keywords. You’ll also be able to see if your customers speak about any pain points, which you can help solve with your products or services.

For example, say you are an artist – Sarah Art. Before this came into play, your post would only appear in an Instagram search if you and your customer searched #sarahart, which to be honest, people didn’t really do. Now you and your customers can just search whatever you want, without using a hashtag, and a list of matches will come up.

Google My Business

2022 is the year to get onto Google My Business…. or Google Business Profile as it’s now called. If you are not taking advantage of this free service, you are really missing a trick.

It is owned by Google’s platform and promotes businesses across Google Search and Google Maps. When you search for a local business, you’ll always be pointed to local Google Business Profiles.

The benefits of this are obvious as your business will be more easily found locally. And if you ask your customers to put their reviews on your Google Business Profile, your Google reviews will be online – they won’t be without a Google Business Profile.

According to safaridigital.com ‘near me’ mobile searches increased by 136% in 2021, where people are trying to find local products or businesses. And over 50% of all ‘near me’ searches will result in an offline store visit.

Previously, users had to type in a postcode or town to search for a local business. But today, local SEO Statistics 2022 reveal that the addition of two words can help users find their desired local service.

If you’re not yet on this platform, I wrote a blog post about it in 2021… The Benefits of using Google My Business

Local Service Ads by Google

Local Service Ads allow you to interact with users who search for the services you offer on Google. Your ads will be shown to customers in your location. Your ad will highlight the most important information for customers to choose your business, such as services offered, service area, hours and reviews.

You only pay if potential customers contact you directly from your ad.

I must admit I haven’t used this service yet, but you can get more information here.

Conclusion

  • Don’t forget to continue using Facebook, but also get yourself on Instagram if you haven’t already done so
  • Use reputation marketing and Instagram reviews to engage with your current followers and reach new customers
  • Strategically caption your Instagram posts, as Instagram SEO is set to become huge in 2022
  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business), so you can be found locally more easily
  • Look into Local Services Ads by Google and see if your business qualifies. They are inexpensive and enable small businesses to capture more leads.

If you find anything in this article a big daunting, please feel free to contact me. I offer Marketing Coaching, along with a free discovery call, so will be very happy to speak to you.

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.

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!

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