A Five Step Marketing Plan for Shop Owners

A Five Step Marketing Plan for Shop Owners - Society for Creative Founders with Hello World Paper Co
A Five Step Marketing Plan for Shop Owners - Society for Creative Founders with Hello World Paper Co

A 5 Step Marketing Plan for Shop Owners

Next week on Wednesday, November 15th the incredible Kelly Parker Smith of Hello World Paper Co. will be walking everyone through a Five Step Marketing Plan for Shop Owners. As a preview as to what her webinar will include, she's written a content-packed post below.  Enjoy this Guest Post from Kelly!

Marketing is a broad term that gets tossed around a lot. There’s social media marketing, promotions, advertising, network marketing, and now influencer marketing and online marketing. It can all get a little jumbled, muffled, and to be honest, overwhelming, but if you take it one chunk at a time and decide what is best for you and your business it won’t seem so confusing.

Marketing is defined as the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. So essentially your marketing efforts should do one of two things for your business - promote or sell. If you are doing things that are not promoting or selling your business you need to reevaluate what you are spending your time and money on. Everything you do should be focused on growing your bottom line so here are 5 steps to get your marketing plan together for 2018.

Step 1: Be a Slightly Creepy Detective

Find out everything you can about how your target audience shops. Meaning, find out how they are influenced to purchase, what makes them pull the trigger, and most importantly, what emotions pull them into a purchase. Here are some simple strategies to uncover this mystery:

Send out an online survey to your previous customers with a free gift or incentive. Ask them questions about what social media platforms they are on, how they found you, what stores they like or don’t like, if they shop online or in person, what movies they like, if they have kids, etc. Also ask them about online ads or commercials and which one’s have influenced them in the past and which one’s have turned them off and why. Gathering this intel is SO valuable for planning out your marketing efforts.

Pick up the phone and call someone. Call a friend, family member (who will be honest) or acquaintance who would be willing to answer some questions for you. Maybe offer them a free product or a coupon to your shop for participating. Ask them the same questions from your survey, however with a phone call or in person meet up you will be able to hear the excitement or frustration in their voice when they chat about their shopping habits. Maybe you are planning a special and want to get a feel for how it will go over, this is a great option for getting real feedback. Collect Data: Pull any marketing data you have from the current year or last year including: sales numbers, previous marketing effort results, email marketing campaign results, advertising results, promo results, coupon code data, etc.

Step 2: Review the Data

Collecting data is simply fantabulous, but if you have no idea what to do with it, it won’t help at all. Once you have the data compiled you need to ask the data questions. This sounds silly, but it’s a great way to pull information without being overwhelmed. For example you can ask some of these questions and then find the answers in your data:

What social media platforms are my customers on?

What current social media efforts do my customers respond to?

Where do they like to shop?

When do they start shopping for the holidays?

Do they open emails that contain a sale more than those that just contain information or an announcement?

Does my target market have kids?

Does my target market seem calm, busy or frazzled?

Does my target market enjoy shopping? Cooking? Being outside?

Which advertising campaigns worked well last year and which one’s ROI (return on investment) wasn’t worth it?

How would my audience respond to influencers or brand reps?

How did “such and such” coupon code perform last year? Should I run that promo again?

When were my sales the highest? Lowest? What promos could we run during slower times to increase sales? Do we need to run “such and such” promo in December? Did it really make that big of a difference or were the customers already there?

How do my customers respond to free shipping, percentages off, or BOGO deals?

Those are just some samples, but just think of all the information you can gleen from a few hours of data crunching! Can I call you Sherlock Holmes yet? I think so!

Step 3: Set the Stage

Ok so there are only 12 months in a year right? Only? Well, yeah, they go really fast and let’s face it, we CANNOT do it all so we need to cross out some things before we even get started. The fabulous Jennifer Faught taught me this strategy back in 2015 during the Creative Founders (then Stationery Academy) online course and it has never failed me. Look at your personal/business plans for the next year and totally cross off at least three times out of the year. For my marketing calendar I usually pick May, August, and December. I choose May because the end of the school year is coo-coo and we usually go on vacation the first week the kids are out so I don’t like to have too much on my plate. Also, next May I will be at Quilt Market promoting my new fabric collection so I won’t have the shop as my main focus that month. I choose August because I do a back to school promo in July so that in August I can focus on my own kids and the start of school. It’s hectic and expensive and I want to focus on my own family that month.

But, wait, Kelly…. DECEMBER??? You don’t market your shop in December? That’s like the busiest shopping time of the year!! Well, actually for me, the busiest time is November and the first week of December since I do mostly personalized stamps so I really calm things down come December 1. I know this because I evaluate my sales numbers before I make my plan. Do you know when your busiest times are and when your down time is? Mark it on the calendar and then work backwards. How can you make this year better? Schedule your marketing efforts months ahead of when you want the sales. It takes people 7-17 times of seeing any one thing for it to stick in their brains. If you sell baby blankets, you want to be the first shop people think of when they hear baby blankets right? Well, then you need to be setting up marketing campaigns all year so that when someone needs a blanket they think of you!

Step 4: Choose Your Focus

YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING. Say it with me, “I CANNOT DO EVERYTHING.” This holds true for life, business, and marketing. You cannot be on every social media platform and do it well, you can’t reach out to every influencer and work with them, you can not manage 25 brand reps as a brand new business plus run ads in all the major magazines - it just doesn't work. You will go broke or pass out from exhaustion before you even get started. Here are some basic recommendations to keep your sanity:

- Choose 1-2 social media platforms and plan out how you will use them.

- Plan 4-5 promotions a year that coincide with a collection launch, sale, or holiday.

- Plan on 3-4 collaborations a year. Reach out to your favorite companies or influencers to plan out your schedule with the right fits for your shop.

- Choose 2-3 advertising strategies to use throughout the year. Think: Facebook Ads, Etsy Promotions, Magazine Ads, Holiday Gift Guides, Promoted Pins, Google Ads, Local Ads, etc. Only choose advertising efforts with great ROI. Something that worked for your friend’s shop may not necessarily work for you and vice versa.

- Plan 5+ in person events. These could be networking events, speaking events, workshops, or craft markets/shows. In person shows and events take up a lot of time and can be exhausting (especially for an INFP like me), but oh so rewarding! Plan as many as you can! Like, oh, I don’t know… the Creative Founder’s Conference! That’s a good one!

Step 5: Put Pencil to Paper (Emphasis on Pencil)

Plan out your marketing year on physical paper or in an app like Trello or Asana to see how your marketing choices will work together. Remember to give yourself more time than you think, that all plans are flexible, and to leave space for your real life. If you feel completely overwhelmed looking at your plans, then you have done too much and if you feel like you are going to crush it, you haven't done enough. When you look at your marketing calendar you should feel excited and a little scared. A little scared is good! That means you are taking risks and pushing forward!