In last week’s post I talked a lot about goal setting, and as I mentioned in that post the most important part of setting a goal is to plan how you’re going to action it (you may want to read the goal setting post first as a prequel). In this post, I’m getting really specific on the action part, giving examples of some marketing techniques and strategies you can use to achieve those big dreams of yours.
The goals I’ve used here are genuine ones kindly shared by people on Instagram, and they’re ones I’ve chosen because I imagine they’ll be very common ones among you. Do let me know if there are any glaring ones missing and I may do a follow up post in the future 🙂
GOAL: Increase income
This is a big scary one, but once we break it down it starts to feel more do-able.
Marketing wise, there are two ways to increase your income – by finding new customers, or increasing the value of your existing customers. The latter will often be the best place to start, as it costs you less effort, time and money to reactivate old customers because they’re already convinced about what you do. However, you of course need new customers if you’re going to grow in a sustainable way. Bringing new customers in is a longer process, so my advice is to start off reconnecting with your existing customers while you begin work on your new acquisition strategy.
Some ways to retain your existing customers:
- Start a loyalty scheme that rewards repeat purchases
- Send consistently valuable emails that will be read and keep you in their mind
- Be helpful, provide excellent customer service and go above and beyond to answer questions
- Surprise and delight – as part of your customer journey, find ways you can surprise and delight your customers. Perhaps it’s a handwritten card on their birthday, a free gift with their product, a mention on your social channels. Surprise and delight tactics are great for making customers fall in love with you, and done well are very shareable too.
- Be personal – be human and create a feeling of relationship between you and your customers
Some ways to reach new customers:
- Be where they are – over and over again I say this! Various research shows that it takes seven different exposures to a new brand for someone to buy, so that means they need to see you on Instagram, in a magazine, on their favourite blog etc before they’ll start thinking about giving you their money. Research where your customer gets their information and be there
- Outreach – a lot of the time this will be through outreach or traditional PR. Pitch to guest post on blogs or be interviewed on podcasts, send your product to magazines, set a budget for and contact the influencers in your market
- Utilise your existing community by encouraging them to share about your business or even starting a referral scheme
- Network – yes we all hate that word and perhaps I should have thought of a better one. Essentially talk to people. Talk to your peers and even your competitors. Meet with shop-owners, service providers, other businesses. Make an effort with people on social media. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. Approach every conversation with an attitude of ‘what can I give?’ (rather than ‘what can I gain?’) in order to create meaningful and long-lasting (and productive) relationships
- Create a campaign – campaigns are effective because they’re really niche, meaning that they’re super easy for new customers to understand. They’re also often based around a purpose or emotive issue that gets new customers to quickly connect with your brand on an emotional level. Think about what’s unique about what you do, and what is most interesting about that to another person. Perhaps it’s your standpoint on supporting female workers, perhaps it’s your own journey. Do a short and intense period of marketing around that one thing to create a buzz around your brand.
GOAL: Stick to a posting schedule
Whenever life or a pile of orders gets in the way of our plans, social media is almost always the first thing to go. The trouble is, it can become difficult to get back into it once you’ve fallen off the horse. Here are some tips and things to remember when creating and sticking to a posting schedule:
- Consistency over frequency – in an ideal world we’d all post every day, but this isn’t an ideal world. I always advise to come up with a posting schedule you know you will be able to stick to consistently , rather than push yourself to post more frequently. You’ll never be able to stick to a schedule you don’t have time for, and if you post daily for two weeks then nothing for two months you’re just going to look flakey to your potential customers. If you can only post once a week, then post once a week – just make it a corker
- Post when you have time to engage – there’s a lot of debate about best time’s to post, but I always say that the best time to post is when you have time to engage for an hour afterwards (or half an hour if that sounds terrifying). Particularly since the algorithm chronology isn’t such a big factor in the success of a post, but your presence on the platform and engagement with other active users is. So choose a posting time that enables you to engage afterwards, perhaps on your lunch break or over breakfast.
- Incorporate it into your daily routine – linked to the above, find a part of your daily routine you can hook posting onto. For me, I’ve always posted when I’ve finished work for the day, at around 5 or 6. I’ll get snack, more often than not a glass of wine, and put some trash TV on and spend an hour chilling out while engaging on Instagram. It becomes less of a chore when it’s part of a pleasant routine like that, and now it’s so ingrained in me that at about that time of day I almost automatically reach for my phone.
GOAL: Increase followers/reach on Instagram
The first thing I ask with this one is ‘what for?’. An increase in followers itself isn’t going to move any needles in your business on its own – you’ll need those followers to do something. Even if you want to increase your following to get more influencer work, you’ll need them to engage with your content in order to be effective and successful in that industry.
As part of this, you need to think about who you want to follow you. It’s no good getting a ton of US followers if you run craft workshops in Surrey. So for example, I am looking to attract English-speaking creatives with a business or business idea who wanted a more meaningful lifestyle, and who will read and engage with my content, advocate for my business, and consider hiring my services.
Once you know these things, you can get focused about how you’re actually going to do it. We’re talking Instagram, so start creating the sort of content that catches the eye of that person you’re trying to reach (I go into much more depth about this here). Think about what hashtags they use and browse and use them (appropriately). Engage, engage, engage – return all the comments you get, say hello to new followers, comment on at least one post in each hashtag you use.
Then think about how you’re going to get your new followers to do the thing you want them to do. Give them a reason to engage in your content by making it exceptional and giving them something to engage with (a tantalising question in your caption, for example). Create an irresistible opt-in for your email list, whether that’s an e-book, a mini course or a discount code. Provide value to your followers through 80% of your content, so when you ask them to do something the other 20% they feel more inclined.
GOAL: Make time for content creation
This is a biggie for all of us, and is especially tough when you’re side hustling. Content creation, particularly writing, just takes so much out of you that you tend to need a lot of space and time around the act of writing. However, I believe a lot of the energy we expel in content creation is actually taken up in the ideation part of the process – coming up with an idea, outlining it, deciding when to post it. The more of that ideation you can do up front, the easier it is to sit down once a week and bash out the words.
Here is how I create content, I hope you find it useful too. If it’s pictures that you’re struggling with, a lot of the same will also apply:
- Have a content plan – having a calendar of what you’re going to post when is invaluable; I try to always be three months ahead when it comes to planning. The beauty of this is that you can plan in things that might disrupt your schedule (like three birthdays in one month or a holiday) and plan your content around that (maybe you’ll do shorter posts or skip a few days). Similarly if you’re planning a product launch or a campaign, you can make sure your content builds up to that. It also gives you accountability – you know when you’re supposed to post, so you better get on and write the thing. To clarify, at this stage I don’t plan anything more than the title or topic of the post I’m going to write, but that simple thing takes away a few levels of brain power.
- Create a content pool – but what do you put into your calendar? I have what I call my ‘content pool’, which is basically a list of post titles divided into themes. When I’m planning a new month’s content, I pick a couple of ideas from each theme and that way I know I’ve got a good balance of content that month. The content pool is an ongoing thing – sometimes I’ll sit down and fill it up with a major brainstorming session, but mostly I’ll add to it when something pops into my mind or I’m asked a specific question.
- Outline like crazy – having an outline is my favourite way of taking the struggle out of writing a post. When you plot out your subheadings and bullet point what will be under each one, the act of writing becomes for or less colouring in. You can always remove the subheadings if you want, but outlining ensures you cover every point you want to, that the post is well structured and means when you sit down to write it flows much quicker.
- Batch your tasks – in an ideal world we’d all batch create content a month in advance but, as I said earlier, were not in an ideal world. I’d love to get more ahead on my content but more often than not I’m writing it the day before I need to post (although I do thrive under tight deadlines). However, I do have writing days, so when I wake up on a Tuesday morning I know that all I’m going to do that day is write. That gets me into the right frame of mind and, in theory at least, gets my ahead of my schedule. If you can spend time doing the outlines for a few posts before your batch writing day (or writing retreat) you’ll get the most productivity out of it too.
GOAL: Build and strengthen a community
Having an online community around your blog or business is a hugely beneficial thing, so it’s no surprise that building or strengthening a community is a big goal for many of you this year. Having a community gives you a focus group to dip into whenever you have a decision to make, it’s a pool of ready customers and brand advocates, and it’s also a great source of motivation and accountability.
Here are my top tips for building your online community:
- Be engaging – this one is two fold, and covers creating engaging content, and engaging with others online. When you’re creating content and writing captions, be sure to give people something to engage with – a question to answer, a call for information, an irresistible composition. This gets people into the habit of engaging with you and your content, and looking forward to what you’ll create next. And also take the time to reply to and return comments, to proactively comment on people’s posts, reply to Stories. When people know that they’ll get a response from you they’re more inclined to engage and be a part of your community – plus it builds genuine relationships too.
- Have a thing – if you want to build community you need to have something to build it around, and preferably something linked to your product or expertise. For example, there are certain accounts I know to go to when I want inspiration around flowers, or recipes or styling advice. I have been building my online community by providing simple, soulful marketing advice, and I hope that you always come to me when you wonder how to do something marketing-wise.
- Be human – in marketing in general, but especially in creative and independent businesses, genuine human relationships are essential for building camaraderie and community. Including an element of vulnerability, of relate-ability, is great way to get people connecting with you on a personal and emotional level, of getting them on your side and rooting for you. Talk in a natural, genuine way online – don’t try to sound to business-y or “professional”. Help people get to know you.
- Get my free ebook, How To Build Your Online Community – 18 pages of detail and actionable tips 😉
What are your current business goals?
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