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What’s next? Black Friday vs Valentine’s Day

If you’re a maker or creative business owner in retail, the next few weeks are pretty much the most intense of the year. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s Christmas, and this year, things are even more unpredictable.

In this blog post, I’m making it really easy for you to market your products right now, and plan ahead for future success. To read this and do all the things I mention, you probably need about 30-45 minutes. Doable, right?

So let’s pretend for a moment that fulfilling orders is a breeze, you’re totally on top of that, and you have no worries in that area.

In fact, let’s pretend that your only job right now (imagine, my dear solopreneurs and tiny teams! just one job…) is marketing.

As the Marketing Manager for your business, you have a few things on your mind:

  • Black Friday
  • The rest of December
  • Valentine’s Day

Partly, you’re bringing in sales right now – that is your urgent job – but you’re also thinking strategically about the future – that is your important job.

Let’s look at how to balance the two:

Black Friday

Black Friday is next week, the 27th November, with Cyber Monday on 30th November. These are big online shopping days, not just for those looking for discounts, but also in general: November payday happens, and we as a society actually acknowledge that Christmas is coming.

In good news, this year there’s a huge movement for shopping small and shopping early. Royal Mail are sharing the message, and Google are running tv ads about supporting small businesses.

Black Friday can be noisy – lots of big brands and businesses now rely on a Black Friday week to generate discounted sales. And that can be off-putting for small businesses who feel their voices are too quiet.

As I’ve said in my Tuesday pep talks over on Instagram, it’s still worth sharing your products over Black Friday weekend, even if you don’t discount. People are still looking to shop.

Here are my top tips for Black Friday weekend (and the rest of December):

  • Post regularly on social media, ideally scheduling ahead of time
  • Send out an email (two if you’re running a discount) – read this blog post for a content rundown
  • Be really clear about how people can order from you (this is especially good in IG Stories, but also on your feed):
    • Where do they need to go?
    • When do they need to order by?
    • What’s your experience with delivery right now? Even if it’s good, say so!
    • Can you gift wrap and send direct to their recipient?
    • Make it REALLY EASY to place an order!

Valentine’s Day

But here’s the thing: Valentine’s Day is hot on the tails of Christmas. Urgh, I know. The Worst.

As your business coach and mentor, I am morally obliged to remind you that 2021 is coming, and you, amazing human, deserve to succeed in the coming year, as well as in the coming weeks.

So absolutely take care of yourself and your orders and maximise this opportunity. AND let’s think long-term, too.

Here’s how to spend 15 minutes on Valentine’s Day that will pay off big time:

  • Book a photoshoot in January. Seriously. Do it now. Whether it’s your own time or with a professional. (I recommend Girl Behind The Lens for remote product photography.)
  • Plant the product development seeds in your creative brain. You don’t have to design everything before Christmas, but maybe jot down some ideas of what you’d like to share for Valentine’s Day.
  • Mark some key dates on your calendar, like when you’ll open your Valentine’s Day shop (I recommend 25th January), and when you’ll need to upload your listings (probably the week before!).

I have made all this take even less time and feel even easier with the Valentine’s Day Launch Plan, which not only has a printable calendar for you, but also then has all the marketing content templates for email, Instagram, and Facebook from pre-launch to last order dates. (Seriously, I just want to remove the obstacles getting in your way.)

So there’s a quick rundown of how to juggle immediate and long-term success. Let me finish with a reminder that I absolutely believe in you AND you are worth taking care of. Sleep. Water. Good music. Great snacks. Ask for help.

You’ve got this.

Jenny x

PS That link again to the save-you-time, make-you-money Valentine’s Day Launch Plan.

I’m not great at following recipes, but here’s why it helps my business

I love to cook. Okay, the one-year-old and lockdown juggle might be holding me back a little right now, but mostly I enjoy the creativity of preparing meals.

And that’s just it for me: the creativity. Like a lot of things, I’m in it for the creative flair, and sometimes that doesn’t necessarily work out in my (husband’s) favour.

I want to be able to just throw in a dash of this and a dollop of that. I want to be able to sense when the souffles are done. (I’ve never actually made souffles, but you know what I mean.) And I want to be able to play around and produce something yummy that everyone enjoys.

Sometimes it works. There are dishes I can vary depending on my mood, like a risotto with a select combination from the fridge and cupboard, or a slow cooked casserole. Usually, I can play around with these meals because I’ve learned the recipes by heart and made them many times.

Because guess what I resist, literally and metaphorically, in the kitchen and in life? Recipes.

Friends, I do not like being told what to do.

Partly, hello, I’m a rebel. Partly, I want to be able to intuit the best formula for a dish.

But you know what helps me to learn how to cook and discover the best formula for a dish? Recipes.

So what do recipes have to do with business?

You might have guessed that – just like this recent post about cake – there’s a food-based metaphor going on here. (I just love a metaphor, especially a food one.)

Just like in cooking, there are recipes in business, too. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. Processes, structures, templates, tips, and step-by-step instructions. Using things is art and science, formula and instinct, logical and creative.

Just like in cooking, you can discover a process in business and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can play around and make it your own. (Or even write it from scratch in the first place.)

Let’s say you want to be able to create a delicious marketing offering. You can learn about how to create different types of content – photos, videos, written pieces – and schedule them. You can follow some suggested recipes and guides. And as you practice, you’ll learn your favourite flavours, and the ones your family (customers) love the best.

Maybe you’ll find some crowd pleasers. Maybe the first time you make a souffle, it won’t rise. (Chances are.) But maybe on the third attempt, it’s just right: perfectly light, gooey in the middle and a little crispy on top.

I love reading about marketing and business. It’s a bit like browsing Pinterest or a good cook book for foodie inspiration.

There are also times when I find a recipe I want to learn by heart, like a basis for making my own granola (that was a pre-baby obsession) that I can mix and match when I like.

My game-changing recipe realisation

Realising and accepting that recipes are in fact helpful and not something I need to rebel against has been GAME CHANGING for me. The structure they give me allows me to be at my creative best. (And yes, I’m kind of talking about business here, not just oat to raisin ratios…)

If you, like me, have realised the value of having a structure and a recipe, I think you’re going to like The Better Business Collective. It has a whole load of templates for sending email newsletters to your subscribers (a VERY worthwhile marketing endeavour), as well as a stunning, magical, easy-but-doesn’t-mean-we-do-it Game-Changing Success Ritual that has the power to level UP your business and your mindset.

You’re oh so welcome in The Better Business Collective if you:

  • Want to raise your business savvy up a level
  • Know that you want to work ON your business rather than IN it but struggle to actually make that happen on the regular
  • Love learning and implementing business and marketing strategy live and in community with other humans in business
  • Are a rebel, like yours truly, and want to get out of your own way 
  • Aren’t a rebel, but would love to unlock your potential and create your own version of success

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

The marketing strategy I’ve been recommending lately

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve recommended the following focus for marketing lately:

Email newsletters + one social channel = your key marketing focus

Once you’ve got one key social channel nailed, you can add more. This gives you the opportunity to get into the rhythm of creating content for that one space. You’ll have time and energy to respond to comments, engage with other people on the platform, and – this is the most crucial part – learn what works for you and your audience on that platform.

If you’re trying to do Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok all at once and without any strategy for any of them, chances are you won’t see any progress on any of them.

So start with one, and add more once you’ve found your groove. The most important thing is to be learning and developing as you go.

Oh yeah – email

Look, I’ll be frank: I’m going to be talking about email marketing quite a lot over the coming weeks.

Why? Because I feel pretty passionate about it, and its ability to create a strong, sustainable, long-term foundation for your business.

Email is the only marketing channel that you own. On Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and any other app that comes along, the app or site controls your content and owns your audience.

With email, you own the contact details of anyone who has chosen to receive your emails. Yes, you’ll use a third party to store the data and send the emails, but they’re helping you out. That list of humans is yours.

Long-term, mostly hidden, yet highly effective

I have a theory that most creative business owners don’t get excited about email is because they don’t see other people’s email success.

On Instagram, you can see how many followers someone has, how many likes their posts get, and how many people are chatting away to them. It looks successful. It looks like something that’s working well for them.

When someone sends an email to their list of 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 subscribers, you can’t see the numbers on that. You don’t see the open rate or the click through rate or the open rate.

You can’t see how many first time customers are becoming loyal, repeat customers. You can’t see the replies or the shares.

Which is keeping successful email campaigns a secret.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we need an area of business, especially marketing, where we aren’t comparing ourselves to others. (If you looked at the numbers above and thought, “500 subscribers? More like 50!”, I see you.)

But I don’t want you to miss out

The best time to start building an email list was five years ago. The second best time is today.

Because in five years’ time, with regular emails and clear strategy, you could be growing a beautiful, loyal, engaged customer base in a space online that is entirely yours. Where you set the tone and capture attention and cultivate a relationship that makes your customers’ lives better.

Even in six months’ time, you could be looking at a more engaged audience who are captivated by your brand and enjoy sitting down with a cuppa to read your emails and browse your latest.

Emails help to keep you top of mind when it comes to gifting occasions, as well as being an opportunity to tell your story through consistent and regular content.

I hope you’ll stay tuned

Next week, I’ll be sharing more about how to re-engage an old email list, because I know that lots of creative businesses have gathered email addresses at some point, but haven’t kept up the emails, and now aren’t sure what to do.

In the meantime, you can start getting creative and inspired with my free download of 30 email subject lines. This download will get you thinking about content for email, as well as your social media channels. Because who doesn’t love coordinated marketing content?! Grab the download here.

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