Who else was a huge fan of Project Runway, Tim-and-Heidi era? 🙋🏻♀️ #makeitwork
It was very common for designers to be so excited to show off all their skills that they tried to show every technique at once. Tim or Heidi would often encourage them to “edit,” or tell them their look is "over-designed," which means LESS IS MORE. Their overall look will be more effective if it is focused.
When we learn a new skill, we want to show it off.
When it comes to social media, graphic design, and marketing, you need to apply strategy. This might mean keeping that new skill or technique in your back pocket for later so that you are always being effective. If your goal is to grow your client base and sales, that needs to be your focus.
A few examples:
🥂 Did you make a few Instagram reels today? Cool! Don’t post them all at once; maybe post one a week and you’re covered for a while.
🥂 Did you find a new text or graphic effect on Canva? Cool! Limit yourself to 1-2 effects per graphic (and always make sure they are on-brand!)
🥂 Did you read a bunch of website design blog posts? Cool! Remember that user experience is king: the busy animations and plug-ins you learned to create may grab the eye, but does this entice the user to click or keep reading? If someone sees way too much on a page, where are they supposed to put their attention?
🥂 Did you plan out your events or sales for the quarter? Cool! Make sure to give each event its own time to be promoted. Planning events ahead of time is CRUCIAL, and applying a marketing strategy to each is more effective than word-vomiting about all of them at once.
The delayed gratification of Instagram likes, product sales, and a website launch can be very difficult, like a kid trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. I promise that it will be worth it when you have thoughtfully applied strategy and put user experience first.
In the retail world, “conversion rate” is the percentage of visitors who make a purchase.
Every three weeks, I get Bath & Body Works coupons in the mail. One is always a coupon for a free item, no purchase necessary. The other is always a discount coupon (20% off, $10 off a $30 purchase, etc.) When you get the free one, you also get a discount to be used on your same shopping trip.
My experience in retail management started at Bath & Body Works ten years ago (whoa, time flies!) We were trained to spot the customers who came in with their free coupon - offer them excellent customer service, and then use the relationship to build the sale *knowing* they had an additional discount to use. The coupon got them in the door, but it's now my job to build the sale.
Offering freebies and discounts gets interested people in front of you - now what are you going to do about it?
Offering a free download in exchange for the customer’s email address? Cool, do you have an active email marketing campaign?
Offering a discounted service? Awesome, how will you ensure they come back?
Freebies and discounts are great tools to use, when used strategically. We don’t know anyone who *looooves* to sell things. Most of us became entrepreneurs because we have a product or service that we want to share, right? Take this opportunity to SHARE what you have to offer. What problems can you solve? How can your product or service enhance someone’s life?
Your freebie or discount brought potential customers, but it’s up to you to build the sale.
Not quite sure how to use these tools strategically? Send us a message!
Any How I Met Your Mother fans out there? Do you remember the episode from season 8, "The Stamp Tramp"? Stay with me...
The gang is talking about how everyone gives stamps of approval.
- Ted is a "Piggyback Stamper," only giving his stamp after someone else has already recommended something.
- Marshall is a "Stamp Tramp," giving his stamp to anything and everything, making his stamp worthless.
- Lily has the "Golden Stamp," conservatively recommending things that she has tried and loved.
What is your stamp of approval worth? How does this relate to your business? Well, posting sponsored content is a great way to make some extra money off of your accounts right? You're approached by a brand to do posts for them, and they'll pay you for it. But here's the thing - do your social media followers think you only give your "stamp" on your products because you make money off them? We need to be careful who we're supporting out there, and what products we're putting forward as part of our brand. Do their products, message, and brand align with yours?
How do you become more like Lily with her Golden Stamp? When you're going to recommend a product or service on your social media, have you actually tried it? Do you love it? Do your friends and family love it? Does it align with your brand and your values? All of these things MATTER to your true followers. Don't give your Golden Stamp to just anyone!
Okay, story time! It’s date night. Your sweetheart brings you to the local taco truck (score!). You're standing in line checking out the menu on the side of the truck. How long does it take you to choose your meal? Not long.
Next month, another date night. Tonight, you head to The Cheesecake Factory. You sit down, eat some bread, and scour the 30-page menu... how long does it take you to choose your meal? Significantly longer than at the taco truck right?
What’s the difference? When given just a few choices, it’s easier to make decisions. When given MORE choices (which sounds better!), it’s easy to have “decision fatigue.” It’s also a reason why stay-at-home-moms are so exhausted by the end of the day! We make decisions all day long about food, activities, screen time, etc. and our brains are just DONE by the end of the day.
Think about this in regard to your business. When you’re telling a potential client what you offer, you want to be clear and concise, so she isn’t confused or overwhelmed. This is often called your “elevator pitch." Can you explain what you offer in the time it takes for your shared elevator to reach its destination? If you can't, maybe you're giving your potential clients "decision fatigue." It's too much info, and they can't process what it is you actually can do for them. Can you pare your elevator pitch down, describe your product/service in a sentence or two? Less words = better!
Now think about a big sale day like Black Friday. Some stores offered a blanket 40% off everything. Others offered “buy 4 get 1 free on graphic tees” AND “10% off clearance” AND “spend $50 today and get $20 off a future purchase.” Both can work - but which is the easiest to explain and get excited about? Do you see how when there are multiple deals, lots of different ways to save, it can be overwhelming for your shopper? Especially now, when everyone is stretched extra thin, we want to make things easy for our clients.
Help your customers make decisions (and hit “submit order” quickly) by offering LESS choices.
What is branding?
Branding is so important to a business in 2020- but what exactly is it? Entrepreneur.com defines it as "The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products."
So is someone else out there doing/making the same thing as you? Probably! That's why branding is so important, it can set you apart in a crowd. In a sea of florists, why should a bride choose you? When there are twenty other people selling custom Buffalo-themed tees, why should they buy from your shop? Your branding tells them! It tells your potential customers how your products make them feel, what kind of business are you, why will your products make them happier than others.
It's more than just a color scheme or theme (which I love both of these!), it's about how your brand makes people "feel." When they're scrolling through your Instagram feed, is it comfortable and homey, indie and hip, fresh and bright... or something else all together? Today's consumer is very visual, so how you present your brand on your website, socials, etc. should be cohesive and clear.
Need help defining your brand and honing in on how you want to the world to see your business? I can help with that!
The small business world is all about VISUALS these days, especially since Instagram is where it's at for keeping up with current clients and reaching new ones. Are you thinking hard about the photos and graphics you choose to share on social media, or are you snapping a phone photo and calling it a day? A social media post that includes an image is ten times more likely to get engagement, but we want that image to be quality! Let's talk about how to share GREAT images on your blog, websites, and social media accounts.
CONTINUITY IS KEY
Think of your social media accounts (especially Instagram!) as a magazine for your business. It's important for the images you choose to coordinate or "match" to convey an intended feeling or message as your viewers peruse your account. It's all about branding, and if you're posting images that don't coordinate with one another, then your message is mixed. An easy way to do this- start using the same filter on all of your images! Not all of us are fancy photographers- me included- but photo editing apps have come a long way and it's pretty easy to adjust your photos to look similar.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Business social media accounts aren't like your personal ones- you don't need to be sharing what you had for breakfast, random photos from your commute, or a bunch of bathroom mirror selfies. Be purposeful with what you post on your business pages, remember to stay on brand! While sharing snippets of your personal life can be great for your viewers to get to know you, they likely are following you to see your work. Post photos that relate to what you do, with some sidebars for other parts of your life.
Speaking of quality- this also goes for the way the actual photo looks! In focus, crisp and clean photos are best. Once again, we're not all pro photogs here, but moving into some good natural light and using the focus on your phone camera can go a long way. Clear the backgrounds of your photos- no piles of dirty laundry or dishes! Especially when featuring a product, aim for simple clean backgrounds.
VARIETY IN YOUR FEED
With Instagram being at the top of its game, this one applies mostly to Insta, but it's a good rule of thumb for Facebook and blogs too. If you sell clothing, try not to post 5 photos of shirts in a row. If you're a wedding photographer, don't post 4 bouquets back to back. Shake it up a little! When visitors look at your Instagram profile page, they're likely seeing the top 9-12 posts as a grouping- so these photos should always be a good variety of whatever it is you're offering. Again think back to the magazine concept- those top 9 squares are representing your business, your brand- you want to always be thinking about how they go together and what message they're sending.
There are so many other things we can talk about with graphics- like where to find them, how to make them, when to post them... but we'll save that for another post!
All of this sound like a lot of work? Check out my social media management services!
and so it begins...
You know when you get an idea, and it just consumes your whole life? You eat, sleep, live all of the ins and outs of this idea until you can see it through to fruition. Well that's where I am with this little idea- this little business. It is consuming my brain and I can't wait to get it out there!
I love planning. I love calendars and lists, checking things off and delegating tasks. I've also gotten pretty good at running an Instagram account, which is "the it place" to run a business these days. I credit my position as an old Millennial to being able to figure that out. I also have what my dad likes to call "the entrepreneurial spirit," a constant flow of new ideas and the desire to make them all happen. So when it came time to find a new path for me, I started looking at all of the above and said "what can I do with this?"
I want to support small businesses, to help them continue to succeed without getting bogged down by the everyday tasks. I know what it feels like to be passionate about what you do everyday, while simultaneously wanting to throw up your hands because your inbox is always full or you can't find time for blog posts. Particularly for creatives, it's hard to find time to get the day-to-day done and also hone your craft and put your name out there. I am so excited to help creative small-business professionals keep their businesses moving and growing. Cheers to your success, my friends!
lIANE & Shannon
Direct selling friends turned social media and online marketing partners working with small business owners so they can focus on doing what they love!