Hi there! It's Maggie 👋🏼, the creative marketing gal behind The Paper + Craft Pantry.
If you're a small business owner, it's likely that you've asked yourself "What are the best ways I can be marketing my business to my customers?" This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself, but it's not always easy to answer. But, I'm here to show you how to create a creative marketing road-map that will lead you in the direction of long-term growth!
The exciting, and often exhausting, piece of marketing is that it’s all an experiment. In the digital age, if we create an ad that isn’t converting like we want it to, we can update the image or the copy instantaneously. But we can easily find ourselves in the rut of constantly changing things, if we don’t know where we’re headed. In that vein, I would say the very first thing you should consider is: What is your main objective for doing this? What is the desired result?
Going back to the Instagram example, are you using that as a tool to engage with potential customers and have them get to know you? Or is it imperative that those followers convert to newsletter subscribers?
First, you have to know what it is you hope to achieve, and then you can create a plan around that. With that main objective in mind, you can then make tweaks to your strategy that you think will get you closer to goal, but you must first have that baseline.
What I see all too often is that people equate a marketing strategy with just being present on Instagram. While social media is a key component, it is not (and should not!) be the only platform you use to market your business. Marketing is a comprehensive approach to your business that looks at every single touch point you have with current and potential customers, and it understands that each of those touch points should work for you to get you one step closer to your desired result. For many of us, social media is a great way for customers to get to know us, but what are you doing to get people from your Instagram profile onto your site, or onto your newsletter list?
So, What Marketing Platforms Should I Have?
I think it’s crucial to not put all of your eggs in one basket, so I would absolutely encourage you to try different marketing platforms that make the most sense for your business and your audience. I firmly believe that everyone should start building their newsletter list. When it comes to the various social media channels, the bottom line is that we don’t own the content we publish on each platform. Those social media sites are businesses who are looking to grow their profit, which means they will continue to change the algorithm that is preventing our content from being seen in order to push us into paying for ads. Even if you get started tomorrow, aim to start directing people to sign up for your newsletter list because you will then own those contacts.
And like I mentioned previously, the beauty of marketing is that it is an experiment! Get creative with how you spread the word, and it doesn’t all have to be through avenues that cost a pretty penny through traditional advertising (print ads, TV commercials, radio spots, etc.). Look at your personal network, who do you already know that can help you spread the word? What blogs or online publications can you pitch story ideas to help get your name out there and establish you as an expert? It’s always a good idea to try and expand your audience, and you might be surprised how people find you.
What's the best practice for creating a Marketing Timeline?
At the very least, I would encourage you to plan out your marketing efforts a month in advance. For my business, I also do a rough outline each quarter to mark major events to ensure I’m not overlooking some big deliverables, events or milestones. The farther out you are able to plan, the better. It’s important to remember that we are all so over inundated with content that our posts and promotions can easily be lost in the fray. It’s unintentional, and we can’t take it personally. However, we have to plan accordingly, and know that we will have to repeat our information to our audience a few times. We never quite know if they’re seeing our post while stopped at a red light and scrolling through, so we’ve got to share it again with the hope that next time they’ll be in a place to really read, observe, and digest what we’re sharing.
Want to use the exact Monthly Marketing Planner I use? Head over to this blog post for a free download!
With all of that said, here's a list I put together of the top 5 strategies every small business owner should be implementing into their marketing plan. Not only will these steps help you feel more confident about your brand, they will encourage and foster the long-term growth you want.
- 5 SIMPLE STEPS FOR A CREATING A MARKETING PLAN: 1. Define Your Success
It’s so crucial to first determine what the ideal outcome is. Whether you are wanting to build brand awareness as you are just starting out, or you want to drive traffic to your site to encourage online sales — there has to be a clear objective around which your entire marketing efforts are planned.
2. Speak Directly to Your Ideal Customer and #1 Fan
Through everything you share, and each post your publish, think of your #1 fan. Keep them in mind as you are drafting the content: What words would they use? What would they find valuable right now? When is a good time for me to share this based on their schedule?
It is so easy for us to clam up and feel like what we’re saying has already been said or isn’t worthy of sharing. But I so strongly encourage you to push past those insecurities, because your ideal customer wants to hear it from you! They trust you, and don't want to scour the internet looking for information from other sources they don’t know.
3. Provide Value
The basic definition of business is to serve others. So with that in mind, it’s crucial that you are providing your audience with valuable information and a valuable offering. If you still aren’t sure how to provide that value, talk to some of your potential or current customers! Ask them questions about what other companies they know in your field and WHY they are attracted to them. Or why not? Seek to understand what your customers believe, and you’ll be well on your way to providing them with an exceptional experience.
4. Build Relationships
I believe in the power of growing a business by focusing on relationships and not getting consumed by growing revenue. As a business, it is crucial for us to make money, but I truly believe you will have staying power if you care about the people behind the numbers. That care and consideration leaves people with a feeling that is much more powerful than a simple transaction. So how can you make a slight change to your process to allow for more relationship-building in your business?
5. Find Your Consistency
Staying consistent is so crucial to any successful marketing strategy. And while I know that there are industry standards for how many times you should post to Instagram and how many blog posts you need to publish every month/week, I like to kick those standards to the curb. As small business owners, we’re wearing all the hats, and writing 2-3 blog posts every week while also doing the work can feel impossible. Do not jeopardize your health and/or happiness for some industry standard. Find a schedule that works for you. If that means you start with one blog post a month - awesome! If you value family time on the weekends, keep your Instagram posts to weekdays only.
Whatever your schedule looks likes, define it, and then stick to it. Because in the end, it’s consistency that builds trust when you show up again and again, just as expected.
Still Craving more?
Own Your Why is a program I’ve developed to help small businesses better understand my approach to Introspective Marketing. The cornerstone of the program is to take the time to pause and reflect before reacting. Having a clear understanding of all the marketing factors at play, can make that pause a little easier to practice. So we get started with that very first piece of defining success for our marketing plan, and then going through each of the marketing fundamentals that constitute a marketing strategy for your business.
I teach this program in two ways:
Own Your Why: Intensive
An all-day, small group session. If you’re in Austin, I encourage you to come over to my home where I host it around my dining room table. If you are not based here, or cannot make it in person for whatever reason, you may also stream in remotely. Next available date: Saturday, June 3
- Own Your Why: Self-Paced - (Launching May 10th!)
If you’re like me, then you do your best processing all by your lonesome. I’ve condensed all of the information from the Own Your Why: Intensive into an easy-to-download PDF that you can work through on your own time. I designed it with the idea in mind that you could still use this as a framework for a solo business retreat.
It's important to keep in mind that a successful marketing plan is not made overnight. While everything is rooted in strategy and the fundamentals of marketing, I also understand that as small business owners, it can be hard to try and do all the things. My approach is to work with clients to find a marketing strategy that truly works for them, and to educate and empower them so that they feel confident implementing their own marketing plan.
For me, a lot of that has come from creating a community of other supportive business owners who could help push me to make my business dreams a reality. So, in case you're looking to grow your community, here are a few people I know and trust, who have all helped me along my small business journey.
- IT TAKES A VILLAGE! HERE ARE A FEW RESOURCES: Caitlin Horton
Caitlin is a brand designer and business strategist who is brilliant when it comes to systems and processes. I swear by her Notecard Method when it comes time for any major business planning.
Devan is a kindred spirit when it comes to wanting to help businesses grow purpose-driven brands. She has recently started an online monthly workshop series and it’s such a wonderful way to meet other small biz owners.
Liz is a designer who is the queen of sales pages and also a brilliant creative strategist. (She’s the beauty & the brains behind the Own Your Why brand and website.) Her newsletters and blog are crazy helpful and packed with good resources.
Financials for Creatives
Jenny is a financial coach for creative entrepreneurs. Her gentle approach to a scary topic makes it feel so much more easy to navigate. Definitely sign up for her newsletter because she always shares incredible insight in there!
About the author:
Maggie owns MaggieGentry , where she provides thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. She also hosts the Own Your Why workshops, and is the Creative Marketing Strategist for The Paper + Craft Pantry. You may find her ‘gramming over at @maggiegentry_. Don't forget to check out her brand new Own Your Why: Self-Paced introspective marketing program, launching May 10th.