Avoid chaos in your campaigns with a marketing playbook

Running a marketing campaign for your business feels chaotic, right?

So much work goes into a campaign in the hopes of a big return. It can be emotional and stressful and sort of crazy feeling. Recently, I shared my view that confidence is the cure for chaos. (You can read that post here if you missed it.)

But, even when you believe strongly in the value of your work and the quality of your message, you can still get frazzled. There’s just so much to do for each campaign or launch. Often it seems that even seasoned pros are “reinventing the wheel” each time – trying new tactics, pulling together content, and assembling a team to help you.

A marketing playbook makes marketing sustainable and less chaotic.

A marketing playbook is simply documentation of the key components of your sales system with a special emphasis on the crucial steps of each campaign. The format isn’t as important as the content – you can create your playbook in a tool like Google Docs, Evernote or Asana. You can even make a manual guide in a binder if you’re old school.

But, regardless of how you put it together, your playbook should include some essential elements.

Your Marketing Playbook:

Rules of Engagement

Marketing involves engagement with your audience. You answer questions, respond to comments, and post new content. You evaluate opportunities to expand your reach – maybe through collaborative opportunities like guest posts and podcasts. Lots of decisions are made quickly, especially during a campaign.

That’s why everyone on your team (including you) needs to know the rules and have a way to easily access them if something seems wonky or unclear.

Think through what you will and won’t do when marketing your products and services, and then document your rules using simple, clear language.

Here are a few examples:

  • We will respond to inquiries within 12 hours.
  • We will use positive, upbeat language.
  • We will invite people to join our free Facebook Group.
  • We won’t ignore complaints or audience expressions of frustration.
  • We won’t negotiate deliverables or pricing of our offers.
  • We will offer multiple payment options from our approved list.
  • We will use these social media platforms…
  • We won’t use these social media platforms…

Get the idea here? By clearly defining what you will (and won’t) do as a team, you create internal expectations and external consistency during your launch.

Your audience will hear the same tone, feel supported consistently by everyone on the team, and know exactly what to expect. Team members will have simple boundaries to guide them as they move through the campaign, creating confidence throughout your organization.

Roles and responsibilities

Unless you are truly a solo-preneur who does everything (and I mean everything) on your own, you have a team. From programs and services to contractors and freelancers, you assemble a team of skilled support to work with you during each campaign.

To avoid confusion and encourage collaboration, include information about roles and responsibilities in your marketing playbook. This way everyone understands his or her role, how their work impacts the team – and everyone doesn’t have to go through you.

(And bonus points for not asking freelancers to attend your long, group launch meetings.)

Creative Work:

  • Who will design the graphics and write the content?
  • How far in advance do we need to book freelancers who will be doing this work? (Hint: more than one month’s notice is standard)
  • Who will approve it and what is the approval process?
  • Where can others go with questions or to access the creative assets needed during the campaign?

Customer Experience:

  • Who is the primary contact for potential customers?
  • Who is tasked with responding to social comments and inquiries?
  • Are there any live events that require real time support?
  • Are there templates to guide responses or answer questions?

Administrative Work:

  • Who is the administrative lead for the team?
  • How are administrative duties divided within the team?
  • Who handles escalated issues or concerns?

You may also want to include contact information for key team members – including their time zone and working hours – and outline suggestions for how to best communicate inside the team. Will you use a tool such as Asana, Basecamp, or Trello to collaborate? Will you communicate via Slack or share documents using Google Drive? Include this info in your marketing playbook.

 

Resources and readiness

Your marketing playbook isn’t complete without a plan to prepare for and curate the resources everyone will need to execute. Your goal here is to guide training, encourage continuous improvement, and make it easy to access the tools needed to promote your products successfully.

  • Resources: Each campaign includes a mix of ad graphics, planned posts and content, videos and webinar slideshows, and freebies to build engagement, etc. Even small things you might take for granted, like official branding, fonts and color codes shouldn’t be overlooked. Curate these resources so everyone on the team knows what to use – and where to find it – as they work. Make this easier for yourself by making a systematic way to find new information added after you write the playbook. For example, you could decide to give each campaign a new, named folder inside of a google drive folder called “Marketing.”

 

  • Training & Reference: In a perfect world, every member of your team is adequately prepared for each campaign and comfortable in their role. In the real world, we use checklists, training materials, and background information as reference to help us complete our tasks. Compile that information and include it in your playbook.

 

  • Continuous Improvement: Sometimes things go sideways in the middle of a campaign and sometimes we have a great idea or inspiring thought as we’re working the plan. These challenges and bursts of creativity are opportunities to improve for the future. Give your team a way to track these moments and report them to the group, and then set the expectation that ideas will be discussed after each campaign.

 

Your marketing playbook is a tool to help you build a sustainable, scalable sales system for your business – one that delivers results for you and your team. Of course, there’s a little more to it than a playbook. That’s why I created a new workshop to help you create your own Simple Sales System. Learn more here.

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How to make launching normal and avoid overwhelm

“Launch Mode” a.k.a. a socially acceptable euphemism for chaos.

At least, this is how it feels to many of us. We say things like “well, I’m in the middle of a launch right now, so…” or “That will have to wait until after the launch.” We use “the launch” as an excuse for missing details, avoiding conversations, and scarfing comfort food. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)

Because we’re in crisis … ahem… LAUNCH mode.

Running a launch campaign means we are currently trapped under the emotional weight of watching the numbers, sending the emails, A/B testing the funnel and struggling to find the right words to persuade. We’re stressed out, not sleeping, and asking everyone we’ve ever been in a mastermind group with to proofread our sales page copy.

Why? We’re running a launch campaign, for crying out loud! And that’s a BIG DEAL, right?

Um, no.

At least, it doesn’t have to be such a big deal. Launching doesn’t have to be a life-altering, cosmic event complete with hype and hyperbole and haagen-dazs.

You can make launching normal. It can be a routine, regular part of your business life that doesn’t overtake everything else. In fact, you can make your whole sales system a simple and efficient operational process that feels like “business as usual” to everyone in your organization. No fuss, no muss. (But you can still have a pint of chocolate truffle ice cream if you want, I promise.)

How do you work this miracle? Take the chaos out of your campaigns, chart a course for your year, and create consistency for your organization and your audience.

Make launching normal by taking the chaos out of your campaigns.

While a certain amount of chaos is part of life, there’s no reason for sales campaigns to feel like a hot mess of crazy. The chaotic experience is actually a result of limited planning and delegation that creates the feeling that you’re making things up as you go along.

In other words, you can avoid the chaos if you really want to.

I believe that planning cerates confidence, and confidence is the biggest chaos killer out there. When you’re confident in your product and confident that you’ve nailed your messaging and your story, you can avoid all kinds of chaotic moments of self-doubt and craziness.

So, take a deep breath. Remember why you’re amazing at what you do and why you believe this offer is incredibly important to the world. And – most importantly – decide that you’re going to wait until the END of the campaign to evaluate your results, rather than jumping into reaction mode (chaos alert) in the middle when things appear to be floundering.

Confidence is a mindset, my friends. You’ve got this.

Make launching normal by charting your course.

There’s an old saying out there that goes like this: “Proper prior planning prevents a pitifully poor performance.” It’s a bit annoying, honestly, but it’s true. The more you plan, the better prepared you are to navigate challenges, make course corrections, and achieve your goals.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate for planning. It might feel hypothetical or even like a waste of time, but it’s essential when you want to create sustainable, scalable sales systems in your business.

Start by mapping out the campaigns you’ve planned for the coming year. Perhaps you plan to promote your course or workshop twice in the next 12 months – once in April and once in October. Lovely, you’ve started your plan.

Now, consider what you need to publish before each campaign to prep your audience and create interest in your work. Go ahead and add this content (and the process of creating it) to your plan.

Then, step back for a moment and notice any gaps you have in your calendar. Look for times when you’re not running a campaign, and you’re not building toward a campaign. These are your open moments – time when you can build awareness, grow your audience, or slip in another campaign of some kind. Once you fill those gaps, you’ll have a general plan you can use to guide your marketing activities all year long.

Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

Make launching normal by creating consistency.

Sustainability requires a simple, steady pace that fits your available resources and works within the limits and constraints of your business. One of the reasons campaigns feel so chaotic is the frantic pace that feels so foreign to the way we normally do things. You can avoid all of this drama by creating consistency over time.

What do I mean by consistency? I mean doing things the same way both during a campaign and in those non-campaign moments.

Things like:

  • Publishing the same number of blog posts in a time period
  • Running ads to promote an email freebie (a.k.a. lead magnet) when you’re not promoting a campaign
  • Evaluating your metrics on a regular cadence (weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • Engaging in social media at the same pace and frequency

A couple of things happen when you force this kind of consistency on your team. First – everyone gets used to the pace. It becomes “business as normal” and doesn’t feel exhausting and mind-numbing.

Second – when you make launching normal instead of a stressful event, everyone’s skills improve because practice makes perfect. The consistent pace eliminates many of the mistakes that happen when things “ramp up” artificially during a campaign. People just know what to do and they get better at actually doing it.

I recommend creating consistency in your message too. The story you tell during your campaign will ideally feel like an extension of your normal work rather than a change of direction for purposes of promoting or selling something. Your audience will respond more naturally this way AND your team will feel comfortable engaging with prospective clients because the message is so completely relevant, consistent, and on brand.

Marketing actually is a normal function of your business.

If marketing doesn’t feel normal to you – if it feels more like something you do “when you remember” or “when you have time” – then you need to do a little work here. You need a Simple Sales System to help you create consistency in your marketing efforts and your results.

When everyone on your team knows what to do (and how to do it) to market your business, you will be amazed at how simple it feels. The chaos will disappear and you’ll be able to focus on scaling your business and your impact. The first stesp is to decide to step past the chaotic status quo and make launching normal, calm and strategic.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’m offering a workshop designed to help you create the Simple Sales System you need to make your marketing sustainable and scalable. You can learn more about it here.

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Is your launch strategy leaving money on the table?

When you think about selling or launching, do you think about:

  1. High anxiety launches and focused intensity, or
  2. Quiet mastery and day-to-day implementation

If it were up to me, you’d think about the second. Why? Because sales is a function of your business, not an event. It should be business as usual, the normal way you do things, an everyday part of your operations. But that’s not how we think about it or even talk about it.

This high stress, high stakes launch strategy leaves money on the table.

It’s why selling and our sales goals don’t feel sustainable or comfortable or predictable. This all or nothing approach to launch strategy is part of why launching is so emotional (though it doesn’t have to be) and leaves us feeling drained when the cycle is finished.

It’s like the difference between making dinner night after night and hosting a huge dinner party for friends. The energy and investment are different, and so are the expectations. Dinner is sustainable. An endless series of dinner parties? Not so much.

So what’s the alternative for business owners who want revenue they can cheer about, plus sanity and down time?

Stop treating each launch or sales cycle as an event.

I’m just going to come out and say it: creating an elaborate launch experience from scratch time after time is truly the most expensive and draining way to sell anything.

Instead, identify the strategies and tactics that work best for your audience and systematize them:

  • Map out conversations you will create with your marketing content.
  • Decide in advance if you will advertise using social media and set a budget.
  • Will you host a free workshop or use a free video series? Prepare it in advance.
  • Create the email marketing series you’ll use and plan when you’ll publish it.

Just like your favorite recipes and standard pantry items, this type of preparation makes your sales efforts simple and sustainable. Creating marketing material in advance is like prepping food for several meals all at once… a great way to save time and cultivate peace!

Replace your launch strategy with a daily sales strategy.

I’m not talking about a sleazy, soul-sucking focus on hype. I’m talking about reassessing your launch strategy to see that nearly every conversation you have while operating your business is a sales conversation. Those customer service issues are really opportunities to add value and build a relationship. The people you meet in an online group or networking event or when interacting with a vendor are all potential customers who need what you sell.

Now don’t get me wrong: Creating a sales strategy for yourself and for your team doesn’t – and shouldn’t – mean that you pitch everyone you meet. (Friend, don’t be that person.)

Instead, your new launch strategy is about focusing on providing value, building relationship, and sharing the mission of your organization.

Teach everyone on your team to listen carefully and identify relationship building moments in every client communication and to be on the look out for where you or your team may self-sabotage sales.

Keep building relationships all through the launch.

Something typically happens when a business goes into “launch mode” and the cart opens. Relationship building efforts stop – and the focus shifts to sales, sales, sales. This is a HUGE mistake, and it’s one of the key ways you can leave money on the table.

Sure, sales are important. Don’t get me wrong here- I get that.

Here’s the thing: some people aren’t ready to buy. The timing isn’t right for them. They don’t understand the value. They are at a different place in their journey. Or they are NEW to your list, and they are still trying to figure out if they trust you and if they belong in your tribe. They need you to keep talking and building relationships with them, so they stick around and buy next time.

Be sure to create a path forward for people who aren’t ready to buy just yet. Give them a way to connect with you, engage further with your organization, and get settled in. Add relationship building material to your launch “menu” they way you’d put side dishes on the table to add nutritional value to a meal.

Share your message consistently and intentionally.

Here’s a little secret – you’re always inside a sales cycle.

Sometimes you are:

  • Building brand awareness and increasing your audience.
  • Sharing new ideas and gathering information.
  • Teasing an upcoming promotional cycle to build excitement.
  • Gathering feedback after a promotional campaign in order to dive deeper.
  • Inviting people to work with you or consume a service you offer.

Each of these steps is part of the big picture of your sales cycle.

Not just the week when the cart is open, and the ads are running, and the emails are going out to your list. Each time you engage your audience you’re selling yourself, your message, and your organization

So share your message consistently. Create a story that combines your mission, values, and perspective and stick to it. The story shouldn’t change dramatically when the cart opens. If it does, you’re going to limit your effectiveness profoundly.

Instead, intentionally share your message in a way that aligns with where you are in the sales cycle, and where you’re going next.

An everyday sales strategy creates sustainable revenue – and successful launches.

There’s something comforting about the normal routine of a family dinner. While we might not know what’s being served when we come to the table, we can trust that we’ll leave happy and satisfied.

Moving from an event based launch strategy into a sales strategy creates that same kind of predictable rhythm for you, your team, and your audience. It builds confidence in your team by eliminating extra stress and emotion so sales can just be a normal part of day-to-day work.

Sustainable revenue comes when your audience knows you, trusts you, and knows what to expect from you. The consistency of an everyday sales strategy creates the ideal environment for your audience to buy – either now or later when the time is right.

Interested in moving beyond crazy to a sustainable, scalable sales system? Learn more about how our Simple Sales System Workshop can change your sales strategy and results in three days.

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How to Connect Intuition and Data in a Quarterly Review

Measuring growth in our business ventures can feel like a complex and all engrossing task of its own. Keeping track of metrics like followers, email Subscribers, and site views… all these numbers can feel very cold and unfriendly at times. Especially when we are trying to generate enthusiasm to build new and exciting opportunities for your business.

I think for a lot of us the reason why we struggle so much with our data and numbers in business is that we tend to lean more on right brained thinking – artsy and visual thinking – than the left brain – logical and linear thinking.

These very different parts of our brains coexist in such a beautiful way that inspired me to write this post about how to start using your data numbers to grow your business, even if you relate to being more of a right brained thinker.

One of the biggest ways I’ve used my data (Google Analytics, MailChimp, Social Media to be a few) to impact my business decisions is to bake what I learn into my quarterly reviews. At the end of each quarter, I review the last quarter data, interpret and digest what happened in relation to my goals, and then use that knowledge to shift my plans.

I want to be honest with you. I don’t always enjoy pulling this data and taking a look at the numbers.

I’m sensitive and sometimes I get emotionally triggered as to what some of those numbers are really saying about my business (and it’s not all good). And yet, tracking these numbers has become a very natural and powerful ritual.

I take a good hard look at what is working and not working with what I’m doing online, either where I am spending my time or money, to how I’m focusing my attention on a launch and attracting the right time of visit to our site.

Below are three areas of my business that my data has greatly informed in my last Q2 review (and that has shifted my work now in Q3). I hope this will inspire you to start looking at your data more often!

 

Course Launches

In Q2 I had one of my most successful course launches and one area I paid particular attention to was where I was getting the most traffic from as I was actively promoting and doing webinars for my launch.

Being able to directly see where traffic was coming from (and which traffic was leading to actual course registrations) shifted where I was focusing my efforts.

Key Metrics I Reviewed:

  • Marketing Channel Conversion Rate
  • Webinar Conversion Rate
  • Site Visits from Affiliate Referral Posts

 

My Big Takeaway:

In this launch, the biggest learning was that I was getting more traction writing for affiliate sites and building those relationships instead of creating content for my own blog. I also compared this traffic information with how people were opening my emails and attending my launch webinars, to connect the dots on which topics and subject lines were resonating more with my audiences.

Launches can feel like an emotionally intense roller coaster, but bringing in some awareness to my data brought many decisions down to earth for me.

 

Marketing Efforts

One of the most important learnings for me last Q2 was that doing too many different types of marketing for my ideal client was ineffective, confusing and draining. I knew that I had to start getting smart about where I spent my mental juice looking for client leads and how I presented myself as a brand.

As I could feel myself getting close to feeling completely burnt out, my body knew something needed to shift but the data was also giving me all sorts of signals as well.

When I published something cohesive with my branding and that I energetically fully believed in, I was getting the most meaningful comments and interactions from women following me. I also noticed a positive spike with vanity metrics like page views, email opens, and subscribers.

Spending time with these numbers (even though sometimes looking at email open rates can bring on negative emotions) got me to consider more closely my branding as well as redefining who my ideal client really was in the first place and what kind of problem I was solving for their business.

Key Metrics I Reviewed:

  • Site Visits/Leads from Marketing Channels
  • Site Visits/Leads from Affiliate Sites
  • Podcast Downloads

My Big Takeaway:

Because of all this analysis, I’ve made extensive adjustments in my marketing to simplify and only focus on the efforts that are serving me and my ideal client in the best way with my present situation. At the end of the day, this was my podcast and affiliate marketing. It felt scary but I decided to put Instagram and Emails more in the background, and even though I still do them, I’m not as focused attracting quality traffic from these sources.

Again, my focus was on attracting meaningful leads, with the awareness that my data was bringing me.

 

Revamping Services

Another essential area of my business that I’ve been focusing on for awhile is paying attention to all the qualitative data (not hard numbers or statistics about my business) floating around my ideal client by seeing what kinds of things she’s posting online.

Things like what they suffer with right now in their business, what they are reading, what they are listening to, how they like to be worked with, how they like to be sold to, and what services they do buy,  were all questions I became more and more in tune with answering.

At the end of the day, this is really about my client’s data and how what I do in my business can serve them. Suddenly, I was becoming a curious listener, picking up from other podcasts, blogs, interviews, emails, Instagram Stories, anywhere my client was emitting a signal on the internet.

Key Metrics I Reviewed:

  • Types of Issues Ideal Client Suffers with
  • What services do they buy online
  • How do they like to work online
  • How much $$ do they spend on digital services per year

My Big Takeaway:

Luckily, all this data is pretty readily available, it was just a matter of becoming more open to finding it and then storing it in a place that I could easily access later. For me, this is a combination of Google docs where I store words and language they use, service ideas, and any other information about their business.

I also have paper documentation (because I’m a total paper freak!) with about 10 different real women I’d consider my ideal client and that I’d love to work with someday. Some of those names are pretty dreamy but I like to think big. I’m constantly paying attention to what these women are talking about on their social media or email newsletters and filling in the gaps with how their needs and my services can collide (in awesome and world changing ways!).

Again, this type of data feels “warmer” and more human, but it’s still important information I can use for building services that really resonate with who I’m looking to sell to.

Looking Forward to Q3

Already this quarter has felt so different than the last in terms of where I’m spending my time and energy and I know the data has played a huge role.

I’ve started putting together notes for my next course launch based on the data I collected from the last launch and I’m feeling much calmer about my goals since I know what numbers I’m starting off with.

I’ve shifted my marketing focus and the content I’m putting out there based on data from Google Analytics to make sure I’m attracting the right type of audience, that eventually I might sell something to.

Finally, my services are feeling more in line with my goals and it’s because of the qualitative data I’ve been uncovering from real women, either through asking directly or listening neutrally to for nuggets of information.

As always, just looking at your data to make decisions isn’t enough.

(Cick to tweet it!)

Just like left and right brain, you need to incorporate both intuition and data to really fully be present in your business decisions. Making decisions where you feel a mix of fear and excitement in your stomach, when you hit send on that email pitch and jump in your seat, shaking off the nerves, can be the best for your business, especially when you know the data is backing you up.

At the end of the day, all this business stuff is a big experiment to play with, to be 100% present to and learn to enjoy at your own rhythm.

Cinthia is the part data-nerd, part creative mastermind behind Digimorph. With over four years of corporate experience in digital marketing and web analytics, she is on a mission to inspire women entrepreneurs to unleash the untapped power of their data without feeling all the overwhelm.
She offers two Google Analytics courses:  Google Analytics course for Web Developers and Web Designers and another for Bloggers who want to grow their biz strategically to bring in more opportunities!

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How to avoid three critical ways entrepreneurs self-sabotage sales

If you’re anything like me, when you first thought about selling your work, your worry was: “I have this work that I want to get out into the world… but how will I catch anyone’s attention long enough for them to buy it?!”. After Googling, attending free workshops and completing more worksheets than you care to think about the internet had an answer for you: tell people how your work saves them time or money.

And it works! Kind of. (Just like any other tactic kind of works for all businesses.)

But I think you’re reading this because you want to do better and get better results. You respect your audience, and you don’t want to tell the same “Save time! Save money!” story that makes other business owners sound vaguely like an infomercial.

In marketing speak, the better / faster / stronger kind of value is called functional value. And we talk about it because it’s a relatively easy place for writers to start, and it’s easy for customers to understand. It’s hard not the feel good about reducing expenses, earning more or finding some extra time, right?

But honestly, most products and services have more to offer than this. I’m pretty sure yours do!

How to avoid the three critical ways entrepreneurs self-sabotage sales

I’m willing to bet that saving money or time isn’t the only reason why your best customers decide to buy.

Meaningful products or services usually do a lot more for us than save time or money:

  • They create stress-free weekends full of family time because that nagging issue in our life is finally solved.
  • They’re an object that sparks an invitation to have friends over, to share stories and spend time.
  • They give customers a simple path to follow so they can meet their financial goals or wake up feeling energized and aligned with their goals every day.

So why don’t more sales campaigns talk about other benefits like providing hope, reducing anxiety or creating sustainability?

I think that limiting our work to most obvious benefits means we’re speaking down to our audience and, in the process, self-sabotaging our results. This post shares the three most common ways that this sales self-sabotage shows up for entrepreneurs, and how to avoid it.

The three most common forms of sales self-sabotage, and how to avoid them:

1. Skipping value that customers care about

Selling can be intimidating, and doing it well means you need to share the results it delivers for people. But results that aren’t so obvious to us as creators are often the ones that resonate most with customers.

When you exclusively focus on skills mastered, money earned, and time saved you can miss the big picture impact of those results on your customer’s emotions or identity.

If the result of your work generates hope, creates peace of mind or helps others feel mastery over their hobbies or business, skipping those is a lost opportunity.

If you aren’t sure you can confidently promise these things it’s tempting to skip them and, and only describe the value that you can easily prove. But you can go deeper with a little confidence boost.

How to stop sabotaging sales by sharing deeper value:
Unless you’re selling a new product or service, your work has generated real results for real people. Your testimonials should reflect back just how they’ve achieved more, reduced anxiety, or improved their life or business as a result of your work. You just need to tap into that when you’re in marketing mode.

  • Go back to the testimonials you’ve received and draw from them. You’ll be amazed by the real value you’ve provided. Pay attention to the words your customers used. “I feel” “I am” and “Now I can” statements are what you should be on the lookout for.
  • Have an established offer, but you don’t have testimonials? Then start requesting them from customers, and even consider sending over prompts for them to fill out. (Bonus points if those include “I feel”, “I am” and “Now I can” statements!)
  • If you’re offering a new product or service, consider offering a beta version for a reduced price or free in exchange for feedback. You get a chance to make your work more useful, and if the feedback is positive you can turn praise into testimonials.

You CAN talk about higher value. Grab that positive feedback and use it to move the conversation past the superficial and into the real, sustainable value you provide.

2. Letting lack of time eat the better story

In my dream world, my life is perfectly planned, and every action I take is intentionally optimized for maximum results. The reality (especially now that I have a new baby!) is often more of a hot mess. There’s simply no time for perfection. Good enough is all any of us have to work with.

When you’re launching, writing a campaign or just living your daily life, there’s never enough time. And being a business owner, side hustler or freelancer means you will always have un-done items on your to do list.

So when you (inevitably) run short on time, it’s tempting to tell a simpler story with your marketing messaging. After all, telling the story of saving time or money is fairly straightforward.

It’s tangible, understandable, and has immediate appeal.

But it also puts you at risk of being forgettable or sounding like an infomercial. You can do better by making the time to go deeper!

How to stop sabotaging sales and take more time for your marketing:
The obvious solution is to calendar more time in for marketing, but for most of us, the problem isn’t scheduling. It’s sticking to our best-laid plans when real life hits. To go deeper with your marketing, we’ll focus on making you more efficient and giving you more chances to recover when real life interferes with your plan.

  • Add more whitespace into your calendar. When you have more to do than there are hours in the day, part of the problem is that your expectations don’t jive with reality. You can get around this by limiting the number of tasks on your to-do list in a given day, like letting yourself plan only three work tasks a day. Or you can schedule whitespace – “no activity” time – into your calendar, with recurring calendar events, so you don’t over plan.
  • Brainstorm with a partner. If you find yourself lost for words, grab a business buddy to brainstorm with. Many masterminds and podcasts were born this way! Bring a topic to talk through, send over some notes in advance, and get the input of a boss or freelancer you trust on your project. If you want a more formal arrangement, business coaches are perfect for this too.
  • Train and automate every month, or after every launch. If you don’t get in the habit of actively taking jobs off your plate, you’re never going to have more space in your workday. Delegating is a muscle, so use it. Start by automating tasks to services using tools like Zapier or IFTTT, and then get yourself a virtual assistant and keep up the momentum. Document the training through screencasts or writing somewhere central – even just a google doc – and you’ll never have to re-train the people around you because you’re slowly building a business asset.

A deeper conversation takes more thought and effort. Your audience will need to think about anxiety, remember the sleepless nights, and moments of confusion they’ve experienced to put the benefits of newfound peace of mind into context. They’ll need to know you understand their frustration at always re-inventing the wheel to catch a vision for the value of sustainability. It’s your job to give them this context.

3. Selling an idea you’re in love with.

Passion is often touted as the holy grail for entrepreneurs. Passion is important, but just like in relationships, it can blind you.

When you assume there will be buyers lining up around the block, it’s easy to skip steps that could help you course-correct and stay profitable. Instead of finding out too late that there isn’t demand for your work, it’s important to double check that your passion lines up with your customer’s concerns.

How to stop sabotaging sales before you’re carried away by passion:

Don’t let misplaced enthusiasm convince you to skip reality testing your work. This step is all about doing your due-diligence and putting trust in data from your customers over your feelings. If you build up a fact based case for your work, you can move forward with enthusiasm – and certainty.

  • Get input from your audience. Your audience, even if they’re small, is capable of telling you who they are and what they need help with. You just have to ask! Set up a poll or autoresponder for new subscribers that asks what is the #1 problem they want to solve. With every answer, you’ll know more about what your audience wants you to help them with.
  • Thoroughly research demand. Search Amazon, Etsy, Google, Pinterest and anywhere else you can think of for products that solve similar problems. Don’t find a lot? That doesn’t mean you’ve discovered something new, it means proceed with caution! There’s probably a good reason, and it’s likely that demand is too weak to sustain businesses.
  • Stop trying to teach everything you know, start solving customer problems. Building offers based on what you want to teach may feel exciting, but it’s a shortsighted way to come up with profitable business ideas. People spend money to solve problems, every time. If you start brainstorming based on problems that your audience wants to have solved, you’re more likely to be helpful and profitable than passionate and frustrated.

Leave self-sabotage in the dust and sell with stories that matter.

How do you demonstrate higher levels of value with confidence? Tell a transformative story. Show how your work helps your clients move from moments of despair to hope in their abilities, potential, and possibilities. Talk in real ways about the reductions in anxiety that come from applying your solution to complex problems. Share how sustainability is a result of taking the steps you teach, working through the material you provide, and finding community as a part of your tribe.

Storytelling is the real difference between functional value and a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Want to share a story of deep value with your audience? Learn more here.

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How to build a small, highly engaged community around your brand

When you look at the online business world, it’s not hard to get the impression the path to success follows one track. Attract thousands of subscribers, sell them a product for $97, then rinse and repeat until you have a six figure business. Sound familiar? Now, does a big audience hurt? Of course not. But it’s completely untrue that a big audience is required to be successful.

Today’s post is going to show you what other, intentionally small versions of success can look like instead.

I’ll start with the business I know best – my own! My business is made up of one service, one-on-one business strategy consulting. Last year it generated just under six-figures. It allowed my husband to quit his day job and us to start a family and during that time my email list had about 2,000 subscribers.

Here’s what you might not expect: None of my revenue came from selling to my list.

How your online business can thrive with a small highly engaged community

My clients were all referrals from other professionals and past clients, or they were blog readers who inquired through my sales page. No sales pitches on my part required.

This is the magic of being a niche business.

Niche businesses focus on creating deep connections with smaller audiences. The idea is to provide maximum value to a small, engaged community of like-minded people. In exchange, you can charge higher prices because you can solve specialized problems.

The approach is quite a bit different than the usual push to create a huge community or to spend thousands of dollars on advertising. (I see you, coaches addicted to Facebook Ads!) Instead, a niche approach to business focuses on building a small, super engaged community around your brand.

 

Today, I want to share the stories of two successful niche business owners who are past clients of mine. They’ve both built successful small businesses by providing immense value to a particular community.

Each sells a higher investment service to a select group of clients instead of selling low dollar offers to the masses. I think they’ll inspire you as they’ve inspired me.

Building community around emotional connection

 Ale Vidal is a filmmaker who specializes in directing and producing video content. Her work connects brands with their audience in an emotional, visceral way. An expert storyteller, Ale’s work takes her all over the world and ignites an emotional connection in viewers. Her community of potential clients is small, and her work is highly sought after. Here’s her story, in her own words:

What makes the community that surrounds your business unique?
My community is made up of visionaries and artists that create with a specific aesthetic, unique to their own vision and story. They celebrate originality and aren’t afraid to take risks if it means creating a better story.

There’s something about the way we grew up, the way we experienced life, which made us curious and impacted our individual approach to our art, our brand. I help my community unveil this and bring it to life through video so that their clients understand the breadth of their work.

Do you intentionally limit the size of your audience?

I would say the nature of my work limits the size of my audience. My approach is in depth and intimate, involving a lot of 1:1 time uncovering the unique traits of their brand. This level of creative energy and time is necessary to create something distinct and engaging for my clients and their audiences.

How do you keep your audience engaged?
I believe my audience and I share the same values – connection, emotion, and beauty. So, when I share content, whether it’s a behind-the-scenes image or a part of my client’s film, I ensure it aligns with those values. My clients love to think differently, so I’m very intentional about sharing content that resonates with their passion for pushing boundaries.

How do you keep your focus dialed in as your community grows and expands?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past year is about consuming energy and remembering that things take time. I’ve honestly had to learn to just sit in the pauses without anxiety and always check in with my values. When I am in line with my values, then I am better able to stay focused despite how my community changes and evolves.

What are the benefits of a small audience, in your opinion?
By giving my undivided attention to a small group of people, I build loyalty with them. I’ve earned their ear. People will listen and buy from those they trust, as well as stay engaged because they feel they are more than a transaction.

By building relationships and intimacy with a small audience, I’ve become an advocate and a guide for them. Nothing excites me more than sitting down with my client, listening, understanding their vision, and giving them a voice through video to bring that vision to life.

See more of Ale Vidal’s work on Instagram

Building community around intentional simplicity

 Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial makes blogging and content strategy faster, easier, and more effective for entrepreneurs. Her clients want to be intentional with their business rather than stuck in a life of never-ending hustle. She is a content strategist, writer, podcast co-host, and a work-at-home mama with a small, engaged community that follows her work. Here’s my interview with her:

What makes your community unique?
I attract a lot of mama entrepreneurs and side hustlers because they’re the ones who don’t have time to make their business their entire life. Many people in my community are hesitant that they can make their business work alongside other commitments. A big part of my job is encouraging them that they can have a successful business that fits into their existing life.

Do you intentionally limit the size of your audience?
I don’t have a limit in the sense that I have a maximum number of followers, but I do limit my audience by only speaking to certain people. Pretty much every online entrepreneur has a blog, but I’m not the right person to help all of them. I’m only a good fit for working with those who want to blog intentionally so they can focus more time on living life. If someone enjoys living a go-go-go, hustle-all-the-time life, I’m not the right person for them – and that’s okay!

How do you keep your audience engaged?
I make sure every single email newsletter I send (even the ones in automated sequences) includes a personal invitation for people to reach out to me, even if it’s just to say hi! I get emails every week from new followers who want to connect or long-time readers updating me on their journey. Because my audience is smaller than average, it’s easy for me to respond and genuinely get to know my people.

How do you keep your focus dialed in as your community grows and expands?
I keep my messaging trained on intentionality and simplicity rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the newest, trendiest thing in blogging and business. Honestly, it’s tempting to shift my core message at times, but I know it wouldn’t be worth it. I often have to put blinders on, so I can tune in to what will best serve my audience.

What are the benefits of a small audience, in your opinion?
I actually know a good portion of my audience on a personal level! This lets me bring so much more value to them through my content and paid services. I’m an introvert, so this makes me more comfortable putting myself out there and being totally transparent with my people. I share monthly behind-the-scenes workings of my business with my email subscribers, and that’s not something I could do if I felt like I was emailing a crowd full of strangers.

Learn more about Brooks Editorial here

What stands out to me in both of these stories is the deep connections both Ale and Ashley create with their communities. This, in my opinion, is the key to success with any audience – but it’s especially true with small ones.

When you stop trying to be everything to everyone, it’s possible for you, as the business owner and “head of the tribe,” to connect with each person individually. You can take an interest in their situation, listen to their story, and serve them in a deeper and more meaningful way.

A business focused on deep connection makes it easier to thrive with less.

Suddenly less traffic or a smaller audience doesn’t mean less revenue and freedom. Instead, you work with fewer individual clients, make a greater impact and command premium prices.

Is this the right community and promotional model for you? Maybe – especially if you love the idea of diving deeply into topics, connecting personally with your people, and having an impact on the individuals you serve.

Want to create a small, engaged community around your business and brand? You need a Simple Sales System to guide you so that you can connect efficiently and authentically with your ideal clients. Learn more by clicking here.

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Build hype through a new launch campaign – without annoying your list

One of the main concerns that I hear from clients when we work on the email marketing aspect of their launch campaign strategy is that they don’t like launching because they’re worried about annoying their list.

No matter how big your list is, it’s a great instinct to keep your customer’s feelings in mind. Your list is made up of real people who had a YES! moment when they arrived at your website. Something resonated with them, or they found a freebie that met their needs, so they signed up to hear more from you.f

If you want to move beyond their first “yes” to a deeper relationship that lasts, you need to connect with visitors and your subscribers in a deeper way. And that means going beyond publishing quick informational blog posts that will do well on Pinterest. It means telling a story.

Four ways to build hype through a new launch campaign - without annoying your list

Annoying launches are just reminders to buy. Thoughtful launches build hype, drive sales and create long-term customers.

Since you’ve already worked to get the attention of your subscribers, today’s post shares how to choose email topics for a launch campaign that tell a story and create real, juicy conversation around your work.

1. Challenge your customer’s assumptions

We all make assumptions based on our experience, perspective, and situation. The people on your list are no different, and some of their assumptions are probably holding them back. As an expert, you can challenge their assumptions, change their perspective, and improve their results.

To get started, ask yourself a few questions like:

  • What are the common myths and misunderstandings in my industry?
  • Where do I see common mistakes most often with new clients? What assumptions lead to these mistakes?
  • What fears hold my clients back and keep them from taking action?

Then make a list of possible assumptions that people in your audience make, pick the most powerful one and write an email to set them straight!

Present your opinion, share evidence, and call out the things you see keeping your people stuck. Inspire your audience to grow by pushing them to move past their assumptions. They’ll remember you as their gateway to new insight and better results.

2. Fill knowledge gaps to create ideal customers

As an expert in your area, you gained valuable insight after experimentation, failure, and adjustment. Your audience is drawn to you (at least in part) because your insight can help them succeed. You know how to solve the problems that have them stumped, and they know it. To build loyalty and relationship with your readers, share what you wish all your customers knew or did before they came to you.

To get started, ask yourself:

  • If I was speaking to my ideal customer, what would they already know before our conversation?
  • What does my ideal customer discover through my work? What are their ah-ha moments?
  • To get the most value out of our work together, what actions would my ideal customer have already taken before we worked together?
  • What are my ideal customer’s concerns and questions about this product or service? What information are they missing?

Your answers to these questions are vital parts of your launch campaign story that provides value to your ideal customers.

This strategically planned educational content acts as an on-ramp that turns normal audience members into your ideal customer.

It also creates a foundation of content that you can use in a sales funnel to build trust with future customers.

3. Show how your ideas apply in the wild

To make your ideas stick with your audience, which makes those idea more likely to help them, show that your ideas are real world tested. You can do this with anecdotes and case studies – show how others have applied your insights to their own unique business or life. Or connect a key takeaway from your work to an unusual context.

For example, one of my core principles is that “marketing is a learned skill.” To illustrate that I could share stories about my client’s experiences experimenting with marketing tactics and show how they learned and developed over time. I can also apply the idea of learning through experimentation to something completely separate – like parenting, or a hobby, or something comparable – and then create a link back to marketing in some way. (This is where post headlines like “10 things that learning to draw taught me about marketing” come from.)

Showing new ways to applying of your ideas makes them more memorable and can spark your audience’s creativity. They start seeing themselves in the story and identify ways they can further apply what you share – and that helps both of you.

4. Address the elephant in the room

He’s here, you know. We all see him in the corner dropping peanut husks on the floor. We can certainly smell him too – and when he stamps his foot or trumpets, it’s pretty tough to ignore. But we don’t talk about him, do we? Not in polite conversation and definitely not in the middle of a campaign.

There are some unpleasant truths that, as someone who’s selling something, you might be tempted to gloss over in your launch campaign.

Unpleasant truths like:

  • Some offers aren’t actually for everyone. (It’s a sales nightmare! Oh, the humanity! )
  • Solutions aren’t instant, and actually take a lot of work.
  • Sometimes the investment is big. Customers need to devote considerable time, money, you name it, to see results.

Let’s be real: the people in your audience already know it’s true.  So, just talk about it already. It’s easier to trust an ethical marketer than it is to trust a telemarketer. The people you drive away are more likely to be looking for more than any product or service can provide (a.k.a. they’ll be high support & are more likely to want a refund) and being direct makes you stand out to your best customers.

Creating a conversation about your work is part of your Simple Sales System. Not sure what story to tell for your next sales campaign? Check out the new 3-day workshop that’s coming soon.

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Stop being polite to build a stronger relationship with your audience

Recently I had a conversation with a stranger.

As we sat next to one another while we traveled, we had ample opportunity to chat and quickly moved through the small talk you’d expect – things like weather, the experience we were sharing, where we were headed, and the like. Then we ran out of common ground, long before we arrived.

We were in different places in life regarding age, family, and heritage. Our skills and professions were different as well. We each carried assumptions with us about our world and what it means to be a woman in 2017. It’s very likely that our political viewpoints were as varied as our views on spirituality and relationships and even the ways we express our innate creativity.

But we didn’t talk about any of that stuff, and it’s a shame.
Why? Because we still don’t know one another.

Sure, she can describe me in terms of how I look, how old I am, and what I do. The superficial demographics we shared as we passed the time are enough for all that. But there’s nothing more. No real connection or friendship or lasting bond. But hey, at least we were polite, right?

The problem is that polite and superficial doesn’t build a relationship, in your personal life or in business.

Stop being polite to start growing a tribe around your small business!

(I know, how un-Canadian of me!)

If the story you tell about your business to the people on your list is only full of general information and acceptable language, it won’t build much in terms of relationship either.

In our desire to avoid offense we can water down our opinions so much that they don’t actually engage anyone either. But if you want to build relationships with the people in your community, you have to move beyond safe, polite conversation. You have to shake things up and spark real dialogue.

I’m guessing you have some pretty strong opinions. And like most people, some you share in public while others are private. Your strongest held opinions are probably known only to those people who are close to you.

As you’ve gained experience in your niche, I know you’ve gathered some strong opinions along the way. That wisdom and perspective are what we call expertise, and it’s good stuff.

But when was the last time you shared those strong opinions? Do you hesitate to share your wisdom because it isn’t commonplace? It might not be well accepted or similar to what you see online. That’s a good thing because your best ideas are unique – and they shake things up a bit.

Sharing your insight could challenge your audience to think deeply about things like their:

  • Conversations about everything from sales to problem-solving to customer service.
  • Expectations about business based on “the way things are done around here.”
  • Assumptions about the issues they address, problems they solve, and their world view.

Shaking things up feels a little scary, but it’s SO good for your business. Why? Because people remember what they feel deeply, and the people or brands that sparked those feelings. Those are the moments that relationships are built in.

Advertising is all about feeling. That’s why we remember the television commercials that make us laugh. And the ones that put tears in the corners of our eyes. And the ones that gave us a reason to stop and think until suddenly we saw the world a tiny bit differently.

Emotion is the difference between polite, forgettable marketing and making a deep, lasting connection.

In business, many of us try to stay safe. We hide our most controversial – and memorable – opinions in order to attract as many potential clients and customers as possible.

We take the bite out of our wisdom to make it more palatable.

We shy away from bold statements and deep conversations because we believe they are less effective than a good, solid, (and general) message.

But we couldn’t be more wrong.

Deep conversations create meaningful connections between people and brands. It also makes you stand out from the crowd, which makes it easier for your best customers to find you.

So when you go to write your next blog post or email- don’t hold back. Shake things up and connect!

 

Ready to create a Simple Sales System that shakes things up for your audience and gets you real results? Learn more here.

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Plan your sales so you can predict your freelance income

Planning and creativity really DO go together. Sounds counter-intuitive? But it’s true, at least in the right circumstances and context.

Planning your campaigns (a.k.a. launches) might sound dull as dry toast, but it’s actually a painless process that gives you the freedom and confidence to be really creative in your business.

You already know that planning isn’t an all-knowing crystal ball that guarantees your sales results before you start work on your big new idea. But a little planning can give you much more control and predictability.

Planning removes the guesswork and anxiety – so you can simply execute on your plans in a humane, drama-free way.

Much better, right?

How to plan so you can predict your freelance income, reliably and month after month.

So – creative person – let’s get the planning started!

When do YOU want to launch?

Contrary to what you might have read online, there’s no right or wrong time to promote your course, package, workshop, or services. At least, there’s no inherent right time that everyone must follow. (You CAN have a successful campaign over the holidays or during the summer or even in early January when everyone else is promoting something too. Yes, really!)

There is also no absolute formula for launch success that works for everyone. The best plan is actually something you create based on the preferences of you and your audience. So, what should you consider?

  • Frequency – How often do you want to run a promotional cycle? One huge annual campaign works well for some (I see you Marie Forleo) and smaller, more frequent cycles work better for others.
  • Seasonality – Consider when your services are most interesting to your audience. We naturally consider goal setting as we begin a new year, for example, making a service around planning and goal setting naturally popular then. But, we might want a vacation services product in late spring as the summer travel season comes into view.
  • Your own rhythm – Think about your own natural energy and focus, as well as the personal events in your life. Maybe the summer is family time for you or perhaps certain events are planned which will limit your ability to focus.

I recommend you create a calendar for the next 12 months and start building your campaign plan based on these factors. Block out personal events, planned vacations, family time, and things like that on the calendar. Make note of the seasonality you’ve identified in your business. Then take your desired frequency and see what it looks like to select tentative campaign dates.

How long does it take to move through your sales cycle?

There’s more to a campaign than opening the cart and making an announcement, right? Even the most basic sales cycle includes a teaser here and there, a bit of blog or email content, or a free event to get people engaged. Then there’s the actual selling part and the follow-up post campaign.

Your sales cycle can be as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks. (Not sure because you create each launch from scratch? You need a simple, repeatable sales system.)

Go back to your calendar and block off the time it takes for each campaign. You may identify a few conflicts or need to adjust a few things. That’s fine. :)

What traffic paths work best for you and your audience?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a lot about analysis, metrics, and ways to measure the effectiveness of your traffic paths, or how your customers find you. By now you likely have a pretty good idea of what works best for you and your audience. Great!

These tactics (your best practice tactics) are part of your sales plan. They determine the pre-work you need (creating content, graphics, messaging) and the set-up required (scheduling, organizing, administrative stuff) for each campaign.

Time to make a list of these tactics and add them to your plan – allowing enough time so you can implement them without feeling rushed or pushed.

What average revenue do you generate per campaign?

If you’ve gone through your sales cycle a time or two, you have good revenue data you can use to calculate an average. If this is a new product for you or you haven’t got as much data as you like, go ahead and create a conservative estimate.

What is the required campaign related budget for your goal?

This number is about advertising and promotional costs. How much do you need to invest in terms of ad spend, affiliate commission, freebies, and related labor and materials to generate the average revenue number you calculated above? This is your “campaign budget” and allocating it is part of your sales plan.

Putting all this together for a campaign plan that predicts your results.

The math is actually pretty simple when you think about it. Now that you know when you plan to promote your stuff (time, frequency) and the resources (time, money) you need to allocate in order to generate results (revenue) you can easily predict your results over the next 12 months.

Will your prediction be 100% accurate? Of course not – there are just too many variables. But the more data you gather the more refined your planning and predictions can become. With practice, you’ll be able to confidently predict (and depend on) the results of your sales system.

Ready to create a Simple Sales System that delivers reliable results every time? Come see how easy it can be.

 

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