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.
(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.
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?
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.
I’ve seen super smart, and savvy women dissolve into tears during a launch. I’ve listened while perfectly sane, rational entrepreneurs rant about the unpredictability of their sales system and worry aloud if their thoughts indicate they’ve lost their edge/perspective/marbles.
So, what’s so emotional about marketing?
There’s something very emotional about working for months with focused intensity, checking zillions of things off a list in the hope that enough people will engage with the message and buy the thing to make all the effort worthwhile.
And can I say, it’s normal to be scared off of working a plan when you aren’t sure of the results!
That uncertainty is why so many smart people:
- Abandon new products or services after a single lackluster campaign.
- Avoid creating their “brilliant new something” because they aren’t sure it will sell.
- Buy the latest formula and implement it straight out of the box.
- Feel insecure about their services and struggle even to get started.
- Cry before the cart opens, while the cart is open, and after the thing closes down.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Analysis takes the emotion out of marketing.
The familiar up and down emotional roller coaster associated with “launching” comes from uncertainty – and the best way to smooth out the ride is to analyze your results so you can predict the future. Then you can take what you learn and use it for planning.
Suddenly, your sales system becomes repeatable and reliable. Nothing terrifying about that.
Analyze potential profitability before determining target revenue.
Many business owners select campaign revenue targets unrealistically. They look at the revenue they need in order to cover their operational costs (or they make up a number that “feels right”) and then they work enthusiastically toward it. But, because the target isn’t based on reality, it’s rarely achievable. (Also, because it’s not based on profitability it’s likely not enough.)
Rather than starting with a needs-based revenue target, I’m encouraging you to analyze the potential profitability of your product before each campaign and then create a revenue target you can realistically achieve.
- Start with the potential gross profit from each sale – calculated by subtracting the customer acquisition cost (CAC) from the sale price of your product or service.
- Determine how many sales you can realistically expect based on your audience size, past results, and promotional efforts. Create a range that includes a comfortably conservative number, a reasonable number, and a stretch goal.
- Multiply your three sales goals by the potential gross profit number you calculated. This is the range of profit you will likely generate from each sales cycle.
- Multiply your three sales goals by the sale price of your product or service. This is your range of revenue targets. Notice that the revenue targets are now based on reality and equate to a predictable profit amount you can plan on as a result of your efforts.
This method takes the emotion out of your campaign by tying your sales goals to real analysis and real numbers. You know exactly what you need to sell in order to generate the money you need to operate your business, pay your team, and add value to your bottom line.
Analyze how your story resonates by talking to your audience.
Wondering if you’ve got the right story? Try talking to real people – before, during, and after your campaign. Ask them for feedback about your work and your content – and get as detailed as you can. You’re looking for intel on the challenges they face, the parts of your story they connect with and feel emotionally, and the questions they are considering as they evaluate your offer.
Even if you’re not comfortable asking someone directly, you can still gather really excellent feedback just by observing your audience. Does one of your posts get really high engagement? Chances are the story resonates with your tribe. Look for nuggets there to add to your sales story. Does a recent post fall flat? Probably not one you want to draw on as you craft your sales content.
During the campaign, pay attention to the reaction you get as you interact. Getting the same question over and over? Add a post to your queue that answers the question and then highlight a related benefit from your sales page.
After the campaign, take a look at what worked. Gather feedback from those who purchased to get insight on why they decided to move forward. Comments like “It was like you were talking specifically to me” mean your story is having a positive impact on your audience.
Understanding the way your audience interacts and responds to your story gives you confidence and takes some of the emotion out of each campaign. You won’t have to hold your breath and wait for a response because you’ll know exactly what to expect from your fans.
Analyze why they didn’t buy last time around.
Okay – time to give yourself a little tough love. Time to take an objective look at why your last campaign underperformed and discovered why people just didn’t buy. Here’s what I recommend when you’re ready to get real about your results.
- Ask them. Put together a little email with a short (as in three questions) survey. Make it multiple choice, so it’s simple and offers a reward so they take action. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Why did you wait? (price, product fit, wrong time)
- Did you solve your problem another way? (DIY, competitor’s product, not solved)
- What would help you buy next time? (payment options, DIY version, group component, etc.)
- Brainstorm possible reasons. Yep, you read that right. I’m asking you to grab a journal or notebook or blank screen and create a quick list of everything that comes to mind as a reason why things didn’t go as planned. You’ll quickly discover that you already know in your gut some key issues with your last campaign. Maybe you cut a corner or two or used a piece of content that didn’t feel right. Those things will come to mind and resonate with you – giving you the opportunity to acknowledge them and correct them next time.
Why this focus on what went wrong? Looking backward to identify issues gives you the opportunity to create a plan for the future and take action to improve your results. With the plan in place, you’ll be free from the emotional ups and downs that come with insecurity and indecision. You’ll create the confidence you need to move forward boldly.
Imagine how effective your next sales campaign would be if you had a Simple Sales System you could implement confidently. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s create your plan together.
There’s more to the bottom line than revenue.
Money is necessary, for sure. Loving what we do as entrepreneurs doesn’t mean we work for free. That’s why sales systems are designed to hit revenue targets and generate results. We need to keep money flowing so creativity can flow too, right?
Certainly, professional satisfaction means looking at the bottom line – but there’s more there than just revenue.
Your business can consistently deliver to your bank account and still be a really bad fit for your life and goals.
So let’s avoid that!
Here are four things you should consider about how your business works that have nothing to do with revenue or cash flow:
How do you feel about things?
I call this the Authenticity Quotient. It’s also known as the “yuck factor” or that vague feeling in the pit of your stomach when things just aren’t true to how YOU want to show up in your market.
When evaluating your current sales system, it’s important to take a minute and check in with yourself by asking a few questions like these:
- How do I feel when I think about planning a new campaign? Excited and energized or filled with fear, dread, and feelings of overwhelm? Effective sales systems should give you a sense of positive pre-campaign anticipation, not nerves and anxiety.
- How do I feel in the days and weeks after the cart closes? If you’re exhausted, drained, and considering getting an entry level job in foodservice or retail, there’s something negative going on in your system. Maybe you’re doing too much. Maybe what you’re doing feels confusing or frustrating. Time to pause and check it out.
Intuitively, you know when you’re true to your personality and perspective. You know deep inside when you’re honoring your body’s energy levels and engaging authentically with your tribe. When things are off internally, you know something needs to change.
How is your audience responding to your message?
A healthy sales system creates a natural, positive audience response to each campaign. Rather than feeling surprised, annoyed, or frustrated by the message, people on your list are relieved because they finally have an opportunity to buy your stuff. They’ve been reading your posts, getting to know you, and thinking about how your product or service would make a difference for them. When you open the cart, they eagerly check out the offer and consider it carefully.
Is that what happens when you promote something?
Or does engagement drop off and the unsubscribe rate start climbing? When your sales system is misaligned, your audience can tell. They stop connecting, commenting, and asking questions. They get quiet – ignoring your content and waiting for the campaign to end, so things get back to normal.
What is the state of your business operations?
This question (also known as “what did you neglect so you could promote something?”) is about the balance in your business and the operational costs of your sales system.
Healthy sales systems are a normal function of business and create minimal disruption. Customer issues are still resolved, a product still ships, and administrative work gets done. Sure, your energy might be focused on the current campaign, but not to the exclusion of everything else.
Something is off when business operations grind to a halt during each sales campaign. The team is so busy spending nearly 100% of their available time and energy “launching” that everything else is pushed to the backburner. Task lists get longer and longer as customer issues are neglected, and shipments are backlogged. When the cart closes, everyone heaves a sigh of relief and then looks around and the mess created while their attention was on sales.
So, is your sales system a balanced part of your normal operations? Or do you (like many of us) face an operational nightmare at the end of every sales campaign?
How’s the team doing? Working together or pulling apart?
Psychologists study stress all the time. They tell us that people under pressure either pull together to become a strong, cohesive unit or they come apart as issues divide them and anxiety becomes overwhelming. The difference is often due to training and leadership.
One thing is consistent, though. Stressful sales systems affect your team dynamics.
Think for a moment about your organizational team dynamics after your last sales campaign. What comes to mind in terms of interpersonal relationships, stress levels, and anxiety? Consider especially what your core team members were telling you in terms of their job satisfaction, energy levels, and dedication. Did they pull together or pull apart?
Now turn your attention to your experience as a leader. The campaign itself may have felt smooth, orderly, and positive. Or, it may have felt like you were gathering 1000 stray cats and attempting to train them to line dance.
Healthy sales systems give the team the tools they need to pull together. There are plans in place for overcoming challenges, and everyone is fully trained and able to handle their responsibilities. As the leader, you set the vision for each campaign and monitor the results – inspiring the team and supporting their efforts. No stray cats in sight.
The secret to repeatable results is a healthy sales system.
Sales don’t have to be chaotic and disruptive. Your sales system can be simple, straightforward, and authentic; perfectly aligned with the needs of your market, and carefully balanced with your normal business operations.
You can confidently and consistently attract customers who are ready to buy – in a way that’s simple and authentic – by making sure you maximize every aspect of your bottom line.
How’s your bottom line? You CAN create a simple sales system that’s perfectly aligned with your business. Let me show you how.
Want a repeatable sales process? You’ve got to track metrics.
But not just any old metrics. Track the numbers that matter – the ones that help you really evaluate how you’re doing and give you insight so you can make better decisions.
You don’t need to go overboard and track everything – unless that gets you excited, in which case you have my permission. (And let’s hang out.)
But there are 5 key metrics you don’t want to forget:
Moola – revenue and profitability
Ah, revenue. We love you. We get excited about “six-figure launches” and sustainable, high producing sales processes. Revenue is easy to track (just look at your bank account) and it’s fun to watch and report. The more revenue you bring in the better you’re doing, right?
Not necessarily. Revenue alone is only part of the equation.
Along with the grand total revenue number, there’s a little thing called profitability. It’s easy to ignore in all the excitement of a sales campaign, but it’s really the more important of the two metrics. It’s the amount of revenue you actually get to keep and spend (ahem – reinvest) in the future.
If you want a repeatable sales process, track sales expenses right alongside revenue:
- What did all those Facebook ads cost?
- How many labor hours did you add to the budget to support this campaign?
- Did you buy new software or pay for graphics?
- What about payment processing fees and hidden expenses?
Add up the expenses and subtract them from the revenue. That’s your profit – and it’s a super important metric for decision making. That six-figure launch of your dreams might not be as profitable (after the advertising spend required to get that revenue) as a simple promotional campaign to your existing list or a joint venture with a strategic partner.
List Growth – who they are and how they found you
Promotion (done right) does more than sell your products and services. It expands your reach and grows your audience. In fact, list growth can be the most important result of a sales campaign in terms of creating a repeatable, reliable sales process for your business.
So make sure you track the numbers, okay? But don’t stop there.
I suggest you take the time to dive a little deeper and get to know the new people on your list. Some may fit your ideal client profile for this campaign while others may be looking for another of your products or services. Still others joined because they were intrigued with your mission or message but they aren’t ready to do much about it yet.
When you discover who they are (and how they found you) you can begin to build a closer relationship with them – and create reliability in your sales process.
Traffic – it’s not all created equal
Traffic is a good thing, right? More eyes on your website, more people engaging with your promotional materials, content, and webinars. You can find lots of advice from sales gurus and experienced marketers encouraging you to drive more and more traffic to your stuff so you can get better results.
Sorry, I’ve gotta do a little myth busting here.
You want more sales and more brand engagement, not necessarily more traffic. Volume doesn’t matter as much as quality – and quality is all about engagement.
There are a lot of tools to help you track the sources of your online traffic – which I call traffic paths. Google Analytics is one of my favorites. With just a little practice you can dig into the details – and get insight into how people engage with your stuff once they land on it. Once you’re armed with that information, you can make decisions about which traffic paths to expand which to move away from or minimize. After all – the more you know about which of your traffic paths is the healthiest, the more reliable your results will be.
Conversion rates – break down the results strategically
Okay, let’s get serious about marketing metrics and take those traffic numbers we’ve just talked about and put them to work. (Caution: Math Trigger Warning) Time to figure out the conversion percentage for each main marketing channel you usually use.
Hang with me, this is good stuff. I promise.
Let’s talk hypothetically about a typical promotional sales campaign with traffic paths that include Facebook advertising, email marketing, a free webinar, and a series of blog posts. All this stuff can feel like a ton of work – especially when you only have a small team to implement all of it.
Many people I speak to (post campaign) use words like “simplify” and “avoid burnout” when sharing goals for future sales cycles. They want to scale back the effort without scaling back the results. But, it’s pretty tough to do that without an analysis of conversion rates by tactic.
Here’s how you do it:
- Determine your traffic numbers by tactic (i.e. how many people came to your site from Facebook ads).
- Determine how much of that traffic converted into a sale (i.e. how many of the Facebook ad people bought your stuff).
- Divide the conversion number by the traffic number for that tactic to get the conversion rate (the math part).
Yes – it takes a little planning (so you can gather the information you need) and a little math but the results are rich. Once you know that your email marketing campaign converts at 11% but Facebook ads only convert at 2% (for example) you can make decisions on how to invest your resources – and spend money building and nurturing your list in between promotions rather than buying ads during the campaign. Powerful stuff, isn’t it?
Customer Acquisition Cost – not for the faint of heart
The big kahuna of sales campaign metrics is this one – How much did you pay to acquire each new customer? It takes a little more math to get this number, but it’s worth the effort because once you know this you can create a reliable, repeatable sales process for your business.
One you know how much money you need to invest in Facebook (or email marketing, blog content creation, promotional webinars, etc.) to get a single new customer you can totally scale your sales system.
- If every $5 you spend on Facebook ads yields one direct sale of $50 is a pretty good deal. You may want to invest more heavily in Facebook ads. (CAC = $5)
- If it takes $500 in Facebook ads to fill a webinar (with 100 people) that yields 10 sales of $50 each (CAC of $50) you might need to think a little longer about using a webinar in the future.
It’s not the size of the customer acquisition cost (CAC) that is most important. It’s the size relative to the revenue generated per sale. A CAC of $5 that represents 10% of revenue generated per sale is just fine. It’s okay to have a CAC of $50 that represents 10% of revenue generated per sale too. But when your CAC is 100% of the revenue generated per sale, you’ve got a problem.
Head spinning with numbers and not sure where to start? That’s ok! Let me help you create a Simple Sales System to get repeatable results (without too much math). Learn more here.
You’re walking down the street, and you see a new shop has opened up. In a few short seconds you take in the storefront, the window display, the signage and you decide if you want to go in. This is how customers approach your website.
When a new visitor to your site arrives, they’re making quick judgments: who are you? What do you do? Are you a good fit? Can they trust you? And your website is giving them answers.
While some websites need a complete refresh, there are a lot of things you can do to make your site more user-friendly in just a couple of hours.
Start by coming up with 1-2 main goals you want your website to accomplish. Do you want people to buy something? Sign up for your email list? Get lost in your blog archives? Pick a goal, then make your website serve that goal.
Delete half the items from your main menu.
Okay, okay. Maybe you don’t have to remove half of them, but I see lots of websites – especially e-commerce sites – with 6-10 items in their main menu (also called navigation). Humans can only process about seven pieces of information at a time, so if you’re sitting in that 6-10 range, your visitors are probably tuning things out. Instead, aim for no more than 4-5.
But what if all 6-10 pages are absolutely necessary?
- Bump some items down to a footer menu. People are used to scrolling down to find contact, about, FAQ, etc. if it’s not at the top.
- Make use of hierarchical navigation, e.g. click on “jewelry” then click on “rings” instead of having rings, necklaces, bracelets, and tiaras all listed separately in the main menu.
Show your newest stuff first.
The top of your homepage is prime real estate, so use it to show your latest and best stuff. But don’t then clutter it out of importance by showing off every single thing you have on offer. Keep your homepage focused on the primary goal(s) of your website.
Tell people where to go next.
So they clicked on a blog post or an item in your shop. Now what? Show customers other things that they will like: related blog posts, your “hire me” page, or similar products. Build a path for them to follow through your site, so they see as much as possible.
Think of your website like IKEA. If IKEA were just a wide open warehouse, it would be even more overwhelming, and you wouldn’t see half the stuff. But they tell you exactly how to get through it, and you always end up leaving with more than you intended.
Say the magic word.
“Get a free ebook!”
“Get 10% off your first order!”
We looooove getting. If you’re trying to encourage people to take the next step, like joining your newsletter or taking advantage of your super awesome special offer, focus what they are going to get. I don’t love filling out my contact information, but I do love getting 10% off.
Make it easy to read.
Increase your font sizes. Don’t make your customers squint to read the product details on the blouse that just caught their eye.
Don’t use more than two fonts. Period. (And don’t use more than three colors without the help of a professional.)
Proofread before you publish. Grammar and spelling mistakes will make you look unprofessional and erode trust. If writing isn’t your strong point, use an app like Grammarly or Hemingway. They’re like a nerdy friend who is always available to help.
Use short paragraphs. Long paragraphs seem daunting and are more likely to be skipped over. You didn’t stay up late writing the perfect blog post so that people could skip over it.
Make use of headers and subheaders! These help break up your writing into smaller pieces so readers can find the information they want.
Show happy customers.
Whether you sell products or services, potential customers want to know that someone else has bought from you before and been happy with the result. Build trust by displaying testimonials, accreditations, product reviews, or a “featured in” section.
Don’t date yourself.
If it looks like your website hasn’t been updated in six months or a year, people will wonder if you are still in business or if it’s actually safe to input their credit card information.
Timestamped content can appear in blog posts, the copyright information in the footer, and even some sentence in your bio that is referencing “last year in 2011.” There’s no hard and fast rule about what looks out of date, but the copyright should be within the last year or two and if you’re not updating your blog at least every six months, remove the date.
Declutter your blog’s sidebar.
Get rid of the tag cloud and the month-by-month archives. And before you get smug for clearing that out years ago, get social media buttons out of there too! I had mine in the sidebar until recently (when I really decluttered and got rid of my sidebar entirely). The purpose of the sidebar is to show people what other awesome stuff they can do/read on your site – not send them away from it!
Produce quality content.
Of course, none of this stuff matters if your photography is bad and your blog posts don’t help your customers. But on the flip side, you don’t want your amazing content to be sabotaged by a confusing website layout. Getting people to visit your website is hard enough, so you might as well make the most of it when they’re there!
About the author
Elise Epp is a graphic designer for creative entrepreneurs who make and sell clothing and home goods.
Functional and refined, her made-to-measure visual branding and websites capture who her clients are now and where they’re going next. She has been pursuing an ethical wardrobe since 2015 and loves cats, feminism, and ice cream. (She also designed the new KylaRoma.com, which we adore!)
No matter what kind of business you run, if you have multiple offers, you have an active marketing calendar. And that can make it feel like no matter how well you plan a launch, you never really get a break from promotional crunch time. Even with a great team, solid routines, and knowing what’s coming down the pipe, getting your work out into the world can mean you’re locked into late nights and working last minute.
Didn’t you want to work for yourself, so you had more freedom, not less?
Make it Sunday dinner, not Super Bowl Sunday
Over time, most of us develop some simple routines for promoting our businesses that are pretty strong. (Yes, even if our inner Type A personality is sure we could be doing more.) These are what I’d call Sunday dinner style marketing routines because they’re the ones you’ve managed to commit to and stick with over time.
- Batch your time and schedule Instagram to create a feed your audience loves.
- Diligently and regularly write to your newsletter subscribers.
- Create branded images for each and every blog posts.
- Reply to all comments on your favorite social media site.
- Make time to measure what is and isn’t working for you.
Sunday dinner style marketing is different for every business, but everyone has it. The key to its success is that you’ve found a way to make it a regular, reliable part of your business.
Then you have live event style marketing: product and course launches, webinars, live streaming and “cart closing in X days!”
These often feel more like planning Super Bowl Sunday instead of Sunday dinner. You set huge goals. Try a million new things. Invest what always feels like too much money (and then afterward, not enough) and end up in stressful conversations with ourselves that feel like the small business equivalent of:
“QUICK! WHERE CAN I GET INSURANCE FOR 1200 DRONES IN THE NEXT 3 HOURS?!? NO, I DO NOT WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER! DON’T YOU DARE PUT ME ON HOLD!”
Having a live launch, or you have an upcoming real-time sales deadline for your business can be very tense and high-stakes.
There’s money involved, a very clear pass / fail metric that we set up for ourselves, and often we haven’t made a plan that makes success inevitable for us.
Is it any wonder that so many of us hate this kind of marketing?
The alternative? Ramp down Super Bowl Sunday marketing and make it into Sunday dinner, through self-knowledge.
How to plan a launch on your strengths and personality:
- Consider what already works for you, and what already doesn’t. Self-knowledge is free and worth its weight in gold. Get honest with yourself, and list out your strengths and opportunities (places where things aren’t working) when it comes to sharing your work and attracting customers.
– What kind of work is the most time-consuming for you?
– Which parts require your unique insight?
– What doesn’t?
– What would take the most work off your plate if you outsourced it?
Then do something about it. You get no points for knowing, only for acting on that knowledge. Delegate. Ask for freelancer recommendations. Even better? Design your plans, so you don’t have to use your least valuable skills. Just because Michael Jordan can mow his lawn, that doesn’t mean he should.
- Don’t wait until a huge business goal is on the line before you start sharing your work. Build routines you can stick with now. If you want to do more blog or podcast interviews for your launch, start building relationships and pitching now. If you want to have more subscribers for your launch, start learning how to write guest posts and create lead magnets now. This gives you time to learn how your chosen tactic works, get your feet underneath you and give yourself time to adjust and fine tune before you add huge stakes to the mix. When it really counts, you can now draw on your experience, strengths, and self-knowledge to knock it out of the park.
- Build a bare minimum marketing plan and a full throttle marketing plan. When my clients sit down to write a plan for how they’ll market their business on a month to month basis, most of them come back with big, elaborate plans. Plans that would be hard to execute if they had nothing else on the schedule for three weeks. They have great ideas, but they’re often not based on their actual available time and resources. So write that plan! Get all your ideas out, and call it your full throttle plan. Then write a version you or your team can absolutely move forward on if you only had 5 hours a week. Start working that bare minimum marketing plan first, and add in elements of your full throttle plan once you have the minimum handled.
- Edit, edit, edit. Take everything off your list that’s there because you see other people doing it, or feel like you probably should be doing but aren’t familiar. Leave at most one of these items on if you can’t help yourself. Then add in anything you can do that leverages your business’ promotion personality instead. (You’ll actually do these things!)
- Make a repeatable plan, not a one-time blowout. Instead of marketing for upcoming events one by one, make one plan for the style and size of marketing campaign you’re working on. (Is it a small, evergreen sales funnel? A big, live launch for a course that’s available for a limited time?) First create a checklist or plan for how you market that kind of thing in your business, then make it specific to your offer. Now you never have to start from scratch on this kind of project again, just use your checklist. Bonus points if you reflect afterward on making sure your plans are sustainable and don’t leave you feeling bottomed out.
It’s tempting to look for listical posts packed with tactics that promise to vault you ahead of the competition. (Surprise! They often just land you in tech support hell or sounding like an infomercial.) It is much easier to win with a strategy based on knowing who you are, who your customers are and what lights you up!
Wondering how to plan a launch – or a year of launches – with low stress, Sunday dinner style marketing that wins great results? Click to learn more about our Simple Sales Workshop that will get you there in three days.
Marketing and attracting attention to your work can be draining – even more so if you launch your offers throughout the year. Marketing your business can turn your plans upside down, fill your calendar with overdue to do’s and turn the best delegators into bottlenecks. The pressure and chaos of selling or launching live can suck the fun out of having your own business. (Unless you use your promotion personality to plan for it.)
A system that leverages your personal strengths is nothing short of a superpower.
And when marketing or selling your work feels unmanageable, it just means that somewhere in your process, you can make success easier. (And probably lower your stress while you’re at it.)
First, let’s understand the vicious cycle of launch shame
When I first started working with clients on their launch plans, I saw that many marketing plans:
- Crammed in two weeks of increased online activity.
- Required posting at triple their normal rate, mainly with posts reminding people to buy.
- Hinged on live events that business owners saw others using, but hadn’t tried themselves yet. (Like webinars, interviews or live streaming.)
- Used a mix of new tactics that industry leaders were selling courses on in the previous months.
At that moment, working this kind of a promotion plan feels safe, but in reality, it sucks to live through it.
Now, I want to be clear: none of these things are wrong. But they are worth a second look because when we plan most of us choose to be busy rather than effective. While this plan is heavy on busy, if you aren’t starting with a large, engaged list it’s not particularly useful.
In practice, here’s how this kind of promotional plan plays out:
First, you plan to post, share and show up online a lot in a short period. You get through it by sheer force of will, tell yourself “I DID IT!” and then don’t measure your work (aside from hitting refresh on your email for sales notifications) because the anxiety monster has taken over. You feel like a failure if your launch doesn’t go as planned but there’s no time to adjust. You start supporting your customers but feel lousy. In your down time, you consider how you can re-package or stop selling this offer instead of looking at how you marketed it. In time, you may flat out decide that selling or marketing your work isn’t for you.
Here’s why this kind of a launch plan has such a tendency to backfire:
- This plan is made up of the most visible aspects of how other people launch, not on a deep knowledge of what will work for you and your business.
- Two weeks isn’t enough time for your message enough to gain traction. The pros seed their big new ideas into content and ad campaigns over months, so their audience doesn’t feel overloaded. They plan promotions and joint ventures months in advance. They end up with many small ways to test people’s reactions to their work before anything ever goes on sale.
- Reminding people you have something to purchase doesn’t drive engagement. A high posting frequency won’t change that. (Content that engages with your audience throughout the launch will.)
- Using new tactics during a launch can be time-consuming and frustrating. It leaves less time for you to focus on your message because you’re worried about the tech. If you’re not focused on your message, your audience won’t be either. Instead, ease into using these tactics in the months before your launch. Try live streaming or a webinar that gives 100% value to your audience with no strings attached. They won’t mind, I promise.
- It’s not collaborative. Most of us prefer to stay in the realm of what we know, so we focus on our blog, send newsletters and post on social media. These behaviors mean we’re only sharing our content with warm traffic, or people who know us already. Our businesses all need us to have other mechanisms in place – ideally collaborations – to draw in new audience members who are ready to buy.
These are just a start, but they’re part of why this kind of a small and safe launch can work against your goals. Together, the results of these strategies can deliver a critical hit to our egos. They discourage smart people from putting themselves out there, which prevents their people from finding their work. Talk about lose-lose.
The remedy? Simple, reliable systems that make it easier for your business to succeed.
Raise the bar. Also, measure it.
Before you cram your calendar full, set up ways to measure what works for your business. They can be as simple as asking “Where do our customers come from?” and using bit.ly links so you can quickly tell how many people get to your sales page from Instagram vs. Facebook vs. your email list.
These simple measures can give you the answer to the question: what is it that my business absolutely can’t launch without? Make sure your calendar has lots of that, and make the rest of your marketing sprinkles on top.
Then, take a look at your everyday work. What keeps piling up? What are you always behind on? Outsource it already! Where can you identify similar work in your launch plans? Outsource it too!
Assess what works, and look for roadblocks before you get too committed to your plans. There’s often an easier, just as effective way hiding out a few questions away.
Use your promotion personality to your advantage.
Hidden within your everyday life are natural ways you move through the world. These are strengths. They probably don’t feel like strengths to you; they’re just how you operate. Your business has these too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur or your business runs with a ten person team. Leveraging these strengths can make it much easier for you to succeed. The trick is you need to make time to reflect on them.
Before you make your plans, reflect on your promotion personality and stack the deck in favor of your success:
- How do you and your team love to communicate?
- Which ways of communication drain you and your team, or tastemakers for last?
- What kind of community is engaged around your business? A small group of engaged taste makers? A broad community? How does your community naturally interact with each other and with your business?
- What are the most energizing ways for you or your team engage with your audience?
- What collaboration opportunities are you most excited about, right this moment?
- Of your existing habits and routines, which are most powerful at keeping you and your team moving forward?
- Be really honest with yourself – What should you probably stop doing?
These questions can start to build a profile of your business’ promotion personality. In other words, the strategies and simple changes that make success easier or harder to accomplish.
Then look at your plans through this lens. What choices can you make to work with these tendencies, so it’s easier for you to succeed?
Wish you could market your business in a low stress, high success way all year round? The Simple Sales System Workshop is exactly that. Click to explore it here.
If you’re a freelancer or business owner, having a path to follow as you learn new skills can be a huge help. You already have enough decisions to make! When it comes to an area as complicated as sales having a proven formula to follow is tempting.
And yet, like we discussed last week:
Your business has a different audience, different message, and different personality. How you share your work with the world needs to be different fit.
In other words, cookie-cutter isn’t going to cut it.
Deep down we know that there is no magic formula that guarantees results. And yet, we keep looking for them! But there are good reasons to call off the search for the magic bullet.
Allow me to introduce my doppelgänger
A simple sales system that reliably shares what’s unique about your business can make your work fascinating. Airlifting in someone else’s sales formula speak for you creates a big problem in the long term.
Using someone else’s formula means your business now has a “normal” voice and a “sales” voice. Your business will also have “normal” engagement and behavior and “sales” engagement and behavior. While you may make some sales, selling can’t feel natural if it means you start to act like someone else.
For your customers, it’s about as normal as if every full moon you spoke twice as loud, in the third person and refused to acknowledge your new quirk (if anyone had the courage to ask).
No, you’re not pulling it off.
Yes, it will freak people out.
No, that doesn’t put them in a buying mood.
Shortcuts don’t replace understanding
When you buy a “proven sales formula” you don’t know what is behind the specific choices that were made. That means you may end up with one funnel that works… but without the key insights that would help you build another. You can’t take what works and incorporate it into your business as a whole.
There’s a real cost to buying a shortcut that speeds you past understanding. That cost is lost sales in other sales funnels, since you can’t duplicate your results without duplicating the formula. (Which your customers might notice!) You also pay in lost profitability by getting locked into a pattern of buying more formulas instead of building on your insight.
Never mind the emotional cost of worrying that savvy friends and customers will spot your formula marketing. (Spoiler alert: We see you using that swipe copy, girl.)
There’s a better way: a simple sales system that multiplies your message through your unique strengths and reliably attracts ideal customers and steady sales.
Even better, it’s based on straightforward choices that you already know the answers to. That means it can start to serve you as soon as you start building it. Here are two examples of ways a cookie cutter solution can’t beat a simple, custom sales system.
Ready to get specific?
Take a moment to think about two or three of your best customers. The people who valued your work and who just got it.
Hold those best customers in your mind, and ask yourself:
- How much did they already know about the problem they wanted help solving?
- What had they tried before? Anything they hadn’t heard of? Did they ask for any clarification?
- What words or phrases did they use to talk about their problems?
Simple questions like this are a fast track to speaking your customer’s language. If you know how much your customers know about the nuance of their problem and of a possible solution, you can speak to customers at exactly that level. And language is a simple way to find out.
If you’re a web designer, pay attention to if your customer contacts you asking about blogs, website or their online presence.
Are you a photographer? Then listen to see if customers ask about portraits or booking a session.
If you’re a jewelry designer, notice if people ask about necklaces or statement pieces.
Those small differences reflect what your best customers look for when they want to buy. Tune into subtle ways your best customers are different from the rest, and then mirror that back at them to attract more of them.
A simple sales system that you build for your brand can easily take these details into account, in a way that cookie cutter formulas just can’t. They create endless micro-opportunities for your work to resonate and excite your best customers, and to build trust with future customers who aren’t ready to buy.
What works for you > what works for everyone else
The biggest temptation of buying someone’s proven sales formula is, of course, that it’s meant to work. (Even if that’s not really how it works out.) And the beauty of this kind of a promise is that we can give ourselves a pass on monitoring their results.
I’m here to officially call B.S. on this, guys.
In fact, one of the top issues that I see clients struggle with is not pausing to look for patterns in their business around what worked and what didn’t.
Moving forward without this step is called guessing, and it’s not strategic.
Your business is full of information on what your audience loves and what they don’t respond to. The clues are everywhere and they hold more growth potential for your business than what experts say is working for them. Yet many of us skip over this crucial step.
Instead, be thorough and tap into what’s working for you:
- Research which lead magnets and blog posts are performing best for you? What topics do they address?
- Look at your newsletter data and find out what your top 10 performing email subjects are? Are they written in a specific style, like a “how to” or listical (5 ways to…)?
- Research what the ten most shared posts on your website are. What themes do you see?
- Do you know where people who buy from you find out about you? If not, can you start asking?
And don’t just ask these questions once – ask them at the end of every campaign, at the end of every quarter. If you don’t, who will?
Don’t follow the crowd, be a leader
These questions will give you the chance to make small guesses about your audience that you can test. They’ll give you insight into who your audience is right this moment, and that’s useful.
It doesn’t mean that your audience, right at this moment, is the right one for you.
If your work sells well, you have engagement with your audience and like your customers, then amazing! You’re attracting the right people. The answers to the questions above can help you build on what’s working.
If you have engagement but your product isn’t selling, if your customers aren’t buying or don’t see the value in your work? Then you’re attracting the wrong crowd, my friend. The answers to the questions above will give you insight into what’s drawing in the wrong people. It’s your job to start changing it up and write only what would appeal to your best customers. Look for ways to make changes, so you’re speaking their language and teaching at their level to repel the wrong people and bring in the best ones.
Even if it’s a muscle you’re still building, there’s no magic formula that can replace your insight into your business.
Wish you had a guide through the process of building a sales system that uses your voice, your strengths and profitable routines you can stick to? Then you need to take a sneaky peek right over here.