(that actually get opened)
What’s one of the things (if not the first) you do to you start your day? If you said check email, you’re not alone. In fact, according to HubSpot, 58% of mobile users say they check their email first thing. And many people check their emails up to 20 times a day. If they’re awake for 10 hours, that’s twice an hour. In short, email isn’t dead.
Know what is going to kill email? Emails sent without good planning or the right intent. This is how SPAM is created.
Think about it - what emails do you either immediately trash or once opened delete? Ones that are constantly trying to sell you something or promote a sale or the like. The emails you open, maybe even keep, are ones that give you information without a catch. Sure, sales emails will still get opened, but they get better results when they aren’t the only emails sent.
I believe there are 3 main types of emails: Sales, Continous, and Welcome. Knowing how and when to use these are important to help you stay out of the SPAM folder and ultimately email purgatory (aka Blocked List).
Just as the name implies, these simply welcome new customers and remind them what they signed up for. These are usually part of a bigger campaign but I feel they need more recognition because they’re either not used well or, worse, not at all. When someone gives you their email, tell them they’ll receive a welcome email so they know to look for it in case it ends up in the Promotions tab (for Gmail users) or SPAM. When they open this email, they’re telling their ESP (that’s Email Service Provider aka Google, Yahoo, etc) you’re good to be in their inbox. Feel free to throw in a freebie or extra something to encourage them to open it as well.
You may be more familiar with the term “newsletters” but my research (that is, a social media poll) says that term is outdated. And truly these emails shouldn’t look like a mini-newspaper. They should focus on 1-2 topics at most. And these are to give information that may or may not directly correlate to your business. No selling or promotions, just useful items that the receiver is glad to know or can reference. For example, if you have a lawn care business, tell them how to care for it between mows. Service and repair HVAC systems? Send a reminder to check their filter, maybe recommending the best type for different households. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just helpful and informational. And because you sent a Welcome email that they’ve opened, you should end up in their inbox. Have a set schedule of how often you send these whether weekly, every other, or monthly (no less than that). Your schedule should be set by how much relevant information you have to offer. NEVER send an email just to send an email - it's better to skip than fill a void with garbage. ESPs and your email list are much more forgiving if you miss than social media.
These truly don’t need a lot of explanation but more advice. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes - will this sale, promotion, or whatever you decide to call it be relevant to them? If you use % off, don’t make them do the math, tell them what that equals. Keep these to no more than 1-3 times a month, but again, only if it's relevant AND they're expecting it. My biggest piece of advice - GET PERMISSION. This means you give them the chance to say “no I don’t want that to clutter my inbox” helping your open rate and deliverability rate by staying out of the trash and SPAM folders. I ask it right up front when it comes to my email sign-up list:
Emails don’t need to be complicated, but they DO need to be considerate. Don’t let your emails give customers a reason to sigh and eye roll. Give them good information right from the start and you’ll see happier customers from it.
“Email is dead. Nobody reads them anymore.”
“Yeah, I have a website…I think that’s on there, I haven’t looked in a while.”
Maybe you’ve said one of these or something similar. More than likely you’ve heard one of them.
Many business owners think “social media is the only way to reach my customers!” So they rack their brain to come up with content (if you’ve tried to do a TikTok trend, no judgment), pay for ads, or pay someone else to do it for them.
You may wonder why I don’t offer social media as a service. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it. I have a like/hate relationship with it (and yes, I mean like because I don’t love it). I actually used to - it’s what kept me the busiest.
So why give it up?
Here are my 3 reasons:
1. Results - I got tired of fighting the algorithm. I’m a word person, not a numbers and analytics person. I’ve done both daily posting and infrequent posting, tried hashtags at the top of the list and those more towards the bottom (and made up a few), and even have multiple accounts (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter [although I’ve not really tweeted in YEARS]). Social media was my bread and butter, but I felt like I was always left with crumbs. Worse than that, I struggled to get the results. I decided it wasn’t my specialty (although I do know an amazing social media manager). Emails are either opened or not, clicked in or not. Websites are visited, clicked through, and you’re either contacted or not (really there’s more to it but I’m keeping it simple to save you the reading!).
2. Control - Not for myself, but for my clients. There’s a saying that you shouldn’t build on rented land. That’s what your profiles are - owned by someone else. If you only use social media for your business marketing, what would you do if it shut down tomorrow (think Vine, Myspace, etc)? Plus you’re fighting more than the algorithm - you really don’t have any true say about how you’re seen or what’s displayed. Ever had a picky landlord? You can’t paint the way you want, remodel, or even plant something unless they give you permission. And as I’ve always said, social media is the mean girl of marketing, where email is like a bouncer - you’ve just gotta be on the right list (aka contacts). And websites should work like your top salesperson. You tell it what to say and how to say it, giving it all the info it needs to talk to potential customers about your business. And if you don’t send anything or update for a month, they are much more forgiving.
3. Specialization - I’ve been a generalist. I offered any type of copywriting for any type of marketing I could. I’ve done billboards and radio along with brochures and flyers. I can be a Jill of all Trades but that just means I’m stretched thin and only know some of each. I decided (ok was FINALLY convinced) that it’s better to specialize because I can put all my efforts into learning about emails and websites. I don’t need to know the latest change in a platform, I only need to know what ESPs and Google are up to. I’ve made it my job to know others who specialize in the areas I don’t because marketing isn’t a one-way street but a multi-lane highway using various vehicles to reach your intended customers. I decided it was time to stop hogging the road before I crashed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use social media myself, both personally and professionally. Social media is made to be social after all. I’ve just found that it’s one thing to be social, it’s another to be personal. Emails and websites are personalized to you and your business. You get to decide the layout and wording. You choose the schedule and when it changes.
Keep your social media, but don’t forget to do the upkeep on the land you already own.
Maybe you have a website already in place. That’s great - a website can be your best salesperson (especially if you’re like me and hate sales!). Do you know if you have everything you need on that website to make sure it’s doing its job?
Recently, I was looking up a few potential clients to learn more about them on their websites. Kid you not, they looked like something out of the early 2000s. What’s worse, their about pages were almost identical and really said nothing ABOUT them.
If it’s been more than 3 months since you last looked at your website, I highly suggest checking these 4 areas on all your pages.
If you have links to other pages, make sure the flow from one page to the next still makes sense. More importantly, make sure it still works!
If you have links to other websites (especially in a blog [guilty]), check to make sure they still work and are what you intended to redirect customers to. You never know when another website will change or disappears altogether! No one wants to see a 404 Error page.
Updated Photos & Copy
If you don’t have photos on your website, it’s a good time to add a few. People like visuals, especially a friendly face.
If you already have photos, make sure they’re not out-of-date or don’t represent you well anymore. The same goes for employees and your own photo! As much as you love that photo from 10 years ago you had taken, it’s time to update it (If you’re in Des Moines, I highly recommend Julia Mae Photography).
The same goes for the wording (or copy) on your pages. Does it still say what you intended? Is it on point with your brand? Did you add a service or product that needs a spotlight? Make sure to note any figures from dates to dollars, too. If you’ve changed your prices, make sure your website reflects that. Otherwise, it’s like having a great salesperson walking around with an old pricing sheet - useless.
Answer Any “So What/Why Should I Care?” Questions
You’ve talked your services up, maybe even given the history behind the company. While that’s great, ask yourself this - if a customer heard you then asked “so what?” or “why should I care?” then you’re missing a great opportunity to gain them as a customer. You want to tell them how you fit into their life, no matter the service or product you offer.
Talking WITH Them, Not AT Them (We vs You)
Most important when it comes to the copy, swap out any “I” or “we” with “you”. It helps make it conversational and relatable (just don’t forget to change the verb, too!). Think about it - which do you like more:
I provide copy for service businesses in email campaigns and websites.
You’ll get copy for your email campaigns and websites that takes your customers from happy with you to RAVING about you.
These are a simple overview of what you should be checking on your website on a regular basis. Curious if you’re website is up to par? Grab a FREE website checklist - grab a spot on my weekly email called Monday Marketing Morsels (or monthly Friday Follow Up, your choice!) and get marketing tips and advice right in your inbox: http://eepurl.com/gPTfBL
Now - GO CHECK YOUR WEBSITE!
If you’re like me, you had that one “friend” growing up who was actually a bully. The friend who wanted you around but decided what you played, when, and sometimes even with who.
The worst part for me was when I realized I was her last resort for her as a friend.
I was convenient (I lived across a street - well really a highway) and my family didn’t do a whole lot or go to too many places so I was usually available whenever. If her other friends weren’t available, Kristi was! I’ll never forget that I actually believed her when she said her brothers would beat me up if I didn’t do what she wanted (they were both in high school when we were in upper elementary but probably the nicest guys you’ll meet). As the baby and only girl, she was pretty used to getting what she wanted. She was also bigger than me.
The day that I finally realized that she wasn’t a good friend to have and told her we couldn’t be friends anymore was very liberating (I even made her cry but not intentionally).
I felt the same way when I stopped offering social media as part of my services. Why?
Although social media can be great for business, it’s not made for business. It’s made for consumers. Its main job is to make the account holders happy and continue to be on their platform. Email on the other hand is much more neutral.
I look at it this way: Social media is like the mean, popular girls from high school and email is like a bouncer to a club.
“We only show your content on Wednesdays”
Why compare social media to mean girls? Let’s take a scene from the movie - Regina says that on Wednesdays they can only wear pink. She’s setting the rules. She decides who gets to date whom, and everything is done her way. Social media is the same. They control the algorithm. You want your posts to be seen? You’d better have an active group of followers, extremely relevant content consistently, or be willing to pay (a lot) to play (or be seen anyways). Not to mention, if you lose consistency, you basically have to start all over. Even on your personal feed I bet you’ve noticed friends you haven’t seen post in a while. They’re probably still posting - you either didn’t interact with their posts enough or they’re posting things the algorithm doesn’t think interest you.
“I’m on the email list”
Email on the other hand can seem intimidating but it’s all about who you know and who knows you. Just like a bouncer at a club, the ESPs (email service providers or the people who give you an inbox) are protective of your inbox. That’s why they created SPAM folders and features to block emails. Bouncers hold the list of people who are allowed to be in someone’s inbox and that list is created by the account holder. They don’t directly create the list but by what they open, reply to, send to, and click within. For example, if someone opens your email every time you send it, you’ll always be in the inbox (or, for my Gmail users, at the very least their Promotions folder) until they unsubscribe. Want a quicker way to the inbox? Encourage Gmail users to drag your email from their Promotions tab to their Inbox or others to add your email to their contacts list. You’ll be instantly VIP listed.
So while social media platforms are ok for business marketing, don’t put all your eggs in that basket. Something I’ve heard other marketers say is “what happens if that platform goes away tomorrow?” It can happen - remember MySpace? For years people have been trying to say email is dead, but I can assure you, it’s very much alive and well.
I’m also not saying that it’s email or nothing, but if email isn’t in your overall marketing strategy, you’re missing a key element. And if you’re asking for emails and NOT using them properly or at all, it’s never too late to start.
I’m sure you’re a great boss and your company is awesome. Maybe you have free coffee or even offer free lunch on Fridays. That’s great.
I just don’t want to work for you. Why?
I’d rather work WITH you.
Not as in my name is on your business documents but as in I’m your email and/or website copywriter. The person you consult with and trust to handle that part of your business. You still have the final say, but I do all the work.
How can we know if this partnership will work? Here are 3 areas that top my list to know if you're someone I want to work with (or continue to).
How you communicate
Something that took me a while to figure out is finding business owners who had a clear way to communicate, made their boundaries known, and respected mine. What do I mean by that? My working hours are 9AM to 3PM Monday through Thursday and Fridays are 9AM to 1PM. I don’t answer emails, phone calls, or text messages after business hours unless it would be a true emergency (i.e. something going to print, post, send, etc within the next hour). I communicate best by email or text but will get on a phone call if necessary. How does your communication style and boundaries line up with mine?
You don’t provide me with what I need
Before I start working, I ask for 2 things from you: fill out my Briefing Questionnaire and send out 3-5 emails for Voice of Customer research (I provide a template that you copy and paste). I may also ask for your logo in a .jpg and .png file and any other photos or images you have rights to that you want to use. I can’t start most of my work until these items are done. It’s no different than if you don’t have the right part or equipment to do the job - it has to wait until you do. I do create a shared Google Folder so you know exactly where it needs to go and where to go for all that I create for you as well.
You don’t provide constructive feedback
Telling me “I don’t like this” is not helpful when it comes to reviewing my copy. I only offer 2 rounds of edits so we don’t waste time with a lot of back and forth. To save many rounds of edits (and additional charges), I’d prefer to hear about:
Success doesn’t have “i” in it, but you also can’t spell it without “us”. As good of a copywriter as I consider myself, I can’t be successful if the client I’m working with doesn’t have at least have a basic understanding of these 3 points. These don’t just apply to me but any other freelancer, contractor, or business owner you work with. Think of the age old saying “treat others how you want to me treated.”
If you found yourself nodding along while reading this, and you’re ready to do more in your marketing efforts, take the next step and reach out!
Although polite, it still stings and makes you question. Was it me? Did I say too much? Or not enough? What went wrong?
It’s the same feeling you can get one someone unsubscribes from your email list or stops following you on social media. You may begin to doubt what you’ve been doing or saying. Feelings of self-doubt creep up with phrases like “you shouldn’t be doing this” and “you’re a failure.”
I’m here to tell you, unsubscribes and unfollows are a GREAT thing. You should celebrate when they happen. Not in an “I don’t need you anyway” sort of celebration but knowing you’re finding your people.
Don’t Take Unsubscribes and Unfollows Personally
These actions almost have nothing to do with you personally. Even if you’re building a personal brand, don’t let it shake you. Why? Because they aren’t the people you’re trying to reach. It’s better to be yourself and let your brand be honest and true than try to please everyone because YOU WON’T. You’ll waste time and money trying to do so. Find your people.
Better For Your Reputation with ESPs and Algorithms
Yes, an unsubscribe or follow might take give you a little speed bump, but it will actually work in your favor. For easy math (because copywriters do words not numbers) let’s say you have 100 subscribers. 58 of them or 58% open all your emails. That means 42% don’t. Now let’s say you lose 5 subscribers, non-of-which were those who open your emails. That means 58 of your now 95 followers are opening emails, upping your open rate to 61%, an increase of 3%. See what I mean? The higher percentage of your open rate (or activity of likes, comments, and shares) the better Email Service Providers (ESPs=Gmail, MCHSI, etc) will give you placement in an inbox. Think of it like a bouncer at a club - the higher your name is on the list, the quicker and better access you’ll have.
The Big “BUUUTTT”
No, not JLo. What I mean is, the only time unsubscribes and unfollows will hurt you is when they come in large numbers and all the time. If your numbers are on a steady decline, it might be time to reevaluate what you’re sending and posting. It’s better to not send or post than to continue to hurt your credibility. SIDENOTE: this is easier to do with email because you won’t get dinged by ESPs if you DON’T send (unlike social media). Some of your subscribers MIGHT notice, but those are just your superfans and it could be an opportunity to reward them for that status with a small gesture or freebie.
One last thing: update your list of subscribers and followers on a regular basis (think quarterly or annually). Send out an email to those who don’t open and see if they still want to be on your list. Some people change jobs which means their email is no longer valid or gives them a chance to decide if they still want to receive your emails. Like direct sales taught me - go for the no! You’ll always end up with more “yes” than you expect.
In short, it’s ok to let people walk away. They either don’t line up or they aren’t there YET. Keep putting insightful, helpful, and branded (aka personality) content, and you’ll see success. Marketing takes time, but it’s worth building your audience with quality fans!
**Need help keeping up with regular emails and even keeping your subscriber list clean? Let’s chat!**
I’m going to start this by saying I’m not an avid sports fan. I will gladly sit and watch the Ohio State Buckeyes (#sorrynotsorry to any Michigan fans) dominate the field during football season, but ask me what position someone plays and I’ll quickly look to my husband.
I at least understand the basics, including what a Hail Mary pass is. I like the play on words for this play, but also understand why it’s not the most useful one. Sure, it MIGHT get the job done or at least get the ball down the field, but you also risk an interception.
Here’s another reason I’ve become more familiar with this term - too many business owners are doing the same thing with their marketing. They throw up a boosted post or social media ad and hope for the best. Or they do an “email blast” to every email address they’ve ever been given (or - GASP - from an email list they bought) about a sale and think “that’ll do it.”
Do you get a quick result? Sure, you’ll get a few sales, I won’t deny it. What do you do when the email is stuck in their Promotions folder or worse, SPAM? Or if they tell social media “I don’t want to see posts from (YOUR COMPANY)”.
Marketing is Playing the Long Game
Marketing shouldn’t be about the quick wins, even though they will come. Marketing is a long process of trial and error. Effective marketing is planned out long in advance with business goals in mind. It’s not just “we need to do marketing” it’s “why are we marketing? What do we want the outcome to be?” And it can’t be just about sales - that’s like only going for a first down and not going for the touchdown.
Have The Plan Ready BEFORE You Start
No team gets on the field or court for a game without practice. You should look at your marketing in the same way. It should never be “Hey! It’s (RANDOM HOLIDAY) tomorrow. We should do a post/have a sale/send an email!” You might as well have asked 9-year-olds to sub in for your favorite sports team on the biggest game of their season. And just like teams watch old recordings of games (aka "review tape") to learn their opponent, you need to pay attention to what your competitors are doing. NOT to copy them, but to learn from them. What are they doing that’s working? Who are they targeting? What is their purpose?
Trust the Marketer Like a Good Coach Would
The coach knows the plays and their players, but the quarterback/point guard/captain is in the game. As the business owner you have a say, but trust what your marketer, whether in-house or hired out, is telling you. Ask questions and make the plans TOGETHER. That’s the secret sauce to success. The marketer shouldn’t call all the shots and neither should you. If you aren’t on the same team or at least headspace as them, call a time out and decide whether they are someone who you can be a team with or if you need to trade them out.
Marketing truly is a team sport. If any part of your marketing team, including yourself, decides to go all hot-shot and take over, they might score a few baskets/touchdowns/goals but ultimately will lose the game. Invest wisely in your marketing team, in-house or otherwise.
In the earlier stages of building a business or organization, meetings and networking become a big part of your day. It’s been no different in my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve enjoyed many cups of coffee (in person and virtually) learning about other businesses in the Des Moines metro and sharing my passion for what I do. Although meetings usually go well, when we get down to business about my marketing services, there are times where I start to see at least 1 of 5 reasons they probably won’t work with me anytime soon. And honestly, I’m usually glad they don’t because I wouldn’t want either of us to feel as though we made a bad business decision. Whether you are thinking of sitting down with myself or another marketer, it’s a good idea to consider these before you sign the dotted line.
In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of having marketing in your business’s budget. Before you consider sitting down with myself or any other marketer, make sure you have a monthly amount you’re ready to invest (and yes, you definitely want to see it as an investment, more on that below). More times than not, I’ll get the question “what do you charge?” Although I have set packages with pricing, I usually reply with another question, “What is your budget?” If you don’t have that answer, any price you would be given will give you sticker shock. I’m always willing to talk through any size budget and see if we can’t find the best bang for your business buck, but it’s better to have a budget set first.
Time is a precious commodity. It’s why many of us choose to start our own businesses - so we can spend more time doing what we love or with those we love. When you start an organization, you spend most of your time helping it grow, including all the marketing and communication. If you’re still in the early stages where you have the time to post on social media, send out emails, or create flyers, then you may not be ready to hire it out, and that’s ok. When those tasks start to go into the late hours of the night or the weekend, that’s when it’s time to work with someone like myself. My job is to help you continue to grow while making sure you have time to focus on other parts of your business or simply have more personal time.
Maybe you’ve heard how important it is to be marketing your business. Maybe people have asked why don’t you have any marketing materials. Maybe you’ve never really seen the importance of marketing but feel like it’s something you’re “supposed to do” as a business owner. If that’s your reasoning for sitting down with a marketer, I can tell you now the conversation probably won’t go well. Just like you know the importance of your products or service offerings, marketers feel the same about what they are offering you. My goal has always been to provide business owners with budget-conscience and high-quality marketing that helps them achieve their business growth goals. If I’m being honest, not fully understanding the importance of marketing is the biggest reason I don’t want someone to work with me. I want them to trust me and value what I bring to the table. I truly want to provide the best service I can and want to create a working relationship, not just a freelance contract or doing something they "should be" doing. When starting with a new client, I become one of their biggest cheerleaders because if I can’t get behind what they are about, then the marketing won’t be effective.
Your Values and Beliefs
I’m the first to shy away from conflict if at all possible. However, I’ve learned over the years that’s not the healthiest way to build a strong relationship with my clients. Early in my business, I had someone reach out needing some writing help. I didn’t ask questions because at that point I was taking anything that paid. I ended up realizing it wasn’t something I supported and had to tell them so. Even though they were upset, it was a valuable lesson about not taking on any and all clients. It had less to do with where I stood - if I don’t support or believe in something, I can’t get behind it and it will show in my work. The emotion won’t be there like it should. The words won’t be right. That’s why on my Contact page, the last question I have is about this topic. You might have a healthy budget, but if we don’t align, it’s a waste of money AND time for both parties.
This is slightly different than the part about time mentioned already. My schedule is sacred, both for my business and my family. I have set hours that I work so that I can spend time with my family. If your working hours are different than mine, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t work together. Where the issue comes in is the mutual respect of those schedules. My office hours are 9AM-3PM Monday through Thursday, and 9AM-1PM Fridays. That’s it. That’s not to say I may not pop on when an idea strikes or to meet a deadline, but in order to have balance, these are the boundaries I set. If a client can’t respect that, we aren’t going to work well (or very long) together. It’s hard to learn but so valuable for the sake of mental health. I don’t always want to be in “work-mode”. It’s a big part of the reason I left the corporate world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good conversation over coffee or lunch especially since Des Moines has so many great local spots. I also know that making the most of the other person’s time is also important. If you’d like to get together over coffee and get to know more about my business while I do the same for yours, great! I’m always looking to expand my network and have great people to refer to. If you truly think you’re ready to take the steps towards hiring out your marketing, then let’s get a meeting on the calendar.
In the early days of your business, you were wearing all the hats and doing all the things. And maybe you felt like you had it all in control.
Then you got busy - more clients, more appointments, more staff, more paperwork.
You may be working longer hours, later nights, or have multiple to-do lists that never seem to keep growing. Maybe a lot of those tasks keep getting put to the bottom. I bet a few are marketing tasks like social media posts, follow-up emails, and adding new employees to the website.
Or maybe I’m wrong.
If you’re not sure, have you caught yourself saying one of the following:
“Yeah, I meant to post/send/write that…”
You have so many great ideas but forget to write them down or, even if you do, you don’t get marketing created from it before it’s no longer relevant. Catch yourself saying “Yeah I meant to (fill in the blank)” more than once a week? It might be a good time to pass the marketing baton. Marketing can take time and good marketing takes even more. If you feel like your business time is better spent elsewhere, especially before you’re stretched thin, it’s a good time to start looking for some help.
“How do I know what tools I need?”
If you haven’t yet, give my blog about my top 9 ½ tools for small business marketing a quick read. There are SO many options out there to “make marketing easier” but it still takes some effort on your part. And that’s after you’ve learned how to use them. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the tools offered, many marketing companies and freelancers make it their job to learn them so their clients don’t have to. Many times the marketing firm has an upgraded version of the tool that makes your marketing more seamless without you worrying about the cost of the tools.
“Business is good and I’d like to actually have time for my (friends, family, hobbies, etc)”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we get into business to stop punching a clock and working long hours? Sure, when you first start your business, it’s expected but if your business is growing steadily and you’re seeing a decent profit, it’s a good time to add or increase your marketing line item in your budget. Even if you’re still early in business and trying to keep costs low, look at hiring an intern. Many need the hours to graduate college, but don’t let the thought of a "free intern" enter your mind. It’s a great chance for you to keep your cost low while giving them some great real-world experience they can put into their portfolio, and it will be well worth your investment to pay them a small salary. Reach out to a local university to see if they have a marketing program and let them know you’re looking for a student to hire. Otherwise, if you’re ready to pass it off and know it’s in the hands of a professional, and your budget is healthy for it, hire an agency or freelancer.
Know you’re ready and not sure where to start?
1. Decide if you need someone part-time (perfect for a college student) or full-time (this could be someone you hire in-house [another expense to consider] or an outside agency). Also look at what types of marketing you want done: email campaigns, social media campaigns (paid and unpaid), marketing strategy, marketing analytics, web content (new or updated), etc. Depending on what you list out, it will definitely make a difference in who you hire.
2. Next is to have a set budget in mind. One of the questions I ask on my Contact page is “what are you able to invest in this project?” I state that it’s not so I max out that amount but help you make the right decisions to stay within that amount. Also decide how you’re going to pay - all upfront, 50/50, monthly payments, etc
3. Finally, ask around for suggestions. See what other business owners are doing, who they recommend, etc. A great place to check is a local chamber. Don’t forget to do your own homework. Each agency and freelancer will have their own style and possible niche, so it’s good to see examples of work and a list of their past clients.
Don’t underestimate the power of your marketing. With the right plan in place, you’ll take your small business and make it grow, or make sure the growth continues. Most importantly, take care of yourself by knowing when it’s time to pass some of the balls you’ve been juggling before they all come crashing down.
“What is a copywriter?”
It’s the question that I’m either asked or can read all over someone’s face when I tell them what I do.
I LOVE doing what I do. I’ve also come to understand that many people don’t understand it, and that’s ok, too. When I do explain it, I can then see people imagining me sitting in front of a computer typing all day. As much as I love writing, that’s actually not true, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I DO spend a lot of time typing (for instance, this blog!), but there’s more that has to happen before the typing begins. And being a business owner myself, there’s more than the typical agency copywriter as well.
So here’s a little riddle: what do a successful copywriter, business owner, and tradesperson have in common? Great tools.
My tools are different than ones my woodworking husband may use, although my favorite of his is the Square. If you don’t know what one is, it’s a great play on words. You’ll understand after you see one, but I digress.
As I’ve grown my business, I’ve been careful when choosing tools to invest in. That’s why I’ve appreciated so many great ones either offering a trial or free version to give me a chance to grow and decide if it’s a tool I truly need. Over the years, I’ve found these 9 (and a half) tools to be useful for me as both a business owner and copywriter as well as for my clients’ projects.
This was probably one of the first I started using when I started my business. I always say I am NOT a graphic designer, but can make a graphic in a pinch. Thanks to Canva, they turn out pretty professional-looking, including the proper dimensions. The free version is great, but if you make a lot of graphics, I highly recommend buying the paid version. The free version gives you 100+ design types (social posts, letters, presentations, etc), hundreds of thousands of free stock photos and graphics (with the choice to purchase ones individually from the Pro plan), 5GB of Cloud storage, and a few other really helpful features. **SIDE NOTE** although Canva is wonderful, if you get a chance to work with a graphic designer, do it. They are amazingly talented people. If you need a recommendation, shoot me an email. Their Pro plan is $119/year or $12.99/mo for 5 team member access. **I used this for the cover image**
I consider myself a pretty organized person, but it’s always good to have a system to help. Trello is like a big sticky note board (and if you know me, I LOVE sticky notes!). You can make boards, color codes, and checklists. The free version is very helpful but you do have the chance to buy a subscription. In the free version you get 10 boards per workspace, unlimited cards, unlimited activity log, and a few others. Their standard version (which is good for a larger team) is $5/mo.
As much as I love writing, I know that my brain can move faster than my fingers. This website has been a great help as a virtual editor. You can have it read your copy back to you, spellcheck, and even see what your top keywords are. **SIDE NOTE** even though this is a great tool, don’t underestimate a real editor if you get the chance. They have a human brain which means they’ll catch more than a computer can. This one doesn’t actually have upgrades but has other tools like Random Word Generator, Citation Generator, and 7 others. **I used this as part of my editing process for this blog**
Another great tool for editing! As we’ve come to learn, we can’t depend on spellcheck 100% of the time. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Not only does it check for spelling but checks your grammar, gives suggestions on other words to try, proper use of commas, and more. It works as a Google extension helping with emails, Google Docs, and even social media posts! I don’t take all the suggestions it gives but appreciate the extra help, especially on emails. I haven’t had a need for the Premium upgrade but it has features like plagiarism detection. The Premium package is $12/mo. **I used this for live edits as I was writing this blog**
5. HubSpot CRM
This company has been on my radar for many years. With all they provide, I’ve especially appreciated their free Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program. They even have a Google extension and it works with my Gmail account. The CRM helps me keep track of all my emails for my business. I definitely haven’t been using it to its full potential, but the reports alone are super helpful. It can be used for lead generation, keeping track of your database, administrative tasks, and more. You can also get their other software like Sales, Customer Service, etc. Depending on what you want to upgrade to, the pricing will vary.
If you’re like me, your schedule is a bit sacred. I don’t like to dig through my calendar to find open slots when it comes to meetings either. Calendly is great because it connects with my Google calendar, let’s me set open slots for meetings, and even allows me to add a breather in between. The free version gives you a connection to Google, Office 365, Outlook, or iCloud calendars, 1 type of event (I do 30-minute meetings), and automated event notifications along with a few other features. It’s helpful, but the upgraded version has more helpful features, especially if you need various styles of meetings. The first upgrade is $8/mo per “seat”.
One of the newest tools I’ve added to my arsenal. It allows you to record yourself and I use it in two ways: emails and reports. You can send a personalized video to potential customers or as part of an email sequence. When I put together a report for my clients, I send a video walk-through that gives any extra details or answers any questions that may come up. In the free version you get screen recording (you’ll show up as a little bubble image in the corner), instant editing, unlimited transcriptions, and viewer insights. Upgrades start at $8/mo.
This has been my go-to Email Service Provider (ESP) for myself as well as my clients. It has some great Integrations like Canva and AddEvent (also free!). The free plan gives you a Marketing CRM and Creative Assistant along with website building tools if you want to make it seamless. The upgrade includes A/B testing and custom branding, but until you’re able to pay the $11/mo for the Standard plan you can always do a little manual labor to get the same thing if you want. The biggest reason to upgrade is Automations or what I like to call “If This Than That” campaigns. Depending on if a customer opens an email or not, there’s a sequence that automatically follows, or a scheduled campaign is created that starts with a certain action.
I will note that Facebook DOES have the ability to schedule for free as well, but if you use more than that platform, I recommend Buffer. The free version works for up to 8 social channels which means you can schedule for multiple Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn pages. A few of the features you get are scheduling posts, setting a specific schedule throughout the week, shortening links, and saving drafts. The upgraded version is $5/mo per social channel.
I consider this a half tool because I’ve only really used it for my Instagram. Since the Gram only allows one link in your bio, Linktr.ee is a bit of a workaround for that. With one link, you can have a list of buttons to blogs, service pages, articles, or whatever you want to share. Especially since you can’t add hyperlinks to your post, you can always direct people to your bio (which actually helps you with the algorithm BTW). The free version gives you unlimited links and the ability to match it to your brand colors. The upgrade costs $5/mo and gives you more customization and control to help drive more traffic and even allows you to schedule links to go live and be taken down automatically (but you can always just do it manually).
If you were to purchase all of these, it would cost you between $65-$75 a month. Not too shabby if you ask me. And just an FYI, none of these companies are paying to be on my list, these are truly tools I use all the time and have found them to be worth their weight.
There are lots of great tools out there for all different aspects of running a business and marketing. All you can do is try them and see what fits your needs best. Have a tool you think should be on the list? I’d love to hear about it!
Growing up, I was the only Kristi I knew. I was never confused with another girl named Kristi (although they always spelled my name wrong). I also went to an EXTREMELY small school. I’m talking less than a few hundred, from K-12. Like most schools, favorites were definitely played when it came to certain things.
My elementary PE teacher, who was also the high school volleyball coach (yep, that small), gave me a nickname very early on: Yamaguchi. If you’re not familiar, Kristi Yamaguchi was a popular Olympic figure skater in the 90s. When you got a nickname, it meant you were a favorite.
Or so I thought.
Fast-forward to high school and volleyball season. I might have had a nickname, but wasn’t as much of a favorite as I’d hoped to be. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I worked hard and even earned a varsity spot my sophomore year. I never saw time on the court. The nickname was all in vain. I gave up my senior year and turned in my uniform after the first 3 games where I was still a benchwarmer while freshmen were getting play time like Steph Curry.
So why share this unhappy-ending childhood story?
Because unlike mine, your business’s nicknames can have a positive outcome, especially for your branding.
See if you can name the associating brand with its nickname:
How’d you do:
Some of these have learned to take them on as part of their branding. In fact, in Australia McDonald’s is nicknamed Macca’s. For their 40th anniversary in the country, they changed their signage for a short time.
Then there are those who try to keep it too formal. Back in the day, Chevrolet was said to treat its nickname like a cuss word within the company, even putting out “swear” jars around the office.
If your business was given a nickname, learn to embrace it (as long as it’s a positive one). Just like I wore Yamaguchi like a badge of honor, you should, too. A good nickname means that your customers see you as a good friend, makes your business more relatable, and creates a bond with those who use it, like a club. The ultimate goal of a great nickname is to become a household name.
Let’s not forget about brand names who have become associated with its product:
Kleenex (facial tissues)
Q-Tip (cotton swabs)
Crock-Pot (slow cookers)
Chapstick (lip balms)
Sharpie (permanent markers)
And that’s just a small sampling.
If you don’t have a nickname, don’t try to create one. Nicknames for a business, like one you’d give a friend, shouldn’t be forced. If someone you kinda know named Bob tries to get you to call him Bear without any context, it would be weird.
The most important thing about your business is that people know it and want to keep coming back to it. Nickname or not, it’s all about your reputation and staying on brand. Better to have a good reputation than a bad nickname - just ask Canadian Tire.
My family was one of the crazies during the pandemic who started a larger garden in 2021. In my defense, I had done a small front porch garden for a few years prior. With all our new found time, we decided it was a good time to expand. One thing we really love about growing our own veggies was how great they taste. We weren’t worried about cleaning off chemicals, just dirt and the occasional caterpillar (and boy, are they sneaky).
I will admit, it’s been a lot of work, but also really rewarding. We’ve given away so much because we couldn’t keep up with all the produce we had, and we ate the best salads daily during the summer! My smoothies also tasted even better with fresh kale.
Although I could have just as easily kept buying veggies from the store, we felt the investment in good soil and materials plus watering and weeding was a fair trade-off. We also liked how it became a family thing, getting us outside together and enjoying the fruits of our labor (pun intended).
Marketing is really no different.
There are plenty of places you could push your product or service, ads you could pay for, heck, you can even buy mailing lists. But in the end, was it really as good?
Since Google (aka “the Big G”) and others are cracking down on third-party tracking, it can be harder to get in front of the right people with ads or even emails. So what’s the best way stay in front of your audience?
Soil vs Dirt
My sister-in-law had studied Soil Science in college. She is very adamant about the difference between the words “soil” and “dirt”. Soil is full of nutrients and the best place for veggies to grow. Dirt on the other hand is, well, probably the stuff in your backyard. Not as many nutrients, rocky, and filled with who knows what (at least, that’s how I best understand it).
Just like a high-yielding garden needs good soil to grow, your audience needs a good place, too.
Dirt in your marketing looks like:
These, like dirt, add items that will mess with your outcome (aka marketing analytics). For instance, the people who only sign up for your email list to get something for free will most likely open the email with the freebie. Any other email you send won’t be opened. What’s worse - they could possibly end up unsubscribing or report you as spam which in turn hurts any gains you may have earned. It’s like buying a bag of salad at the store. A quick fix for what you need, but when it’s gone, all you have is an empty bag. Give them something more after the freebie, like good information in a newsletter and or exclusive offers in a weekly email.
One thing we’ve looked into for our garden is heirloom seeds. These are the best of the best, able to be used year after year from the items you grow, which in turn saves you from having to buy more seeds or plants.
When you use good marketing, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. A referral is one of the biggest compliments you can get plus it’s one of the best ways to build trust. When you take care of a customer from the very beginning, they’ll tell others.
That care could be as simple as:
Sharing Your Harvest
When you take the time to care properly for your garden, you usually end up with more than you’ll be able to eat before it rots. One of our goals is to be able to give part of our vegetables away from our garden, especially to the Food Bank of Iowa. We love having fresh veggies and know others love it, too, but maybe struggle with gardening or don’t have the time or resources.
In marketing, one of the greatest ways to build your credibility to help another small business out. If they are your supplier, printer, or maybe a business you’ve had a good experience with personally or for your business, give them a shoutout in an email, social post, or link on your website (don’t forget a link or to tag them!). We all know as SBOs how hard it is to get in front of the right audience. Why not use your success to help out others? You also provide a resource for your audience they may not be aware of and appreciate the referral.
Does organic marketing take time? Yes. But, like an heirloom seed, you’ll always have a good harvest to pick from for years to come. Find the best place to market your business (social media, blogs, email, etc) and wait patiently for the best audience to grow from it.
(If you need help deciding where fertile ground is, let’s chat!)
I remember how excited I was in high school when I found out what a copywriter was. People would actually pay me to write? Sign me up!
I didn’t lose steam in college, either. I was so excited to work on my first marketing project and was so proud of the campaign we created. Then there was my copywriting class taught by my favorite professor and another class taught by 2 interim professors that worked at a local, well-known agency (I may have been a little starstruck). When I took a tour of a different agency that worked with a lot of national brands, I couldn’t wait to graduate and start working.
Then the Great Recession happened. When I graduated in 2009, there were little to no jobs for recent college graduates who studied marketing, especially copywriting.
To say I was devastated may not be a far stretch.
Instead of sulking, I took a job as an administrative assistant (also because I like to eat and have hot water). What should have been a mundane job turned into a chance to build my portfolio. After seeing the “newsletters” teachers sent, I asked the director if I could create something better. Thankfully, he agreed and I made a great newsletter that the parents loved.
Another job I had was an office manager for a warehouse (I had more administrative jobs than I’d like to admit). I had so much free time, I spent a lot of it on social media. And since I was still looking for my dream job, LinkedIn was a big part of that. I noticed our business wasn’t great at marketing (truly non-existent) so I asked the owner if I could create a LinkedIn page for the business. He agreed and I was able to build my skills in social media.
Had it not been for these two people allowing me to do these creative tasks, I may have lost some of my creative spark before I truly had a chance to use it.
Now owning my own business, I want to change that.
April is Internship Awareness Month to encourage businesses to support and create opportunities for college students and young professionals. On April 10th it’s Encourage a Young Writer Day. It was created to encourage young children who love to read and write.
I love that both of these happen in the same month and are part of some big goals I have for my business. I don’t want to hire employees, I want to hire college students pursuing a career in copywriting as interns and those who’ve graduated as contractors. I want to give them the real-world experience their portfolios and resumes need while I learn from them as well.
So how can you encourage a young copywriter?
If they are in college:
Giving college students the chance to try their hand at writing all kinds of marketing will also help them know what they enjoy and do best.
If they’re going to graduate or already have:
Beyond these ideas, the best thing you can do for the copywriter in your life, still in college or graduated, is be supportive. Not many people truly know what a copywriter is, so having someone in their corner helps family meals, holiday gatherings, and other events be a little less stressful and awkward. Trust me, they’ll be grateful to you for it.
I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve never had to use a dating app, although I did a free trial of Cupid.com at a very young age. We’ll just say I was off before the trial was up.
Although I’ve had a few awkward dates, one type I’ve never experienced is having the other person be a self-promoter. From what I understand, they spend most of the time talking about themselves and never give you a chance to get a word in or ask questions about you. How dull! I hope they would at least pay for the meal.
Maybe you’ve been on that date. Hopefully you’ve never been that person on the date.
Could the same be said for your marketing content?
Here are a few examples:
Don’t be ashamed if you fit one of these or something along those lines. As you would expect a friend to give you feedback after a bad date, here’s my friendly marketing advice: cut down on talking about you and your services by at least half. What do I mean by this?
On your website, change out as many of the “we” and “I’ with “you” as you can. People don’t want to only hear how awesome you are but why that’s important to them. Tell them how you’re going to make their day/week/life better. Save the “all about me” for the copy on the About Us page. This is where people expect (and rightly so) to read the most about you. FYI: Search engines aren't just looking for keywords anymore. If they see people spend more time on your site because it has relevant information, it helps more than 10 keywords ever will.
In your emails, keep it simple and helpful. Stick to the rule of one: address one person with one topic in one email. Always write as if you’re talking to one person and only tell them one thing in the email. It’s a great way to show them what you know and give them great advice and tips at the same time. SIDENOTE: if you get email addresses and you say it's for sending helpful information, don’t send them something about a sale or discount. Only send what you said you would, otherwise they’ll unsubscribe or, worse, block you.
If you write blogs, use them to give advice and show your expertise. Think of questions you get frequently and answer them. (Can also be used for emails but if it gets too lengthy, a blog is better!) BONUS: it’s continually adding new copy and keywords to your website, which the Big G likes.
Overall, be thoughtful when it comes to the marketing content you create, whether it be an email, blog, or web copy. Give them the answers they’re looking for. Be relatable and insightful. Give them something they want to share and talk about (positively) with their friends! And, most importantly, build those relationships and trust.
Recently when we lost internet for about 2 days, it was like a trip back to the ‘90s. My oldest learned what it’s like to wait through commercials to finish a show on “live” TV. He was almost dumbfounded at the fact that we couldn’t just skip them. (Funny enough, commercials are part of what inspired me to become a copywriter, but I digress).
We all probably recognize the idea of instant gratification but are we truly aware? Even fast-food restaurants have apps so you can order your food BEFORE you get there! As much as I appreciate the convenience, I’ve found it’s set up some unrealistic expectations in places where instant gratification just can’t happen. Mainly the timeline for marketing strategy results.
My biggest cringe as a copywriter is a client who expects their overall marketing goals to be met within the first month, if not the first week. It’s just not possible. I have a feeling any SEO expert will tell you that analytics are great, but even the immediate figures don’t necessarily dictate the future. I think the Wizard of Ads said it best:
“...the best campaigns aren’t seeking instant gratification through sales at all, they are seeking long-term relationships with their customers.”
Good marketing isn’t just about how many sales it brings in, but the relationships it creates. Those relationships are the new brand loyalty because they build trust between a consumer and a business.
Even as someone who has their own marketing business, I struggle with not seeing instant results. I may put out a rockstar newsletter or post once about an amazing marketing package, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people will be blowing up my phone to work with me.
Great marketing takes time, as in up to 90 days MINIMUM time. That’s a hard number to swallow, but it’s the truth. Think of it this way:
If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you to marry them, you’d think they were crazy.
Your customers aren’t going to commit after one post, blog, or other marketing pieces either.
So, just like any good thing, two big factors to hone in on:
1. Give your marketing strategy a reasonable timeline, especially if your business is new. Quick results don’t create repeat customers. Repeat customers not only bring more sales but friends, too.
2. Be consistent. You can’t put out a newsletter once and a while and expect an influx of customers. They need to be familiar with you, what you do, why they should choose you over the other guys.
To make your marketing strategy a five-star experience, don’t cheapen it to drive-through quality. The best things take time!
As I started writing this blog, the song “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, or at least the chorus, rung through my ears.
Yes, I’m a millennial, but I prefer xennial.
In any case, it’s very fitting for marketing. If you aren’t familiar with the song or don’t remember the lyrics, it starts out “What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mama, what I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your papa, what I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter”. You’ve got a great product or service, well worth what you charge for it. I have a feeling, like many other business owners, you struggle with the idea of discounts or even giving something way. It takes away from your profit and maybe you even feel it cheapens it.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When I worked as an intern for a radio station, I learned how much people loved freebies. Some didn’t even care what it was only that you were willing to give it to them for free. This didn’t cheapen our message or make the client we were representing look cheap, it made us say “we know we have a great product and we’re willing to share X with you to help you see it, too.” And, at the very least, they were a walking billboard.
Let’s be real - most people are skeptical. There’s a good probability that your core audience is as well. By offering something for free, you’re beginning to build a bridge of trust and expertise. A great example is from my days as a Pampered Chef consultant. Our products came with a hefty price tag, but by allowing people to use them at a home party and show them how they worked, they were able to see the value. I would also give away mini cookbooks, paring knives, and orange peelers as a thank you for just stopping by my booth at a vendor fair. I had to build trust in the products before they would even consider a purchase. I had to be willing to put myself out there and risk my own products (sometimes my personal ones) to help them see how they make cooking easier and enjoyable.
I’m not asking you to give them the whole kit & kaboodle. Give them something that allows them to experience the quality of your product. Give them something that shows them your expertise in what you.
Start with what gives them the best representation of what you have. What is one part of your service that you can offer without giving it all away? Offer samples or discounts for new customers. Add a free small gift when they do purchase. Give free tips & tricks or advice & insight.
Don’t give away the least, but part of your best. As RHCP says, “Realize I don’t want to be a miser.” It’s not all just about selling but giving them a solution to their problem or need.
If you struggle to find the right words or promoting your awesome giveaway, that’s where I come in. I’ll help introduce new prospects to your amazing product or service through emails, social posts, or better website copy. Reach out today and let’s set up your free consultation, coffee/tea/smoothie on me (even if virtual).
When I was in college, one of the lessons a professor gave us was short and sweet: when the business isn’t doing well financially, the first thing to go is marketing.
I graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor's in Mass Communication in 2009 at the end of the Great Recession. When it came to finding a copywriting job, there were none. Not even an internship. My professor’s words came true - everyone was scaling back and the job market for my industry showed it.
Now, don’t take this as a “poor me” type of post, that’s not the direction I’m going here. If anything, it’s more “poor them” as in the business owners. Another lesson that same professor taught us was that the businesses that get through hardships and thrive after are those who don’t stop marketing, at least not completely.
And unfortunately, many business owners don’t know the value of their marketing.
I’ll be the first to admit that marketing your business when the finances aren’t strong doesn’t seem like the right choice. Here’s the thing - if you don’t keep yourself top of mind, you’ll be forgotten. I’ve seen that firsthand - people forget about what I do when I haven’t been posting on social media, networking, and keeping up on my blogs and emails (as I referenced in another blog). Trust me when I say my business has suffered because of it.
This is why I always encourage my clients to at least invest (time and/or money) in emails like my Customer Care Emails. It can cover a few bases:
1. Staying top of mind: no matter the frequency, you’ll always be in their inbox. Even if they don’t always read it, yours is the first name that comes to mind for service.
2. Showing expertise: both sharing your blogs as well as industry news. Remember that just because it seems simple to you, it’s not for everyone.
3. Referrals: when you’re top of mind, you then give them something to pass along to someone who might need what you do.
4. Builds trust: if you’re giving them relevant information and not just selling to them all the time, they know you’re a good resource.
When things get tough, like a recession, marketing is one way that helps keep the doors open.
You might be thinking “but I need to watch my spending!” That’s why I’ve talked about having marketing as a line item in your budget. It’s better to have it budgeted and be able to adjust it than not have it or scrap together something like bad leftovers.
Just like a friendship needs to be nurtured, so does your relationship with your customers. Marketing is all about building those relationships not simply telling people how well you do what you do or how amazing your product is (that’s advertising). It’s about providing them with helpful and relevant info. Otherwise, they’ll slowly start to tune you out and most likely won’t use your services or recommend you when the time comes.
If COVID has taught you anything as a business owner, let it be that marketing works. Find ways to keep communicating with your customers and they will help see you through the hardest times!
Back when Facebook first became widespread, we all enjoyed sharing what was on our minds and having cordial conversations. We kept in touch with old high school friends as well as family from out of town. Thanks to a boring job in college with a lot of downtime, Facebook became a welcoming way to pass the time for me.
Today, the way the platform is used hasn’t changed much. Many people still use it to stay in touch with friends and family. Now they can share photos and videos, like, love, or hate a status, and create groups with common interests. The biggest difference is that businesses can join the platform thanks to the creation of business pages. The problem with that is too many businesses don’t join the conversation and forget the biggest piece of social media is that it was made to be SOCIAL.
People no longer want to be advertised to - they want to ask questions, learn more, and feel as though they matter. Brand loyalty is a thing of the past, especially with upcoming generations like Gen Z. People are no longer won over by a catchy jingle or punny magazine ads, at least not on its own.
If you take a step back, how is your business or organization using social media?
Keep It Social
There’s a reason marketing is a separate term from advertising. Marketing is more about interacting with your customers and building relationship than solely promoting your organization. Social media can be a great way to stay connected with your current customers while gaining exposure in ways traditional advertising can’t do. Think of social media marketing like dating - no one likes someone who only talks about themselves. Encourage interactions on your posts by asking questions or taking polls, either related to your business or just something relevant like a national holiday. Likes, hearts, and other reactions are ok, but you want people to comment and share your posts so it reaches a bigger audience (and the platforms "reward" you for it as well with more placements on feeds). Create content that people would want to share with their friends and family.
Know Your Audience
One question that’s always brought to the table is “which platform should we be on?” The answer is never all of them and truly not even two. You need to be where your audience is but it’s always best to start in one place. Facebook is great for most demographics, but if you’re looking to reach the under 25 crowd, consider Instagram or Twitter. Don't just jump on TikTok unless you can show off something that connects with your audience (and I don't mean the lastest dance or craze). Get to know and be comfortable with one platform well before adding another to your plate. Also know how your audience likes to engage with you on that platform. Some people use Twitter or Facebook Messenger as an alternative type of customer service. Make sure they know what to expect when it comes to interacting with you on each platform.
The Best Practices
I’m not saying you can’t promote your products or services, but you don’t want every post to be about you (remember it’s like dating!). The best way to use social media for marketing is to follow the 4-1-1 Rule. For every promotional or “salesy” post you publish, you’ll want to have four others that educate, entertain, or give your audience a reason to interact. Finally, share or engage with one other person’s or organization’s posts. Did a customer mention you? Make sure you like it and maybe leave a simple thank you. Even if they don’t mention you, an occasional comment on their posts can help humanize your organization. Don’t forget to add hashtags but make sure to know what’s the appropriate amount to have.
Social media is just that - SOCIAL. Either you’re engaging with your customers or you’re left talking to yourself about yourself. If you were to look at your social media from your followers’ perspective, would you want to share and comment with your organization or want to unfollow? It’s never to late to change or start over with your social media strategy. Looking for some help? See how I can come alongside to help you create great conversations in your social media!
I’ve always loved holidays. Growing up, many were a big deal for my family with something to look forward to from each. Thanksgiving had its food and parade, Christmas had its gift-giving and decorating, and the 4th of July had its fireworks and town celebrations. Anymore, there seems to be some reason to celebrate every day. Take for instance holidays like Doughnut Day (first Friday in June) or Singles Awareness Day (February 15).
Having something to celebrate every day can be fun, but it can easily become overdone. That’s why it’s important to practice celebrating in moderation, especially as a business. National holidays can create some great content for emails and social posts, but you don’t want it to become too much of a good thing. Here are my 3 tips when it comes to celebrating and using all the national holidays in your marketing.
Keep It Relevant
Just because you see a lot of posts about National Bomb Pop Day (the last Thursday in June) doesn’t mean your auto body shop NEEDS to create a post. National holidays can help break up your content, whether as a fun, interactive post or helping to promote something about your business. It’s when you try to celebrate as many national holidays as possible that your customers will lose interest quickly, possibly causing them to unfollow or unsubscribe from you. National holidays are seen as something fun to do not something that should be exploited or worn out. Make sure whatever holidays you choose to have your business celebrate, they don’t seem forced or have no real relatability.
Keep It Real
Although you could celebrate something every day, not all “national holidays” should be celebrated. One big component I pay attention to is looking to see how accurate it is. When you use the National Day Calendar, each holiday will give an explanation of how to celebrate as well as the history behind it. If it says it’s “researching the origins” of that holiday, many times I won’t use it. Another great way to see if it’s something worth celebrating is to research hashtags. You can search specific hashtags with the search bar on Instagram and even Google. This way you’ll know how popular it really is, if it’s worth adding to your calendar, and if it’s seen as a real holiday by the masses.
Keep it Fun
Probably one of the most important aspects of celebrating national holidays is having a fun way to interact with your subscribers and followers. Although the holidays can give you a great reason to have a sale or promote your business, sometimes it’s just a simple way to start a fun conversation. One of my favorites to use for my clients is National Get To Know Your Customers Day (the third Thursday of the last month of each quarter). I take the opportunity to ask a question, sometimes not even related to the business, to get a conversation going. The less serious, the better - you don’t want people starting an argument in your comment section because you decided to ask who you hope wins the election.
Whether you decided to stick to the traditional bank holidays or branch out every now and again, just remember to keep it all in moderation. We can always use a good reason to celebrate and have a little more fun, just not necessarily every day. It can take a little work and planning to incorporate holidays into your marketing, but it can also pay off in the end.
My favorite? Ampersand (&) Day - September 8th.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it - my blogging isn’t as consistent as I’d like it to be on my website.
Honestly, it’s a good thing because it means that I’m busy doing work for my clients with their blogs, social media, and the like. I once had another freelance marketing colleague say if your own website and blog are up to date, you don’t have enough work. I completely agree with that statement.
Although I’m not sweating the frequency of my blog or social media posts, as a business owner looking to stay in touch with both current and new customers, it is something you need to be aware of because your current and potential customers really do notice.
Falling Through the Cracks
If I asked you to name a business or brand, besides yours of course, what comes to mind first? Whether you’ve realized it or not, the reason they're first is that they make sure to stay top of mind. When you have big gaps in your promotions and marketing, people tend to forget about you. No matter how good that one blog post was or how many likes you got on that social media post, it’s gone and forgotten if you don’t continue to communicate and promote. If you aren’t putting yourself in front of the public in some form at least 12 times, you won’t make an impression. If you were to ask your customers how they heard about you, they’re only going to remember the most recent, and the reason they are inquiring or visiting is usually that they’ve seen your business name enough times that it finally stuck. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Think of consumers like an old dot matrix printer - your logo and business name only prints one line of ink at a time. Some people just print faster than others.
Just Say No to Spam
There is a big difference between working to stay top of mind and being spammy. You want to make sure that the frequency not only makes sense for your product or service but that you’re giving relevant information and not just sending that email to send an email. And if all you post is “buy my product!” or “use my service!” people will not only tune you out but eventually tell the platform they don’t even want to follow you. No one wants to be hidden for 30 days or worse Unliked. Social media is about communication; don’t make it advertising, give your customers something to interact with every now and again. DID YOU KNOW: Every quarter there’s a #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay? It falls on the third Thursday of every quarter month (January, April, July, and October).
Don’t be a Robot
I’m not going to lie - being able to schedule posts, emails, and blogs is a GREAT time saver. The only problem is then it’s like those infomercials where you set it and forget it. What if someone comments or replies? What if something changes or a last-minute exciting idea comes along? Scheduling emails, blogs, and posts is great for holidays, but it’s important to make sure your content is up-to-date and you’re interacting with the people who are interacting with you! The same goes for those who mention you or tag you in a post, negatively or positively. Many people tend to air their grievances on social media and review sites, and companies who only schedule their content may not catch it and have time to offer a resolution. MY TWO CENTS: Always stay on the lighter, respectful side no matter how negative. Here's an example:
Should I wait months before I write another blog post? No, but will it happen? As long as I’m helping my awesome clients keep their marketing flowing, most likely (but hopefully not as often). If you’re feeling as inconsistent as I do about my blogging and posting, it might be time to rethink your marketing strategy. Whether it’s scheduling out time every week or finding space in the budget to hire help, don’t let your marketing have big gaps or worse, go stagnant.
Thoughts from Me
Tips, advice, and more from my experience as a copywriter, marketer, and small business owner.