(Image by NuttyirishmanKnits, via Flickr) By Diane Gilleland So you have a small business. You have stuff to market, and you’re marketing it on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook (or some combination of those three). How often can you get away with mentioning your products before you start looking too spammy and annoying your readers? It’s easiest to maintain a consistent and interesting marketing message in your online content if you do a little strategic advance planning. And if the idea of a marketing plan feels intimidating, don’t worry! This is a very simple way to do it. And this method works interchangeably for planning your blog, Twitter, or Facebook posts.
Getting Started Get yourself a one-month calendar for next month or a month in the future. Whatever type of calendar you use, most will work fine – an online calendar or a paper wall calendar or daytimer. (I got the one I’m using here from WinCalendar.) On this calendar, mark your important marketing events for the month. A marketing event might be an actual event, like a class you’re teaching, a sale in your online store, or a new product launch. Or, it might be a created event, like a coupon promotion or your cut-off date for holiday orders. Every business is different, but generally speaking, I think 2-3 marketing events per month is plenty. Step 1: Schedule the Announcements When you have things to market online, it’s usually best to tell a story about them, and we’ll talk about this in a moment. But there also comes a point where you just need to give people the critical information in a rather no-frills way. For the sake of example, let’s say one of your upcoming marketing events is a big craft show where you’ll be selling your handmade goods. You’ve marked the date of this show on your calendar. Now, how many days before the show would it make sense to remind people to come to the show and visit you? Three days, maybe? Two? On your calendar, schedule a simple announcement post sometime during the week leading up to that marketing event. On this “announcement day,” you’ll post a simple, factual reminder about the event on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Generally, one announcement post is sufficient on a blog. For Twitter or Facebook, however, you may want to schedule several announcements at different times of the day. The mistake many online marketers make is in posting only these announcement posts. Announcement posts may be efficient, but at the end of the day, they aren’t all that interesting. That’s why we need to schedule some other kinds of posts, too. Read on… Step 2: Schedule the Stories So, we said a moment ago that when you’re marketing online, it’s best to tell stories. That’s the next step in our bite-sized marketing plan. Story-based posts are very powerful – they present an interesting glimpse of you and help people connect with you. When your readers feel connected to you, they become more interested in your business. We humans love a good story so much more than being advertised to. So it’s important to schedule some storytelling that more subtly points to your upcoming marketing events. Look at each of your marketing events, and look for the related ideas that would make interesting stories. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Let’s say your marketing event is a new product launch. Well, that lends itself to stories about how you came to design this product. It lends itself to stories about the people you’ve designed the product for. It lends itself to stories about small aspects of the product – why do you use that particular clasp? Why is this fabric better than that one?
- If your marketing event is a cut-off date for placing holiday orders, the stories might be about what goes on in your studio as you make products. How do you organize your materials? What are your working habits? What kinds of music help you work better?
- If your marketing event is a class you’re teaching, the stories might be how you came to learn all about the subject you’re teaching. They might be stories about how your readers can use the knowledge they’ll gain in the class. Or you might tell some stories about your past students and how they experienced the class.
Head back to your calendar now, and schedule a couple story-based posts in the week or two leading up to each marketing event. Optional Step 3: Drop in Some Teasers Lastly, you may want to schedule a few small “teaser” posts 2-3 weeks before your marketing event. These might take the form of a photo that reveals a tiny glimpse of a new product, or a post about how excited you are about your “secret project.” A teaser might also be an “early bird” announcement, encouraging your readers to sign up for a class or mark their calendars. Depending on the marketing event, teasers can help build some anticipation, so that when you start telling stories and then announcing, you’ll have your readers’ full attention. Not every marketing event needs teasers, of course: a cut-off date for orders, for example, wouldn’t. But a new product launch, an upcoming class, or a big sale could all benefit from teasers. Seeing the Bite-Sized Big Picture Look at the calendar above now. See how these overlapping teasers, stories, and announcements intertwine to form a varied and interesting stream of content? The story posts keep things from being overly marketing-based, but ultimately, it all points to your marketing events. Try making a bite-sized plan for your blog, Twitter, and Facebook next month, and see if it helps online marketing feel easier. About the Author: Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod.com, a blog that geeks out on crafting and also helps crafters use the web more effectively to promote their businesses.