My Marketing Strategy for Creating a Business or Blog
Hey bliss finders, thanks for joining me today for part 2 of my monthly blogging series “How to Create a Business or Blog.” I’m sharing my lessons from starting a home based party business 8 yrs ago, and what I’m learning in my blogging journey right now. I think it’s so important to record our lessons & share them with the world, so that’s what I’m doing right here!
If you’re a parent reading this, you’re probably familiar with the nursery rhyme.. “to market to market to buy a fat pig (lovingly alternate to watermelon if you’re vegan). The word marketing was first recorded around 1555-1556, and is based on the Latin words Mercari or mercatus (Dictionary.com), “meaning the process of moving goods from producer to consumer with an emphasis on advertising and sales.” As you can imagine much has changed in the way we spread the messages about the services or products we offer (if you’re starting a business), since the 15th century (and even blogging year per year!).
In olden days people were limited in where they could go to procure the things they needed to live their daily lives (mostly all related to very basic needs). The long daily work also didn’t leave much time or money to buy novelty items. Although this has changed tremendously in modern times – there’s still one thing that hasn’t changed, and also happens to be the main reason I believe, these businesses flourished: intimate relationships.
Back then relationships were much easier to nurture and establish because of everyone’s close proximity, and a smaller number of people available to interact with. They also understood everyone’s survival was greatly interdependent on all of the local families’ buying, and selling to one another (still true somewhat but not as front and center in our minds today!). In today’s globalized world, being connected has its obvious advantages – but it also makes it more difficult to choose and figure out which products or businesses we’re going to buy, and in doing so, support.
During this time, real face-to-face interaction also developed a deeper *loyalty* ( In Group bias) which could also explain why businesses now a days always rant about how hard loyalty is to come by (competitive pricing and greater vendor options aside!).
So the question then becomes – how do you use marketing to create a strong relationship in the digital world, and if you’re a spiritual person – how do you authentically portray who you are to them, and make decisions from a divinely guided place?
In 5 words: Knowing and Sharing Who You Are.
If you’ve been reading traditional business articles or books, you’ve most likely found traditional marketing approaches advise conducting *long* hours of marketing research, figuring out what *people* want, and otherwise externalizing the process. As a spiritual mom I found it difficult to incorporate these methods with my spiritual beliefs pointing me contrary wise (although many of the things I go over below can also be viewed as traditional). This is not to say traditional marketing is wrong, but we each have to choose what works best for us (I’m ecelectic here too!). And so, in my two-time journey traversing marketing I’ve found that shifting the paradigm to focus on my internal gifts/convictions, vs. what the external market demands has been more in line with my spiritual purpose.
How Do You Start Sharing Who You Are?
Sharing who you are can be scary and difficult at first ( I just spoke about this on Instagram on Friday, and just about this post too!). Sharing means showing the parts of you that you love and like, while also courageously displaying the things that you think most people would find undesirable. Things like your weakness, and failures.
Consider this. Human beings are not perfect, and for a long time on social media and TV advertising – an unhealthy image of a non stop highlight reels is all that has been played. While it still did inspire – it lacked balance.
People want to see REAL people and their REAL stories. Therefore, in this context what you struggle with – and the imperfect stories you may avoid, are actually your most valuable asset.
As social media matures – I’m so happy to see this more realistic and healthy shift! It’s ok to be open and vulnerable, and embrace all of you. So, get comfortable sharing! It’s what you need to get comfortable doing first at the beginning of your communications based marketing.
Whats the reasoning behind sharing?
As a spiritual person we’ re on a journey to share our gifts and higher purpose with the world, while also creating a rich abundant life – that meets our needs and widens our possibilities. SO with this mindset, the more you share who you are (before you even start working on your physical print or digital materials), the greater the chance of the people who need you – have of finding you.
And love, people need you! We are all here to give our gifts to someone! Marketing is one of the ways that makes it easier to deliver the blessing.
So what’s the best way to get your stories out there?
Adopting the structure of great Storytelling involves mimicking professional story telling (oral narrators, presenters, grandma!). You need to have: a) a clear beginning, middle and end . b) a lesson that stands out. c) explanation of any back story that led to the current situation. d) taking your time to narrate it (no rushing!). And e) practicing telling it so that it flows naturally.
While, the stories in your formal materials should be inline with your brand – your other more informal stories in conversations and elsewhere, just have to be helpful and tasteful. You also always want to make sure that what you’re sharing is adding value!
Storytelling is a very hot topic right now because of all of the warm feelings it naturally evokes (the same feeling my kids get during bed time reading – or I get when listening to my mom telling a long tale!). We are innately wired for stories and in turn it’s almost always a good natural response for the listener, even if what you have to offer is not what they need at the time. It tills the soil for the future.
The old method to marketing on the other hand, was by way of Persuasion or with a “results” driven focus, which made it feel very spammy and was otherwise a HUGE turn off (I still see a lot of people doing this, and it instantly repels vs. atttract!).
Remember to only Communicate in ways YOU would want to be addressed.
However, contrastingly, storytelling empowers and let’s you “decide” for YOURSELF if an opportunity is the right fit for you; in an enjoyable, non-pressurized, and non-aggressive environment. While you’re listening, you’re also able to gauge the depth of understanding, expertise, and care.. a business or person has to give that you can’t simply discern from a cold sales pitch.
You also want to share information more than once to capture people in different time zones (shout to my Hawaii peeps!), and also circulate posts so that new readers don’t miss out on your most valuable content.
In time, this will become your marketing voice and image, and the right people will gravitate towards you, and suppport you. Trust it!
In the process you’ll also set yourself apart from the crowd.
Next, you want to..
Create a Vision Board.
When I first started my party business I created a physical vision board with magazine clippings or internet printouts, with the kinds of events I wanted to produce. I found inspiration from other event brands & co.’s, as well as anything that really “spoke” to me, even if it wasn’t from my industry.
Inspiration is everywhere! Just slow down and take notice.
As part of my vision board, I also rounded up: paint panatone colors, swatches of fabric, and even single words or phrases I identified with. If you’re more of a kinesthetic person, or if you like to have things right in front of you to move around – I highly recommend creating a manual board instead of a digital one.
Once you have a vision board up, pay attention to any repeating colors. If there’s a piece of art or clothing that really evokes the feeling you want to convey to your audience – add it to your board. Also pay attention to things like what kinds of photos or filters feel more in line to your message. Do you prefer warmer or cooler toned photos? Add those in too!
Case in Point: For my party businesses’ main colors I chose light teal to honor the place where I first got the inspiration for my event business – my then dining room. Coincidentally, most of my clothing or jewelry at the time also had some sort of aqua in it (browse through your closet while you’re at it!). After finding my main color, it was then super easy to add in my 2 complimentary colors – light peach and ivory.
For this blog’s color palette, the inspiration came from an art print I used as the focal point of my daughter’s unicorn party 2 years ago (2015). I absolutely LOVED the serene feeling of the print’s color scheme, and the hand drawn modern lines. I also noticed I was using a lot of gold in my make up and pink in my clothing at the time – which also gave me more confirming color cues.
Check out the unicorn art print and what the inspiration board for this blog ended up looking like:
Which leads me to …
Color is Very Important for Your Marketing
Aside from the story the patterns in your design tastes and life will tell, once you find color’s that you like, it’s very important to determine if their moods align with your venture’s goals. Color has to mesh well – otherwise you risk sending out contradicting messages!
Visuals are a big silent emotion communicator, it draws on our sense of sight.. and as we’ve seen in the boom of visual based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest – its one of the most important ways we can not only help drive our message, but also help people quickly identify our work online. It’s a digital foot print so to speak! (A Great example of this that influenced me in my early days was baker Sylvia Weinstock’s use of color and symbology in her marketing).
For instance – in my former party biz I went with pastel colors similar to the serene colors you would find in children’s interior design, for my intended target age. For instance, I was inspired by Restoration Warehouse’s, childrens bedroom line’s muted classic colors. Pay attention to colors or tones already in your industry, because it will make it psychologically easier for people to know who you are and what you do.
For BL, I made sure the light and soothing colors represented the lifestyle I wanted to create and also stand for: yellow – for warmth, friendliness, and a bright invitation. Pink – for the heart, the divine feminine, and devotion to love. Black – for power, strength, and paving the way of a new journey. White – for hope, a new canvas, and being open to magical new possibilities.
Doing a vision board to start the physical production of marketing materials, is frankly one of the most fun and inspiring activities to get you started in bridging these two different but complimentary tasks together. You also get a ton of aesthetic information that you can revert to and share.
How to Use Your Vision As A Springboard For Creating Your Marketing Materials
Because we’re in the world of Pinterest, many graphic designers like to see a digital board (If you’re using a physical board just take a picture and send it along). I recommend only sharing a few images on a board for your designer (you don’t want to overwhelm them). 5 – 6 images is my personal sweet spot where I find I drive home the mood and main theme, without having too many other competing styles. For a party business this could look like: 2 images of a sample party, 1 or 2 sample store fronts or logos. You can also pin samples of symbols or elements that mean something to you (a pear, a shape, a significant #, or pattern).
Case in point. For Bliss Lived I chose a triangle to represent the invisible lines connecting my children and I where we usually sit in our learning space; and the 3 main values I want to grow in our Homeschool. The 2nd triangle -represents the 3 areas I want to focus on in my blog – homeschooling, homemaking, personal growth. I also decided to keep this same rhythm of “3” throughout to simplify my decisions and processes. Ie. I post at least 3 times on social media. I have 3 main brand colors.
The No. 1 Tangible Marketing Piece: Your Logo
This is the face of your new venture so it’s the next thing you need to do focus on even if you do nothing else. While there are very successful companies like Berkshire Hathaway who don’t use a logo per se they still use a stylized font and bold color (purple!) to make the face of their name stand out.
If you have a clear idea for a logo, don’t be afraid to sketch it out and share it with your designer. While you could diy it, this is an area where I personally would invest (within your budget), because of the high mileage and impact it will give. I diy’d my first logo and I’m here to tell you Graphic Designers are such gifted creators that understand imaging, pixelation and other things we non-technically design trained people – don’t normally have on our radar. If you want to eventually print on paper or need a vector for larger printing, working with a designer will make it so that it’s seamless to do as you grow.
Also, most designers don’t usually turn a diy design into a vector unless it’s their own work.
Now that you have a logo, create a simple marketing style guide with all of the info for your brand’s marketing materials. Include things like: font names, logos and sub logos, your color palette with numeration (more on this in the video below), and any other important symbols or styled photographs (handy when working with photographers!).
A designer can also do this for you or you can simply type it all up in a power point slide, or word doc. This will make it very easy and efficient, for you to remember what fonts you need to use when creating images to share on social media, or anywhere. Eventually you’ll memorize all of the names.. but a guide is still a handy quick reference – when you need to create additional marketing pieces in the future.
Consistency is one of the easiest & free ways to market yourself!
What kinds of marketing materials do you then need to start?
This really depends on the kind of business you’ll be starting, but in my experience – the best thing to do is to try and visualize what kinds of actions you’ll be doing in the beginnings , vs. attempting to foresee everything you’ll need “some day.” You can ask yourself: what kinds of platforms will I be sharing to (where I have warm leads already)? If you’re an event business – will you be reaching out to local businesses or taking out an ad in a local party or children’s services booklet? (Highly rec!)
Case In Point. Flash back to my party days.. I had the wonderful opportunity to help coordinate the DIY Business Association’s conference, at the Etsy labs in Dumbo Brooklyn. Somehow I had no idea of the amazing panelists that were slated to talk – since I was mostly handling decor and the guest sign ins. . During the session I had the amazing chance to ask one of my favorite design bloggers, Grace Bonnie of Design Sponge, one of my most burning questions. I wasn’t sure if I should focus on online advertising (I wasn’t social media conscious yet!), OR if I should stick to building local relationships. She said, without a doubt, when providing local services like event planning or any kind of product – always focus on your local community! This was a game changer for me, and provided me a valuable lesson.. always seek & listen to feedback from those who are further along than you (and show them special love & take care of them anytime you can!).
To get you started, I’ve found these basic materials to be useful no matter what niche:
– A website or blog header
– A headshot for your social media pages (yup I definitely consider this a marketing aspect! A neat and clean photo does well to start just make sure it looks approachable while still being professional. No blurriness or pixelation).
– Watermarking for images (this can be in color, all white, gray or black)
– Photography for any products
– Business cards (even though many people have gravitated towards exchanging phone numbers or adding eachother on FB – a physical card carries a more concrete message that you’re a real entity or service. They’ll also come in handy at conventions or craft fairs! B-cards are still an alive marketing tool).
– Facebook header (twitter header if it makes sense, custom Snapchat filter if it will be an active platform for you, YouTube banner)
– Letterhead, labels, tags for any products or contracts
Many of these you can create yourself once you have a logo, OR you can hire it out. Do what you feel is the best choice for you. These add-ons are usually much less than the cost of a logo (apps like Canva really make this so easy to do right now, and they even size it for you). Because you’ll change these pieces quite often, I don’t recommend always going the graphic design route.
Like we learned in the word origin of marketing, a very large part of this involves the actual “action” of bringing your products or messages to the market or ‘world.’ So now that you’re prepared with all of the tools – you’ll need to do the “action” portion of your marketing in getting it out into the world.
Since we all have such limited time, and the most powerful things are simple – you want to make sure you hone in on your 1 line mission statement or what many business people call your “elevator pitch”. Not only will this make it easier to tell people what you do, everytime you say it you’ll be reminded and encouraged on why you started. This simple message will also make it easy to remember for your audience. Moreover, whenever an opportunity comes up, you can also quickly run it through your “Why filter” to see if it would be a good fit for you.
Case in point. To give you an idea of what this looks like, for my event business my Why one- liner was: I’m a children’s event planner and rental company, specializing in whimsically, modern events, to help you celebrate childhood.
For Bliss Lived this is: I’m a spiritual writer and video creator, helping parents reconnect to their bliss by sharing Homeschooling tips, Homemaking inspiration, and Blogging reflections to help you live with more intention and fullfillment.
I don’t think it’s required to have a full blown business plan in place before you start (same for homeschooling by the way. Biz, homeschooling, and blogging – are SO similar!). You can read this post HERE as a natural next step to this post explaining why if you’re interested. But I do think having a clear 1 or 2 sentence WHY is uber important so that you don’t lack direction, ever.
Once you have this piece of communication set all of your words and writings from your blog posts – to the comments you write online – will begin to reflect that.
Now that you’re putting out all of these great & different communications, it’s so important to do things like editing. Your Microsoft Spellcheck is cool, but editing apps like The Hemingway app are super helpful (If you know of any other helpful tools share the wealth with others reading in a comment below!).
Also pay attention to your communication style and ask friends and family for feedback on anything that may need improvement. This requires being humble and having a thick skin to hear the truth! So make sure you can handle receiving it… You can ask things like: how’s my voice volume? Am I showing good eye contact? Do you feel like I listen to you enough (or if you’re more on the quiet side – do you feel like I’m responding enough with good input)? Are these fonts legible, is it large enough?
All of these things will help to make sure that the lines of communication between the market and your message are as clear as possible.
A Word About Your Ideal Reader
There’s much mention about your ideal audience or reader nowadays online, and in doing so a prevailing notion that you should come up with a fictitious person to help you to talk to that person you want to find – that will resonate with what you have to give. I only somewhat agree to the utility of this and here’s why.
Even big companies like Target or Walmart are NOT producing or sharing messages for every type of person, and neither are you.
But, the problem lies in that it can be way too abstract for most people to come up with an ideal person out of thin air. Since I’m in the latter group, if you’re like me, you might find it useful to do what I do instead if you’ve tried naming your reader and it feels spiritually off.
Wait and see who responds to your message.
Get to know them and see what exactly resonates with them. You’ll start to see a pattern and ” archetype” begin to emerge – and then you can begin to visualize who needs your service more concretely.
I hope you found today’s post helpful. In today’s video I’ll be going over more points.
Click the link below to view it.
Are you starting to market a new business or blog? What have you found is your biggest challenge in this area? I’d love to hear all about your story below in a comment.
In the end marketing like everything else is a learning experience, I gleaned so much from the mistakes or lessons I made with my first business. So learn to embrace them. I made plenty of changes and adjustments along the way so be forgiving and patient with yourself. Everyone’s journey is so different!
Stay tuned for my post next month where I’ll be talking about tips on how to pick the perfect blog or Business name (in a world where so many of the good ones seem to be all taken!).
If you’d like to join me and not miss my next post, subscribe to the Bliss Lived Soul Tribe Newsletter (on the side or down below). I deliver all of my posts and videos every month in one easy spot.