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219: Branding vs Marketing vs Sales

It’s not enough to just focus on marketing, or just on branding. You need branding plus marketing plus sales to make a creative business thrive. Learn more about the difference and how to rock all three at TaraSwiger.com/podcast219

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What's your brand? Is worrying about it going to increase your sales? What is translating marketing on Instagram into sales?

Today we're going to talk about the difference between branding, marketing and sales, as it's related to your small business.

A few weeks ago we talked about increasing sales through marketing on Instagram and then I was talking with a Captain about being sure they were spending their time on SALES, not just on Branding. It got me thinking, there's an important distinction between Branding and Marketing and Sales, and we don't talk about it a lot. In a big a business, these three things are clearly separate, there are different people in each department. But in your small business, you're doing it all. And in different businesses, they have different weights, ….

Branding

The vibe of your business. Your brand is the answer to the question: “How do people think about your business? How does your business makes people feel?” When they see it, they know it's yours, because it's your branding. It's the visuals, the tone of voice, the kind of media you use, and how you show up.

This is super important in a business that sells commodity – in other words, the same thing as similar businesses.

For example, a comic shop sells the exact same comics and uses the exact same distributor as every other comic shop. So the branding is EXTREMELY important to help it stand out. For a shop, the branding is going to be how the shop makes you feel – the customer service, the vibe of the shop, the events and activities going on. Everything from the staff you hire, to the comics you highlight, to the way you treat customers – that's all going into the way your customers feel about you.

Now, before we dive into this, I want to be clear about something. In all areas of your business, you're going to be authentic and honest. Just because you THINK about something and decide something, doesn't make it inauthentic. I think makers get confused about this because they think: I'm going to be myself and any amount of being strategic isn't authentically myself. No no no. The goal of effectively branding your small business is to find the brand that flows authentically from you. But to also be aware of it and intentional with it.

So you're not just providing amazing customer service in your shop because it's what's your brand about it, you're doing it genuinely and authentically.

If you (or a branding expert you hire) try to push a brand that isn't who you really are, it's going to fall apart. For example, the knitwear designer Frenchie behind Aroha Knits – her business has this very beautiful, elegant, styled in natural materials and soft colors brand, and when she talks in her videos, you can feel it's all very authentic. But if I tried to pull that off? If it would be fake and be So. Much. Work. I just can't be airy and elegant and styled. My branding is bright colors and being honest and being my goofy self.

While that's authentically me, I have to actually remind myself of that, especially when I compare myself to others or I feel like maybe I should be X or Y.

A few more examples:
If you're in a direct selling company, like doTERRA, the company brand stands for something already. But you have to build your own brand – not with a fancy website or anything, but through how you treat every customer, through how you sample people, invite them to learn more. If your brand is aligned with the bigger brand, and if you use the bigger brand to give you focus, you'll do better.  Your brand of education and support is going to be what builds trust and creates a community.

A yarn dyer is creating a brand with every skein of yarn she dyes – the colors she uses, the yarn she uses, all of it. What also impacts your brand: the label, the shops or shows where you choose to sell, what you focus on about your yarn (is it the material? Fun? Community?)

A few things to remember about Branding:

  • If you're making your thing and putting it out there, you're going to have a brand. You don't have to “make” one, they occur naturally. Your brand is going to come from your IG, your products, photography, way you write your descriptions.
  • Since you're going to have a brand anyhow, spend a little time thinking about it. The questions I ask in my marketing classes guide you through this. You can get access to my marketing class that goes into Instagram and email in the Starship, which opens in a few weeks. Sign up to learn more at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz.
  • Branding is really important in a business that sells commodities, and if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Be consistent. Choose some colors, your tone of voice, and stick with it.
  • Brands (and businesses) evolve and change, that's ok.

Marketing

Marketing is communicating with your customers. It includes your brand (what do people think of when they think of you), but marketing is the ongoing communication of both that brand + feeling, and of the products you have. Marketing is everything that creates, keeps, and satisfies the customer.

Branding is the feeling, marketing is what you DO that creates that feeling.

Marketing is alllll the things you're doing in your business. It's putting things on sale, it's photography, it's what you post and how you say what you say. We talk a lot about marketing, but after we talk about sales, I'll give you a  few examples where people get confused about if they need to focus on marketing or sales.

Sales

Sales are: HOW YOU MAKE MONEY. It's the final step in the relationship that starts with marketing, contains your brand, all of that should lead to people making the sales.

It's where you say: Click here to buy this. Here's how you can get this. Would you like to join?

You can have the best branding and marketing in the world, but if you don't follow through and focus on sales – nothing. It won't matter. This is ESPECIALLY important in the online world. All your marketing might never be seen, until you focus on sales and you get in front of people.

For a crafter this includes:
Doing shows
Sell to retail shops (you close the sale to them and they close sales to many consumers)

I feel like I've been in an intensive training school for sales since joining doTERRA. Their branding is perfect. They already have marketing figured out. The products are amazing and pure and there's research projects that back it all up. In order to share the oils, I have to focus not on marketing (which is where I've spent a lot of my time in my other businesses) or in product creation, but in sales. How do I talk about these in a way that communicates clearly? How do I educate people so that they understand how they'd use them (because I don't want you to buy something you won't use?)

These are the questions you ask yourself to improve your selling –
Do people know this exists?
What do they need to understand or know before they will want to buy?
Am I making it clear how to buy? (So many people skip this part!)

Understanding these questions has made me better at sales in every area of my business – from the Starship, to book sales, to classes.

You can hear more about being better at sales here.

I want to reiterate what I said earlier – you're going to do ALL of this with authenticity. People have such stereotypes about “sales”, that they think you have to leave your integrity behind. Of course not! Sales is a natural outgrowth of your brand and marketing. If you make it NOT a natural outgrowth, you're going to be really bad at it.

As I said before, just because you're thinking about it and getting better at it, doesn't make it inauthentic.

If you feel like it does, or you are thinking “I don't want to do sales”, then honey, you don't want to have a business. A business is sales.

So let's look at some examples of where people get confused about which of the three they need to focus on:

If you have started an online shop and you haven't gotten sales or traffic, my #1 recommendation is that you focus on making sales, before you worry with anything else. Get your products in front of people – go do a craft show, do a local farmer's market, approach local shops or galleries. Spend all your time on sales, and in the in-between times, post to Instagram, or start to build your online marketing. But I see a lot of makers spend hours and hours on their online marketing, which takes MUCH longer to turn into sales. So when they don't have sales after 2 or 6 or 12 months, they stop their business and  say, “people didn't want what I sold”. Nope, it's that people didn't know what you sold.

The social media world has confused us by thinking a big following = a steady business. Nope. Steady sales = a steady business.

Now, if you've GOT a big social media following, you can absolutely start a business and start making sales, but my friends and students who have done this tell me that they're shocked by how SMALL percentage of their audience actually buys their thing.

If you are making some sales and you're getting real customer feedback, absolutely build an online following, but realize that a small following that actually buys is 100x better than a big audience that doesn't.

I'm pretty passionate about this topic, because I've seen so many business owners spin their wheels online instead of going out there and making sales. I have 2 businesses that earn over six figures a year, and you can see on my Instagram, I don't have a huge audience. This podcast isn't in the top 10 or even 50 on iTunes. I don't even have 5,000 email subscribers.

So why do people focus more on marketing than sales?

Sales is scary. You can be rejected. When you focus on marketing, you're just “putting it out there” and people can either opt in or not opt in. That feels much less risky.

When you focus on sales, you're giving people the opportunity to say yes OR NO. And we're afraid of hearing no.

But as my mentor told me in the first few months of my doTerra business: You have to get a lot more comfortable being rejected. Ha! Yes! Also, ouch.

So how do you know what you need to work on?

  1. Almost always you can spend more time on sales.
  2. If you've been building piecemeal over the last few years, take a step back and look at your branding. Does your site and Instagram and tone “match” your products? Does it make sense? If you threw your product (and tag) in a pile with others, would people know which is yours? It may be time to think through what you want your brand to be and how you're communicating that.
  3. Everything is marketing. If you are posting online regularly, updating your shop, putting labels on your products, you're marketing. Like we talked about in episode 217, focus on your right people and on communicating clearly.

If you'd like to work on all three and get my feedback on your branding, marketing and sales, join the Starship! It opens in a few weeks and you can learn more about it by signing up at the bottom of today's show notes or at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

217: Translate Love into Sales – Your questions answered

In businesses love isn’t enough - you also need to have a solid marketing plan. Learn how to clearly communicate with your customers at TaraSwiger.com/podcast217

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How do you translate passion into sales? Today I’m answering a question from an Instagram friend!

On Instagram, I asked for your questions and IMDCreates asks, “I am scared to ask but here goes I am a crocheter and I am proud of what I do but it doesn't seem to translate into sales how can I change this for my business?”

Sales don’t just happen, sales are a result of clear communication.

Sales happen because the person who wants what you sell, clearly understands (because you communicated it) what is special about your work and how it will serve her needs.

Remember, there are a bunch of needs: need for self-expression, need for belonging.

How do you clearly communicate?

First, understand that this is a lifelong process. You are going to get better and better at each of these steps with time, the main thing is to start working at it now, and keep paying attention as you go.

This takes time and thought the first time you do it, which is why I’ve put this in classes, so you can dedicate a few weeks to figuring this out.

  1. Identify who is the person your work is for. Where/how does she use it? What stage of her life is she in? What is she wanting to do? (Express herself? Feel great? Be funny?)
  2. Talk only to her – in your Instagram posts, in your shop descriptions, in whatever you do.
  3. Get clear about how your work serves her need. In my book Market Yourself there are a lot of worksheets to help you figure out – what makes your work special, how to communicate that, and how to speak in the language of your customer. You want to be sure that you’re talking about what she cares about (ex. she doesn’t care about what stitch you use, she wants to know why you made that decision, what that stitch does for her.)
  4. Keep her coming back. Email list. Keep communicating

Now, I mentioned that this is a lot of steps and that it takes time. I walk you through all this, along with how to translate it into email lists and Instagram, in the class Elevate your Business, which will now come with your Starship membership – you’ll be guided through:

  • Identifying your goal
  • Making a plan
  • Tracking your numbers and profitability
  • Figuring out your marketing and how to use the tools effectively

The Starship will open next month, you can be the first to hear about it, at taraswgier.com/starshipbiz.

In the meantime, you can work through some of these questions in my book, Market Yourself, and since I saw you had a Etsy shop, Ida, check out my video on three things to fix in your Etsy shop.

If you want more about marketing, here are some of the past episodes I've done about marketing your business:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

180: How to be great at sales (without being sales-y)

Your creative business relies on sales. That means YOU need to get good at sales. Yes, you need to be a salesperson. But did hearing that sentence just totally freak you out or turn you off? Listen to this episode of Explore your Enthusiasm and learn how to get great at sales without being gross: TaraSwiger.com/podcast180

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Your business relies on sales. That means YOU need to get good at sales. Yes, you need to be a salesperson. But did hearing that sentence just totally freak you out or turn you off?

We have some gross connotations with that word…. and it may be impacting the sales you make and the health of your business.

Links I mentioned:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

What your customers care about

What your customers care about 2

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Your customers don't care about the same things you care about. They don't (necessarily) want to hear about your tools and techniques – they want to know how it benefits them and how your product will fit in their life.

But how do you figure this out? How do you know what matters most to your customers? How do you figure out why they buy?

In this episode we will cover: 

  • How to find the specific details that matter to your customers
  • How your product fits into their life
  • How to learn from your customers so you can become more effective

 

Got a question you'd like me to answer on the podcast?

Send it to vulcan@taraswiger.com with the subject line “Ask Tara”.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

If you think it might be time to focus on what YOUR customers care about, Craft Your Marketing might be just the class you need! We'll talk about crafting a customer path so that you can turn one-time visitors into life-long fans of your work. Sign up below to find out more about it!

 

The secret to turning readers into buyers

This week's podcast is live! Talking about my favorite question to your marketing floundering: Where does it fit on your Customer Path?

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How customers find you, fall in love, and choose to buy = your Customer Path.

In today's podcast episode, we talk about what it is, what you already have and how to start improving it.

A “Customer Path” is a framework to think about your marketing. Once you think through your message and your goals from your own point of view (like we do in the book), you need to shift and think about how this all fits together for your ideal customer. What do they come in contact with first? Where do they go next?

This is how you turn a casual reader (or random googler) into a customer, and then a raving fan.

This framework will help you know:

The good news: you already have a Customer Path! Your job, your responsibility is to make it as easy and effective as possible, both to boost your own sales AND to provide service to your customers (they want to know how to find out more!)

In the podcast I share some questions to get you started in your own Customer Path building and a list of 5 things to remember as you map out your own Customer Path.

If you'd like to build your Customer Path, increase it's effectiveness, and get clear on how you make sales, join the brand new class: From Hi to Buy: Craft a Customer Path.

Links I mention: 

How to listen

Your Turn!

What does your Customer Path look like right now? Are there gaps? Cliffs? Too many options? 

What are you going to do this week to make it clearer (and thus, more efficient)?

If you don't know the answer to that question, sign up for my FREE marketing e-course:

 

 

Avoid the post-holiday sales slump

Avoid the post holiday sales slump

Welcome to a brand-new video series!

Each week I'll answer your creative-biz questions in a short video. Subscribe so you don't miss a one.
(Got a question? Ask me!)

Today I answered Ana's question:

How do I avoid the post-holiday sales slump in my online business?


If you can't see the video, click here.

I have four suggestions for keeping your hard-earned holiday momentum rolling through the New Year:

  1. Keep the new people around.
  2. Offer them something new (that goes with what they already bought)
  3. Ask for the share.
  4. Plan for the slump.

 

PS. Like my dress? Me too! It's Megan, from Karina

 

Embrace your Right People (and the money will follow)

“Your Right Price will be right for your Right People”

I said this in the Pricing class and a few people piped up to ask , “But who are these Right People? How do I find them?

We'll talk about the how to find the Right People and how to make them happy in this class, but before you register for that, let's answer the basic question:

Who are Right People and why do I care?

I first heard the term from Havi, when she said:

Your Right People need whatever it is you have in whatever form you give it.

I read that and thought, yeah, ok.

But then I started to explore it (and talked to Havi about it in more depth).

As I experimented, it reframed and transformed every area of my business.

Today I'll talk about about how recognizing and hanging out with your Right People can rock your business and tomorrow I'll share what changed for me.

Let's start with a definition, from Havi:

Right People = anyone you like and appreciate who likes and appreciates you.

My definition, as it relates to our crafty pursuits:

Right People = the people who love and adore your thing, the way you do it and you.

Your right people is anyone who really loves what you make.

This includes:

  • customers
  • friends
  • cheerleaders
  • mentors
  • partners

Not all of your Right People are going to buy from you, but even those that don't will sing your praises to new Right People.

Without a focus your Right People your business may be:

  • Unfocused: Which way should I go next? What should I make?
  • Uncertain: Will this sell?  Where should I advertise?
  • Insecure: Will people like it? Is it worthless? Will anyone ever buy?

Focusing on your Right People can reverse all that.

When you're talking to your Right People, you can be yourself.

Because that spark of YOU is what spoke to the people in the first place, it's why they are here, checking out your thing.

When you talk to your Right People, you know what to do next.

They'll tell you what they want either directly (I want yellow!) or indirectly (yellow sells out quickly).

When you share your thing with the Right People, you'll make sales.

They will feel a sense of kinship or a recognition of awesomeness and it will *click*. Yes, this is for me.

It's not about manipulation, convincing or cajoling.
In fact, it's the opposite! When you speak to your Right People, you don't have to persuade them that your thing is right, they will feel it.

Sound awesome?

Learn how to do it in my class on Befriending your Right People.  We'll cover the specific how tos of finding your Right People, talking to them, learning from them and keeping them blissfully happy.