Let’s talk about how you adjust your marketing calendar under extreme economic uncertainty. I’m not sure ANY of us could’ve anticipated we’d be marketing small businesses during a pandemic … but here we are …
(And, yes, I DID say “marketing during a pandemic”—so, yes, it’s an okay thing to do. Promise.)
When all this COVID-19 stuff started happening, I definitely had a moment where I thought to myself, “Thank the Lord that I at least can push back and move some of my launches just to give some time to breathe and for everybody to get their feet back on the ground and realize what’s going on.”
Today, I’m walking through what I’ve changed in my marketing calendar for the rest of this year, what I’ve left exactly how it was, and also a few tips and tricks that I told our consulting clients, copywriting clients, and students.
Just because you build it, doesn’t always mean they’re going to come running ever, but especially during a global pandemic (when you’re very likely fighting for the livelihood and the survival of your creative small business.)
Selling and marketing in this landscape can be a little crazy—and confusing to navigate to say the least. But, you didn’t come this far to stop now, no matter where you are in your creative small business journey.
I’ve been building marketing plans since before Twitter was a thing (shout out to my college PR practicum) and now?? I’m ready to talk about YOUR marketing plan. Let’s go!
Step No. 1 | Lean on a “Big 4” Quarterly Champagne Campaign system
For starters, the possibility of “something unexpected coming up” is exactly why I plan my Quarterly Champagne Campaign system every single year.
Now I go in depth about this system inside my Primed to Launch™ program, but when I say Quarterly Champagne Campaign system, that is a fancy way of saying, I do four big marketing pushes a year and that’s pretty much it. There are other marketing campaigns sprinkled in the mix, but if I don’t get those four big things out the door and make a big stink about them and really work to change mindsets and help people understand what I do, then I know my revenue plan is not going to work.
I go all in four times a year, so like I said, when all this COVID-19 stuff started happening, I definitely had a moment where I thought to myself, “Thank the Lord that I at least can push back and move some of my launches just to give some time to breathe and for everybody to get their feet back on the ground and realize what’s going on.”
I really want to focus on your marketing calendar in this blog, here are a few other resources that may help you right nnow:
Here’s the thing I keep coming back to (both in my own business and as I continue to teach and coach students and clients):
This could be a chance to rebirth and rework a lot of things in your business.
Often we build something and then we feel chained to it, whether it is our offer ladder or our offers themselves—or even our marketing calendar or promo calendar and just showing up on social media. This could be your opportunity to change it, or start over and go back to the drawing board. (That’s allowed, you know—and it’s not always a *bad* thing.)
For me, and maybe for you too, a lot of this begins with truly accepting the sobering news of what is happening.
Then you can think about how it may affect your business and other businesses that partner and lean on you.
Some of you know my story—that I went through eating disorder recovery a few years ago—and one phrase that I remember was the idea of radical acceptance— it’s the idea of just truly accepting that something has happened and now you have to adjust to work within that framework.
Maybe you need that too and you just need to accept right now that things are going to have to change in your marketing and sales calendars and that’s okay.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but …
It’s okay to scratch some things out and start over with a fresh new plan for the rest of the year.
You need to pair your financial blueprint with your promotional calendar of your four seasonal marketing campaigns. I have a lot of theories and a lot of data on why the quarterly system works, but most of all it’s how I plan to hit my numbers and then rest. After that, I go into greater periods of not just serving, but also pushing out and creating content. I call it the Champagne Campaign System because similar to champagne, you don’t just guzzle a glass of bubbly every single day, but you enjoy it, and then wait a beat before you pop another bottle, right?
It boils down to this:
If your content strategy isn’t built on a measurable marketing plan or a revenue strategy, then it’s just a sandcastle blueprint.
As my students know, I keep a calendar beside my desk of our revenue numbers and goals that we need to hit (you might want to look into creating a similar calendar if you don’t have one in place already!!). When this COVID-19 stuff all started, it was easy for me to look at my marketing calendar, move a couple of dates, Slack my team and say, “Hey guys, I’m going to push back a couple of these launches just to give us some breathing room and space for the dust to settle.”
This is the SAME kind of thing that I coached some of my clients through as well. We looked at their upcoming launches and sales calendars and reworked things.
Maybe you need to push a launch later in the year or maybe you need to build a mini-version of a similar offer at a smaller price point.
I also had a few clients who knew the course/product they planned to offer later in the year was exactly the thing people needed right now, in this very uncertain season, so they threw open the doors and let people have it—with extended payment plans and discounts.
Step No. 2 | Switch things up to promote lower-ticket offers or DIY versions of what you do
Switch up your marketing plan (and consequently your pricing structure) to offer some lower ticket offers, DIY versions, or even bits and pieces of what you do, so people can get access to you and your products at a lower price.
If you’re a service provider right now, don’t stop reading just because you heard the word launch, because I definitely don’t want you to think that launching is only for people who offer physical or digital products. Launch just means a promo campaign or period.
My student Ashley said:
“I’m in the middle of pre-launching my new and improved one-on-one service right now, but I’m thinking ahead to Q2 and Q3 and trying to get creative with other lower ticket offers, so I could help folks who may be tight on cash and can’t afford my bigger services right now. I don’t want to exhaust my audience with selling but I also need a contingency plan to keep money flowing in and my business afloat.”
What I told Ashley is to focus on the big pre-launch strategy that she already set up.
BUT, I also suggested that she focus on shifting her mindset from needing everyone on your launch list to be able to afford that one-on-one offer. It’s ok if they can’t afford it because on the back end of that, I want her to absolutely offer a lower ticket version. Which could mean a quick strategy call with Ashley or a day rate or just an audit instead. Are there ways you can take your one-on-one service and pair it down, quick-and-dirty style, to get your people what they want at a lower price point?
Those options involve working with you, but you could also create some kind of DIY versions of your products where people can just get access to some of the tools that you use to create and then go.
(Juts don’t forget to build marketing strategies to push those kinds of options as well!!)
Even if you’ve never thought about it before, sometimes it’s crazy situations like the one we’re all in right now that make us go back to the drawing board and reassess what people actually need.
Think about the movie industry right now: I watched Emma the other night—it was beautiful and I loved it. That movie was supposed to go to theaters, but instead, the execs saw what was happening and noticed there were all these people staying at home.
So they reworked their system to get the movie to the people who wanted to see it in the way they wanted to experience it, at home and not in a theater.
Is this starting to make sense?
To note, during election years and the natural uncertainty and change it can bring, we see payment plans become more of an option that people want to dig into.
Now, they’re going to be even more popular.
Make sure you’re extending those payment plans or just offering your clients and your customers different ways to pay bit by bit. Check out the tool Gravy, which has been so helpful for us to help recoup missed payments if somebody’s credit card payment fails. They’ve been an incredible resource the more I’ve grown my business and payment plans because you should probably be stretching out your payment plans too.
Step No. 3 | Keep showing up and serving even if you want to retreat
Make sure that you are continuing to get out there and serving even if you don’t quite feel like it.
TOTALLY not saying you need to be the most productive person right now because I’m the type of person that when stuff like this is going on, I too just want to pull the covers over my head and disappear for a little while.
But we have to keep showing up for our people.
I want you to step in as a leader right now. This doesn’t mean you have to fix all their problems, I just want you to continue to show up on the regularly scheduled plan that you were typically doing before all of this.
I can’t go hide under my covers right now, neither can you.
We’ve worked way too hard on our creative small businesses to stop now.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned that have helped me a little bit with this.
Tip #1: Lean on writing prompts.
Sitting down every morning and getting some of my thoughts out, especially before I write marketing messages, is so helpful. Now I have a tool that may help you with this if you post a lot of content on Instagram, it’s my Instagram Caption Party Starters.
But taking one of those sometimes and just putting it on my computer and starting to type what I feel about that has helped me figure out the message that I want to say. We all have a lot going on in our heads right now, it’s okay to start with some little prompt or tool that can help at least get those wheels going.
Tip #2: Be with Your People Online
People are online and a lot right now, so go ahead and be right there with them. Be present with your people, listen to them, and talk to them. I’ve found Instagram stories to be a great way that I can do this, that’s both where my audience is, but it also is kind of fun for me. I went to Social Media Marketing World at the beginning of March before everything and I learned a couple of great tips about Instagram stories.
One in particular, see how you can brand your Instagram stories so they’re recognizably yours, whether you’re using the same fonts every time or colors or outlining it a certain way. You could focus on how to visually brand your Instagram stories during this time.
Tip #3: Don’t Serve Just to Make $
Don’t come out of all of this with the idea, “I’m just going to show up and serve, serve, serve right now” because they’ll remember after all of this who was really serving them. You and your audience can see through that stuff. Instead I want to ask you, when you are showing up and serving right now, even if it never came back financially, would you still be doing this?
I’m not saying put out everything for free, I just want you to think twice before you serve, serve, serve like crazy with the underlying mindset that one day everybody’s going to pay you for all this. Free content never means that one day the scales are going to magically tip in your favor and the money’s going to come rushing in.
So even if you weren’t financially rewarded for it, would you still show up and do this thing that you love so much and get it into the hands of the people that need it? I think that’s just a business gut check we need right now.
Now that you have some ideas about how you can adjust your marketing calendar, you may not know what to say: so check out my Copy Swipe Guide that you can use to communicate to your clients and your customers during this sensitive time.
(And you’ll can also get your hands on my Primed to Launch Playbook, this is the workbook that can talk you through some of the things that I mentioned here including the Quarterly Champagne Campaign system,and it’s all here for $37!)