Charlotte Biggs from the Card & Gift Network has a confession to make: She’s a big fan of marketing plans. And it’s not just because Charlotte likes making lists (although that helps). No, Charlotte “likes marketing plans because they save you time”.
Featuring 7 key points explaining why every gift shop needs a marketing plan, lets hand back over to Charlotte…
Let’s repeat that opening quote: I like marketing plans because they save you time. Correction, in the long run, a marketing plan will save you time. Because let’s be honest planning takes time and I know most retailers don’t have endless extra hours at their disposal.
If however, you spend a little time creating a marketing plan you will, in the end, save yourself time; not to mention saving a lot of effort and probably a few pounds too.
The joy of the marketing plan you see is not that is gives you a clear list of activities to complete (bye bye procrastination); no, the best bit is that it makes you stop and review what works and what doesn’t. Valuable information that will save you time on the wrong marketing tactics
So, how do you create a marketing plan?
That’s a good question. A question I found myself attempting to answer to a packed out workshop at this year’s Spring Fair.
In the run-up to the show I came up with a few different methods of ‘How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan’ for my “does what it says on the tin” workshop and there’s probably a hundred more I didn’t recall. Looking back now however I think there were 7 key points.
7 steps that will help you create a marketing plan for your shop, no matter if you’re an online business or a high street retailer…
1. Don’t Just Jump In. Create Marketing Campaigns.
The first step in creating a marketing plan is to figure out what campaigns you could run.
Keeping it simple, a marketing campaign is a set of clearly defined activities to promote a product(s) or service(s);
For a gift shop marketing campaigns could include:
- A Product Based Campaign – highlights a specific product(s), such as a new shipment of teddy bears, which have arrived at your shop.
- A Customer Focused Campaign – targets a specific customer group; you may have a dozen products perfect for gardeners, which can be promoted together in a single campaign.
- A Seasonal Marketing Campaign – an important one in the gift industry, seasonal campaigns relate to holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas where you focus on a single occasion.
- A Brand-Based Campaign – this would promote something important to your business such as quality craftsmanship or your eco-friendly credentials.
Most gift shops will have a variety of products and occasions to cater for and they all need specific marketing.
Depending on your resources (time, money, staff) your marketing plan may have one or multiple campaigns; occasionally you may even have some running at the same time.
By breaking your marketing down into campaigns you can ensure that the marketing ideas you develop stay focused and appeal to your ideal customer. No trying to sell gardening gloves to teddy bear collectors for you!
Pictured: Valentines Day Banner from the Greeting Card Association
2. Map Out Your Seasonal Campaigns on a Marketing Calendar.
Once you have a few campaign ideas sorted it’s time to consider what you will do when.
It might seem unnecessary (especially with a busy shop) but creating a marketing calendar is a great way to map out the time you will spend on each campaign.
The first step of creating a calendar is to add your seasonal campaigns. These are the campaigns such as Valentine’s Day that would only be successful at a certain time of year.
Big events like Valentine’s Day and Christmas are no doubt in your mind constantly, but it’s worth considering the smaller events too. School holidays, Stationery Week, even National Puppy Day could also play a role in your business and are worth adding to your marketing calendar.
If the idea of doing a whole year at a time seems like madness you’ll never have time for break it up. Mapping out a marketing calendar 3 months at a time is much better than having no calendar at all.
3. Add Your Evergreen Ideas to the Calendar.
Once you’ve filled in all your seasonal events, you will hopefully have some free time with nothing planned.
In an ideal world that would mean time for you to put your feet up. But in the marketing world, free spots on the calendar are a great time to run evergreen marketing campaigns.
The opposite of their seasonal counterparts, an evergreen marketing campaign is something that works at any time of year. This could be product-based, like those teddy bears I mentioned earlier, or could be a brand or customer based campaign that focuses on a particular evergreen theme.
The number of evergreen campaigns you run will depend on the resources you have at your disposal, but it’s worth remembering that once they’ve been set up evergreen campaigns could work for a long time, with occasional tweaking and updates.
4. Set a Goal. Even if it Takes a Little Guesswork.
Your completed marketing calendar should have given you rough timeframes for each of your campaigns so the next stage of planning is to set some goals.
When you start planning a campaign, the first step is to decide on a goal; a clear target that links to your bigger business goals.
For example, let’s pretend you have a new shipment of 100 teddy bears arriving at your gift shop. To meet the monthly revenue goal you want to sell all those bears in the next month. Well, you could just start marketing and see how things go after a month, that may work perfectly.
If however, you give yourself a firm goal of selling 25 bears in the first week. You can track your progress as you go. This will give you the information you need to adapt your marketing as and when you need to; more bears are selling via Twitter than Facebook? You can stop marketing on Facebook and concentrate on Twitter.
Setting goals (even if you’re guessing at your bear-selling abilities) means you won’t let time slip on marketing that isn’t helping your ultimate business goal.
Pictured: Itty Bitty Teddy Bears
5. Brainstorm Your Marketing Activities (Perhaps with a Little Help from Google).
After the goal your marketing plan needs activities, this is all the stuff you’ll do once you’re planning is over.
For gift shops using online methods, this means content marketing, email, advertising, PR, search engine optimisation and social media.
Bricks and mortar shops could equally use all of these methods but will likely need to consider shop windows, in-store displays or events and printed marketing materials too.
Once again the activities you include in your marketing plan will depend on the resources available to you. Don’t worry about doing everything at once, you’re plan can develop as you go.
Your time planning gives you the chance to brainstorm as many ideas as you can. If you find yourself struggling for ideas I’d suggest getting a little help from Google. A google search on the product or occasion you’re promoting will give you news items, blog posts, competitors websites and much more; use all the information you can find to spark ideas for your marketing.
6. Don’t Forget the Details.
Once you’ve brainstormed a few genius marketing ideas you need to add details. This might seem like overkill but it’ll help in the long run I promise.
So let’s go back to our teddy bear example. One of your ideas could be to reach out to teddy bear fans on Instagram using the hashtag #teddylove. That’s good but your plan needs a little bit of detail. If instead, you say “I will post one photo every day of the bears on Instagram using the hashtag #teddylove” that’s even better.
That detail gives you something to measure, which takes me nicely to my last step in the marketing plan.
7. Measure Everything You Do.
Measurements give you cold hard facts about what’s working and what’s not so they’re essential in marketing.
If you measure all of your marketing activities you can quickly determine where you should be spending your time.
Going back to our teddy bear example once more… let’s say we find that one Instagram post a day results in 5 bears sold at the end of the week, that’s valuable information. You might compare that to sharing the same bear photos on Facebook or Twitter; helping you discover which social media platform is best for reaching bear fans.
You could also use the information to switch to two photos per day on Instagram to see if that increases the number of bears you sell.
By measuring your efforts on a weekly or fortnightly basis you’ll always ensure you’re using your time effectively in promoting your products and shop.
Your Planning is Done
Once you’ve completed these 7 steps you should have a pretty detailed marketing plan. It probably took you a little while to get it all done so well done and maybe have a break; you deserve it!
Going forward all your marketing planning will now be so much easier, you’ll just be able to adapt your plan keeping the good bits and tweaking or ditching the bad stuff.
If you’d like to know more you can see all the slides from my Spring Fair workshop on the Card & Gift Network website.
There are also more marketing resources, which can be accessed for free in the Card & Gift Network Business Hub.
About Charlotte/Card & Gift Network
Launched in 2009, Card & Gift Network is an online platform supporting and showcasing the greetings card and giftware industry. Comprising blog, directory and business hub, the website unites designers, makers, retailers and suppliers from across the industry to explore a world of cards and gifts.
The site was founded by Charlotte Biggs. Charlotte worked for a greeting and giftware publisher for six years, before moving into online marketing in 2009. For the last eight years, she has been helping card and gift businesses to promote themselves and sell more online.