What is Working on Pinterest? – The Data Doesn’t Lie

What is Working on Pinterest? – The Data Doesn’t Lie

 

Introduction

If you are reading this Blog post then chances are you have an interest in Pinterest and most likely Tailwind.  Perhaps you are wanting to get started on Pinterest but not sure what is the best approach in using the visual search engine.

 

The power of visual images for marketing, is well known, and I have discussed some of the benefits in this earlier blog (www.kdigitaldesign.com/choosing-website-brand-images) and this one too (www.kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-marketing-for-small-business).

 BUT what really prompted me to write this article is how much other factors can be powerful in our decision making processes that affect our businesses.  Unfortunately, not all of it is for the right reasons, particularly when social media gets in the way.  

This blog will discuss the impacts that arise from: 

– What is said in social media forums about Pinterest and Tailwind

– What was presented by Tailwind representatives Jeff Sieh and Alisa Merideth in a Facebook live on February 25 2021 (US time) – you can catch the replay on the Tailwind Facebook page here (facebook.com/Tailwind)

Outline – Dispelling Pinterest Myths

 The Tailwind live session was a great information source and boosted my confidence in knowing that a sound strategy, including the use of Tailwind, is a good path for Pinterest success. My intention is that by distilling the information discussed in the live, will help you as a Pinterest user to understand what works, and to separate some of the fact from the fiction out there.

  1. Some Terminology
  2. Tailwind Studies – A Summary of 2021 Results
  3. Saves and Followers DO Matter on Pinterest
  4. Biggest Mistakes
  5. Pinterest v Tailwind
  6. Repinning – Is it Out or In?
  7. Biggest Winners
  8. Summary

 

  

 

Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

 

1. Some Terminology

It can be confusing to keep up with the terms used in Pinterest especially after the changes made in January 2021 [you can read my summary of those in an earlier post here (https://kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-analytics-update-january-21/)

Relevant to this blog article are the key terms that Alisa Merideth used in the Facebook Live: 

  • A “Create” –  this means a new pin, the first time it appears whether it is published in Pinterest or Tailwind first.  You will notice on your Pinterest account there is a ‘create’ tab – and you can choose to create a new pin.
  • Saves – any time a pin is saved. These used to be referred to as a ‘repin’. A save is a good indication of the distribution of your pin.  If someone is saving your content, then they have an interest in, either immediately or are saving for future reference.

 

Bear in mind that a “save” could be you saving your own pin to different boards (more on that later) OR it could be you saving other people’s content and someone else saving YOUR content.

 

Personally, I love the use of the term “creates” in this context, as discussions about what constitutes a fresh pin can be confusing.

 

2. Tailwind Studies – A Summary of 2021 Results

  

I have listened to a few Facebook lives in the last week or so where Alisa spoke about the study that Tailwind completed in January 2021. What is interesting is that the study arose because of the massive “buzz” on social media about whether pinning with Tailwind versus pinning with Pinterest resulted in different outcomes.  The premise being that one yielded better stats than the other.

 

I know from being a member of many different Facebook Pinterest and blogging communities that there is a lot of opinions as to whether one is better than the other or whether one platform can negatively impact on your results.  However, this is all hearsay unless it backed up by evidence or data.  AND that’s what Tailwind did.  The analysed the data to find out the answer to not only this question, and in the process, various interesting facts came to light.

 

The Results are In:

The Tailwind study surveyed millions of pins that were pinned recently, and these included non-Tailwind users, (so there is no bias on that aspect).  The results showed (insert drum roll here):

  • Pins with 20 or more saves were from pinners who were pinning a lot more new creates (brand new pins) than they were saving (repining) content.

 

  • The first time a create appears it attracts 71% of its saves (so the more times it appears, the less times it is saved – although still able to attract an additional 29% which is not insignificant).

 

  • Average Engagement drops off around 60 days after a new create is first published (half-life used to be around 120 days). This is an average figure.  There will still be a lot of older pins that are getting saves and there will be a lot of pins that trail off in less than 60 days.  Remember these are averages, but also points to freshness as a relevant factor.

 

Does this mean we shouldn’t pin out 2-3 months in advance? No – again Alisa explains that this all about averages, not hard and fast data, and in my opinion another example of how when you start mentioning numbers, things can get taken out of context and 3 days later, on social media become “law”.   Of course, we should be pinning in advance for upcoming holidays and special events to capture the first wave of interest for those that are planning in advance as pinners like to do.  Then top up the content with new images.

  

How to be Successful on Pinterest

3.Saves and Followers DO Matter on Pinterest

How To Increase Your Pinterest Saves by 373%

 Now who could resist that headline?

 The Tailwind study also showed that of the millions of pins investigated, those which were made using Tailwind Create had a 373% increase in saves of pins compared to saving an existing pin.

 

We don’t know what difference there is in using Tailwind Creates compared to Canva when designing a new create. What this information could be telling us that is that people are creating more pins as Tailwind Creates can be faster (once you have tried it a few times) and the pin designs are a little bit different to what has traditionally been doing the rounds of Pinterest up until now (generally speaking of course).

What Does This Data Mean for Pinterest?

 

This information is GOLD.  It provides such richness on what is working in general in Pinterest and Tailwind.  That said, it remains true that approaches to using Pinterest should be unique to YOUR account and YOUR business.  What this confirms or consolidates, however, is that the changes and Pinterest ‘best practice’ and tips that were adopted and promoted by Pinterest back in September 2020 are becoming reality as shown by this social proof.

  • Pinterest said they wanted fresh content
  • Pinterest said they wanted creative content
  • Pinterest said they wanted people to engage with their platform more

 

AND the Tailwind study has demonstrated that the best results are coming from

  • pinning more fresh content compared to saving content
  • Our first pin yields us the most saves on average – so where we save it and how many we create must matter, right?

 Part of the Tailwind study looked at pins with more than 5000 saves:

 30% were video pins

  • 89% of pins with more than 5000 saves had some additional layer of engagement – either a comment, reaction or photo attached.

 

What About Followers on Pinterest?

Another part of the Study examined 2 million accounts who pinned in November 2020 and January 2021.  Those who had consistently higher than average engagement had an average follower count of 50,000.  YES you read the correctly.

 

I liken it to FOMO (fear of missing out) – as identities on Pinterest become well known, their content becomes more visible because they are sharing content more frequently.  Engagement grows, saves grow, and followers grow.  A lot of Pinterest Managers will tell you that followers don’t matter.  They do matter it would seem.  Increasing your followers increases the chance of your content being seen.

 

I have never subscribed to “follow for follow” trains, however, there are meaningful ways you can grow your followers:

 

  • Publish fresh content/blogs
  • Pin fresh content
  • Nurture and grow your email list
  • Add value in social media groups

 4. Biggest Pinterest Mistakes

 Not claiming your website.  It seems obvious but … apparently amongst the consistent UNDER performers on Pinterest, only 3% had claimed their website.  Claim your website on Pinterest so people find you more easily when you pin something.

 

Not so much a “mistake” but another thing to note with Pinterest is that Hashtags are out and in fact are not recommended any more.  Does this mean you should go and delete all your existing hashtags, probably not worth the time.  Moving forward leave them out.  What we do know from Pinterest and Tailwind is that they don’t provide any benefit, and potentially – although I have no first hand information, is that they may leave your pin vulnerable to “bot attacks.

 

I would hazard a guess that in the accounts that are underperforming even though they are pinning regularly – keyword or SEO optimisation would be an issue – either on the boards, pin titles, pin descriptions, or all of the above.

  

Pinterest versus Tailwind - which is better for pinning.

5. Pinterest versus Tailwind

Tailwind analysed pins from July 2020 through to Jan 2021 to test whether there was any difference in results depending on what platform the pin was first published.  Both Jeff and Alisa are active in Facebook groups and saw the many complaints and suggestions that Tailwind was negatively affecting their Pinterest performance.

 

The results showed that pins made in Tailwind had the same or higher engagement compared to pins made in Pinterest.  As Jeff Sieh discussed, we are often quick to blame the tools instead of looking at the data to see why results may be different.

 

6. Repinning – Is it Out or In?

 

Okay, so we have heard that 71% of saves happens (on average) to the first create.  The first time a pin appears. What does this mean for repining own content?  Does this mean Pinterest doesn’t want us to repin at all anymore (… I can see the social media rumour mill grinding away as a type ….).  We can still save to other relevant boards, just be aware of “diminishing returns”.  There is still a chance for 29% more saves. 

Alisa Merideth raises a very interesting point on this topic.  She explains how it might be worth considering only saving new create to one board and then change the image and keyword to target the other boards.

In all honesty, I feel a little bit vindicated by some of these results.  So many times in the last few months I have proffered advice in Facebook forums about pinning proportionally more of your own content than you do of other peoples.  This is what Pinterest has been telling us about wanting new content.  Perhaps it goes further than that though.  Perhaps it does mean saving less of our own pins to even a few relevant boards.  Do I think it means only pinning one pin to one board?  No – as there is still on average almost 30% of content value left on the table if we take that approach.  These Tailwind results indicate that Pinterest really does want fresh content.

 

Testing and analysing results is one way to find out what approach works best for your account.

7. Biggest Pinterest Winners?

 

 Story Pins and video pins are hot right now on Pinterest.  My view is that as the demographic on Pinterest is getting younger than a few years ago, and video content is more mainstream, it makes sense that video and animations will feature heavily on Pinterest.  The more popular they are the more people will include them on their pins and the cycle continues.

 

If I am being totally honest, it has taken me a bit of convincing to get on board with animations and videos on Pinterest.  As a long time user of Pinterest for personal use, I favour the relaxing browsing functionality of Pinterest, and not necessarily a personal fan of moving images whilst browsing.  However, from a business and branding perspective on Pinterest, I can see that colour and movement are important in some niches and to a wider audience.

 

Also winning is using your data to inform your outcomes.  I have always been a person who researches and analyses (some will say too much …) but understanding your data to inform your decision making really hit home to me when I started listening to Jennifer Priest from Smart Creative Social and her amazing Smart Pin Pro course ( www.smartcreativesocial.com)

 

8. Recommendations – Where to From Here?

 

So if you are new to Pinterest what should you do?    Is it too late to be a Pinterest success?  For sure there are businesses who have been on Pinterest for years and their success is entrenched so the impacts of changes to Pinterest may not affect their process or strategy as much as those of us who are newer.

Does this mean it’s too late to get on board the Pinterest train?  Absolutely not.  Pinterest is in a massive growth phase that will only get bigger as importance of visual marketing and alternatives to Facebook and Instagram are being sought out.

 

If you follow the advice to:

  • pin fresh content on a regular basis
  • Only pin to relevant boards
  • focus on the growth of your own account, don’t compare to others
  • have great SEO or keyword rich titles, descriptions and board names
  • Pin variety
  • Think of your audience when designing your content – they don’t want to see it all looking the same

I encourage a mix of pin types to engage with your audience – use a little animation on a pin – it can be as simple as a moving arrow.  Create some simple video pins relevant to your content.  Experiment with creativity.  This is what Pinterest is looking for.  If we can make Pinterest happy, the rewards should be reflected in those clicks, saves and engagements.

Use Tailwind to improve your workflow if repining to more than one board or using smart loop.  Try out Tailwind Creates for a little more variety – it may just save you some time as well, especially after you have tried a couple of times.

I would love to know what myths you have heard about when using Pinterest or Tailwind.  Was there anything in this article that is new to you or that you might use to mix up your Pinterest strategy?

K Digital Design
Learn How to Optimise Your Business Starting with SEO

Learn How to Optimise Your Business Starting with SEO

Optimisation or “to optimise” means:

“the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.”

 

This term is one of the most used terms around on Google, Bing, social media, Pinterest and even Etsy, amongst those running an online business.  I have come to realise particularly in the last few weeks as I dive back into my business after  the holidays – is that whilst many people USE the term, there are a lot of people who don’t fully understand what it means to have a business that is optimised for success.  Inherent in its component parts is having an optimised website, as well as having sound business practices and a marketing strategy which is built on optimising each of your social media platforms, Pinterest, and/or Etsy stores.

 Content Outline

 In an earlier blog I talked about the need for having business systems and how they help you.  Read that blog post here: https://kdigitaldesign.com/small-business-success-how-to-start-your-online-business-the-right-way   The information in that blog is ideal for new online businesses as well as those auditing their marketing and website traffic to see where they can improve.

 

In this optimisation blog I focus on  SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.

  • What is SEO?
  • Why you need SEO?
  • How to optimise for searching

  

 

Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

What You Will Learn

After you read this post, you should feel more confident in understanding the chatter or lingo when you next see it on social media forums.  More importantly, if you understand what optimisation is, and how to optimise, you will have a better chance of being successful in writing your own website and blog copy.

 

If you haven’t already, please go ahead and sign up to my email list now so that you are the first to learn when my next blog post is published – it is about why I believe that SEO is not enough on its own to grow your business and achieve the success that you truly deserve.  You don’t want to miss that one as so many people fall into trap of believing that SEO is all you need. For my Pinterest fans out there who already believe in the power of Pinterest for your business (and if you don’t read this blog first: https://kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-marketing-for-small-business)  I have another blog in the pipeline about how to optimise your Pinterest account.

What is SEO?

 

 At this beginning of this article I explained that optimisation related to being effective – which is successfully achieving an intended outcome or goal.  Clearly for most if not all small businesses and blogs starting out, the goal is to grow our audience or customers, and grow our business so we can help others and make a profit in the process.  Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for short) is the: 

“process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page from search engines” (Wikipedia)

Let’s break this down – SEO is about:  

  1.  Search Engine
  2. Process
  3. Improving (or increasing)
  4. Quality and Quantity
  5. Website/web page

 

1. Search Engines

 Simply put, as I’m sure you know, a search engine is a programme that searches for content based on the keyword terms.  Obvious ones are Google and Bing and similar.  Did you know that Pinterest and Etsy and can also be thought of as search engines?  Common to all is that they use a complex system of software to analyse and label what people are searching for. 

 

As a society we often joke about “just Google it”, but in reality it is a common part of our everyday lives.  Whether it is literally Google, or a social media or other platform, as consumers we are constantly searching for information and resources to help us in our personal and business lives.

 

From an online business perspective, these search engines provide an important basis on which to gain visitors or traffic to our website or shop or our Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. 

 

 

Why you need SEO for your business

Process

Process is important because as business owners I truly believe that it is important to understand how something works in order to experience success.  Understanding what you are doing and why, will help you analyse the results and to know what to change if necessary.

 

Take the example of a cake – following a recipe and knowing what ingredients you are putting in and the quantity of those ingredients will help determine the outcome.  Sure, there are other factors such as cooking time and oven temperature involved, but the fundamentals of the process are knowing what to use and how much.

 

SEO process is no different.  You need to have a system for identifying what people are looking for in relation to what products you sell or what services you provide.  As part of that action, you first need to know your business niche and who your ideal client or target audience is.  If you were your ideal customer, what keywords or phrases would you be looking for ?  Perhaps take some time after reading this blog to write those down. 

Improving or Increasing

Here is where we get to the purpose or intent of using search engine optimisation in business.  We want to increase the number of visitors to your blogs, websites or online stores.  It really is as simple as that.  The more people visiting your site/shop, the more eyes on your goods and services and the better chance you have of sales conversion.

 

Gone are the glory days when simply having a website was enough to be found by searching.  Given the billions of websites out there, you need to optimise your content so that your audience finds you when they are searching.  When they are using everyday terms to find something that is going to help them or solve their problem.

The more often an online business, blogger, or ecommerce store uses those keywords in their content, the more likely their content is going to appear in front of their target audience.  of course there is always moderation.  Use the keywords in your content so that it still makes sense to the reader, without “keyword stuffing”.  You still want to be authentic to your audience.

  

Quality and Quantity

When a user inputs words to find some information or a resource, the platform uses that information to track relevant content.  The more people using those keyword terms, the more popular it becomes.   This can become a double-edged sword as if the terms are too popular, you can get lost in a sea of results, competing with the masses. 

 

As new small business owners or bloggers, you can implement great strategies to optimise your content and product descriptions without having to engage an SEO expert.  Whilst all platforms operate differently, the common basis is to use search terms or keywords that your audience will be using.  If it is not a word that is commonly used, find something similar to use that “Joanne Public” is more likely to be searching for.

 

But it is not just about driving traffic to your website, blog or online shop.  The keywords or search terms in your content need to be relevant to your business and appropriate to your target audience.  Otherwise you may get hits to your website, but they will turn around and leave if you don’t have what they are looking for.  If you are not solving their problem or pain points.

 

This is why quality and quantity matter.   Naturally you want to increase the number of visitors to your business, but only the right traffic.  This is why I am so often commenting on forums and advising clients and others that the number of followers on Pinterest or your Instagram shop don’t matter so much if they are not your ideal client.  If they are never going to buy from you or are not interested in what you are selling or offering, they are less likely to engage with your content, less likely to share it, and unlikely to convert to a sale.

 

If you don’t want to miss out on learning HOW to grow your business the right way and achieve online success, then sign up to my email list for blog updates, SEO tips, keyword planning tips and more.  

Website or Web Page

Your website or your landing page is where it all comes together.  You have great content, you have used keywords to attract visitors to your site.  People like what they see and are interested in more.  Once they get to your website, you then need to have enough that is relevant, interesting, eye catching and aesthetically pleasing to keep them there.  This is where conversion analytics comes into play.  This is also why my next blog topic explains why SEO on it’s own is not enough to grow your business.  

Conclusion

Remember how at the beginning of this article we examined that to optimise meant to make the most effective use of a situation?  Well, now it is your turn to optimise your business platforms and processes, armed with the knowledge in this post and also this one [https://kdigitaldesign.com/small-business-success-how-to-start-your-online-business-the-right-way]. 

Start with your business systems – are you optimised for success by having your contract, accounting, work methodology in order.  Do you have a plan for your work day?  Working week?  Next look at your website. Read your content from the perspective of your target audience.  What are their issues and what problems are you solving?

 

Now look at your marketing strategy and accounts – are you ready to make the most of the resources you have?  Drop me some comments at the end of this blog to let me know if this blog resonated with you.  Did this help you examine the parts of your business in a new light?  Did it help you understand more about the “mystery” of SEO?

  

K Digital Design
Small Business Success – How to Start Your Online Business The Right Way

Small Business Success – How to Start Your Online Business The Right Way

How to Set Up Your Business for Success
This post outlines my 7 “must do” steps to starting an online business?

For the purposes of this Blog, I’m assuming that you already have your business type and niche picked out, you have researched the market and you have your business structure/company type sorted.  If you are looking for online or small business ideas that suit you, there are plenty of articles and ideas you can look.  I’m focusing here on helping people who have their business ready to launch, or are wanting to know what is required, and what isn’t necessary.

I recommend reading through the entire blog for my step by step small business guide to fully understand what each of the topics are about, and why they are important.  Before you do that – grab my Business Start Up Checklist so you can make notes as you read or to keep as a handy reference guide.

 

Contents

Covered in this blog is:

 

Overview – Done is Better than Perfect Right?Step Process – What’s NOT Negotiable:

1 Business Registration and Set Up

2 Branding

3. Money Matters

4 Business Plan

5 Marketing Plan

6 Website

7 Contract Documents

 

Some Myths Busted – What is Negotiable

Myth 1: You Need to Spend Money to Make Money

Myth 2: Start A Business in Just 30 minutes

 Summary

Overview – Done is Better than Perfect Right?

 

‘Done is better than perfect” is perhaps the most common phrase I have seen mentioned in Facebook groups and business networking groups when the topic of how to start a new business, or work from home business comes home.

 

I agree with this, but only to a point.

 

It can be hard to find the right balance between prelaunch requirements and just diving in.  Research, analysis, paying for courses, the perfect website, Instagram. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Tik Tok, Clubhouse and whatever else will appear next week and the week after that.  Just because you think everyone else out there is doing it or using it for their business doesn’t mean it is actually true. It also doesn’t mean that it is right for your business.  Most importantly, you do not need all the bells and whistles when you launch, and you probably will not need them three years down the track.

 

Whilst ‘done already’ can be better than waiting until everything is completely perfect, I believe for success in your small business, there are some non-negotiables to ensure that your business is set up for success and that you have the right tools in your toolkit to step confidently into operating an online business.

 

Whether you are a product based small business or a service-based business, the suggestions and recommendations contained in this article apply.  Even if you are an established business or an existing entrepreneur looking for ways to improve your small business in 2021 – this guide will help get you thinking and moving towards success.

 

If you are in the beginning of starting up your online business, the overwhelm can put you in a spin.  even worse, it can make you grind to a halt or want to throw in the towel because you do not know where to turn.  That’s definitely not what you want.  I have heard it so many times in various Facebook groups and other online forums.  Questions such as:

  • What do I need to start my business?
  • Do I really need a website?
  • Do I need to take a course or certification before launching my online business?
  • How do I start an online business?

And the list goes on.

 Does this sound like you?

I’m telling you that it doesn’t have to be this way.  I spent several years working in the corporate sector as a project manager and town planner here in Australia, so I know a bit about the need and benefit for having systems and procedures in place.  It might seem fun to dive right in when you have a new business venture or you are a new start up business.  Unfortunately, without a solid strategy in place you are not going to achieve the business success that you deserve.  Rather, you are going to suffer burnout and overwhelm, and that is not going to sustain you or your business.  If we learnt anything from the world that was 2020, it was to focus on what matters in life.  Taking the time to set your business foundations up right will save you time, angst and overwhelm in the short and long term.

 

This Blog outlines my step-by-step essential guide to starting a new online business that can be applied to many different types of business – products, services, coaching, Etsy etc.  As we kick of 2021, there is no time like the present to really understand what it takes to be successful online.

 

You have started a business because you are passionate.  Or you are about to start one because you want to quit the 9 to 5, traffic jam, or you have discovered the benefits of working from home and spending more time with your loved ones.  You, my friend, deserve success.   But in the process, don’t get caught up in ‘shiny object’ syndrome.  You don’t need every new app (yep that’s right, Clubhouse can wait), CRM, photography, computer equipment etc to get your business off the ground, but you do need the fundamentals.

 

I can speak from personal experience when I was starting out the overwhelm and confusion can be intense.  Oh, and those rabbit holes – I would literally disappear for days researching and reading from so many different resources and every aspect related to my business.  I thought I could compare them all and distil the relevant information and everything would be peachy.  This is ok for some things, but there is no one way to run a business.  No one way to find clients.  There are more than 100 strategies to follow on each social media and marketing platform, organic and paid that it can be completely overwhelming.  One of the reasons that there are so many different ways is that there is only one you.

 There is only one you.

 You are unique and your business should be too.  So how do you move forward in the right direction?  That, my friend, is where planning and strategy comes into effect.

 

 

7 Step Business Launch

So here is my checklist of 7 steps for your business start-up or business audit if you are already lucky enough to have been in business for a little while.  In my view – these are not negotiable if you want to have a professional business and be ready for success and a streamlined process. Grab the downloadable PDF here so you have an easy reference guide.

 

1 Business Registration and Set up

2 Branding

3 Money Matters

4 Business Plan

5 Marketing Plan

6 Website

7 Contract Documents

 

1 Business Registration and Set Up

 

Legitimising your business in my opinion is the first step on your success pathway.  On more than a few occasions I have read about people asking for help as their business name is already taken as they did not register the name or the domain name first.

For Australian businesses, you need to register your business name and apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) regardless of whether or not you need to pay GST immediately.  If you use this website www.abr.business.gov.au you can also check whether a business name already exists.  Regardless of the results, I highly recommend before you do this that you do a domain name (website name) search and secure the domain you want.  Even if you decide that you won’t start off with a website (more on why I think you should later) if you secure your domain name you will have the peace of mind that your business name and matching domain name are available.  There are many places to buy and search for domain names and there is no one particular company that I recommend (I have used both Crazy Domains and Go Daddy for Domain names previously, but feel free to shop around – please note that this is for your domain name purchase only, I recommend being more choosy for web hosting).

A professional email is a must.  Businesses with gmail addresses or similar raise suspicions about the legitimacy of the business to an outsider, and do not necessarily convey that you are committed.  You also want to keep your private and business emails separate.  If you are having a website (which is all of you right?), a good hosting provider such as SiteGround will include email as part of the package.

In terms of business insurance and other legal matters, you are best to refer to business.gov.au in Australia, or the equivalent Government regulations in your area.

 

2 Branding

 

With your business name locked in, you can now start your branding package.  If you are new and not quite sure why branding is important, even for small businesses, you can catch up with my Branding Matters Blog here (Business Branding Matters | K Digital Design)

There is a whole other blog post or two in the making about developing your brand colours, logos and the like, but in this blog I am focusing on the ‘what’, more than the ‘how’.   To get you started you should have:

 

  • A logo – this can be a font or text-based logo, or it can be one that includes a graphic image. Just know that you can change it later, and the simpler you keep it, often the more effective it is, as well as being easy to replicate across your marketing and business material.  It is important to have, but not so important that you need to spend thousands of dollars or weeks of time delaying the start of your business.

 

  • Brand Colours – have a couple of colours (plus a black and a white tone) to be part of your brand recognition. A light and a darker shade will give you contrast options for your website and marketing material.

 

  • Client Avatar – ideal client – target audience – these all mean who are the people that you are going to aim your business towards. It doesn’t mean that you cannot help others but giving yourself a client focus will actually help you drill down to the details of what your business is all about, who you are serving, and how you can solve their needs or address their pain points.  I have one client with a client avatar so detailed it is a few pages long and I honestly feel that person exists when I read it.  I also have clients with avatars that are one or two paragraphs – but they still cover what they need to.

 

When writing your client avatar or client profile, focus on one person.  Who are they? Gender? Age bracket? Income bracket? Spending or other habits?  Where do they hang out online and offline?  This profile will help you refine your product offerings, services and your marketing plan.

 

Do you see how planning and strategy are starting to link together?

 

3 Money Matters

 

Know Your Price before you pitch to your clients.  There are whole strategies that some business coaches teach for working out how to price your services or products.  For product-based businesses, it involves knowing your market, comparing other prices and a general gut feel.

 

I see a lot of serviced based business owners who struggle with the concept of what to charge and how to charge.  I favour avoiding hourly rate charges as much as possible, and I am often advising virtual assistants to do the same.  Hourly rates mean you are tied to tracking minutes and hours for different clients which adds another layer of administration time and cost to your business.

 

Instead, value your time and the skills you bring to the table, and the value that you add to your client’s business or the products that you are selling.  This doesn’t mean charge a ridiculously high price  – there still needs to be a market willing to pay the price you are asking, but be sure to cover at least:

 

– the time equivalent that you would spend on the tasks,

– the expenses you need to cover,

– administration time for your business

– the unique value or service that you provide to your customers.

 

So that you are making a profit – after all that is how your business is going to be able to afford to keep going, and to grow.

 

The next step is to stick to your pricing.  Be firm and know that there are clients in every budget and there are also service providers and products in every budget category as well.  A few years ago, I remember Susan Mershon from the Techie Mentor (www.thetechiementor.com) saying in a course: “Don’t shop with other people’s wallets”.  This is so true.  You need to set your own prices based on your unique business and your target client.  Charge what you and your services or product is worth to you and what you need to earn to make your business both viable and profitable.  If a client cannot afford you for what you are offering, they are not your ideal client.

 

Payments and Invoicing

 Getting paid is clearly a must have.  You don’t need anything fancy, nor do you need to engage an accountant.   It really is as simple as choosing a means by which someone can pay you.  Shop based enterprises can set up payment gateways on their website such as through Shopify or WooCommerce on WordPress.  If you are providing a service (one off or ongoing monthly packages) you can use payment processors such as PayPal which are secure and can be setup in a matter of minutes.

 

There are other options, and they all have fees, but it is part of the cost of doing business and provides a secure payment system for you and your business.   Alternatively, you could do bank transfers, particularly if you are conducting business within the same country.

 

For service-based businesses you also need to be able to draw up an invoice which outlines the details of the goods or services you are providing, and how much your client will pay you.  PayPal includes the ability to set up invoicing and invoice templates that you can copy and reuse each time for each client.

 

I also recommend the use of Xero accounting software to keep track of your accounts and payments, but this is something that you can add down the track as there is a monthly cost involved and it is not essential to your business launch phase.

 

Whatever you do, please remember to set up a separate business bank account from the beginning and keep your business and private accounts separate.

 

 

4 Business Plan

 

The purpose of your Business Plan is to set out what you need to do to achieve the financial and other goals for your business.  As such it will help you prioritise what is important and give you the means to achieve profits.

Having a Business Plan in place means that you can set your business goals for the short, medium, and long term.  Think about what you want to achieve in the first quarter of business, the first 12 months and even a 3 or 5 year plan.    What do you need to do to meet your goals?  Plan the resources that you will need to use in your business.

 

Your business plan can be one page, or it can be multiple pages.  As long as you have a plan in place to help keep you focused, and it is something you can measure your business growth against.  If some aspects of your business are not working as well as you like, revise or tweak elements of your business to meet your goals.  Perhaps it is your goals that need tweaking to make sure they are attainable in the timeframe that you set.

 

Keep your business goals SMART.

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time-Bound

 

5 Marketing Plan

 

Your marketing plan also does not need to be detailed for a new start up.  As long as it is clear to you, relevant for your business, and follows the SMART principles you are on the right track.

 

My biggest advice would be to choose one main marketing platform to start off with.  Don’t try to do it all, otherwise you will no doubt be spending 80 or 90% of your time on marketing your business and have no time left for the actual work which brings in the money.

 

Naturally, there is more to do in the beginning stages as you want to network and post in social media to let people know about your new venture.  Choose one main platform to market on – eg Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest, and then use one or more of the others as complementary marketing platforms. Work out which platforms your ideal customer is likely to spend more time on, and the platform that best suits your business. Develop a content plan for a month or so in advance so that you are clear about how you want to engage with your audience.  Repurpose content between different platforms.  Build relationships and add value – its not all about the sales pitch.

 

Website

 

For me a website is a must have, not negotiable.  BUT I do recognise that not everyone shares the view that it is essential for a business startup.  I would encourage you to consider at least having a landing page style website where people can get a feel for your business and the face behind the brand.

 

When I am talking with people about the pros and cons I often ask people to put themselves in the visitor seat.  If you were searching the internet, or reading in a business group and wanted to find out more about a business – how would you feel if that business did not have a website? I am the first to admit that I will walk away and move onto the next business, because I want to explore the business vibe and offerings, without having to send an email or discuss it all by phone.  It is the same as pricing – include this on your website so you can focus your time and energy in engaging with your ideal customer who is on board with your pricing and service offerings.

 

By having at a one page website, you have the foundations to build upon in the future, and you also have the ability to showcase your portfolio, include your service offerings and provide a means by which people can contact you.  You can also share your social links so people can follow you and keep in touch, even if they do not purchase straight away, they have the opportunity to come back.  Something to remember is that you own and control your website and its content, so I find it’s a worthwhile investment to be able to lead your customers to your domain.

 

 7 Contract Documents

 

My final step in the business set up process for service-based businesses is having a contract or service agreement in place – BEFORE you go on the hunt for clients.  This document becomes the basis on which you agree to a scope of work, the amount to be paid, and when payment is to be made.  There is no one contract template that suits all businesses, and it is a personal preference whether you purchase one relevant to your business and your location, or whether you adapt one from others that you have seen.  My checklist contains some more details on what you can include in your contract document. {link here]

 

I strongly urge service-based businesses not to commence any work until a contract is signed and the initial invoice has been paid.  There have been many tales of woe reported when this has not happened.

 

LAUNCH!!

You are ready to launch.  Not only that, but you can do so with confidence that you have set up a business that you are invested in and that looks professional and covers you for getting paid what you and your products are worth.

 

Some Myths Busted

 

Myth 1 – You Need to Spend Money to Make Money

Yes and no. As outlined above, there are some expenses that you are going to have in getting started, such as business registration, domain name, potentially branding and website set up. Making a professional impression from the outset will get your business off to the right start, setting the right impression for your target audience and instilling confidence in you and your business.

 

There are plenty of free resources out there – Pinterest is a gold mine for useful tips and information.  If you are going to invest in a course before you launch, ask yourself some key questions first about whether it is necessary for you to launch, or whether it is something that you can add to your business plan once you achieve a certain milestone.  If you need to invest $5,000 in a course to learn a service that you want to offer, then perhaps it’s not the right service for you yet.  You want to be sure that your business offerings and target market are aligned before such an outlay.  On the other hand, if you find a course that provides you with some allied skills such as marketing, using an accounting system for your finances or a project management tool to increase your workflow efficiency for a relatively low cost, that is something that is worthwhile considering.  It may not be essential, but it can save you time and therefore money in the short and long term.  Small costs can be easier to recoup in a short space of time.

 

Myth 2 – Start A Business in Just 30 minutes

It may not be 30 minutes that is being promoted.  I have seen 5 minutes, 1 hour, 5 days and everything in between and beyond.  Starting your own business is going to take more than 5 minutes, and for most businesses it is going to take more than 5 days.  This doesn’t mean that it is going to take 6 or 12 months to set yourself up for launch, but you do need to be aware that investing in your business, yourself, and your future, takes time to do it properly.  A business set up in 5 days may be possible, especially if it is a service-based business, but it will mean being organised and following each step.  Building a website takes time also, whether you are doing it yourself or engaging an expert.

 

Conclusion

 

Being profitable or making money in your business will depend on how well you implement the foundation steps and maintain engagement with your networks and your target audience.

 

In this Blog we have explored the essentials of starting an online business with a step-by-step plan.  I explained how planning should be a key premise on which start your business from scratch.  Plan your business, your services, your pricing, your marketing strategy.  Planning your business means that you are planning for profit.

 

If you are an established business, take the time to carry out an audit of what you have.  For example, if you don’t yet have a business plan or a marketing plan, set aside some time now and make one.  Your future self will thank you for it.  These plans provide you with some goals to help you keep track and to keep you accountable to your own business.

 

I would love to hear what you found useful in this Blog, and if there are any other aspects you would like to see covered in the future.  Happy planning, and celebrate your launch success.

 

Yours in Design

Kerri

 

 

Business Branding Matters

Business Branding Matters

So what is branding anyway?  It can be so easy to assume that only large corporations and companies with multiple employees need to worry about branding.

 

I’m busting this myth for you right now, then you will see how your small business can prosper and profit.

 

In a world where online businesses are booming and new businesses are starting up all the time, it has never been more important to think about your brand.  How else are you going to stand out from the crowd?

 

Branding is not just about being different. In fact, it’s about being DIFFERENT from your competitors, but CONSISTENT within your business.  So that means same, same but different, right?

 

By this I mean all your marketing material, website, email marketing, Pinterest Pins, social media posts, business stationery needs to show your brand.  The more often someone sees something, the more likely they are to remember it and associate your brand + your key messages.

 

Think of some famous brands and their consistent messages.  Coca Cola is all about having fun and is consistently branded in red, with a particular font style and colour.  Even when they branched out to offering different flavours, the same base branding, colour, font styles are there.

 

Consistency is Key 

Being consistent doesn’t mean being boring.  It means that your business is recognised by its unifying and identifiable elements.  These brand elements include –

 

  • business name
  • logo
  • typography/fonts
  • colours
  • elements – eg lines, artwork associated with your branding
  • patterns and textures
  • Images – depicting your brand mood and vibe

 

 It’s also about consistent personality.   These are things like – 

  • The services your business provides
  • Your business systems and processes
  • How and where you connect

 

Branding by Example

 

Let’s look at an example.  Company A is a family photography business.  They advertise in their own Facebook group, in other local Facebook groups in their area, and in flyers.  Here is an example of what they have posted in a marketing graphic.

 

Brand Example A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Company B is also a family photography business.  They use similar marketing approaches and materials.  Here is what they have posted in a marketing graphic.

 

Brand Example B

Which one do you prefer?  Which company are you drawn to?  Which one stands out as a business you want to engage with, and want to click through to their website and learn more?

 

In the first example, there is no consistency of colours between the images or the title and the individual images.  Apart from one family photo, the other images are food related, or obscure to what the business is actually about.

 

Now let’s look at the  second example.  If I am looking for a family photographer to hire, I am drawn to this visual.  It is on brand, it is clear, and it shows that the photographer offers studio and outdoor photos.  It also shows that the photographer either sells framed prints, or cares about how the photos are going to look when framed.  Or both.

 

I get that imagery and colours can be subjective.  Wouldn’t the world be boring if all designs were the same and based on the same template?  Do you know what the key is?  It is to look at it from the customers perspective – it’s about the MESSAGE.  The subtle message as well as the obvious message.

 

The subtle message refers to the impression you are setting.  It’s telling your website visitors (aka your potential future customers or clients) that you:

  • are professional
  • follow a process
  • have taken the time to set up your brand content
  • show that you care about the details of style and cohesiveness
  • show that you pay attention to detail.

 

Does A Picture Really Tell A Thousand Words?

 

Some of you may be thinking would someone really get that much information from a few pictures?  You would be surprised.  Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” – well it is true.  Having worked in the corporate world for almost 20 years, I know first hand that impressions count.  In the fast paced world of online business where visuals are king, a potential client or customer is going to be making decisions on the visuals they see before they read the words.

 

Let this sink in a little.

 

It doesn’t mean that ‘glossy’ and ‘shiny’ is all that matters.  It’s not.  What matters is that the visual brand consistency is there, as well as the quality content to back it up.

 

So that’s the “subtle” brand message, but what about the “obvious” brand message?  This is more about the actual content – the words and pictures, the headings and their relevance to your brand.  The relevance of your business name and logo to your brand.  That’s a whole other blog post topic.

 

So What Does This All Mean?

 

Of course, not having coordinated branded Pinterest pins and social media posts doesn’t mean you are going to fail.  But it can make a difference as whether the next visitor to your website or Instagram account is going to want to engage with you and take the next step.  It can make a difference.

 

How are they going to feel about your brand?

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this branding matters topic.  Leave a comment below, and share your experiences on the subtle and not so subtle messaging in brand story.