Owning a small business can be quite overwhelming at the best of times. You are often wearing many different 'hats'; the boss, the maker, receptionist, customer service rep, sales rep, accountant, cleaner and more! We don't want you to feel overwhelmed with marketing your business and hope to encourage small business owners to embrace this 'hat' and reveal that it doesn't have to be 'what everyone else says you should do' or so complicated that you steer clear of it.
We chat to Shelley Sims from Freshbake in Brightwater about how she manages her marketing, when is the right time to hire a professional and some key words of advice for other business owners.
Shelley caught my eye through Facebook, ofcourse, with her tasty looking doughnuts, growing number of followers and wholesome authentic posts. With no previous design or marketing experience, Shelley now has the Freshbake Facebook page at 2667 likes (as of today) and is growing constantly. Her posts get great organic reach and interaction numbers quite regularly in the hundreds! Whilst initially she enlisted the help of a couple of professionals, ultimately she drives this social media machine herself through trial and error, following other top Faceboook pages (with over 4000+ likes) and constantly reviewing the post interactions as well as spending time learning the social platform.
Shelley says "no-one can create the content like I can," which is why she manages it herself.
Images from the Freshbake Facebook page
DIY marketing is a must these days for small businesses and community organisations with small budgets. Facebook is free to start a page and doesn't cost you anything except time, unless you want to create adverts or boost posts. Shelley recommends small business owners should make the time to use it properly, estimating in an average 8hr day she will spend 30-60minutes on her Facebook marketing; taking photos, writing the text, posting, then thinking and planning about what is coming up, always aiming to stay a month ahead.
You don't need professional cameras and photography qualifications to shoot your product for web. Shelley takes quality photos on her Samsung smartphone, playing with the 'pro' settings to get the right look. She suggests that props are really important, as well as good lighting. While you don't need a professional photobooth, it doesn't hurt to have a small space set up with proper lighting and a blank background, which is why she is looking at purchasing a small lightbox/photobox soon to get even better photos. With social media, quality visuals are the key to successful posts.
Shelley is fully immersed in all areas of her business and happily (and strategically) dedicates time where it is needed. When it comes to overall marketing for Freshbake, Facebook is her 100% focus. In the past she has done some print advertising (but only when they approached her), she did a small letterbox drop for their new Brightwater opening, which she found worked well and also invested in quality signage, which she states "is very important".
Social media is not always that fun and carefree place that we want it to be (and that it ought to be) and Shelley has had her fair share of the 'haters' out there with some even claiming false bad reviews to receive cash refunds, which has made her put in place standard rules for how this is managed. She reveals that with a large following, the dynamics can change. When Freshbake only had 100 likes everyone who interacted with the page loved it, but now with over 2500 likes there are a lot more 'haters'. She encourages people to be careful and to not take it personally and to respond to any negative comments with a pre-prepared standard response.
On the fun side of using Facebook though, you can run interesting promotions, such as a recent and very successful campaign that Freshbake is running called the 1kg Doughnut Challenge, where each day someone can try and consume a 1kg doughnut!... at this stage the doughnut has been the overall winner...
Shelley is already thinking ahead and looks forward to the fun doughnuts she will make for Halloween, while not forgetting that Christmas is just around the corner... always thinking and planning ahead.
Shelley's recommendations for other small businesses managing their own Facebook marketing are:
- Have really good photos
- Change it up regularly, don't put up the same posts/images every day
- Keep an eye on what posts are engaging followers and what aren't
- It is important to get help, but also important to learn how to do some of it yourself
- Spend time on it and do stuff that gets interactions, creates engagement
- Think and plan ahead, aiming to always be one month ahead
- Don't give up
Shelley may be self-taught in social media marketing but appreciates that professionals are essential and recommends at least getting someone to help you out at the start, either doing it for you, or consulting and teaching you how. But social media professionals aren't the only design and marketing specialists she sees valuable in growing her business, she hired a graphic designer for her logo and branding, a web designer for her website and is looking for a photographer soon to update some photos online.
Shelley juggles all aspects of running her business and always makes sure she finds the time to do her Facebook marketing. It doesn't need to be fancy or require investing in expensive equipment... it just takes time and some understanding. Learning how to use Facebook and how to take basic but good quality photos will definitely benefit those looking to move into DIY social media marketing. Just sign up to Facebook and see how you go.
We are happy to help in a coaching/consultancy basis if you need a hand.
*You must remember to follow NZ advertising and marketing laws and Facebook guidelines.
Something I had always struggled with at Studio S, was our visual identity/branding for ourselves...until now!
Here is the story of how we found our identity, and how you can find yours too. A journey in life, learning and growth.
Its well known that as a professional in your field, it is easy to use your skills to help others, but often we find it hard to use our skills to help ourselves, such as: teachers who find it hard to be taught and accountants who aren't always great with their own money, etc. But you are so good at using your services and skills to help others! It doesn't make sense...
Throughout my design career I have had a few different logos - this is because as life goes on, we learn new things about ourselves, what we like, how to create and our skills grow - so along with the cycle of life, there is a cycle to creativity too. I started with Amanda S Design, using a blooming lotus flower as the 's' to symbolise growth and life in a holistic way AND used my new initials after getting married. It wasn't super clear though that it was Amanda S Design.
I used Amanda S Design for a little while but really wanted John to be a part of the business too, so we came up with Studio S (the S is for Sears). It started with a whiz and a bang and we were up and running! Time was not on our side as we had to come up with a name, a business plan and a logo quickly to in include it in the first Street Art book publication in 2014. (We only had a week or so to design and create it!). It was rough and raw and resembled that in hindsight.
It was crisp, clean and symbolic of an over-arching umbrella business that could do many things within it and also of the mountain ranges surrounding Nelson. It worked for a couple of years, but it still didn't feel right. As Studio S became my baby while John worked full time at his own job it didn't really represent me and my style - which is what our clients were paying for. So more thinking had to be done and a little bit of restructuring.
So in April 2016 with many hours of research, careful planning and thinking
and using our design approach on our own business - the initial design of the current logo was born.
We were clearly on the right track with design - as not long after that a few nationally
recognised and quite large businesses also rebranded themselves using similar styles.
While logos can have similarities - the process and development for each one is unique to the business.
The scribble circle around the S represents our dynamic and holistic approach toward design, always coming full circle, while exploring various tangents utilizing our broad range of skills - it also reflects our energy through the visual representation of movement.
To expand our brand elements we included 'scribble' icons of a heart, star and flower and recently added a scribbly oval to the mix - and to keep it true to who I am as a person, energetic and bubbly, we chose bright colours blue, gold, pink, green and orange. We used the scribble circle to create repeating circle patterns in various colours for backgrounds.
A year on and my design tastes and knowledge has grown and changed exponentially and with minimalism becoming a big feature in my life, the brand still needed refinement - and just like I decluttered my home, wardrobe, smartphone, computer and studio - I stripped Studio S back to the basics and refined it to match my bright, bubbly energy with my contrasting minimalism. Finally the visual design elements of the brand were done - the why behind Studio S never changed, but I did as a person - I started to love myself more, learn who I was and what made me happy and with this realisation and acceptance I finally had clarity for my business and I wanted it to reflect that. Energetic, bubbly, fun and quirky with a passionate and intuitive instinct to help others find their clarity and to succeed in doing what they love too.
If you are finding it hard to truly realise your business, here are some tips:
Your business grows as you grow, make sure your visual identity (brand) does too.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, get in touch if you need a hand and above everything else, have fun!