Over the last month and a half, those of us in the US likely experienced overfull bellies from a ridiculous amount of food and an overfull trash can from all the presents that were opened, but we all probably experienced overfull email inboxes.
If you went through and deleted all the promotional emails that hit you relentlessly from various brands, I'm going to urge you to go hang out in your trash folder for a little while.
“What? Why?” (this is your brain right now - probably)
When you are the sole employee in your business, you automatically take on the role of the entire marketing department. And the reality is that you probably will spend more time marketing your products/services than you ever will actually creating them. You might find this depressing - but I find it fascinating cause I geek out over marketing.
Because you are your own marketing department, you are responsible for knowing what other brands and companies are doing to try to draw customers in.
Notice I didn't say “what other brands and companies in your industry” are doing? I do think that it's important to see what the trends in our industry are, but we can learn so much from other industries as well, especially because most other industries bring in more income than ours (despite ours being an industry made up of expendable income).
Here's your homework:
Go through all the promotional emails you've received starting the week before Thanksgiving.
Flag all the emails that you either opened or that you think have intriguing/funny/compelling subject lines.
Open up a Word Doc/Google Doc and do some copy & pasting of the subject lines and write out why you like them or why they piqued your interest.
BONUS: If you actually made any purchases during this timeframe, note who you bought from and why you bought from them. Was it something that made a task easier/more convenient? Was it something that would affect the way others perceive you? Was it something that triggered a specific emotion? Did it have a particular aesthetic appeal? Really take some time to think about it.
Go through the emails that you flagged and assess the content/copy inside. What language inside is helpful or compelling? What is the length of the email? Are there any images inside? If so, what kinds of images are being used?
Use your Doc to reflect on your findings. What types of language, images, buttons, etc can you start to implement in your own emails? What would work during a launch period? What would work during a nurturing (non-launch) period?
The things is - it takes being super attentive to other types of campaigns and marketing strategies to find the ones that will ultimately work for us and our businesses. And you can do this with so many other things:
If you drive a lot or commute, start looking at billboards/ads on the subway or busses. Which ones are catching your eye? Are any making you want to learn more? Are any leaving you scratching your head going “huh"?
If you watch tv, pay attention to commercials that you are sucked into. Are they emotive? Do they use music? Beautiful imagery? Humor?
If you're scrolling around on social media, take a look at the targeted ads! Do you click on any of them? Do you read the comments on the posts - how are others reacting? Do you actually buy from any of them? (If you do, you're in good company - I do… all the time!)
If you're on Instagram, notice which feeds you keep coming back to. What is drawing you in? What kinds of images are they using? Do you see any patterns emerging?
For me, marketing is my job, so it's kind of imperative for me to be paying attention to what's working, what isn't, and how Elon Musk is shaking up Twitter “like whoa” (did I just date myself with that?). But, for any business owner, it's a crucial part of being aware of consumer trends and learning how to implement those in your own strategies. And pro tip: If you want to start subscribing to more emails to do some studying, create a completely separate email address for those so they don't clog your personal or business email inbox. I have one and I feel like I spend more time in there than anywhere else (even more than I spend on Instagram!).