JUKI Small Business Seminar: Choosing Your Business Name

Choosing the right brand name can be the stepping stone to a successful business. A brand name that is memorable and catchy can give you an advantage when it’s time to market your business. When potential customers hear your brand name, you want them to remember you and think about your small business, setting you up for long-term success.

When you’re starting your business, we know how hectic it can be to think of a name on top of what you’re selling, who, and how. So follow along as we show you some tips and tricks to choosing your business name that will help you stand out from your competitors.

Best Shop Name Generators

Sometimes we need a little help or inspiration picking our company name. While it may feel like all the excellent store names have been taken, there are still many options out there!

Using a name generator is helpful for two reasons. First, it can help you come up with your business on the spot and create the perfect representation you need. Or two, it will give you ideas that you can later on work with and make your name. Below are some generators you can visit to help you create your business name.

How to choose the perfect shop name

As a small business having the correct name is crucial to your success in the e-commerce world. Having the right name can bring attention and new shoppers to your site and showcase your individuality to customers. Remember, choosing the right name will lead to success in branding and awareness on search engine sites. Below are some tips to keep in mind when choosing your name:

  • Creating a short and simple name is the right choice for a few reasons. For example, you’ll have less mispronunciation from customers, it will fit in your marketing campaigns, whether it’s physical business cards or social media posts, and it’s memorable.
  • Finding the right name can be challenging, especially with companies popping up daily. However, don’t let this discourage you! It’s a big world with many niches in the market and finding the right name for your business and niche only pushes you to be creative.

If you’re having trouble creating a name, follow the steps below.

  1. Keep it Short and Simple.

Combine different words that relate to your industry, and keep them short. Try to aim for words that rhyme or that alternate.

Tweak an existing word or create one of your own! Many companies like Skype and Häagen-Dazs began as gibberish and are now household names. Don’t be afraid to be different and have fun when creating.

Be personal. Create a company name that relates to you on a meaningful field like an old nickname, family pet name, or other nicknames that resonate with you. These quirky names can be the perfect title for your business and create that personal touch many customers love.

2. Dare to be Different

Research your competitors and see what popular names are out there in your industry or niche. Then, be different and avoid familiar rhymes, gimmicks, or phrases. This way, when it’s time for someone to look up a company in your niche, your individuality will show. Do the same when thinking of your slogan or mascot if you choose to have one, as each difference will help you stand out even more.

3. Is it Available?

Keep in mind to research your ideas before sticking to one. By heading to your favorite search engine and researching your company name ideas, you can see what companies out there might have the domain already attached to their business, pushing you to either tweak yours or choose another from your list. You want your domain to represent your brand and make an excellent first impression.

If you’re choosing to sell on an online shop platform like Amazon or Etsy, review what shop names are out there already. This will help you succeed by confirming that your name is not lost in the pool of shop hosts and also help you edit your shop name to avoid confusing future customers between your shop and others.

4. Finding your Inspiration

If you’re having trouble finding a name so far, think of themes that you can focus on for your business and work from there. Trends, nostalgia, fandoms, and even other languages can be inspiration when thinking of your shop name.

Think of what’s around you in day-to-day life that can be used as a catalyst for your creativity! Follow along with conversations, pay attention to your day-to-day sayings and jokes, your hobbies. All these things can give inspiration if you look close enough, helping you personalize your shop and create a name that represents your brand and yourself.

Why the Name Matters

Finding the right name for your brand goes beyond just putting a few words together. While this might seem like a difficult task at first, it can also be an enlightening and fun experience describing yourself and your company in a few or even one word. Put the time and effort into this as you would everything else in your shop, for a shop is only as strong as its name! Your name is how customers recognize you, so make sure it’s a name you are proud of. Remember that word of mouth is free, and you don’t want to miss out on that.

What advice would you give to those deciding on their company name? Let us know down below!

How to Start Your Clothing Brand

In a generation where fashion has no limits, fashion brands and designs have continued to change, evolve and return over the past decade. Whether it’s fast fashion, one of a kind, or small shop drops, there is no limit to the options available for your closet. Even in this era of fashion where we can choose styles from all over the world, there is always room for new fashion and trends to grow, and that’s where you come in! If you’ve been dreaming of starting your clothing brand and apparel shop, follow along as we go over ways you can start planning your new business today. From figuring out your market to budgeting, we go over the things you should know before jumping into this journey.

Start With a Plan

Before beginning any business, it’s best to start with a plan. The fashion industry is more than the pieces being sold, but understanding its steps to sell those pieces. There are multiple options for creating apparel: Direct-To-Garment based apparel, Embroidery apparel, Ready-Made Apparel, Custom Apparel, and so much more. The world of fashion is not one skill set or technique but is filled with endless options on how to create.

Once you have an idea of the products you plan to create, you can build your business plan. Your business plan should include ideas for your brand and products, budgeting and sale goals, marketing ideas, and more. The more details and work put into your plan, the better chance you’ll have when it comes to the time to open your shop and sales.

If you’re looking for more information on how to create a budget plan and calculate profit visit our post here to begin creating your own today.

Who’s Your Market?

Let’s begin by thinking of who will wear your fashion pieces! By identifying your target audience and what they’re looking for when they want to shop apparel, you’ll be able to locate your niche and find your customer base. The better you understand your audience base, the better you’ll be at marketing your products to them.

The top two things to keep in mind when studying your audience is:

Demographics: age, gender, income, marital status, geographic location, etc.

When you understand your audience’s demographics, you’ll have a higher chance of completing a sale. For example, if you market your product to women in their early twenties, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining a sale on Instagram and Tiktok than marketing on Facebook. Likewise, by knowing your audience, you can find the correct places to push your products and not spend energy on a site that focuses on an older audience like Facebook, whose average users are in their mid-40s and higher.

Psychographics: hobbies, interests, lifestyle traits, and what problems do they have in life that your product can solve.

Knowing the psychographics of your audience is where you’ll be able to create the right products. Here is where you can learn what fabric to use (is your audience athletic and need breathable material?), what interests they have (can you design graphic tees for fan bases?), and more. With every detail you learn about your audience, you’ll be able to create products that are better suited for their wants and create a solid returning customer base.

Once you better understand your niche audience, you can begin creating a solid marketing plan. If you’re having trouble making your marketing plan, follow along here as we show you step by step how to begin yours today.

Focus On Your Brand

Now that we know what you’re going to sell and who you’re going to sell to let’s start talking about building your brand. Branding goes past your business name and logo and dives into what your values are, what your mission is, and more.

Create brand guidelines and a storyline for your products that customers resonate with and want to follow. Focusing on platforms like your website, social media pages, email marketing program, and more will build that relationship between buyers and your shop. The best way to bring your brand to life in today’s age is through marketing on social media!

The key to building your brand is being consistent in your message, constantly posting and promoting your brand and products, and making sure what you put out into the world defines your brand correctly. If you’re unsure what to post, look into examples like behind-the-scenes videos, how-to’s, fashion inspo using your pieces, and more for ideas. Have fun and be creative when it’s time to get your brand out there!

Let’s Start Development

Now that we have an idea for your brand let’s begin designing and developing your clothing line.

  1. Keep your Sketchbook on You

Any artist will tell you that inspiration hits anywhere and any time. So be prepared for when you want to design a new piece by keeping a sketchpad on you or using your phone as a digital sketchbook with apps like ProCreate, Adobe Designs, and Adobe Illustrator.

2. Create Samples

Start creating sample pieces of what you want to make for your shop. Whether you’ll be doing buy-to-make or pre-made pieces, having sample work is perfect for modeling on social media and understanding material costs for re-production.

3. Have Your Beginning Set

When you first open up shop, it’s best to not overwhelm yourself with product varieties. Instead, find your top 3-5 products you want to create and go from there as you begin building your audience base and receiving orders. Once you create more demand for your brand, you can start testing out new designs and growing your product options.

Now that we’re in the development phase make sure you have your station ready! Start by deciding what fabrics you’ll be using in your apparel shop, what style you’ll create, and what machinery and notions you’ll need to get there.

For example, if you want to open an apparel shop that focuses on couture dress-making, you would look into a machine like the MO-654DE that offers built-in rolled hemming and the HZL-DX7 which offers presser feet options like the button attaching presser foot, invisible zipper foot and more. Your fabric choices could be options like silk, tulle, satin, and more. 

By knowing what you plan to create, you’ll be able to have the right machinery, accessories, and notions on hand when it’s time to begin producing.

Start Setting Up Shop

Whether you’re setting up shop online or in person, having an online face is a great way to promote your business and gain new customers. Online shops allow you to reach new audiences! Below are some things to keep in mind when setting up shop.

Clothing Images: Take photos of your clothing that truly presents its colors, fabric textures, and closures. These photos don’t need to be professional if you’re working on a small budget; just have a simple lighting kit, a good camera and learn some tricks on taking professional fashion DIY shots.

Pricing, Shipping, and Handling: Make sure to have a plan in place for how you’ll be pricing your products. From shipping to taxes, you’ll need to make sure you price your products correctly to pay for your bills, time, workspace, etc. Learn your target audience’s price point and what they’re willing to pay for your product. Then, keep an eye on competitor pricing to confirm you’re in the suitable price range.

Website Design: Don’t forget to add your brand’s personality to your site! Set up your Social media, include graphics of your work, add an ‘About Me page, use your brand theme colors, bring in customers and build relationships.

Put Your Marketing Plan into Action

You’re now ready to begin implementing if you’ve created your marketing plan from our earlier steps! Start by setting up your shops’ profiles and deciding how you’ll be advertising. Organic advertising, meaning you do not pay and use search engine optimization like hashtags and tags, is a perfect way to start when you’re on a low budget. If you’re marketing budget includes spending for advertisements, begin setting up your ads by using the information you have on your niche. Focus on your top media sites for higher chances of receiving a sale.

Don’t forget the power of word of mouth, and research your options in ambassador marketing. By offering free items, or negotiating payments, you can bring in influencers from your target audience and work with them to promote your brands and products.

Let’s Launch!

Launching your first clothing brand doesn’t happen quickly or easily. It will take time and dedication, but you’ll create your brand soon with the proper steps! After that, you can begin selling in numerous ways, from your social media accounts to in-person artisan markets and pop-up shops. Then, finally, it’s time to get your product out there.

Now that you have an idea of where to start when it comes to opening your apparel shop and starting your brand, we hope to see your brands’ names soon! What kind of apparel would you create if you were to open your apparel shop?

How to Start Your Quilting Business

Do friends and family members ask for you to make quilts for them? Is someone asking where you got that pillow that you quilted yourself? Sometimes, when we get good at our craft, we find people who want to buy our work. That’s when a business starts to grow, so where do you start?

Today we’re going to dive into how you can start your own at-home quilting business. Now, a quilting business doesn’t mean you have to create projects endlessly; in fact, there are possibilities in pattern creation, custom requested works, and more. In this post, we’ve pulled together some steps to make your own quilting business and how to start.

Create Your Business Plan

While a business can start with some scribbled plans in your notes app, creating a successful one without a real plan is much more challenging. Businesses, large and small, begin to see success when some serious planning and budgeting is put into play. A business plan is a roadmap you create for your company.

Business plans should include:

  • Description of your business
  • How do you plan to manage it
  • The products and services you plan to sell
  • Market and competitor research
  • Budget and finance plans
  • Marketing and advertising plans

All of these things can be completed by you, but if you decide to build your brand and go legal, look for a professional who focuses on small businesses. They can help you decide on a business structure that’s best for your plan and are more likely to have contacts that can help you in finance and marketing matters when you need it. Need help creating your plans? Keep up with JUKI Business Plus blog posts to help you start your business here.

Getting the Right Equipment

Now that you have your business idea in motion let’s start thinking about the equipment you’ll need for your small business.

The Machines

The best thing about quilting is it doesn’t require a specialty machine. There are two basic types of machine quilting that quilters can access on most sewing machines—straight line and free motion.

Straight-Line

This type is best accomplished by replacing a regular presser foot with a walking foot and even feed foot. A walking foot is a specialized pressure foot that grips the top of the quilt sandwich, advancing it through the machine at the same rate as the quilt’s back, which touches and is moved along by the sewing machine’s feed dogs.

A machine like the TL-2010Q is perfect for basic straight stitches and piecing. However, a free motion quilting machine like the TL-18QVP or Miyabi J-350QVP is required for designs like curves and intricate patterns.

Free Motion Quilting

With free motion quilting, you’re able to create intricate designs as if you had hand-stitched them into the quilt. Learning FMQ takes time, but many resources are available that teach you to create unique designs.

For FMQ, the machine’s feed dogs are lowered, meaning nothing is in place under the quilt sandwich to guide it along. The quilter is in total control of the motion. Now your speed and how fast you run the sewing machine work together to determine stitch length. You have options on sewing feet like a darning foot or a special foot for machine quilting. Remember that special feet resemble a darning foot but have larger openings.

A machine like the Miyabi J-350QVP is perfect for free motion quilting since you have a large workspace and can use the machine bars to move and design intricate pieces.

What to Sell

If you’ve thought about opening your quilting business, you probably already have some ideas set aside on what you would sell in your shop. However, there are so many ways to make money with your long-arm or sewing machine, so let’s review some options for what you can do with yours!

Quilts Commissions

Not everyone has the skills for quilting, and that’s where quilters like you come in to help! With so many quilt lovers in the world who don’t have the time and skills to create their ideas, you can offer services for making custom quilts. A venture like this is excellent because of revenue, as shoppers pay well for handcrafted personalized items.

Mass Production

Use that machine! Mass production doesn’t have to mean creating 100’s of quilts, but instead using simple designs and creating multiples of the quilt to sell in marketplaces or e-shops. Also, not every quilt has to be unique, as many homeowners enjoy simple pieces they can add to family rooms and bedrooms.

Patterns

Owning a quilting business doesn’t mean just selling quilts. Many quilters love to try their hand at creating new projects. Create patterns and upload their PDF files onto your site! By selling physical copies to your local quilt shop, you now have a product that people can continually purchase that doesn’t require you to quilt!

Long-Arm Rentals

Do you have a long arm at home? Many quilters work on domestic home machines, meaning they don’t have that large workspace long-arm quilters have. Offer long-arm rentals to local quilters for hourly rates, and enjoy that time to work on other projects. You can also offer your skills for rent and finish quilts for others on your long arm.

Teach Quilting

If you’ve been quilting for years, attended quilting classes yourself, and find yourself teaching friends and family, look into teaching! Contact your local quilt shop’s favorite sewing brands, or start your own social media channel. There are always new quilters in the world looking for instruction, and with technology, you can offer online and in-person education.

How and Where to Sell

Now that you have an idea of what services and products you can offer let’s discuss how you will reach your audience and sell to them. In our day and age, many small businesses begin on social media platforms or e-shops.

Social Media and Sales

The best way to reach your audience is through social media platforms. Easily accessible and free to use, sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and more have opened up new sales channels for small businesses. One of the first things you should do when starting a side-hustle is set up a business or company page. Many customers now run to social media sites to see if your company is legit before ordering. In addition, these sites offer customers the opportunity to see what kind of products and services you offer, customer reviews, and so much more.

Social media sites now offer selling points for businesses as well. Facebook marketplace, for example, is perfect for selling home goods. Anyone can post an item for sale, and you can hit niche markets easily by discovering pages and groups for specific topics. Facebook marketplace does hold guidelines that sellers must abide by when selling, and can be found here. (link guidelines)

Instagram offers its version of an e-shop now as well. With Instagram shopping, you’re able to post products for sale directly onto your Instagram account. Think of this as a digital storefront for your shop. You can include graphics, videos, shopping tags, and more to drive sales. It also allows you to place full product descriptions, advertisements, and more. However, unlike Facebook, there is an approval process for selling on Instagram’s shop. To have a shop on Instagram, you need a business page, Instagram shop approval, and a small fee is applied.

Remember that you don’t need to invest money when selling on social media off the bat. Instead, you can focus on organically growing your business by word of mouth, using engaging posts, and attaching hashtags to your descriptions.

E-Shops

If you feel you’ve outgrown selling on social media sites and want to upgrade, the next step we recommend is researching e-shops. Now there are multiple options when it comes to opening an e-shop, so we gathered a few of the top ones below:

eBay: This eCommerce site has been a go-to for sellers since 1995. With the ability to sell any form of product and service, you can sell services like finishing quilts, or you sell your hand-made projects. Their fees include non-refundable product/service listings and fee charges if you’re placing your product in multiple categories for sale. The perks of this site revolve around its popularity. With eBay constantly having high traffic, your items can easily be accessed by customers all over the country.

Etsy: Artisan-focused and highly popular, Etsy is the perfect e-shop location for someone opening their small business. This site allows you to promote and sell your handcrafted products at low fees. Listing fees are $0.20 for each item and will last for four months. This site is great for upgrading their shops but isn’t ready to fully commit to a website.

Shopify: Shopify is an excellent option for those opening their first e-shop. With Shopify, you can create a website to sell your products and customize the site to your aesthetic. This is a significant step when building your credibility as an established business! Everything is now done on this site, from placing products and selling to handling inventory and processing payments. Shopify comes with a monthly fee from a Basic package of $29 to an Advanced package for $299.

In-Person Sales

If you’re someone who enjoys selling in person, research your local farmer’s markets and artisan fairs! You can purchase a shop space and sell to new customers you wouldn’t have reached online by communicating with these event planners. These events do require a larger budget and should be planned accordingly. Keep in mind the furniture you’ll need to showcase your products, how you’ll handle money, and other variables like food, inventory, and more. ‘

Get To Work

Now that you have a basic rundown of what you need to start your new side business, it’s time to sit down and plan! Circling back to the start of our planning, it’s time to create that business plan. Remember to include your product/service plan, marketing plan, budget plan, and finance plan. Starting a business plan is like building a roadmap. Follow the roadmap, and you’ll have a much higher chance of reaching your destination, a thriving business, than trying to jump into this with a few notes written down.

We hope this has been able to help you get a clearer vision for your future quilting business! So if you’re looking to start your own quilting business, join us here to learn more about JUKI Business plus and how we can help you today!

JUKI Small Business Seminar: How to Create a Budget and Calculate Profit

One of the most important things about starting a business is creating your budget and understanding your profit. While there will be challenges and unexpected turns in your journey as a business owner, you can avoid surprises and keep your business financially healthy by building a budget that fits your goals while keeping track of your spending.

Creating a sample budget can give you a general idea of what expectations to have for your business’s first few months or years. As your business grows, you’ll use this as a basis for your budgeting plans and create a more concise idea of your spending and expenses. We’re going to be giving a preview of what you should include in your budgeting plans for success in your company.

Expenses

The best way to start is to focus on what you’ll be spending. Create a list of things your business will need, like materials, software programs, and staffing. Include items that will be involved in your day-to-day work, from office supplies to the thread on your machine if you’re creating an apparel shop. We recommend looking online and using your favorite search engine by researching examples of budgets in your industry. These can be layouts that will help you build your own. Let’s review the type of expenses your company can obtain.

One-Time Expenses

Think of these expenses as those big-ticket items that are more of an investment than a purchase. Your machine, for example, if you were to purchase a RICOH Ri 100, would count as a one-time expense. One-time expenses can also include laptops, office furniture, and services for your logo or website creation.

Fixed Expenses

These costs are to be expected each month in your budget planning. Think of what rent you pay, insurance, services, website hosting, and subscriptions. Keep in mind that fixed expenses vary little in price.

Variable Expenses

Here you’ll find those spending pieces that fall somewhere between a one time-expense and a fixed expense. They occur more than once but can vary in amount and payment dates. These expenses include materials you use to make your products, marketing costs, travel, accountant to file taxes, and credit payments.

Pricing

Finding the sweet spot in pricing your product is vital in your budgeting. Keeping certain factors in mind will assist you in creating a price that is true to your work but still allows your company to flourish and be profitable.

Cost of Goods

Think of what costs are going into your merchandise. For example, if you’re creating an apparel shop, keep track of spending for t-shirts, threads, ink, bobbins, and more. In addition, whatever supplies you’re using to develop your product should be added to the cost of goods.

Staffing

Do you have a team for your company? Are you paying yourself correctly? Include their fees or salaries into your cost of goods. Understanding that this involves yourself and keeping track of the hours and work you put into your own company will ensure that you’re pricing your products correctly to pay yourself back for labor. In addition, giving yourself a livable hourly wage will give you an idea of how your company is prospering and give you a nudge on when it can be time to bring others on board.

Packaging and Shipping

When you’re shipping your products to customers, your shipping can be seen as a view into your brand. When creating your packaging and how you want to present your products, factor in the costs for shipping materials, any goodies or filler placed inside, and marketing items like business cards or flyers.

Shipping is a crucial point to being on top of your industry. Failing to estimate costs correctly can throw off your budgeting and disrupt your cash flow. Focus on standard shipping prices for your products (size, weight, location, and speed.) One of the best ways to plan your shipping cost is by visiting your local post office for assistance on rates.

Remember to keep in mind how you plan to ship and the timing. While many customers expect next-day shipping, small shops shipping every day can be more costly than planned large shipments.

Online shoppers will expect shipping charges, but try to keep this reasonable. One of the top reasons many will leave their cart unpurchased from an online shop is exponential charges in the shipping cost.

Processing Fees and Credit Card Sales

Selling online means customers will pay through cash services, like debit or PayPal, while others will use their credit cards. When setting up your shop, note the processing fees that follow credit card usage. You will likely be paying a fixed processing fee per transaction and an additional fee of around 3% of the order price. However, this can vary depending on what processing service you use for your shop. For example, processing fees are higher when selling internationally, resulting in higher costs.

Damages and Returns

While we never hope our packages get damaged, it’s best to be prepared. Set aside a budget that can be used for emergency products that may have been damaged on the way to a customer. Research your product and see what’s standard for profit loss with damaged returns on your product type. Keep in mind the re-shipping cost that will follow as well. It’s essential to focus on your shipping methods for this reason and find the best way to ship your products if they’re at a higher chance of being damaged, like glass items.

When it comes to returns, you do have the option as a shop owner not to accept them. Shops that are focused on artisan sales, for example, might choose to be final sale shops. However, if you do choose to accept returns, keep these options in mind:

  • A separate charge for a “restocking fee” to recoup some of the loss.
  • If you feel you get returns often, which e-commerce sites are more likely to receive than in-person shops, you can raise your prices slightly to account for losses from those returns.
  • You can also leave your prices the same and trust this policy will allow more sales to generate due to those finding comfort in the option to return an item.

Projecting Revenue

When it comes to projecting your sales, you’re working on educated guesses from research or experience if you’re upgrading from what was once a side gig. Whether you’re going off based on your initial sales data from the side gig or starting from scratch, seeing the numbers can give you a better idea of what products to focus on and when to expect higher or lower sales rates.

For those who find themselves with no data to start with, we recommend reaching out to those in the industry you’re entering that you may know or contacting your accountant who might have contact with those in the business. Starting your own company is based on constant research and finding the right people to work with you and get you where you need to be.

How to Calculate Your Profit

First Step: to calculate profit, take your total revenue and subtract the cost of goods sold. The difference is your gross profit.

  • Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold = Gross Profit

For example, if you sold $10,000 in printed canvas tote bags and the bags themselves cost you $3,000 wholesale, your gross profit would be $7,000.

  • Revenue: $10,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold -$3,000
  • Gross Profit: $7,000

There are other expenses beyond buying the t-shirts, like the cost for your e-commerce website and your ads running on Google. These expenses are called operating expenses, which are subtracted from your gross profit.

Operating expenses include most costs that don’t directly connect to what you sell—things like rent, equipment, payroll, and marketing.

Second Step: subtract those operating expenses from gross profit. The difference is net profit.

  • Gross Profit – Operating Expenses = Net Profit

For example, following off where we left off above:

  • Revenue: $10,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold: -$3,000
  • Gross profit: $7,000
  • Operating Expenses: -$1,000
  • Net profit: $6,000

Now, if your net profit totals as a positive number, you’ve made money. If it’s a negative number, you’ve lost money. By following along with your profit calculator, you can start to see what costs might need to be reviewed and plan if you need to change your prices or other costs like shipping.

Other Expenses

While we’ve gone over the basis for most companies, your costs will be dependent on your company. Some fees to keep in mind when creating your budget are debt repayment, Equipment payments, Taxes, and money received.

Debt repayment and Equipment payment are contingent on your company and what debt you’ve entered. This can be from payment plans on machinery to owning a storefront and mortgage. Keep these things in mind when creating your expenses budget.

All companies have to pay taxes at the end of the year. So make sure to factor this in when creating your budgets so that you’re able to cover your tax payments come the season.

Money received is meant to focus on what cash payments you’ve attained. So while on paper, your sales can show $100,000, unless you’ve fully received these payments from customers, you’ll have a hard time paying your expenses when the time comes. Also, be aware that if you hold inventory for your shop, all those products have value and get included on your income statement.

Be Prepared

Whether your company is just beginning, or you’re transcending to a higher level and want to upgrade your company, creating your budget is the first stepping stone to success. You can have the best product and equipment, but you can find yourself in dire financial health if you don’t prepare your finances correctly.

Knowing how to manage and track your budgets, spending, and earnings can help you create a strong base for your business. The more you learn to control your money, the better success you’ll see in the long run! 

JUKI Small Business Seminar: How to Write a Marketing Plan 

When it’s time to get your business out there, it’s essential to start building a marketing plan. Think of your marketing plan as a road map to help you reach those target audiences. Items like consumer trends, product sales and demand, and more can be studied through marketing trends, helping you create a more accurate business plan.

Why should you focus on marketing? The simple answer is that marketing is how customers find your business. Whether you choose to do this online or in-person, following through on marketing plans can upgrade your shop’s sales and popularity. Follow along as we go over some essential things to keep in mind once you begin creating your marketing plan.  

Executive Summary

The first page will cover your executive summary when you begin your marketing plan. Here you’ll be summarizing the marketing strategy you hope to follow. Your executive summary will include the following points.

  1. Business Details: confirm your business name and where you will be selling to the customer. This can be through e-commerce, word of mouth, storefront, etc.
  2. What products and services you’ll be marketing: confirm the products and services your company will focus on. From here, make sure to note what advantages your products/services have over the competitors and which you think will be customer favorites.
  3. Mission statement: this statement will become the forefront for your shop in many ways. Make sure to think of a one-sentence statement that embodies what your shop represents. For example, the Coca-Cola Company is “Refresh the world. Make a difference.”
  4. Marketing goals: make sure to create short and long-term marketing goals. These goals can relate to growth in your return on investment (ROI), obtaining new customers, and raising retention.
  5. Create a budget and Projections: Focus on what your Return on Investment (ROI) will be once you push your marketing plan forward. You can adequately plan for paid advertising and marketing spending by learning your estimated ROI.

Creating your executive summary will be last on your to-do list since this will embody your complete plan as a whole.

Market Research

Your first step in creating a marketing plan is conducting market research for your industry. Try to avoid assuming or overconfidence bias when creating your marketing plan, as this can lead to lower revenue than you’re expecting and cause a mishap in your financial planning.

Look into market research for your audience base. Review website analytics, social media audiences, and customer surveys to get an idea of what attracts the customers you’re aiming for and see what you can bring to the table that competitors might be lacking.

Review their demographics (location, age, and income level) to better focus your marketing efforts on markets that want your product. For example, if you focus your efforts on an audience that is too old for your product or can’t afford it, you could be wasting your efforts, resulting in low ROI levels for your business. Remember that your marketing audience can be different from your product audience. For example, while you’re creating children’s apparel, it’s the parents and adults in their life you’re marketing to.

Finding Your Strategy 

Choosing a strategy for your marketing is focused on three items: what channels you’ll be on, how you’ll format, and what your messages are.

What’s Your Channel?

These are the platforms you’ll find yourself using to promote your business, products, and services. By reviewing your target market research, you can see which best channel options are for you based on what channels your target audience can be found on. For example, if your target audience is a younger crowd, you might find yourself promoting on Tiktok or Instagram, as compared to using Facebook.

Channels to Focus On:

  • Social Media: Used by over 50% of the population, social media marketing is a top platform for your business. You can post for free and reach your target audience by researching sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. These sites are also a perfect platform to keep in contact with customers and build a relationship with shoppers.
  • Search Engines: When consumers need something, they’ll usually run to their favorite search engine. Keep this in mind when choosing where to place ads and how to create the content for your website, as search engines work off SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and follow the content you have on your site. Do this to hit your target audience when they’re looking for your product on the internet.
  • Email Marketing and SMS: Think of this as your direct line to your customers and those interested in your product. By using these resources, you can inform customers of deals, products, and more directly to their inbox.
  • Getting Offline: Marketing is not contingent on the online world. Look into channels like radio shows, billboards, TV campaigns, and more.

Once you’ve figured out what channels you’re going to market on, plan how you choose to do so. You can choose to go for organic marketing, which would mean no money involved, only your time and effort. Or, you can choose to advertise on these channels and pay for a boost on your posts. Paying for advertisements can get your product out to new crowds that usually wouldn’t see your post and can be directed to whom you choose in many cases.

Don’t stretch yourself thin with how many channels you focus on. Going too wide can be difficult to maintain and properly focus on, losing your audience in the process instead of creating a bridge between you and them. Instead, focus on your top channels, and put your effort into where your audience base can be found on. Remember that having only one channel will not assist you in the long run either, so it’s good to find your happy medium and work on those.

Formats to Use:

When you choose to post and advertise, think about what formats your audience would pay the most attention to.

  • Images: This can be GIFs, infographics, memes, product photos, and more.
  • Video: Use YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok to your advantage. Highlight reels, demonstrations of products, and how to use them, bring in the audiences, and create a more personal feel to your channels. This can also include introduction videos to your company, team members, and you.
  • Written Content: As we mentioned, search engines will find you through your SEO. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create blogs and posts that will bring search engines to our sites and social channels. When creating content, focus on blogs, your website landing pages, and transcripts for videos.
  • Audio: Podcasts and Radio shows are popular forms of channels for travelers, active and sports enthusiasts, and hobbyists who enjoy listening to these forms of channels, like Spotify and the podcast app, during their activities or traffic.

When you’re marketing, you need constant content. Social media has created a world where consumers want new and fresh posts to focus on and bring their attention in. This can be demanding for a small business to keep up with, which is why we recommend researching tools that can assist with posting and scheduling like Hootsuite or Sprout Social.

Try and bring your audience in by encouraging posts with tags and hashtags to your company page. This gives you new content to re-post and helps you market your products and services in a no-cost way through your past customers. You can also partner with social media influencers who relate to your product or service, assisting you to gain brand awareness with little work on your end.

The Message 

When you’re working on different channels, this doesn’t mean your message changes. Remember to keep all your post across channels consistent in what you sell, the services you offer, and everything else. You want to keep consistency to grow trust in your business.

Find your message, and use it as a catalyst for what your content centers on. For example, Walmart’s channels will always focus on them being the lowest price, no matter what content they’re producing. Finding your adjective, the comfiest, the lowest, the highest, will set a tone to what you create going forward and how you’ll center your advertising. If you’re unsure what your message is, take a moment to reevaluate your business goal and why you want people to buy from you.

In your messages, try to avoid focusing on product features and focus more on what the product can do for the consumer. For example, if you’re creating blankets, knowing the size is great, but creating a story about having the comfiest blankets perfect for a night’s sleep will grab customers’ attention more. Marketing is about the product, yes, but it is also about building that relationship with your customers and wanting them to care about your product.

Budgeting

The best thing about marketing is the option to be high or low on your budget and still do well. Marketing can be done organically and paid, allowing you to choose where your budget should go and where you can cut and still do well.

Free marketing is out there! Many social media sites do not require paying to have a page or profile. On sites like Instagram and Facebook, creating profiles and pages is free of charge and allows you the freedom to get your name out there using hashtags, geolocations, re-share buttons, and tagging. Don’t forget many of these sites also allow you to invite your peers to share and like your page, helping you get your name out there.

You can also submit your business in marketing competitions like press opportunities, awards, podcast and blog features, and so much more. Using word of mouth through these submissions allows your company to save on marketing spending while assisting your goals.

While your budget for advertising spending may be low, remember to account for the time and effort that goes into the marketing itself. From creating the content to scheduling and posting, make sure to account your salary, or workers’ salary, into your marketing budget.

What’s your goal?

Lastly, take the time to break down your marketing plan goals and how you plan to measure the success. One of the main ways is through ROI (Return on Investment), the revenue you plan to obtain after spending your budget on the marketing.

Plan your marketing budget around your expected ROI to avoid situations where your marketing has a higher price than what you’re getting back on it. For example, if you see that a marketing campaign has begun to cost more than what you’re selling of the product, plan to revise that campaign and place your funds in a different project that can better assist you.

Besides the money, you can receive from marketing, think about other goals these campaigns can accomplish for you. It’s not always the dollar price in sales we’re concerned about, but rather brand awareness, website traffic, and followers. If you can create a marketing plan that can hit your goals, whether it be a dollar sign or follower count, you’ll be able to see a higher success rate down the line.

From Planning to Marketing 

Once you take that step and implement your marketing plans, you’ll finally be able to see your idea at work. You are spending that time to create your marketing plan, whether its hours or days, which will help you, in the long run, create a business with better sustainability and higher exposure.

Knowing your audience, where they are, and how to communicate with them will bring you that step closer to closing a sale each time.

  1. Know your market.
  2. Know your channels.
  3. Know your message.
  4. Know your budget.
  5. Know your goal.

When you keep up with these five points, you’ll be able to see what your marketing is doing for you and how to elevate your company when the time comes. So keep up with your marketing and know about its unpredictability and how it can bring awareness to your company. Marketing can bring your business to new heights and is an important plan to keep nearby!