I know. It’s October. You are knee deep in getting your shop ready for the busy holiday season. You can’t imagine why you would dive into a 2012 plan yet. However, this is really a great time of year to start collecting information and thinking about changes in your overall strategy for 2012.
So, I’ve decided to fill a blog post with strategic activities that you can do in 15 minutes or less. When you need a break from the business and personal stress of the holidays, check an item off the list and add the information from the activity to a designated planning folder. Before you know it, you will have a file full of ideas and decisions that will truly make a difference to your business in 2012.
The activities on the list are split into sections. You can flow through them in the logical order or jump around between different categories. Just focus on the “Ds” – Document, Decode, Dream, and Decide…..
Document is an easy, mindless project that you can do when you need a brief break from other things. During this phase, you don’t need to think about what information means, just get it down on paper. Here’s a starter list of information to document. You should be able to pull each of these in less than 15 minutes. Many of the sites mentioned create charts for you so all you’ll have to do is print the results and put them in your folder.
- Sales – Chart sales by month. Consider creating three lines – online sales, offline sales, and wholesale. You may be able to pull this information easily from your financial program and put the information into a spreadsheet program to create the chart.
- Website Traffic – Chart monthly unique visitors to your Etsy shop and your website (if applicable), document Facebook fan / Twitter Follower growth, determine sites that drive traffic to your site/shop, determine the mix of traffic – direct vs. search vs. links, etc. If you are using Google Analytics – see The Best Gossip in Town post – there are many charts already created and you can print direct.
- Facebook Information – Fan growth over the year, impressions, interactions, profile of followers, etc. Some items are already charted in your Facebook “Insights” section.
- Etsy Shop Stats – Leverage the new Etsy shop stats tool and pull traffic by month, favorites by month, keywords most frequently used. If you haven’t started using this tool, take a read of the recent post on Decoding Your Etsy Shop Stats.
- Non-Etsy Shop Stats – Check out other Etsy shop stats sites – i.e. Craftopolis, CraftCult, etc. Pull any trending data for the year that is available. Some charts are available, but you might need to create some of your own on these.
This is definitely a thinking activity. So, when you need to escape and focus your mind on something else, this is the category for you. Pull out one of the charts and data sets that you collected in the document phase and dive into it. Start writing down what you see……
- Were there trends across the year?
- Did your performance go up or down?
- What surprises you?
- Can you explain why the numbers moved in the way that they did?
All of the rational planning in the world can never replace the dreams you have for your business. What do you wish for in 2012? Do you want to expand your sales into retail stores? Do you want to try your first craft show? Will you double the size of your Etsy shop? Is a blog something you’ve always wanted to try. Here are four activities that can get the dreams out of your head and onto paper (remember…focus for 15 minutes max…don’t over think these, just get them written down).
- Identify 10 product ideas – new design, improvement on an old design, a new category to enter, etc.
- Define 10 goals for 2012 – % increase in sales, % increase in awareness, start a blog, increase Facebook followers, etc.
- Rank the top 10 things you could do to improve your shop – Improve photography, learn more about search and tagging, design a new banner, rewrite your profile, etc.
- List 10 ideas that would improve your brand – Update logo, create an e-mail template, develop a packaging strategy that is “uniquely you”, update your blog/website, etc.
- Determine 10 new marketing initiatives you would like to try – Create a twitter account, advertise online, place an ad in the local newspaper, etc.
After all the data has been collected and dreams have been brainstormed, the time for decisions comes into play. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the process. Often, it is as important to decide the things you are no longer going to do than it is to strive to do new things. Here are a few 15 minute activities to help the decision process:
- Create a SWOT chart – Divide a paper into four sections. Label the sections as follows – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Based on the information you collected and what you know about your business, fill out this chart. This may give some insight that helps you sharpen your focus.
- Rank order your dreams. Take the list of dreams you created and place them in order. If you could only achieve one, which would you choose? What would be next? This activity can help set priorities for your new initiatives and ideas.
- Determine Quarterly/Monthly Goals – As you start to narrow your focus, you can begin to plan the big strategies for 2012. Spend 15 minutes and brainstorm what is important in both product design and marketing for each quarter / month of 2012.
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