Grow your business in 90 Days…
You likely think about how to grow your business pretty often.
But then the realities of the day-to-day creep in… and suddenly we’re just trying to keep our heads above water.
Sure, you have your shop up and running, but you’re not quite sure what to do next. And there’s a ton of information out there that often leaves you with more questions than answers.
Which social media platforms should I be on? Wait, how many times do I need to post? How do I actually “blog” to make sales?
So today we’re working through 21 simple strategies to grow your business in the next 90 days. Each section builds on the last and can be worked through in order, starting with setting a solid business foundation.
Pick 3 to work on in the next 90 day block (especially for the marketing section which can get overwhelming if you try everything at once).
Schedule them in your calendar, and let’s get them done!
Why focus on 90 days for growth?
For me, it started as a time period I could wrap my head around. 90 days, 12 weeks, 3 months… Those are all very manageable time frames.
I found when I tried to plan further out, I was kind of spinning my wheels and doing a lot of rework. Since most of our businesses are still new or very much in the growing stages, planning out further wasn’t helpful as our business may look totally different in 3 months based on things you tried and tested.
Then there’s also the mindset that 12 weeks creates a sense of real urgency. I found this to be incredibly true. When I saw my year-long plan stretch out in front of me, every time I “missed” a goal or didn’t accomplish the big strategy I planned on, I simply thought “well there’s still plenty of time”.
It’s why we all hustle REAL hard at the end of the year. But what if we were able to maintain that focus + urgency year round? And I’m NOT talking about running around like a crazy person. But taking clear focused steps towards a small handful of specific goals.
At the start of this year, I read the book The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months — and ho-ly sh*t. I felt like I was gently smacked upside the head in all the right ways. They caution against this exact thing… that lull of “I can do it next month or next quarter”.
Which is so true. I couldn’t keep pushing things off because business kept moving and the next months goals were calling me to work on them. I was quickly becoming frustrated that my growth had slowed and when I get stressed out, I tend to avoid things (yep, I know that doesn’t work out too well lol). It wasn’t until I was called out so plain + simply that I realized I needed to start making my business urgent — while focusing on the right things.
“Reaching a breakthrough isn’t about being incremental. Breakthroughs require a profound change in the way that you work before it shows up in your results” – The 12 Week Year
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This is part 6 of 6 of the Retail 101 Beginner Series
Part 3: Retail Math 101 (ya know, how to make money)
Part 5: Why Your Online Shop Needs a Blog (plus 12 ideas to get started)
Part 6: 21 Strategies to Grow Your Business in 90 Days
Set a Solid Business Foundation
1. Create an Email List: Sign up with MailerLite for a free account (up to 1,000 subscribers) and start collecting those email addresses. Email marketing is a crucial part of your business strategy – it converts better than social media! In one study, email generated 174% more conversions than social media and had a better return.
You can start promoting your email list even before your shop is live; which means once you’re ready to launch, you’ll have a customer base ready and waiting for you! I shared 8 ideas to grow your list with opt in offers here.
2. Set up your Pinterest account: If you don’t already have one, set it up today. Either join as a business account or convert your existing one over. Pinterest is one of the best sources for traffic and generating customer leads as users are primed and ready to shop and 93% of users have used Pinterest to plan purchases. (Yep, you need to get on this.)
It’s also one of the most passive ways to earn traffic (yay!) as you can easily set up scheduling with Tailwind – just schedule + forget it. Seriously, I sometimes do for a couple of weeks and I still achieve an average of 100 new followers per week with pins going out daily. Plus they have a free trial so you can get comfortable with it before investing the best $10/month (if buy annual plan) I spend on my business.
3. Create a blog: Before you run, blogging for business is probably different from your expectations. You don’t need to blog every day or be a lifestyle blogger, your shop still comes first. Instead, focus on providing something of value to your readers that they can learn from or be inspired by. Content marketing can help your shop in so may ways: think more traffic, more links, and better SEO which all lead to more sales.
A lot of shop owners aren’t sure what they’d write about or if a blog is worth it. I’d challenge you to not think of it as “blogging” as you see from fashion or lifestyle bloggers. Think instead of creating a resource or inspirational hub on your site – which can help get potential buyers over to your site + exploring your brand. I came up with twelve ideas to get you started.
When I started my first (hilariously bad) lifestyle blog, I used the Building a Framework ebook from Abby at Just a Girl and Her Blog. For just $25 it’s super actionable and gives you a solid strategic plan.
4. Create an Email Sales Funnel: I so badly wish we were talking about funnel cake, but this is almost as good. A great email sales funnel will do your selling for you. After a customer subscribes, your series of scheduled emails will automatically go out every few days so your customer gets to know you: share your brand mission and why you’re different than other shops in your niche, offer them a few styling tips, introduce your best sellers, and make a few soft sell recommendations.
If you haven’t heard of the “Rule of 7”, it’s a marketing rule of thumb (that research also supports) that shows customers need about seven touch points with your product or brand before they’re ready to buy. Having an email funnel set up cuts down on the time it would take for a customer to naturally go through that same process. By sending them helpful + timely emails they get to know, like and trust you which can mean a big increase in your sales!
You can easily set up an automatic email series with MailerLite – their service is free for up to 1,000 subscribers and comes with a lot of great features even on the free plan.
5. Build Trust Through Customer Reviews: Create a customer review or ‘customer favorites’ page that highlights top product or customer service reviews. 88% of respondents in this survey read or used reviews prior to their purchase and trust online reviews as much as they’d trust a personal connection.
Moral of the story?
Have a plan to collect and use customer reviews to build trust with new customers:
- Send follow up email after purchase asking customer if they have any questions and encourage them to leave a review
- Collect Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter praise and ask customers if you can share online as a review
- Reach out to loyal repeat customers and ask if they’d be willing to share a short testimonial or customer service review
Plus, reaching out and forming a relationship with new customers is a one of the best ways to ensure they come back – and become those awesome repeat customers. (ya know, the ones that’ll spend 33% more than new customers on average)
6. Ask Customers for Referrals: People love to share good products and make recommendations – they just need a little nudge. Add a reminder at the bottom of emails or a few social media posts asking if they love your shop or a new launch to share with a friend.
Want to start a paid referral program? Check out my top recommended tools here.
7. Promote Blog Posts on Pinterest: Create tall, pinnable graphics for each blog post and pin to your main brand board and all other relevant boards + group boards. Use a text overlay on your graphic for better click-thrus, you can easily add text using Canva (free tool).
8. Promote Products on Pinterest: Instead of simply pinning your product images, create Pinterest-specific images for your products that include text overlays and/or include multiple product shots.
9. Create Round Up Blog Posts: These are an incredibly effective marketing idea for two reasons: a) everyone loves a good round up post or list; and b) it creates a highly shareable piece of content which the other brands you feature would love to help promote. It’s an easy win-win for them as you’ve already created the content which shows off their product and you benefit from the expanded reach of their customer base.
Not sure what a round up post is? No worries – they’re super easy to create. It’s a focused post that curates a number of items (maybe 8-12) for a specific occasion, person, or theme. For maximum impact, you’d include items from your own shop as well as other brands.
10. Offer Intentional Promotions: What’s an intentional promotion you ask? It’s an offer that has a specific end goal, instead of just “Sales are slow, I should try a discount.”
Go in with a plan and give your promotion a chance to succeed. Be aware of how you’re reaching your customer *before* you ask for the sale; don’t just jump in their inbox one day (after not emailing for months) and shout about discounts.
Work to build that relationship with them so they’re ready and excited for your next offer.
11. Comment on Blogs: This strategy has seen a bit of a decline in recent years, but done correctly it can still be really effective. Find bloggers that fit your ideal customer or would have a similar customer base as you, and leave a thoughtful comment on a blog post you like.
The focus here is not selling your products (at all), but rather introducing yourself and showing a genuine interest in their content. This can result in other readers clicking on your name and checking out your shop, but more importantly it begins to build a relationship with that blogger. (hint: super important for the future!)
12. Partner with Bloggers: (super suspenseful, right? made you wait a whole two seconds)
Working with bloggers can quickly expand your reach and is a valuable form of marketing known as influencer marketing. You’ve probably heard this term before, but essentially it’s a partnership for “word of mouth” advertising. It’s highly effective because it’s a very organic form of advertising and the blogger’s readers trust her and look to her content for recommendations.
Read this post for advice on How to Successfully Partner with a Blogger
13. Run a Giveaway: A giveaway can be a powerful way to expand your reach and drive traffic back to your site; especially if you use a tool that promotes social sharing, such as Gleam. The best giveaways offer products that directly relate to your core customer – since you run an online shop, this is an easy step! Just remember to focus the giveaway so the majority of participants will actually be potential customers, rather than people just looking for a freebie.
Bonus tip: A great way to boost sales from a giveaway is to offer a discount on the giveaway product once it ends. Something like “Congrats to ______ for winning the giveaway! Don’t worry, if you didn’t win you can still snag the goods at 20% off today only!”
In light of the holiday season, you may want to check out how to run a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway or sale event.
Start setting your goals today.
You can grab free printables to set your Marketing Plans + Business Goals >>> Click the link below to sign up for the Secrets of a Buyer and get your free goods!
Improve Your Shop Talk
14. Write compelling, SEO-friendly product descriptions: Make sure your product pages contain keyword phrases your customer is looking for. Use Pinterest or Google Keyword Planner to research what terms your customer is looking for and naturally weave those into your titles and descriptions.
To use Google Keyword Planner, you’ll need to create an AdWords account but you do not need to run an ad or pay for anything to get started.
15. Upgrade your Images: Quality, professional looking images can be the difference between a successful shop and one that barely scrapes by. Images are one of a customers first considerations and they judge in an instant if your brand is trust-worthy and high quality. Consistent branding and bright, clear images are a must.
Steal a tip from Anna With Love and create gorgeous lifestyle images, like the one below. These convert much better on Pinterest and social media than your standard solo product shots.
Check out these posts for more information on product photography:
- How to Get a White Background in Product Photos
- Photography Backdrop Ideas Under $25
- Why White Backgrounds are Best for Product Photography
16. Get your Customer Service in Place: Your customers will always be the ones to determine how successful you are. It’s a simple, but powerful realization so put the right steps into place today and treat them right!
Here are my customer service tips to Treat Yo’ Customer.
17. Create an FAQ or Customer Resources page: Anticipate commonly asked questions and add to it as new ones pop up. This not only reduces your email communication as customers can find their own answers or provides you a quick link to answer them, but it also helps build trust as you provide answers up front that help customers make better decisions for themselves.
For example, I’m often asked about what tools to use; so I created a list of Recommended Business Resources for Online Shop Owners.
Focus your Social Media
18. Pick 1-2 Platforms to Start: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t be everywhere and be good at it – and that’s okay. My recommendations are Pinterest + Instagram. Although Pinterest is less of a social media tool and more of a search engine, in terms of platforms to start with you will get the biggest return here. There’s a lot of talk about Facebook marketing and if you’re comfortable with that platform and can be active without selling your soul for hours on end then go for it.
Have other accounts already started? That’s okay – still don’t be afraid to scale back. Pin a message to the top of your feed (can do this on Facebook + Twitter) and say something like, “Thanks for popping over! I hang out over on Instagram so please come say hi there! <link to your IG>”
19. Be Active with your Customers: Always remember to keep the “social” in social media. (How many times have you read that on the internet? ughh) But seriously – reply to all comments, seek out a few new connections each week, and participate in your community. If you have trouble staying on task (hi, Instagram rabbit hole), set a timer for just 15 mins once or twice a day.
Related Post: Three Instagram Numbers That Matter More Than Followers
20. Share + Praise Other Brands Freely: Similar to the round up post, this simple outreach strategy connects you with other shop owners and brands. The more you share and compliment their work, the more likely they are to do the same for you – which increases your brand’s reach. It also puts your company in the good will of others should you want to reach out in the future for potential partnership opportunities!
Just be sure these brands are complementary to your business and would be of interest to your core customers. Always remember – it’s about them and what they need.
You can also read this post about ick-free ways to network.
21. Use Your One Instagram Link to Your Advantage: Instagram is still a little fickle when it comes to driving traffic back to your shop because they only give you ONE clickable link in your profile and no ability to link within posts. Luckily for you – there’s a workaround!
Read this post for a guide to learn how to transform your one clickable link into a shoppable Instagram page!
In 90 days, what do you want to accomplish with these strategies? You have a little over 12 weeks to make a major difference in your shop.
So set your goal TODAY.
What is your goal for monthly sales?
How many email subscribers do you want?
What are your traffic goals?
Put them down in writing and map out a plan to tackle each of these strategies to grow your business in the next 90 days (*just focus on 3-5 to start for marketing).
You can grab free printables to set your Marketing Plans + Business Goals >>> Click the link below to sign up for the Secrets of a Buyer and get your free goods!
And join us in #theshopsquad on Facebook if you want to share your goals for extra accountability!