Category: Business

Easy Marketing Plan

Small Business Marketing Plan, Easy Marketing Plan, Marketing Plan for Dummies

2018 is here! Aaak! Have you planned your goals and marketing for the year? (Insert groans here) No? Why not? (Insert random grumbling here) If you have a difficult time putting together a strategy, and “plan” to just wing it, read this easy marketing plan guide. The perfect tool for small business owners to make the most of 2018, all in about 30 min!

Marketing Plan To Do ListPlanning is necessary. But it doesn’t have to be hard! All you really have to do is set a few goals, and make a to-do list. That doesn’t sound too horrible does it? You’re thinking, “I make to-do lists all the time, maybe I CAN do this?!” YES! You can!

I like to put together a calendar.  An easy marketing plan, that I, or my customers, can follow every month. To keep on track, and not forget, to do throughout the year. I am hoping at some point, in the beginning of your companies existence, you sat down and outlined your ideal customer, did some research to know where they are hanging out and where they get their information (aka online, Facebook, Twitter, local radio, TV ads, local events, magazines) and you know what your budget is. Since, I know you have all that done, let start planning. 

Take a look back over last year, what worked for you? What brought the most customers through your doors? (Need help evaluating last year? Read last months post here!)
Now, what do you want to do this year?
• Do you want to grow your social media following?
• Do you want to target local customers with direct mail pieces that really wow?
• Do you want to hold a customer appreciation event?

easy marketing plan template

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Now let’s put these plans on your to-do list. Make a calendar (or download the free template above) with each month written down, and start moving the events and marketing techniques you want to use where they need to go. If you want to post on social media more frequently, put that on the calendar- every month. Do you have a special event happening in August? Put it on the calendar! Do you need to send out invitations or send out any special marketing pieces to go with that event? Put them on the calendar under the month those tasks need to be accomplished. See where we are going with this? Lay out all your important marketing tasks, quickly and easily with the above free easy marketing plan template!

Here is an example to get you started:
Sample Marketing TemplateNow that you have your template filled out, save it somewhere you will see every day, or at least once a week! Or better yet, put it on your calendar, and set reminders to go off at the appropriate time!

Do you work with a team? Share this with them so they know what to expect all year long. If you are creating calendar/reminder entries, share them with any and all team members who might be involved with the projects!

You are all done! You did it! You created your easy marketing plan for the whole year! Doesn’t that feel good? How long did it take you? 30 minutes?

I hope this template was helpful, please share this page with anyone you think might benefit! And please let me know how it works for you in the comments below!

Holiday Business Gifts That Wow On A Budget!

With the blizzard-like conditions that hit us this week in North Dakota, I decided to hunker down in my little home office and stay warm, by planning my Christmas gifts for customers & business associates. While doing my research and finding some fun unique ideas, I thought I would share a few holiday business gifts that wow on a budget with you!

Your customers and employees are a huge part of your business. Showing them how much they are appreciated is very important, especially around the holidays! As a small business owner, spending $100 on a bottle of wine, or an executive gift basket might not be in your budget if you want to send to more than a handful of customers. A thoughtful gift and handwritten note can go a long way to show you care. Here are a few holiday business gifts that wow on a budget!


A common, well-received gift, is food. Everybody loves food! When looking for the perfect treat to send, think about what your customer or employee likes, look for something unique and that is good quality. Be aware of any allergies they may have, nothing worse than sending your top customers or employees to the emergency room for the Holidays. That might end up having the opposite effect you are going for! 😉

Chocolate is a wonderful option for anyone on your list! It is a fairly safe option, vs sending a meat and cheese platter to someone who might night eat meat or be lactose intolerant. It is easy to package and send regardless of if you are sending to one person, or the entire office.

chip-zel-pop_small_bagThe brand I am loving right now is Funky Chunky, from Edina MN. You can get any size desired, from a personal 2oz serving bag like this for about $3.50, a larger 5oz bag for around $6 or multi bag samplers to executive gift sets from $30-$130. I love their unique flavors like Chip-Zel-Pop, Chocolate Popcorn, Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn & Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn, and their low quantity minimum of 12. Also, if you want to you can have them personalized, or you can just add your business card to the gifts!
Want to order some Funky Chunky as gifts? Give me a shout! I’ve got connections with this delicious treat, and can get you some quantity discounts!


Wine and spirits can certainly go hand-in-hand with the holiday spirit.

But not every type of alcoholic beverage is appropriate to give as a gift to every type of person in your life. This type of gift you really need to know the person you are giving it to. Knowing what they like and that they actually drink alcohol is a must.

This may take a little research or asking around, but a 6-pack of local craft beer or a tasteful bottle of wine can be very inexpensive, thoughtful and have a more personal feel. Again, quality and uniqueness are key!

Personalized Customer Gifts

cupsPersonalization of gifts show you care about your customer or employee as a person, especially when you recognize their name on something they may enjoy, as well as make them look good to guests in their own home or office.

You can get a set of personalized glasses like these for around $25.


Your Logoed gear

Another option is to send your customers or employees some of your own gear. This is a slightly less personal gift but can be good to help keep your company name front and center with your customers.

A cozy blanket with your logo is great for those in colder climates. Mugs, Thermos’ & wine totes are also popular gifts, all for around $15 each. I am a huge fan of tumbler cups as well, and you can get those for just a few dollar each depending on how many you order.


Mix it up!

I think mixing and matching a couple of the above items is really the way to put together holiday business gifts that wow on a budget. Choosing a nice bottle of wine, and putting it in a personalized wine tote, finding a unique gourmet coffee and pairing it with a personalized thermos, picking a delicious treat, and wrapping it up with a cozy blanket, could be just the right gift for your customers & employees.

Remember to find something unique. If you can find just the right gift that your customers or employees love, you could be set for years to come. When you take the time to find the right item, they will look forward to receiving it year after year!

Start with a budget, and figure out how many gifts you need, then give me a call and I can help you find just the right gift for your customers!


Plan to send cards this year? Let me design a custom holiday card for you! Check out my card sale here!






The Summer is ending and with the kids back in school, it time to start thinking about the end of the year. Football games, Pumpkin Spice, Holiday Parties and eek…the budget! Now is a great time to evaluate your summer sales, promotions and how you want to end your year. Did you accomplish everything you wanted to this year? Is there anything you can still accomplish before the end of the year?

This year I grew more into the promo marketing, growing my connections with local and national vendors for banners, store signage, as well as logoed items like pens, chip clips, bracelets etc. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites things from the year.


Since it is Football season, I want to start by sharing Fan-Ta-sticks. These are great for outdoor Football games! You blow them up and then hit them together to make a banging noise to cheer on your home team. They come in pairs, are reusable and cost less than $3.00/set!


Last year I found this amazing brand Funky Chunky, from Edina MN. You can get any size desired, from a personal 2oz serving bag like this for about $3.50, a larger 5oz bag for around $6 or multi bag samplers to executive gift sets from $30-$130. I love their unique flavors like Chip-Zel-Pop, Chocolate Popcorn, Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn & Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn, and their low quantity minimum of 12. Also, if you want to you can have them personalized, or you can just add your business card to the gifts!

Want to order some Funky Chunky as gifts? Give me a shout! I’ve got connections with this delicious treat, and can get you some quantity discounts! Order before the end of the month for the best pricing!


Window stickers are a great way to dress up your store front, and one of my favorites is the perforated window vinyl. The perforation allows you to put a full color graphic on the outside of the window, while still being able to see through from the inside. It’s amazing, you can’t even tell anything is on the window from the inside! They come in any size, but I wouldn’t go much larger than 8′, unless you have it professionally installed.


Looking for an outdoor banner? This one is great! The kit includes a single or double sided banner, hardware and bungees, and comes in 3 different sizes; 3’x6′, 4’x8′, and 4’x10′. This banner is great for outdoor/roadside advertising. Simply assemble the interlocking pieces, install the assembled hardware in a soft-ground/grassy area using the included ground stakes, and fasten the banner to the frame with bungees for a long-lasting outdoor display. The whole kit, with a double sided banner, and a custom design starts around $300. Quantity discounts are available.


Small Business Saturday is November 25, and American Express has free marketing materials you can print out or sign up for one of their free kits! It is a great way to promote your small business, and shopping small!


I hope a few of my favorite things has inspired you to finish 2017 with a bang! Share your comments below on your favs, or drop me an email if you want to chat!

Christmas Card Sale!


Are you looking for the perfect Christmas or New Year’s card for your family or business, but just can’t find the right one? Let me create a custom design for you for as low as $1.00/ card for over 150 cards!

Contact me today to order your Holiday cards! Or fill out the contact form below!

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Summer Swag

With the warm weather finally here along with it comes community parades and outdoor activities.Both are a great way to create awareness for your business.
Your number one goal as a participant is to try and be memorable. Put some thought into your giveaways and make sure to have your name/logo and contact info on everything you hand out.
Now is also a great time to make sure your banners and signage are up to date and ready for any upcoming events!
Make sure to attach a business card or flyer with every item you hand out. Try to be unique, come up with a fun slogan that goes with the parade or event theme. Make your giveaway stand out too. Instead of handing out the standard rainbow colored bracelets, try a slap bracelet, or instead of throwing out can koozies, put an ice cold bottle of water in them first. It is often the little things that people will remember. Including a coupon is another great way to get customers in your door after the parade!
Remember to keep your message short and memorable. Make sure everyone remembers you, why you were there and what you have to offer them. And have some fun while you’re at it!
If you need help updating your banners, or want some cool swag with your logo on it, give Simple Wolf a call today at 701-680-7741 or email Angela at [email protected].

Marketing into Spring

With the weather warming up, I’ve gotten the itch to get outside! I’ve been enjoying running outdoors, washing my car by hand, and grilling! With the change of season, you also need to be thinking about a change in your marketing plan. Spring has officially sprung and here are a few tips to help you create some fresh Spring marketing ideas.

With so many holidays and events in the Spring, pick 1 or 2 that fit with your brand to focus on. Easter, Mother’s Day & Cinco de Mayo are a couple big ones, but a few others that might fit your brand better could include Tax Day- April 15, Earth Day – April 22, Kentucky Derby – May 1 or even the Baseball opener, Spring cleaning or Spring Break!Next, plan your content to go along with the event you choose. If you are having an event or sale, start with your event dates, and

For example, Tax day is often a day dreaded by many. Turning it into something fun can make you stand out! Offer a 15% discount, or tax refund special, or just encourage your customers to stop in that day for some tax relief! Here is a fun Facebook banner you can add your sale info to!


You can download this Facebook cover freebie on my freebies page here.

Next, plan your content to go along with the event you choose. If you are having an event or sale, start with your event dates, and back up your content from there. Schedule some social media posts, daily for the week of your event, and 1-2x/week leading up to your event. Include it in your next email campaign or newsletter, create some flyers/posters for your store and website, maybe even put an ad in the local paper or area magazines. Make sure to get everything on your calendar so you don’t forget! Need help organizing your content, download my free Marketing Plan Template here.

  Try to think outside the box, and come up with some new ideas this Spring!  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  1. Promote a product or spring product line
  2. Host a workshop teaching your customers how to use a spring product-either in your store or online
  3. Partner with another local business and do some cross promoting
  4. Host a spring contest – people love to win stuff!
  5. Clean up! Use Earth Day as a reason to get outside and clean up your town. Encourage customers to join in and provide refreshments afterward.
  6. Create a Mother’s Day contest! Have customers nominate their mothers to win a special prize.
Don’t forget after your event or holiday to wrap up your marketing with a Thank you to your customers. Then gather your results and analyze what worked, what didn’t and what you can do differently next time! Don’t be afraid to try new things, get creative and have fun!

Holiday Ready Marketing

We’ve made it through back to school and are hopefully getting into a routine at home. How about at your business? Are you in a routine? Do you do the same thing every day? Well in business that might not be a great thing. You need to have a plan, but not necessarily a routine. As the holiday’s sneak up on us, make sure you are ready for them. Here are 3 holiday ready marketing ideas to get you ready for the season.

Plan your marketing in ADVANCE!

What’s that? You mean I shouldn’t just be flying by the seat of my pants, or scheduling that facebook ad to run the week before or week of an event?


If you haven’t already read my post from January on putting together a stupid simple easy marketing plan, check it out here. Assuming you already have your plan together (clears throat), let’s move on to your holiday plans.

Pick the holiday you want to start promoting, maybe have 1 or 2 big events or promotions over the holidays to focus on, and then a couple smaller ones. Look at what you have between now and then. Can you cross-promote your events? Do you have a newsletter going out between now and then? If not I hope you had it on your marketing calendar and put it in your last newsletter, right? 🙂

Set up your social media posts to start building the hype for your event. Share photos of your giveaways, food, apparel, location, etc, anything to build interest! Create a couple ads to run leading up to your holiday event.

Make sure your website is up to date too! Create new banner ads to promote your upcoming holiday event or sale. Or better yet, create a whole new page on your website dedicated to the sale! That way you can direct people to that page via all your social media posts!


Can you get another business involved? October is Co-op month, if you are part of a co-op why not work with the other co-ops in town to host a larger event. Bonus, you get your products/event in front of a larger audience!

Is your city doing any holiday events? Plan yours to coincide with what is already going on! Better yet, call up your local Chamber of Commerce and ask to get involved to help plan it! Did you know the more you are involved the better it is for your business? You get to meet other business owners, and get invovled with the community, plus, you get first crack at being an event sponsor, or hosting events at your local business! Awesome!

Get Prepared!

Hopefully, if things go well, you will be swamped during the holidays. And if you have been marketing your events well in advance, you should be.

But are you PREPARED for the increased traffic? Do you have extra staff available? Did you stock up on your most popular or sale items? There is nothing worse than going to a store for a promotion, and they are out of stock, or you can’t find anyone to help you! Don’t let all your hard work go down the drain, because of something so simple.

Get your store ready, get your staff ready, and most importantly get your customers ready for the upcoming holidays!


5 Fall Marketing Tips To Help Heat Up Your Business

Have you noticed? The trees are starting to change color! Seriously! I’m not sure when Fall arrived, but it’s here! Is your business ready for the change of seasons? Here are 5 fall marketing tips to help heat up your business this fall!

   Discount it

Fall is a great time to check your inventory. Do you have a lot of stock on some summer items? Customers LOVE a good sale!

Seriously, I received an email last week that was celebrating the businesses birthday. To celebrate they were giving away a free birthday product with every $30 purchase, plus a free key chain, plus free shipping. I seriously said, how can I NOT buy something with an offer this good!? Customers love to feel like they are getting a great deal.

Want to start a little smaller? Maybe try a 24-Hour sale, or a BOGO sale to help move that seasonal inventory. Have a Back To School special, Fall Sale, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Small Business Saturday Sale, there are so many options!

Is your town offering trick or treating at the town businesses for Halloween? Why not set up a specials rack in the front of the store, where all that traffic will be visiting? You know you will have extra kids and parents in the store that day, so feature some of your kid-friendly products!

   brand it

Do you have a lot of repeat customers? Why not ditch the plastic bags, and offer a branded reusable bag to your customers. Take it one step further, and then offer a discount if they bring it back to carry home their next purchase!

Another idea is to have a couple small freebies to toss in with each purchase, like chapstick or a pen. Or think of a complimentary freebie you could offer that pairs well with your product. Are you a local winery? Why not offer a free bottle opener with purchase? Everyone keeps a bottle opener in their purse, right? Why not make it one with your brand on it?!

Or back to that Halloween example, why not have some trick or treat bags made up with your logo, and hand them out to the kids on Halloween for all their candy? You can get a bag like this for around .50ea for 250 or .41ea for 500. That is pretty cheap advertising!

Promotional items are always a great way to get your company name out.  Did you know, on average 87% of recipients kept a promotional item for longer than 12 months? Now that is a reason to brand your gear!

   Host It

With the changing of the seasons, many non-profits are holding fundraisers. Why not reach out to your favorite charity, like an animal shelter, and offer them your store for a day? Or do you own a nutrition store? Why not reach out to the local gym or yoga instructor and see if they want to hold a class at your store? Cross-marketing is a great way to reach new customers.

Fall is also a busy time for the local Chamber of Commerce. Try getting more involved with the holiday events, or offer to be a sponsor. There is no better marketing than supporting your own community.


  Share it

Savvy business owners understand that sharing is caring. 🙂 And for once I don’t mean sharing on social media!

Do you have a popular recipe that all your customers love? Why not share the details with your customers during an appreciation event or fall promo. Even if they learn to make your dish at home, more often than not, they will still want you to cook for them, and may even come in more often to try new dishes!

With so many seasonal treats available like apple pie and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, you could host a fall-themed event. Put together a seasonal menu, maybe even bring in another local business who offers complimentary menu items, beverages or products. Invite all your customers and theirs, and promote it to bring in some new ones too! Make sure to share teaser photos before to get your customers taste buds watering, as well as sharing photos of the fun afterward!

  Highlight It

As the weather cools, now is a great time to highlight those cold weather products! Put together a Pinterest board with fall looks highlighting your products! Highlight this year’s fall fashion or product trends through photos! If you sell clothes, pairing your clothing together to show how to wear them this season is a great way to upsell additional items. Own a salon? Highlight this season’s hairstyles! Make sure to include a call to action to schedule an appointment with you, or to purchase the seasonal outfit.

Fall is a prime time to promote your business! With so many holidays on the horizon make sure you have a plan to really heat up your businesses sales. Don’t have a plan?? Check out my post here from last winter on how to create your own fast easy marketing plan for your business.

Don’t let another season pass you by, get out there and heat things up with these fall marketing tips today!

September Desktop Calendar Freebies

September is here! That means back to school for our kiddos, and busier schedules! Trying to find that work – life balance can be tricky, especially when you are a small business owner! To help keep your calendar front of mind, this month’s freebie is a desktop calendar!

I use 2 computer screens when working, and like to have a calendar easy to see. The wall calendar in my office is not always convenient, I mean I have to turn my head like 45° to see it! So having a handy calendar on my desktop has been a nice touch for me. I hope you enjoy it too! Just click on the calendar image below you would like to use, then when the attachment page opens, right click on the image and click ‘Save Image As’.

Stay tuned next week for more tips on how to market your business like a boss this fall!

September Calendar (1)         September Calendar2


Business Refresh!

Summer is flying by, and with all the craziness of trying to squeeze in trips to the pool with the kids, hiking, running, camping, vacations and all the other “summer” stuff, it is easy to let your business basics slide. Here are a 4 ideas to help give you that kick in the butt you might need to keep your business running and looking it’s best, with a business refresh!


Update your website!

Take a look at your site from a customer’s standpoint, or better yet, have a friend visit your site and ask them what stands out to them, or what they think should be tweaked. Here are a few common things to look for to give your website a business refresh:

Images – are your images seasonal, make sure there isn’t any snow in your homepage photos! Have you updated your own photo on your about us page? We all know you looked better 10 years ago, but does the picture even still look like you? 🙂
Contact Info – Is everything current? Did you move buildings and forget to update the address? Did you add a new employee and forget to list them on your contact page?
Sales – Do you still have information about your St Patrick’s day sale on your site? Take it down! If it isn’t pertinent to right now, it shouldn’t be on your home page.
Links – Do all your links work? Did you remove a page or document and forget to update the links that pointed to it?
Products – Are all of your new and hot products listed front and center on your website?
Testimonials – Have you added any new customer reviews to your site? It is always a good idea to show all the lovely things others are saying about you where everyone can see it. 🙂
Updates – There have been a lot of security breaches and therefore related updates to website services that you need to stay on top of. I have personally had 2 brute force attacks this summer on websites I manage, that because I was on top of the security settings and updates, was able to stop them in their tracks. So do your updates, and PLEASE backup your website regularly!

Refresh your storefront!

Do you have weeds growing up next to your building? Is your paint peeling? Now is a great time, ya know cause there isn’t any snow on the ground, to make those easy fixes to your store!

Another place to look is in your store! When is the last time you dusted? Trust me, people notice that stuff. Are your displays falling apart? Or do you just need to rearrange your products for the season, to draw attention to your seasonal products?

Are your displays falling apart? Or do you just need to rearrange your products for the season, to draw attention to your seasonal products? Do it! If you have customers that come in regularly, they often stick to their routine of grabbing the same items or walking straight up to your service counter. Try placing those must-have items right next to your register, or having some racks near the entrance that you swap out with new products regularly. There is a reason that Walmart has that display of fresh flowers or Smore’s ingredients right in the isle.

Do you have large windows in your store? Those are prime real estate for graphics! Put fun images that people see outside your store to draw them in! It will help reduce the glare inside the store from that hot summer sun, and bring people in from outside! You can create some FUN graphics to fill an entire window fairly inexpensively.

Giving your store a business refresh could be just what you needed!

Spice up your Social Media

Are you doing some of the aforementioned summer activities and aren’t in the store or office as much? Get your customers interacting with you on social media! Host a giveaway, get people liking and sharing your top-selling and newest products on their pages! Have a photo contest encouraging customers to post photos of themselves using your products!

Social media is a great way to give your business a breath of fresh air!

Celebrate your team

Want to really enjoy the summer? Try taking your employees or team on a retreat to recharge EVERYONE’S batteries! Rent a cabin for the weekend and encourage everyone to come, maybe even bring their families for some much-needed bonding!


Make sure to enjoy every minute of summer, but don’t forget about your business in the meantime. Take a few minutes to do these business refresh tips and get your business looking fab, then sneak out early to go enjoy the summer. 🙂