Episode 011: Show Notes
Wondering about how to rock it in your product based business? Well, then this is the episode for you. We are so excited to have Emily Ley from The Simplified Planner on the podcast today. She brings a fresh perspective, shares some incredible nuggets of wisdom and really dives into her ever-evolving business. We’re going to answer some of y’alls biggest burning questions about product based businesses, how they run and how they work.
You are going to hear about blogging for a product based business, the honest truth about wholesale, cash flow, predicting inventory, and seeking grace not perfection. So get ready, we’re going to get started!
Journey to The Simplified Planner
Emily first started out in the corporate world and was climbing the corporate ladder. She had a closet full of skirt suits, and was “really unhappy.” All she wanted was to do something creative. So in 2008 she decided to teach herself graphic design and started making digital monograms that brides could purchase and incorporate into their own wedding invitations. In 2011, when her son was born she was desperately looking for a tool to manage her business, but just could not find anything that worked. So she created a planner for herself from scratch. Eventually, Emily sold the planner to others, and it has become more and more successful as it has evolved over the years.
Get Yourself Noticed
To reach the ideal client she wanted, Emily knew that the products they were making would have to do something completely different. They did not have the marketing budgets of big corporations, so there was no putting up billboards to get noticed. Luckily for her, social media was free to use to her advantage. She learned early on that her customers were intrigued to see the behind-the-scenes of her own journey, a real woman they can relate to. They continued to use social media to really grow their platform, eventually forming their own community.
Using Blogging As a Strategy
A couple of years ago, it would have been easy to think that blogging was a dying trend and that it was slowly being replaced by social media. For Emily, she always goes back to the mission of the company, which is “to inspire and equip women to live their best lives”. With this in mind, she uses their blog to build awareness, to create meaningful content and to show people how to use the planner. When you have a story and a connection like that with your customers, the sales just happen.
The Pivot of Team Growth
For Emily and the team at the Simplified Planner, growth seemed to happen so quickly and eventually pivoted into full expansion mode. In the beginning, it was just Emily, and she wore all the hats until eventually Gina came on. At first, she just started taking things off of Emily’s plate to make life easier, taking care of all the everyday little tasks that needed to be done. Today, Gina is the Director of Marketing for the company and the team has grown to include seven others as well.
After writing her book, Grace Not Perfection, Emily’s publicist hired a PR team to help the company gain more reach. However, because of their brand recognition and strong community at this point, media outlets were reaching out to them first hand. They were seeing customers posting on social media, and one thing led to another with each new feature. It was truly their strong brand visibility and social media presence that drew others in and identified them as the expert in the industry.
Writing A Book In Eight Weeks
Emily’s motivation for writing her book truly came from her publicist reaching out to her and repeating her business mission back to her. She was so inspired to know that what her company was doing actually made an impact in the lives of the women she was serving. The one catch, she had to write the book in eight weeks! So how did she do it? Every evening, like clockwork, Emily went to the Starbucks up the street to get her writing done. She was there every evening without fail, that the baristas had her coffee waiting there for her. This commitment and plain old handwork really pulled her through to making the book a reality.
Wholesaling and Fostering Relationships
The wholesaling days started early on for Emily, way back when she had her wedding line. However, she realized that through this wholesaling process she had lost the one-on-one connection with her customers, so she pulled the wedding line. Then as the Simplified Planner got started, she was selling directly out of her house, straight to the customer and really building a strong community. After winning Best New Product at the National Stationery Show, the company started expanding, and hundreds of stores picked up the Simplified Planner and it was selling everywhere from Anthropology to Swoozie’s, in giant stores and in smaller ones.
Knowing When to Take Down The Chairs
Through building great relationships, the Simplified Planner found it’s way into hundreds of stores across the country. However, Emily knew she was back to where she started and that she had yet again lost that connection with her customer. After reading Present Over Perfect by Shana Niequist, she was inspired and understood that it was time again to take down those chairs, scale down, and get back to the roots of her company mission.
- Discover Emily’s journey to starting The Simplified Planner. [0:02:23.4]
- To stand out, you have to do something different. Find out how Emily got the business noticed on a non-existent marketing budget. [0:05:22.2]
- Is blogging dead? Find out how to using your blog as a growth and sales strategy. [0:07:40.2]
- Find out how Emily’s company expanded. [0:09:49.3]
- Learn the strategies behind getting yourself noticed, and how brand presence plays a big role. [0:11:24.4]
- Discover what it takes to write a book in eight weeks, and Emily’s motivations for getting it done. [0:13:18.2]
- Understand the business of wholesaling and building relationships. [0:18:49.0]
- What does it mean to take down some chairs? [0:21:24.0]
- Understand the importance of a newsletter for consistent communication. [0:33:02.4]
- Learn the formula to estimating inventory on wholesale and retail products. [0:40:24.7]
- Just because you’re good at something or just because you can make money at something doesn’t mean it’s your calling — what chairs can you take down?
- Take some time to look at your boundaries and to look at ways that you’re protecting your creative abilities.
- Go easy on yourself and know that you’re going to fall on your face.