Janet Murray is one of the UK’s leading content marketing experts and creator of the Courageous Content Planner – an A4 desk planner packed with content ideas/prompts, planning templates, and checklists. Janet joins me on the podcast today to share the process of creating and selling a planner, and her tips for creating your own fantastic content.
**Please remember to rate and review the podcast – it really helps others to find it.**
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Janet Murray, one of the UK’s leading content marketing experts.
Janet’s the creator of the Courageous Content Planner – an A4 desk planner packed with content ideas/prompts, planning templates, and checklists, the founder of Courageous Content Live – a virtual content planning event for coaches, creatives, and entrepreneurs, taking place this November. Plus Janet is the host of the Courageous Content podcast and a regular keynote speaker.
Janet also has ADHD (Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder) and is (in her own words) ‘one of the most disorganised people on the planet’. Making her one of the unlikeliest people in the world to launch a desk planner.
In this episode, we discuss what inspired Janet to create a planner, the community that she has built around her product, and how this community has influenced the way her offerings have evolved. Janet talks through the process and practical details of putting together a planner from choosing your binding to finding a printer.
Plus I couldn’t pass over the opportunity to ask a renowned content marketing expert for her top tips on how to create fantastic content. Janet talks through her key pillars for building content, with a particular focus on product-based businesses.
Listen in to hear Janet share:
- An introduction to herself and her business (01:10)
- The inspiration behind creating her own planner (02:15)
- The process of creating a planner (07:20)
- How to find your printer, and why asking Janet for her printer’s details isn’t a good idea (17:36)
- Building a community around your products (23:40)
- The evolution of the Courageous Content Planner, and introduction of live events (26:33)
- Planning your content marketing for a product-based business (33:10)
- The types of content you should be creating for your business (38:20)
- Her number one piece of advice for product creators for creating really engaging content (44:00)
- An exclusive discount code on Janet’s products for all listeners (46:04)
Janet is giving a 10% discount on her products at www.JanetMurray.co.uk to Bring Your Product Ideas To Life podcast listeners. Just use the code Vicki at checkout.
Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas To Life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Today on the podcast I'm talking to Janet Murray. Janet is one of the UK's leading content marketing experts. She's the creator of the Courageous Content Planner an A4 Desk Planner packed with content ideas, prompts, planning, templates, and checklists. She's the founder of Courageous Content Live a virtual content planning event, the host of the Courageous Content podcast and a keynote speaker. So today we're talking a lot about planners. We talk about how to curate them and how to sell them. I also mentioned that Janet is a content expert. And so we talk a lot about how to create fantastic content around your products and your products business. It's a great episode. There's lots to learn and Janet even has a special offer for you towards the end. So do keep listening. I'd now love to introduce you to Janet. Say hi, Janet. Thank you for being here.Janet Murray:
Thanks so much for having me.Vicki Weinberg:
Could we start with you, please give an introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell.Janet Murray:
I am Janet Murray. And I guess, I think, think of myself as an accidental product based business owner. I never imagined that I would launch a product, but I sell a planner. So it's a content planner for entrepreneurs, coaches, and creatives. I do that alongside, I have an online membership community and, uh, I also have, uh, an event that I do a concept planning event, but the focus is really on this content planner um, going forward as is to help people stay consistent with their content and also to help them come up with ideas. It's got awareness days and key dates and content prompts and ideas. And I think I'm right in saying it's the fifth year I've done it. I think 2017. Was the first one. So I think that's actually that year six. I don't know, but it's a, it certainly, it was an idea that it kind of started off as a bit of a whim on the back of an envelope and a product that has developed over time shall we say..Vicki Weinberg:
Oh, thank you. Um, I've got so many questions, cause you say you accidentally created products. What inspired you to create that first planner? Five years ago or however long?Janet Murray:
It was, uh, it was really about solving people's problems. So before I was working in the online space as an entrepreneur, I was a journalist. In fact, I was still kind of working some of the time as a journalist then. So having created content professionally for a living, I got online and everybody was like struggling with content and they were like, I don't really know what to post and when to post it. And I was like, well, that's, that's easy. Isn't it? Because I was a journalist and I was used to having to work to basically a content calendar. So when you work on a newspaper or foreign newspaper, there's two types of content you create there's on diary and off diary. So on diary is the events like the parliamentary debates or the events in your industry that are coming up. Big things like Royal weddings or, you know, things that people expect. And then off diary is like your breaking news, like your Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp going down and sending everybody into, into a, into a spin. So, um, and I was very used to working with a calendar and planning forward, like they could actually call it forward planning. So I also had this sense as well of timing. So my editor would always say to me, Well, why do people need to hear about this now? And so we called it a hook like you wouldn't publish anything, unless there was a reason for you to publish it on that day, that made it timely and relevant. So I guess I had this innate sense of what kind of, as a journalist, obviously you're creating content, particularly in the kind of digital world. It's, it's, it's all about the clicks. So you're creating content, which is designed to get people to engage with you I had a sense of, of what people were interested in, but also how important timing was. Uh, I was used to not working with the sort of sillier awareness days because working for, I worked for the guardian and they were cut, they were a bit kind of like not snotty about it, but, you know, there were only certain ones were allowed to use. But, um, I, I was used to thinking about, you know, key a breast cancer awareness week or miscarriage awareness week. I was used to thinking about those kinds of dates on the diary and planning ahead as well. I was used to kind of looking ahead in July or August and thinking about what I was going to do at Christmas. And it was something that other people seem to be struggling with. So that's my long-winded explanation for how I suddenly thought to myself. Oh, wouldn't it be good if there was a planner that had all these kind of awareness days and key dates in them, because there are many websites that you can go to that have got awareness days and key days, and wouldn't there. Wouldn't it be good if there was somewhere where you could just kind of write down what you're planning to do. And actually then I was more helping people with press coverage rather than social video content or website content. But wouldn't it be good if there was just somewhere where you could sit and you could plan and you could think and you could jot down your ideas and be more strategic. I think that's the, the real key thing about it. So in my kind of usual way, I think I had the idea, which is, I now realize it's a really bad time. To, to launch a planner for sales. It's not the worst, but the earlier the better, but I had the idea, I think the first time in November and I just thought, right. Okay. Let's see if people buy by this. So I got my designer to knock up a picture of what this planner would look like, just the front cover. I kind of said, what would be inside it? I created a really simple landing page using a tool called lead pages, which a lot of people were using at the time. And I said it was going to be £19.50 if people bought it before a certain date. So I did like a test offer. And enough people bought it, like not in the numbers that buy it now, but I think it was probably over a hundred. I can't even remember to be honest, but it was basically enough to justify the cost of printing it. I did some sort of initial research just to get a sense of how much it would be to, to print it. Um, you know, I had a rough sense of. Well, not a rough sense. I had a sense of how many pages it would be, uh, what kind of binding, what kind of materials we would use. So I knew roughly what my break even point would be. And that first year it was really about will people buy this? Can I break even, I didn't really have any plans further than that, I've ended up creating this whole planner business, which is ironic because I'm actually quite a disorganized person in lots of ways. But, um, but yeah, it just kind of started by accident. And I did a lot of things there that I probably didn't even realize I was doing like research and development and testing and creating a prototype. I just kind of did it, people bought it. So I made it and sold it. And each year I've just tried to make it better and better.Vicki Weinberg:
Thank you for that. And I think actually what you did was really smart. So having, you know, mocking up something and selling it before you'd actually print it out or hundreds, um, seems like a really good way round. And I found it. I smiled a little bit when you said that you launched it in November, cause I know now I see you talking about your planner, like so much in advance of that. We'll talk about that later. Um, so let's talk a bit about the process of creating a planner. If you don't mind. And we'll only go with sort of in a broad sense, but it would be really useful. I think to know what's involved in that and I'm sure that's evolved over the years as well as you've learned more about the process.Janet Murray:
Well, this is the thing we were talking about earlier. A lot of people will DM me and just say, Hey, I want to launch a planner. Can you give me the name of your printer that you use? And we can talk more about why I don't give it later, but what I will say at this stage, Is that there's a lot more to creating a planner than people people think. And if you were to just ring up a printer and say, Hey, I've got an idea of which some people do. I've got an idea for a planner. How much will it be? Well, they're not going to be able to tell you because they need to know how many pages they need to know what kind of paper you're using. They need to know what kind of cover you're using. You might be using. Different kind of material for the cover. They need to know about the binding. They need to know about what type of printing there's. So, so basically you won't be able to get an accurate quote for printing your planner unless you do all of that. And you've basically created a plan. It's called a flat plan where you plot out exactly what's going on each page. And that's the thing that often puts people off, but you will not be able to get a price on how much it's going to cost to print, to print, and therefore whether or not you can afford to make it, whether you can make your money back. A lot of the time. You know, breaking even maybe the first time that they print it, it's very expensive to print planners that you can't sell or any publication that you can't sell, which is why I did it. Exactly that. But I think the key thing is you've got to know, well, actually let's step back a sec, cause I've immediately got into the kind of production, but. There's a, there's a lot of planners out there. If you go on Etsy, like there's planners for everything like haircare or planners for your garden or planners for like so many, like really, really niche things and niche interests. And there is actually often quite a lots of competition. So I think the first thing is like, is there a market for this? Will, will people actually want to buy this thing? Sometimes we have an idea for a planner and we think, oh, that'd be really fun, but. Only we would like to do it. It's interesting. I bought a planner from, um, I bought a planner from a, is a piano practice planner. And recently I wasn't sort of keen on the, the kind of way it was laid out. Maybe that's another something else for me to go into the future, but like, They've aren't really many of those kinds of resources around. So it's about, you know, doing a little bit of research, seeing what's out there, just because there's already a planner in your space. Doesn't mean there isn't room for yours, by the way. Um, that, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it, which I guess you would say the same with selling things on Amazon as well. Actually, sometimes it could be a good sign that there's, there's already planners out there, but the first thing. Have you got, sometimes people come up to me, it was really kind of vague, like journal ideas that you kind of think, well, why, why would anyone want to buy that? How would it help them? And that's really what I'm getting to is like my planner it's really clear. It solves two problems helping you to get organized and to actually create the plan and also to stick to it and come up with ideas. Like it solves the problem. So when somebody is thinking about investing their money in the planner, They can rationalize it and say, okay, well, if I spend that it's 47 pounds then that's potentially going to save me this amount of time and money. And people generally, even when they're buying for themselves, you know, like haircare or, um, there's even a planner for the curly girl method or piano practice that they want to save themselves time or money. They want to be more productive. So I think that's your first step actually, um, is, is doing some, some, some research, but even then you will not know whether anyone wants to buy it until you send people a link and, ask them to buy it. So that's how I approached it. The way that I did, you could make the most beautiful plannerin the world that you think is amazing and that you want. So you could also do research where you ask people like, will they buy it? And they might tell you that they will, but until you actually put it for sale, you really do not know. So, you know, you can make some good decisions based on looking at the market and saying, you know, what, what is sellingthere? But if there's a big for me, a planner is about often it's about a community. It's, it's, it's not a physical product. You're often bringing people from a community where they have shared interests together. So my planner. It's not just a planner, but it's a community of people who care about planning. You know, the, the piano practice planner was about bringing people together who are learning piano and wants to get more organized and wants to, you know, get better at piano. So do some research about that. Then when you get to the actual product development, it really is you, you do need to know some stuff and. But when you're going to people often say, well, how, how much do you think it would cost me to print it? I mean, it depends, like we've really developed our product from the first year. We use much better quality products because we've obviously been able to, to look at feedback and, oh, this got a bit scuffed in my bag. So what may you know, then we started to add it, uh, sort of, um, can't even think what it is a kind of. Uh, almost like a kind of film on the front of the cover to stop it from, um, get, you know, this, this year we've gone hard back. Like we've, we've completely, you know, we want to make them really durable and wearable, um, things like, um, why a bound or spiral bound for a planner. I think it's really important to be able to open it out on the desk and be able to like turn it around and, and, and be able to kind of, it's gotta be really usable. So you need to actually talk, try things out. Like one bit of research I would say is if you want to sell a planner, like buy some or go to the shop and spend some time looking at some and actually holding them and opening them and seeing what the potential problems are. Cause something like whether it's spiral bound or perfect bound, they call it, um, that can also impact on your pagination. So, I knew this cause I was from a publishing background, but if you're going perfect bound as in, you know, not, not spiral bound and you can only go up or down in multiples of four. So you can't kind of like suddenly decide to take out a few page you know, add an extra page. You have to add four pages or you can't suddenly decide to take out a page. You have to add, you have to take four out. So I th I think that you really need to like, actually dive into. But this is for any product, like what is it that you're wanting to make? Like, you know, find out about it, like go and look at some, like buy some, hold them, you know, try using them. Um, and then you can start to, if you ring up a printer, they'll start asking you, like, you know, do you want matte, or do you want gloss or do you, you know, start asking, like, if you know that they'll, they'll be wanting to know, you know, with. You know, what kind of printing and stuff. And if you can't answer any of those questions, you're going to struggle to get off the starting blocks. So does that kind of help as a starting point?Vicki Weinberg:
That's so helpful. Thank you. And I'm actually really not surprised and not surprised how similar it is to any other kind of products that you create, how the steps are so similar. Um, and I think one thing you've touched on that's really key is the research bit. And that's often the bit that people don't necessarily want to do it. It's just so important because there's nothing worse than ploughing forward and putting all your energy and enthusiasm into something just isn't going to sell wherever it is.Janet Murray:
Yeah. And I think with the planner thing, one thing that comes up a lot. Well, can I design it myself? And I'm like, well, yeah, again, you're thinking about pricing. Like, unless you are a designer and you have experience of creating a really high quality publication, then using Canva templates or using, um, Creative Market. is a resource that people use, it's not probably not going to look that professional and. So, although this can be, you know, a lot of people want to do things on the cheap, but actually it's making decisions there. Well, do you want to create a really high quality product? That's probably going to have a better profit margin for you because you can charge more for it. If you create something that's a bit homemade, you'll only be able to create your own to be able to charge homemade if you like. Um, so, um, I think it's although it's hard. Cause like when you get an idea off and you just want to run with it, Just taking the time to just think about some of these things and do your research and learn about, learn about printing or publishing. And I, you know, I felt like I had an advantage because I'd worked on a newspaper and I knew about things like flat planning. Um, when I I've got this online masterclass I sell and it's like a massive penny drop moment when I teach people how to flat plan. Cause they're like, oh my God, I didn't realize that you would have to know what was going to be on every page. I was like, we don't need you to know, like have every word written, but you do need to know what's on every page. Part of how you do that with a planner, as well as looking at other planners and seeing how it's, how it's done. And, you know, if you're, if it's a dated planner, you're going to need to have certain sections of pages together you're going to need to have, um, even just things like you, you're going to want to have certain things on the right hand page. Um, and when I was checking our planner through, before it went to print I'm obsessive about this, but I was just like really paranoid that the important pages wouldn't be on the right-hand page because. If you accidentally put a publication together and you split a spread that should be together or something like that, there's actually publishing is a, you know, there's a reason why. people, go and learn how to do publishing, you know, because there is an art to putting a publication together and that's not to put anybody off as a newbie, but it's just about, you know, educate yourself and printers will also, if you want to get a good deal with a printer, then the more that. You know, if every question they ask you, you sound like you don't know what you're talking about. There's probably more chance that they're going to, um, you know, I'm not saying that printers are going to rip anybody off or anything, but you're going to sound like a newbie. Whereas if you can get on there and have a conversation, like somebody who knows what they're talking about, I think you're much more likely to be able to get the best deal I think for yourself.Vicki Weinberg:
Yeah. And be taken a bit more serious now. I think. Yeah, these kind of printers. Janet, you mentioned earlier that, you know, you don't want to tell people which printer you use and I'm, by the way, I'm completely with you on this. I do think it's a bit rude people often say to me, have you got a manufacturer who can make X, Y, or Z? And I do, but I don't share them that. Do you want to talk about that briefly?Janet Murray:
Yeah, so I will often get DMS from people. Um, and sometimes they will have listened to a podcast that I've got on it and they'll have but they'll still say I can't find a printer and I'm like, come on. Like I want I recommend to my class so I don't mind sharing here is that you, you do what you would do with anything. You know, if you were getting a decorator to come and do your house, you'd probably get three, three quotes. Wouldn't you you'd find three local people who offered a service that you, that you wanted, or three people who offer whatever service it was. And then you would weigh up between the, not just in cost, but you would, you know, but for some reason, people seem to think with the planner that it's some kind of dark art, and I'm just like just Google, like printers, ring up some printers, tell them what it is that you're looking to do, and then ask them, you know, would you print a publication of X number of pages, um, with, you know, this type of, and actually you can. Part of your research is to ring printers and say, look, you know, I've got an idea for this publication. It's probably to be about this sort of page. You can ask them to send you samples as well, because you know, it's really important. I think if you're gonna print a planner that you hold the materials in your hand, you know, because again, if you get the wrong material, And people are complaining after like two weeks because the planner is all scuffed or it's falling apart or whatever, like this stuff's really important. And so while you're doing your research and you're gathering your quotes, you can actually ask them to send you samples. Um, and you know, or you can go in and I would always say the first time you do it. So it's actually really good. If you can actually go into a printer and like to talk to them and actually say, oh, could you show me an examples about the things that you've done? But I, I think, I don't know if the people get a bit scared or a bit lazy, um, This idea that it's this dark art, it's just like, you know, find some people who have printers. If you just Google your phone printers, bring them up. If you have a look on their website, you'll normally get a sense of the kind of stuff that they've done before recommendations can be good. But the reason I don't share it is partly because it's, it's taken me years of research to find the right people, right. We've kissed a few frogs along the way, but also just because they're the right printers for us doesn't mean that they will be the right printers for you because I don't know what your project is. And, and I don't know what it is that you're trying to do. I'm six years on. So. I, I used a very different printerthe first time because my needs were very different. And actually, I probably wouldn't recommend that someone starting out doing what we were doing, like, you know, particularly if it's your first book, just kind of, you kind of testing the other side, part of it is it's commercially sensitive. So I have, um, I have, um, competitors who would probably love to know where I got my, my planner printed so that they could get a quote as well, you know? W we actually, the people who work with me on my team, when they work with me, they have to sign a confidentiality agreement. And if they were going around telling people who are printers were like, Like get the sack basically, or, you know, whatever you can do to a contractor. So I think it's also understanding how important, you know, you wouldn't, I would say like, you wouldn't go to like the Colonel Sanders and ask for the secret recipe, would you that's it's equivalent. That's what you're doing. And I always felt so, so I feel like there's that side of it. It's commercially sensitive. It's just having the name of a printer. Doesn't mean that's the right printer for you. It's important that you do your research, but also there's that side of it as. You ringing my printer or me giving you the name of my printer, isn't going to get your project off the ground. What's going to get your planner project off the ground is you doing this research and you taking the time that you actually do need to talk to different printers to hold the materials to, um, even things like size, you know, like. Every year, we have people who complain that my planner is A4. They complain that they want it to be A5 this is obviously a thing about products. Like you can never make it perfectly for everyone, for anyone, but, but, um, you know, there's a reason why it's not a, um, and that's through research and testing and, you know, and, and it's, it's not a random reason. So to create a really great product that people actually want to buy and that you can charge, you know, what, what that product is worth. It's really important to do this research. And it's not actually helpful for me to tell you the name of my printer but also I will say that is commercially sensitive information. I think if you're going to start out with a product that's just kind of basic know how would you agree, Vicky? Like, you know, just understanding business as well that you can't do is go around, asking people to, to, uh, give you the, the suppliers, you know, that, that you've never met or kind of thing.Vicki Weinberg:
Yeah, absolutely. I'm, I'm always a bit surprised when people ask and think they can ask. And I know, I know that finding the right supplier, whether it's a print or anything else is daunting for people. I think that's the thing that people I work with often find the scariest and is scary and is daunting, but like anything, there is a process to it. And I think if you've done your research and you're going into it confidence because you know exactly what you're looking for, you've got, you've got your spec. I think that makes the whole thing so much easier because you can phone someone up and say, can you do this? And they'll say yes or no. And if they say yes, you'll ask for a price. And I know I'm simplifying it a bit, but I think that research a bit upfront is the key to everything. Um, because that will dictate who you can work with as well, you know, based on what your margins might be or the kind of price you're looking at. All of that will depends because like you say, your printer won't be right for everyone because everyone's needs are going to be different. And that's the same with all products.Janet Murray:
So Janet earlier, you mentioned, um, you said through our community, when you're talking about your partner, when you mentioned that people weren't, despite a planner, they were buying into a community, which I totally get, because I know that they have, uh, even for planners, I've been told that they were planners don't have like a formal community, but they were like communities of people who like love planner, you know, they get together to just talk about the plannerand how they use the planner. Um, but I know you actually have communities built around your planner, so it'd be really good if you don't mind to talk about how your planner, which is your physical products works alongside some of your services and perhaps how that's evolved a little bit over the years.Janet Murray:
I think what happened. And I think it's just an entrepreneurial thing to do is that you have a product and you're always looking about how you can make it better or how you can make people's experience with that product or service better. So, I, I just started every year. I'd notice things and I'd be looking at, I'd be looking at the negatives basically like, you know, when I get that email saying, oh, I'm not buying this year because, um, I didn't, didn't use my planner last year. That's an opportunity to say, okay, well, you know, not to be offended, but say, oh, but why did that person not use it? And what could I do to either. Either make sure that that person, you know, that person could use it and get a better experience with a product or integrate that whole separate issue. It could be about, you're not targeting the right people. But, um, so w what I noticed from the outset is. And this still happens. It's still a problem that I'm trying to tackle in different ways every year is that so some people buy a planner and they think it's got like hundreds of awareness days and key dates and they'll go right. Okay. I've got my planner. Right. So I don't need to do anything now. Um, and their response can come out as oh, right. Well, I thought that I wasn't going to have to do anything and your planner was just going to be full of ideas and I don't have to do anything. It can come out like that. But I think what's really going one is panic and fear because just because you start a business, my clients are mainly business owners. That doesn't mean that you automatically know how to create engaging content. So you've got all these dates, but you know, if you've never created a social media content for a business, like you don't know where to start. So over the years, I've tried two different things over the years to, to try and, um, T to try and support people. So Facebook groups is a really simple thing. So having groups of people that can ask questions about how to use the planner, but also other problems in so people who are using my planner generally are they have things that come up with social media, like challenges that they're having, or, you know, they might, there might be something new or like happened last night. Facebook went down and Instagram and WhatsApp. And so they want to talk to other people about, about content creation. So we've had groups, but then. What I started to notice is actually, as I had this, this planner, but, but not enough people were implementing. So they were buying the planner and then they weren't actually using it. So I was thinking about, okay, what can I do to help? So community is one way, but then I started running these content planning events to give people accountability. So I started running annual content planning events this year. It's Courageous Content Live before that it was 2021 Sorted and 2020 Sorted. Um, and I'd bring people together and we'd actually do the plan together at the event. That's moved on even since that. And now we're this year going to be creating content at the event, as well as not just doing during the plan. And then I, then I was looking at some of the other problems that people had. So they're busy and they they've got this planner, but they're not quite sure how to turn the dates in this planner into, um, into content. So I kind of thought, what could I do to help? So, um, W I, I thought, well, maybe I could send people an email with some ideas on how to use the dates every week, but you know, that's valuable information, so why don't we charge for it? So I ended up really with planner, events and the membership, um, which is designed to support people with the planner. So you can either just buy the planner or you can buy this fullpackage, which in the past has included. I get an email every Monday with these things are called grab and go posts where I just take about five or six of the dates. Just blast a load of questions that spark posts and people really like those newsletters going forward. Um, the content planning club that goes with the planner is going to be called the Courators Club. Um, and there's also, um, co-working like weekly planning sessions. So you put it on your calendar and it comes together with others in the community to plan your concept together. Um, monthly planning sessions, quarterly, and then there's also a monthly master classes. So it's almost, it's like a club for people who are. Who are into content planning will have to be into content planning because they have to create content for business. And all of those ideas from that product just came from thinking about how I could help people to use my product more effectively. It wasn't like, well, how can I make more money from them? Which obviously is a perfectly valid thing to do is think about upsells and cross sales, but it was more about how can I help people have a better experience of this product. Something that we're trying this year is giving a master class alongside the planner. So everyone who buys a planner gets this masterclass, which will take them through basically how to use it and how to create ideas and give them examples. So for that person, who's stumped, then they've got this resource I know from experience. Uh, an hour long, an hour long video is video class might be really helpful, but it's not going to take somebody who's never created content for business before to suddenly creating viral content that's going to make them loads of sales. Unfortunately, people do tend to think that that's the case, but, um, it's gonna, it's gonna help them get to the next level. But some of those people may well choose to come and join the Courators Club because they want more support and ongoing advice. And so it's about I've just seen lots of opportunities along the way. I've actually dropped all of my other things that I do because it's become so all consuming. There's content, content planning. It's like a whole niche itself, but I've just seen these ways to kind of add value, but bringing people together around the products and really interesting thing that happens and this is maybe we can talk about this, to do with your marketing and how you, how you build your marketing up. But. In a couple of weeks from when we're recording this, my planners will that we still presell them now. So we still, um, pre-sell them before they're made. Um, and that obviously gives us the confidence to go in and print them. Cause it's expensive to print thousands of planners. Uh, not knowing you're going to sell them, but, um, we, um, when they, when they actually kind of get dropped in, in a couple of weeks, I think it's the 20th of October they're due to land. We run our events beginning of November. And those people who are taking part in the event, they are privileged are part of the tickets. If they get the planner first, as soon as the planners hit doormats, like everybody's on social media, sharing them, like showing pictures of them, videos of them using like people who love planners, love planners. So we've got stickers this year, so everyone's going to be quite excited about the sticker thing. We've got new packaging this year, because that's another thing we have learned over the years about packaging. We've tried different things and we've had good experiences and bad experiences. So, you know, we've got a new type of packaging, which will make it quite exciting. I think, when it drops through the door, um, but there's, there's all this kind of excitement and build up and community. And I think people who have one of my planners, they, they see themselves as a plannerowner, you know, and that they're like, uh, I've got a Courageous Content Planner and that's really for, I think, of a product to grow. That's people need to almost like I identify with it. I've actually come up with this concept this year, a courator. So this is a courageous content courator, like who is that? Well, that person is somebody who shows up and publishes content consistently. They try not to, you know, they don't have to have everything worked out. They just show up, they just do it. They just commit to getting better and better. It's about bringing together. It's not just about selling the product, if you like in the materials it's about selling. And I was like an idea or selling an identity. Does that kind of make sense?Vicki Weinberg:
Yeah. It sounds more like an experience as well as being a part of something and yeah. Yeah. And I guess that feeling you get from being a, having this products and being part of a community.Janet Murray:
Yeah. Even though you in the club, you know, and I often think about, um, like people who. He's sort of. So for example, I was posting on my Facebook page yesterday, about how people ask me if they could be an affiliate for my planner, even though they have no intention of buying it. Can I sell it for you? Even though I have never had one before and I, I am, I don't have any intention of buying buy one. Well, no, you can't because I, my personal values are, I only want people promoting my products, who know, them and like them, because it would feel disingenuous for me to do otherwise for someone else. They don't care if somebody is selling the product, that's fine. But I think that's all part of it too, as well. Like people buy into your values. And although I'd probably be richer if I, if I have people selling it for me, um, I think that that's all parts of it as well. And I think often I find product based business owners when I'm helping them with their marketing, they get very stuck into the product and what they forget. like you say people are buying an experience they're buying, they're buying the person or firm behind it, or the culture behind it and the values. And. It's so much more than the actual physical product, if that makes sense.Vicki Weinberg:
Yeah. That makes total sense. And let's talk a bit more about the marketing if that's okay. Because I mentioned to you, when I, when we first started talking about this podcast, that I always see you as someone who markets your product really, really well, and really ahead of time. So can you perhaps talk for a little bit about what you do and then maybe if we've got time, we can also cover some ideas, but other product businesses.Janet Murray:
Yeah. So I want to start by saying, and this is meant in the nicest possible way, but one of the things that drives me mad about product based businesses, because I am one as well as it is, they see themselves as differently as different in terms of marketing service. So I get also a lot, for example, with my planner, well, will your plan to work for me because I have a product based business well I have a product here and I use it and I think that product based business often get so bogged down in the fact that they're selling a product and then not for the reasons that we've just talked about. So, so what they'll often be doing is just showing up and just posting pictures of their products. And that's all very well. And for some products, particularly very well-established ones, you know, people will just buy something because it looks beautiful. But for most products, people, they need more in terms of the content. So. We have a really kind of, quite a long buildup to it. So we start promoting the next year's planner. Well, we start promoting it soon as we sell out, we have a wait list for the next year. Um, but we'll start sort of July time. So the planner goes on sale in August. Like we started off in November and we've come further and further back because we've realized that people like to buy planners earlier. We do a pre-launch pre-order week. Hmm. Last year. It was the beginning of September this year. We've brought it back to the end of August and we don't just kind of rock up and go, Hey, the planner is on pre-order. We have, you know, w we, we get people to vote on the covers. So we have eight covers and then people, we have a whole thing in June, July time where people get to vote down to the final four and people, oh my God, is mine going to be in the pot and the final four wherever. Um, and, uh, and, uh, we say that people book pre-order, they will get their guaranteed choice of cover when we get towards the end of our sales, because it is a seasonal. People sometimes just have to take whatever they can get. And I have had people practically begging me. There was a pink one, one year, and this woman was like, surely you've got one at home. Like I'll even have a damaged one. I was like, well, I wouldn't even sell you a damaged one if even I have one, but, but I don't. But, um, so we kind of, we build it up and it's about making people feel part of the process. So they're almost co-creating it with you and showing them behind the scenes and. You know, making them feel part of the launch, but not just rocking up and saying, Hey, this is on sale now it's about like having a buildup. So when I think about my planner launch, like we start back in sort of June, July time and we start doing the kind of vote on the covers. And then we have a wait list going throughout the summer. And we're telling people when it's going to come on sale, it's only going to be available for preorders forthis one week, and we usually do some kind of extra, extra kind of a bonus during that week. Uh, we're showing pictures of the cover and people hanging out. I like this one. I'm going to get that one or whatever, or I'm not sure I can't decide. So there's this whole kind of buildup before it goes on sale. And there's actually six phases to my plan. I'm working with it in a new Facebook ads agency this year. And they're, I think they've been a bit kind of shocked because the thing is, if you're selling a product, you can't sell it the same way for like we sell. Between August and January, you can't just keep rocking up with the same content. So we break it down into phases. And so we'll have, for example, we have our pre-order phase and then we move into our event and planner phase. But then in November we start talking more about Christmas gifts. Then in December, we'll have a, uh, lead up to our, um, you know, last Christmas posting. And we have like gift sets that we send and things like that. So, so we start back, we start in January, like when we want the last one to be sold, ideally. And we work back from that, but we know that we can't just keep selling it in the same way. So we have to almost seem so I had a photo shoot done in the summer and I was out in my Christmas outfit and stuff, having photos taken. And we had some new year like, uh, photos. Cause cause also the other thing, a key, a key phase for us. In between Christmas and New Year, as soon as everyone's had Christmas, they're bored at home. It's a really big sales time for me. Um, so. We, we switch our, the messaging and our promotions to kind of like, okay, if at Christmas you fed up of Turkey and Christmas TV and chocolates, like now you want to get sorted for next, you know, so we do a lot of sales seem to Christmas and New Year, but for me, it's about planning and, and also just creating concept for those different phases and making sure that you're switching it up and moving it. Does that kind of make sense? It's, it's, it's, it's much more strategic. I think probably than a lot of people would do. I'm not saying it's perfect, like get things wrong every year, but it's strategic and we think quite far ahead,Vicki Weinberg:
then that's really helpful. Thank you. Um, um, yeah, it is really interesting because as you say, I think we've as a products business and I also have products, so, and I've also been guilty of just posting pictures of my products, um, for lack of anything original or even original, a lack of any thing else to share. Um, what are some things that people can be thinking about with products businesses? I know you said it's same as services. What can people kind of content? Can people be thinking about creating?Janet Murray:
Okay. So one of the modifications we've made to the planner this year say modifications. That makes it sound done. It isn't easier, but we have these four styles of content. So I've come to conclude. You know, most people are posting too much four styles of content four days a week. It's quite enough. And so there's four types, which are I'll quickly take you through. So, um, they spell out nice, which is handy to remember So news and trends so that might be about something, you know, breaking news in your industry. So let's say for example, I dunno, you're, you're, uh, trying to think of what product you might sell. Maybe you sell some kind of haircare product or something and, um, Know, somebody might be using trends like somebody famous or something like that has her suddenly started styling their hair in a certain way. And, um, your product really supports that. So you, you, you know, you might do something like, oh, you know, at the Oscars we saw that Jennifer Aniston was styling her hair in a certain way, and this is how you can do it and use our product. So it's that kind of thing where it could just be breaking news about stuff that's happening in the industry, or it could be about your own Inspiration I think a lot of people don't realize that people don't always want to be sold to all the time. They get bored of it. And they don't want to be educated, which is another type of content that gets you in a second. So inspiration is when it's about making people feel better. So for example, I did a podcast interview with a lady who has a children's toy business, wooden toy, and she was posting. Products of her, her pictures of our products, I should say. And I say, actually, people wants to kind of like be inspired. The value is driving her business. We're actually about the reason she chosen wooden toys is because she wanted, she really values people passing on gifts. Like, you know, Down the, uh, down the generations, she values, um, you know, looking after the environment. So actually you could create content about if, if for that kind of business, you know, here's, here's some ways to use less plastic, you know, which wouldn't seem immediately like, you know, or, or here's how to, um, you know, uh, oh God, here's a really great gift that you can buy that, you know, you can pass down the family or something like that. And then you've got community, which I think a lot of product based businesses don't do enough. It's just about getting to know your audience. You can use awareness days, like in my planner to do, to, to inspire those kinds of things. So just asking questions, like I ask questions all the time. Like, what was your first car? What was the first record that you bought? And it doesn't work so well on Instagram, but community can be it. It's just about bringing people closer to you. So. Product-based businesses. What people love is behind the scenes. They love seeing the making. They love seeing you packing an order, unpacking an order. They love to see what it looks like in your studio or the anything that's just behind the scenes, into how you do what you do and that's community. Cause that's about bringing people closer to you. And that's the kind of stuff you can just pick up your phone and just do you know, I I'm harranging our printers at the moment to say, can they please send some film of them, of our printer.of my planner on the press, you know, it's that kind of thing. Um, it's just about kind of making people feel part of your world. Instagram stories is brilliant for that as well. You know, just, just showing them what you've been up to, what you're making today. You know, people love all of that. And the last one is educated. This is the ones that a lot of product based businesses. They just don't get this. So I'm going to see if I can explain it in two minutes. Um, so people. Uh, a great place to start is to think about all the reasons people would not buy your product and the, or the problems that they have, which which might bring them to consider buying a product like yours. So I know with my, my planner it solves two problems, people who are struggling for content ideas, or people who are struggling to stick to, to a plan. So what kind of questions those people can have not necessarily about my product, they're going to have questions like, um, so how many times should I post on social media of a week or, um, what's the best platform for me to be on? So if I pick another random products and say, you, you sell hairbrushes. What's the best hairbrush. If you've got curly hair, like, you know, is it really true that you shouldn't brush your hair? If you have curly hair, it is totally by the way, there's natural curls. Um, so it's just about thinking about the problems that your ideal customers or clients have. A lot of people think, well, how will that help me? Because I sell a product, how's it going to make people buy my product, but they will. If they see you showing up providing value and they're going to want to come back, like why would they want to come back just to keep looking at pictures of your products? They, they wouldn't, um, there's loads more that I could say on that Vicki. Does that give you a bit of an idea into. The kind of almost like mental shift that you need to take.Vicki Weinberg:
That was really, really helpful. Thank you, Janet, because I think you're right. It is a bit of a sh of a shift because it's almost, yeah. I think I, for myself, with my products, I start thinking really narrowly. Like I can just talk about my products and nothing else. Um, but I think it just helps people to think a bit broader, a bit more creative as well.Janet Murray:
I mentioned just one more example, opinions to people, love to know what you believe. So I've had a Tik TOK that's done really well recently where I talked about why I don't give them the name of the company that prints my planner. You know, a lot of my, um, my ideal clients are small business owners. They have product products as well, and they care about it and they identified with it. So opinions, um, that that really comes to under the community for me as well. It's about. It's about going further than that. Just physical product. There's a, there's a whole world, a whole experience. That's a good word that you use Vicky. I think that to describe it.Vicki Weinberg:
Uh, thank you. Um, I could ask you so many questions, but I am really trying to be sensible and keep an eye on the time, Janet. So I'm gonna ask you one more if that's okay. And that is what would your top piece of advice be for product creators and makers who want to create really good engaging content?Janet Murray:
So I think it would be to almost put your product aside and to focus on your ideal customer or client. What problems is your product or service solve for them? That's key. But also what problems have they got that would bring you, bring them to your product in the first place? So to use, you know, hair products, as an example, my daughter does the curly, the curly girl method, and I bought her all sorts of stuff like silk caps and silk pillows and all that kind of stuff. Like just really thinking, what else would that person want information on? Like, my daughter is. Multitude of videos on how to, you know, you said you might sell silk caps, but actually your ideal client is also looking for the best brush to buy, or they're also looking for the best, um, leave in conditioner or whatever, and actually sometimes it's a bit about being brave enough to talk about other people's products or methods, because that's what your ideal customers or clients want. And rather than making them not buying your stuff, it will bring them closer because they will see you as an expert. That's my actually top tip actually to finish is you. Instead of seeing yourself as someone who sells a product to see yourself as an expert in the problem that your product solves, if that makes sense.Vicki Weinberg:
That makes fantastic total sense. Fantastic. Thank you for that. Yeah, that really does make sense. And I think it's about then being able to go to you for everything on that topic, whether it's the curly girl methods or whatever, and you being their go-to place rather than Google.. Or somehowJanet Murray:
You're a resource. You're not someone who sells a product. You're a resource for them and some, a community, a place where they like to hang out because they get great information and they like being around you and the other people in your community.Vicki Weinberg:
That's really inspired me. Thank you. Thank you for that. And finally, finally, before we finish, I know that you've got a discount code to have haven't you for your planner for us.Janet Murray:
I have. So if you had to Janetmurray.co.uk and. My planner is on the main page, if not just navigate to the menu and it will say planner. Um, and if you, when you go to the, the desk, the desk, what do I mean, the desk, the checkout. to buy the planner, you will, uh, if you stick in the voucher code, Vicki that will with an I that will give you a 10% discount on the planner and the event. If you're buying before, before that the event happens.Vicki Weinberg:
Oh, that's amazing. Well, thank you so much for that, Janet. And thank you for everything you've shared today.Janet Murray:
Well, thanks for having me.Vicki Weinberg:
Oh, you're welcome. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end of this episode. If you enjoyed it, please do leave member of you that really helps other people to find this podcast. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Do you tell your friends about it too? If you think that they also might enjoy it can find email@example.com. There you'll find links to all of my social channels. You'll find lots of more information. All of the past podcast, episodes and lots of free resources too. So again, that's Vicki weinberg.com. Take care, have a good week and see you next.