We’ll be completely honest with you. We spent the first few weeks of this pandemic in a bit of panic mode which has the tendency to paralyze people from taking action. But we’re coming out of that now and we want to share what we’re doing to have some movement in our TpT business during this time.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to shift everything to digital products. And, we’re not going to just focus on the coronavirus. The 3 things that we’re going to share are things that can benefit your business right now in the midst of the pandemic but also at any other time.
1. Survey your audience
This is a tool that we’ve talked about before. This is a great time to be surveying your audience. A month ago, teachers felt like they needed everything.
There was no plan at that time. Everyone was in panic mode. Now, they have a better understanding of what’s expected of them and what they need. So, it’s a great time to survey your audience.
Here are some questions you could ask your audience:
- How are you teaching right now? Are you using Google Classroom? Are you sending home packets?
- What resources are you using?
- What digital options are you interested in?
- Is there training you would like to have?
- What can I do to support you?
Think about what’s been on the back burner
One of the first things that Angie did when this happened is thought about what resources teachers have asked for in the past that she hadn’t worked on yet.
While something might not have been the right thing for you to create for your store in the past, it might be a better time now. If there is something your audience has asked for in the past, rethink if this is the right time to focus on it now.
Engage with your email list
Angie and I have both become more consistent with our email lists. I’ve been sending emails a few times a week. Teachers are overwhelmed right now and I don’t think they’re reading every email. But I’m being more active with my list and I’m getting more feedback.
In my emails I’m asking what teachers need, offering support, or making them aware of a resource that I have on sale. Teachers are responding with valuable feedback to let me know what they need.
Why this is so important
A lot of times, TpTers look to other TpTers to see what people want. But that’s not necessarily what your audience wants. You need to find out what your specific audience is looking for.
For example, a lot of TpTers quickly started turning all their resources into digital resources, but that’s not what all audiences want. You could be wasting your time doing this if your audience doesn’t care about digital resources.
Think about the long-term
As you get feedback from your audience, think about how it fits into your long-term plans. You don’t want to just focus on a short-term bandaid right now. You want your efforts to be something that can be good for your business for the long-haul.
As we move forward, more teachers will be more fluent with digital resources. But that doesn’t mean they’ll want to use them once they can get back in the classroom. That’s why you need to carefully weigh what is beneficial for right now that will also be beneficial in the future.
Consider offering training sessions
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback by offering training sessions for teachers. I was getting a lot of questions about how to assign one of my writing assignments online. So, I ran a Facebook ad and held a one-hour training.
I got so many questions during that training that I’ve been able to use to create quick videos for teachers. I know a lot of people hate doing video, but it’s a great way to connect with your audience.
2. Focus on providing value in exchange for email leads
When the pandemic first started, a lot of people rushed to give free resources. Many people felt weird about selling during that time. But as people are settling into what this “new normal” is for the moment, business is starting to pick back up.
Many companies are still offering free resources or free trials, but there is a purpose behind it. If a company runs a free trial on a membership site, their goal is that when they start to charge for it you’re going to like it so much that you’ll pay for it.
Most TpT resources don’t work that way. We can’t just give everything away for free. So, as you look at offering free resources or discounts to provide value for teachers, make sure it aligns with your business.
For example, you could run a Facebook ad offering a free resource that teachers can put to use immediately in exchange for getting their email address. You’re able to provide value to the teacher while serving a bigger purpose for your business.
Once you have their email, you can follow-up with them to see how else you can help them, ask for feedback, and let them know about the similar paid resources you have available.
It also gives you more teachers on your email list to survey (back up to #1 above).
What if you’re at the beginning?
If you don’t have an email list yet, you can get started with building one right now. You can create a free resource, run a Facebook ad, and have a few hundred subscribers within a few weeks.
You don’t have to have a huge list in order to grow your store. The engagement level is what you really want. So, if you can get started right now and connect with teachers that engage with your content, you’re on the right path.
Giving value in exchange for email addresses is a really good strategy right now. Check out our podcasts about building email lists:
- Building an Email List with Nicki from The Sprinkle Topped Teacher
- Email List Building with Guest Jennifer Findley
- What We Send to Our Email Lists
- Easily Create Email Opt-ins with Guest Sarah from Biz Template Babe
- Setting Up Angie’s Email Sequence
3. Analyze Data for short-long term
If you’ve listened to the podcast before, you know we love our data!
But seriously, you should be looking at the data around your resources right now. This is going to tell you what’s working and what’s not. If the data shows that a resource is picking up in popularity, focus on that resource. What can you do to make it even better?
Data helps you see how to pivot with your resources and your marketing. Angie and I both had digital products in our stores that didn’t sell that well until the last several weeks. With the data showing us that’s what teachers want, we can pivot our business to address those needs.
A few more things to remember
Find your place
We are all going through a time of adjustment, but it doesn’t look the same for all of us. If you’re still teaching and having to navigate remote learning and supporting students and teachers, you might not have much time for your store right now. That’s OK. Instead, create a plan that you can implement over this summer to reposition your business for what the future looks like at that time.
Focus on what you can control. Expectations are hard to meet right now.
If you have time, look for ways to adjust and pivot. If you are swamped with kids at home and remote teaching, find what works for you without being overwhelming.
Full disclosure, I have a pretty substantial team that has been able to help me pump out resources. That’s not the case for everyone right now. Find what works for you that’s manageable.
It’s OK to sell
Remember, teachers are still getting paid right now. They still need resources for their students. If you have resources and training that can help teachers and provide them value, don’t feel bad selling.
And, keep in mind, if you’re providing free resources, make the experience valuable for your business too. Get those email addresses and build your audience.
Come hang out with us in our Facebook mastermind group. We have a lot of great conversations going on about this. And, it’s nice to be all in this together while we figure out what we’re doing.