Ten things I’ve learned in the 10 years since I started our business

After 10 years of Totem Teepee, I thought it was time to write a blog post. There are SOOOO many things I want to write about, but in the light of us celebrating our 10th birthday, I thought I’d start here!


Did you know that the biggest marketing tool in this generation is “influencer marketing”? And I’m not even talking about actual “influencers” – I’m talking about your peers, your children’s friends’ moms, the women in your book club, and the moms you meet sitting on the side of the pool while your kid has swimming lessons. Everyone is an influencer. If you want your brand to stand out and get noticed, you need to get in your target market’s cross hairs, and the way to do that is to learn who your target market is, and what drives them to make the decisions they do. And today, the best place to do that is on social media, and specifically instagram.


1. Instagram in particular is a great place to learn about your market. You are provided with insights and a break down of the age and gender demographic, and region your main market is in. Once you’ve got that information, work with it. Instagram has grown my business tremendously over the past 10 years. I’ve learned that my main market is in the 24-36 years age group. So I have to think like a new mom, or a mom with small children. If your market is young moms, be aware that they are settling small children and so probably won’t be online until 8pm – so that will be the best time to post, they’re relaxing with a cup of tea and settling in for a social media scroll. New moms are also frequently awake and scanning social media at all hours of the night – I get some DMs sent to me at 3am! Statistically a lot of online shopping happens late at night when your primary consumer is tired and even a bit trigger happy with that “add to cart “ button!!! Use that to your advantage. Learn the habits of your target market. Make it your goal to think like your market thinks.


2. Make sure your business/brand has an identity. You may only work this out as you go. But keep returning to what your first dreams were, your brand voice. If you find you’re moving away from that, it’s ok, but try not to hop all over while you’re finding your lane. Brand colours, theme, logo and “personality” are important – pick a theme and try to stick to it. I fiddled around for ages when I first started getting serious about my Instagram account. I found myself distracted and it was hard for me to find my unique voice. No one can replicate that – the YOU in your business. Once you’ve settled on a look and feel that best represents your brand, try to stay there so your grid has a cohesive flow. Use your brand name a lot. Keep repeating it in your captions. You’re teaching people an association, just like we say jik instead of bleach, or call a lunch box a tupperware, It’s a well established marketing tool and it works!


3. Competition. Competition is your best friend! Read that again… Without competition keeping you on your toes, it’s so easy to relax into a bit of a monotonous rut. Having competition pushes you to be better, to innovate, to think ahead, and you can’t afford not to be already onto the next venture with your business. If you don’t supply what your market wants, your competition will – never underestimate that. That being said… bring YOU to the table. Your customers are invested in YOU, they want to get to know who the person is behind the brand they love. Share snippets of your life, be real. Be relatable.

4. Numbers mean diddly squat. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing after numbers. Focus on producing a great product, your customers will find you, trust me ✌️ You’ll reach a point where you need help getting your product seen by more people, and that’s where influencers come in. But more on that later.


5. Find like-minded mom bosses/entrepreneurs to bounce things off. Make friends, reach out. Try find someone in the same city so you can meet for coffee. You will need that support because there will often be times you just need another person’s perspective, and you’ll need someone who understands the social media environment. My real life friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I talk about online stuff. If I’m running a competition, or launching an exciting new campaign, MY FRIENDS WILL MOST PROBABLY NOT BE EXCITED FOR ME! And if you expect them to, you will be disappointed! Having said that, choose your “people” carefully. Being famous on Instagram is the same as being rich in monopoly. It ain’t legit yo.


6. Collaborate. Work with your fellow brand owners. Swap products with one another. And promote one another. It’s really simple. You are an influencer. Everyone is an influencer. Brand owners notice the consumers who promote their products and tag them even if they haven’t sponsored it. Sharing a pic and a tag of a product you love in your stories or on your grid really costs nothing. NOTHING. Promote your friends. Give your favourite brands a shout out! Make a saved folder of companies you’ve come across and do a Follow Friday feature. When you do good, with a pure heart – people dig that shit. If all local brands did this, it would become more acceptable and the success of small businesses makes a huge difference to South Africa’s economy. By the time our children join the work force, they will very likely be entrepreneurs.


7. Engage. That little ♥️ button is there waiting for you to tap it. If you like what you see, tap it! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year particularly is that you don’t need to be stingy with your ♥️s. Instagram is evolving almost daily. Current research suggests commenting 3 words or more, commenting an emoji alone is now being ignored by Instagram, and if you’re wanting more engagement create a call to action in your caption so ask questions, entice your consumer to WANT to share their story or experience. And the value in that teeny tiny action is massive for growing brands. Instagram is often a quid pro quo environment – if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. So go out on a limb and be the first to promote a brand you discover that you like. One day someone will do it for you and you’ll feel like you’re more important than Kanye is to Kanye.


8. Photography is going to make or break your product. You need clean clear images to showcase it. If you have a photography skill, hone it. Learn how to use your smart phone or camera. If you’d rather give that job to someone else – it’s worth the investment. Good photography will tell your customer about the level of service and excellence they can expect from your brand. They’ll be less inclined to buy a product they can’t see clearly, so make sure you’re showing off your product in the best light.


9. Stories. What a underrated marketing tool! More people view my stories than my posts. Use that to your advantage. Make use of your stories to post something that will lure them to read your latest post. Also, it’s a great way to keep a check on who is stalking you ? In addition, your stories is a great place to share behind the scenes pics, family tid bits and photos which maybe don’t fit the aesthetic you are trying to maintain on your grid.


10. Read. Read. Read. Listen to TED talks. Look up articles on how to manage your social media – pinterest is full of them. Watch tutorials on You Tube. Learn how to use your phone to its fullest. It’s probably the primary tool you’re working with for your business. There are loads of apps to help you schedule posts too. I use PLANN which allows me to plan my posts ahead, and check which pics will slot well into my grid, before I post them. And then there are photo editing apps. I’ve never had the patience to figure out VSCO, but I know many people use it and love it. My personal favorite is Snapseed. It’s free. Use it. Bright and light pics are very often noticed quicker than dark and shadowy ones. You’re selling your product, not a blues album.


So, that’s it. 10 Tips, I feel like I have so much more to share, but maybe there’ll be a part 2 for that!

You’ll notice I haven’t expanded on influencers. That’s ok, I’ll leave that topic for another blog post.

I hope you’ve found this helpful, and if you read it all, thank you for reading all the way to the end of my very first blog post! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! ?

Remember – have fun. If you aren’t loving it, why are you doing it?

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