How to Strategize and Plan for Your Company Using the Donut Formula
by: Kristen Caballero of Along Came a Box
The New Year always comes with a sudden rush of inspiration for me. I have new business goals and ambitions that I just know I’m going to tackle this year. I write out those goals in pretty handwriting and hang them up on my wall as a reminder of where I’m heading and to create that New Year rush all year round. But then I do something different than most. I’ve heard a lot of breaking down your goals into bite sized pieces, but how do they all mesh together? How do they all seem like a cohesive strategy and action plan for your company?
When I couldn’t find an answer that worked for me, I developed my own sort of formula, a visual to help string together these goals. The visual was…a donut.
The Donut Formula
It may seem cliché and it’s a totally trending food item, but it just worked as the best way to really visualize my company. You see, there’s something about the way the frosting lays on the donut, the sprinkles that look so beautifully spaced throughout, and the chocolate glaze that is drizzled on top. They all work together to create this delicious experience. And the great thing is the flavors can be changed to create tons of other amazing combos. Don’t like sprinkles? Add crushed cookies. Hating chocolate? Let’s go caramel.
Just like the flavors in a recipe can be changed to create a different donut, the donut formula can be changed to work for different businesses. Each ingredient represents a different aspect of your company and works as a guideline and a metaphor for how to make the most of each aspect.
So let’s breakdown that mental image of a donut and really get into what each ingredient represents:
The base of the donut is your new product launch or the product that best represents your theme for that month. This is the core of your company and its flavor works as the base for creating your recipe.
The frosting is your blog, meaning your posts “cover” the base (aka your product). So whenever you need a topic for your blog, look back at your newest product launch and create a stream of topics that cover your base.
The sprinkles are your social media posts. They are sprinkled throughout and cover topics like your blog posts and your new products. They are small and there are many of them in many colors, meaning frequent posts on different platforms that are not nearly as long as your blog posts.
The Drizzled Glaze
The glaze is your newsletter. It covers the entire donut: your newsletters will mention new product launches and blog posts, and they encourage subscribers to follow you on social media.
Creating Your Perfect Donut
So let’s get back to what I do differently with my goals. For this step, I use a monthly planner sheet (with color!) to really visualize how each month will come together. I draw out any goals relating to new product launches and assign each of them a month. Any months without a new launch are assigned a product/theme I want to be my “base” for the month.
Let’s draw out an example so it makes more sense. I run a company called Along Came A Box and this year I have plans to launch 10 new gift boxes! Crazy, but it’s true! I want ample time to promote each box and to let each box have its own spotlight. So, for example, in May we’re looking to launch a Blushing Bride Box. So I’ll pick a day in May that I want to launch the box and write it down on my calendar. Everything else for the month of May will center around that base, meaning topics for blogs, social media posts, and newsletters will be heavily centered around weddings, brides, planning, etc.
What about a month I don’t have a new product launch? It gets assigned a base as well. This is exactly what happened in January (no new boxes, everyone’s just bought a ton for Christmas), but I did pick an existing product as inspiration for the new year, our Relax & Unwind Box, and this became the base for our January.
After writing down my new product launches or the base for each month, I take each month and brainstorm blog ideas to support or “cover” the base, writing the blog titles down on my assigned blogging days (for Along Came A Box it’s Tuesdays). So every blog idea would sort of center around weddings, for example, “Bridesmaid Gift Ideas”, “Non-Traditional Bachelorette Parties”, and “Bridal Shower Inspiration”. They don’t all have to be about gift giving but all create a cohesive collection that brings value to any potential customer.
Then I go through the month and write down ideas for social media posts, different angles and perspectives to talk about. Things like how important it is to remember the mothers and all they’ve done to help with the wedding (and how you can totally gift one of our boxes), or how, as a bride, you have to take some time to relax and unwind and actually enjoy the wedding planning process.
These social media post ideas inspire our photo shoots. After taking styled photos of our box, the products in it, and photos for our blog, each photo is assigned a date to post and a matching description is written on the monthly calendar.
Finally, the newsletters are formed. One newsletter for every blog post, covering the blog topic and any missed posts before. One newsletter announcing our new box pre-launch with the date it launches. One newsletter announcing the actual box launch. And last but not least, a newsletter for any miscellaneous newsletter about a giveaway I may be hosting that month, encouraging subscribers to follow on social media, a coupon code, or wishing them a wonderful holiday for that month (Happy Valentine’s Day!).
So here’s a glimpse at what a monthly calendar might look like:
The ability to have such a clear vision of the direction of your company for the year to come is key in creating a cohesive strategy that actually makes sense to your audience. The donut formula gives you the vision and the monthly calendar allows you to actually see how you’ve tied everything together on a month by month basis.
I’d love to hear how you’ve implemented the Donut Formula into your company’s strategy for the New Year! Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
About the Author:
Kristen is the owner and creator of Along Came A Box, a gift box company where you can open up a gift every hour of the day. She came up with the idea when she needed a birthday gift to send to her mom, who ended up having to work on her birthday. Instead of getting frustrated with the lack of suitable gifts online, she decided to create the concept herself and delicately wrapped up eight small gifts. Thus was born the concept of Along Came a Box!