A successful marketing and promotional campaign doesn’t have to be costly to generate real and lasting impact, but it does need to be strategic and well planned for you to maximise your return on investment (ROI). Every impactful marketing campaign starts with you and your marketing team understanding your target audience. From there, you can build on this knowledge to devise effective promotional efforts that not only convert customers in the short term, but also allow you to generate return business.
THE CRITICAL ROLE OF PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES
Marketing and promotional activities are considered to be non-core business activities, but that doesn’t mean they’re not critical for maintaining your market share and growing your customer base. Marketing and promotional activities capture interest from leads and help you communicate a strong brand message. Providing useful information, maintaining customer interest in a dynamic market, and reaching specific segments or niches are some of the benefits that promotional activities can deliver.
Promoting your business is an ongoing process that requires tracking, refining, and measurement through an explicit plan. There are many ways you can promote your business, but social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), promotional products, and establishing yourself or your company as an expert in the field are among the best tools that just about any business, large or small, can make use of.
KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
If you don’t understand your target audience and existing customers, you won’t be able to reach them effectively. Without truly understanding their concerns, values and problems in relation to your industry, you could fail to connect with your audience, even if you devote a multimillion-dollar campaign to marketing your brand.
Generate a customer profile if you don’t already maintain one. Be as detailed as possible when you’re describing your prospects. Research their purchase behaviour and buying cycles, income, preferred online platforms, and anything else that’s relevant.
If you’re a B2B business, it’s also important to find out the likely chain of command and the key decision-makers when it comes to the buying organisation’s decision to make a purchase. This will enable you to target your message more effectively to CIOs, IT departments, or even HR teams, depending on your product or service.
Having an in-depth understanding of your target audience gives you the information you need to reach them at the right places, develop high-impact marketing strategies, and understand how to frame your customer value propositions.
Your knowledge of your target market should inform all aspects of your promotional strategies, whether these involve reaching more prospects through social media, designing suitable promotional gifts, or using email newsletters to make offers.
GROWING SOCIAL MEDIA REACH
Learn about different social media platforms and have a specific plan to grow your audience on the best platforms for your industry, as it’s now considered a necessity for marketing in just about any industry. You might choose just two or three platforms to work on, or you could end up managing five or more social media channels.
The top five most popular platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube, but there might be smaller platforms that work better with your specific strategy, target audience, and industry.
The marketing potential of social media channels is significant. Social media drives traffic to your website and helps you build brand awareness and credibility online. It can offer you greater personalisation, highly targeted messages, and give you an opportunity to receive feedback and track the process of your promotional campaigns in real time. You can incorporate ads into your Facebook content, make offers to prospects on Twitter, and network with professionals on LinkedIn to promote your brand.
Facebook is currently the social platform with the highest market share in mobile ad spending, so you could implement an advertising campaign on the platform to reach more Facebook users within your target demographic. Like any platform, it has its own unique features and tools that you or your marketing team will need to understand so that you can make full use of these and maximise your advertising dollars.
For example, users have short attention spans; they spend onlya second on an ad before they move on. This means you should have a high-impact message that captures their attention and communicates the value of your products instantly. Visuals and videos could be one way to do that, but you could also refine your message to appeal quickly to emotions and needs that motivate prospects to act.
APPLYING LOCAL SEO STRATEGIES
Most shoppers do research online before buying, so targeting search engine results is vital for promoting your business and reaching the relevant target audience – those who are looking for your products. You’ve probably already heard about SEO, but what about local SEO? As many asone in three searches on Google are for local businesses, so it’s important that you do incorporate local SEO strategies into your overall marketing plan.
An effective local SEO campaign could have your business turn up on the first page or even first on a Google search result for a very specific term such as ‘organic chocolatiers in North Sydney.’ To run an effective local SEO strategy, you’ll need to learn aboutGoogle’s local search ranking factors, dolocal keyword searches to find out what people in your area are looking for, andoptimise your website. You’ll also need tocreate a Google+ page for your business, encourage customersto post good reviews, and much more.
Getting results from your local SEO strategy can take a bit of time, but you’ll end up with free, consistent, and relevant traffic to your website. At the same time,don’t forget to fill out business listings for the top free business listing sites in your area. These are usually Yahoo! Local and Bing in addition to Google+.
LEVERAGING THE POWER OF PROMOTIONAL GIFTS
Major companies and brands use promotional gifts for a simple reason: they work. Research has shown that 62% of consumers remember the name and details of companies that give them a promotional product. Because the product offers inherent value through utility – a mug, a keychain, or a reusable bag – it has the potential to act as an ongoing reminder of your brand every time it’s used. The tactile and long-lasting nature of promotional gifts gives this promotional strategy an edge over traditional and online advertising.
Customers are reminded of your brand each time they use it, but they also effectively become ambassadors for your brand because other people are likely to see the gift too. By investing in a promotional gift campaign, you’re effectively using valuable three-dimensional advertising space that could last years, a decade, or even longer.
Promotional products can boost loyalty and improve brand awareness, and promotional gifts are so popular with major businesses because they add a personal dimension to the marketing campaign. You can use different gifts for different target markets – such as a smoothie bottle if you’re selling protein powder to active people – or use gifts with universal appeal such as reusable bags and USB keys. Creative, useful, and thoughtful promotional gifts can generation a strong emotional impact so that customers associate your brand with a good feeling.
Promotional products can be used in other ways than just as free giveaways. You can use them to boost your brand reputation if you’re sponsoring local events or charities. They can be used as conditional freebies to move slower moving products more quickly, since with a freebie, customers can have the perception they’re getting a discount for their purchase.
MASTERING PRESS RELEASES
Press releases are inexpensive yet powerful ways to generate attention and enhance credibility. Whenever your business achieves something newsworthy, use a press release to publicise the event or milestone. Write a great headline and use hard data to sell your achievements where possible. Distribution is free, so your story could get picked up by a major news site if it has enough potential for public appeal.
USING PERMISSION-BASED EMAIL MARKETING
While email can seem old fashioned in the light of exciting social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, email marketing remains a highly effective way to reach your target audience, whether they’re baby boomers, teens, or millennials. Research shows that the majority of millennials actually prefer to receive communications from businesses via email.
Spam laws mean you do need to have consent from prospects before you send them email marketing. One of the easiest ways to encourage people to sign up is to give away something in exchange for their email address. Offer a free e-book, top strategies to solve common problems in their demographic, or some other valuable informational content. Make sure you sell the value of your e-newsletter as leads sign up for it, as many consumers offer a secondary email address that they rarely check or even a fake address when prompted for it.
Once you’ve captured their email address and received permission however, you need to keep refining your email marketing strategy. As much as 80% of consumers end up unsubscribing from emails they don’t want to receive. Create useful content rather than sending out only offers, seek feedback on the content your recipients prefer, and keep testing and measuring the impact of your emails.
BECOMING AN INDUSTRY VOICE OF AUTHORITY
Be constantly on the lookout for ways to promote you, your staff, and your business as a voice of authority in the industry. There are many ways to do this, but always start by reviewing what problem you’re solving for customers with your products and services and provide useful information in this context.
- Blog – If you don’t maintain a blog, start now. You will generate more organic traffic, but your blog helps you connect with prospects and existing customers. Aim to blog regularly, at least once a week.
- Online communities – Sign up to online communities and actively contribute in your business or personal name. Provide direct links to your website with each comment piece of content you post.
- Articles – Contribute to news and other media sites, along with specialist industry sites by writing articles that address topical issues. If you happen to write on a topic with a lot of public interest, you could end up being linked to. In turn this could generate significant amounts of organic traffic to your site and massively boost brand awareness for your business.
- Videos – How-to videos on YouTube can be great ways to show your expertise and provide valuable informational content for your target audience. They can be helpful in personalising your brand and putting a face to the name, so encourage any staff with special skills or knowledge in the relevant field to help with making videos.
- Public demonstrations – If there are special events or venues where you can promote your company’s expertise through public demonstrations, think about appearing in some. Public demonstrations can be highly effective ways to connect with potential customers.
- Seminars and webinars – Seminars and webinars are excellent ways to build authority while promoting your business, as they can be used to provide valuable content to specific niches and segments. Find out what your most valuable customer segment values the most in terms of how-to content. Set up free seminars and segments to answer their questions or solve their problems.
- Public speaking – Whether it’s at industry conferences, business events, or other high profile events, look out for opportunities to represent your company and boost brand awareness through entertaining and informative speeches.
However you choose to promote your organisation as a voice of authority, these efforts can be used to complement your other marketing strategies. For example, you’ll want to publicise your articles on social media. If you’re doing public demonstrations, gift audiences with your promotional products for an enduring reminder of your brand.
OTHER TIPS AND STRATEGIES
There are many other ways to promote your business.
- Contests – Hold contests to raise your business’s profile and generate extra interest. These can be conditional on purchasing a product or service, or they might be free, such as those that encourage prospects to share their contact information and agree to receive marketing messages. Other types of contests that are popular with businesses include Instagram photo contests where you ask for photo submissions and publicise the best photo, for instance, of someone using your product or service.
- Memberships – Running a VIP membership program can drive stronger brand loyalty and encourage returning customers.
- Referrals – A reward-for-referral program can be worthwhile for businesses looking for ways to grow their customer base.
- Coupons – Simple promotional strategies such as discount coupons for services or buy-10-get-1-free cards can generate return business while building loyalty.
The best ways to promote your business will vary depending on your marketing goals, your products and services, and the industry and demographics in which you’re operating. It’s likely that your marketing mix will include a range of tools such as social media and SEO, as well as high-impact options such as promotional gifts. Always integrate your marketing efforts where possible so you can amplify the impact of your strategies.