A very common misperception amongst small business owners is that in order to make their business stand out from the competition, big bucks has to be splashed on advertising.
Not true. Thanks to the ever-developing digital marketing landscape and online tools available, there is a host of creative marketing techniques you can employ to successfully market your business in a cost effective way.
It’s all about content
A great way to drive visitors to your website and acquire new customers is to do content marketing. Content marketing is simply creating and distributing relevant, valuable content that your potential customers want to engage with and share with others.
It is an effective method to generate leads and reach the KPI’s of your business and include things like blogs, videos, podcasts and social media updates etc.
Creating content that your target market will love is important, but driving traffic to that content is equally as important. It’s no use having incredible content, but it’s not reaching the people you want to reach and achieving what it’s supposed to. That’s why having a solid action plan in place for promoting your content is vital. Draw up a calendar that specifies how and when your content is distributed.
For content to be powerful and effective, it needs to be fresh and unique. Something that hasn’t been done before by competitors and that consumers want to bookmark or save as it provides valuable, helpful information.
Powerful content is also tailored content. Tailor your content to your specific target audience, their needs and internet consumption habits. And lastly, creativity is key in content creation.
Deliver your content in meaningful, new ways, using the latest technologies and methods to draw higher engagement.
If used effectively, social media can contribute greatly to the growth of your business. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn are great ways to distribute your content and reach your target audience.
Using these channels is cost-effective as it is mostly free to use. However, most of them offer fantastic paid business advertising solutions that allow you to promote your products or services to new customers outside of your own geographic location.
There are also great free tools available online to schedule your content in advance and monitor and manage the engagement on it. From these social media insights, you are able to understand your user better and improve your marketing strategy accordingly.
You’ll be able to see the number of reach, likes, comments and other engagement your content receives and from this derive which of your content works and which doesn’t, the best times or days of the week to publish, which channels work best, and who to target with your content.
Optimise for the search engine
Another awesome way to spread the word about your brand and products or services, is through Search Engine Optimisation.
SEO, as it’s often referred to, is the effective process through which website content is cleverly optimised in order to rank higher in organic search engine results and consequently increase website traffic.
It allows you to rank high on search engines, like Google and Bing, for popular search terms within your niche, without actually having to pay for an advert.
SEO can get rather technical, but there are many effective SEO tactics you can apply to optimise your website. With a few clever tricks, like installing SEO plugins and using key worded titles and content, you can also optimise your Blog, YouTube channel and other distribution channels.
Not only will SEO enable you to drive traffic to your company website, but increase awareness of your brand, and give you the edge on your competitors when it comes to securing new and potential clients.
Send an email
It’s a myth that email marketing is dead. It is still very much an effective and inexpensive method to promote your business and products to your target audience, and an easy way to reach people on-the-go on their mobile devices.
You also don’t need to be a technical boffin to send out an email marketing campaign. There are great tools, like MailChimp, available online that will help you set up and distribute your email campaigns, and depending on how many emails you want to send, it is either free or very reasonably priced.
Targeted emails to smaller databases that contain content relevant to its recipients are proven to be more cost-effective yielding better results, than ‘blanket’ emails to large databases of people that are less likely to convert into customers.
Email marketing is great for introducing new products and services to potential clients, upselling existing clients, nurturing possible leads, driving traffic to your website or blog, and promoting special events.
Classifieds and business listings
Classifieds is another great way to market your business on a limited budget. Not only popular for advertising second-hand goods, cars and property, classifieds have fantastic free advertising benefits for businesses as well.
Websites like Junk Mail Classifieds even gives you the option to register a free trader account for your business, and create an online business profile that has the potential to reach thousands of customers and generate daily leads.
Classifieds are known to be very effective, as they are high-traffic websites that allow you to advertise in specific categories, sub-categories and regions. This enables you to target a specific audience with your products or services and makes it easier for people to find and enter into business with you.
So, if marketing your business seems a bit like conquering Mount Everest right now, then take a deep breath and relax, because it really is easier (and cheaper) than you think.
Just take the time to do some research and familiarise yourself with the multitude of helpful tools readily available to help you get the word out about your brand and products, without breaking the bank.
Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good
With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.
If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?
People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?
Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.
Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.
Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan
But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.
The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.
Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.
Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.
People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.
But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.
From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.
Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From
Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.
New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.
And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.
But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:
Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell
If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.
Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.
Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.
For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.