In today’s business climate, its easier than ever to reach new customers. So many mediums exist. Yet in the current, highly competitive business environment turning prospects into customers can be difficult without a proper marketing strategy. Its no longer just as simple as putting an ad in a paper and handing out your business card. Customers want more. Nowadays, traditional marketing practices must be integrated with new ones. And finally, the online and offline marketing strategies need to work harmoniously to tell the companies story in order to drive sales and customer engagement.
Identify Your Branding Strategy
Before undertaking an overall marketing strategy you must first evaluate who your customers are and where you’ll find them. Consider their age, demographics, location, occupation, interests, hobbies, behaviors and lifestyle patterns. Then tailor your marketing strategy to reach these people in places they’re likely to frequent. Create a buyer persona of your ideal customer. Who are they? What are their pain points? How can your business help? Some businesses will have multiple customer groups and it’s important to identify each one. All this information can be inputted into your overall strategic marketing plan.
Your company’s branding must appeal to your customer base. The brand must be built with customer expectations in mind. It must present the company in a positive light while also expressing a unique viewpoint. A business without a unique value proposition or positioning statement will lose out to established players in the industry. Knowing who exactly your customers are is half the battle. The main battle is capturing their attention in such a distraction-filled world.
Any brand must always know who they’re talking to or the message will be lost in translation or reach the wrong ears. If you sell a high priced and quality product but aim your marketing at the wrong income bracket, then the advertising message will be ineffective.
Traditional Marketing Strategies
Old school marketing strategies still work. But their effectiveness has been drastically diluted since the coming of the digital age. People will always trust you or your business more if they meet you which is why personal selling is still effective in most industries. In Ireland, I find this is particularly true especially in less digitally native areas outside the big cities.
So what other traditional marketing strategies are available? Let’s take a look below:
1. Direct Marketing
Involves sending mail to customers/potential customers in their home or business. This puts something tangible into peoples hands making them more likely to notice the message in an era where most communications are digital. It’s can be expensive due to postage costs. It’s also not as popular in comparison to previous years due to the cost savings inherent in email marketing. Admailer by An Post gives businesses the capability of creating these types of campaigns.
Creating flyers, brochures, business cards and handing them out to customers. Again you’re placing something tangible in their hand making brand recall more likely. People understand complex and detailed information better in print form than digital. This includes print advertising where ads are placed in newspapers or magazines. Disadvantages include expense, difficulty garnering advertising attention, and it’s hard to measure. It can be a good option depending on customer demographics.
Traditionally associated with ads on T.V and radio. Tv ads are becoming much more affordable for companies but its effectiveness is questionable given younger peoples propensity for channel and device switching during ads. While radio is suffering a slow death with people preferring to play music from their iPod even in the car thanks to AUX cables.
4. Cold calling
An old method but can be effective as you directly reach your customer base. However many people are tired of sales pitches preferring an email so they can digest the information quickly absent jargon. It is effective when integrated with other marketing strategies and once the customer is in the awareness purchase and is more open and trusting towards the company.
5. Celebrity Endorsements
Still popular today but now encapsulating social media influencers. Can be a great way of making a product or brand trendy or trustworthy through a well-known celebrity giving the brand credibility by endorsing the product.
6. Networking and Strategic Alliances
Attending networking events can provide a way of meeting new people or forming new partnerships. Creating alliances with companies in similar spaces can serve to create a situation where both businesses benefit.
Online Marketing Strategies
Going forward many companies will need to start embracing digital marketing. Digital is a very effective way to interact with existing customers while also sourcing new ones. Many Irish SME’s have managed to successfully ignore the changes digital is bringing but this will catch up with them. The younger generation does most of their research online today and with the introduction of high-speed fiber broadband nationwide will likely see this trend increase. Eventually, most sales will take place online. The vast changes happening in the VR and AR arenas will only expedite this.
So, without jumping too far ahead, let’s have a peek at some online marketing strategies available to companies today:
Many companies have a dream of “being top of Google” for their designated keywords. You could devote a whole blog to SEO but it mainly involves increasing a website’s placement in the Google search engine. The use of various strategies such as high-quality blogs, optimising page title tags, keyword optimization throughout the website, and much more besides can help achieve this. Google has over 200 criterion when deciding the ranking of a site. However, the main characteristics of high ranking sites are the number of website visitors, no. of quality backlinks, and the bounce rate.
2. Content Marketing
White papers, ebooks, and other long-form content all attract downloads, signups, and conversions. In the online environment, it’s all about establishing connections with customers and providing the value making the brand popular online. On-site blogs are also used to attract more inbound traffic to your site.
3. Social Media Marketing
Centers on nurturing the customer relationship and generating word of mouth marketing. These days companies must engage with customers to stay relevant and social media provides the perfect opportunity.
4. Email Marketing
Inexpensive and highly targetable providing a very effective method of contacting existing customers with latest offers as well as connecting with new ones.
5. Online Advertising
Offers localization and strong targeting possibilities. Facebook, Google, Instagram, Youtube, Other websites, are all viable options. However careful attention must be paid to budget management and ensure the right customers are being targeted and that these ads are leading to conversions.
6. Native Advertising
Involves the sponsoring of news stories and embedding them in social media news streams and sites on the internet to appear less like ads. Native ads are less aggressive and focus on a soft sell to customers who are likely to be interested in the product.
Combining Online and Offline Marketing Strategies
Traditional marketing practices in an overall sense can be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to measure. Digital marketing strategies can be comparatively inexpensive, very measurable, reach a wide number of people but involve a lot of time. To get maximum results in your marketing strategies you need aspects of both strategies to really make your marketing drive sales for your business.
The fragmentation of peoples attention today means one strategy cannot be the only way to reach customers. The best results will come from integrating both strategies and finding solutions that your business will be able to successfully implement and stick to.