Taking a quick look at a glossary of different marketing techniques or a Google at available marketing services make it clear that there are a plethora of ways to grow your brand. Many will profess that they are the answer above all others, that they offer better ROI and true relevance. It is true that some techniques might offer better results given on the services you offer and the market you’re trying to reach. But if you’re missing swathes of your potential consumer base, then bringing a bit of balance to your marketing can help you truly establish your brand.
Stick to the core
If there’s one thing that shouldn’t change, it’s the brand of the business. If you haven’t really defined it, now is the time. The brand should run through the core of every technique we go into, below. The brand contains many different elements, too. A logo and a visual style are important, but so is the message of the brand. For instance, consider the value that your business offers customers, not just immediately. For instance, Coca-Cola are trying to sell soft drinks, but their “Taste The Feeling” brand focuses on the emotional impact of something as simple as drinking a beverage. Finding the emotional impact of a commercial good is often a good way to find its brand message. Whereas, marketing to businesses often involves making the message more about practicality, convenience, and service.
Digital and real world
The online world has made it easier to reach significantly more people. Many of the techniques we go into will highlight different digital methods because that might be where most of your effort goes. However, real world marketing isn’t to be ignored. Business cards, stickers, and physical promotional campaigns like hosting or attending events add a certain legitimacy to a business that the online world sometimes can’t match. People are less likely to ignore a marketing message in the real world, too. One shining example is the fact that the comparative lack of spam in direct mail vs email means that direct mail marketing messages are less likely to be broadly ignored. Even in today’s hyper-connected society, companies like cleaning brand Stanley Steemer report a 33% increase in bookings by implementing a direct mail campaign.
Hearts and minds
A big part of successful marketing is defining the values of the customer that you appeal to, as well. But many individuals hold a large mix of values rather than just one that they stick with. People want a good deal for themselves, but they also want change in the world. For that reason, it’s good to appeal not just to an individual’s mind, but their hearts as well. For their mind, relying on broadcasting deals, offering coupons, and building a loyalty system works. It creates more direct value for them and appeals to that desire to get a good deal. But more companies are learning the importance of displaying their corporate social responsibility, as well. Customers expect organizations to do good in the world and support those that do. Cause marketing, using your platform to link the brand with a charitable organization, for instance, has grown exponentially in the past few years. The best brands find causes that link to their goods and services, too. Think about the example of the PurposeFULL campaign from Arby’s and Share Our Strength. By focusing on the goal of ending childhood hunger and sustainable and responsible food production, they kept it thematic and relevant to the company while also addressing customer concerns about their products.
From your lips to theirs
A lot of marketing is direct. Customers know that they’re being marketed to. While the impact of a good brand message can reach a lot of people this way, there’s also some resistance to consider. When people know they’re trying to be influenced, many put up their guards. Focusing on word-of-mouth, and spreading the good news from someone else’s lips is what every brand should hope to achieve. Review-building companies offer help in this respect by both tackling false and out-of-date information affecting your brand’s reputation as well as targeting consumers with samples to generate authentic reviews. The more people are talking positively about your product, the more likely customers are to believe the hype. If you deal in services, then using testimonials and even creating case studies of your methods and results with individual clients can get past the guard that many consumers raise.
And a little help from friends
Your customers aren’t the only ones you should be trying to get to spread the message, either. There are other names whose endorsement, or even coverage can significantly raise the platform of the business. Cross-promotional efforts and loose partnerships with other business owners can help, as can using influencers such as bloggers and social media icons. When it comes to generating sheer brand awareness, however, nothing might be as effective as press relations strategies that see you brand name featured in magazines, papers, and popular online publications.
Organic and interruptive
When it comes to online marketing, there are two categories, roughly speaking. Interruptive, or outbound, marketing includes pop-ups, video advertisements, and purchasing ad sites on broadly used websites. It’s proven effective, but it’s also expensive and a flash-in-the-pan. Without a focus on prolonging the gains from interruptive marketing through word-of-mouth and building an online community, it doesn’t last. Organic marketing focuses on a more long-term and often less expensive approach, though it doesn’t offer immediate returns. Instead, methods like using an SEO company builds your brand presence by improving its prominence on search engines. Instead of trying to catch the attention and gather interest from new markets, you directly target the people you know are already interested in the kind of services you provide. You just make sure you’re the one getting their attention, not some other brand.
Value first or value later
Breaking it down further, different online marketing methods offer a different strategy to how you make your value proposition to the consumer base. SEO and PPC advertising both lead with value. They often contain messages that state to the customer “this is what we provide and what it does for you”. But not making the value immediately clear can work in some cases. In content marketing, it gives you the chance to demonstrate expertise that informs the value. For instance, Whole Foods generates a lot of content that isn’t immediately selling their food but providing lifestyle content, such as healthy eating tips, recipes, and dietary change advice. This works because it then frames itself as part of that of that healthy lifestyle. In the same way, a plumber using their page to provide plumbing advice shows off their expertise and keeps the reader aware of the brand. Content marketing like this proves to be particularly effective in referrals by those who aren’t even customers, but readers.
Broad and narrow
Knowing when to go broad or narrow with a particular campaign relies on knowing the difference between your niche and your demographics. Your demographics are the different people who make up your target audience. Their ages, income, lifestyle, and purchasing habits can make up for many different subsections of the audience. Your niche is how you cater to those audiences. Developing a niche message should target all demographics, but learning demographics can help you use different channels to target different audiences. For instance, social media marketing is much more popular amongst younger audiences, while direct mail might work better if you also have older people in your target demographics.
Expected and unexpected
Most customers know when they’re being marketed to and might even have an idea of what you’re trying to sell them before you finish the attempt. Being upfront with your value proposition makes sure that your message is heard loud and clear by those most likely to buy into it. However, don’t mistake the value of being unexpected, either. Guerilla and viral marketing campaigns work because they draw the curiosity of the audience, getting them fully engaged in a much more emotionally impactful and interesting way that traditional marketing. As the term “viral” suggests, they also tend to have a much bigger social impact. They don’t just work for those they target, but they can get a lot of PR interest on your brand. One of the most famous examples of viral marketing in recent times is Red Bull’s involvement in Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking space jump in 2012. While it was the jump that immediately attracted the attention of the press and online world, much of that attention was shared with the brand. You might not be able to organize a space jump, but there are plenty more viral marketing campaigns you can get inspiration from.
Don’t forget to target the metrics of the techniques you try out. With online marketing, it’s easy to use analytics tools to find out what works and what doesn’t. Offline, you should be looking at the changes in your market share and operational metrics like the increase or decrease in sales. Defining the metrics by which you gauge success is the best way to know in what direction you should weigh your branding tactics.