Every successful business markets themselves and many invest in advertising as well.
The challenge generally becomes finding the right balance for your specific business that can bring in todays’ dollar as well as tomorrows. The goal becomes building a brand that can thrive now while continually increasing equity in a company so it’s worth more tomorrow than today.
The road to this goal begins with a solid marketing strategy that is unique to you and your company, not your industry. Industry marketing just fits your business into a category like everyone else. If no one is different, then it just comes down to price and that is never a great position for any business.
I can write this with full certainty, no ONE marketing tool can accomplish everything. It is the strategy behind the right balance of those hand-picked tools that work in conjunction with one another to provide a cohesive & cost-efficient marketing strategy. Consumers do not all communicate the same, multiple touches and various forms of high-level messages, bulleted content, fun & lively information & deep drilled-down content are essential when you want to capture as much market share in your geographic reach.
What Does Effective Marketing Look Like?
Effective marketing today begins with an effective well thought-out STRATEGY that is unique to you.
Every strategy needs to consider the following:
1. Your geographics, demographics & even psychographics.
2. Your specific brand message & unique content that specifically speaks to who you identified as your target audience.
3. A consistency to your brand.
4. If you invest in advertising to drive traffic through the door, you will need a media plan & budget established, along with metrics for accountability.
- Types of media could include: TV (broadcast, cable or streaming), Radio (broadcast, local or streaming), Digital (display ads, pay per click, streaming audio & video, email etc.), Print (billboard, newsprint, magazines, direct mail, etc). There are so many tools available to build a solid strategy that works for you.
- The media selected will fit well with everything noted above.
Content Marketing Is A Huge Part Of A Successful Strategy
CONTENT MARKETING is one of the best ways to cost-effectively increase brand awareness to your business. It is NOT an overnight fix yet is well worth the investment of time and money.
Good content can attribute to why customers may be attracted to you and your brand.
Good content can create brand awareness which helps to increase the amount of familiarity your customers and potential customers have with you. Consumers are most likely to buy from a company they know, like & trust. You know this to be true, just look to your own life for examples. You will turn to the brands that you have heard of, have been recommended or have gotten positive reviews when given the choice.
Content marketing provides the opportunity to not only attest to your brand’s promises and differentiators, to share information about your brand that the general public may not know. This content helps to position your company within your industry and can lay the groundwork for long-term growth as well.
The first step here is to understand your audience
To better understand your audience, ask yourself:
- Who is your ideal client?
- What is your ideal client’s demographic?
- How do you define your geographic?
- What are your audiences’ online tendencies? To determine this, take some time to check your own online data to see where your consumer spends most of their time. For example, research the following:
- Which pages of my website rank better?
- What email content is my customer most interested in?
- Which blogs get the most comments, likes or shares?
- What posts on you social sites have gotten the most engagement?
The next step is to create a content strategy
To begin creating a content strategy, ask yourself:
- What is your company’s story. What is unique about our story that may appeal to my target customer?
- What types of content will attract my consumer? Examples include:
- Product specific
Once you’ve answered those basic questions, you can begin to create a schedule. You start to plan by:
- Consider how various topics work for each month.
- How they can build on one another from month to month or week to week.
- Figure out what content will be best suited on which platform.
There are so many ways to utilize content today. Just in case you aren’t clear what we are defining as content marketing, take a look at the examples below.
Examples of content marketing include:
- Downloadable product guides or e-books
- Social Media posts
- Traditional advertising (such as print ads or billboards)
- E-blasts or Newsletters
- Press Releases or news articles
Video is a fantastic example as video now has many purposes even after shooting, editing, and utilizing it for your primary purpose. (remember…. Google owns YouTube). For example, you can use video to….
- Utilize YouTube a lot.
- Drive traffic to your website by putting keywords and key phrases from the video on the back end of each video.
- Transcribe the video(s) to create blogs, white papers, and social posts.
- Use the video link on your social pages, again, to drive traffic back to your site.
- If the video quality is solid, they can be used for streaming video campaigns as well.
Your Visuals Are Another Key Factor In An Effective Marketing Strategy
The VISUAL BRAND and the components that make up the visual assets are another key factor of an effective strategy. Once you have a logo and a handful of brand assets that both fit your business and attract your target audience, you must strive to be consistent in their use. Consistency is instrumental in positioning your brand for cost-effective growth.
The brand equity of every company increases, or decreases based on the consumers’ willingness to accept it as their brand of choice. The visual portion of your brand is an instrumental component. Color, shape, font, and imagery can either attract, repel or do nothing for your consumers.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – It’s what the consumer tells each other it is”
Scott Cook, Intuit
So how is a brand built?
- Strong visuals
- Brand standards
- Repetition & consistency
- Messaging & values
Many people think the logo IS the brand, yet this isn’t totally true. A logo is the signature of a brand, not the brand itself. It is a visual representation in association with brand assets that complement it. The brand assets can also stand alone, without the logo, and still receive brand recognition from consumers.
“The visual brand is a representation of your company. Its products/services, its culture, its customer service & the overall value proposition it presents to your consumer.“
Alison Griffin, Creative Director of Media Vision Advertising
Since you will be creating many deliverables with your visual brand…print ads, billboard, video, digital ads, printed collateral, and trade show booths just to name a few, doesn’t it make sense to professionally build a brand that can last through the years?
Media Planning & Buying
Is Important In Building Effective Marketing Today MEDIA PLANNING & BUYING can be another key factor in effective marketing today if your business needs to advertise to drive business through the door.
In the early years of my career, media buying was less complex. I am not even speaking about the many additional options available to us today, I am declaring that not every media representative, agency has digital shop has your best interest at heart. I don’t say this lightly. There are many components to media buying and I have a few recommendations to ensure you are getting the most value for your investment:
When it comes to Media Planning & Buying, I recommend:
- Have your media buying & creative production produced in one place. This produces a much better product with more efficient results. Time and money is saved because the production of a professional campaign will yield higher results.
- Trust is critical when buying media. With the large amounts of money involved in media buying, you need to find an agency that is transparent.
- While you could save on the agency commission by doing the media planning & buying yourself, keep in mind that you are at the mercy of each sales representative. Their ONLY interest is their own. They need to sell you their products and that is often more important than your success. This is a sad hard truth that my years of experience has shown to be true over and over again.
If you are a business and have plans to continue doing your media planning & buying in-house, consider these questions:
- Are the plans & schedules presented truly neutral & impartial? (Example – should you be buying overnight TV? That would be dependent on your target demographic so consider your answer carefully)
- Is each buy supported by independent metrics? Can you review the raw results rather than skewed data?
- Does the sales representative talk about other options that could complement what they present or are they just selling you?
Remember that true marketing professionals (especially in the media space) have many more media relationships than you and can provide much larger purchasing power than you because of the amount of media they regularly buy. This all equates to better-negotiated pricing and placement of your media.
Additional thoughts on Media Planning & Buying:
- Avoid mixing and matching campaign strategies when buying media. Stick to one strategy at a time, utilizing numerous forms of media. This will warrant the best returns. multiple campaigns can be a drain on your media budget.
- Programmatic media buying should automatically correct stagnant campaigns but DO NOT rely on this. Track your metrics month by month as campaigns do flatten and get stale. For any other media buys, these require continued attention throughout the year, with appropriate course-correcting along the way.
- Build your creative campaigns AFTER planning your media. This will allow you to create campaigns with your chosen media in mind. The strategy needs to be in place, then the media buy, so creative campaigns can fit the selected media.
Don’t Discount The Importance Of PR
PR is a commonly misused medium. When we talk about PR, we aren’t referring to just press releases and press conferences. As an overview, it is a strategic form of communication that helps to build relationships between an organization and the public. It is utilized to influence and engage relationships in order to shape the public perception of your organization.
There are 7 types of PR:
1. Strategic communications
2. Media relations
3. Community relations
4. Internal communications
5. Crisis communications
6. Public affairs
7. Online and social media communications
PR is about communications in various forms. Communication is instrumental in effectively reaching your public. There’s also reputation management to note whether crisis-related, thankful outreach for positive reviews, and positioning your brand, positively, to your public.
Many organizations shy away from PR, mostly due to cost factors. They don’t understand the scope of work that occurs behind the scenes because they don’t see a direct response in their bottom line. PR, much like branding, takes time.
At the end of the day…
The secret sauce in marketing is it is never the thing that brings you success. It’s the strategy and planning and messaging behind your marketing that makes you successful. Marketing needs to specifically position your brand in front of your targeted audience, while advertising should work to share the joy of your offering as if every day was Christmas.
Together, marketing & advertising will assist your business in achieving sustainable growth. Both are needed to drive business to your door. The strategic balance here depends on many factors each unique to your business so discern carefully and…