Back to: Business Planning 2 Marketing Basics: Video Course
Please note: the sound on this recording is a little low, you may wish to listen through headphones.
The next section is all about identifying ways to reach your customers.
Without getting too bogged down in marketing principles, we’ll look at:
- The marketing delivery mechanisms – or channels – or platforms – you can use.
- And the benefits of using an integrated or cross-channel marketing approach to maximize the effect of your marketing activities.
So, let’s start by looking at what channels are.
Channels or platforms are the mechanisms by which you get information about your product or service in front of your ideal customer.
This includes things like social media, online advertising, tv or radio ads, leaflets, brochures and posters, ads in your local paper, your website, etc.
To identify your channels, go back to the research you did around your ideal client and find out about their online and offline habits. Put yourself in their shoes and find out: which social media they use, what newspapers or paper material they read, where they shop, where they gather within the community or online, etc.
When deciding which mechanisms to utilize as part of your marketing strategy, remember the Golden Rule: Always go to where your clients are, not where you want them to be. In other words pick the channels that appeal to the client – not the ones that appeal to you! It’s no good putting all your money into online advertising, if your ideal customer still gets their information from the local newspaper each week. Or advertising on a social media platform that your client never uses.
So let’s talk about some of these marketing methods. Note: these lists aren’t exhaustive, feel free to examine other techniques if they work for your customer audience.
Traditional channels are those pre-digital age channels that were the ONLY way to market 20 years ago. Do not automatically dismiss these channels as some are very useful, particularly if you have a local service business or they are interested in a particularly hobby or subject that has a local free periodical.
- Advertising – radio, television, newspapers, periodicals
- Face-to-Face Networking at events, associations, clubs or knocking on doors
- Print materials eg business cards, leaflets, posters, etc. Distributed by yourself or by a 3rd Party like the mail system.
- Decals, magnets, stickers. Items to attach to your vehicle or in your window or even as promotional “swag”.
- Speaking opportunities at local groups or other events.
- Expos / Conventions where you can rent a space to advertise your services – you may also have a chance to speak or provide some value added training at these events.
- Bill boards
- Promotional items (hats, pens, coffee cups etc) to distribute with your logo, company name, etc.
Digital or online marketing is any marketing activity you undertake via a digital platform ie that people access via their cell phone or computer such as:
- Digital Advertising – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, etc
- Social Media – groups, pages, accounts, interviews, vdieo posts, etc
- Websites – Probably one of the central channels for most businesses, even if you don’t sell from your site.
- E-books or other E-products used as free promotional tools. A traditional marketing method is to create a physical copy of a “business card” book and give it out at events or send it to prospects. In the digital sphere it is a lot easier and cheaper to create such a business card in digital format and have it available for download from your website or social media – or as a giveaway.
- Email lists – sending out information about your business to a list of prospects who voluntarily sign up from your website. They received that information regularly – like a monthly newsletter – or irregularly, only when you are having a promotion, etc.
- Apps and Bots – current technology allows for your business to reach your audience in more convenient ways – via an app for your phone for instance. In addition, adding a bot (a preprogrammed widget that answers prospects’ questions) to your website or social media, helps you to represent your business in a positive way ie always on duty to respond to queries.
- Digital bill boards. More and more towns have digital bill boards now. Renting space on them can be expensive, but may work for your audience.
Integrated marketing or cohesive marketing is when we build our marketing structures and strategy around using multiple channels in order to achieve a consistent and common result.
That result could be an overall awareness of our business, or for a specific campaign or promotion.
The benefits of this approach are:
- Maximizing your time and money (by picking platform that work well together, and which you use every time, you’ll become more efficient at delivering marketing activities – repeatable processes, greater expertise via frequent use, a smaller selection helps you increase your expertise.) As we have learned, your ideal customer is likely to have 1 or 2 social media platforms they frequent – focusing on those 1 or 2, rather than being everywhere helps you focus your activities.
- Leveraging the strengths of your channels/platforms. (your ideal customer is likely to use channels differently. Some they will actively have to seek out – like your website, others they will just come across, a poster in a shop window, others they associate with fun – social media). Take notice of the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and use it appropriately to create a positive association with your brand. Regarding social media again, Twitter is short, snappy, conversation based, frequent posts. You can create a story around your product over the course of several tweets and your audience will not find this intrusive. A similar approach on Facebook is likely to be irritating.
- Reach a wider audience. Although we focus on ideal customer, by using a cohesive marketing approach over several platforms we are, in effect, widening that audience. A poster in a shop window or decals on your car enable you to reach a wider community without too much effort.
- “Training” your followers and customers. Adopting the same processes each time ie “check out my website for more” get’s people used to going there and exploring. The same with regular social posts. The audience begins to look for them, and eventually respond (we hope.)
- Your potential customers are likely to receive multiple touches. It often takes frequent reminders from us for a client to persuade them to buy or even remember we exist. By pulling a campaign together via a variety of channels helps us achieve that.
This is an example of an integrated marketing start up model for the average new small business owner.
It works for an online business as well as a retail outlet, but will be unique for each business in terms of the channels used depending on the audience being targeted.
So how do we build an Integrated marketing or cohesive marketing approach?
- Pick a central focus – for most small businesses this will be a website for some it may be a strategically chosen social media platform.
- Design the site based on how you are going to use it: business card, informational, e-commerce, etc.
- Optimize the site so it becomes a great experience for the clients: fast, secure, great copy, great images, mobile friendly.
- Drive clients to your website for all your marketing activities – this instills a habit in your clients and makes your work easier (plus Google will like the visitors). Do this by adding your website address to all printable materials, post links on your social posts, add unique material, downloadable extras, useful information, etc.
There has been a lot of information in this section, but deciding on your marketing channels and methods will be a key factor to the success of your business and very useful information to add to your Business Plan.
In the next video we’ll look at a few ways you can build an ongoing relationship with your prospects and customers across your chosen platforms, so that you become a memorable business and their first option.