Strategic Marketing for Small Businesses: Media Integration
In the introduction to this series on strategic marketing for small businesses, we talked about collaborating with every department in the company (even if your business only consists of you) and also a little about considering your competition. In the next installment, we discussed knowing your target audience, specifically how to define your audience and to make sure your marketing message appeals to them. Now, we will be discussing media and consistent integration, or in other words, choosing the right platform for marketing your company and how to make sure every medium used (whether digital or print) points to the other.
First things first, choosing the right medium for your marketing message and target audience is essential for progress, growth, and success. To hit the ground running, conduct a focus group comprised of eight to 12 of your targeted consumers. In this group, have members explain their buying behaviors and brand preferences. Discover if they buy based on the product’s concept.
In addition, distribute a questionnaire to 300 to 400 of your target customers. Another 150 can be issued to consumers outside your targeted audience. This will ensure you are not overlooking potential consumers for your product. Once your target audience’s pattern of use is established, consider the advantages of different methods of advertising. Some of the more popular for small businesses are discussed below.
Most small businesses have found success with print marketing, especially when attempting to reach a local audience. Even if your business is based solely online, reaching out to others in the community in which you live could be an untapped goldmine for you. Just make sure that your print media is integrated well with your online marketing efforts, something that is discussed in more detail below.
The following is a list of print media options for you to consider, along with the benefits of each:
- Postcards: Cheap to print and cheap to mail, postcards are great for a direct mail campaign on a budget. A short message, stunning images, an incentive, and call to action are all you need.
- Brochures: A bit pricier to print, brochures are best for when you need room for more information, such as product specs. Take brochures with you on sales calls, events, or display them in your office.
- Doorhangers: These are also fairly cheap to print and are great for door-to-door solicitations. If a neighborhood doesn’t allow sales calls, simply leave doorhangers at every house to still reach consumers at their homes.
- Flyers: These are best for announcing a special event, such as a charity auction you are hosting or a “spring cleaning” sale. Flyers or posters can be handed out at booths, hung in local business’s windows, or even folded and tabbed for direct mailing.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
PPC, both flat-rate and bid-based, allows you to select where your small business’s ads are seen in order to reach your target audience effectively. This generates live and immediate visibility, allows easy advertisement modification, and simplifies tracking on your ROI.
PPC is beneficial to the marketer and the consumer, but does require a good dose of knowledge by you and your marketing team. Knowledge of spot-on keywords and taking time to monitor hits are essential for successful use of PPC. Being aware of these biggies keeps your modifications always in motion.
Consistency in this medium is all about simplicity. Generally speaking, you only get a small text blurb that shows up either in search engine results or on other websites. You have no control of the color or font-type. So, the only thing you can control is the message. Be vicious in how you control what is displayed. Test, adjust, and test again, but track the messages you use for consistency and make sure they tie in well with any other campaigns running.
Social media, a marketing method that is a must in today’s digital world, builds customer relationships by providing a substantial reach and ability to connect with customers. It creates great possibilities for viral marketing, is (relatively) inexpensive, and the ability to track your targeted audience is excellent. This avenue also needs to be studied and clearly understood. There are lots of theories and gut instincts driving social media campaigns.
Social media requires a commitment. There is no “build it, and they will come,” unless building it means placing a new brick every day, so that progress is consistent. Know what your audience is interested in and asking about, and post accordingly to Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Yelp, Runkeeper, etc., depending on your product.
With each social media site comes a different degree of brand control. Each has their own market to which they appeal. So you have to know your market for each social media site and develop a consistent message. While you have some freedom to differentiate your message on each site, keep the over-arching theme consistent. Watch out for message creep, as you can easily accidentally get off topic.
Everyone knows that businesses have to have a website today to survive. They are actually quite affordable and provide the opportunity to create branding tools that can successfully target and track your desired audience. It provides an outlet for your personality and the promotion of your product in unique ways. Just make sure you put considerable thought into a logo, a tagline, and the materials you post. All will be a reflection of you, and thus, your product. Again, this medium is also to be consistent as to always remain in the current.
Your website is the standard for your brand. All PPC, social media, and even non-digital marketing ultimately lead to your site. This is where your brand integration into other campaigns pays off. If you’ve done it right, customers immediately know they’re at the right place and can quickly get the information they need. If you’ve branded poorly, they could become confused and uncertain if they are at the right site or not.
You will also want to invest in a good SEO company, or at least get the SEO basics done yourself with a little research on Google. A website that has been properly search engine optimized is much more likely to gain and maintain consistent followers.
Marketing Consistency and Integration
Once each medium is a “go,” be cognizant of the consistency in your product’s marketing design. Entertain the following suggestions for continuity:
- Use similar graphics and visuals throughout all of the marketing networks used.
- Apply only a small group of coordinated fonts (when you can control this).
- Stick to the same color palettes across all materials (also something subject to being out of your control).
- Employ the same copywriting style (i.e. same audience, voice, and style).
- Use timing marketing such as continuous, pulsing, and flighting schedules.
With a consistent brand look in all of your marketing media, your audience will recognize you, whether it is through social media or a printed postcard. Consistency is only the first step in integration, however. You need to also make sure that all materials point to one another:
- Print media should always include your website URL and one or two social media identifiers.
- Your social media, PPC, etc. should always point back to your website.
- Your website should include buttons leading to your social media sites so that visitors can “follow” you, “like” you, and so on.
Determining the who, when, where, why, and how of your audience is the pinnacle of your services’ or product’s success. Be aware, be informed, be available, be forward-focused, and ultimately, be ready to receive success.
Read the next article in this series:
Strategic Marketing for Small Businesses: Conclusion
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