Like the protagonist in one of my favourite 90s films, Girl, Interrupted, we are all struggling to understand and come to terms with our current reality. Coronavirus has ripped through our world and interrupted our lives as we knew them.
Our usual British weather chat has been replaced with talk of Tiers and we have face masks in every pocket, bag, and corner of the car. This is our new normal, at least for now, and with an uncertain future ahead of us and many businesses forced to close, what is the best way to promote your products and services in these trying times?
The more traditional model of promotion, often called Interruption or Outbound Marketing, uses in-your-face advertising like tv, radio and print adverts, cold-calling, direct mail, and telesales. They aim to stop people in their tracks to get their attention and listen to the message being delivered. This type of marketing can feel intrusive, at times aggressive and quite frankly annoying! This method might be effective for reaching large groups of people but the majority of these are unlikely to listen, let alone become your customers.
Step forward, Inbound Marketing! This newer marketing technique uses a more tailored approach of creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey that is genuinely interesting and engaging for your audience and organically sourcing customers. It could be anything from producing whitepapers, blogs, and podcasts to using SEO and PPC to target specific demographics.
It means that although you are reaching fewer people than with the traditional method, the audience you reach will be much more likely to engage as they have a genuine interest in what you are saying or selling.
Inbound Marketing goes hand-in-hand with Digital Marketing and the huge rise in social media as a key advertising tool. When I studied marketing at university, Facebook was simply a device for students to communicate with each other and I was still agonising over who should be in my top 10 friends on MySpace. Now, social channels play a vital role in every successful business’s marketing strategy from daily content posts to paid-for, targeted adverts, to influencer outreach and community building.
A career choice that did not exist when I was choosing which subjects to take for GCSE and A-Level, Social Media Influencer is now an aspirational job for many young people. From a marketer’s perspective they can be the ideal way to reach your target audience by creating engaging and unique content about your product or service whilst building trust for your brand and if you’re lucky you might even go viral!
Another way to gain trust and learn about your consumers is to build an online community. Listening to them interact with each other and ask questions will help you to improve your products or services. You can also position your company as a thought-leader in your industry by supporting, sponsoring, or speaking at events related to your area of expertise. Talking about the things you are passionate or knowledgeable about to potential customers with the same interests or needs can really help to set your business apart from your competitors.
So, what are the main benefits of using this type of Marketing?
- It is sustainable – Inbound marketing campaigns provide value and meaningful experiences resulting in a loyal customer base that come to you when it is time to buy and tell their friends!
- It is cost effective – Your advertising spend will be more targeted resulting in a much higher ROI
- It creates an advantage over your competitors - You will be seen as a leader in your industry
- It creates unity between teams – Marketing and Sales can work in harmony as you will be passing on better quality leads so conversion times should be shorter and rates higher
- It will make you stand out - In a sea of marketing communications yours will be relevant and eye-catching for your audience
- It can work alongside some of the other traditional methods – It adds another layer to your marketing strategy and increases the pool of potential leads
- It creates a more loyal and engaged customer base – Who will keep coming back and spread the word
The disadvantages of this method are that it does take time and effort to think of and create truly innovative and effective campaigns. However, I think the long-term benefits far outweigh the extra work and creative thinking you need to put in to make it a success.
For a lot of people, akin to the current working from home environments (we may still be wearing pyjamas on the bottom but our professional look is specially curated from the waist up to create the right impression), consumers perception of the brand is built through their interactions and what they see. By tailoring the customer journey, we are letting them make their own choices based on their interests and needs and just like Susanna at the end of the film they are taking back the control.
You’re the expert in your business and we are experts in marketing
If you’re a small to medium-size business and need help to create your ideal marketing strategy – please get in touch and contact us here, we’d be delighted to help you!