Tag Archives: marketing

Is Business Blogging Now Wasting Your Time?

business-blogging-wordpress-O'C&K

I was scrolling through previous O’C&K blog posts and came across one we wrote in 2013. It was titled An online presence is just smart businesshere. The content didn’t include blogging per se, but I thought that despite it being three years old it was still relevant.

This made me think about the relevancy of business blogging today and pushed me to write this blog. One thing is clear, though – it is even more vital nowadays that you manage your online presence in a pro-active manner.

Part of this pro-activeness would be aligning your blog activity with specific business goals such as awareness, credibility and even lead generation. A note of caution however – your blog will be a waste of time if it is not laser focused on and distributed to, a specific audience.

More and more we are hearing about content shock and the sheer tsunami of information available online. In this post, we are not going to approach this topic but will talk about why we think businesses should still blog. As usual, we will also provide some tips on how you might get better at it.

Just one caveat for this post – we are talking about business blogging and not personal blogging. Most personal blogs are a hobby or are a way of making money (from ads).

A business blog is simply another marketing tool for your business. Not unlike using social media channels, a blog can support your business activity by driving traffic to your website and help you to be part of a conversation.

Another point of difference is that a personal blog will reflect personal experiences (usually). A business blog will talk about topics that relate to your business. For instance, all O’C&K blogs fall under one of 5 sections – outline on the right-hand side of this page.

Each topic complements how we help organisations with their business objectives through Smarter Marketing. As a consequence, our Smarter Marketing Blog provides real tips and timesavers directly to our target audiences.

Why bother with business blogging at all?

As alluded to above, every time you post a fresh blog post you create a new opportunity for somebody to visit your website, to read it and subsequently share it with a new audience. You are also improving the chances of your website ranking on search engines for that particular blog topic. A third advantage is that blog posts provide your business with fresh content to share on your other digital channels.

Depending on your own time, or whether it is outsourced, business blogging can be a relatively low-cost way to get your website found by business prospects. What you do with them on your site is a completely different story and probably a topic for a separate blog post.

As important as the quality and relevance of your content is, what is equally important is – knowing your audience. Usually, the topic for any of our blogs, reflect a particular issue that we are helping a client with. This, we find anyway, keeps the tips provided – real.  One way we approach each post is by answering the following questions:

  • Who will we be talking to
  • What do we want them to know
  • How do we want them to feel
  • What would we like them to do after reading the post

However, we believe that this last question is evolving. In the current inter-connected world, the power has shifted to the consumer. The thing is you cannot ‘get’ them to do anything – but if you help them somehow they might decide to share the positive experience.

For instance – we will be sharing some pointers with you in the next paragraph. If you think they would be relevant to say a colleague or friend, would you share this post with them?

How can your business blog turn a scanner into a reader?

You might have spent hours / days / weeks researching, writing, editing and distributing your prize blog and then what? Nothing – no shares, no likes, no sharing, no site visits.

Yes, this happens but it is not always about your writing skills (or lack of). Think about it – most of us don’t read articles anymore – we scan them. The trick, therefore, is to make your blog post scannable.

Nine tips and timesavers for making your blog post more scannable:

  1. If you have a general topic you want to write about – break it into a few different, shorter posts
  2. Explain up-front what the blog is going to be about
  3. Try and stick to about two sentences per paragraph and even some with only one
  4. Use subheadings (min-headlines) frequently – they are the stepping stones from Headline to Conclusion
  5. If you mention a number in the introduction paragraph – use numbered bullet points
  6. Insert tweetable quotes throughout the content – they are a visual break and a CTA all in one
  7. Internal links make your site stickier and external links provide proof of research
  8. Don’t be afraid to be yourself – use italics and bolding – just don’t overdo it
  9. When finished re-read the formatted elements of your blog and see if they help the post flow

Where does business blogging fit into a marketing strategy?

We’ve already mentioned that your content must be interesting and relevant to your audience. It also has to be well positioned or it will not be found in the first place. So rather than just trying to attract any type of reader your blogging should form part of a bigger content marketing strategy.

A content marketing strategy will ensure that you address such elements as

  • Goals, schedules and an editorial calendar
  • A supply of keywords / phrases / topics that are relevant, useful and shareable
  • Improved content so as to avoiding the selling-your-wares trap
  • Improved SEO and SEM
  • Planning for metrics such as email opens, mentions, reviews, queries and leads

Conclusion

From an audience point of view, every blogger is clamouring for attention and it is getting more difficult for the reader to sift through the noise to find what matters to them. Blogging does make sense for your business but can be a waste of time if you don’t address the noise problem. It is entirely up to you what you do to help your customers filter the noise.

I mean – why should anybody care about your blog (or your business) unless it helps them in some way.

Your blog is a way of putting yourself in a position to contribute in an area that your audience is already focused. For instance, social media allows you enter conversations that are already taking place. You need to talk about their issues, in their tone of voice and then just listen and learn.

Talking to yourself isn’t much fun nor is it profitable for business.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

What If … Your Business Did Brainstorming for Innovation?

New-Invention-road-sign

This topic is an unusual one for us. It was sparked by my attending a conference recently in Dublin, called ARVR Innovate. I was intrigued listening to experts talking about how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will affect businesses in the future. At one stage during the day, I began to reflect on business innovation in general, especially in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

My first thought was that, nowadays, we should all expect that innovation is coming to our industries. Once we accept that reality, the real challenge then becomes how to effect change in our business through this innovation. Thinking along practical lines, we would suggest that brainstorming with colleagues / external experts is a great exercise to approach change together.

I thought it would be worthwhile discussing, in this post, our own brainstorming experience that we’ve learnt from various customer projects.

Meanwhile, back at the conference, I briefly strayed into thinking about business models (during a break of course). And thought, “are the majority of business models today still fit for purpose?” For decades, I suppose, brands have had the same business model and have just tried to implement it better than competitors. No innovation required.

However, look what Uber, Airbnb, Coursera et al are doing to those business models – they’re ignoring them. AR and VR are probably going to produce even more opportunities for disruption. Can existing businesses not be innovative before falling prey to the ‘outsiders’?

“Yes, they can.”

In fact, they must because a business should always be looking ahead at what their customer will want in the future. If they aren’t – a more competitive business or non-industry player will do so and overtake them. The answer for businesses is not to set-up an innovation department; it is to ensure that innovation is part and parcel of everything a business does from top to bottom.

Business owners must reflect on what will drive profitability in the future and then decide how to implement change, with the help / buy-in from the team.

idea champions logo

With a hat-tip to the U.S. company ideachampions and their great article here,– to ensure a business keeps ahead of innovation an owner and his team need to start thinking outside-the-box. If one dares to do something different, the by-product should be increased energy anyway, so there would be a win-win situation.

Let’s say that a business owner realises there is a lack of internal innovation and therefore a threat from outside the industry. The first thing that they have to think about is that maybe the lack of innovation is a by-product of a fear of the unknown. Accordingly, it might not necessarily have anything to do with their actual business operation at all. If this is their only vulnerability going forward, discussing this internally or availing of external help will definitely improve this situation.

Alternatively, that vulnerability in a start-up situation might be – being afraid to fail. Brainstorming with colleagues / partners etc. will help the acceptance that failing fast brings experience that will actually build confidence and grow business authority in the long run.

The old adage of following your gut is also a very useful attitude when brainstorming innovation for your business. The next new idea probably already exists and all it needs is for you to listen to yourself (your gut) and give it structure (think like a child does i.e. with a curious and enthusiastic attitude).

Facilitating a brainstorming session

We have already alluded to situations when you might brainstorm. Of course, one doesn’t have to wait for a threat to your business to commence innovation. Other compelling reasons could be to generate new ideas or fresh approaches for your business with colleagues. It might serve to kick-start an innovative mindset in your organisation and set up a supply of new possibilities for growth. One that we really like is that it would allow for colleagues to challenge the status quo and potentially solve tough challenges (conquer fears).

Thinking outside the box might even awaken untapped genius on the team to suggest how to delight your customers in a novel way.

If you are to facilitate a brainstorming session, we’ve found that doing research beforehand is certainly a need-to-do. The more you understand what the issue is, that the participants will be trying to solve, the better the objectives that you can formulate. Based on our experience to date, during the session itself, we would suggest that you consider the following:

  • Lock the doors so that there are no distractions or interruptions.
  • Encourage interaction rather than leading the conversation yourself.
  • Keep the participants inspired by not allowing one person take over.
  • Foster even the smallest idea / thought from the floor and make all participants feel valued.
  • Keep an idea / thought going until you reach an aha moment – we love using the what if question
  • Encourage imaginations to fly and be prepared to shut down same when necessary

Some good, customer focused, discussions to be considered in a brainstorming session would be – how to get a better audience (more receptive to brand messages); discuss what the customer / donor really wants (wants are constantly shifting) and even, what do the customers fear (fear drives human behaviour)?

brainstorming-note-book

In a previous life, I distinctly remember being part of a brainstorming session facilitated by International business consultant, Valerie Pierce (her recent book is FOCUS, The Art of Clear Thinking). We were off-site in a hotel room and Valerie’s approach was unique, professional, fun and produced focused results for us as a team.

Afterwards, Valerie gave me some pointers with regard to brainstorming sessions. She highlighted that:

  • It is imperative that no ideas are censored during the session to ensure a total team effort.
  • From the outset, the session must be taken seriously and objectives agreed up front.
  • An element of fun has to be injected into the session so as to avoid individuals switching off.
  • Egos, ranks and work-related problems must be left at the door.
  • Absolutely no smart devices should be permitted and the facilitator should have a note-taker.

Tips and Timesavers for Brainstorming

The inbound marketing experts Hubspot wrote a useful guide last year on this topic titled 7 Brainstorming Tricks to Inspire Brilliant Ideas. In addition, here are 7 of our own ideas that you might find useful:

  1. Give participants relevant information on the session a few days in advance (reading material)
  2. Request that people come with some ideas already prepared
  3. If it’s just a meeting to brainstorm an issue – keep it to about 30 mins max
  4. Facilitate an environment for ‘bad ideas’ but get rid of them quickly
  5. Organise a representative sample of participants from various business disciplines
  6. Use resource constraints as opportunities rather than obstacles
  7. Provide the opportunity for anonymous submission of ideas before and after the session

Conclusion

There are many reasons outlined in this post, why a business should brainstorm. People have various views and techniques as to how sessions should be facilitated. Of all the tips above, there is one piece of advice that we would like to leave you with.

Provide participants with information on the project well in advance.

Ask them to think about it and jot down any ideas that they may have. The brainstorming session can then be used to discuss and critique all ideas equally. As a result everybody feels included and time isn’t wasted generating new ideas in what some may regard as a pressurised environment.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

16 Reasons To Be Cheerful – Part 3 – Using Social Media To Build Customer Relationships

build-customer-relationships-social-media-buttons

In this post we continue our look at how marketing can help build customer relationships. Part 1 is here.

As a business owner, do you remember the good old days when marketing options only consisted of print advertising, cold-calling and exhibitions? Looking back now, we can see how limited these options were when trying to build customer relationships – not ineffective, just limited.

Then the great marketing saviour arrived on the scene – social media. Of course, we were thrilled with these shiny new tools but were flummoxed wondering how best to use them. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. certainly drove connectivity through the roof and brands wanted in on the act.

Businesses tried to be social (kind of) and started measuring how many ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ that they could amass. However, in the early stages, social media was not providing the sales expected – not because of the tools, but because of how they were being used by brands. Purchasing power had finally moved to the people.

As a result, it is only in recent years, I believe, that brands have started to distinguish between ‘social media’ and business social media. Nowadays, a lot of businesses are including social media in their overall marketing strategies. It appears that it has finally been accepted that social media is not a passing fad but needs to be treated differently, as a marketing activity.

Finally, brands have realised that they will never be a customer’s close friend, but they can be of relevance to them.

What we like about social media for our own business is that it affords us the same opportunities that larger organisations have for brand visibility. It also allows us to listen to what our audiences are talking about as well as trying to engage them, on their terms. Finally, it not only helps to build our visibility online but can help build awareness offline also, due to networking and increased brand recognition.

Yes, the pace of change in social media can be frightening at times. Recently, we have seen a timeline algorithm update from Instagram (similar to that of Facebook and Twitter), Snapchat 2.0 (integrating voice and video calling – without a mobile number), and Facebook is enhancing their video metrics (daily performance metrics).

The bad news is that change is constant but the good news is that the upgrades are usually better for brands to build customer relationships. A good example of social media being good for business and relevant for the customer will be the introduction of the buy button on social media sites.

Four social media marketing techniques for you to consider.

  • Use it to build your brand.

This is a long-term strategy that builds and engages with a specific audience. As mentioned in our last posting on this blog (Part 2), trust, built-up over time, leads to a brand that customers genuinely like to engage with.

  • Use it for sales and conversions.

This technique has a short term focus. It entails using platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn to identify a specific need that an individual / business may have. After connecting with them on social media a request for a meeting is initiated. Care is needed that your activity is not considered spamming and accordingly, must be based on correctly identifying a need that you can satisfy.

  • Use it as part of a multi-channel campaign.

If you are planning a short-term marketing campaign, social media can be used to create extra excitement for a large audience. You can get people’s attention with polls, competitions, hashtags, videos etc. and with a bit of luck, your video or hashtag might go viral!

  • Use bookmarking sites for reach.

Social bookmarking sites can help you to drive traffic to your site. We use Scoop.it on a daily basis which is a really good curation and distribution tool. The only downside is that these sites are not targeted per se, so they are more suitable for reach instead of sales. Here’s an oldie but goldie list of such sites from SEJ.

What’s changed for businesses trying to build relationships with customers is that they must do so using many types of platforms and strategies. As alluded to above, the pace of change is extremely fast and it is important that brands keep up to date with online developments. Sometimes it’s best to outsource this element of your business strategy.

As with all tools and techniques, there are right and wrong ways to use them. Here are four signs that you might not be using social media in the right way.

  1. You spend a lot of the time talking about your own business and its offers
  2. You have no consistency of voice across your different social media platforms
  3. Your audience isn’t growing or worse – is not engaging with you
  4. You find being on social media to be a chore so you don’t bother measuring results

When done right, social media can be a very effective element of your efforts to build customer relationships. Consider the above warning signs and change your approach if needs be.

Tips and Timesavers

Some businesses have considered it good practice to have documented policy and procedures for their social media activity, in-house. We would recommend that all businesses do so – there are many templates online that can be used.

There are also a few basic principles of social media marketing that should be adhered to:

  1. Respect your followers and don’t provide them with less than 100% quality content
  2. Give freely to others because what goes around comes around
  3. The customer isn’t always right but at least, move the discussion offline by way of customer service
  4. Paid for advertising on social media is acceptable, as it is targeted – spamming is not
  5. Building relationships with and using social media influencers is fine, if mutually agreed
  6. Review your analytics (usually free) weekly and learn from mistakes
  7. Be consistent of voice and be positive in attitude
  8. Don’t become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Pick a platform where your audience is

Conclusion

If you decide to use social media as a tactic for building customer relationships remember that it must form part of overall business objectives. It is not a good idea to be on social media because everybody else is. Determine your customers from your marketing plan and use the channels where they are, to engage with them. In this way, they are more likely to respond to your calls-to-action.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

16 Reasons To Be Cheerful – Part 1- Marketing Builds Customer Relationships

customer-relationships-connections-O'C&K

When non-marketers refer to marketing, it is understandable that they equate it just to advertising. Most of the time this is because they feel that the sole objective of marketing is sales. In fact, this misconception is probably more a marketing industry problem, due lack of clarity in our own communication, more than anything else. What we don’t clarify enough is that marketing is a management process to build customer relationships and advertising is just a part of that.

Good management is critical to all aspects of a business, and it is just as important that marketing is included and managed in a smart way if opportunities for, and threats to relationships are to be identified. Business growth results from increased customer relationships – fact.

Every business, of whatever size, needs a marketing strategy to build customer relationships; otherwise, their business will not grow.

Time and time again, when we meet with potential clients for the first time there are some obvious signs that they may not be focused on building relationships with their customers.

Here are some examples: 1) No planned marketing activity online and even if there is a website created – it might not have been reviewed for mobile friendliness, SEO, conversion optimisation etc. 2) Not being on social networks where their customers engage with each other, 3) No specified marketing budget or if so, still investing it all in conventional advertising, 4) Sales figures dropping due to lack of brand awareness or ineffective / outdated promotions.

A less obvious sign is that the brand identity is not unique anymore or has become stale. I say less obvious because it probably requires some research to determine brand perceptions. My final example is signs of a lack of real customer relationships, evidenced by one-off buyers, no repeat sales, high bounce rates online etc.

In the current volatile business environment where the customer really is the king, the most worrying sign alluded to above, would be the lack of engagement with customers. As consumers – nowadays we all expect personalisation, customisation and excellent service so the business that is not providing these is going to lose out in the long run.

The Difference between Strategy and Execution.

If you are a business owner reading this, you are probably aware that you can have all the strategy in the world, but unless it is executed, it will just gather the proverbial dust-on-the-shelf. What is required is a commitment to turning your marketing vision into a reality. If you are a one-man business then this commitment is your responsibility. If you are a small to medium enterprise (SME) owner – then it is still your responsibility. As an owner, you are the one with the vision and a strong sense of self.

Here are six thoughts that might help you focus on the execution of your strategy:

  • Stay true to delivering your brand promise / value proposition every day and every way.
  • Focus on your capabilities. Don’t try to be the ‘best in class’ at everything.
  • Leverage the strength of teamwork. Get your working colleagues to strive for the same goals.
  • Save money by smarter investing. Cutting costs might lead to a mean and not lean operation.
  • Don’t wait for things to happen. Embrace change constantly.
  • Remember who you are. Don’t just focus on beating the competitors.

Moving from strategy to execution by just doing it means a focus on marketing tactics. You could argue that big businesses have big marketing budgets and, therefore, better advantage. Well, if the big guys use their budgets in a smart way, yes they absolutely may have an advantage. As the saying goes, though, – In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – meaning there is nothing wrong with being a big fish in a small pond (sorry about the clichés, but you know what I mean).

SMEs can be more agile when it comes to relationship building.

One of the advantages of being an SME is the ability to make changes to strategies and their execution, on the run. Decisions can be made by a smaller team without the bureaucracy (and politics) of corporations / large institutions. It is imperative, though, that owners focus on what’s important for growing their business and how marketing can help in that regard.

Loosely based on the warning signs outlined above, here are 5 relationship-building tactics that SMEs can use:

  1. Increase web traffic by providing relevant content to your audience, e.g. blogging.
  2. Ensure that your business can be found by people through an online search (and encourage reviews).
  3. Engage with your audience on an authentic and human level. Have a social media programme.
  4. Build your database with an email marketing campaign. Provide information etc. through a newsletter
  5. Build a team culture. Reward hard work and dedication – loyalty will follow.

Tips and Timesavers for building customer relationships

Most marketing guides will stress the importance of building customer relationships. Unfortunately though, businesses still focus on short-term gains rather than long-term relationships. Why? – Because generating short-term cashflow is paramount to keeping the day-to-day operations functioning. However, without a marketing strategy to gain customers, the business won’t last.

Here are five tips that may help business owners grow long-term relationships.

  1. Engage with customers on a regular basis. Use email, but make sure it is relevant and not a sales pitch (people won’t mind communication if they believe that you are interested in them)
  2. Identify with your customers. Find out what challenges they have in their lives (keep updated through local media, network at relevant events, and listen on social media)
  3. Try to make a difference to a customer’s life. How can your product / service help them solve a problem that they have (make information accessible)
  4. Understand that relationship building is a marathon and not a sprint
  5. Continue the engagement long after the purchase (this will show authenticity)

Conclusion

In the current connected world, information on brands is in everybody’s pocket. Therefore purchasing decisions are becoming more fact-based and in a sense, less brand identity based. Customers will still value strong brands, but more and more that value will be based on a relationship. That relationship will be determined by their engagement with (who / why) and their experience of (what / where /when) a brand.

As Peter Drucker said, well before the advent of the information age, “the sole purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

Getting Lost in the Digital World of Marketing but Staying Real

digital-world-wifi-zone

As a business owner, do you remember the first time you set up a social media account? It was probably a personal one where you exchanged jokes, ideas and pictures with friends and family.

As you grew more familiar with various platforms, you decided to start using social media for your business. Let’s face it everybody was talking about the digital world of marketing and how it enabled the measurement of marketing ROI. So why not?

Then it happened! You were consumed by the digital world and its trappings. As you started to read more and more blogs, they told you how to search for communities, build engagement figures and analyse authenticity scores, you got lost in the traffic (no pun intended).

Yep – managing your online presence became much more immersive all of a sudden. Everybody was caught up focusing on the tools and the numbers. We were all beginning to forget about people – the very people we wanted as customers.

Are you still operating in the real world or have you left us?

How do you know when you’ve become too immersed in the digital world? – score yourself out of 10, on the following scenarios:

  1. You unfollow your friends because they don’t re-post you or follow back
  2. You discuss your various online reputation scores when out socialising
  3. You curate recommendations, but don’t bother with them yourself
  4. You have been annoyed that your LinkedIn connection count stops at 500
  5. You don’t sell anything on social media because that’s not what it’s for
  6. You spend more time on redesigning your profiles than you do on advertising
  7. You spend a lot of time convincing people that they’ll miss the boat without digital
  8. You can quote most of your Google Analytic stats
  9. You love checking out new apps / tools / latest channels – and use them once
  10. You write posts about being immersed in the digital world (whoops)

How many are you guilty of? I have definitely been guilty of 5 of them in the past! However, in the last 8 months or so, we have reduced the number of digital channels we use and aligned the remaining ones with a specific function to reflect the ‘why’ of our business.

For example, we use twitter to keep abreast of all things marketing and share tips and timesavers with followers that may find them useful. Most of the curation is automated, but the sharing and follow-back is still a human decision.

You will notice that after 3 years on twitter, we still have a relatively low follower count but that is on purpose. Helping people (particularly SMEs), we believe, reflects the O’C&K values and builds our reputation. In other words, we want to be real to our clients and prospects. We have learnt that you can only be real if you are relevant, be it online or offline.

Entering the digital world is not the only marketing solution for every situation.

Sometimes when we’re networking at SME meet-ups, people don’t always see us as being real, especially when we start talking about an offline promotional mix (one of the four Ps – remember them?). Quite often people’s eyes become glazed over until we mention SEO, social media, content marketing, link building or growth hacking.

Of course, we have no problem with specialists per say, we use a lot of them ourselves. However, we have encountered many digital marketing gurus that don’t necessarily have a background (education or experience) in traditional marketing and communication. Their only solution is a digital one. Sometimes I just wonder if they are providing the best solution for a client, who might need more comprehensive, marketing communications advice. The ‘why in’ and not just the ‘how of’, the digital world.

Some of the same specialists argue that ‘traditional advertising is dead’, ‘inbound marketing is the only future’ or ‘social media is the only way to engage people’. Well, here’s our opinion on that – marketing hasn’t changed that much, mainly because people haven’t changed that much and the function of marketing in the future won’t change much either.

The agency (or guru) that does not provide you with a customised strategy, linked to your business objectives and supported by a range of marketing tactics – is probably just trying to sell you something. Depending on the business objective, product, brand or industry, different elements of the promotional mix will apply.

The real relationship is between marketing, communications and promotion.

Allow me to elaborate by way of background. One way of looking at marketing communications is through the prism of relationships. In marketing, the focus is on customer relations and in communications, the focus is on influencer relations, media relations, community relations and government relations.

Bear with me just a little longer – of the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion) – promotion comprises Direct marketing; Personal selling; Sales promotion; Advertising and Publicity. In the digital world, these elements of promotion don’t change.

It’s just the tools and channels that are available right now, allow us to engage with people in a more relevant way. The challenge remains to choose which promotional tools to use, that will build the various relationships.

When using a mix of tools to engage an identified audience, professional marketing communications will ensure efficient and consistent messaging across all audiences and all channels. All that remains is to allocate different weights to each part of the promotional mix, based on business objectives.

Ask yourself, can our audience be best reached offline or online (or a little bit of both)? Based on your answer, you can then start to decide which promotional elements to use to engage them. To finish off this segment of the post, here are some examples of combined online and offline promotional activity.

  • Direct marketing: producing brochures / online newsletters to engage prospects directly
  • Advertising: creating PPC and AdWords campaigns to support offline ads
  • Personal selling: designing presentations, webinars and podcasts
  • Sales promotion: creating coupons, landing pages, lead magnets
  • Publicity: blogging and writing guest articles or capturing a publicity stunt on video

Tips and Timesavers

As a small business owner, you wear multiple hats, some of which are a better fit than others. It’s not unusual for business owners to feel uncomfortable with marketing. The growth of digital marketing has definitely added complexity and import, but also power to small business marketing.

Succeeding in the digital world means providing content that your audience wants, where and when they want it. Here are some tips in relation to content creation and its distribution.

Content creation addresses your messaging and the best way to communicate it:

  • Blog post
  • Video
  • Email
  • Audio
  • Whitepaper
  • Infographic
  • Presentation

Content distribution determines how you are going to reach your target audience:

  • Newsletter
  • RSS subscribers
  • Social networks
  • Email campaigns
  • Community groups
  • Forums / offline meet-ups
  • Live streaming / Podcasts
  • Print / promotional items
  • Workshops

Conclusion

There are many powerful tools and channels for communicating with people and building your business. Sticking to online or offline only, however, isn’t going to get the job done. Whether it’s traditional offline marketing or the use of digital, you need to do each well and ensure you’re using them both in your promotional mix.

Marketing is a type of communication – communication is one person talking to another

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

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