By Brad Wayland of BlueCotton
Getting the word out about your brand can seem both overwhelming and overly expensive. It doesn’t need to be, though.
Banner ads are dead. Long live banner ads. With ad-blockers at an all-time high and banner blindness prevalent even amongst those who don’t block ads, the time in the sun for traditional web ads has finally passed.
That isn’t a bad thing. Though there may have been a time when traditional advertising was the best way to reach your audience, the game has changed. These days, you’ve a downright staggering selection of options for expanding your customer base—and they’re inexpensive ones, at that.
Why not try one of these, instead of sinking a mint into an ad people might not even see?
Social Done Right
The first thing I want you to do is forget everything you think you know about social media marketing—because there’s a good chance it might be wrong. According to statistics gathered by Experience: The Blog, 68% of U.S. consumers almost always ignore brand posts on social media, while 83% of users have had what they describe as a ‘bad’ experience with social marketing. What that says to me is that there are a lot of marketers who’ve turned to social for marketing purposes, and promptly tripped over their own feet.
“The secret to successful social media marketing—and to protecting your job—is not to bury your head in the sand, ignore the data and continue building strategies based on deeply flawed assumptions,” writes Experience’s Augie Ray.” Instead, toss out all the faulty suppositions and start from scratch. The key to success is not to assume that social media is a marketing channel but to assume it isn’t.”
Ray suggests you keep in mind the following general guidelines when crafting your message:
- Consumers generally aren’t receptive to marketing. Make sure your content is useful to them.
- Consumers trust their peers more so than brands; give your customers a stronger voice.
- Your number of social media followers is not an accurate measure of future success.
- Content, in and of itself, doesn’t boost consumers’ intent to purchase. Social media is best used to build relationships, not as a direct marketing channel.
- People dislike being sold to, even if it’s ‘organic’ marketing.
The goal, then, is to build a marketing strategy based on the assumption that social networks aren’t meant for marketing. The goal is to post content that your customers will enjoy, rather than content that will advertise your brand. Look at it this way—if your business was a person, would your target audience want to hang out with that person?
If not, think about what you need to do in order to change that—and then take that person onto Facebook or Twitter.
Use Exclusivity to Your Advantage
If there’s one thing people like more than getting stuff for free, it’s feeling like they’re part of an exclusive club. Think about it—there’s something appealing to being part of a select elite, isn’t there? That feeling is something you can use to your advantage, and you don’t even need to work all that hard to do it.
It is, for example, how Pinterest wound up being so popular—it started out as a member’s-only service, and ended up hitting millions of users faster than any other site. Google+ saw something similar, even if it lost its momentum along the way.
Consider starting up a crowdfunding campaign, and give people the sense that they’re early adopters—the first to support your brand, the first to use your products, or the first to subscribe to your service.
Don’t Just Belt Out Content—Make It Creative
Compared to traditional outbound marketing, content marketing generates three times as many leads and costs 62% less. Pretty cool, right? Here’s the catch—you can’t just write an article or record a video and expect customers to start flocking to you. You need to inject some creativity into it; you need to spend some blood, sweat, and tears making it awesome.
An article on American Express’s Small Business column, for example, suggests that a toy company could create blog posts written from a child’s perspective, or a business with a regular newsletter could mix comedy and practical advice. You could also go the same route as Dollar Shave Club: a short, snappy, funny video featuring the CEO rocketed them to viral fame.
Thoughts on Marketing Your Brand
There are plenty of ways you can get the word out about your brand. What I’ve outlined above are just a few. Use them to connect with your current customers and engage with new audiences.
More answers to pressing questions
Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.