Choosing the right communications channels isn’t easy. And the social and content bandwagons have added even more pressure to business owners that feel they have to use all channels.
But being disciplined about which channel to use for what enables you to create consistent messaging that reaches the right audience in the right way and at the right time in the sales cycle.
Here’s how to reach your audience:
Splitting audiences into broad demographic groups is not enough. An effective marketing strategy requires detailed information on who is buying a product or service. Big companies do this kind of thing all the time. But if you are a small firm selling to consumers, you should think about how much your prospects earn, what they do and how they spend their spare time. B2B firms can combine sales data with desk research to establish job functions and other key customer characteristics.
The Global Web Index Q3 2014 shows that the UK is one of the only countries in the world where time spent consuming traditional media still outweighs time spent consuming digital media.
For small firms, radio and printed press offer extremely valuable media opportunities. The GWI data shows that 45% of 16-24 year olds and 55% of over-55s still consume traditional printed press. The younger the audience, the more likely they are to consumer print press online.
Five years ago, it was a must to “do social”. The clouds are clearing now and most companies are recognising the need for appropriate and strategic social media activity linked directly to audience. But knowing which channel to use and how can be a minefield.
Facebook reported an increase in the number of daily users in 2014 showing that it is still a force to be reckoned with. Used by 81% of 18-29 year olds and 60% of 50-64 year olds, it’s the network of choice for the educated and affluent with 69% of users earning more than £48k a year. That said, Facebook’s organic reach is in decline so brands now need to look to paid for activity to get in front of audiences.
Only 18% of internet users are on Twitter and many users prefer reading than posting tweets. But just because they are not talking doesn’t mean followers aren’t listening. The media in the UK are also big users of Twitter so it’s also a good media relations tool.
LinkedIn is the key B2B network. Econsultancy suggests that it accounts for 64% of visits to all corporate websites after tracking two million visits to 60 sites over two years.
However, for consumer brands, the network has little value. For B2B firms, it’s an ideal tool for the targeted dissemination of news and content.
Pinterest can be a great way of getting products and content shared – and driving sales - assuming you have great imagery. UK users are now well over two million and 80% of pins are re-pinned from elsewhere on the site. For certain types of consumer brand - from fashion to food and interiors – it can be a great weapon in the communications channel armoury.
Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp have captured the younger market partly due to immediacy and partly due to concerns over privacy and “digital legacies”. However, these networks hinge on personal communication, leaving little or no room for brands.
Google+ is a great tool for improving the visibility of your online content. Often overlooked, it’s worth using if you want your content ranking as high as possible on Google as Google+ posts get indexed more quickly than content on other social networks.
It’s important to stress that all channels should be integrated to deliver best return on investment. But don’t be tempted to simply replicate content across all channels. Keep messaging and themes constant but tailor content where necessary.
Whatever communications channels you choose to use, build in KPIs and evaluate progress on a monthly basis. If activity is working, do more; if it is not delivering, then leave it behind.
Equally important is knowing when to call time on an activity. If you’re starting from scratch it’s probably going to take you six months to test the waters. With all integrated marketing there is a momentum that needs building so give it time.
However, once you’ve reached momentum, be ruthless. The moment results decline (or if they fail to emerge), change your tactics.
Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Scully, managing director at Smarts Illuminate.
“Give me some rules of thumb with communication – rules that I can follow without thinking.”
So said one of my clients recently. I asked what areas he was most interested in.
Him: “Well, when I’m making a formal presentation, should I use PowerPoint or not?”
Me: “I don’t know. It depends what the audience wants. Your best bet is to ask if they want you to use it or not.”
Him: “OK, but if I do use PowerPoint, should I send information in advance, or take everything with me on the day?”
Me: “It depends. Ask them what they want.”
Him: “Should I start my presentation with background information, to set the scene?”
Me: “It depends. Ask them if they want it.”
Him: “Who should present the information? The best presenters on my team? The people actually doing the work? Does it matter?”
Me: “It depends. Ask...”
My client interrupted me: “This is exasperating. I’m looking for some rules of thumb.”
I said: “Can't you hear the rule of thumb? Ask.”
The best way to ensure you give people the communication they want... is to ask them what they want. Contact them before the communication, and ask such questions as…
If you don’t ask, you don't know. And that means you are guessing. This makes it less likely you'll get the outcome you and they want.
Copyright © 2015 Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. His latest book is Top Dog: Impress and Influence Everyone You Meet.
Have you had your fingers burnt when hiring PR agents or agencies? Did they tie you into an expensive six-month retainer but didn’t deliver the results you were expecting? Or do you just want to do your own PR but don’t know where to start?
Fear not – here are my secrets on how to get into the press.
When I first started on my entrepreneurial journey, a friend (who runs The Mumprenuers Networking Club) said something that really struck a chord. She said: “Every day you must do at least one promotional activity in order to drive customer and brand awareness”.
So with those words ringing in my ears, I really went to town and mastered how to get into the press.
Through huge amounts of perseverance I secured press coverage in many of the major glossies and national newspapers. Here’s my step-by-step method to ensure you get results.
Once you have got into the press, make sure you say thank you to the journalist. Then add the piece to your website and share it on social media.
Football fans are incredibly passionate about their teams. Wouldn't it be great if your customers felt as passionately about your small business; if they’d tell everyone about you and defend you to the ends of the earth?
We must remember that we are all tribal, even though we no longer live in tribes. We have an innate desire to belong to something. Today, we create an identity for ourselves through the businesses we align ourselves with — whether they are big names or a local store or café.
It’s something that big brands understand but that many small firms miss. Nations have flags to bring people together and give them an identity. Logos are the flags of big brands; helping members of the tribe recognise each other and tell the world where they belong. Who we give our allegiance to often tells our peers who we are and what we represent.
Branding is like a flag. It helps the consumer declare to the world what they stand for. Every business, no matter what size, must have a clear message. Ask yourself, “What does my brand stand for?”
The brand is a promise to the consumer – a promise of an expected experience. "Buy from us and you will receive this."
By making a promise you attract customers, by keeping that promise you create loyal fans.
Do you remember the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” campaign from Apple? The campaign was effective because the message was clear; use a PC and you are in for disappointment and frustration, use an Apple and create your dream. What’s important is that Apple delivered on its brand promise and this is why we see so many Apple products today.
It is imperative to make sure your business can deliver on its brand promise. We can learn from Samsung here. In order to compete with Apple in the mobile phone industry, Samsung came up with a bigger phone. For some months, it looked like this tactic had worked. However, those people that switched began to head back to Apple. Why? Simple; the Samsung phone was too complex and Apple users who had switched found its operating system user-unfriendly.
People went back to Apple in droves and Apple seized an opportunity; they saw the demand for a bigger phone and delivered it.
Apple once again is leading the market. One company had focused solely on its features (Samsung) while the other focused on the experience and tribe (Apple).
Branding without delivery is simply a lie. People will become discouraged and look for something better. Delivering the brand experience will ensure your business stands out.