“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
7 ideas for SME’s marketing online this Christmas.
Whenever the owners of small or medium sized businesses ask us about business marketing, we respond by separating the two words. We suggest that, business is about building two things; trust and relevance and marketing is about building one; a relationship. The tool needed to build all of these, is communication.
You can talk about any type of ‘new’ or ‘old’ marketing you want to, influencer marketing, engaging marketing, broadcast marketing, transactional marketing – it doesn’t matter. People connect with people and communication is how that happens, in whatever way that works for both.
Wanting a relationship is human, it is only the type of relationship that differs. As a result, organisations (of any size) must seek out ways, online and offline, which build relationships. Use any method you want to, social media, traditional advertising, growth hacking – just make sure that you are creating an environment for a person to have a positive engagement with you / your brand.
If you think about it, in this digitally enhanced and fragmented world of customers – building a relationship that can’t be copied or stolen, may be the only differentiator, in business. How do you build such a relationship? – By using consistent and effective communication.
Business marketing is about communicating a relevant story.
Let’s be fair, some organisations are embracing the notion of consistency in their communication. Almost every day we read about the tsunami of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space. The trouble is that sometimes, this is not done in a consistent and effective manner, because they are storytelling from a traditional advertising mind set.
To me, this is a waste of time. Personally, I don’t want any of my timelines interrupted by a tweet, a Facebook or Google+ post, advising me about a great product! No, for me social media is -s-o-c-i-a-l…. I don’t want to discuss my holidays with my bank manager (even if she, ahem, paid for it). Educate me or entertain me – that’s it.
If you want to share a story that includes your brand, make it a compelling and authentic one that I might be interested in. Also, tell me the story where and when I want it. I might want to check out a service of yours on my mobile but I may read about your story in a blog, on my tablet. And if it’s that useful yes, I’ll share it with my friends on my social media networks. Lastly, please make it different to all the other ‘stories’ because my time is precious.
Be smarter about your business marketing because time is precious for everyone. Your time is spent concentrating on growing your business and marketing has to play its role. To do so, however, your marketing must respond to people’s needs and desires. You have to acknowledge this if you are to earn people’s attention.
The fact that you can’t force anybody to listen to your story anymore, means that you have to ensure that you are part of their story. You’ll read many blogs, articles and books on the need for data management, new technology, automation, targeting, optimisation and measurement. But without being authentic when marketing your business, people won’t care and you’ll end up being a busy fool.
Building blocks for smarter business marketing.
Even before embarking on your storytelling journey, there are some building blocks that should be in place, especially if you are a small business with a small marketing budget.
- Identify your USP. Choose one thing that differentiates you from competitors and build around that.
- Be clear about your audience. Don’t waste time on an audience that will never buy your offerings.
- Use the right channels. A channel should get new customers, and/or build relationships / reputation.
- Start off with a clear business model. Ensure correct pricing – from a customer’s point of view.
- Enjoy yourself. Do things you enjoy and that fit with your company’s values.
Tips and Timesavers.
We mentioned above about a business building relationships. Last week one of our Facebook friends, contacted us for activity ideas, to sell products online between now and Christmas. We do apologise for mentioning the ‘C’ word so early in November. However, as we can’t all afford the big TV campaigns, some of the ideas below may help to level the online playing field for SMEs, in the coming weeks.
- Maximise social: If you’re planning some offline activity such as a flyer (QR codes), a trade show, a Christmas market stall – broaden your activity impact using social media. Have early-bird discounts, talk about the advantages of shopping early and online. Use each channel / audience in a different way and invite them to get involved (by sharing). If you have a range of products think of using Pinterest.
- Site optimisation: track search activity and re align landing pages and search terms. Have you access to FAQs or a sizing chart (fashion). Use large thumbnail images, quick view buttons and testimonials. Make sure the check-out process is simple.
- Create an experience: Set up an advent calendar. Each day have an offer on a particular product, have a discount, a 24 hour competition, a quote, a picture – anything that raises awareness or drives people to your site. (O2 have done this in Ireland in the past offering music downloads). Use Instagram to give people gift ideas.
- Get emotional: Email is still a personal channel. Use an online ‘pull strategy’ to encourage people to send their gift ‘wish list’ to you. Get them to write a story about why they would want to give one of your products to someone they love. Maybe the best story would get a free gift etc. Their email would give you permission to mail your catalogue to them, for inspiration.
- Be generous: Create Christmas themed gift cards. Offer free discount cards – people tend to spend more than the card offer. Promote a BOGOF offer which would help people to solve their gift buying problems by getting two for one! How about free posting?
- Be helpful: Delivery countdown. Remind your online followers that there are only ‘x’ amount of days left to ensure pre-Christmas delivery. Let them know if a particular product is almost out of stock.
- Be human: Set up a scheduled tweet. Don’t go overboard on this but there is nothing wrong with a little Christmas cheer – schedule a ‘greeting tweet’ for Christmas Eve or Day.
Hopefully, some of these might ‘spark’ an idea of your own. We want to ensure that you have a turkey stuffin’, wine sippin’, santa hat wearin’, cracker pullin’ bit of fun, this Christmas season.
Outsourcing your content management.
To finish, I’d like to return to the notion of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space, in an ineffective manner. Sometimes the task of ‘storytelling’ is delegated to the overworked marketing team (or development person) that are trying to get their heads around data management, new technology and customer’s increased expectations.
The obvious answer is to outsource. However there is a caveat here also. Traditional agencies may lack digital knowledge and digital agencies may lack strategic know how. There is a new breed of content and editorial agencies but the trouble is that they may well lack brand knowledge. Perhaps we will eventually get an integrated model that can understand both the editorial mind set and the brand management side but in the meantime, make sure you all agree the deliverables up front.
“Here’s the plug folks – at O’C&K we combine our own experience and that of our ‘contacts community’ to deliver brand management, engagement strategy and storytelling into a seamless experience for your brand. Let us know if we can help”.
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K