Advertising is an essential part of making your business a success. You may have a great product or service, but unless you let people know about it, how are you going to make money from it? However, raising awareness of what you have to offer is only the beginning of a well-executed promotional campaign. Promotion is about building your brand. It's about telling a story and creating an image and a narrative that best represents your firm.
Building your brand
There are many ways to go about this. For some companies it means identifying the core strengths and key message of the brand. For others it may be more aspirational; your brand may represent an ideal that you, as well as your customers, are striving towards. When you advertise, you let your customers know what you are selling, and how they can buy it. You need to reach them so that they can reach you. To do this, you need to let them know why they should invest in your product or service, emotionally, as well as financially. The facts are important, but so is the fiction. This doesn't mean that you should ever be dishonest in your adverts, only that successful brands have a strong image that draws customers in beyond the bare facts of the products they offer.
Modern technology means it's easier than ever for even a small company to implement a successful and sophisticated advertising campaign across multiple platforms. Print ads, billboards, online promotion, TV, radio and cinema spots, as well as word of mouth, all have their part to play, and technology enables you to crossover between different media. This might include a QR code on a billboard poster that can be scanned using a cellphone for further information, or a TV ad that ties in with an online campaign. All of these options are available to the modern business and are less complicated and expensive than you might think.
Social media marketing
Increasingly, social media is the way we find out about things. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the contemporary technological equivalent of word of mouth. This is where we talk to our friends and acquaintances, who may be scattered across the globe, about what's hot and what's happening. Understandably, many firms are keen to take advantage of this phenomenon, and it is increasingly seen as a crucial part of advertising and promotion.
The first step in using social media is to set up an account for your brand. Engage with your followers by posting regular content that will grab their attention. This shouldn't be directly sales-related, but should be interesting in its own right. The idea is to increase brand recognition and loyalty, and to humanize your brand. Two-way communication makes your customers feel like they're talking to a real person rather than a faceless corporate entity, and this builds trust and identification, ultimately leading not just to more sales, but to customers who keep on coming back.
Exclusive special offers and giveaways for your social media followers will make them feel like part of an inner circle, and will also result in them telling their friends about your brand and the great deals available. One great benefit of social media marketing is that it costs so much less than traditional advertising, but it does require constant input and creative ideas from your team.
Using your website
Every business needs to have a web presence whether it actually sells online or not. People increasingly use the Internet like they used to browse through the phone book and if your business website doesn't show up in a Google search then it may as well not exist. This means that your website needs to be professionally designed for search engine optimization. It also needs to look inviting and attractive. It should be easy-to-use and not too cluttered, while allowing your customers to find exactly what they're looking for with just a few clicks.
One way to liven up your website is by using video footage. People respond much better to pictures than words and film clips are even more engaging than a still image. You don't necessarily have to invest time and money in creating original content; companies like Dreamstime offer a wide range of affordable stock footage that works well either as a backdrop to your main page or as a clickable video over which you can add your own narration.
In the pre-digital era advertising involved putting a message out in as many places as possible and hoping that it reached the right people. You might buy space in a magazine that your target audience probably read, or in the commercial break of a TV show they probably watched, but generally you were talking to the masses rather than to those among them who were most likely to buy your product.
With contemporary technology it's possible to pay for targeted online advertising that will appear only to specific people. Those are most likely to be interested in your product based on an analysis of their previous browsing and buying habits. This is especially important when you consider that digital technology has resulted in people being saturated with more information than ever before. If you want your message to get through, you need to go directly to the people who seem to be in the market for something like your product. Happily, direct marketing technology now means that this is very much possible and the algorithms used are becoming more sophisticated all the time.
Technology enables your advertising campaign to be conducted simultaneously across the full range of media platforms. It means that you can synchronize print, TV, online and billboard advertising, while maintaining a social media presence that makes your brand a familiar, friendly part of your customers' lives, even when they aren't actively shopping with you. This means that an awareness of how to use technology to your optimum advantage is an essential part of marketing and staying ahead of your competitors - because they'll also be using technology to try to stay ahead of you.