By Marcia Degnan, CEO and Creative Director at Vivid Creative
Our culture requires that the brands and businesses that they engage with stand for something, meet consumers where they’re at, provide solutions to life’s challenges, and make a positive impact in society. Brands are expected to be living, breathing and evolving with the culture.
So how does that translate into our marketing? For many businesses, marketing to the the current audience means that they need to be on social media. In a study performed by Forrester, it seems that only 0.216% of top brand’s audiences are actually engaging with them on Facebook. Targeting your customers through social media may produce impressions and online engagement but will only take you so far. What happens once you’ve got their attention? How will you engage with your audience on a deeper, more personal level? How will you stand above your competitors in the eyes of the consumer? People are getting more and more creative with how they approach each stage of life and we as a business need to get more creative right alongside them.
Here are a few ways that you can become creative in approaching your audience:
1. LIVE LIFE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE.
The stories goes that there are two framing shops in a small little town. Both were highly accomplished in the industry and provided quality framing. But one was more successful than the other. The more successful shop held photography classes and matting workshops. They understood that their customer came to them not necessarily with a love for frames (though I am sure that may have been the case for some), but with a love for the art and photography that was housed within the frame.
Understanding what speaks to your consumer and creating a relatable brand experience is a great way to show credibility, earn trust and be in front of your audience. The next time they need a frame, or a bank account, a car repair, whatever it may be, they will remember you. I guarantee it.
2. JOIN FORCES WITH OTHER COMPANIES.
Another way to be creative with your marketing is through collaboration with complementary businesses. Breweries and wineries across the nation partner with local food trucks to provide their customers with a full day experience or local restaurants to serve wine pairings. That same sense of cross promotion applies to all sorts of businesses. Gyms can partner with local sports shops to offer their customers exclusive discounts and arts organizations can partner with beauty salons to encourage their patrons to get their hair and makeup done in preparation for a night at the theatre. The opportunities are endless!
Figuring out the right partner is not always immediately apparent. I would encourage you to spend some time imaging a day in the life of your ideal customer; where do they get coffee, what do they buy at the store, what school do their kids go to, are they involved in sports? As you begin to imagine how they live you will stumble across a complementary business that also does life with your audience. Be willing to step out and introduce yourself to that business owner, let them know about your idea and how it will benefit both businesses. I would wager that they are as eager to find creative and affordable ways to market their brand as you are with yours.
3. GET CREATIVE WITH DIRECT MAIL.
Most of us have read the stats that direct mail is still a viable way for a business to market to their audience. Great. Now what? It is safe to say that many of us do not have the budget to run a strong direct mail campaign with 5 follow up mailings and 10 different free offers. We must make our mailings count. Think outside of the box when it comes to what you are mailing. Perhaps a textured paper that makes the receiver stop and look. Odd shaped mailing also give the receiver pause to look; items such as small boxes, extra long postcards, color wheels, etc. Still concerned about the budget, no problem. Use a creative design such as a crossword that the receiver can fill out, a maze, connect the dots, eye spy, or ‘where’s ’. Even if the consumer does not follow the call to action you have at least grabbed their attention in a memorable way.
4. SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES.
As a business owner you understand the cry for a community to buy local. Online stores such as Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock are convenient for the consumer, drawing them away from your business and their money away from the local economy. But those companies will never have the opportunity that you have to develop hands on relationships with your audience. Oddly enough, you as a business owner must set the example.
Not quite sure how to support local with your business? Partner with a local printer for your business cards. Yes, VistaPrint is inexpensive and convenient but paying a little bit extra to take it to your print shop next door will build that business-to-business relationship and encourage them to bring their business, or better yet, refer business to you. Order personalized cookies from a local bakery to send to a client or coffee beans from a local roaster to serve in your office. These relationships build in such a way that encourages referrals and catches the eye of your audience.