Entrepreneurs typically operate with lean budgets and aggressive goals. So they should never pass up an opportunity to educate, build awareness or provide an offer to a potential customer. Sales should always be "up front and center."
Knowing this, my clients are always looking for creative ways to capture the attention of customers but not come across as aggressive. While they appreciate the old model of “push marketing” (selling, engaging in repetitive advertising and repeatedly calling customers), their focus today is more on “pull marketing.” This entails positioning and reputation building (branding) in order to put businesses in front of customers when they are ready to buy.
Here are nine overlooked ways to market your business:
1. Luggage tags and backpacks
A colleague of mine always appears at business events toting an attractive and functional backpack. Emblazoned on the front pouch is her company logo and tagline. And the strategy works: She tells me she is often stopped by people in airports or office buildings asking what her company does.
So I’ve started doing the same: attaching branded luggage tags to my purse and carry-on luggage. People ask me what the tagline means and where I work. Free advertising!
2. iPad, laptop "skin"
As someone who regularly gives speeches, I often use my laptop and iPad to house my presentation. Early on I noticed that the back of my laptop, which faces the audience, advertises “Apple” instead of "LIDA360." So I ordered a custom LIDA360 laptop “skin” that does the advertising for me -- while I’m speaking!
I also put a skin on my iPad and cell phone, lest anyone miss a chance to know what I do. Because of this, people on airplanes and in airports have asked me about my business. What a great conversation starter!
3. Desktop screen
When setting up my speaking presentation, I'm often on my laptop in front of a crowded room. Instead of my desktop screen showing a photo of my kids on vacation or my adorable golden retrievers, I have posted there the cover of my latest book, with a caption. This is what the audience sees as I launch or close my presentation.
5. Social media
Sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer a lot of space to say who you are and what you do. Even if you use these social platforms for personal use only, why miss the opportunity to remind your friends and family what you offer? On your profile headers, add photos of you at work, your company logo or your recent book jacket, instead of a photo of your dog or a pretty sunset.
6. Social events
Getting out of your comfort zone sometimes means getting out of your current networking circles. Attending high-profile events where media and decision-makers are mingling can earn you free publicity and build your profile as someone who is involved in notable areas of influence.
7. Giveaways on social media
Social media offers the opportunity to share information and resources and also sell your services or product. Instead of traditional coupon or sales campaigns, consider giveaways. Yes, free stuff! Offer your product or service for free (for a limited time) to generate awareness. And create a separate landing page or phone number to track the direct response from this campaign. Then repeat as necessary, to keep the momentum going.
8. Online reviews
Every review a customer or visitor to your store leaves should be responded to, not just the negative ones. Responding to positive reviews with genuine appreciation shows you are paying attention to your customers. Responding to negative reviews shows that you care and feel bad for letting a customer down. Don’t use your response as an opportunity to sell; just respond to reinforce your company’s values. This is great marketing!
The use of video is growing every minute. In a recent research study, Invodo found that almost 75 percent of current online traffic will come from video within the next two years. This means that traditional forms of marketing, such as direct mail and email marketing, will need to focus on video to grab the attention of users online.
YouTube hosts videos that have high-production quality and videos that look self-made. With good reason: Companies that are successfully using video to showcase their teams at work and play, highlight product demonstration or give virtual tours of their offices are seeing a high ROI.
High-quality videos certainly have a home on YouTube, but so do the organic “real world” videos that cost a lot less and pack a lot of punch.
In sum, the mantra for all sales used to say, "Always Be Selling." But, today, savvy businesses focus on reputation management, positioning and marketing to get in front of potential buyers. Along with clever uses of their logos.