Branding is an essential aspect of any business. It’s how the world perceives you and if you get it right then it will define everything from your price point and profitability to the success that you achieve. It’s something that big companies spend millions of dollars to get right, something that they can afford to throw huge budgets at. But what if you’re a new company with a very limited budget? What effective marketing strategies can you use?
1. PR Stunts
Publicity stunts can cost a lot of money if you hire PR teams to think of them and set them up, but you can do it yourself for much less. You don’t need contacts, you don’t need access to newspapers and TV stations. If you have a good story then people will pick it up. Just give it a little push by contacting local media (always more likely to publish stories than national press) and using Facebook and Twitter.
Newspapers are interconnected and they all pay attention to viral content, so it just takes a little luck for a good story to be picked up. You can do something completely “out there” or you can simply arrange a charity drive or do something for your local community. You know what newspapers publish and what TV stations show. You know the stories people want to see and read about. All you have to do is create a story that fits that criteria and includes your business, even if it’s only as a mention.
2. Be Active on Social Media
Wendy’s are one of the most retweeted and talked about companies on Twitter not because they run great promotions, but because they like to have fun with their customers, rivals and detractors. They have created an irreverent persona suited for the social media age and it has helped the brand hugely.
KFC have done something similar, hiding secrets in their Twitter profile. They are following all of the Spice Girls and 6 people called Herb, for instance. It’s a random little easter egg that ties into their “11 herbs and spices” slogan, but when it was discovered it generated a lot of publicity, all of which was positive.
You don’t need to think of unique schemes (although it does help) as just being active will work. Make sure you’re professional, polite and maintain good conversations. Never put your customers down when they complain and don’t let yourself get angry with them. Reply to every question, be friendly, and if you’re funny then use that to your advantage.
If, however, you respond poorly to criticism, have a short temper and struggle with proper grammar, then you might want to hire someone else to run your accounts.
3. Write Content People Want to Read
Forget about SEO. You don’t need to concern yourself with backlinks, keywords and all that nonsense. If you know your stuff SEO wise then by all means get stuck in, but if you don’t and you’re trying to get acquainted with it, don’t bother.
Google wants to give priority to the best and most entertaining content. The way it does this depends entirely on the Google algorithm and how good it is at detecting great content. Many years ago it was all about keywords and tags, then it became more about backlinks, as they assumed that great content will be linked by other sites.
But Google is advancing towards algorithms that will favour great content regardless of how it has been setup. It doesn’t want SEO experts to get to the top of its search engine. It wants those results to be there because they are well written and helpful, not because someone has successfully manipulated the algorithm.
If you write great content, it will be shared organically, it will give you a low bounce rate, it will spread on social media and all of this will lead Google to believe that it deserves to be placed highly. What’s more, that sort of content produces a greater percentage of leads and is also future-proofed more than standard SEO articles.
4. Get on the Street
Guerrilla marketing tactics can seem underhanded and even devious, but they are brilliant in their simplicity and even the big brands are using them. A number of years ago Sony hired a team of actors to go out on the street with Sony camera phones and to ask strangers if they would take photographs of them. When they handed over the camera to the stranger, they would rave about how great it was, how it didn’t cost as much as they would expect, etc.
It might seem like an odd choice of marketing for a big company, but how many times have you completely ignored grand marketing schemes but have taken the advice of a stranger or friend? The vast majority of people will completely ignore review sites praising a new phone in favour of a random person at a party who happened to have the phone and say really good things about it. It’s more personal, and that’s why word of mouth works.
Anything that can promote this sort of activity, anything that can get the public talking about your product in a unique way will help. Obviously it’s easier for tech manufacturers than it would be for legal firms, SEO companies and anyone who doesn’t sell a specific product. There are also limits. Sony can get away with the aforementioned scheme because there’s nothing malicious about it, but if D’Amore personal injury lawyers hired a team of actors to start praising personal injury lawsuits we’re sure it would be a different story.
Companies have been known to paint murals on buildings and sidewalks and to hire flash mobs outside their store. Whatever you do, just make it unique and creative and people will remember.
5. Create a Unique Product
Great PR campaigns are built off the back of great products. They don’t have to be flagship products and you don’t even have to create them with a view to selling them. It’s all about PR. BrewDog are one of the most successful breweries in the world right now and a lot of this success was built on the back of marketing campaigns for products like “The Strongest Beer in the World”. It’s not the sort of thing they are ever going to sell in large numbers and it will never end up in pubs and clubs, but it’s niche, it’s fun and it attracts a lot of PR.
Not too long ago there was an Indian restaurant in the UK who created a curry scented perfume for Valentine’s Day. The perfume was real and it ended up generating loads of publicity on TV, radio and online, all of which mentioned the name of the restaurant. But it didn’t make many sales because the only ones they made were the ones they gave to the journalists and presenters.
If you can create a “world’s first” in your niche then you will get free PR for weeks.