There’s this belief that the popular methods for promoting whatever services and products we have on offer are the only ways to get things done and be successful. I don’t find that to be true at all. There are always reasons and situations where tried and true marketing tactics would not work and won’t be relevant. There may be business policies restricting certain marketing activities, a personal choice not to use specific tools, or simply discomfort with connecting to your audience using unfamiliar methods.
We all know that carrier pigeons are valuable and awesome, but they should probably not be your go-to promotional tool when well-known methods aren’t an option. I’m a firm believer that conflict drives innovation, so today, let’s reflect on some other ways to build and grow a brand that may or may not be on the accepted trajectory.
Not social media savvy? No problem!
Whether you can’t stand it or use it, social media is not always the best medium to reach your audience. Here are some ways to generate engagement without creating a bunch of extra logins and confusing points of contact.
- What is this!? Chopped liver?
I’m afraid I have to go there. You are reading this email from my newsletter. Email definitely beats social media for customer engagement if for no other reason than the obvious. If Facebook shuts its doors tomorrow, you already have connections -your tribe, your club, your people- and you already have the means to get in touch with them and keep the information flowing past the expiration date of a company that someone else owns. I mean seriously, let’s have a moment of silence for some of our absent friends shall we? MySpace, GeoCities, Vine, Periscope, Google+, LinkedIn Groups…oh wait – that’s only mostly dead since LinkedIn decided to kill them off then changed their minds.
- Add a quaint personal touch.
Do you know what I love about birthdays and holidays? Less and less people do it, but I can always count on a few friends to send a card. I save them and put them in scrapbooks at the end of the year. You have some type of date based information on all or some of your audience. Send something to commemorate whatever anniversary, or milestone you have with them. Take a note from the likes of Victoria Secret and offer a free or discounted service.
- Go old school. Send a postcard!
Instead of sending an email switch it up and send a handwritten note. It is different and will stand out because the recipient knows you took the time to sit and write a personalized note. I don’t know about you, but I am tickled each time I receive a note from someone. So time to brush up on this thing called penmanship, because what’s the point of writing a note if it’s illegible!
What if print is dead and I just can’t get with it. Nobody reads…right?
What could you talk about all day?
If you’re doing work you love, you could probably talk about it ad nauseam. The translation of ad nauseam means that you talked about something to point that someone lost their cookies…so please don’t do that. But what you can do is put together a podcast or a webinar about a certain topic. Recorded or live, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re engaging your audience via a medium that lets them see and/or hear you. You give them a person to identify with your brand and a topic that is going to form a cognitive association.
Volunteerism as a networking solution?
Do you have skills that would lend themselves to volunteering your time with potential customers where they are? A commitment to act as a voluntary partner with community centers such as women’s shelters, youth groups, and senior centers and providing them with your valuable talents is a good idea in general and should never be about selling products. Go places and help people! Guess what happens when you are helping people…? You meet new people. It is literally the core concept of networking and obviates the need for that awkward getting to know you phase of lead generation because you’re not selling anything but yourself and your time. Long story short, it is not a sales tactic to tell people where you work and what you do. Start a conversation that allows you to build trust within groups consisting of your target audience.
What else is there?
Start with people that are already interested.
Retargeting ads may be crafted to appeal to people already engaged with your brand in some way and helps redirect them back to your website, or other public spaces. Scenario: You did a web search for general contractors. You select one and check out their website. Later, while reading a blog post an ad in the sidebar highlights a promotion from one of those contractors whose site you visited earlier. Retargeting ads can and will always be on message with your brand and be a lead generation tool that doesn’t require as much babysitting.
Get crafty promotional materials
Everyone has business cards. It’s accepted as a business need more than any other physical promotional tool, but what about other promotional items. Yes. We all know that people need pens, but there are so many other things that you can put your stamp on such as stress balls, notebooks, and calendars that don’t have to be boring. Don’t just put your name and business information on there like … a business card. Give people something entertaining and interesting that would make them think of you when they use it. For example, if I was an accountant while I was volunteering my time, I would give those people that I’m helping balance their checkbooks a lovely ledger book with helpful tips to remember on each page.
Make sure to log all of your expenses no matter how big or small. When in doubt – call RJ at 707 893 7553
– yeah I know that sucks as a tip, which is why I’m not an accountant
Speaking of business cards! The plain rectangular business card will end up in a pile or even in the trash. So change it up! Change the texture, color (don’t make people’s eyes bleed). Experiment with shapes and choose one that represents your brand. If you’re an contractor, maybe your business card is the shape of a toolbox. You may even add a QR code that will take the audience directly to your website when scanned. Less popular is Augmented Reality (google it). You may use this to embed a promotional video. A business card does not have to be rectangular or neutral. The bottom line is to use your physical promotional materials not just to sell, but to stand out.
Too Long; Didn’t Read?
Whether you work for yourself or an organization, the one thing you are always selling is – yourself. It’s good to learn new things and branch out, but, be sure to take the time to innovate within your comfort zone. Whatever form that takes, that is the place where you will be the most authentic and people will see that. Knowing that you’re in your wheelhouse builds trust because your passion and drive will be on full display. Take a moment to think about where you like to engage and what the people that are listening want from you then give it to them. That is a promotional strategy that will win every time. Just do you.