Marketing requires keen insight in how to approach a product, service, or brand and effectively get it out to customers or other businesses. As one of the main forms of communication within commerce, marketing has evolved radically with tech advancements and social media, but some principles still remain the same. Cutting-edge ways to market a brand or product will either capitalize on a new insight or reformat a classical view in marketing to the 21st century economy. In today’s economy, businesses demand marketers think beyond the everyday and try looking outside of the box when it comes to ad campaigns.
What Consumers and Businesses Want
Marketing techniques have evolved to work beyond the everyday concept of an advertisement presenting or selling a product or service and now telling them what it is. Consumers, in an ever-competitive marketplace that has been energized by the internet, no longer want ads that talks at them. They want something that many ads have lost over time: engagement. Consumers and businesses want to be engaged in how the item relates to the customer or how it will help empower them. This leads to a new school of thought and appreciation toward the customer where companies want the consumer to become part of the greater whole of the business’ mission.
Some companies will stop at nothing to gain an edge on their competitors and this has led to some of the most outrageous marketing stunts the world has ever seen. The following highlights weird ways brands have marketed their businesses – sometimes successfully, others times not, and one horrible fail that will undoubtedly leave you shaking your head.
1. Winning Wiener: Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs
When he opened his hot dog stand at Coney Island in the 1920s, Nathan Handwerker struggled to find customers. Hot dogs were relatively new, and cheap meats were eyed with suspicion. Undercutting other vendors only made matters worse, as customers didn’t trust what Nathan was serving them. An idea he hatched was he would give hot dogs away to doctors and nurses (when there were none around, he would have bums dress up as doctors and nurses in exchange for hot dogs). Thus, the public would see what appeared to be medical professionals enjoying Nathan’s hot dogs, and Nathan instantly won their trust. The business prospered for decades.
2. Super Sonic Yoga
Successful businesses require risks and Sonic Yoga’s Jonathan Fields took a huge one in 2001 when he pitched a story about the scientific health benefits of yoga to Self Magazine. Fields recruited a college to conduct the study and he pitched the story to multiple editors. When interviewed for Self, he was told that it was too bad Sonic Yoga didn’t have a yoga video to sell. Without missing a beat, Fields informed the reporter that they indeed have a video in post-production, so Self was free to put that information in the article.
Both large and small businesses struggle with finding the best way to market their products or services. While all kinds of companies use similar marketing techniques, the way small businesses apply the techniques will be different due to the smaller demographic and customer base. There are five basic ways small businesses can market themselves effectively.
1) Give your customers free stuff
The customer should be rewarded for their loyalty and support by getting free or discounted stuff. Businesses can put coupons in community mailers or offer coupons on receipts for future purchases. Coupons in mailers can help draw new customers to your business while receipt coupons keep customers returning every week to get deals and free items. Use these methods to offer customers free trials or free samples as well. Offering customers the chance to try out a product or service will make them more comfortable purchasing it in the future.
When it comes to marketing, entrepreneurs have to remember that it isn’t always an “either/or” proposition, especially with small business owners that already have a physical presence with brick-and-mortar stores in place. You can still pursue traditional offline marketing techniques while getting your brand’s message out to a broader audience range through social media platforms. Diversity is key to capturing as much of your market as possible and offline marketing, for all intents and purposes, isn’t dead just yet – it’s still a tried and true method in the following areas.
Although newspapers may be seen as a dying medium with its main consumer base composed of baby boomers, there is a still good reason for you to have an ad printed in your local paper. According to the 2013 Nielsen National Cross-Media Engagement Study, newspapers have the highest advertising effectiveness ratings, beating social media, TV and radio in “Likely to Purchase,” “Usually Noticed” and “Advertising Annoyance” categories.
As a small business owner, you understand the value great marketing has on your company overall. From positive brand recognition to customer loyalty, making the right marketing moves can launch your business in all of the right directions.
Unfortunately, you also understand that ultimately it’s the budget that rules the roost; and if you don’t have the money to market yourself, you’ll simply have to go without. But not so fast! There are some economical ways your promotions can go off with a bang, minus the upfront bucks.
With the myriad of available resources online full of advice on how you should run and market your business, it wouldn’t be surprising if you tried most, if not all of them, on for size. While doing so isn’t wrong necessarily, there are pieces of marketing advice that can contradict with your business’ principles. When this happens, these kinds of tips can be counterproductive instead of advantageous especially if something goes wrong with your business despite following that particular piece of advice exactly. Watch out for these six big marketing mistakes – you may be committing them without even realizing it.
1) You assume that your customers think just like you.
If you’re the kind of entrepreneur who is able to pull brilliant ideas out of thin air and that your customers will “get it” despite risking ambiguity, hats off to you. But most entrepreneurs can’t afford to think or act like that. Ignoring what your customers have to say about your product and settling with what you think they’ll like can put your business in jeopardy. Avoid this by soliciting feedback from your customers on a regular basis. What they have to say about your product can help you decide which areas you should put less of a focus on and the ones that you need to strengthen.
When you think of great logos, companies like Nike, Target, Apple, Microsoft, Volkswagen, and Starbucks come to mind. While most of these brands have altered their logo over the years, they have all succeeded in creating logos that are instantly recognizable and carry the meaning of their brand well. As part of our small business marketing efforts, we all want to achieve standout branding. Creating a strong logo has the power to do just that. To create a logo with long lasting staying power and impact requires initiative and planning; it’s not just something you throw together on a whim. Before you begin making your company logo, keep the following key areas in mind.
Longevity and relevance. The goal of your company logo is create something that will be recognizable and represent your brand in a positive way for a long time and be marketable on a variety of levels. Brands will change their logos as the business evolves but the memorable ones generally preserve some of the same elements of the original logo design.
By Craig Robinson
Small businesses today are being thrown under the bus in many different ways. Expected to pay more taxes, subject to regulations which don’t or won’t affect larger corporations – it’s very tough to even exist in a business atmosphere, much less to actually succeed. And if the pressure coming from every angle doesn’t deter you, then you have to compete with the big boys via marketing for a slice of the pie. How can do you this?
One of the best ways small businesses are targeting their customers is through social media sites like Facebook. With over a billion users, a mobile market quickly expanding, and a low-cost, multi-function ad-delivery medium, Facebook is the perfect spot for small businesses on the rise. Let’s check out a few ways a small business can leverage Facebook for marketing success.
When you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t have a multi-million dollar advertising budget to plaster your name and products all over the television and radio airwaves. You most likely cannot afford to hire an A-list Hollywood star to promote your products and services. But you know it’s essential to stand out from the competition, especially if you’re in a saturated market.
Offering the best quality merchandise and service are important elements in helping your small business to stand out. But your superior offerings will hardly make a difference if no one knows about your company. Along with word of mouth and other long term marketing strategies, corporate signs represent a relatively low cost tool to promote your business to the public. The right signage can draw customers in off the streets, so it’s worth the investment necessary to create the best possible signage for your company.
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How well do you know your company? You may think you know your company like the back of your hand, but every business owner needs a little reminder to take a look at the big picture. Take the following quiz and think where you’re headed and if that’s the direction you want.
Question: Who are my customers?