FutureLab recently gave a presentation in Takapuna at the monthly BNZ Connect event (first Tuesday of every month, see you there!). Our presentation was about – what else? – effective marketing strategies for small business. Number one on the list, of course, is get a website for your business! Whether you sell products, services, or advertise events – if you’re not online yet, you certainly should be.
When we talk to potential clients, we often find surprising resistance among company owners who do not yet have a website. We think that’s because business owners who have never had a website just have no idea how effective a marketing tool it can be. When we speak to businesses that are looking to upgrade an existing website, the company owners are far more enthusiastic about investing in their online presence. They’ve already seen the difference a website makes to their business and they are keen to further this potential with an upgrade.
We provided some facts and figures to our BNZ audience – for example, the majority of Kiwis are looking online for products and services, yet only half of small and medium Kiwi companies have a website! It’s hard to overemphasise what a difference having a business website will make in netting more potential customers each month.
Choose your social media platform
We also talked about social media and choosing the right platform for your brand. As our lead developer Ralf put it, a digger for hire probably doesn’t need its own Facebook page! There’s not a lot that you can update or post about for this small company. However, an online booking system and a listing on Google Plus to show the location of the business would both be great ideas. Although we’re fans of the Facebook page, it might not be the right platform for you. Towards the more formal end of the social media spectrum is LinkedIn; for frequent updates and event promotion Twitter is a great place to start. Companies promoting a particular image or look could use Instagram, and there’s even YouTube if you want to get really interactive. However, once you choose a medium, stick with it! Keep active – keeping your audience interested and make sure to update regularly. Write about what’s going on with the company, comment on current events, post interesting articles from around the web. Writing or choosing something to post doesn’t have to be a tortuous process. To get started with social media, you could:
- Run a Facebook competition
- Connect with other businesses via LinkedIn
- Upload a video to YouTube showcasing your product or service
- Instagram pics of users interacting with your product or service
- Tweet about life in the office
- Advertise promotions using Facebook or LinkedIn advertising
The most effective marketing doesn’t look like marketing
Now you’ve got the basics of social media set up – using whichever platform/s are relevant and appropriate for your business – it’s time to consider how to best use these tools. Consumers use social media for a variety of reasons – for fun, to connect with friends, because they are bored, to promote themselves. Rarely is someone using social media to check out company advertising and unsubtle marketing campaigns aimed at getting consumers to make a purchase or sign-up.
Try and blend promotion of your brand, latest work, and special offers with other interesting, thought-provoking or amusing content to actually engage a user’s interest in your brand voice, not just your products or services. Just like your website, if you provide quality content, you’ll attract a fanbase first – and a database of sales leads second.
A good example of marketing via consumer engagement are the Red Bull-sponsored extreme sports videos that can frequently be found on YouTube. In line with their brand identity – think high energy, daring exploits, rave festivals, adrenaline-fuelled sports – Red Bull sponsor athletes or stunt artists to attempt video-worthy exploits that will garner views online. All that you can see of Red Bull might be a branded backpack or piece of equipment, and there’s no overt message given at any point. The latest such video comes from biker Danny MacAskill who has produced videos in collaboration with Red Bull for the last few years – many of which have gone viral.
In this video, we see Danny riding (sometimes hopping) his mountain bike up impossibly rocky and steep ridges in the Isle of Skye. Red Bull aren’t trying to sell product through these collaborations, but they cement their brand identity as cool, exciting, daring and fun – making their brand ever more popular and ultimately selling more products. Nice.
But let’s bring it back down to small business. You don’t need to scale the mountain ridges of the Isle of Skye to showcase your brand identity. You just need to take the first step. Get a business website. Post some company photos on your page. Start a Facebook or LinkedIn page for your business and put it on your business cards.
At the end of our BNZ Connect presentation, we took another first step and demonstrated social media marketing in action to our willing audience. Remember that there are always opportunities to promote your company on social media – you’ve just got to be willing to use them.