It’s hard to market your business to people when many others are competing for their attention as well. People are bombarded by a lot of ads everywhere, everyday, that most of them learn to ignore an ad when they see one. The good news is they’re not totally unreachable. You only need to avoid doing what every other business is doing: force-feeding their ads to their audience with their banner ads and commercials that revolve around their product. Instead, approach your customers in a different manner: through subtle marketing. This can be done through everything from clever billboards to QR codes.
SUBTLE MARKETING: ONLINE
Create valuable, information-rich content
Before, when one hears of ‘online advertising’, one would think display advertisements and banner ads embedded in websites. It used to be the easiest way to promote a product or business to a wide audience. Over the years, however, this type of marketing has become more and more unpopular with online users. Today, 33% of internet users find display ads completely intolerable. Its interruptive nature and highly contrasting colors supposed to catch user attention are ruining user experience and has eventually led users to develop banner blindness.
Now that people are realizing how the online world would be a much better place without banner ads, businesses are riding on the new trend in promoting online–content marketing. Content marketing actually goes back to 1993, when the first commercial website was created. However, people are only realizing its value now that they are looking for a better way to grab the attention of online users.
In content marketing, you don’t need to write an article that revolves around your business or product; you only need to write something that would provide valuable information and relevant, well-researched content to customers. This type of marketing doesn’t involve direct advertising. Instead, it relies on establishing an excellent reputation for your business and your expertise in your industry in order to attract customers and drive them into making a profitable customer action. The beauty of marketing through writing online content is that it allows you to promote your business and engage customers at the same time.
Build relationships with your customers in social media
The interconnectedness of everyone in social media and its ease of use makes it a powerful marketing tool for businesses. It allows you to connect with large audiences instantly in just a few clicks. The only downside to it is that it’s free and accessible to everyone, so naturally, many other business owners like you flock on it. Currently, there are more than 40 million active small business pages on Facebook and 4 million of those pay for social media advertising on Facebook. That’s about 39,999,999 million businesses you’re competing with.
Not every one of those is in your niche, and you may not be promoting worldwide anyway. Still, considering the large number of businesses competing for the attention of online users, conventional advertising would only get overlooked. The only way to get customers to notice you is if you stand out from the competition. You won’t get anywhere if you just keep doing what every other business is already doing.
Social media isn’t just a platform to deliver the latest updates on your business to your desired audience. It is an important tool that could help you build closer relationships with your customers. Create a two-way interaction by getting your followers to participate in Q&As, caption contests, and surveys. Instead of posting solely about your products, let your authentic personality shine from time to time. Show them that behind your corporate facade, you’re human too. Use appealing visuals such as infographics and videos. Your followers would appreciate it if you post something other than the same old text post sometimes.
Tweet something funny. Step outside your comfort zone. Make yourself relatable. Just take into careful consideration that what you’re posting is not crossing any lines. Otherwise, what initially seemed like an innocent attempt at humor might lead your business to its downfall.
Take an active participation in online message boards
Like the other two types of marketing mentioned previously, this type of strategy is a subtle but effective way to build your reputation in the online community. You don’t have to talk about your business at all. All you have to do is offer your insights and advice on question-and-answer sites or forum discussions in your niche (e.g. Reddit and Quora). Not only are you helping other business owners in your industry by offering them your expertise, you are giving yourself and your business the exposure you need and establishing yourself as an expert in your field as well.
SUBTLE MARKETING: OFFLINE
Embrace the rule of 7
The rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states that a prospect needs to see or hear your ads seven times before they notice your offer and take action to buy your product or service. The thought behind the concept is that repetitive marketing effort has to be done in order to grab a customer’s attention. One way to do this is through social media since the online platform allows instant engagement with customers 24/7. Another is through the use of merchandise.
Merchandise such as t-shirts, lanyards, tote bag, mugs, and pens with your logo on it are effective in making your prospects remember you. They won’t even notice they’re being advertised to because the products are of value to them. T-shirts are excellent marketing materials because when customers wear them, you’ll have walking billboards everywhere. The same goes for mugs and pens; it’s something that people use everyday so your prospects will have repetitive exposure to your business logo and name.
Just make sure that you make an effort in producing something worth wearing or displaying. It’s no use giving them away for free if people don’t think it’s worthy of being showcased. Hand them out to clients and prospective buyers at networking events, workshops, meetings, and exhibitions. If you don’t have the budget for large production of the merchandise, you and your team could just wear your products with your business logo during public events. That way, your business can still gain exposure from the attendees.
Less is more
A marketing campaign doesn’t necessarily need to be extravagant and over-the-top in order to catch people’s attention. Not everyone can be convinced with expensive public gimmicks. Sometimes, something as simple as a cute, funny, or visually-appealing product packaging or advertisement can draw customer attention and persuade them to buy from you. All you need is a little wit and creativity to come up with a clever idea that will surely appeal to your customers.
Grab every chance to be in the public eye
Especially if you’re managing a startup and you’re looking to get more people to know about your business’ existence, it’s important that you seize every chance to get out there and be in the public eye. You’ll need every exposure you can get, as long as it’s not negative. There are many ways to do this.
You can support a cause and implement your marketing strategy around it. Just make sure it’s really something you care about and you’re not only doing it for the publicity. A good example of a business that successfully appealed to the audience because of their cause is TOMS. TOMS aimed to build awareness and inspire action among consumers to help children in need all around the world. Blake Mycoskie, founder of the shoe company, started a campaign six years ago where a pair of new shoes will be given to a child for every time a pair of TOMS shoes will be purchased. Six years later, the shoe company has given away 60 million pairs of shoes and was valued at about $625 million.
Other ways to gain public exposure is through conducting workshops where you can share your expertise to other people and invite other business owners to participate and speak as well; doing a product tasting and sampling (if you own a café, restaurant, or if you’re selling consumable products); sponsoring events or your local sports team in order to get your business logo on promotional materials; doing a company tour, where you can show customers around your office or factory and inspire word of mouth marketing; and lastly, by attending networking events, where you can meet and exchange ideas with other business owners and introduce your business to them as well.
There are many ways to promote a business. With the number of mobile phone users progressively increasing every year, a wide audience is easier to access now more than ever. Emerging technologies have made more and more opportunities for businesses to promote and engage with customers. However, with the growing number of competition and customers’ increasing aversion to ads, finding marketing strategies that actually work is becoming a more difficult task to undertake. Customers just aren’t as easy to convince as before, and they seem to have developed immunity to the noise and clutter ads everywhere create.
For your business to overcome this issue, it’s important to stray from conventional marketing methods that won’t do anything but suck cash out of your business. Incorporate the methods I mentioned above into your online and offline marketing strategies and you can expect your campaigns to get through to your customers.