Many small businesses and nonprofit organizations find spring to be one the busiest seasons of the year for promotions and special events. The upcoming season offers plenty of promotional and motivational opportunities. If you haven’t made a plan for how you are going to grow your business yet, the time to act is now. inBLOOM suggests that you incorporate the below actions into your marketing/public relations plan. These are just a few ideas and we’d love to hear from you if you have any comments or steps to add.
Seven Simple Steps to Marketing & PR Success This Spring
Know your customers and build strong relationships with them. Your brand will be stronger if you know as much as possible about your customers’ opinions, needs and preferences. Gather information, then create and distribute a questionnaire, either in person or online. SurveyMonkey and Facebook’s Opinion Polls are helpful tools for businesses eager to engage customers. This process will help you to make improvements or changes within the business. Be sure to offer your surveyors a gift card or small token of appreciation for their time.
You have only seconds to make a first impression. Literally! If your website isn’t aesthetically pleasing, people will leave. According to research highlighted by usability guru Jakob Nielsen, once visitors have stayed on a page for more than ten seconds they are more likely to stay for longer.
According to Maryann Small of Muse Designworks, your company’s design should be consistent, attractive and professional. We can not stress enough the importance of using professional graphics, images and videos on your website! People will leave your business page for a company that looks more trustworthy and put together.
Use a color scheme that makes sense. When searching for colors, palettes, patterns, and the latest trends in color, we visit ColourLovers, a creative community where people from around the world create and share and explore colorful articles…All in the spirit of love. And, what’s not to love about looking sharp and professional?
3. Community Relations & Cross Promotions
A great way to get the word out about your business is to partner up with other businesses and organizations. Your partners can get the word out to their networks and help draw in people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise. In exchange, you can feature their logo, services, or products in your promotions, at your special events, and on your website and social media pages. You can also offer to help them get the word out about their own events.
Many small businesses also affiliate themselves with charities to market their businesses. Not only is it a beneficial way to develop a powerful network, but this also helps others in the process. Just be true to your business mission and personal passions by supporting a charity where you truly feel a connection.
You can search for a partner charity on one of our favorite sites — Charity Navigator. The charity evaluator is working to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency of 6,000 of the country’s largest charities. It’s your watchdog and well worth perusing for a good philanthropic fit.
4. Media Relations
In order for you to know what qualifies as newsworthy, you must know about the editorial content of the media outlets that you pitch. For example, if you are a business offering services to pets and are interested in being featured in a newspaper, you may want to find out if that newspaper has a pet section. You should also become familiar with reporters and bloggers that are interested in your area of expertise or services and update them about what your business offers. Make sure you maintain your relationships with these reporters and bloggers once they are established. If you develop and maintain good relationships like these, you will become the expert source they seek out and you’ll stand out from the competition.
Give writers valuable, authentic content, and they will count on you for information. Make sue you also read and subscribe to the papers and magazines you want to court. There is nothing more embarrassing than being asked by a writer whom you are pitching, “Did you read my recent article?” or ”Didn’t you read this month’s issue? We covered that topic.” We also recommend that you check out HARO for real-time media opportunities, including daily email notifications with reporter queries for resources.
5. Email Marketing
A great way to communicate with people about your business is through opt-in email marketing. Email marketing is one of the most widely used forms of outreach and promotion for businesses. To effectively market through email, you must create a database of email addresses collected from people who have agreed to receive your promotions and news. You can collect emails at events, at your place of business and online. In many cases, a subscribe button for email button can easily be added to your website and directly linked to an email marketing service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. These services allow you to manage and email your contacts, maintain status reports and connect to your social media accounts.
The key to successful email marketing is to send emails consistently and respectively, and to incoporate attractive graphics and quality content. Through tracking and response, you’ll also know if emailing your customers once a week or once a month is the preferred strategy.
6. Social Media
Social media is a must for building strong relationships and creating new ones. More importantly, social SEO (a relatively new concept) encompasses the idea that social media links and interaction play a huge part in a website’s search rankings.
Reach out to people where they’re spending the most time – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Keep your pages updated by posting things that capture people’s attention and encourage them to interact. Build traffic on your Facebook page by running a contest or giveaway. You can use a third party application that will allow people to enter your social promotion and create graphics to advertise it. Make sure the ideas for your contests or giveaways are easy to understand and offer value.
Daily communication is key to being a successful social media marketer. Be unique, exciting and honest. People on your pages want to connect with people, not marketing machines. We’ll have to post again on each of these social media brands because each one offers its own unique way of communicating with colleagues, customers and prospects. And, yes, it’s all very overwhelming, which is why at inBLOOM we’re working with many clients these days on their social media strategies and daily maintenance. Post, tweet and share that exciting news!
Now, advertising is a tricky one, but also important. Special interest magazines may be beneficial to advertise in if you are interested in targeting a specific kind of audience, but we also love the community papers. Advertising online with media and companies like Google, directory sites like Yelp and Merchant Circle, or bloggers also allows you to reach a larger market and measure your results.
Then, there’s social media, which also offers new advertising opportunities. Before you move ahead with any advertising make sure that you are using a system like Google Analytics to track the keywords and traffic on your website. This data is important to helping you understand your target market. There are thousands of advertising opportunities on and off the web, and it’s up to you to do your own research on which ones are right for you. If you go ahead with any advertising, track your results or you will never know if your investment was well spent.