“Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi.
Whether it is your business, your downtown, your community or an entire region, effective marketing and branding is vital to long-term success.
While it is true the digital arena has placed marketing and branding on its head, time-tested strategies continue to work. According to Neuroscience, brand recognition will be 52.1 percent higher for consumers who receive other forms of interaction, such as print or mail, in lieu of digital only. Studies indicate the most successful strategies involve multiple marketing fronts to create the highest and most engaged feedback from most households. Facebook alone won’t come close to solving your marketing and branding problems in today’s business climate.
So, what’s a business, downtown, community or region to do to market and brand themselves? What was once a simple strategy of newspapers, radio or TV has become much more complex. Today, we still have newspapers, radio, direct mail and TV, but they have been joined in the fray by blogging, email, video, apps, smartphones, laptops, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, geo-targeting and geo-fencing, IP targeting, dozens of local websites and more. And if you get comfortable with those methods, don’t plan on staying comfortable as the world of augmented reality and artificial intelligence and many other cutting-edge options are rapidly moving toward center stage.
Fragmentation is the biggest enemy of most marketing professionals; it makes it nearly impossible, as well as unaffordable, to use all the potential advertising and engagement tools at your disposal. That being the case, you are forced to develop a very strategic and targeted approach.
There are a few critical ingredients of success: engagement, consistency, and understanding who your market is. An additional ingredient is assuring that your target market knows where to find you at all times.
There is no better way to develop loyalty and results than providing a highly desirable and obtainable consumer engagement experience. Look at Hilton Honors: They have built loyalty on the back of their rewards program. When you promote, always promote the engagement aspects of your business or community. Make it memorable and people will always return for more. Future success is all about experience and engagement.
As far as consistency, select a solid mix of both digital and traditional methods and then stick to it. Remember, marketing doesn’t have an end game; it is an ongoing process.
Do you know your target market? Better yet, do you understand your target market? Learn and understand which marketing platforms your target audience tends to use.
Just as important as the above is the ability to convey to your target audience where they can find your constant and up-to-date information about your business or community. Every marketing campaign you undertake should be promoting a central hub of your information. Guide them to the promised land of information. Get them to sign up for newsletters. Get them to sign up to receive texts alerts. Get them to join your loyalty program. In sort, encourage the two-way communication, which is the most important element of marketing. Remember that communication is incomplete without a two-way conversation of connection; short of that it is a failed attempt at marketing.
To do all the above takes time and resources. Benjamin Franklin said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is very true. Marketing and branding can’t be an after-thought; it must be a well-oiled machine functioning with a plan and a direction. Any marketing plan not looking ahead a year or more is doomed to fail.
Proper marketing and branding are one of the greatest investments any business and community can make, regardless of the economic conditions. In fact, the worse the conditions, the more critical marketing and branding become. It is no coincidence that many large corporations actually increase their marketing budgets when everyone else is scaling back. By doing so, they have less competition with those cutting back for the eyes and minds of their audience.
John A. Newby, a former newspaper publisher, is the founder and CEO of Uniquely USA. He lives in Muskogee and is dedicated to helping local communities keep their consumer dollars local.