Ramp Up Awareness and Demand
It’s imperative to generate more awareness and demand in order to bring more business in the door. This step helps you understand specific ways to ramp up interest from the market.
LEARN ABOUT SIX PUBLIC OUTREACH IDEAS:
- Creative Advertising Ideas
- Campaigns and Continuity
- Narrowcasting (vs. Broadcasting)
- Types of People to Target
Catching people’s attention isn’t easy these days. To do it, you have to make some noise, create some sizzle and be compelling. Special promotions do exactly that.
First and foremost, you have to decide on your objectives. For example, is your goal to create better branding and awareness for your business? Or is it the more direct objective of actually generating sales leads? Is it more focused on new customers or current ones?
From this fundamental level, you can start conjuring up your promotional concepts. You’ll have to identify something that’s consistent with your company’s brand and attractive to your type of customer. Believe it or not, your customer needn’t know exactly what your goal is; you may want to educate them about a new offer without them knowing that’s the purpose of the promotion.
It’s conceivable that people “enter to win” a reward that has nothing to do with what you sell – but in the process you can share information with them about what you do and why it’s potentially valuable to them. And it’s also conceivable that you wish to be blunter about your promotion. If you sell cars, want more buyers and want your promotion to get people onto your lot, a car-lease giveaway may be just the thing.
You should factor into this decision the actual delivery method. You might decide the Internet is the best way to get the promotion in front of your desired audience. Or you might choose to place sign-up sheets at your social club or to display your promotion next to the cash registers in local stores. It’s up to you to decide how best to reach your target given their preferences, your objectives and your budget.
A piece of advice that always seems to make promotions more effective: Create urgency. You can just hear it ringing in your head – “For a limited time!” or “While supplies last!” – and it’s proven to work.
Creative Advertising Ideas
We’ve all seen those Super Bowl ads. They’re funny. They’re irreverent. They push the envelope. They flirt with controversy. Some pull on the heart strings.
There’s a place for these types of strategies to be heard above the rest of the advertising “noise.” We can all agree there’s such an incredible volume of commercial messaging that it’s like static. We automatically tune it out.
So how do you get people to tune in?
You might consider an ad that jars the viewer. Remember the Godaddy.com 2005 Super Bowl commercial? This leading registrar of domain names got viewers’ attention with a scantily clad woman testifying before Congress. Men loved it (secretly and not so secretly), women hated it, journalists talked about it. And it created so much frenzy it booted Godaddy’s Web site traffic into the stratosphere.
Do you have an appetite for risk? If so, consider an edgy advertising approach. While it’s possible for this to backlash, if effective, it can really put you on the map. It goes along with that old saying, “Any publicity is good publicity.” In other words, if people are talking about you, that’s good.
Campaigns and Continuity
Reinforcing your advertising message over time and across media can significantly increase the impact of your overall ad effort. It’s called an ad “campaign” for a good reason.
To get a snapshot of this in your mind, picture the Capital One TV ads. Those barbarians who always say, “What’s in your wallet?” have spanned many unique commercials with emphasis on Capital One’s strengths versus its competitors’. They tie it all together over the course of time. As soon as we see a barbarian taking a turn as a camp counselor, we know we’re in Capital One territory.
That’s the point. The reason campaigns work is that we not only associate with the ad we’re being exposed to at that moment, we integrate everything else we’ve learned through the other ads. This continuity of theme cultivates an instant reaction of familiarity, and if the material’s good, it significantly increases customer tune in. It’s like a story being told, and each ad is the next chapter.
This is very powerful in practice, but not easy for the amateur to pull off. We recommend working with a professional ad agency to achieve an effective ad campaign. It can pull together the creative concepts and implementation, the media strategy – whether TV, radio, online, magazines, newspapers, billboards, bus stops, etc. – and it also knows how to do the media buying at the best rates.
A campaign achieves continuity of message, but it’s only possible with a dedicated budget sufficient to bring the campaign to life. Be sure you have that budget before going down this path. Otherwise you’ll start soon, stop early and most likely end up with a dud on your hands.
Last note on campaigns: Just be sure your audience gets it immediately. Your theme has to jump out right away to keep a customer’s attention.
Narrowcasting (vs. Broadcasting)
Narrowcasting is when you focus your awareness and ad dollars on a pre-selected, pre-qualified, target-rich group of people.
Patrick Byrne, founder of Overstock.com, shared this narrowcasting concept with us on a StartupNation Radio show, and we just loved how it captured the idea so perfectly: find the most interested, most-likely-to-buy target market for what you offer, and deliver your message only to them. Do that, and you’re narrowcasting!
In particular, you can focus on narrow groups of high-quality targets by using the Internet and direct mail. Both of these media, unlike such broadcasters as network TV or billboards, enable you to put your message in front of only those people who have the characteristics to be viable customers.
Types of People to Target
Try to resonate with certain people within your target market – in particular, those who influence others – to start the sales snowball rolling. Do so effectively, and both awareness and demand can spread more rapidly and less expensively than any ad campaign could ever achieve.
We’ve created several categories of people here, building on all of our research and personal experience in offering products and services through our various business ventures.
Know-it-alls, in this case, are knowledgeable. For example, most consumers might not know that a certain product is more expensive at one retailer or another, but know-it-alls certainly do. When you share a news nugget with friends over dinner, say, about “discount tickets to Disney World,” the know-it-all is the one who inevitably responds loudly, “Yeah, I read about that several months ago. But there’s an even better deal through this Web site I use.”
Bloggers are another example of know-it-alls. Their opinion is wielded like a sword to cut through the useless and sub-optimal, and point you instead toward the smartest and best options available.
Earn the admiration of know-it-alls, and people will be hearing great things about you. The word-of-mouth generated can literally make you an instant hit.
These are know-it-alls on steroids! They not only know a lot, but they buy early. Also known as “early adopters,” the know-no-fears are people who are always first on the scene. They have the newest cell phone, this season’s shoes, and maybe that newfangled flat panel TV that doubles as an extra large computer screen (and also lets you have video calls with family members living in Maui).
Also like know-it-alls, more often than not they’re very opinionated, very educated, very smart and very outspoken – and therefore, very influential. By their very use of your product, they can compel other people to warm to it.
Razor Scooter never placed a single conventional advertisement, but put its product in the hands of popular know-no-fear kids and sent them scooting up and down the sidewalks. Guess what? Pretty soon, all the kids were tugging at their parents’ sleeves saying, “I want one!” They sold millions of units and made a mint – end of story.
Get the know-no-fears to embrace what you offer and you just might be on your way to building a more passionate core customer base.
We considered a lot of appropriate names for people in this category, including “blabbermouths,” “chatterboxes,” “big mouths,” “gossips” and “busybodies.” They all worked, but for one thing: We needed something that fit with our “Know-XYZ” theme, so we ended up with “Know-Everyones.”
While people in this category may not be as informed or discriminating as know-it-alls, and might not be as quick to adopt as know-no-fears, they certainly have the edge in who they know and their willingness to talk about it – a lot. Simply put, they know everyone! And as a result, they can be a major catalyst of awareness and demand.
Because they’re so connected, consider seeding the talk of the town by familiarizing Know-Everyones with what you offer.
You know their names, maybe from the tabloids or your trade association, and they’re always in the spotlight. We call this group the “known-by-alls,” and they can have a huge effect on your sales volume.
As we describe in our Key Move featuring Tina Aldatz and FootPetals, there can be major benefit in targeting high-profile “influencers” as customers – even if they get the product free. This includes celebs, but also other high-profile people in the eyes of your customer-base. And, boy, do consumers love to follow them.
For example, if Teri Hatcher was quoted saying, “I think [insert your product name here] is hip,” like she’s done for Tina Aldatz, then watch out! Tina rode a wave of buzz, then a huge spike in sales as more and more celebrities plugged her product.
To get the Known-by-Alls on board, you’ll likely have to work with their publicists. This can take time, but it’s definitely possible.
Get out and mingle – you’re the most influential person there is when it comes to your business.
We all know “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Networking will open doors that you otherwise would never get near. Here are some ways to go about it:
Hit industry conferences, trade shows, local Chamber functions. Meet and greet everyone possible both in town and out of state. People who have met you may not need your service or products immediately, but they could suggest other customers to you or introduce you to a mover and shaker.
Join Groups and Clubs
Like event networking, this gives you a personal entree to people who mix business and pleasure. The groups don’t have to be business-related to be effective. Join a scuba-diving club. Sit on the board of the local United Way. Find a public venue for a private talent (acting or artistry?). Sit on the committee for a big, popular local festival. Who you are and what you do will spread to new circles where customers may exist.
Position yourself as a thought leader, at the center of attention. Become the magnanimous person who brings everyone together. If you’re a florist, for example, every Friday night host an iced tea and creative flower-presentation party, where customers can bring in their arrangements and learn from one another. Of course, you give a presentation about the cutting-edge designs coming into style this season, and voila – you’re the thought leader. It’s up to you to figure out how to put yourself at the center of your customers’ universe. Just be sure you do.
Get Networked with a Complementary Business
This is all about networking with businesses that offer products or services to your target market, but who are in no way competitive. Say you’re a franchise owner of a UPS store. Work up a reciprocal relationship with the local framing and photography store, and offer discounted picture-frame shipping for the store’s customers. In doing so, you’ve snared a customer who might have considered an alternative shipper – missed revenue you’d never otherwise see.
Have Business Cards with You at All Times
Do we really need to say more? Just be sure you do, and don’t be afraid to dole them out liberally.