By: Lauren Scott of Tickled Photo Booth
Getting an idea off the ground can be a daunting task, paralyzing even. There’s fear, there’s doubt, decision after decision, and competition. But, developing a good marketing strategy can enable you to stand out in a crowded marketplace of ideas and help ensure that all of that effort you put into building an amazing business actually pays off.
A key foundation for putting together an effective marketing plan is working through the what’s, why’s and how’s of your brand. Building a strong brand allows you to establish a distinct and desirable presence in the marketplace that attracts and retains customers. The only way to accomplish this is by asking the deep-digging questions that get to the heart of your brand—what your brand stands for, what your values are, what your core message is, and why you’re better than your competitors.
Branding is all about making an emotional connection with people who share the same values. You must identify your target audience, and figure out what they want. Without a clear idea of who your target audience is, it’s hard to craft a message that resonates with them. This does not need to be a long or costly exercise, but it is worthwhile. Once you’ve defined what your brand stands for, it becomes easier to make decisions—what products to sell, how much you should charge, who you should hire, how your communications should sound, and even what your office environment should look like.
After your brand has been articulated and understood internally, you can take your message to the masses. This is accomplished through marketing. Marketing helps you to communicate the value that you want customers and prospects to know about. There are many marketing channels. Traditional examples include commercials on television and radio, tangible items, such as business cards, pamphlets, product catalogues, and brochures, print ads in newspapers and magazines and on posters and billboards. Personal connections are made through networking, referrals, and events. In the height of the digital age, it seems like a no-brainer to invest in a digital campaign. You almost have to have a website to even establish credibility. Other examples of digital marketing include things like banner ads, adwords, and social media.
The marketing mix you choose needs to be right for you and for your audience. Factors you’ll want to take into consideration include your specific audience, product, and industry, cost, reach, and response rate. In general, you can implement and measure a targeted online marketing campaign for very little cost, as opposed to traditional marketing channels, which can often be rather costly and difficult to target and measure. Big consumer brands usually benefit the most from traditional channels. However, there are some affordable and successful traditional marketing strategies for small businesses, particularly if you are reaching a largely local audience.
For example, one of our most often-used marketing strategies at Tickled Photo Booth Company is sending out personally addressed and stamped direct mail. They continuously deliver immediate responses. The key here is to test and see what works. Before you start, determine your budget and set some goals, monetary or non-monetary, like increases in page views, leads, conversions, followers, etc. Review your results often and revise as needed.
And get creative! Just remember, however you choose to engage with your audience, the experience should accurately reflect your brand message. Every time you get to interact with your audience you have a chance to make a connection.