danniewriter

Trends: Looking back; looking forward

Do a Google search on 2018 marketing predictions, and you will read about IoT (Internet of Things), Chatbots, live streaming, virtual reality–and that’s just scratching the surface. For small businesses and organizations, all that techno-speak can be overwhelming, especially if you handle your own marketing and public relations.

Take heart. In the midst of all this gadgetry and constant change, the experts also have a great deal to say about foundational, even old school, marketing techniques.

Here are some insights on 2017 marketing trends that came to pass, and predictions for 2018.

The site, B2C: Business to Community, shared a very helpful column by Sarah Hanney that focuses on marketing for small businesses. A blogger for Signkick, it’s not surprising that Hanney has something positive to say about outdoor advertising, but her perspective is sound, and there is a new take on how billboards, bus signs, and the like, can work in concert with digital media.

There are other approaches that Hanney, and other experts, mention that are as old as movable type, although the names have changed: purpose-driven, and influencer, marketing.

Mathew Sweezey puts it this way in a post for salesforce: “Marketing of the future must have a heart.” Now more than ever, consumers want to do business with companies that care about the communities in which they operate, in addition to a national, and sometimes, global community.

That sense of mission and integrity is really in demand today, and marketers and influencers are responding.

Consider Virat Kohli, a pro cricketer from India, who turned down what must have been a highly lucrative deal with Pepsi because he wanted to promote a healthier product. Read S. Swaminathan’s piece on Campaign India. His insights are helpful to all of us.

Celebrities are not the only “influencers” you can call on to market your products, services, or organization. Find out more about influencer marketing in a blog post by Joshua Nite for TopRank Marketing.

If you need help marketing your small business or community non-profit, give me a call. I can develop a plan for you that uses old-school and new-school media to get your message to the right audience. The initial consultation is free.

The ‘old’ that is ‘new’ again

Previously I’ve mentioned in this space that print and direct mail are still viable marketing options. The USPS has recently compiled a great deal of research that drives that point home, but the specific audience consuming these hard copy communications methods might surprise you.

Millennials.

Yep, today’s “young-to-youngish” adults (born in the mid-1980s to early 2000s) are looking forward to going to the mailbox, just like I did when I was a kid.

Make no mistake, millennials are still plugged in. They likely are texting while going to the mailbox, but they are interested in catalogs, mailers, and old-fashioned letters. This is the crowd that, despite the affordability and availability of e-readers, likes the feel of a book in their hands. And because there is less material arriving in mailboxes today than in decades past, consumers are paying more attention to what is there.

As you develop your marketing and communications strategy, embrace the multi-channel approach, and include print and direct mail in the plan. Below are links to a couple of related posts on this topic that I have written previously. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like assistance in promoting your products, services, or causes.

https://danniewriter.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/old-school-still-works/

https://danniewriter.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/egon-got-it-wrong/

 

Take time to get inspired

The U.S. Small Business Administration realizes that small business owners are often too busy to attend the many great activities that the administration offers during National Small Business Week … because you are busy attending to your small business. That’s why they stream many of those events online.

Check out this year’s line-up here.

Why not schedule some time next week to listen to the speakers, and most importantly, fellow small business owners, for fresh ideas on marketing, promotion, and partnerships? Regarding the latter, check out all the resources on the SBA website and start building a network among your fellow business owners to promote Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) 2017 in a really big way.

Want to learn from some of your peers? There are links to this year’s SBA award winning businesses from this page.

Case studies can be helpful resources, too, if you are seeking new marketing ideas. Here are a couple from Writtent:

And if you need help once you get that marketing inspiration, give me a call. Your initial consultation is free.

Egon got it wrong

print

In 1984, Ghostbuster Egon Spengler pronounced: “Print is dead.”

Many people likely believe he was just ahead of his time, but (with all due respect to Harold Ramis) the truth is, he’s as wrong now as he was then.

Certainly the heyday of the medium is in the past, but when it comes to local news outside the nation’s big urban centers, newspapers are still an important player. The best ones are sharing news in column inches, 140 characters or less and a half-dozen other formats.

Another characteristic of today’s best papers is a big interest in “hyper local” content: information relevant to specific communities–down to the ZIP code and even the streets.

Why? National/international news comes at us from all directions. What is really lacking these days is the story from the next block.

That’s why details on your non-profit, or a special event your business may be planning, can still find an audience via your town’s newspaper and accompanying digital assets, but don’t expect the newspaper staff to beat a path to your door begging for details. You have to provide them complete and detailed information.

And make sure you leave the advertising copy where it belongs: in your ad budget. Don’t contact the newspaper unless you have a real story to tell.

Most newspapers (and TV stations for that matter) have an email address or “contact us” form on their websites to submit news. The forms usually have a word limit, but if you are sending an email, don’t make it too lengthy.

If you are a non-profit, focus on your clients and the track record of your organization. Are you expanding your services to a new demographic or geographic area? Is there an individual or family who have experienced real improvement in their circumstances or outlook because of the assistance they have received from your organization?

Are you promoting a special event such as a Trunk or Treat Halloween outreach or free movie for the community? Provide the newspaper with all of the details including alternate plans/locations in case of inclement weather. If the event is free, include that important point up front.

If you are seeking community support in some way: a donation of canned goods, winter gloves, etc., make that clear, too. Provide the newspaper with contact information to be included in print. (Make sure the reporter can contact you if he/she has questions, but if you do not want your personal email address/phone number included in the write-up, make that crystal clear in your communications.)

Small business owners working together to sponsor a block party/open house is newsworthy. Giving away free Halloween candy, face painting or hosting a costume/pumpkin carving contest? Donating a day’s receipts to charity? Are the employees of your hair salon giving free haircuts for the homeless or students from struggling families? Is your restaurant offering discounts on Thanksgiving to local college students? How about a Veterans’ Day promotion? Is your store going to be a Toys for Tots drop off location for Christmas?

Readers of your local newspaper, who by the way are your potential customers, want to support small businesses who provide excellent goods and services and also give back to the community. Give your newspaper the information they need to highlight your good citizenship.

Last week I mentioned that “old school” still works in reference to the U.S. Postal Service. The same goes for newspapers. Don’t count them out, especially if you are living in a suburban/rural area. Keep them in mind as you market and promote your business or non-profit.