HOW TO GET YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE INTO THE SPOTLIGHT
After speaking with many small business owners through Orlando and the Central Florida area, I've come to learn one thing: Small businesses don't like spending money on marketing.
As a small business owner myself, I totally get it. There are so many expenses to address, and so many places that you have to throw money towards in order to keep the business running. BUT - there's one important thing that all small business owners must remember:
No one automatically knows that you, your product or service, your business, or brand exists without marketing and promotion.
Now before we start promoting your business from the mountain tops, let’s make sure all the tools and platforms you’ll need for a successful promotional campaign are setup first.
GET SET FOR SUCCESS
Your website is your home base for everything related to your product, service, business and brand.
The site doesn’t need to be complex, especially for businesses that are just starting up, it just needs to provide at least the basic information for people to understand what your brand is all about.
Some things to include (if available):
- Business Name
- Business Slogan and/or Tagline
- Brief Description of Product(s) and/or Service(s)
- Physical Address
- Contact Information (phone number and/or email address)
- Social Media Accounts
- Email Newsletter Signup Form (more on this later)
Your Social Media Presence
Before you start creating profiles on various social media accounts, be sure to read through my first blog with RedFork, 3 Crucial Brand Consistency Tips For Social Media.
Once you're ready to move forward, I recommend your business sets up profiles on at least the primary channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Why? Because everyone is on them.
If your brand fits well with the unique uses of other platforms, then set those up as well!
For instance, if your brand personality is lighthearted and fun, then Snapchat would be a great platform to explore because of the entertaining filters. Or maybe your business offers a lot of home care solutions, like how to remove red wine spills from carpet and couches, then Pinterest would be a great platform to be active on because users enjoy learning new life hacks.
One other tip: Know that just because you set multiple social media platforms up, your business doesn't need to activate all of them right away.
Your Email List
Email... So annoying, right? Whenever I think of email, I immediately just picture the Mail app on my iPhone that has an ever-present red circle in the top right corner with a continuously increasing number...
While social media is a crucial component to a successful promotional campaign, it's not the most important element. As you know, a successful business revolves around sales and essentially "owning" a loyal following of consumers.
Social media provides you with access to people all across the world, but you/your business do not own that audience - that platform does. Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, explains it best:
THE 3 PHASES OF A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN
Now that your small business is ready to manage a complete promotional campaign, it’s time to start planning!
There are a lot of tactics and strategies that can be implemented across each phase, so I've included a couple of examples below of strategies and ideas that can be implemented.
Phase 1: Pre-Launch Promotion
It’s time to build some buzz! Create some hype! Critical to a successful product or service launch, Pre-Launch Promotion is a lot of work, but it is also a very exciting moment for any small business.
Imagine you own a new restaurant that's having a grand opening next month. In order to build some buzz about your new foodie spot, you could:
- Invite local bloggers and foodies to a soft opening event at your restaurant. Offer them free food in exchange for blog and social media posts on their channels. This get your new restaurant not only in front of their eyes, but also the eyes of all their followers.
- Create a highlight video of the soft opening event. Sharing a short video of the event on YouTube and Facebook will allow viewers to get a feel for what their experience will be at your new restaurant. If you have some extra cash to use for some additional advertisement, you can boost and target these videos to target your ideal customers, creating even more awareness and intrigue of the hottest new foodie spot in town!
For more information about creating videos, check out this blog post from Dan.
Phase 2: Launch Promotion
Launch Promotion is all about letting consumers know that your product or service is now available. This phase is usually the shortest of the three, lasting anywhere from a day to a month or so.
Going back to the restaurant analogy from Phase 1, let's say that your Grand Opening event is the beginning of your Launch Promotion phase. You've decided to offer various specials and deals all week, so you:
- Write a blog post briefly highlighting the Grand Opening event and what it means to be a part of the community. Within the blog post, you showcase the specials available on each day in a clear and simple manner, with an option to book a reservation at the bottom of the article.
- Create a link to the article mentioned above and send it to all the email addresses you collected during the Soft Opening event. Also share the link across your social media channels with a nice picture of you and your team standing out front of your restaurant with big smiles.
Phase 3: Post-Launch Promotion
Often the most overlooked phase, Post-Launch Promotion will help ensure that your product or service retains the buzz and excitement you worked so hard to create.
Let's say we're 3-4 weeks out from the Grand Opening event of the restaurant, and everything is starting to settle down. Some ways to keep your spot the go-to place for dinner each night would be to:
- Begin a simple blog series that highlights 2-3 different menu items each week. In the article, provide details about how the chefs prepare each dish, where the ingredients come from, and why the dish is included on the menu. Maybe even ask to quote some of the popular foodie bloggers you invited to the Soft Opening to promote an outside opinion of your delicious cuisine and beverages.
- Holding social media contests on various platforms. Perhaps the contest is as simple as asking followers to tag 3 friends they would would like to bring to dinner in the comments section of an Instagram post. If the contest runs for a week, pick the winner Friday and announce it for all your followers to see. You could even share a photo of the winner at your store when they come by to pick up their gift or prize!
And there you go! The 3 phases of a successful online promotional campaign that every small business should plan for before launching a product or service.
As with most things, there is a lot of preparation and foundational building that should take place before you begin planning a promo strategy, but that planning time is what will lead you and your team to success.
Good luck, and enjoy the spotlight!
Have you experienced a successful online promotional campaign? Share your promo experiences in the comments section below!
Also, please ask any questions or concerns you may have about the phases of promotion - I'd be glad to help you out and share as much insight as I can.
- How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media, by Matthew Gratt of Convince & Convert
- 6 How-To Strategies for Content Promotion, by Aman Thakur of Content Marketing Institute
- Content Promotion Strategies: 50 Ways to Drive Traffic To Your Next Article, by Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios