Keeping up with the dizzying pace of the marketing world is a challenging task for anyone, no matter how experienced in the art of promotion. Whenever digital technology advances a step, the effects ripple throughout everything from ecommerce niches to blogging communities and failing to adapt might as well be conceding the right to compete.
How do you deal with this? Well, you could take charge of experimentation, seeking to be among the first to try each fresh innovation — but that’s financially punishing, because a lot of the experiments are going to result in failure. In truth, you don’t need to be ahead of the curve. You just need to look at what’s working now and be proactive in adopting anything that seems like it could be a good fit for your operation.
To give you some ideas of where to take your marketing efforts, let’s look at 5 forward-thinking marketing tactics that are already proving successful:
Running UGC campaigns
UGC or ‘user-generated content’ is a spectacular tool for marketers of all kinds and in all industries. The premise is simple: instead of producing content yourself, you allow your customers, clients and/ or followers to produce it for you, whether directly or indirectly. Examples of UGC include reviews, testimonials and social media comments, often collected through a dedicated feedback software suite.
It’s largely because of social media that UGC campaigns — which is to say, concerted efforts to encourage people to create content regarding a brand or product — have become popular. Imagine that you’re trying to promote product X and you want to build up your profile on social media while also working on a blog content strategy. Using a UGC campaign, you could kill two birds with one stone. Here’s how:
You take to social media to announce that you’re running a competition: everyone who writes a 750-word article about your product (how they use it, why they like it, etc.) will be entered into a prize draw and the winner will get some fair incentive ($100, for instance). For just $100, you’d end up with not only a lot of social media attention but also a set of posts that would make viable blog content. The writers would likely be fine with you reposting their copy and you could link to their profiles to make it even simpler for them to agree.
Partnering with niche influencers
Influencer marketing, particularly through Instagram and Twitter, has become extremely prominent recently. Companies find figures with a lot of influence (meaning they have followers who will be heavily swayed by their opinions) and pay them to talk about their products — the result is a significant gain for a simple financial investment.
But there are problems with a lot of influencer marketing schemes: most notably the tendency to rely on super-popular individuals, paying them huge sums to just mention certain things. It can work but it’s extremely risky — it only takes one generic personal scandal for their entire fan base to abandon them, ruining their value.
Instead, you can partner with numerous smaller influencers with niche appeal. That way, if any given partnership goes wrong, you won’t suffer a great net loss — and the more niche the influencer, the more likely they are to majorly influence their followers and the more room they have to grow their following.
Committing to ethical business practices
What it takes for a brand to get purchase with consumers has changed immensely. Simply having the best products or the lowest prices isn’t enough now, because shoppers have choices, and they’re generally going to choose the brands they feel happy to support. This has given rise to a prominent push for business ethicsin the mainstream.
Decades ago, someone who wanted to buy some items of clothing would be extremely limited in their options by what they could find in their area and they wouldn’t get all that much information about points of origin. Today, there are near-unlimited options: the internet has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of clothing stores, with the consequence of the average buyer having the chance to be exceptionallyselective.
No matter what your niche happens to be or what your business has to offer, think about how you can make ethical business part of your brand. The more you can show that your company is invested in something beyond the bottom line, the more willing people will be to support you and buy from you. It’s a win-win.
Establishing a unique brand identity
The longer your business has been around, the harder it is to make meaningful changes. Your inertia makes it immensely impractical to pivot — your followers will expect certain things from you and while development is good, changing too muchtoo quickly will cause confusion and lead people to wonder if you’ve lost whatever it was that made you appealing initially.
This one reason is why it’s so important to work on your brand identitywhen your business is relatively fresh. Since few people know who you are, you have the freedom to experiment creatively without being shunned — and even if your message doesn’t land at first, there’ll be time for people to get used to it and learn to appreciate it more.
How do you do this? It’s simple but very difficult: you throw things at the wall to see what sticks, with the one overriding requirement being that you do something different. Take a look at your industry. What are your competitors doing? What do they sound like? What does their content look like? What can you bring to the table that’s uniquelyyours?
Don’t make your main push into prominence with a bland brand just because it’s safe. Take some risks. You might get laughed at or disregarded for being unconventional but if you can find your market, you’ll engender even greater attachment — and who’s to say how those laughing at first will change their opinions as the months and years go by?
Producing video content
Video is amazingly powerful online. There’s so much text around that the typical internet user’s eyes will glaze right over it but a video is immediately arresting. Once you catch the start of a video, you’re hooked — you want to know where it’s going and what the point is. This makes video a marketer’s dream and the development of the internet (along with the Smartphone) has made it possible for every marketer to start using video content.
For example, if you’d like to get some more attention for your brand, you could take out your Smartphone and record a series of talking-head videos in which you introduce your company and explain your unique selling points. You could then host those videos on your website, promote them on social media or just leave them as they are to build your profile on YouTube (as well as any other platforms to which you upload them).
Alternatively, you could record product demonstrations or creative storytelling content to show some personality, even just answer some common questions from your followers. However you choose to approach it, the accessibility of video as a format now means that there’s no reason not to make it a part of your marketing strategy.
Looking to become an expert promoter, particularly online? Try these 5 marketing tactics. Each one continues to get more powerful and less expensive as the months go by, so what do you have to lose?
Written by: Kayleigh Alexandra, Micro Startups