You have an overflowing order list, you don’t know how you are going to ship the orders on time. There is a queue for your latest models, and your CEO is not happy to extend the production. Everyone on the planet knows your brand, and international universities are using your logo as a case study. Your domination on the high street has never been seen before… So why on earth would you be wasting time, money and profits on marketing?
The importance of marketing for every type of company cannot be overestimated. Every business should have a strong marketing function – otherwise, you risk going extinct. It doesn’t matter that you may currently be number one in your industry. It doesn’t matter that you currently have more customers than you can handle. The fact is that if you aren’t actively promoting your company and reacting to your customers needs – something all the biggest and best businesses commit huge yearly budgets to – you could very quickly lose everything.
Remember what happens to those who fail to engage with their audience
Consider Kodak, who were the kings of photographic film for most of the 20th century but found themselves filing for bankruptcy in 2012, having failed to take digital photography and a younger audience seriously.
Blockbuster, who didn’t see why they should change their strategy to incorporate DVD delivery or streaming, and fell quickly from leaders of the movie rental industry to non-existent.
Motorola, who came up with the first handheld phone in 1973 but fell out of touch with their market and failed to implement 21st-century communication to its products, making it impossible to compete with smartphones on the market.
Xerox, who invented the first PC but was convinced that the future was in copy machines.
All these companies ignored their changing customer-base and as a result went from leaders to goners – or at the best, stragglers.
You may think that by focusing all your energy on ‘traditional sales’ you are protecting your company from failing, but even the best sales team can only go so far without a solid marketing plan that keeps your brand relevant.
As a recent article in the Entrepreneur stated, “all powerful companies, ideas, products and people are omnipresent.” What are you doing to make yourself ubiquitous – not just for your current customers, but for the next generation?
What is marketing?
Marketing involves educating, informing and – most importantly – delighting consumers. First, you need to create awareness that your services or products exist. You may well be thinking: If I have enough customers, why is this relevant to me? However, if these customers are unaware of your latest and greatest offerings, how will they know to purchase them? What’s more, a long waiting list of new potential customers is the mark of all the most exclusive luxury brands, from Ferarri to Rolls Royce.
You need to educate potential customers that they need you. It doesn’t matter how many of your clients enjoy your current products if you are not innovating or gaining any new fans – in fact, this is a sign of stagnation in your business. Lastly, you have to show them why your offering is better than your competitors. Customers want to make sure they are getting the best of the best. If they think that they could get something better elsewhere they will switch. And if you are selling extremely high-value items, this only has to happen a few times before it starts to seriously dent your revenue.
As you can see, marketing is a hugely significant and colossal task – one that cannot be simply relegated to your intern.
The dawn of digital
The role of digital marketing in our present day has ensured that marketing techniques have had to keep evolving, as technology, algorithms and platforms keep changing. The days of the billboard, Yellow Pages, radio and newspaper aren’t over, but they have been overtaken by the age of the Internet. These days, having an online presence is expected and any business that doesn’t will be majorly losing out.
Digitalisation has made the world smaller, and this has created a huge opportunity for those who choose to embrace it. Even small local businesses can reach a global audience and deliver both physical goods and online products internationally. This is why larger, more prestigious brands, who may think themselves untouchable, can face serious decline if they refuse to compete. Every business should commit to a strategy of digital omnipresence – or risk being lost to obscurity.
Take the earlier example of Blockbuster. In 2000, when Netflix was just starting out, founder Reed Hastings proposed a partnership to the former CEO of Blockbuster John Antioco. He suggested Blockbuster advertise the Netflix brand in-store while Neflix would run Blockbuster online, taking the company digital. Antioco rejected this idea, calling Netflix’s business model “niche business.” Ten years later Blockbuster was filing for bankruptcy, while Netflix has gone on to become a $28 billion dollar movie streaming service. As a former Blockbuster employee said, “The internet didn’t kill Blockbuster, the company did it to itself”.
Another company who neglected customer trends because it thought it knew better was Yahoo. In 2005 Yahoo was a leader in online advertising. However, it undervalued the importance of search and failed to improve the user experience. In 2002 they almost had a deal to buy Google, but the CEO of Yahoo refused to go through with the deal. If they had, it’s likely we would today be ‘Yahooing it’ rather than Googling. Instead, Yahoo was sold to Vorizon Communications in 2016.
Connecting with your audience through content
Consumers are now smarter and have come to expect a certain level of engagement with brands before they commit. While sales are obviously still important, companies should educate and offer value to customers who can see straight through a cold sales pitch. It has been proven that customers respond better to a warm introduction, and one way to do this is to offer your clients information that doesn’t explicitly promote your brand. Instead, try helping them answer a question about something in your industry – sharing your expertise without being too ‘salesy’. For example, if you were a boutique dressmaker and you wrote an interesting, informative article about upcoming summer trends, this would help a customer gain trust in your brand before potentially buying from you in the future.
This is known as content marketing – the creation of free online materials such as blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, infographics and articles – and it has become essential to keeping a brand relevant. Every company should have a content marketing strategy that is actioned continuously and is relevant to its target audience, as when done well – especially when used in conjunction with great PR – it can increase brand visibility, improve customer relationships, improve your company’s rank on search engine results pages and ultimately increase conversions and sales.
Social media mania
Marketing this content in alignment with social media – and engaging with followers – will significantly improve your brand’s reach. Since social media is portable on all devices, it is everywhere from homes to buses, which makes it a great place to connect with your audience. Smartphones heavily contribute to this, with 80% of time spent on social media coming from a mobile device.
People of all ages populate social networking sites on a daily basis. Even if your current customer-base doesn’t use social media, you need to be ready for a new generation of clients who will do things differently. The Instagram and Snapchat era is upon us, and it won’t be long before these channels are the way that everyone does business. It is, without question, a do or die situation. Stay on top of the trends and make sure you’re aware of how your target audience uses social to shop.
Alongside promoting your content organically, you will likely want to use social media advertising to boost these posts, maximising your content marketing strategy and amplifying your reach. This also allows you to advertise only to the people who are most likely to engage with your brand. Each social media platform offers an intricate selection of targeting parameters – from psychographic factors such as interests, hobbies, personality types, to demographic values like age and location.
Not convinced? Consider this: with 80% of Instagram users following at least one brand, at least 30% of those users have purchased a product they discovered on Instagram. Targeting those who follow similar brands and are in your customer demographic with bold, beautiful ads, therefore, should surely lead to increased fans and engagement.
Social media also offers the opportunity for display advertising, allowing you to draw your audience in with beautiful or thought-provoking imagery and a clear, actionable message. It is an opportunity to reach those who may not yet be aware of your brand, but who definitely should be.
The importance of marketing using paid advertising has been working up into a frenzy over the last decade, not just on social media platforms but also on search engines like Google and Bing, as well as on any websites that your target audience visits frequently. If you’re not doing it you can bet that your competitors are, and that they are either already the new market leader or are well on their way to surpassing you because of it. If your page is far from number one on Google organically, paid search advertising is a great way of quickly boosting your page to the top. Likewise, display advertising on websites is a budget-friendly way to get your brand name out there, and can be used to retarget those who have visited your website before but have not yet converted.
Getting to the top of Google organically
Although paid advertising has many benefits, paid alone is not enough to make your brand omnipresent. The role of digital marketing tactics like organic search marketing are still vital in order to get the broadest possible reach. This is done by optimising pages of your website for key phrases that are related to your company and its services, and spans everything from ensuring images are labelled correctly to making your metadata as enticing as possible.
Why use SEO and paid advertising in tandem? Well, Google statisticians found that paid search ads result in an 89% incremental lift in organic site visitors; meaning that people who see your paid ads, but perhaps don’t trust ads enough to click on them or don’t think you’re quite what they’re looking for at the time, are much more likely to visit your site via organic search in the future. However, if your website is not represented on page one of the search engine in question, these people are unlikely to ever see your brand organically, meaning you’ll miss out on those clicks and potential sales.
All of these individual segments are crucial, but people don’t just use one method to discover and get to know your brand. A combination of search, social, on- and offline news journals, TV, radio, trade shows and speaking to friends is common, so you need to be ready to impress your potential customers across all channels. We have found customers typically come back and forward to a website over 50 times before committing to a purchase, with some 92% of people saying they visit a brand’s website for a reason other than to make a purchase. If you’re not bringing your A-Game on all touchpoints, you will likely lose out to a more modern thinking competitor.
Market your business – or risk extinction
As you can see, marketing is important for all brands, both big and small; local and international. It doesn’t matter if you think you have enough customers – at the very least, marketing will ensure that you don’t lose them, sustaining your company’s presence in an ever-crowded market place. However, marketing is not a quick fix for when sales drop, it’s an ongoing strategy that needs investment, expertise and commitment from the outset, in order to prevent dropping sales in the future. We have covered just some of the many strategies that you should be using in order to engage and delight your audience.
To learn how Relevance can enhance your marketing strategy and help you maintain the top spot in your industry, contact us today.