By Sweta Patel
Most businesses want to know how they can grow without having a marketing budget. There are a couple of options to bypass marketing. The first way is to be a franchise and pay a franchise fee and have them bring you customers and leads. Otherwise, you can try to create a world-class product or service that people can’t live without.
Lets have a look at this again from a different perspective. In most cases, both established businesses and startups need marketing dollars to be allocated to different tactics and strategies. They need to always have new customers and people in their pipeline to sell to.
One way to do this us create a social engagement circle. This is a naturally reinforcing technique that helps your business attract new customers as well as excite and re-engage the customers you already have. Let’s go through four steps:
Recognize Progress and Send Rewards
When you keep a public count of users, and rewards for signing up and becoming more engaged, then more people will want to join. This can be done through a “cash certificate” or a point system. You can give customers a “cash certificate” to use towards the other services the business offers. This is a form of re-engaging the customer and having them come back for other services. The business can also carry out this part of the strategy through social recognition. Give the audience a chance to move up in the hierarchy. For example, LinkedIn does through marking people as influencers.
Best Practice: Award your target audience badges based on engagement levels and turn the business into a social game of fun!
Leverage Psychological Motivation
Most people don’t do things unless they have an incentive to do them. The desire to execute a certain action has to be there. Twitter does a great job of this by encouraging the desire to have more followers. How do they do this? By acquiring more followers you are seen as a bigger authority in your niche. The more authority you have, the more people listen to you.
Best Practice: Think about what your target audience really wants in the long term. Then think about how you can instantly gratify the audience in the short-term and carry it out.
Use a Social Call to Action
Businesses struggle with the call to action and adding a social aspect to it. How can you add that extra dose of fun through social action? Simple. Twitter carries this out through @replies and direct messages. LinkedIn does this through endorsements. Both established businesses and startups have the ability to add a social aspect to their marketing. They can do so by creating calls to action based on community building. This means allowing all your customers to interact with each another and form alliances. For example, one of the startups we worked with added user interests so customers could share it with their friends.
Best Practice: Think of five different messages which include your unique selling point. Then install the “Click To Tweet” plug-in so your fans can virally spread the word about your business. Create a call-to-action where it is difficult for the user NOT to engage.
Re-engage Your Circle of Customers
Can you send emails to let the users know their friends are missing all the fun if they don’t join in? Make sure email notifications and text notifications are sent on a regular basis. This can be to reward the user, or to remind them to come back. We used CallLoop for the first time to have the direct communication with our users. It worked beautifully and we got them to attend many of the live, streaming events we hosted in order to acquire more users.
Best Practice: Find a communication resource that will make your company appeal powerfully. For example, text message marketing is a direct form of communication and we use it more than email. Why? Too many business owners are using email.
Once your social engagement circle is operating smoothly, you can move to publicity and public relations.
Out-Of-The-Box Publicity Stunt
Phenomenal and creative publicity stunts are hard to find nowadays. My favorite publicity stunt was executed by WePay.com when they created a 600-pound block of ice with the message inside: “PayPal Freezes Your Accounts!” This was thrown down at Moscone Center at a PayPal conference. Does it get any better than that? The best part about it was that they instantly received press coverage and it didn’t cost them anything.
Best Practice: Drop the thought of hiring a high-cost PR firm and just get creative with your team. Think of who your competitors are and how you are better than they are. Then plan an execution strategy around how you can carry it out.
PR Without The High Cost
The secret to getting journalists to love your small business or startup is to pitch them with a laser-specific subject line. Businesses seem to feel like journalists are scary gatekeepers. They aren’t. Create a subject line that catches their attention. For example:
- Bad subject line: New Business Launches in San Diego
- Good subject line: Digital Marketing Business Launching in San Diego This Week Gives Away 5643 FREE Consultations
Make sure you keep it short, relevant and clear. It should focus on who, what, when, where and how. It would be best to just send them details about the product and service through a story. Do not go off on a tangent trying to razzle and dazzle a journalist. Use a few sentences to describe what you are trying to do with your pitch.
Most importantly, don’t just send them an email without building a relationship.
Best Practice: Minimize your cost by using a service like PRReach.com. It offers self-service for press releases.
What is your favorite tip? Please comment below!
Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose company is Global Marketing Tactics.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: