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By Scott Clark
Local marketing aims to build a strong presence in the local market, increase brand visibility, attract local customers and drive traffic to physical stores.

The Gist

  • Geo-targeting essential. Social media offers geo-targeting for precise local advertising, increasing community engagement.
  • SEO optimization. “Near me” searches are frequent, making a Google Business Profile and mobile-first strategy critical.
  • Traditional Tactics. Traditional methods like radio and event presence alongside digital strategies amplify local marketing reach.

Local marketing refers to the strategies and activities that are used by businesses to target and engage with customers in a specific area or local community. It focuses on promoting products or services to customers within a particular region or area. Local marketing aims to build a strong presence in the local market, increase brand visibility, attract local customers and drive traffic to physical stores. This article will examine tactics, strategies and tips for brands interested in local marketing.

What Are Some of the Types of Local Marketing?

Many types of marketing practices are included under the umbrella of local marketing. One example is a brand that sells gift products that tourists often buy when they visit destinations such as the beach, the mountains or specific locations, such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. In each case, businesses that sell such products simply reach out to companies near each locale to see if they would like to carry the brand’s tourist products in their stores. Additionally, they participate in Facebook Groups for each tourist destination.

Another example of local marketing is when businesses adjust the products or services they sell based on the tastes, habits, culture and beliefs of the people living in the area of the service. Such a business would also adjust the marketing or advertising copy to reflect the social norms of the people in the area. One can see examples of this in international brands that sell their goods or services across the globe to people with very different tastes, habits and beliefs.

Yet another example of local marketing is the use of geolocation apps that send customers a text message or alert when they are physically near a brand’s location, such as driving by in their car, walking past a store or restaurant, or strolling through a large store that has other businesses within its premises. One example would be a fast food restaurant in a Super Walmart. When a customer that has downloaded the restaurant’s app to their mobile device is in Walmart, the app sends an alert to the customer’s phone, letting them know that they are offering a two-for-one deal on Quarter Pounders, for instance.

Finally, many businesses operate exclusively as local brands. Buckeye Donuts, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, is not trying to market its goods to people in other states. Its marketing and advertising campaigns are mainly based on word-of-mouth, local advertising, radio, local periodicals and participation in community events.

How Are Brands Using Local Marketing?

Many brands today are using local marketing in their communities and around the world. One unique instance of local marketing involves a collaboration between Mattel and Airbnb. Initially launched in October 2019, Airbnb announced that the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse, located in Malibu, California, would be available for rent by one lucky guest, who could bring along three guests of their own, for the low price of $60 per night. It was designed to raise awareness of The Barbie Dream Gap Project GoFundMe initiative, which aims to help level the playing field for young women so they can follow their dreams.

We recently looked at another excellent example of a brand’s use of local marketing in an article on cultural intelligence. McDonald’s demonstrated the importance of adapting to different cultures in its marketing practices, product offerings and even its pricing. In India, where religious prohibitions prevent adherents from eating beef, McDonald’s introduced vegetarian options and replaced beef patties with mutton, chicken or fish.

mcdonalds

In Thailand, where the minimum wage is much lower than in other parts of the world, McDonald’s lowered the cost of its Big Mac to approximately US $2.20 (contrasted to Switzerland, where Big Macs sold for around US $6.20). In order to adapt to local culture in China, McDonald’s offered rice as a french fry alternative.

Additionally, McDonald’s uses different media personalities and influencers to promote its brand based on the cultural tastes of the locale. Its ability to adapt and change its products, marketing practices, pricing and advertising strategies to suit different geographical and sociological differences is a good indication of why it has become a hugely successful global brand.

Often, local marketing is not about reaching customers in their locale, but rather, bringing them to the brand through community building. The US Sports Network, Bally Sports, was interested in finding a better strategy to understand and engage its local fan base through the use of third-party data, but very quickly this became extremely costly. Instead, Bally turned to its online customer community, FanZone. This inclusive online community became the place where Bally’s diverse fans could get together with other fans, share their thoughts and experience a feeling of belonging.

Sports fans cheering their favorite team, representing the power of local marketing.

Using its FanZone community, Bally Sports enhanced and improved its ability to connect with regional fans in new and unique ways. It obtained on-demand feedback from customers, enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of its audience’s preferences and doubling its fan community through targeted live on-air promotion efforts.

Use Social Media for Local Marketing

Most brands today have a social media presence, but for local marketing, social media is a necessity rather than an option. The benefits of social media for local marketing include:

  • Geo-Targeting: Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, offer geo-targeting features for advertising. This enables businesses to target users in a particular location or radius specifically.
  • Local Engagement: Social media enables local businesses to engage directly with their community. Businesses can foster a sense of community and build local loyalty by sharing local news, participating in local events or spotlighting community members.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Social media can be cost-effective compared to traditional advertising channels like TV or print. Businesses can start with a small budget and scale up based on results.
  • Real-Time Feedback: Local businesses can receive immediate feedback from their community. This can be invaluable for understanding the needs and preferences of local customers.
  • Word-of-Mouth Amplification: Satisfied customers can easily share their experiences and recommendations, resulting in word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Versatility: Social media provides a platform for various content types, from videos to images to stories, enabling businesses to be creative and diverse in their messaging.

Aside from advertising on social media and regularly contributing appropriate content, many brands use the community aspects of social media to engage with and attract customers. Ashley Mason, marketing consultant and founder of Dash of Social, a social media management consultancy, told CMSWire that she built the client base for her business through the use of Facebook groups.

“For me, as a Massachusetts resident, I started joining several Boston-based Facebook groups revolving around entrepreneurship, business, etc. in 2016,” said Mason. “Because many members in these groups were often business owners looking to hire social media managers or marketers for their companies, I was able to use these communities to my advantage to establish thought leadership, build trust, gather leads, and grow my business.”

Mason attributes much of her revenue to Facebook groups and wrote about her success on Instagram. “Approximately $630,000 of my total business revenue came from Facebook groups, either by working with people who were in the same Facebook groups as me, or getting referred to other businesses by people I met in those Facebook groups.”

Optimize SEO for “Near Me” Local Searches

Consumers today often search for local businesses by using the phrase “near me.” In fact, a 2022 Statista survey revealed that 82% of US consumers who used their smartphone to shop had used near me searches.

Local businesses trying to increase their online presence and show up more often in near me searches should create a Google Business Profile. It’s free, and once a business has been verified, it will appear in near me search results. The name, address and phone number displayed on a brand’s Google Business Profile should match what is displayed on the brand’s website and any promotional material.

google business profile

 

A 2023 BroadbandSearch report indicated that 54.4% of web traffic was conducted on mobile devices (compared to 0.7% in 2009). Additionally, a recent Hubspot report revealed that local searches are what lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within 24 hours. Brands today should create their website with a mobile-first strategy, optimizing for mobile devices as a priority, rather than optimizing for desktop displays.

Amy Jennette, senior director of brand marketing at the popular web host GoDaddy, told CMSWire that ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is a key part of the equation. “Consumers want information on the go, so double check that your site has mobile-friendly text, menus, forms, and buttons that make it simple for your audience to browse site information on the go.”

Jennette said that businesses should localize their website to make the content relevant to their target community. “For example, if I was the owner of an electric bicycle shop in my hometown of Seattle, I may rephrase the terms on my website’s homepage to say, ‘bringing our community the greenest bikes for a greener Seattle’ rather than simply putting ‘electric bike shop.’ And this moves beyond just your website —localizing your marketing should be applied across your digital and print ads, social media pages, and other public marketing materials,” said Jennette, who added that these simple tweaks could make a major difference for your audience as they research online local businesses that best fit their needs.

Leverage Traditional and Non-Traditional Advertising

Local marketing often relies on more traditional methods of obtaining the eyes and ears of customers and leads, such as TV and radio advertising, having a visible presence at local events, word-of-mouth, billboards and collaborations with other local businesses. “Whenever possible, join in on local industry-specific events, fairs and festivals, and neighborhood gatherings to boost your brand awareness, show off your locality, and further press the importance of supporting small, local businesses,” said Jennette. “In no time you’ll be the local authority in your industry, and you’ll have the local marketing tools in your toolbelt to thank for it.”

Other brands are using local marketing strategies that include digital displays located in areas where potential customers will see them. Geoff Crain, senior director of sales and marketing at Kingstar Media, a digital marketing and video production agency, told CMSWire that his business uses digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising for local marketing due to its ability to target local audiences precisely, deliver contextually relevant content and allow real-time updates. “By strategically placing digital displays in specific locations, we have the ability to reach specific and local communities effectively,” said Crain.

“DOOH also allows for dynamic and tailored messaging, incorporating local references and promotions to establish a deeper connection with the local community.” Crain explained that the real-time capabilities of DOOH enable businesses to adapt campaigns quickly, providing timely and accurate information to their desired local audience, enhancing engagement, and driving positive business outcomes in specific local markets.

Traditional marketing and advertising mediums can still be effective strategies for local businesses. Although many may not recognize radio’s reach today, a recent Statista report indicated that radio is one of the most powerful mediums in the United States, with a weekly reach of around 82.5% among adults, and 78% of those under 18. “Radio is another form of media we utilize for local marketing due to its ability to reach a wide and diverse audience within a specific geographical area,” said Crain. “With radio, we can effectively target local audiences, delivering our advertising messages directly to potential customers in their communities.”

Mobility is another benefit of radio advertising. “Radio also offers the advantage of being a mobile medium, reaching consumers in their cars, homes, or workplaces, allowing our clients to stay memorable and top-of-mind throughout the day,” said Crain. “Radio also allows for the creation of engaging and memorable audio content, leveraging the power of storytelling, music, and personalities to connect with the local audience on an emotional level, making it an impactful and cost-effective medium for local marketing.”

Final Thoughts on Local Marketing

Local marketing provides brands with the unique opportunity to intimately connect with their surrounding community, addressing its distinct tastes, cultures and preferences. By using a blend of traditional and digital strategies, from SEO and mobile optimization and social media engagement to radio advertising and participation in community events, businesses can effectively bolster their local presence.

Feature Image Credit: TensorSpark on Adobe Stock Photo

By Scott Clark

Scott Clark is a seasoned journalist based in Columbus, Ohio, who has made a name for himself covering the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience, marketing and technology. He has over 20 years of experience covering Information Technology and 27 years as a web developer. His coverage ranges across customer experience, AI, social media marketing, voice of customer, diversity & inclusion and more. Scott is a strong advocate for customer experience and corporate responsibility, bringing together statistics, facts, and insights from leading thought leaders to provide informative and thought-provoking articles. Connect with Scott Clark:

Sourced from CMSWIRE

local marketing, social media, marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, advertising

By Elie Y. Katz

Retail stores have always faced the challenge of attracting and retaining customers. This challenge has become even more difficult in a world of increasing competition and evolving technology, making it even more important that businesses find ways to entice new customers and show existing ones they are the best choice.

In my experience within the industry, retail stores have to continuously strive to attract and retain customers. Achieving this requires investing in marketing, advertising, and customer service initiatives. With that in mind, here are six steps any retailer can use to market their independent business.

1. Establish brand recognition.

In my experience, the success of any business depends on its ability to establish a recognizable brand. Part of this process involves creating a memorable name, logo and slogan that help customers recognize and remember your brand. The logo should be easy to recognize and have an eye-catching design. Many studies have shown that the most memorable logos have a simple design.

It’s important to not overthink the logo’s design but also to ensure that it stands out and targets your audience. One way to do this is to conduct market research to understand your target audience’s preferences and design a logo that reflects your brand’s personality and values.

A slogan can also help to differentiate your brand from its competitors and create a memorable impression with customers. Aim to create a slogan that is concise, catchy, meaningful, easy to remember and embodies the business’s core values.

2. Market on social media and search engine advertising campaigns.

Once the logo and slogan are created, the next step is implementing social media campaigns to generate more awareness about the brand. You can create ads that appear when people search for certain products or services. This can help merchants get more leads and increase sales.

I recommend utilizing various social media platforms to reach a wider audience, although your messaging should resonate with your target audience the most. Consider using platforms such as Google Ads and Bing Ads, as these campaigns allow you to target specific keywords and demographics to ensure your ads reach the right people.

Other online marketing strategies include email marketing campaigns and working with influencers. Combining these strategies can help you create an even more effective online presence and increase your brand’s visibility.

3. Create promotions to attract customers.

Another effective strategy is to create promotions to attract customers to a business’s products and services. Promotions should be tailored to your target audience and designed to be engaging and attention-grabbing. Consider using BOGO, free shipping, free samples, coupons, flash sales and giveaways; I have found that these tactics can do a lot to increase customer engagement and drive sales.

Most people love savings and discounts, so offering promotions and exclusive deals can be a great way to attract and retain customers. Additionally, providing exceptional customer service and personalized experiences can also help you build strong relationships with consumers and encourage repeat business.

4. Build a loyalty program.

An effective loyalty program encourages loyalty by rewarding customers for their repeat purchases. This can also help your brand build long-term relationships with your customer base, giving them a sense of belonging.

Loyalty programs can include a variety of incentives, such as discounts, rewards points and even access to exclusive events. These programs encourage customers to continue purchasing from your brand, but they also provide valuable data on customer behaviour and preferences to help make more informed decisions about future marketing efforts. Many brands use a point-of-sale (POS) system that facilitates the creation and maintenance of loyalty program memberships by automatically tracking the customer’s purchases and issuing rewards at checkout.

5. Advertise at the point of purchase.

A point-of-purchase (POP) display can target potential customers already in the store. Placing ads at the checkout counter can quickly grab customers’ attention, leading them to consider a product they may not have thought of before.

POP advertising can take many forms, including displays, posters, signage and other digital media. Additionally, many retailers will use POP advertising to promote special offers, such as discounts or coupons. These ads can inform customers about new products, promote loyalty programs.

6. Analyse what works best for your customers.

Data analytics can be used to track customer purchases, in-store traffic and website visits. The store can use this data to determine which marketing strategies are most successful. This can include tracking the effectiveness of email campaigns, print advertising, social media and even word-of-mouth. With this data, you can focus your store’s marketing efforts on strategies that are proven to be effective, thus ensuring a better return on investment.

Additionally, you can survey customers to determine what motivated them to shop. Do your customers favour particular brands over their generic counterparts? Do they make choices based on impulsive or emotional needs, such as buying the latest trends and fashions? Pay close attention to what they say, then use this information to tailor your services and products to better meet their needs.

Overall, independent retail stores must continuously strive to attract and retain customers in today’s landscape. I encourage you to invest in marketing, advertising and customer service initiatives and stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Continuously improving and adapting to the changing market can help you ensure long-term success and growth for your business.

Feature Image Credit: getty

By Elie Y. Katz

CEO, National Retail Solutions (NRS). POS, NRS Digital Media, NRS Pay, NRS Funding, NRS Purple, and NRS Petro: Helping retailers succeed. Read Elie Y. Katz’s full executive profile here.

Sourced from Forbes

By Lisa Anthony

Social media marketing can be cost-effective when you pick platforms suited to your business and consistently deliver messages that engage your target audience.

Social media marketing, a type of digital marketing, uses social media platforms to deliver online content to a business’s target audiences. Content is generally designed to build brand awareness and promote products or services, but it can also help a business increase visitors to its website and gather information about followers that can be used in email marketing and other campaigns.

Social media marketing allows you to engage in a more direct way with your target audience, even in one-on-one conversations in some instances. It can be less expensive than other forms of marketing, but it’s also highly competitive due to continuous streams of social posts vying for the attention of consumers. Creating an intentional social media marketing strategy can help you maximize your efforts and improve your return on investment.

How to create a social media marketing strategy

Social media marketing works like other forms of marketing as far as defining goals, identifying a target audience and creating content. However, to keep an active social media presence, a business will need to post regularly on their platforms of choice and regularly monitor brand mentions and customer comments.

Determine your social media marketing goals

Plotting out your goals from the outset will help guide you in the other decisions you’ll need to make, such as which social media platforms to use and the type of content to post.

Here are some general goals that are common to social media marketing:

  • Increase brand awareness.

  • Gain customer insights.

  • Increase sales.

  • Develop leads.

  • Increase website traffic.

  • Respond to customer complaints.

  • Retarget visitors to your website who don’t make purchases.

  • Get followers to share your content on promotional events.

  • Draw attention to a charity or non-profit organization you support.

When possible, be specific when setting goals, but also keep in mind that the success of some of your efforts may be hard to document. For example, it can be more difficult to measure an increase in brand awareness, but the goal of higher website traffic can be documented through marketing tools such as Google Analytics.

Define your target audience

Knowing your customers is important to any marketing effort. Customer information, such as interests, buying behaviors, pain points and demographic details like age, gender and annual income, can help you create content that will interest your target audience.

Also, demographic details may influence your choice of social media platforms. For example, if your target audience is primarily women, you may want to market on a platform that has a higher percentage of women than men. Or, if your target audience is younger, you may want to use a platform that is popular with that age group.

However, with daily users numbering in the millions on many popular platforms, your target audience may be well represented on any platform. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are a few of the platforms that offer audience insights tools you can use to learn about the people using the platform. Talking directly to your customers about which platforms they frequent most can also help inform your social media strategy.

Pick your social media platforms

You may choose to target even more niche social platforms based on your type of business and customers, but here are some of the most popular and how they’re used:

  • Facebook: Text, image and video sharing. A Facebook business page can provide important information about your business and build community.

  • YouTube: Video sharing.

  • Twitter: This social networking platform is mostly used for text-based Tweets, but you can also incorporate images, videos and GIFs.

  • Instagram: Photo and video sharing.

  • TikTok: Video sharing. Compared to YouTube, this is best for shorter videos.

  • Pinterest: Image sharing.

  • LinkedIn: A professional networking platform, LinkedIn is primarily used to market to businesses rather than consumers, or to increase brand awareness by participating in industry-specific forums.

  • Snapchat. Instant messaging, image and video platform.

  • Reddit: Forum-style discussions.

Assess your content needs

The type of content you’ll post on social media will depend on your business, goals and which platforms you’re using. It can range from promotional to educational and should reflect the human characteristics and voice that best define your brand, or your brand personality. For example, if your business sells outdoor gear, your brand personality might be rugged and adventurous. Or, if your business sells products and services for small children, your brand personality might be playful but nurturing.

Social media content can include text, images and videos. You may also be able to link to other content you’ve created such as articles, blogs, e-books and videos. Depending on the platform, there may be limits to what can be included in posts. For example, on Twitter, a Tweet can contain up to 280 characters plus up to four images, videos and/or GIFs.

Your social media marketing efforts might also include the use of digital ads on multiple social media platforms and search engines such as Google and Bing. Each platform will have its own requirements for ads and typically offer content recommendations. For example, YouTube offers step-by-step instructions on creating video ads, with pre-made templates and other tools.

Post consistently

Posting consistently is an important factor in successfully promoting your business on social media. Each business’s posting cadence, whether it’s daily, a few times a week or weekly, will depend on its goals and audience. You’ll also want to factor in the time it takes to produce quality content — a video or high-quality photos may take longer than a text-only Tweet, for instance.

Creating a posting schedule can help your business post consistently — and marketing software can help automate the process. While you can post the same content on all your platforms, it’s better to customize the content for the audience of each individual platform. Plus, as discussed, each platform has unique requirements for postings.

Posting regularly can help a business to:

  • Increase brand authority, credibility and reputation.

  • Build followers.

  • Gain familiarity with the platforms and tools.

  • Establish its brand voice.

  • Improve content rankings on platform feeds.

  • Support paid advertising efforts.

Monitor mentions and respond quickly

It’s important to monitor the mentions of your brand and comments made on your posts. Customers frequently take to a business’s social media when they have customer service questions or complaints. In those instances, responding quickly and positively is key, but aim to resolve the issue privately, by encouraging them to direct message or email your business.

Monitoring mentions — and encouraging customers to post about your business (while tagging your account) — can also help you identify brand advocates and gather user-generated content to repost, which can ease the burden of content creation.

It may take months before you see noticeable progress toward your marketing goals, but social media management tools like Hootsuite, Zoho Social and Buffer can help you monitor your content as well as help with posting, scheduling and measuring results.

By Lisa Anthony

Lisa is a small-business writer at NerdWallet and has more than 20 years of experience in banking and finance. Read more

Sourced from nerdwallet

By Derek Rucker

As a marketing professor, a common question I receive concerns what has changed in the modern era of marketing.

Defining the modern era can be tricky, especially since some accounts date the origins of marketing to be as far back as 1500 BCE. For simplicity, one can take a narrower scope and inquire about the last decade. If one takes such a lens, channels have certainly changed; platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch were either in their early stages, lacked an advertising capability, or did not even exist.

One of the most significant changes is the rise of informational currency. Marketers now possess the ability to rapidly build, access, and process massive repositories of data. With so much data available, shifts have occurred in the marketing function. It has become more action-oriented; marketers take the data they have access to—market share by geographic region, consumer purchase habits, changes in website traffic, consumer comments in forums— and generate an action or response. For example, if sales are down in a region, marketers might react by pushing advertising toward that region. If a TikTok influencer receives a lot of likes, a brand might seek to sponsor the user. If a consumer lingered on a website with items in their cart, but did not purchase, the brand might send an email promotion. A staple of what we term an action-oriented approach is that marketers collect data in droves and react to it.

This might all seem well and good, but as I have recently written with my co-author[1], Aparna Labroo, we view this action-oriented thinking as leading to potential short-term thinking, data tunnel vision, and precarious decision making. For example, focusing on the data that is coming in offers no guarantee that one is using the most important or the most relevant data. Indeed, we have found ourselves perplexed at brands that favour data because it is cheap or accessible, even though it provides little relevance to a problem at hand. Even when brands have good data—for example, clean data that establishes a decline in online sales— the presence of good data does not necessarily mean the appropriate action is taken. Knowing sales is down might tell you a problem of some form exists, but it does not tell you whether the solution require a change in the product, the advertising channels, the message, the creative work, or some other element.

What is the alternative? As we train the strategists we develop at Kellogg and in practice, rather than adopt a reactionary, action-oriented approach, marketers can instead develop and execute what we term a process-oriented approach. A process-oriented approach eschews a reactionary measure to data. Instead, it uses the data as a starting point to ask why a problem is occurring and what additional data will confirm or reject the hypothesis. A process-oriented leader uses the power of hypotheses to cut to the heart of a problem in a manner than leads to the development of successful long-term solutions as opposed to immediate (and potentially ineffective) short-term ones. A way to contrast the action-oriented and process-oriented approach is as follows: an action-oriented approach sees a problem and begins pulling levers in response to the problem; the hope is that one of the levers will do the trick. In contrast, a process-oriented approach sees a problem and steps back to ask what lever to pull and why.

How does one generate hypotheses, you ask? Although that’s a longer story for another time; it begins with applying what we call our INSIGHT framework. More specifically, marketers must understand the (I)ndidvidual consumer, the (N)etworks they belong to, and the (S)ituation that surrounds the consumer. Each of these involve curating the right data. Next, marketers can explore the (I)mportance of elements within each of these prior factors to understand the weight they carry. Notice, each of these steps involves seeking to understand the data as opposed to immediately reacting to it. Next, the fun part begins. With these elements in place, it becomes possible to (G)enerate (H)ypotheses and engage in (T)esting of these hypotheses. Essentially, via investing in developing and understanding insight, brands can direct their efforts to both gather better data and test ideas to avoid roads to ruin and identify how to pave paths to success.

In the modern era of marketing, it is all too easy to fixate on data in a way that ignores the real problems brand face and, as a result, leads to reactionary efforts that fail to solve the problems. Marketers need to take back the reigns of strategy by adopting a process-oriented approach that places a greater emphasis on understanding the root that underlies a problem as opposed to the rotten fruit on the branches.

Feature Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES

By Derek Rucker

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management. For over a decade, I have researched, taught, and consulted on the topics of advertising and persuasion. My endeavors have led to numerous academic publications, a textbook on advertising strategy, and cases written on effective advertising. In addition, I co-lead an annual review of Super Bowl advertising with Kellogg MBA students. Beyond my expertise, I am driven by a passion to better understand the human mind to allow marketers to create, execute, and evaluate advertising in a more effective manner. I hate to see ineffective advertising, and I want to do my part to make it better.

Sourced from Forbes

By BILL MURPHY JR

“Thank you… But you think way too highly of us.”

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

By BILL MURPHY JR

FOUNDER OF UNDERSTANDABLY AND CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, INC.@BILLMURPHYJR

Sourced from Inc.

By Mark Zweig

Most, if not all, local small businesses in Northwest Arkansas that are struggling or have failed can be attributed to their lack of marketing and advertising efforts, which becomes evident once you delve into the complete truth about them.

I know of a business owner in Northwest Arkansas who says he will shut it down any day due to a lack of business, yet who still will not make even a single free Facebook or Instagram post. He also doesn’t do any internet, radio, billboard or television advertising, nor does he use hangtags for doors, send out direct mail, do email blasts, use SEO or sponsor a Little League baseball team. There is just no marketing whatsoever.

I don’t think this situation is that unusual for many small businesses. Why is this the case? There are several reasons, including:

  1. The owners of these small businesses think they can’t afford it. They see marketing and advertising as an overhead expense, like rent or insurance, and if they can avoid spending anything there, it is money they can put in their pockets and take home to their families.
  2. They don’t believe marketing and advertising work. My experience is that if you spend “X” on marketing and advertising, you will get a certain number of sales or dollar amount of sales from it. So spend X, and get X times 10 or X times 20. What will that kind of volume increase do in terms of business viability and profitability? Think about your own business. But for this relationship to work, it takes consistent activity and spending. I have often heard, “We tried advertising, and it didn’t work.” You can’t do it once or twice and expect that to produce results. It may not.
  3. These small business owners are hung up on the idea that “word-of-mouth is the best advertising,” so they do nothing. They forget that to get word-of-mouth, customers have to buy from the business or use it in the first place. Without marketing and advertising, you will never get the word-of-mouth flywheel going.
  4. They don’t know how to market. Most small business owners are good at something — they are good cooks, carpenters, sewing, or getting people to exercise correctly. That’s why they went into business in the first place. But what they don’t know anything about is marketing and advertising. So instead of going outside their business to find help, they give up. There are so many marketing companies and advertising sources that can help a small business, not to mention marketing students who would love the chance to work with a real business here in NWA, that there is no excuse for not being able to get help.

Let me conclude by saying that I am not someone who’s just done a lot of reading about this stuff and is now opining about it. In my businesses, I always invested in marketing. That’s how two of my companies got on the Inc. 500/5000 list — one of them three times. And today, the new and existing businesses I am involved with heavily invest in marketing and advertising and have a revenue growth curve that reflects that.

Contrary to what your CPA/tax advisor may tell you, a small business can be worth far more than what you can extract annually. The value of the business is directly related to the revenue growth rate, not to mention that a growing business tends to be more profitable than a stable (i.e., stagnant) business.

So now is the time for small business owners to stop handwringing and start investing in a consistent marketing and advertising program. Do it now before it’s too late.

By Mark Zweig

([email protected]) Mark Zweig is the founder of two Fayetteville-based Inc. 500/5000 companies. He is also entrepreneur-in-residence in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and author of the award-winning book, “Confessions of an Entrepreneur.” The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Sourced from TB&P

 

Cross-media measurement continued to dominate industry chatter in Cannes – but are we one step closer to solving the measurement puzzle? Nielsen’s Deirdre Thomas gives us the lowdown.

The advertising industry has been gunning for better attribution and cross-media measurement solutions. With consumers now moving fluidly across devices, platforms and media, it’s been a long time coming for measurement to catch up – but that change is hard.

“It’s not just the measurement and the metrics that have to change – it’s everything from the way companies are organized to the way tools are built, processes are run, and cultures,” says Deirdre Thomas, chief product officer at Nielsen.

The way that the ecosystem has developed historically has created silos where digital may be in one place, television in another, and social in another place. But if marketers want to enable cross platform measurement, all those things must come together.

“That’s really what marketers want – to reach their audience fluidly across all the places they consume media, and the dollars have to flow that way,” says Thomas. “So really, to bring the measurement that way, all the other pieces have to change as well, and it’s a really hard journey.”

To help marketers piece measurement together, Thomas offers two pieces of advice: “Build for what you want to get and organize for what you want to achieve. Organizing teams, processes and buys in a way that actually reflects cross-platform is really going to help push us there.”

The next is a bit more tactical: enable the identification of the digital and linear pieces of a campaign. “That notion does not necessarily exist and it’s certainly not scaled or identical across the ecosystem,” explains Thomas. “As an industry, we need to lean in and make it possible to understand the campaign in a cross-media way so that we’re not trying to piece things together. We need to have an identifier of some form to enable that scale.”

So where does measurement go next? Nielsen announced a tie up with EDO in Cannes to integrate its Nielsen One audience measurement data with EDO’s outcomes measurement, which will enable mutual clients, starting with Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and Mediahub, to better plan and measure the impact of campaigns.

“It’s really the next chapter for Nielsen where we want our measurement to flow out into the ecosystem to underpin all kinds of innovation and measurement, and really create interoperability for the ecosystem,” explains Thomas.

By Jenni Baker

Sourced from The Drum

By Sarah Cha

Looking to turn your customers into raving fans?

You’re in the right place! In this guide we’re going to demystify the concept of brand loyalty, bringing it down from abstract theory to practical, actionable steps.

Whether you’re running a start-up or an established business, these techniques will show you exactly how to cultivate that sought-after loyalty.

Think of it like planting a garden — with the right care and attention, you can reap the benefits of a dedicated customer base for years to come.

So, ready to sow the seeds of loyalty?

Let’s start planting!

What is Brand Loyalty?

Have you ever tried to dissuade a die-hard Apple fan from buying their latest iPhone?

Or tried to convince a fervent Harley-Davidson fan to trade in their bike for any other brand?

If so, you know that it’s a nearly impossible feat.

That’s brand loyalty in action: It’s a force that drives customers to repeatedly choose a specific brand, eclipsing alternatives even at higher costs or inconveniences.

But wait, isn’t that just customer loyalty?

Not quite. The line separating these two is more distinct than you think.

While customer loyalty focuses on transactional interactions (think frequent flier miles or buy one get one free deals), brand loyalty revolves around emotional connections.

In fact, brand loyalty is about creating that emotional bond.

It’s about a brand resonating with its customers on a personal level.

It’s about a shared set of values.

It’s not just about rewarding repeat purchases; it’s about kindling a deep-rooted affinity for your brand.

So why should anyone bother about brand loyalty?

It’s simple. Loyal customers may be rarer than casual buyers. But they spend much more money, advocate for your brand, and are willing to stick with you through thick and thin.

In other words, having enough customers with brand loyalty is a sure-fire way to drive sustainable business growth.

The Essential Types of Brand Loyalty You Should Know

Brand loyalty comes in different levels of intensity. Here’s a little about each type, and what you can do as a marketer to persuade them.

The Hard-Core Loyalists

Let’s start with the hard-core loyalists. These are the customers who have eyes only for your brand.

Come rain or shine, these loyalists are unwavering in their commitment.

They won’t switch brands for anything in the world, and they form the core of your brand’s loyal customer base.

Consider Apple enthusiasts: They’ll line up overnight for a new product launch, wear Apple merchandise, and defend the brand in any debate.

This fervour didn’t occur by accident.

Apple has consistently delivered innovative, high-quality products and backed them with top-notch customer service and an engaging brand narrative. As a result, their customers are die-hard loyalists.

The key takeaway here is consistency.

When you deliver consistently on your brand promise, customers develop trust in your brand, evolving into hard-core loyalists.

Remember, these customers are your brand’s best ambassadors. They will not only stick around but also bring in new customers through positive word-of-mouth.

The Split Customers

Next, let’s talk about split customers.

These customers have a few favourite brands and switch between them. They enjoy variety and are open to trying out new products if they match their expectations.

A perfect example of split customers would be those who shop for clothes.

They might love the trendy clothing line from Zara, the timeless classics from H&M, and the sustainable offerings from Everlane. Depending on the occasion, their mood, or the latest collections, they alternate between these brands.

To win over split customers, your brand needs to offer something unique and valuable that stands out from competitors.

Regular product innovations, seasonal collections, or exclusive benefits can entice these customers to choose your brand more often.

The Shifting Loyalists

Finally, we have the shifting loyalists, the explorers.

They’re always on the hunt for better products, superior service, or a more appealing brand story.

They’re not disloyal; but they simply value quality and are willing to change loyalties if another brand meets their needs better.

For instance, a shifting loyalist might visit a popular coffee chain one week, then switch to a local artisanal café that offers a more personal, unique, and high-quality coffee experience next time.

Winning over shifting loyalists is challenging but not impossible.

Strive for continuous improvement and be responsive to customer feedback. Show these customers that you’re not complacent, and you’re committed to offering the best.

They’ll appreciate your efforts and may even pause their quest to stick around!

Remember, understanding these different types of brand loyalists is the first step to developing a successful brand loyalty strategy.

By recognizing what drives each type, you can tailor your approach to appeal to each group and transform more customers into loyal fans.

3 Key Brand Loyalty Stages to Consider

Now that you know the different types of customer loyalty, how do you build them up to become the most loyal and reliable clients and customers?

Stage 1: Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is the ground level, the foundation of our skyscraper. It’s what allows customers to identify your brand among the sea of options.

Think about McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh — the moment you see them, you know the brand.

This recognition is critical because if they don’t know you exist, how can they buy products from you in the first place?

Creating a unique and memorable brand identity, including your logo, colours, slogan, and even your tone of voice, is a great place to start when attempting to enhancing brand recognition.

This isn’t just about being known; it’s about being known for something specific, something that resonates with your target audience.

Stage 2: Brand Preference

Next, we move up to where the magic starts to happen.

Here, your brand isn’t just known; it’s favoured over others.

You’ve managed to strike a chord with your audience, and they now appreciate your unique selling proposition. They consider you not just as an option, but as a viable, attractive choice.

Achieving brand preference involves delivering on your promises, offering a superior product or service, and ensuring customer satisfaction.

It’s also crucial to communicate what makes your brand different and why customers should choose you over others. Give them a good reason for a desired action, and more likely than not, they’ll take the action.

Stage 3: Brand Insistence

Now, let’s climb to the rooftop of our brand loyalty skyscraper — brand insistence.

At this stage, your brand isn’t just a preferred choice; it’s the only choice.

Your customers are so connected to your brand that they’ll walk an extra mile, literally and metaphorically, to stick with you. They’ll ignore cheaper options, overlook minor flaws, and stand as a bulwark against competitive forces.

Reaching the stage of brand insistence requires exceptional customer experiences, consistently delivered over time.

It’s about building emotional connections, exceeding customer expectations, and rewarding loyalty.

It’s the ultimate stage of customer loyalty and the most rewarding for your business.

Innovative Techniques (& Tips) to Foster Brand Loyalty

To foster brand loyalty, you need to go beyond the basics.

Here are a collection of powerful and practical techniques that can help build a steadfast relationship between your brand and your customers…

  • Craft a Powerful Brand Story: Your brand story should be compelling, relatable, and inspiring. This narrative will define who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Think of TOMS Shoes, whose mission of ‘one for one’ resonates deeply with their audience.
  • Offer Consistently Exceptional Customer Experience: Go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations at every touchpoint. This involves providing high-quality products, efficient service, and prompt support.
  • Harness the Power of Social Media: Social media platforms allow you to engage directly with your customers. Regularly posting relevant content and interacting with your followers can create a sense of community.
  • Build a Vibrant Community: Foster a sense of belonging among your customers. You could create an online forum, host events, or even start a brand-centric podcast.
  • Leverage the Principle of Reciprocity: This psychological principle states that people are more likely to give something when they receive something. So, reward your customers’ loyalty with exclusive perks, discounts, or freebies, and they may reciprocate your goodwill!
  • Implement Personalized Marketing: Tailor your marketing strategies to cater to individual customer preferences. With advancements in AI, personalized email marketing, and product recommendations are now easier than ever.
  • Institute a Robust Referral Program: Encourage customers to become brand ambassadors. Offer them incentives like discounts or exclusive products when they successfully refer others to your brand.
  • Gamify the Customer Experience: Games are engaging and addictive. Incorporate elements of games, like points, badges, or leader boards, into your customer interactions to make them fun and engaging.
  • Take Advantage of Scarcity: Limited-time offers or limited-quantity products can create a sense of urgency, encouraging customers to make a purchase.
  • Build Collaborations with Complementary Brands: This can add value to your customers by offering them more variety and opens new channels for customer acquisition. An example is GoPro and Red Bull’s collaboration on various events and projects.
  • Encourage Customer Feedback: Actively seek customer feedback and make visible changes based on their suggestions. This shows that you value their opinions.
  • Provide a Seamless Omnichannel Experience: Ensure that your customer experience is consistent across all channels — in-store, online, on social media, over the phone, etc.
  • Establish a Loyalty Program: Rewards programs, like Starbucks’ Star Program, can encourage repeat purchases and increase customer retention.
  • Utilize Social Proof: Testimonials, reviews, and user-generated content can significantly influence purchasing decisions by building trust.
  • Create Exclusive Content: Develop valuable content that is exclusive to your loyal customers. This could be in-depth guides, webinars, or behind-the-scenes videos, giving your audience a reason to stay engaged.

Each of these techniques forms a piece of the loyalty puzzle.

When implemented strategically and consistently, they can work together to create an unshakeable bond between your brand and your customers.

It’s all about creating value, building relationships, and keeping the lines of communication open. The better you treat your customers, the more likely they are to return the favour!

Achieve Unshakeable Brand Loyalty

You’ve been through the trenches, working tirelessly to get your brand up there. It’s no small feat, and this journey towards brand loyalty is a marathon, not a sprint.

But with the tips and strategies from this article in your toolkit, you’ll be miles ahead.

Keep nurturing those customer relationships, and before you know it, you’ll have a legion of customers singing your brand’s praises.

Now, go make some loyal fans!

By Sarah Cha

Sarah Cha is an avid writer, reader, and lifelong learner who loves making magic behind-the-scenes at Smart Blogger. When she’s not wrangling words onto a screen or page, you can find her strumming a guitar, tickling a canvas, or playing fetch with her favorite four-footed friend!

Sourced from SmartBlogger

By

There’s never been a better time to invest time and energy in your own website – especially if you’re a creative freelancer, small agency or designer-maker.

As the fierce battle for social supremacy between Musk and Zuck rages on, it’s become all-too-clear in recent months that the social channels we’ve dedicated so much of our promotional bandwidth to can become obsolete just as soon as something shiny and new comes along.

Social channels come and go – but your business website is here to stay. And it deserves your full attention.

The journey to hooking your next client begins with making the best possible introduction, more often than not online these days. So here are five key elements that all successful ‘About’ pages have in common. It’s time to tell your story the right way.

1. Who are you?

Much like every superhero comic ever written, all businesses and creative endeavours begin with an origin story. A starting point that makes them unique. A reason for existing. What’s yours?

In the same way that a great PR pitch to a journalist looks to hook interest early on, your ‘About’ page should kick off with why you do what you do.

Make it personal. What led to you founding the business? Why are you so passionate about this creative area? How are you solving a problem that needs solving? If your ‘About’ page achieves nothing else, it should quickly convey your roots while also making your offering relevant to the here and now.

2. Be bold and confident

Brits, especially, aren’t always great at patting ourselves on the back and shouting about our accomplishments. Sure, that’s a respectable attribute in daily life. But when it comes to business, it pays to be bold and confident.

Your ‘About’ page is the perfect place to shout, loudly and proudly, about your experience in the industry: awards you’ve won, testimonials you’ve received, high-profile clients you’ve worked with and campaigns you’ve delivered.

If you’ve achieved big results in the past, use your ‘About’ page to really showcase what sets you apart from the rest. After all, if you can’t be a cheerleader for yourself, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you?

3. Get social

With your ‘About’ page serving as a digital introduction to your creative offering, don’t miss the crucial chance to take this fledgling relationship with your audience further by linking to your social channels on your ‘About’ page.

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook or –yes – even Threads, make it super-easy for anyone with a passing interest in what you do to connect with you on social media, truly learn who you are, and begin that all-important first conversation with you.

4. SEO, SEO, SEO

There’s no point crafting beautiful prose for your ‘About’ page if nobody will read it – so always take the time to maximise your content with an SEO-first approach.

Much like with the rest of your website, carefully consider the keywords you want to be linked to and smoothly weave these into your copy.

Optimise your meta descriptions, header tags and images. Use short paragraphs and SEO-friendly headings to keep the page punchy. Link to existing content on your site and other trusted external sources to further boost your search rankings. Paying attention to these small details can make a huge, huge difference.

5. Be you

There’s only one you in this world – and that’s a very good thing. Your ‘About’ page should celebrate your unique you-ness, serving as an authentic window into who you are, both in the workplace and away from it.

How much of your ‘true’ self you want to bring to your website is a personal judgement call – but if the pandemic years proved anything, it’s that we all crave real human connection and that genuine personalities sell. It’s a hugely overused adage, but it’s trotted out time and again for good reason: people really do buy from people.

Whether it’s sharing your favourite movie, talking about your slightly unusual pastime, including photos of your gorgeous office dog (which, let’s face it, is guaranteed to improve dwell time) or quoting your philosophy on a happy life, visitors to your ‘About’ page should leave with a much clearer idea of who you are and what gets your creative juices flowing – and be itching to work with you.

By

Sourced from Creative Boom

By Sujata Sangwan

Human resources and marketing are the two areas where the majority of companies spend the most of their money. The proactive strategy taken by VCs entails close collaboration with their portfolio firms to thoughtfully plan and get ready for these critical areas well in advance, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle possible obstacles.

Highs and lows are unavoidable since markets are always changing. To assist the company’s founders in overcoming any unique difficulties that may arise, the investors keep in close contact with them. The founders also continue to engage with and seek assistance from their investors’ extensive networks, which span numerous nations and industries.

Based on a structure they hope will keep businesses honest throughout all phases of the start-up lifecycle and help them through challenging times by prioritising important areas of emphasis, VCs have continued to work alongside their portfolio in light of recent events over the previous 12 months.

Here are a few steps that venture capitalists have taken to control the financial parameters, including burn and runaway, of the firms in their portfolio.

Closely works with founders

3one4 Capital works with its founders to plan and actively manage financial metrics including burn and runway. According to Nruthya Madappa, Partner, 3one4 Capital, “These are critical aspects we help them monitor and gain control over on an ongoing basis regardless of the macro scenario.”

The VC firm drives continuous, collaborative financial planning across its portfolio, to explore and capture cost optimisation and business model efficiencies to help founders make their companies more resilient.

Encourages concentrating on core businesses

Kae Capital asks that its portfolio companies aggressively concentrate on their key competencies and start reducing costs in non-core competencies where there is no significant PMF (Product Market Fit). In some circumstances, “we suggest that they search for bridge rounds as well,” according to Kae Capital Partner Gaurav Chaturvedi.

Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner of Speciale Invest, continued, “Startups occasionally might have to let go of their employees as well. We advise founders to spend all of their remaining funds only on endeavours that advance technology and company, which will lower risk, boost chances of success, and help them raise additional money.”

Run a special program and connect with the right partners

Inflection Point Ventures has set up unique initiatives like a ‘Lets Grow Start-up’ program for deep engagement with 4-5 identified experts from various domains who work closely with its portfolio companies advising on strategy and have a regular check on burn and runway.

Apart from the cash conservation and management exercise on a case-to-case basis, “we do assist companies in connecting to right partners (like other VCs, RBF companies) for intermediate financing arrangements,” stated Ankur Mittal, Co founder, Inflection Point Ventures.

Look for a M&A target

During these times, in addition to locating funding sources, cost reduction and—most importantly—standing by the founders when things become rough could mean the difference between success and failure. “Our portfolio management team gets involved when it becomes crucial for the start-up to hunt for an M&A target to sustain or increase shareholder value. Several of our companies, including Supr Daily, Belita, and AHA Taxis, have been acquired throughout the years, giving investors an exit,” as per Lead Angels Founder and CEO Sushanto Mitra.

Recommend being creative, freezing new experiments, & prioritising profitability

According to BEENEXT, it keeps in close contact with its founders to assist them in overcoming any unique difficulties that may emerge. “For instance, we advise being creative to lessen the burn if the firm has less than 18 months of runway and is still attempting to identify its Product Market Fit. Prepare for a hard reset with just the core staff and be ready for the worst-case scenario,” advised Chinmaya Saxena, Partner – Community Strategy, BEENEXT.

But if the start-up has already achieved Product Market Fit and has a longer runway than 18 months, the priority should be finding new funding as quickly as possible. “We advise doubling down on the primary product’s monetisation while halting any new experiments and hires. Additionally, it is essential for these start-ups to provide a clear route to profitability, perhaps by securing longer revenue contracts or subscriptions,” Sexena said.

On the other hand, if start-ups have less than 18 months of runway but have not found their Product Market Fit, efforts need to be on low-cost Product Market Fit discovery by reducing burn and preserving runway for as long as possible. “If the start-up has achieved Product Market Fit and has more than 18 months of runway, then they need to prioritize profitability over growth by doubling down on channels that are working well and cutting down on low ROI experiments,” emphasised Saxena.

Feature Image Credit: Freepik

By Sujata Sangwan

Sujata is an engineering graduate and has done her Post Graduation in Human Resource Management. She has a deep interest in startups, venture capitalists & technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

Sourced from Entrepreneur India