In today’s marketing landscape, you will often hear how important it is to promote your brand online. Most digital marketers will tell you that if you are not optimizing your brand on social media, then you’re failing. Well, here’s one thing that we know is true – the internet has lowered the barrier for “getting the word out” about your brand; almost anyone can buy a domain, start a social media account and start boasting about their brand online. However, because of this lower barrier of entry, you have more competition now than ever to be seen online. With thousands of blogs, social media accounts, and new digital brands launching every day, you may be wondering how does one reach their target audience in such a loud digital space?
It’s time to think outside of the box or better yet, go back in time. Before social media and the rebirth of the internet, people had limited ways of accessing new information. People either read a newspaper or magazine, watched television, or looked at a billboard to learn about new brands and products. Now, to get an ad on television is quite expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t activate your brand offline in a way that can be memorable and grow your word of mouth reach. If you are trying to figure out how to grow your brand, think about how you can reach your target audience when they are not in front of a computer screen.
One way to do this is to consider what outlets that your audience runs to when it comes to entertainment. Are there key podcasts that they listen to that are on trend with your brand? Are there events that they go to unwind or connect with new people? How do they commute to work? What do they do when they are on the train? Start by studying your audience to figure out what their consumer behaviors are so you can figure out how to market to them in scale.
Now some of you may be wondering to yourselves, how am I supposed to afford a sponsored ad on my audience’s favorite podcast? One of the biggest deterrents to traditional marketing, especially for small businesses and emerging brands, is the cost; for channels with mass reach you have to pay-to-play and most people just starting a business don’t have the budget to promote themselves in that way. You’ll notice that Facebook has transformed from a place where people used to be able to “organically” build a huge following to now being a platform where you have to pay to be seen. One suggestion we propose is to find low-cost or lean ways to “partner” with media outlets in order to get your information out there. For example, you may not be able to buy a television ad, but could you pitch a story to your local news station to see if you can get coverage in their “community events” or “community interest” segments? Or if there’s a podcast you like maybe they can feature you as a guest; this allows them to get content for their site and also allows you to promote your brand.
Another great tactic, which used to be huge in the ’90s and early 2000s to promote musicians in bands, is guerilla street marketing. If you can’t afford a billboard, then do outdoor advertising arbitrage and post flyers, stickers or signs in frequently traveled spaces. New York City, Chicago, or any city with highly used public transportation is known for this as there are many eyeballs in these areas that will pass your marketing material every day. You can also consider creating promotional products with your brand’s logos on them and gifting them to accessible celebrities or influencers in exchange for a post or shout-out to increase your brand’s reach. This could be everything from cute mugs to branded donuts – the sky is the limit!
When it comes to offline marketing the biggest challenge is measuring ROI for sure, which is why digital marketing has become a leader within the space. However, we highly recommend that if you are struggling with building reach online that you go back to your roots and think about how to activate your brand in real life; you sponsoring a key event or gifting a product to the right person or outlet could boost your brand overnight.
What creative marketing ideas do you have for growing a brand offline? Let us know in the comments below!