With customer attention becoming ever more fragmented, it's a challenge to say the least for small businesses to make best use of the on-line channels available to them and to integrate the on-line goodies with their off-line marketing efforts. It’s also tempting for a business owner, bitten by the social media bug to become consumed to the extent that their bread-and-butter marketing is left out in the cold. Jettisoning what works with a wholesale leap into social media is a flawed and dangerous strategy - something we have covered in previous blogs.
Let’s look at how you can blend your online and offline marketing efforts to increase the power and potency of your overall message.
1. Set a time limit of 10 -15 minutes a day on your social media activities. When your knowhow and confidence has reached satisfactory levels and feedback from your followers suggests you’re getting it right too ( a few weeks should do it) it’s time to integrate your on-line and off-line marketing efforts with a fervent zeal so that folk gain a rounded, favourable and appropriate experience of your brand irrespective of where they initially find you or how you target them.
2. Critique the visual identity that your business portrays on-line and off-line. When a customer or prospect hops from your twitter page to your website or blog, will the look and feel of your brand, typeface and any other imagery be consistent? If your twitter page is sporting your latest corporate image but your website isn’t you have a problem that must be tackled immediately. When a prospect requests your newsletter does it bear any or no resemblance to your website? Consistency is at the heart of building a successful brand and gaining trust. Inconsistency is a barrier that stops people from doing business with you because they become confused by each communication pitstop.
3. Critique how you describe your business, your values and your offering. Your messages, your style of delivery and your voice must be consistent across all channels. If your tweets are friendly, helpful and conversational but printed sales literature is formal, starchy and old-fashioned and your telemarketing approach is pressured and intense you’re sending confusing signals that will dampen the desire to buy. Your client or prospect must be able to glide between each one of your communications; their experience and the impression they form of you remaining positive and consistent all the way through to the sale and beyond.
4. Don’t look upon your on-line and off-line communications as two distinct entities. As far as customers and prospects are concerned you’re simply offering more choices and more channels for them to explore what you offer in a way that suits them at that point in time. But you can and should encourage the people that find you off-line to explore more on-line and vice versa. Why? Well, in the B2B sector in particular, people rarely make the decision to do business with you at the first asking. This is because the process of building sufficient trust to arrive at the decision to buy is just that - a process with positive communication milestones along the way. A prospect may initially find you through your website and contact you to find out more. Consider sending a printed communication as a follow up so they can touch, feel and engage with your brand and reflect in more detail on your message (printed communications have a much greater impact on the brain than on-line messages). You can keep in touch through your blog and through your printed newsletter which in turn promotes your blog and your latest online offerings. If you target a prospect through direct mail it makes good sense to drive them to your website before you follow up by phone. Each little positive touch should move them further along that continuum.
It’s a big subject. We’ll explore it further in future blogs.