Telling the truth about SME life today

Top tips for promoting your business away from the internet

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In a tough economic climate it can be difficult to generate business exposure. This is especially true for SMEs that lack the financial resources of larger companies. A multitude of digital channels have opened up (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to name only three) that have made promoting businesses less expensive and more accessible. However, whilst this may look attractive and appear cheaper, dont be seduced by the new and flashy or too quick to abandon physical marketing – as it may be that offline solutions may be right for your business too.

1. Dont dismiss the power of real

Its all too easy to be seduced by the ease of digital, but putting something real in the recipients hand can appeal more. There is a place for the physical in an increasingly virtual world if you use the sensory nature of mail, inserts or doordrop, using shapes and different materials etc

2. Believe in the power of the story

The volume of information that everyone receives on a daily basis has had a converse effect on their attention spans. Traditional channels give people the opportunity to sit back and digest and become emotionally engaged in the convincing story you’re telling offline rather than bite-size bullets online.

3. We still (mostly) live in the real world

Neurologists are keen to point out that the real experiences that we see, feel, smell, touch or hear will be retained in the memory and lead to a more concrete reaction whether it’s a response, sale, donation or behaviour change. Remember that in social media it is the real-world experience that generates the content for the virtual .

4. Effective is different from efficient

Getting buy-in from all the stakeholders can prove tricky, especially with the apparently additional cost that can sometimes come moving away from electronic media. Get the business to recognise the better quality leads and higher quality conversion rates of physical media rather than focus the low cost reach of electronic.

5. Devise content with long-term value

Consider the ability of the physical to be retained. It can hang around for some time reminding and prompting people about your brand. Create something useful that they can keep and refer to for information on a regular basis or even use about the house.

6. Disruptive isnt a bad thing

In the clutter of the web or the inbox, it can be hard to stand out, but something physical through your mailbox, or given to you on the street could be the prompt that puts your product or service into peoples consideration set.

7. Dont let your preconceptions guide you

Its all-too-easy to group different segments of your audience by the stereotypes that we make about them on a daily basis. Many think younger audiences are more responsive on digital but the reality is that response rates can be higher with young people as they receive less mail on a day-to-day basis and are less cynical about daily clutter.

8. Dont undervalue the contribution of the physical

Its easy to measure clicks directly from an online banner but too often the impact that direct offline media has on digital response/conversion is undervalued. Consider that for every offline response you might see, you may be getting two or three on the web you arent recognising as being from offline media. Consider the many evaluation techniques that can help.

9. Not everyone in society is always on

Some people are still digitally excluded and some just digitally uninterested. Half the UK population are light users of the web. Think about your who you are talking to and what channels they might prefer.

10. Peoples channel choice varies with circumstance

Appropriateness for the subject matter, need for reassurance, ease of access and previous experience with a service may all affect how people react to your marketing in different channels. Dont just assume that electronic is the only way to go you may lose customers who need a different approach. You may lose cross-sell and up-sell opportunities too.

The tips above originate from real experience. The internet is a wonderful thing but it isnt the only thing. So when it’s appropriate – lets get real.

Marc Michaels is director for Behaviour and Planning at DST Global Insight Group



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