No Marketing Budget? No Problem. Grow Your Business Using These 5 Tactics

Writing, Marketing, Business
Image credit: boonchoke/Shutterstock

Promoting your business can seem daunting when you have little or no budget for marketing. Fortunately, there are many marketing strategies that are easy to try and that are free.

You’ve built a great product or perhaps opened a sleek, new store – everything is ready. The big question, however, is do your potential customers know that you exist?

One of the hardest aspects of starting a business is acquiring customers. Marketing is the practice of telling potential customers about your business and educating them about what you do until they become a customer. Traditionally, marketing involved expensive TV commercials and billboard ads. Further adding to the challenge is that these marketing tactics are difficult to measure and change. Once you spend thousands of dollars on a billboard, you can’t rip it down every week to make adjustments.

Luckily, the new age of marketing has introduced novel strategies that anyone can start with, and, best of all, they are free. That’s right: You can start marketing your product or service today with a budget of $0.

Let’s examine some of the best free tactics to try.

Content

In the old days, marketing was about “pushing” information to your target audience. Today, so many marketing messages are pushed on people that this tactic has become harder to pull off. Instead, savvy marketers use pull tactics to bring the target market to you. One of the most effective ways to execute pull marketing is through content.

Content refers to valuable information online – e-books, blog posts, infographics, etc. – that provide value to your target audience. Ideally, the content matches what your potential customers might be searching for on Google. For example, if you are starting a meal kit delivery service, you might create a well-designed guide titled “5 Delicious Recipes You Can Cook in 30 Minutes.” People who are searching for recipes may also be interested in a meal kit.

The goal of your content is not to advertise. Instead, it is to educate. Your content needs to provide value to your potential customers, and they may read several articles on your blog (or e-books) before making a purchase.

Keep in mind, content strategy takes a long time and requires a lot of work. You need to be writing every day. You may need a graphic designer to help. If you can write and design yourself, then starting to market with content won’t cost you a dime!

Social media

In the mid-2000s, social media exploded as a new marketing frontier. People were purchasing smartphones and using new social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Today, these products are more mature and billions of people use them every day. As a result, social media has become wildly popular for advertising. You can start using social media platforms to engage your target audience for free. Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • If you’re a restaurant, post delicious food photos on Instagram.
  • If you’re a B2B software company, post how-to guides on LinkedIn.
  • If you’re a new product for moms, post childcare tips on Twitter and Pinterest.

Each social media platform appeals to different types of people; it’s important to research where your target customers spend the most time online. For example, you will find more business buyers on LinkedIn rather than Snapchat, but if you’re selling a product for teenagers, snap away.

Creating accounts and posting on social media is completely free. If you create compelling posts with stories and photos, you can certainly build a following without a budget.

Referrals

The best marketing is organic. This means you don’t have to do any additional work to get each new customer. Instead, your customers market the product for you. This typically happens through referrals: Customers tell their friends about your product. It could mean a customer inviting a friend to your restaurant because they tried it and liked it, or, perhaps, a customer is using your software and told a colleague about how helpful it was.

To make a referral program work, be sure you incorporate the following elements in your program:

  • Make it easy: Have a button on your website for people to share and invite friends.
  • Offer an incentive: Reward customers that refer the most individuals; perhaps the incentive could be a one-time discount.
  • Congratulate success: Whenever a customer refers someone, reach out to thank them.
  • Always ask: Don’t expect people to make referrals automatically. Respectfully ask.

Webinars

Webinars are online presentations where you teach listeners about a topic of interest. They have become incredibly popular and cost a fraction compared to a presentation at a trade show or other venue. Your potential customers from anywhere in the world can dial in and watch the webinar.

To create a good webinar, identify a topic that your potential customers might want to learn about. Create a presentation with slides and perhaps invite other experts (or one of your customers) to co-host the webinar with you. This will encourage them to promote it to their network and help you grow.

Webinars typically require a software program like GoToWebinar to host. Aside from this, there are no other costs, except your time.

Press

Getting press can be an incredible way to get highly impactful, free marketing. In the early days, the best way to get press is to have a remarkable product or service. If your store has a unique product, or your software does something cool and new, it will attract attention from the media, who, in turn, want to write an interesting article for their readers.

If you are starting a local business, reach out to nearby publications to announce a grand opening special. Pitch them a compelling story about why you started your business. If you are building something that is not location-specific, you can contact bloggers and small publications to see if any would be interested in telling your story.

It can take a long time to build relationships with publications. The first step is to establish yourself as an expert in your industry by writing quality content, as noted earlier. As a result, you will have more credibility in the eyes of the press, and thus more opportunity to have your stories published.

Article source: https://www.business.com/articles/free-marketing-tactics/

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Social Commerce Is Here, But Is It Ready for the Mainstream Consumer?

Social Commerce, Social Media, Branding, Adweek
Image Source: Getty Images

By  | Adweek

Between “buy it” buttons on Pinterest and shoppable posts on Instagram, social commerce feels less like a feature of the future and more like a possibility of the present.

However, industry insiders at marketing agencies don’t feel like the technology is all quite there—yet. At South by Southwest and Shoptalk, Adweek talked to three different experts to see what they thought about social commerce and if it’s as relevant as recent campaigns make it appear to be.

There’s still friction for the consumer

While Jordan Brands sold out of its new limited sneaker release on Snapchat, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for every brand.

“There’s a lot of friction from the user to go through the steps [to purchase] because there’s also this learning curve of buying something on this new platform,” said Octavio Maron, executive creative director at Fetch, a mobile marketing agency.

Jonathan Liew, strategy director at Fetch, thinks buying through social platforms resonates with early adopters, but more than anything, it provides a point of inspiration for a possible purchase later on—and he’s not alone.

“So if you look at how many people Pinterest sends to an ecommerce site, it’s not a huge amount,” said Jason Goldberg, svp of commerce and content practice at SapientRazorfish. “But the people that they send have a much higher buying intent because they’ve already discovered something they want to buy, so it’s disportionately affecting sales.”

Though the technology still doesn’t feel quite ready, Maron thinks it could provide a means of verification for real people to buy items versus bots.

Goldberg also points out a key difference he sees between some social platforms and Snapchat: On Snapchat, users can pick sizes and colors more cleanly versus other sites.

“Almost every other social is one awkward integration,” Goldberg said. “Snap has oddly added a lot of robust commerce functionality. Snap organically sells you something on the Snap platform; they’re not chasing you off the platform, it’s not a referral.”

Social commerce is making brands rethink their website strategy

“Before, there [were] various factions within companies that think their website should be used for this or it should be a store,” said Steve White, vp of commerce strategy at SapientRazorfish. “As they shift to social to being the center universe for micro influencers and all that stuff, it allows their site to be more specific or more broad than they had originally thought.”

Brands may also choose to sell a specific product line on social—similar to what Allbirds did with its birthday collection on Instagram—instead of their entire catalog, White said.

These social platforms open up the possibility of event-based opportunities, like the Snapchat and Jordan Brands partnership.

“It feels like there’s so many areas to experiment [with],” Liew said. “Like video; could that be the next QVC on Facebook? That could be interesting, creating urgency, making an event.”

Where will all that data on consumers go?

“The question is, are you going to be able to get the data back, and are you going to be able to control that end-to-end customer experience,” said Steven Wolfe Pereira, CMO of Quantcast.

So while it feels important to be on social, Wolfe Pereira cautions against going it into blindly when these tech companies already have a large share of digital advertising.

“[Retailers] might do experiments, but for a digital native vertical brand to build their full business on Instagram, or Snap or anything, I think it’s really detrimental, because they won’t have that first party data,” Wolfe Pereira said.

The Most Popular Font Types in America

Fonts, Inbound Marketing
Image credit: blog.hubspot.com

 

How much thought do you put into the fonts you use for your visual content?

It’s worth taking a moment to consider which font will best communicate your information. For example, most people know that Comic Sans is a faux pas for more professional situations. But what fonts should you use?

According to a study we conducted over at Venngage looking at the most popular font types in America, it might be worth basing your font choice on where most of your audience is located.

We analyzed the 50+ fonts we offer to see which font types people favor, and how their preferences vary depending on location. Our analysis focused in on the top 25 most populated cities in America, since they’re the ones creating the most content.

Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. 

Most fonts can be broken down into 5 distinct types: serif, sans serif, decorative, headline and script.

This infographic summarizes our findings:

4bb64565-9eef-4f88-a7f0-d985b1a48873 (1) (1).png

 

Let’s go into what each font type is, and when you should use them in your visual content.

Serif Fonts

A “serif” is a small line or embellishment added to the end of a stroke in a letter. A serif font has serifs! Pretty easy to remember, right?

There are a lot of different fonts that fall into this category. Times New Roman is a classic example. Merriweather and Playfair Display are other examples.

When should you use serif fonts?

Serif fonts have a more classic feel than sans serif fonts often do. They’re reminiscent of traditional print. With that in mind, any situation where you want to…Continue reading

Article source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/most-popular-fonts-in-america?__hstc=178570363.5c92335259b9d839de7c64174bd14bcf.1511808670812.1511808670812.1511808670812.1&__hssc=178570363.1.1511808670813&__hsfp=3080333

Why Maybelline is winning at social media

Maybelline, Beauty, Cosmetics
Image Source: The Gigi Hadid x Maybelline collection

Among beauty brands, Maybelline is the master of driving social media engagement.

The L’Oréal-owned brand has beat out its parent company, as well as competitors including Estée Lauder and Revlon, in cross-platform engagement since the start of the year, according to recent analysis from ShareIQ, a social analytics company. On Instagram, for example, Maybelline saw a total of over 59 million likes between the start of the year and October 20, compared to L’Oréal’s 27 million likes and Estée Lauder’s 5 million likes during the same period.

At the same time, Maybelline far outdid the competition on Pinterest, garnering 730,000 repins, compared to L’Oréal’s 167,000 and Estée Lauder’s 28,000.  (Most beauty brands find the volume of visual content that’s shared on Instagram and Pinterest, and the accompanying signals, to be more valuable than Twitter data, according to Jonathan Gardner, ShareIQ’s director of marketing who conducted the research.)

These results are all thanks to a combination of frequent, educational posts, savvy influencer relationships and a collaboration with Gigi Hadid.

“Maybelline has been keeping a baseline of fans engaged and are building spikes of excitement with new and influencer content, earning engagement with new audiences,” said Gardner.

Indeed, throughout the year, at least every other post on Maybelline’s Instagram account has either featured or mentioned an influencer, ranging from the beauty vlogger Melissa Flores(37,000 followers) to the fashion blogger Nicole Alyse (over 89,000 followers). Most of this content — which includes both pictures and short “get the look”-style videos — is generated by the influencers themselves and tagged with #mnyitlook, as encouraged by the brand in their Instagram tagline. The best responses have the chance of getting reposted.

swatches“Swatch” imagery is popular on Maybelline’s social accounts

“We know that our customer is looking to beauty influencers to provide beauty trends and education, so it’s important for us to incorporate their amazing content on our channels and partner with them to communicate to their audiences, as well,” said Marnie Levan, Maybelline’s vice president of integrated consumer communications.

But with so many beauty influencers out there today, Maybelline has a few criteria: “We try to find those who authentically talk about and use the brand’s products regularly,” said Levan, “as well as those whose content is not just engaging but also educational for the consumer.”

This past August, the brand took that relationship one step further, launching its first influencer-driven product line with popular beauty blogger Shayla Mitchell, who boasts 2.5 million followers on Instagram. Curated by Mitchell, the “Maybelline x Shayla” collection included a shade extension of the brand’s Colossal Big Shot Mascara and a new rendition of its City Mini Palette. Mitchell’s goal, according to an interview with Refinery29, was to create products that worked for all skin tones.

The surrounding social media campaign — which saw posts shared across all of Mitchell’s social accounts, as well as Maybelline’s — was the brand’s most successful to date, said Levan. The collection sold out on Ulta.com within a few days of the launch and is continuing to sell impressively in stores, she said.

Outside of this influencer-centric content, the brand’s Instagram account features a stream of swatch posts — in which different shades and textures of a certain product are shown on a model’s wrists — as well as staged, artful product shots.

Another factor in Maybelline’s success is how often it’s posting: On Instagram, it shares an average of five posts per day, compared to L’Oréal’s average of four and Estée Lauder’s average of two, according to ShareIQ.

And then, of course, there’s Gigi Hadid. Although she’s been spokesperson of Maybelline for a few years now, Hadid launched her first collection with the bran in early October, soon after her makeup artist, Erin Parsons, became the company’s global makeup artist.

While relying on a celebrity for influence is by no means a novel idea, Maybelline has been particularly smart about leveraging the opportunity, said Garner. It ensures that Hadid posts frequent Maybelline-centric content to her own Instagram account, where she has over 36 million followers. In the 48 hour period surrounding the lines UK launch on October 12th, she shared 7 related posts.

What’s more, Hadid always mentions Maybelline in the tags and comments, a strategy that helps push her many owned followers to the Maybelline account, said Gardner. After the model announced the first online sale of the line on the Boots UK website, the product sold out in 90 minutes.

“Paying a spokesperson is one thing,” he said, “but effectively using the channel is another.”

Article source: http://www.glossy.co/new-face-of-beauty/why-maybelline-is-winning-at-social-media

How to Become A 2018 World’s Most Innovative Company

innovation, fast company, business, tech
Image Source: FastCompany.com

 

Innovation is everywhere. So how do we cut through the clutter to name our annual Most Innovative Companies Top 50 and Top 10 industry lists?

Our team of dogged and dedicated reporters and editors spend months culling research on the world’s top companies. But this year—for the first time ever—you can submit your own organizationto become a 2018 Most Innovative Company.

Here’s how you can put together the best possible entry for our team of Most Innovative Companies editors. (And don’t forget to download our MIC special edition and how-to guide here).

  1. Identify Your Innovation Bucket
    Fast Company takes an expansive view of what constitutes innovation: Product innovation: We’re happy to celebrate a successful new entrant in the market that serves a previously unmet need, such as new lifesaving drugs from Gilead Sciences or Casper’s mattresses and bedding. Creative innovation: We gave the nod to the ad agency 72andSunny for breaking through the clutter with great work in a variety of media for clients ranging from Starbucks to Activision to Google. Sometimes, of course, an innovation hits several of these notes or belongs in a category we haven’t mentioned here. Business-model innovation: Warby Parker introduced try-before-you-buy to eyewear and has led the way in marrying real-world retail with e-commerce.
  2. Focus On A Project
    Tell us about a particular initiative. It’s not enough merely to state that your product or strategy is innovative. The key is to isolate the novelty in what you’re doing and delineate how and why it’s different from what’s come before.
  3. Be Concise, Yet Descriptive
    We are not accepting attachments of any kind, including presentation decks or visuals. The more detail you can provide in the space allotted, the greater the case can be made for your innovation. What makes you most excited when you think about what you’ve developed? Which of your features are your customers are buzzing about, either in communicating back to you or among themselves?
  4.  Share Your Completed Work
    If you’re an architecture firm, finished buildings will garner more attention than those in the planning stage. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, an FDA-approved drug matters more than a promising clinical trial. In-progress ideas will certainly be considered, but completing the work counts.
  5. Choose Your Strategic Weapon
    Technology is transforming every aspect of our world. How are you using it to get a leg up on competitors? Or perhaps good design is…Continue reading

Article source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40440722/how-to-become-a-2018-worlds-most-innovative-company

You Don’t Do Marketing. You Live It.

Marketing, Creativity
CREDIT: Getty Images
And that means everything is a part of your campaign…

I talk to a lot of businesses that don’t know what they’re doing to market themselves. Actually, scratch that. I talk to a lot of businesses who can’t tell me what marketing is in the first place. To their minds, it has something to do with social media or videos or advertising or calling people to hiring more sales folks or writing blog posts but they’re just not entirely sure…

…and that’s why they’re blowing it.
It’s not that their marketing isn’t working, it’s that they don’t really understand what marketing is, or how it works, or why it works, or anything else. It’s pure chaos, and it’s pure failure just waiting to happen.

Here’s the key to this problem. Marketing and advertising are actually pretty easy concepts to understand. They’re any activity that puts your business in front of the people who pay your business money. It’s really that simple. When you speak to anyone in your target demographic about your business, you’re marketing it. When you write a blog post. Record a video. Change your…Continue reading

Article source: https://www.inc.com/jon-westenberg/marketing-is-any-activity-that-exposes-you-to-your-audience.html