Right Media, Right Results, Part 2
An effective multimedia strategy is akin to a well-balanced garden. For example, consider an organic farmer, that's a challenge they deal with every day; finding plants that blend well together and grow without encroaching on each others' development.
Multimedia is no different. Assembled thoughtfully and with an overriding strategy in mind, it can cement relationships with existing customers while keeping your brand in the public eye to entice a steady stream of new prospects.
In Part 1 of this article, we discussed search engine optimization (SEO), your website, and e-mail. To round out your multimedia portfolio, this month we address three other element —short messaging service (SMS), online advertising and social media.
This is your opportunity to touch base via succinct texting networks that target mobile devices such as phones and blackberries. Although it's a tight medium with small character limits, it provides a quick and effective way to stay in touch with customers and prospects, provided you get to the point quickly and clearly and have a defined call to action. For instance: "Pesticide-free pest control: Seminar Saturday at noon."
Also use it for sales reminders, new product availability, and other quick bits of information that keep you in your customers' minds while boosting supportive customer service. Even better, you can leverage it further with location-based media, which delivers content based on where the recipient happens to be. With a customer only five minutes away from a hardware store, news about a one-day sale on barbecue grills can be all the more enticing. Lastly, include links to provide an opportunity for the client to get more information.
This complements SMS by being more specific to attracting new clients. Additionally, it's relatively cheap, allowing you to experiment cost effectively with content and placement items, such as banner ads and PPCs (pay per clicks that are positioned to the side of search engine results.)
Still, like brief text, effective online advertising requires a clear call to action. For instance, a roof repair business might highlight roofing season: "Worn out roof? Now's the time to replace it."
Make sure you place online advertising carefully. Don't waste your time promoting roof repairs to teens. "Partner with very targeted sites," says Lori Sullivan of Fingerprints Marketing in Plymouth, Michigan.
Be sure to monitor results carefully to make certain your ads are pulling the results you want (there are any number of programs that do this automatically and relatively inexpensively.)
This is your chance to give your business a sense of personality and build customer interaction. Using Facebook, Twitter and other media, talk with customers about topics of interest to them.
Says Sullivan: "Establish a voice. Your company should have a personality that comes through in the words you choose, the topics you discuss and the information you pass along. But remember the media is 'social.' Encourage them to be part of the conversation."
In addition, be wary about getting caught up in too much chatter. "Don't let it suck the time from your day, because it can," says Sullivan. "Set specific guidelines around the amount of time you will commit to social media." If possible, you may want to designate one person to initiate, monitor, and respond to social media conversations.
As you work through various media, take note as to which form of contact produces the best results. Ask customers how they would prefer to be contacted. Moreover, make certain you know the topics and issues that matter to your clients, not just you—that can help make every form of contact personal and, over the long term, prove that much more beneficial to the growth of your business.