The rules keep evolving in the cutting edge world of marketing. Now, if you want to make your business a household name you need imagination, personality and an authentic connection to your customers rather than a $1 million budget.
Liza Boston, the head of digital agency Boston Digital, says the first thing for business owners to know is the difference between placed media (paying for advertising through traditional media) and earned media (which builds organically and requires a personality).
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“To earn media you have to be interesting, engaging and have a personality - have a bit of fun," she says.
"It's like going to a dinner party. If you say, 'Hey I'm the best, look at me', no one will take any notice of you. But if you're interesting and entertaining and tailor your story to your audience, then people invite you back and they start talking about you. They'll retell your stories if you're interesting.”
The potential for the spread of earned media via social media platforms is exponential, says Boston, and in the most successful cases can lead to news stories in placed media without the business spending a dollar.
Social media is one of the tools used in guerilla marketing, according to Bruce Doyle, the Australian master trainer for Guerilla Marketing Australia.
“In summary, what guerrilla marketing is, it doesn't use money, it uses four things: time, energy, imagination and knowledge,” Doyle says.
These two business experts have useful tips on how to make your business a household name without spending thousands.
1. Master social media
Mastering social media is not only helpful to getting your brand out there, it's essential to the longevity of your business, Boston says.
“Fearlessly learn how to understand, effectively navigate and participate in the magnificent, free-to-air, multi-device, social networking and digital tools available across the internet and mobile platforms - this is the key to making your business a household name in the digital economy.”
While this does require an investment of time, it is a matter of survival, Boston says. “Are they too busy to do invoices? Too busy to do your tax? Yes it will take time at the front-end to learn it, but at the back end there will be exponential benefits. You can outsource but you don't need to. Some of the most amazing businesses I know are one or two-man bands - they do this organically because they just know the power of it.”
2. Build a vibrant online community
Building an online community is about knowing who your top 1 per cent are and having one-to-one conversations with them and letting them grow your community for you, Boston says.
“Find your one-percenters, treat them like heroes, put them on a pedestal let them do the heavy lifting,” she says.
Authenticity is an important part of this process. “Bring authenticity into your conversations, respect your audience and understand that the customer has the power now. At the end of the day you're crowd-sourcing now: the people are your new PR agents, their Facebook timelines are your new ad placements.”
3. Engage the blogosphere
“There's a lot of really niche special interest groups forming now,” Boston says.
“You need to spend a lot of time knowing where your audience is. It's really simple to do a search on Google for blogs, and Twitter is also great way to find bloggers. It's about trying to understand who's got the most important voice in your area.”
4. Be outrageously creative: aim for 'shareability'
“The internet is like one million TVs turned on all at once - cut through is a meritocracy,” Boston says.
The question to ask, she says, is: “Will our 1 per cent of top customers think this is so awesome they'll share it with their friends: they might retweet it, they might post it on their Facebook timeline, or take of a photo of it and put it on Instagram. They might put a soundtrack to it on SoundCloud.
“Shareabilty – it's engagement, it's interactivity with your ideas. That's really important. That's where all the freebies take place because it starts to happen by itself.”
5. Give more than you receive
It's important to keep in touch with everyone on your database, Doyle says, and the best way to keep them engaged until they are ready to buy is to add value to your customers with your communications.
“We are past the days where a website was a live brochure, now what you need to do is add value to your prospects. I would drive people to a landing page and I would see what I can give away. I'd write an e-book to offer them and in return I'd want their contact details so I can add them to my marketing system that keeps in touch with them on a regular basis,” Doyle says.
6. Fusion marketing
Running a joint campaign saves time, money and extends your reach, Doyle says.
“I don't believe there's a business in the world that can't do a fusion marketing campaign with someone else if you think outside the square," he says.
"It's brilliant because it halves your cost of marketing but it doubles your exposure because you've got your fusion partner's database as well.”
The key to this approach is to team up with partners of equal standing and quality to your business, as otherwise you risk dropping to the lower level.
And Doyle has a tip to keep in mind: “It's a fling, not a marriage. Don't get caught up with spending all your time working out agreements and contracts. Have some fun with it and see if it works.”