Securing your place in the spotlight in a world with an 8-second attention span is not for the faint of heart. An abundance of research suggests that as the wealth of information available to consumers increases, our communal attention spans will continue to decrease. And, in our always-on, always-connected world of smartphones and social media, available content, information and alerts will likely increase and it will become even harder to maintain focus and stand out in a crowded landscape.
In the last year, I made the leap from growing marketing teams and tactics for boutique businesses, mid-sized corporate companies and franchised concepts over the course of two decades, to agency life – living, breathing and dialing into the inner workings of a wide variety of brands across the family, lifestyle and franchise space at a Los Angeles public relations firm. What has really been reinforced for me is truly understanding the importance of strategically investing in increased touchpoints and nurturing relationships to build awareness, affinity, loyalty and, ultimately, brand ambassadors in order to reach the customer. No matter the industry, marketing has become increasingly complex!
Not only do today’s consumers have more options available to them than ever before, but they also look to those they perceive as like-minded to influence their purchasing decision. And, to make matters even more complicated, today’s consumer wants to feel an authentic connection with the brands they interact with.
So, how do we forge that authentic connection? Savvy leaders know that a holistic approach to campaigns is no longer optional when striving to achieve maximum visibility in a crowded and competitive landscape – it’s essential. Finding the right marketing mix means integrating a variety of strategies and tools, across multiple platforms, including paid and organic. But not all marketing mixes look the same. And, I’m sorry to spill the beans, but there is no secret sauce.
However, there are a number of factors to take into consideration when creating just the right balance of campaigns for your business, budget and audience. A solid strategy starts with identifying your specific, relevant and timely goals.
Your marketing and public relations mix can essentially be grouped into three main categories: earned, owned and paid. Here’s what you should know.
Public relations is one of the most powerful and effective ways to communicate your message to your consumer – it uses a variety of tactics to manage the message between a company and the community, as well as promote goodwill between the brand, or product, and the public, community, employees or customers. This is often through “earned media” as your public relations team will leverage relationships, the news cycle, the local, regional or national media landscape and key messaging to secure media opportunities. Public relations is, oftentimes, the most cost-effective of all promotional activities. Leveraging public relations as a strategic activity can be just as important as advertising and sales promotions.
Social media marketing allows you to use two-way communication to engage with customers and potential customers as well as drive them to other marketing channels, such as your website or tailored landing pages. If done correctly, social media marketing allows you to add a humanized component to your brand – which is important to fostering authentic connections and deep engagement. Through social media, you can speak to your customer in real-time, listen to their feedback and even personalize future messaging based on their response using “owned content.” Layering in “paid” social promotion, especially when you see a spike in organic engagement, can be a cost-effective way to widely expand the reach of your message. Social listening is also an important tool to consider; it allows direct insight – the good, the bad and the ugly – into what your customer and potential customers are saying about you.
Because an authentic brand connection is sought after by today’s consumers, many competitive brands opt to include a healthy dose of influencer relations within their overall marketing mix. An influencer is someone who has, and actively engages with, a following or audience on social media on topics typically within a specific space, whether fashion, foodie, travel, fitness, parenting, etc. An influencer uses their knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience to influence their followers’ buying decisions. Influencers may be considered macro (think major celebrity!), micro (local fitness guru) and a variety of types in between, and often partner with companies to provide messaging to their dedicated followings in exchange for product, memberships, other in-kind goods or for a fee. More than 40% of the world’s population uses social media, and as such, partnering with influencers by brands – big and small – has steadily gained popularity, and will likely continue to grow in use.
Traditional and digital marketing includes content marketing, which is “owned,” and is used to help your customer to be more receptive to your message. Content marketing helps to cut through the clutter by strategically delivering non-promotional messaging and content to your customer and serves to increase brand affinity. Again here, authenticity is king – today’s perceptive consumers will see right through content that is inauthentic. When consumers see value in the content you are serving, they will be more receptive to messaging through additional channels. And your owned content (content creation) can be branded or unbranded, internal or external communications, interactive content, graphics and even photography.
Which marketing mix is right for you?
By Beth Morino