Whether you’ve been in business for years or your startup has just launched, you should have marketing on your mind. Marketing has changed drastically in the past decade, and now, it’s hardly recognizable from what it was ten or twenty years ago. The internet has, of course, made its impact on how we market to and interact with customers, but the low-cost media isn’t the only reason for changes in marketing strategies. Our methods of marketing and advertising should change according to the changes in how consumers consume media, purchase and develop relationships with brands.
Below are 3 marketing strategies to consider dropping or re-strategize in 2020 and what strategies you should consider implementing if you aren't already.
Consider Dropping or Re-Strategizing
1. Network & Cable TV
Paying for expensive commercials on network or cable TV can actually hurt you, according to the Times. Thanks to on-demand viewing options, viewers have the ability to now skip commercials entirely. Additionally, with more and more people choosing to stream their favorite television shows and movies, cable television is just not as popular of an advertising medium as it once was. In fact, as of December 2019, Bloomberg reports that TV advertising experienced the steepest drop since the economic recession in 2009, with worldwide drops in viewership as a hard-hitting cause.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid TV advertising or video advertising altogether. In fact, videos are still some of the best general marketing tools available to small and large businesses alike. However, the platform for these advertisements is changing. For example, YouTube offers a free video streaming platform for your company’s videos and only requires that an ad be played before viewers access your content. You can invest in pay-per-click video ads on a number of platforms as another option, and place your video ads using programmatic for the streaming TV options users are now utilizing, such as YoutubeTV or Hulu.
If you currently use network and cable TV, you certainly don't need to stop if it's bringing a solid return for your business. Take a look at your numbers year over year, and compare that to possible placement through streaming options to determine your next step for 2020.
2. Buying Mailing Lists
Whether you’re sending out direct mailers or email newsletters, avoid the temptation to buy someone else’s mailing list. That's a no-no. More than ever before, people are highly attuned to spam and junk mail. They don’t open emails from people or brands they don’t know, or never requested information from, and they throw away unsolicited direct mailer advertisements before they even look at them. Want to cause distrust for consumers? Solicit them without them opting in.
Instead of focusing on unsolicited, outbound marketing strategies, go for opt-in methods. Create a landing page where your audience can choose to sign up for your email list or direct mailer. Give them incentives for signing up, like discount codes and the latest news and updates from your brand. This method doesn’t invade your customers’ privacy, and it also allows them to feel connected to your brand’s message.
3. Name Recognition Over Lifestyle Marketing
Finally, the point of most old-school marketing strategies was to get your name out there and build brand and product recognition. Your brand is still highly important, but today, knowing the name of your brand isn’t enough to make customers want to buy from you.
Some companies, large and small, lose sight of what their audience wants. When marketing and advertising to consumers, the message should always be about how you can improve the lives of your customers and provide value. The personal connection created through lifestyle marketing helps build trust for your brand and the service or product it promotes. Overall, the focus should be on the message rather than the name of your brand. Your positive message will then become associated with your brand.
The strategies above may have worked well in the past, but as the market changes, companies must follow suit in order to remain competitive. The key take-aways should be to consider what your current methods are and ensure you form a strong marketing strategy that suits your business and your consumers.
With today’s resources, business owners are now able to tailor their marketing strategy to consumers who want a customized experience, and most importantly, can find your business when they need your service.
Consider Adopting or Re-Strategizing
1. Social Media
Social media is a cost-effective tactic that allows you the opportunity to gain full market reach. Whether it's through pure social media advertising, organic posting, boosting, or managing messages and comments to be the voice of your brand, social shouldn't be an after-thought for service businesses.
Users are looking for a brand they can trust and connect with. You'll be coming into their home or their place of business, after all. Post photos of your team in-action, promote any specials or internal wins, and provide value with tips and recommendations. The large majority of your followers will be current customers, your biggest base of support, so it's extremely important to nurture them and stay present on their top-of-mind.
Users also want to be heard. More users will head to social to ask a question, raise concerns, or leave feedback than users will pick up the phone to do the same. Thus, it's important you are present there to engage them when they need you. Not only will this provide a human touch to your brand and spread your reach, but if a potential new customer visits your social pages before reaching out for service, they'll see an active member of the community that is responsive to customer needs.
Use social media as brand awareness, special promotions, and engaging with your customers. But don't put all of your efforts entirely into social media, especially when your business is service based and you generate customers through an as-needed basis.
2. Google Ads
The nature of service businesses means you are more often than not need-based and demand-driven. Whether someone needs an emergency plumber or an HVAC tech, users predominantly start with one place: Google. As an example, a large majority of users will open up Google search and type in the service they need, such as 'Emergency Plumber Dallas' or 'AC Repair Near me'. A solid local SEO strategy will assist with your business showing up in the results, but service businesses are frequently extremely competitive, meaning your competitors will have ads for their business that show up in the results above yours.
If you aren't using this tactic already, put yourself in your customer's shoes. We recommend testing a few searches yourself to see not only where in the search results you show up, but which of your competitors are buying ads in that space, possibly showing up before you. Try general terms, such as 'Gardener Atlanta' or 'Electrician Phoenix'. Next, go ahead and search for your brand name. You may be surprised to find that many of your competitors use Google Ads to bid on your brand name if you're popular. If your business isn't showing up at all organically, or you're pushed further down by competitor ads to the bottom of the page or the dreaded page two (few users click through to the second page of results) you may want to consider putting a portion of your marketing dollars on Google Ads to capture those users who need you now.
3. Pay-to-Play Listings
Many of us are familiar with listings and directories for products and services, and pay-to-play listings are no different. Think Houzz, Angie's List or HomeAdvisor. These digital marketplaces are essentially there to help homeowners find the perfect business for the home service they need.
It's usually very personalized, down to users filling out a form that gives information for when and where they need the service, what type, and more. You can view all business directly in a listing format or have those services reach out to particular businesses for you. On HomeAdvisor, for example, the system will send out the same lead to multiple qualified business to complete that job. Reach out first, and you'll likely have a new job on your roster. Businesses are largely conflicted about this tactic: some rely entirely on these services to book jobs and some use it only as a supplement. One thing is for sure though, hundreds of thousands of users use these services daily. You may need to pay to show up in this space, but if user's aren't just Googling for your services, they're using these home service services to book.
Our list of options and recommendations are not comprehensive and not an end-all-be-all approach. Indeed, the best marketing approach depends on your available resources and your target audience. Some traditional marketing techniques may be the perfect fit for your brand and some newer techniques may fall flat, or vice-versa. How do you find the balance?
It's important to take a close look at each technique in order to know which methods won’t work for you, or will work for you, and why. That way, you’ll have a good metric for spotting techniques and strategies that will gain you new customers and engage current customers. If you're noticing a drop in one technique, or growth in another technique, take the time to look at your strategies cohesively to determine if changes need to made. You may be surprised by the impact.