It’s no secret that marketing has gotten increasingly complex over the
last few decades. Integrated marketers have to work harder than ever to capture
audience attention and encourage engagement. Even with all of the traditional
(direct mail, radio, TV, print) and digital (search, social, email) marketing avenues
available for outreach today, marketers still have to find the sweet spot for
reaching customers, where they are.
SmartInsights has proffered six
non-traditional ways to reach audiences and build an
engaged, active community using demographics, content, inspiration, and
Start a Course
While an education course may not apply to your business directly,
what is at its heart certainly will. You and your team are experts in your
field, so give users the opportunity to learn from and interact with you. Whether
the platform is online or in-person, free or paid, use it to establish your
leadership in the space.
The course can be as simple or complicated as you’d like using video,
PowerPoint, an online presentation platform, or a lunch-time get-together in
your office. Whichever path you take, use this time to build authority and
trust with your customers and prospects.
Develop an Awards Program
Celebrating the achievements of those within your community is a
surefire way to build engagement. Recognizing excellence, boosting brands, and
bringing in well-known names from industry as judges, sponsors, and
participants will bring you recognition, attention, and interaction.
Think about what you want to recognize and how; the way scoring will
work; and the type of event you will hold (gala, awards ceremony, luncheon,
etc.). There are any number of programs available to use as models, so look
around and see what suits your business, industry, and abilities.
Work with Micro-Influencers
Most integrated marketers are familiar with the work of
influencers—those powerful personalities boasting hundreds of thousands of
viewers (and more) who advocate for companies, especially on Instagram. Because
people are swayed by passion, value, and word-of-mouth from those they trust,
influencer marketing has really been enjoying a heyday.
Unfortunately, those celebrity influencer endorsements can be quite
pricey—how can your small business get in on the action? Try targeting
micro-influencers, those with fewer than 10k highly-motivated, engaged, and
active followers. Micro-influencers are more affordable, sometimes willing to
work for trades or free services. Gen Z in particular love these brand leaders for their authenticity, relatability, and
Design a Webinar (or Series)
Much like with course development—or possibly in its place if a course
is too ambitious—is a webinar. By providing valuable, practical tips to current
and prospective customers, you can offer education on a subject that you
dominate in your industry. Make it free or low-cost to attract likely audiences
for an interesting and educational discussion. Allow time for Q&A, and
consider recording the presentation for later reuse via email or social media
Remember that customers are transactional. To get them to give up time and personal
information you will need to give them something valuable in return. So, make
sure your webinar is relevant, thought-provoking, and instructive.
Create a Podcast
In case you’ve somehow missed the phenomenon, podcasts are a huge thing
right now. Providing voices of authority in business, humor, service,
storytelling, and much more, podcasts are an excellent opportunity to reflect
your brand’s values. Bring in industry experts or demonstrate your own mastery
of your field—but whatever you do, remain authentic, honest, and
Use Social for Its Intended
With all of the emphasis on boosting and pushing out content on social
media, we’ve forgotten that the original intent was to actually provide a
platform for conversations at a distance. Communications are a hugely
significant portion of building your community, so make sure that you get
active on your platforms.
Follow others; engage with your followers, competitors, and industry
leaders in your space. Build a personable and friendly presence on aspirational
sites—those of your “someday” target audience; as well as on the sites your current
audience follow most. Take a little time every day to ask and answer questions,
and talk to the people populating your platforms of choice.
If You Build It…Well, You
Most of all, remember that you are building a community. Provide a
webinar or course, offer an awards program or podcast, and facilitate
conversations, all with an eye toward being helpful, truthful, and open. The
more followers and friends you accumulate on these platforms, the greater your
likelihood of being seen and treated as the authority you are.