You’ve set up your online store. It’s legally bulletproofed, you have your products priced properly and feel confident that your business is set for financial success. Now that you’ve got your foundation, it’s time to start marketing your store to the world.
To help you out, we sat down with Olga Kazakova, our Director of Corporate Communications who oversees brand management and public relations programs here at Volusion. In today’s discussion, Olga provides answers to your questions about selecting the right marketing and communication channels to create the perfect brand strategy.
How can I pick the right marketing channels to use when delivering a message? With social media, press releases, email marketing and more, I’m not sure where to begin!
There are a variety of channels to choose from to create the ultimate marketing mix for your business. Categorize your programs by looking at what you currently do, what you’d like to do and what you’re not going to do. At the same time, figure out which initiatives are currently working, which could work better with optimization and which may be draining time and resources.
Here’s a list of brand touch points/marketing channels to consider as you take on this categorization activity. I suggest using this quick “card sorting” task – it’s a fun and visual way to see where you’re spending your resources and how activities are prioritized. First, take a notecard and write down the name of the marketing channel (ex. “Sales Promotion”). Then, create a bulleted list for each one that includes line items for budget, resources and time needed to execute. Organize the cards and create a “Marketing Web” for all the ways you can reach your customers.
Here are some examples:
- Online Store
- Social Media
- Business Forms
- Web Banners
- Business Cards
- Speaking Opportunities
- Word of Mouth
- Trade Shows
- Direct Mail
- Public Relations
- Sales Promotion
Remember that every marketing initiative takes unique time and resources. Take a press release, for example. It seems simple enough, but before the release can be distributed, someone has to write it, optimize it for SEO, upload it to a wire service, receive editorial approval from the service, plan a drop time and date, sync it to social channels, pitch it to reporters and add it to the website (phew!). Carefully plan the time it takes to execute each activity and determine where your business dollars are best spent.
With so many communication channels out there, how do I ensure that my message is consistent across all of them?
First, create an audit of all the marketing collateral you currently use (emails, handouts, business cards, etc). Print them out, tack them up to a wall and take a red pen to them. Where are the messages inconsistent? What improvements can be made to help the message better resonate with the audience? Where could you be potentially confusing customers? During this activity, it’s great to have a set of “messaging points” or “key differentiators” in your back pocket. These are the things that make your business unique and what you want to get across in every communication.
Design also plays a critical role in helping to keep your messages consistent. Match the colors, font and overall feel of your email communications (and other vehicles) to your website. Create a soft landing experience for users who receive an enticing promotion from you and decide to click-through to your site immediately.
Finally, establish a “brand voice” for your business. Do you have a friendly, casual tone? Or does your voice instill trust and confidence? Determine your brand voice and stick to it throughout all communications.
How heavily should I focus on public relations efforts for my products and store? Would you suggest using the traditional press release for a product announcement or contest?
PR is a great and affordable way to get relevant information out to your customers and writers covering your space. However, an effective PR program involves continuous communication and relationship building. In order to receive pickup, you or someone on your team will need to maintain close relationships with the press. A great way to get started is to get familiar with the local papers and writers. Some local papers host meet-and-greets and Q&A sessions over coffee with reporters. This is a great opportunity to ask about what types of news they are interested in learning about, or how best to contact them (phone, email, mail).
PR encompasses a variety of messaging vehicles. Consider these avenues and questions when deciding which opportunities are available to your business:
- Press release – Is what I’m planning to announce newsworthy?
- Creating a pitch – Would a reporter be interested in what I have to share? (Save contacting the reporter for special updates)
- Media alert – Do I have an upcoming event (ex. product demonstration, speaking event) that I can notify the press of?
- Blogger outreach – Would a particular group of bloggers enjoy learning about my product? Am I connected with them on Twitter so that they see the information I’m sharing?
- Awards – Are there awards that my business/product could be eligible for? (Consumers’ Choice Awards, Natural Products Awards, etc)
- Events – Is there a local or national event where I could showcase my product line?
- Speaking opportunities – Can the lessons I’ve learned as a business owner help others become more successful? Look into local speaking opportunities at the Chamber of Commerce or small meet-ups.
That concludes this week’s Tips from the Top.
Have questions for Olga? Feel free to ask away in the comment section below.
Be sure to check out part II of this series where we’ll discuss social media marketing, popular business tools and more!
Olga Kazakova, Director of Corporate Communications, is responsible for maintaining the Volusion brand across marketing communications. She works with the creative, development, event and social media departments at Volusion to educate merchants about Volusion’s product and services.
Olga is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a MA in Advertising and BS in Public Relations.