I worked in corporate marketing communications for a total of 11 years before finding myself in the entrepreneurial space. Mar Comms for big corporate companies usually meant big budgets and grand plans. But with the gig economy and “side hustles” maturing into full time business ventures, big marketing budgets are now confined to a few large companies. Making the shift to support small brands made me realise that I had to change the way I worked. Personal brands and smaller companies need marketing support scaled to their size, budget and certainly purpose.While smaller brands may not have the budget to engage in “nice-to-have” marketing tactics there are alternatives that can be used. Here are 4 traditional marketing moves modified to suit a skinny marketing budget but bring big impact and sales.
Instead of Sponsorship try Mentorship
At the height of my corporate life, I received about 3 to 5 sponsorship letters per week. This usually happens when your business profile grows and your visibility is increasing. However, as a small business or a personal brand, you may not necessarily be in a position to contribute financially to a cause; but what you can invest, is your time. You can’t control sales patterns beyond a shadow of a doubt but you can certainly do that with your time. Even if it means being open to questions or hosting calls once a week to offer your expertise to help more inexperienced ones, your contribution can be just as significant. Admittedly, sponsorship will give you the instant visibility and brand proliferation you want, but mentorship can really have long term gains in terms of your reputation and positioning, particularly for your personal brand. There’s nothing stronger that a really positive personal review and this given by a few good mentees is invaluable for your reputation and brand. Give it some thought, It might be worth your efforts.
Instead of physical events host web events
Hosting events is a timeless tactic brands use to engage their target audience. Big brands use them as an opportunities to woo and impress their customers; but the thing is, big events can cost a pretty penny. Venue rental to refreshments, tokens, speakers and a number of other sundry items, hosting and event can really add up. If you’re anything like me, you’re a go big or go home kind of entrepreneur. But if you’re running a lean business where events are more of the exception than the rule, you might want to consider hosting digital events rather than physical events. Digital events give you the opportunity to manage cost and time while still being able to deliver high impact sessions that are info packed. Summits, webinars and live videos are examples of digital events that can be stretched over a day or two or simply be an hour. As with physical events, your focus should be delivering a quality experience to participants. So plan your content, schedule your speakers and offer digital freebies and tokens. All of this can be done at a fraction of the cost a physical event and you can get attendees into your sales funnel.
Instead of big advertising campaigns keep it digital
Ad campaigns, particularly those that include traditional advertising, are notorious for being expensive. Your personal brand or lean business probably doesn’t need all of this as it grows. A lean yet effective way of growing your brand is making it and an agile business by automating your content, advertising, marketing, lead qualification and lead nurturing. Technology not only makes you nimble but it makes the customer experience smoother and faster. Every single part of your marketing process can run on a backbone of technology, effectively leaving you to focus on what’s important,strategy, sales and data analysis! The best part of all of this is, you can actually set this entire system up for less than the cost of a full page coloured print ad! While it’s important to invest monthly in your marketing efforts, you don’t need to be a big conglomerate to create a top notch marketing system, provide a delightful customer experience or to have significant market reach.
Instead of PR leverage your personal brand
Public Relations is of personal importance to me, as it has been the core of my profession for many years. But even I realise that PR has evolved. Publicists have traditionally been champions, they’ve be personal ambassadors, so to speak. They fight for you on the media front-line where gatekeepers guard their precious airtime and reserve it for a chosen few. Now, digital media has completely changed that dynamic. Entrepreneurs’ personal brands created through content are now rivaling PR as a way brands get noticed by audiences. The dynamic has shifted with individuals carving their own space and media personnel approaching them directly and inviting them on to programmes as influencers and entrepreneurs. By the time this happens, these individuals usually have grown a following on their own. Social media has now given you a pass where you don’t need to rely on programme directors, producers and editors to get the reach and visibility you want. Oh, and photo ops? If you have a smart phone with a decent camera, you can get all the photo ops you want. You can be your own producer because your media house is now in your pocket fully equipped with camera and streaming capabilities. In essence, PR in it’s usual sense, is now reserved for bigger brands with bigger budgets and you have your personal brand. Leverage it as much as you can because you never have to pay to be yourself.
When increasing your brand’s visibility, whether personal or business, remember that the activities don’t need to be huge they just need to have impact.”Skinny visibility” is not be as complex as you think. Keep it simple, think outside of the box and manage cost. These 4 tips are just a start. My aim is always to help leaders grow their personal brands and automate their marketing as simply as possible, if you need help with this feel free to connect. Now, go get visible!